Showing posts with label Book Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Review. Show all posts

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: half pants full pants by Anand Suspi

Name of the Book: half pants full pants
Author: Anand Suspi
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

School days, childhood, nostalgia. 

These are the three words that describe half pants fully pants by Anand Suspi. Every chapter is an anecdote giving us a glimpse of his childhood. He claims in his introduction to the book that every character is still living and breathing in this world so one must say that he has taken up quite a feat in maintaining the authenticity in his words.

If you have never visited Shimoga you can get glimpses of the southern flavor in its pages.


"We were soon out of Basavanagudi, crossed Nehru Stadium and kept trotting towards the school. I kept peering towards the other side of the road."
The passages are studded with Kannada, but readers will understand everything since the translations follow right after. Many memories of those days flooded back. Especially when the movie Jaws was released. How it affected our young minds when we saw the larger than life sharks in those movie theaters we called 'talkies'. We didn't have multiplexes in those days. Frankly, I don't miss the talkies so much where we women had to walk with a shield in front of us. Multiplexes are much cooler places to watch movies nowadays. Though I do miss those chips packets. The multiplexes couldn't do justice to that small packet of potato chips in butter papers.

Another nostalgic moment for me was the white guavas and the red ones. The fights we cousins would have to see who got which and I don't know why we thought the white ones were superior to the red. I suppose my first lesson on racism started with these guavas.

Anand Suspi's style of writing very humorous. An unlined twang of humor is present throughout the story.

"Mom was a good cook but every now and then (more often than this suggests), she marred her reputation by preparing awful vegetables. I liked potatoes, ladies finger, cucumber, peas, carrots, cauliflower, drumsticks and brinjal. So we clearly had a choice of eight vegetables for seven days of the week. I never understood mom’s compulsion to stray beyond these."

Omg! I can so relate to this. Being a Bengali, who are known to be hardcore non-vegetarians, I never understood why we had to cut those precious veggies. Did they not teach us in school to save plants?
The author has divided this book into two sections. His childhood, half pants, and his teenage years - full pants.  Those who have lived in the small towns of India would understand the importance of Lions Club in your area. Sort of like bosses of all activities. And then the stage comes when you create your own club. Especially readers of Enid Blyton have done it often. My grandfather even made me and my friends paint our servant quarters in the name of it becoming our 'find outer' club.

This book has many nostalgic moments and I thank the writer for writing such a book in such a simple and humorous way. It has taken me many steps back in my life. This book deserves every star it gets because of the sheer brilliance of visualization it will invoke in many readers.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Review: The Prince's Surprise Bride by Devika Fernando

Name of the Book: The Prince's Surprise Bride
Author: Devika Fernando
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

Prince Erik of the Norse Kingdom of Eirik and Jessica's meeting was not at all what is expected in a fairy tale romance. A shift in their stars makes them become co-victims in a conspirator's act of kidnapping.  As the saying goes, strange circumstances make strange bedfellows.  So in the darkness when these two souls were forced to be 'cell-partners' they became each other's backbone. A friendship that carried them out of that world and into their own worlds. And now the question was would their two world, which was so different from each other, allow them to fall in love and think of a future?

Devika Fernando does it again. Creating two characters that are so beautifully meant to be for each other. A lovely read for any romance lover.

The Story line:
Is nothing new. In a romance novel, it's always a boy meets the girl and a conflict separating them anyways. But what made me turn the pages was the powerful attraction and the conflict that the author has managed to create.

The Opening Scene:

Where were they headed to, for God’s sake? Someplace secret and horrible where they could do unspeakable things to her?

Is one of the best subplots of this novel. You want to know where they will go from there. The hero is the knight in the shining armor and the heroine is in a bad situation despite being a strong counterpart to the hero. Good combination.

There was one scene which made me stop and re-read. A scene which brings out the uniqueness in the hero. A point where the girl is scared and the dashing prince sings a lullaby to her. It was so sweet and poetic and makes every romance reader wish that that could be true in their lives too. And not only in this scene. Later when he is thinking of their future together his thoughts were -

Flashes of her preparing breakfast for him and him returning the favor appeared in his mind.

Isn't that cute?

Devika Fernando has interlocked the characters from her previous books and series lovers will love it. One thing I couldn't help noticing were the number of action sequence this book had. From the kidnapping to the last scene, this book is studded with action scenes. All that was missing was the music :) Cinematographic.

Recommended for all those who would love an action oriented romance. 

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review: Rose Garden International by Sundari Venkatraman

Name of the Book: Rose Garden International 
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

He...
Is Jamie Scott, an Australian who travels to India to find out about the love his grandmother had for a particular land in Ooty. A strange restlessness was surrounding his heart and a call to go towards the unknown was calling out to him. And so after reading a diary of his grandmom, he sets on a journey to reach India. How romantic!

"The call of Ooty was too powerful. He had just one life to live. Might as well live his dream along with his grandmother’s wishes!"

She...
She is Rhea Bansal. She has a legacy as her base where the name Bansal Hoteliers is a name to be reckoned with. But Rhea wants to make her mark for herself and that is what makes her move to Ooty to carry on the family traditions in the name of the Rose Garden International.

The love Story begins...

"Jamie turned swiftly from the reception and almost knocked against Rhea who had been a couple of feet behind him. “Oops!” He placed his hands on her shoulders. “I’m sorry I didn’t see you.” He gave her a lopsided smile, his green eyes crinkling at the corners as they studied the woman in front of him boldly."

Do read the above lines. That small touch, the blink of an eye moment when two souls meet and your heart tells you - he is the one. Ms. Venkatraman does a wonderful portrayal of what I call 'when you meet him' scenes.

The description of the surroundings is becoming Ms. Venkatraman's forte. The rose gardens, the ambiance, and the hotel's work culture- all have been caught beautifully by the author. I especially loved the research she had done on this subject and woven the information into her story. It's almost like me getting a tour of the hotel and the words in the speaker are of Ms. Venkatraman's.

“Air curtains have been created between the kitchens while the smells get absorbed by powerful chimneys. They have the added advantage of keeping insects and dust away,” said Aftab with a smile, bringing an answering smile to the guest’s face."

I liked the way the political negatives crept into the story. Very different from all the books I have read of Ms. Venkatraman's. Rhea comes out strong and not at all like a damsel in distress. A woman who can fight against anything and that is what makes Rhea stand out as a complete woman.

The story has a villain, a couple actually. A few nasty boyfriends and a perfectly made of each other couple. A Bollywood flick in the making?

My take on the novel:
A perfect read for romance lovers. The girl is intelligent and can stand for herself. The boy is a perfect hero material complimenting the girl, yet not getting overshadowed by her. The political goons are perfect for trying your kickboxing skills and the scenario - has all the oomph factors that Ms. Venkatraman's novels are known for.


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Review: Ponni's Beloved - An English Translation Of Kalki Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan by Sumeetha Manikandan

Name of the Book: Ponni's Beloved
Author: Sumeetha Manikandan
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

During the times when treason was a part of life and spies were roaming the streets of India, Ponni's Beloved is set during those times. A time when the Chola dynasty was at their zenith.

The story is introduced to the readers by a brave, young man, who is a great fighter too, and a messenger of Aditya Chola (forgive me if I got my history wrong). Aditya Chola, heir to the throne was suspecting a conspiracy and had sent Vandiya Devan to warn the King. In his journey, Vandiya Devan meets the different characters who play a role in the conspiracies, love affairs and secrets that generally go around in such princely dynasties.

Vandiya Devan introduces us to the lives of the natives at that period of time as he walks quietly on the banks of a  lake named Veeranarayana and introduces the readers to their way of life. Sumeetha Manikandan has done a fabulous job in capturing the essence of the great Tamil Literature. Though I have not read the original work, I have heard a lot about it from the Tamil side of my family. A revered literature, that is what this book is remembered as and I can understand this since, after so many years, even the translation has kept me enthralled enough to keep on turning the pages.

Many cultural appropriations have been mentioned in this text, which is typical of the thought process of the people of those times.

"But please don’t think that I am talking ill of them, the entire women race is like that. The women in your family are dark-complexioned beauties, whereas Pazhuvetarayar’s beloved is fair complexioned. That’s why they don’t like her. They are jealous...”

As you delve further into the story, such small incidents are mentioned which will help in painting the visuals of those times.

Keeping track of the names and places is a bit tough. But that can't be helped. It's the stories within stories that will fascinate you. Of betrayal, spies stories which will connect you to the thought process of that period. The fights between the followers of Shiva and the Vishnu bhakts bring out many of the philosophies followed during those times.

 The conspiracy against the heir to the throne and above all the power plays makes this an interesting read. In all these stories the character of Vandiya Devan is the one experiencing all the tales.

This book is the first in the series and we will have 4 more volumes coming up (I think) I will be eager to see if Sumeetha Manikandan has been able to do justice to all the volumes.



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Book Review: The Indus Challenge by Dr. Durgadoss

Name of the Book: The Indus Challenge
Author: Dr. R. Durgadoss
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

It's a war zone:
When the title of a book is "The Indus Challenge' how can a mythological lover like me not pick it up? One cannot help but stare at the image of the book, wondering how much a war will influence the characters in this one. None of us are ignorant to the bloody times of the Mahabharata Period, where every character seemed to be born to play a role in the war.

The young lad who set an example of determination:
We have heard about Abhimanyu's spearing through the Chakravyuh but none of us can ever imagine how a chakravuyuh looked like.

Dr. Durgadoss showed it to us. By an illustration which is like a maze- a very difficult one at that. I even tried to trace lines to reach the ends of the maze. It's not easy. One must see the diagram to see what I am talking about. It made me close the book and think about the young lad who knew how to enter this "chakra" and entered it knowing well that he might not be able to come out of it. Our ancestors had guts, no doubt about that.

The Bold and the Beautiful
One story that fascinated me was that of Rudra and Swastika. His bravery and her boldness were complimenting each other. And I had never heard of this story before. Reading a modern day mythology is like hearing stories from the past in a new packaging. But Dr. Durgadoss has brought in new anecdotes which are very interesting. I suppose watching the serial Chandra Nandini made me visualize it more. Hailing from the land of the Mauryans, I was always fascinated by Chandragupta's story. He was my first historical love affair anyway.

But it has been always been from the Royal's POV. This was the first time I was standing along with the characters outside the palace and watching history unfolding.

Swastika, even from poison we extract nectar, we wash and take back gold if it has fallen in filth, receive the highest knowledge from a lowborn person; so also is a girl who possesses virtuous qualities, even if she is born in a disreputable family.
The Storyteller:
The author lets us travel across time using narratives and stories of the great men of those days. Many anecdotes surprised me. Draupadi asked to sleep with a horse - which she refused but instead put a bindi on the horse as a symbol of completion of the ritual. It was not her sleeping with the horse that surprised me - our ancient culture does not surprise me anymore. Sometimes I feel, symbolism has been twisted as the stories were mostly word of mouth. But what surprised me was the women of India - be it Draupadi or Swastika were bold and knew what they wanted. When Swastika's uncle wanted to marry her, he could have just forced her to marry but still, her consent was necessary. So when did women are the weaker sex syndrome start?

As mentioned above, we have many more philosophies and code of conducts discussed in this book. Some of them even surprised me to think they date back to such an extent. This is no doubt a very well researched book.

The language of the book:
The author has kept the tone of the book a bit archaic. It can be due to the subject, I don't know. It has a soothing quality - a narration, every mytho lover would love to go on and on. Some of you might find it a tad old fashioned but once you get used to it, believe me, this book is something one must read to get a glimpse of our ancient culture, where science, art, politics, and economics were not mere subjects, but a way of life.

My views:
I enjoyed reading this book. I think the story of Rudra is very well placed - for it captures a reader's attention from the start. In fact, I hated it when the author diverted from this story. A must read for all historical and mythological lovers.


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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Book Review: Key to my Soul by Probal Mazumdar

Name of the Book: Key to my Soul
Author: Probal Mazumdar
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

Key to the Soul - the title itself sounds so holistic. Like a small door opening the inner Tartarus of your soul. Mr. Mazumdar has cleverly chosen the title of the book - a revelation. A peek to the protagonist Siddharth's childhood. A childhood speckled with love and fraught with heartbreaks.  Somewhere along the lines of the story, you will become one with Siddharth - his genuine fears will not look heroic to you at all. For he is a normal guy. A guy like you and me who has all the fears of a bullied victim or caught in between the crossfire of Cupid. 
What raises him above from the rest is his ability to see life with a candor and wisdom.


Let's start with the prolog:

A call for help,  a few moans, buzzing flies and still alive. How can that not catch your attention? Will he live? Who is he? What happened to him to land him in this situation and more than that - what the heck is this story about? If all these questions start simmering in your heart, the author has done a wonderful job with the prolog. 

Coming of Age:
After reading quite a few coming of age novels I had one severe problem with all of them. However well written they are and however much articulate the language is, as a reader I keep on asking myself, why am I interested in your life? I mean why - how can your growing up as a child in school, lusting after a girl and showing me no destination of your life inspire me to read on. If simply put, I find other's life boring for I too have a life of my own which is enough to keep me waking up with a smile every morning. But Key to my Soul has crossed that barrier.

By introducing Hazel. The mysterious thread that played a role in making me keep on turning the pages.

Can you imagine how much of a curiosity it generates when after 17 years you get a phone call, " Her condition is serious. The accident was severe."

And then...

"She's in coma."

And then Siddharth takes us back to his childhood - either via memories or letters. Beautifully penned. 

Love, Life, and Dhoka ....

Again happens to everyone, so what makes it so special? The hidden layers. The 'whodunnit' plays a very important role in this story.  Many knives are slashed and many relationships are lost and also the fear that she will be a nun soon gave me some nail biting moments. 

The author has played a mind game with his readers. Layers after layers are revealed in every scene pointing towards the love story of Siddharth and Hazel. A childhood love story that one should outgrow of yet it latches on to every thought process of yours. 

"How can I help not falling in love with you? In that fall  I soar."  

What started as a classroom romance became the cause of two miseries. Siddharth and Hazel grew up together and their coming from different background made life tough for them.

My views...

A very well written, well-edited book. Will keep a reader hooked on to the pages and that thin line of mystery levels up this book from its contemporaries. It will make you raise many questions such as how well do we know our family? How well do we know our friends? Is giving up ever an option or does the past always catch up with us even if we have left it far behind? I just wish the relationship between Hazel and her father was a bit more explored.  The pain, the fear and those skin crawling moments would have added another dimension to this well-written novel.  I will happily give the book a 5 star for it made me shed a few tears and root for the protagonists to reach the finishing line. 

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: Jihad in my Saffron Garden by Roxy Arora


Name of the Book: Jihad in My Saffron Garden
Author: Roxy Arora
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 


The Story:
About a young Hindu girl who had to leave Kashmir behind to survive. There are many such stories - so what's so special about this one? I personally feel, in this story, the author has taken a stand and portrayed a belief as to why this is happening and who are responsible for this. I just hope the readers get it - it's not about Hindus and Muslims believing in their ideologies, it's about selfish people using that belief to get what they want. 

Kashmiriyat
Every Indian has one dream. To live in a world where life is not controlled by your religious inclination. Where life can stop - to see the beauty of a field laden with the saffron flowers. Where Life does not wait to be snuffed out due to one sect's fanatism. That my dear friends, is the Kashmiriyat of Roxy Arora's Jihad, My Saffron Graden.

My bucket wish list is yet not fulfilled ...
As a child, I always had one dream - to visit the snowy peaks of the mountains of Kashmir. As I grew up, I saw many snowy peaks - from the Kailash in Nepal to Matterhorn in Switzerland but none could quench my thirst for the peaks of those peaks made popular by the movies of the seventies  - the Kishtwar Himalaya, popularly called  Sickle Moon Peak. But every damn time I planned a trip there, the news would be flooded with the bombings in Kashmir or the attacks on the same land. It has been a 'closer to the home' story for me too. My newly wed friend's husband was caught in the crossfire and gone fore ever. So yes, these senseless killings hurt. Hurt both the parties. Our heaven had turned into a battlefield. 

And here I was crying for not getting my pictures of the snowy peaks whereas out there many girls like Heena were getting raped, brutalized and killed - every day. My woe was a hobby unfulfilled and their woes were all about dreams never realized. My heart goes out for girls like Heena. I still believe that every soul has come to this earth to learn something. To do something very particular to it. But when cases like Jyoti and girls like Heena come in front of me, I often wonder what exactly did they sign up for? I can never ever believe that this was God's wish. I just cannot. Maybe I am not that evolved yet. 

When Roxy Arora introduced me to her Kashmir, I was a bit skeptical. I have always found such stories very limited in their views. We don't have the two sides of the stories on one page. But as an Indian, I really don't care to hear the other side. I want to know why my land is plundered so ruthlessly? The fight is over a land right? Then why spoil an entire generation of youth? Why impart the knowledge of bloodshed?  Where does it say in the Holy Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible that those who are not the true followers of our God are non-believers? 

There is a scene in this book when  Heena in order to protect our protagonist Roshan, cuts her hand and shows the blood to all - how same they are. I don't think we humans don't know about it, we just choose to ignore it. There are many such instances in this book which will make you question the very essence of human believe - what we see, how we see and why we see it.  You can feel the pain of both the sides, both Hindus, and Muslims, living in the fear of being betrayed by a friend or a family member. The worst kind of betrayal of all. 

Idealism...
Fanatics or not, this is one ideology which grips the mind of a particular section of the society. But I don't think that our dear author is also bereft of idealism. Her Kashmiriyat is a dream too. Her reasoning as to what exactly happened to Heena and who was responsible for it and why might be questioned by many. I, for one, want to believe that what Roxy says is true. For the other alternative would shake the very core of my humanity. 

Regarding Rosha Jaan...
There is such a lyricism in the name :) I just had to continue calling her that.  Her love for Aafaq was so subtle and passionate that it didn't overshadow the main subject of the story- yet formed a beautiful backdrop. But ultimately, even the author cannot deny, and as a reader what I felt was - the real enemy was not the fanatics, they are as usual used as weapons by individuals who have their own personal wars to fight. And that is one of the saddest ways to lose one's life. I just hope readers of this book can really understand this message that Roxy has beautifully portrayed. 

The reason for Star Rating:

1. Loved the way she has portrayed this sensitive topic. 
2. Writing is good. 
3. The first few pages is a bit complicated but you need to keep on for getting into the crux of the story and once you do, you will not regret it.
4. The author has taken a stand, and even if her reasoning can be debatable, I want to believe her. 

Grab Your Copy 


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: Hearts & Hots by Ruchi Singh

Name of the Book: Hearts and Hots
Author: Ruchi Singh
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

A collection of short stories that touches the various phases of  romance. Love, an emotion we all have an opinion on - some call it a wastage of time while others pen poems about it. But no one can deny that it makes the world go around. Ruchi Singh has handled the different phases of love in these short stories.

Head over Heals

Made me fall in love with Ruchi Singh's writing. Very Bollywoodish. I could almost imagine Sanaa climbing the veranda to meet Aaryan. It has all the features of romance - the cuteness of the first meeting, the innocence in love, the excitement of the first kiss and the twinge of heart break.


You and Only You

The tone changes in the story. Two lovers separated due to circumstances and meet again after one of them is already married. Ms. Singh has handled the complications of relationships quite well in this one. One thing I would have wanted more, in this story in particular, is the pain. The pain of heartbreak and more than that the pain of knowing that your husband is -  (For this of course you must read the book.)

Love is Silent

This was my favorite of the lot. Love can be silent and yet very powerful.  Breaking over barrier of social norms and morality, sometimes love can be very selfish and demanding. Though I didn't understand Arjun's reaction to Anjali, yet the relationship between Arjun and Radha will steal your breath away. But here I found that  Love can be a  bit selfish too, where as in all the other stories, the generous and giving tone of love is maintained yet here, love is about getting.

A Promise Is a Promise

A very practical love story.  This is the only story which has touched how our past effects our present. Why one has to be afraid to fall in love and how we paint everyone in the same canvas, if our experience is bad. Love is Silent is my favorite of the lot but in this one Reet lodges in my heart permanently. A very strong character who knows her duties even in love.

Whole Nine Yards 

This story is all about second chance.  Overcoming cultural taboos and turning love as a gift from God. Ruchi Singh has covered all in her short stories.


Will I recommend this book:
A must read for every romance lover.

Grab your copy here 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review: The Princess of a Whorehouse: The Story of a Swamp Lotus by Mayank Sharma

Name of the Book: The Princess Of A Whorehouse
Author: Mayank Sharma 
Star Rating: 3 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

A story about a young girl, Aparajita, as she leaves her past behind to educate herself and also inspire her mother to come out of sex trade.

What is it about?

When Ramya falls into the clutches of the sex trade workers, all she wanted was to see to it that her daughter, Aparajita, did not fall under the same. She, along with her daughter, fights against them and comes out of the system with the help of a good samaritan. Raj not only marries Ramya but makes sure that Aparajita had a good home to call her own.



A motivating journey

I loved the way the author has only focused on the journey of Aparajita and not the negatives of the sex trade. To come out of it is really tough and our system does nothing to help them out. But when someone like Aparajita is determined enough, there can be no stopping a woman to achieve what she sets her mind for. 

‘Mamma, now Raj uncle is my daddy!’

There is so much innocence in the words of Aparajita. It's like a lotus in a swamp. And yet she tries to keep every evil thought out of her mind. She focuses on the positivity and goes after it. And achieves it too. This is the best part of the novel.

What I wanted more..

Aparajita grew up with many things lacking in her life. Her life was unusual, yet she never carried the stain of her past. That I found a bit 'neglected'. I will not say that it left any holes in the story but if her pain too would have been brought out, her grit and determination to achieve more would have reached a higher level tool.

For eg. When her mother would abuse the school bus driver for driving through their streets till the time the driver reveals a secret - it did not seem to leave much of an impact on Aparajita's life. What did she feel when the driver would roll down her street? We know her mother's emotions.. but hers?

Another thing that would have made this near perfect story even better is taking care of proofreading and editing.

A meaningful narration...

I would really like to keep aside the editing defects of this novel and focus on the questions it raises?

1) Why do we stereotype our children? We want such perfect friends for our kids that we install in their young mind whom to mix with and who is good or bad. In our black and white lives, we forget the shades of gray. We forget that girls like Aparajita exist.

2) The schools are meant as educational institutions and have not right to refuse education to any children due to their background.

3) Aparajita is a lucky girl and found a Raj. But how many such Raj's are in this world? What do women like Ramya do under such circumstances?

4) It's very clear that the money is mostly made by the pimps and the madams who run the 'houses'? So even after sleeping with multiple partners in a day, the prostitutes don't earn anything. What is our government doing? Is it only the headache of the social workers who get no help from our police bodies too?

I think Mayank Sharma has done a fabulous job in raising these question. If only he got it better edited, I would have given this book a 5 star. 

Grab your copy here 


Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review: Her Secret Husband by Sundari Venkatraman

Name of the Book: Her Secret Husband
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

"Ruma lifted the phone to call Ranveer’s extension. As the phone rang, she checked the taller of the two men." 

And with that Ruma meets Lakshman. Just the right kind of tingling feeling that makes the reader turn every page of the book. Sundari Venkatraman has this tendency to make the reader fall in love with her heroes. At least the female readers.  This time it's the baker who is not only handsome but also has a heart of a gold. A few cynics might point out that such specimen don't exist. Maybe in the real world, they don't. But they do in the world created by Ms. Vekatraman, where every romance reader can escape and forget realism.


The Love Story

Is passionate. Where the demand is not only from the man but from the woman also. Ruma knows her mind and she is anything but shy.

However much critics scream the word 'cliche' when such a beautiful moment is born, fans of die hard romance will always feel a tear of joy trailing down their cheeks when such a moment occurs. When Ruma meets Lakshman at Ranveer's office, little did they know that their chance meeting would turn into a beautiful romance?

But the title Her Secret Husband intrigued me when I first saw it. From the time I have been reading romance, titles like His secret wife, reluctant wife, runaway bride had always been there, but with role reversal, this turns out to be a pleasant change.

Lakshman woke up with a jerk from his dream.It was a recurring one about Ruma Malhotra.

Is this how a guy feels?

I have often wondered about the initial thoughts of my hubby was when he met me.  The very first thought which makes a man decide that he wants to meet a woman again. Did he too spend a few sleepless nights or did a silly grin made him feel foolish in front of his friends? Sundari Venkatraman has brought this out beautifully.

Her second-born spoke little, but she was attuned to his body language.

The Family Saga.

I often call her Sooraj Barjatiya of the Indie world. Ms. Venkatraman does not create novels. She brings to live her characters. Long after you close her books, the characters stay on with you. And when one character makes a special appearance in her other novels, you feel like you have won the prize of a treasure hunt.


Hotter and Bolder 
Sundari has really heated the scenes between Ruma and Lakshman. I like the way Ruma is not a damsel in distress. She can initiate a proposal, make love to her man and if need be learn every aspect of his business and walk along with him.  Even though Sundari's heroines don't carry the torch of feminism burning brightly, they create a space based on equality, passion.

The feeling of homecoming 
With every book of Sundari, I feel I am watching a daily soap. Characters from her previous books make an appearance and I feel excited every time that happens. From what I have read of Sundari, she does not do hate, she only spreads the love. 

Grab your copy here 


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Book Review: Fighting For Tara by Sunanda Chatterjee

Name of the Book: Fighting For Tara
Author: Sunanda Chatterjee
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

A heart touching subject 

I had read this book quite a while back but if I am to blame anyone for not writing this review, I lay the blame (gently) on the shoulders of my ....ummm kids. :D But this story had been gnawing at the back of mind and it's one of those tales which one will find hard to forget. The settings are perfect, heart touching and make you question humanity.

A child married to an old man when it was time for her to play with dolls. Instead of making a dollhouse she had to feed the baby girl, Tara.  The birth of Tara itself heralds a stream of question is Hansa's life. Can she keep her girl child? What are her priorities? Her husband's death brings on another facet of life in front of her. Widow remarriage to girl infanticide.

Why are not laws implemented?

I don't understand what our lawmakers do when such a thing happens. Just as Hansa runs away from one trouble, she lands up in a ring of prostitution. Escaping that, she finds life in another country.

Another country. Sadly, that is the truth behind our lives. Are we Indians all closing our eyes and not seeing exactly what is happening? When hundreds of children are forced into prostitution due to a few greedy pimps. Where are our lawmakers? Hansa is lucky but can others feel the do the same? Oh yeah, Fighting for Tara will bring out a few strong emotions in your heart.

Girls like Hansa 

Are not rare in any part of the world. While I understand sex education and moral science classes are very important in all schools, I think every child should be taught how to defend themselves. Hansa shows a logical  thinking process from an early age and this helps her to face many situations. Like running away from the man who wanted to marry her, running away from prostitution and ultimately fighting for the child who was the reason for her living - Tara.

Hansa gets lucky 

When she is saved by a loving childless couple. I almost pitied the mom in this case. She adopted without knowing what she was getting into. Adoption can be very complicated if secrets are kept from the adoptive parents. But do I blame Hansa for doing what she did? I don't know. Sitting in my cushioned den, it's very easy to be moralistic but a girl has got to do what she has to do to survive the odds.

Many issues raised. 

Sunanda has done a lovely job in raising many issues.  Child marriage and a girl without support once her old husband dies. If this part was taken care of India, she wouldn't  have had the need to cross the seven seas.

Neat ending 

A few questions churned within me when I probed deeper into the story. Hansa's adjustment to the western culture was almost seamless. True she was learning English for a long time but dialects? Adopting a new culture must not have been easy, especially for a girl from her background.

But keeping this one point aside, the jealousy of the mothers, the fighting spirit of Hansa and the growth of Hansa as a woman will leave a lump in your throat. It's definitely one of those books you would want to keep on your shelf for a long time.

Grab your copy here 



Friday, March 31, 2017

Book Review: Finding Juliet by Toffee

Name of the Book: Finding Juliet 

Author: Toffee

Publisher: Srishti Publisher 

Star Rating: 4 stars 

My Review: 

‘Every time I tried kissing happiness, it came very close to me and then pushed me away,’ I said, looking at the glass of vodka in my hand..."

The above lines set the mood of the story. You already form an opinion of what lies ahead. You already get a glimpse of the characters you will be traveling along within these pages and you already know that this is a post-Devdas story...

Wrong.

This is the window to the world of Arjun. Where you glimpse an innocent boy, standing at the thresh hold of his virginity, confused by the confusing emotions playing around him. A boy who had to grow up when disaster strikes and rips his world apart.

Toffee is one writer who is very sure of his audience. The young college going crowd who are victims of their own confusion. Yet that is just one part of their personality. They have so much inner strength that you can but only marvel at their tenacious nature. Their bouncing back in life. And this novel is all about that.

Arjun has a weak heart. And by that, I don't mean in the medical sense. He falls in love very quickly - every time. To give him his due, it's mostly the girls who are ditching him but he is not one of those guys who will be lost in memories. I like that - a good lesson for the young Romeos out there. Finding Juliet is almost like a journey. A journey to find one's true love. Often we are searching for things out of our comfort zone, forgetting to look around us. But where love is concerned, destiny plays a very important part and Toffee has used it very effectively to bring together the two lovers.

Arjun and Shraddha...
That is the first love story. I liked Arjun a lot. His innocence was quite touching. An innocence which reminded me of my own 20's when the people around us start shaping our lives. Even I was surprised regarding the outcome of this love story but like I said before, destiny already had set the wheels of their life in motion and however much Arjun tries, he could not escape it.

In this section, I found the author's narration very filmy. His comparison of the protagonist's life with movies like 3 idiots and Dil Chahta hai makes you wonder how much influence the Bollywood movies had on the author. But that is the phase which we all have gone through. So keeping the age factor in mind, I thought it was very well projected.

Anjali...
The anchor in Arjun's life whom he had met when he was four years of old. From childhood love to escaping commitment. But throughout the story, Anjali remain his conscious. So what makes Arjun commitment phobic? Sometimes I found him downright idiotic who went about life crying over people whom he had lost rather than appreciating the one's he had at that point in time.
The main disappointing phase of Arjun's life was when he met the girls after Neha. One after the other proved his character to be very shallow. There was no hero like quality which made me want to read them. The guys any college going girl will meet in a canteen, who either will whistle at you or turn into a roadside Romeo. Love without dignity does not fascinate the reader in me.

But let's not forget the title - Finding Juliet. It's after all the protags journey in finding love.

Author's style:
Toffee comes across as a very bold writer and I like his writing style - young and peppy. But don't go about searching for literary context. It's a romance in which you will see the growth of a protagonist and that to me, as a reader, is very important.

Would I recommend it?
A one time read which will make you smile at places and grit your teeth at a few crude scenes. This is a raw romance, not a story of a dashing hero and damsel in distress. It's the story of the youth of today.

















Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I’m Not a Betrayer by Sonam Gupta

Name of the Book: I'm Not A Betrayer
Author: Sonam Gupta
Star Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here.

If Sonam Gupta would not have contacted me to give her my honest opinion, I might not have picked up this book.

A few things that go against this book:
1.       The cover suggests a sensuality which I was not sure of. It did not suggest erotica but rather an underdeveloped cover created for sensationalism.

2.       The word count. Just 19 pages.

Still, I took a long time to read this book for the simple matter, I didn't know how to review it. As a woman or as a reader. Many times, a story connects with you yet there are loopholes that stay a long time with you.

Ms. Gupta’s work is more like a conversation. One of those coffee table convos one has with friends. The topic is something which is very much in vogue – marital rape.  Let’s first decide what is marital rape?

“Marital Rape Law and Legal Definition. Marital rape means any unwanted sexual acts by a spouse or ex-spouse that is committed without the other person's consent. Such illegal sexual activity are done using force, threat of force, intimidation, or when a person is unable to consent.”

In the 19 pages, the silent no of Sonam started playing with my mind. Every time I read such stories, I blame the parents. Forcing a girl child to marry just because they want to do their duties. And as parents, why are we so shy about speaking of sex to our children? When will we realize that it is one of the most vital points of a marriage? A girl who is always told to shy away from sex is asked to sleep with a stranger every night without knowing what sex and love are all about. How can we be such hypocrites?

Every time I read these stories, I want to shout out at our so called society that portrays marriage as an achievement. How can marriage be an achievement? It's a phase of life. One that we should transcend to only if our heart and body want it. I chose my marriage. I choose to be married to my husband and I am damn proud that I am a daughter of such parents who never thought I was ‘supposed’ to be married. But when girls like Sonam are ‘provoked’ I hope they know what they are doing and not resort to criminal acts. Here she has been lucky her husband did not rush to the nearest police station. Though I am glad she found her solution to the problem, I also feel as a writer she has not been able to tell her whole story properly. I wish she had taken the help of someone to bring out her story to its full potential.

When did she first say her no? How did her husband react for the first time when she said no? DID SHE EVEN SAY NO? These were the questions that came to my mind every time.

As a topic of the day, I can give this story a 5 star. But since I am a reviewer of books, I can only give this 3 stars. But girls who are ready for marriage in India, please read this book. Learn when to say No and definitely Sex is NOT a taboo topic. Speak up, Girls.


Grab a copy of the book here. 
Also Available on  Kindle Unlimited


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review: These Lines of Mehendi by Sumeetha Manikandan

Name of the Book: These Lines of Mehendi 
Author: Sumeetha Manikandana
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

"A ‘married woman’ is an auspicious creature as far as weddings are concerned. It doesn’t matter if her husband is greedy, selfish, foolish, retarded or if she herself was abused, beaten and miserable.”

And with this note “These Lines of Mehendi by Sumeetha Manikandan” opens the window to our hypocritical society. Have you ever seen the loneliness and desperation etched on the faces of the widows in the streets of Banaras? Young girls can lead a life of desolation and poverty, yet when they try to make something out of their lives, they are shunned by our society. But those same girls can be forced into a life of prostitution and warming the bed of the rich class without anyone pointing their fingers at the men. At that point of time when they are ‘touched’ ‘felt’ and ‘seen’, their inauspicious tags are not questioned by our society. And the saddest part is, we cannot always blame the men for this. Often it’s the woman who causes misery in another woman’s life.

The Story:

Lalitha is a widow. But her being a widow is not her only problem. She became a widow much before the actual death of her husband. Her husband was abusive and had an affair. She had left her husband just a few months after her marriage and years later she gets the news that he has committed suicide. While the reasons are not known to her, her well-settled life again representing the so-called set paradigm of our hypocritical society. Now she is no longer an abused wife but a widow, which according to our society is a fate by far much worse than being abused. Especially in the line of business, Lalitha was in. Brides would not consider having even her shadow as auspicious.

But fate intervenes and Shrikanth enters her life.  A man colored by his past and now he wants only a marriage of convenience. Will the two be able to move on in life forms the nucleus of this short novella by Ms. Manikandan.

What I liked …

Ms. Manikandan has a very soft tone in regaling her stories. You can almost get the feeling of a bonfire night and be listening to tales. Even when the issues are serious, it’s not preachy and weaves in well as a background to the main love story.

Marriage is such a nerve wrecking institution. When you promise your Life to stay with a stranger without knowing where the road is leading to. As a woman, I never guessed how a man would feel, but Ms. Manikandan has brought out the man’s perspective beautifully.  Shrikanth’s jitters, his nervousness, and that slight eagerness to see Lalitha are all showcased with the words the author has painted the scene with.

This story has an old movie charm. Innocence. A southern flavor that will make you instantly feel at home with all the characters in this novel – from Padma, the aunt to Geethamma. Ms. Manikandan has created a lovely feel at home kind of story. The voice used throughout is soft and pulls the reader into the love story of Lalitha and Srikanth. The SMS conversation between the two is heart touching.

Would I recommend it: 

With a lot of family values and in today’s day and age an innocent love story. Romance readers you will find passion can be subtle too.

I had read this book earlier when it was part of a dual collection. Re- reading any novel is actually not my cup of tea but somehow I got sucked into this story and it reads even better than the earlier version.

Grab your copy here 

Monday, February 13, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: THE DOPPELGANGER BY PRATEEK YADAV

Name of the Book: The Doppelganger
Author: Prateek Yadav
Rating: 4 stars
Read the Blur in Goodreads

A Somnambulist

Is a man traveling in a bus with the loss of memory. Not knowing where he came from and where he was going. A piece of newspaper paves his way on the memory lane, showing him the way to a hotel where he has to start working. Clues are scattered here and there which starts making him question his own characteristic. Is he good or is he bad?








The man had mentioned luggage under my seat. I stretched my foot backward, under the seat and sure enough, there was a bag. Was it mine?

A man who does not have anything to lose is one of the most dangerous man.


The Mysterious Element
Is rampant in this story. A reader will have a few nail-biting moments wondering where the story is leading to. Few frustrating moments are inevitable yet it is the very fact that keeps you turning the pages until the end. There are many moments when I almost gave up especially when the doppelgänger factor was highlighted. After the scene of the painting is unraveled, one would think the story is over as it has run out its course of action. Rest assured, nothing is what it seems.

The Villain Effect
Is what puzzled me a lot in the story. Everybody seemed bad, except maybe Robert and the butler. There was a lot of confusion as to where the characters are going. Just when I was sure that Rai was the major bad character of the story, another character enters and takes a story to another direction.

The Gory scenarios
Though the actual mystery of the story was simple enough; yet the crimes that they committed are very gory. The one that was committed in the painting room gave me shudders. The author has created many incidents in the 175 pages to keep the readers jumping from page to page.

The Puzzling Characters
For a short novel, that many characters in this book would sometimes confuse the readers. Of course, this being a thriller, one is supposed to be confused and due to the doppelgänger effect, even the readers would start questioning Who's Who. 

Reason for star rating

1. I kept on guessing who's who throughout the novel.

2. The author has done a good job in creating sympathy for the main villain. There were moments, what's the ending when I did not want him to be caught yet the question would keep on popping up as to how he would redeem himself of crimes of that magnitude.

3. Prakash shouted out ‘hallelujah’ in one of the scenes when he was a street boy. Many street boys of India would know that exclamation.

4. In some of the places, there are few discontinuities in the scenes. For example page number 85, he closed the door and in the next moment, he was on the floor. How did he get there? Did he fall? Stumble or sank in the flow in despair? This is an example of nitpicking :-)

WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?

Yes, I would. For those who love psychological thrillers, you would have some nail-biting moments in this one. But a fair warning – if at any place you want to play the guessing game here – don't. It will be very frustrating. The Doppelgänger by Prateek Yadav will give you a few nail-biting and thrilling moments – a must for a thriller reader. If you are planning to play the whodunit game, please don't. The ending is unbelievable.

THE LINE THAT STAYED WITH ME:

I was losing my mind. There was no denying that now. The questions, the confusions, the guilt, and the horror had knocked down my feeble dam of sanity. However, it was uncanny how my hand was still steady, rock steady. I had just committed ...
One of the most horrific moments of this novel.

Grab your copy from Amaozon.com


Friday, February 3, 2017

Book Review: A Walk in the Rain by Udai Yalda

Name of the Book: A Walk in the Rain
Author: Udai Yalda
Rating: 3.5 stars
Read the Blurb on  Goodreads


Udai Yalda makes his debut with the novel named, "A Walk in the Rain'. As I turned the pages, I have no clue why the I suddenly remembered the movie Baaghi. Though the protagonist Sunny has no resemblance to Salman Khan's character in the movie, but the feel of a prostitute running with the guy from the villains, in this case, had a very Bollywood feel. I cannot say that is an original story but the execution wise, yes it's different. There is a certain rawness in this story. Characters are not sugar coated or made larger than life. They are downright normal humans in a bad situation. 

The love story between Sunny and Saloni are not a simple boy meets a girl story. The layers are well formed and the author has brought out the chemistry between the characters well. The emotions are build up between Sunny and Saloni due to them falling in love irrespective of the fact that they hated each other. 

“Sandy Candy.” Now he called louder, which was unmistakable. She couldn’t fool herself this time. After a brief attempt to defy the eventuality, she finally gave in, deciding to embrace her everlasting dream, tantalizing her for some time, testing her endurance. She abruptly stopped, still hesitant to turn around to face him."
You get the picture?

While this being a debut novel, many readers will overlook a few errors but having words oft repeated is regressive to a reader. And the adjectives used in a few places need to be looked into. "Obnoxiously stubborn punk" "obnoxious look" "obnoxious stare" and again "obnoxious look" can seriously be avoided. But nothing a good editor cannot rectify. While this is one downside in the novel the upscale would be an interesting story. Mr. Yalda does know how to tell a story and there is no doubt about that. 

And a sense of humor. A very subtle, mocking sense of humor. 

It was a Nepali kukri knife which he won from a ludomaniac Gurkha during one of his rare gambling successes.

Ludomaniac Gurkha and such odd phrases will definitely bring out a smile in some very serious situation. A lot of action and a fast pace made this book a good read. 

Grab your copy here




Thursday, February 2, 2017

Book Review: Soulless by MV Kasi

Name of the Book: Soulless
Author: M.V Kasi
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Goodreads

The title of "Soulless" intrigued me from the moment Ms.Kasi requested a review. Generally, with such titles in the romantic genre, you imagine a heartless hunk for whom the damsel falls for. Women authors are changing the very thinking of the readers as more and more of us are exploring women in different roles for our stories. Soulless is none other than a young girl called Sia. A very young and a pregnant girl. 

The Opening Chapter

Sia Sampanth's love life is as mysterious as her pregnancy. Her love for Ajay and her sympathy is very small when compared to the way she changes his life with the declaration of her pregnancy. And right from the beginning, Ms.Kasi keeps the readers enthralled with the mysterious elements studded throughout the novel.

"YOU ARE PREGNANT, Miss Sampath. Your baby should arrive in about eight and a half months."

Soulless is a great plot and not one character seems out of place or forced into the story to increase the word count. This is a complicated story but the complications are laid interlocked with each other. A story followed by a story. Like a map connecting the past and the future of the characters. Innocence and deception are the two sides of a double-edged sword on which Ajay and Sia have to walk to follow their destiny. Beautifully penned to bring out a lump in the throat of the readers. 

The Story:

Is equally complicated and beautiful. It plays with two emotions of readers mainly, sympathy and incredulity. And as the journey of Sia unfolds- anger. An anger which every human has to feel for an abused child. This novel is packed with social issues. Trust, loss of innocence, growing up as an orphan and many other small nuances which make life a deadly feat one must survive to tell the tale.

Every character of this book is either a friend of Sia or a foe. But the question is who is going to be a friend or foe. Ms. Kasi has brought the different shades of human nature beautifully. A lovely woman Jyotika who is trying to keep her love to herself is not the main character in this story, yet she plays an important part in unfolding many facets of Sia.

Sia has to be mentioned in my review. I just loved her flaws. Her fear is her strength. Her hatred is her weapon and her love is her Achilles' heel. How the three emotions play an important role in her life makes this story very interesting.  

The Ending 
Is Ruthless.  One has to read the book to understand this but if you do, then please don't comment under my post for I can assure you if it was not a spoiler, I would have mentioned it. Ms. Kasi. Well played. 


Grab your copy here..

Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: The Prince's Special Bride by Devika Fernando


Name of the book: The Prince's Special Bride
Author: Devika Fernando
Star Rating: 4 stars.
Read the blurb at Goodreads

My Review:
I am reading Ms. Fernando's work after a long time. I always had a feeling that her writing caters to YA novels but with this series of  Royal Romance, she has certainly proved me wrong. 

The Starting Phase:

Every romance reader reads a romance novel for one thing only - the 'good feel' feeling that remains even after you close the book. Ms. Fernando's romance has that. Now who wouldn't want to be a Cinderella of their own love story? But here Marie is not a damsel in distress where the knight in the shining armor comes to the rescue. She stands out as a very strong woman who loves her identity. This makes me want to connect with Marie - for the days of a damsel in distress are gone. 

The Princely attitudes:
While writing a romance series and that too of a make believe Prince - not only does a writer create believable characters but also the world where the Prince will rule supreme. The alpha hero who escapes all those swooning ladies, only to be caught up by the bluntly-spoken, tomboyish yet beautiful (read that as someone who does not know how beautiful she is) ordinary girl.
Both Christian and Marie did justice to their respective role. 

The ambiance:
Was created by Christian's sister, Olivia. I really liked this character a lot and a little birdie told me that she makes an appearance in the series later. I am looking forward to reading the love story of Olivia. Once you read this book, you will know why :) Her beauty and grace will leave a mark on the reader.

What I loved about this book:
1. The total royal ambiance. 
2. The chemistry between Marie and Christian.
3. The struggle between falling in love and duty.  
4. The matchmaker :)

What I needed more from this book:
A few scenes I think the writer could have done without and a bit tighter editing. Not much. Just a bit :) Looking forward to reading the whole series now. 

Would I recommend this book:
A must read for all romance readers.

Grab your copy @


Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Review: Shadowed Promise by Sunanda Chatterjee

Name of the Book: Shadowed Promise 
Author: Sunanda Chatterjee 
Rating: 5 stars. 

Starting from the suburban Mumbai, Sunanda Chatterjee takes us across the seven seas by the sheer power of her words. I traveled along with Moyna from Mumbai to Beverly hills and with each step, I found myself getting closer to Moyna. 
I just loved Moyna's character. After a long time, I am reading a character that is complete with all her vulnerability and strength. Her darkness is her curse. The deaths around her are her nightmares. Yet out of that, she emerges as a strong career woman with a heart of gold. 

“And Lucy loves you. So don’t you get it? If you believe dogs have a sixth sense, then you must believe you aren’t bad luck.”

The above lines connected me to Moyna. Her vulnerability is at its peak at this point of time yet she is not one of those dames who needs a man to lean on. There were moments I hated her aunt for playing with her emotions. Moyna seemed a much bigger person than me. Never complaining and accepting all the problems that came her way. The characters around her are very well etched. Be it the Aunt to Avinash. From Karan to Sameer. As a reader, I could connect to each and every character of this novel. 

Her journey from Mumbai to the USA, her enrollment and her making new friends. At this point, I just had one small issue. The smoothness with which everything happened to Moyna. A bit of struggle could have added to her character but then if she had such a childhood, I suppose God had to be kind to her somewhere. But new culture and without much of a cash - somewhere, something must have been tough. No?

And then there was a part which surprised me the most. The meeting of Moyna and Bashir. Forgiveness is a very touchy subject with me personally. I don't know, if as a human, I can forget a crime of that magnitude. And in such a calm way.  I had the same problem with another book I had read in the recent months. The attitude one has about forgiving - especially the way we writers write it- I sometimes find it very naive. Even I do it. For we want to spread the love and forgiveness. But in reality, can I forgive a person like Bashir? But yes, I do agree with Ms. Chatterjee's logic of Mass hysteria. Very beautifully terrifying. 

As I close this book - one line will stay with me for a long time - 

"She’d lose a child she’d borne, in order to accept one she’d abandoned."

Even if Moyna is totally surrounded by problems, it's still a story of love and hope. And remember to keep a box of tissue next to you - this story will touch your heart.  Moyna's every achievement made my heart swell with pride. Loved this book. 

Grab you copy @