Friday, February 28, 2014

#BookReview : Karachi, You're Killing Me! by Saba Imtiaz

On the jacket:

Mohammed Hanif says: "Racey, pacey and laugh-out-loud funny. A Murree beer-soaked love letter to Karachi and journalism."  

Ayesha is a twenty-something reporter in one of the world's most dangerous cities. Her assignments range from showing up at bomb sites and picking her way through scattered body parts to interviewing her boss's niece, the couture-cupcake designer. In between dicing with death and absurdity, Ayesha despairs over ever meeting a nice guy, someone like her old friend Saad, whose shoulder she cries on after every romantic misadventure. Her choices seem limited to narcissistic, adrenaline-chasing reporters who'll do anything to get their next story - to the spoilt offspring of the Karachi elite who'll do anything to cure their boredom. Her more pressing problem, however, is how to straighten her hair during the chronic power outages.  Karachi, You're Killing Me! is Bridget Jones's Diary meets The Diary of a Social Butterfly - a comedy of manners in a city with none.

Review:

I picked up Karachi, You're Killing Me! by Saba Imtiaz purely because of it's cover, and then for the blurb. I have friends in Karachi and I realise how ironical the title of this book is in the current scenario. Guns and lipsticks make for a deadly combo, something like a daaku haseena, and this quipped my curiosity. And, I have loved everything I have read, by Pakistani authors.

Ayesha is a reporter who has a few assignments in hand. These assignments are of varied kinds - from fashion shows to mafia killings to political assignments. She lives with her father and a cat, and has a more or less chaotic life. Narrated in first person, Ayesha is trying to find a match for herself.

This story is about Pakistanis. You know, people from across the border? But yet again, the fact that we are the same people with similar ideologies, basic behaviours and pet peeves, on both sides of the border, can be clearly seen in this book. The characters are identifiable and very well defined. Young people who smoke, drink, fall in love, make-out, and do everything random we do in our lives. Makes one wonder about the real scene with alcohol prohibition in the country.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]


#BookReview : Enders by Lissa Price

On the jacket:

The riveting conclusion to the sci-fi thriller STARTERS! Someone is after Starters like Callie and Michael - teens with chips in their brains. They want to experiment on anyone left over from Prime Destinations -With the body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn't want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save her life - but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena's memories, too . . . and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body?      No one is ever who they appear to be, not even the Old Man. Determined to find out who he really is and grasping at the hope of a normal life for herself and her younger brother, Callie is ready to fight for the truth. Even if it kills her.

Review:

This was my first read of a book by Lissa Price and I had been thinking of reading her for a while, since I'd heard a lot about her books. So, I had to pick this up, despite it not being my favoured genre of reads.

Enders concludes a sci-fi thriller Starters. A story about two teens, Callie and Michael, who have chips inserted inside their brain and someone is after them. Tyler is also with them. However, this story belongs to Callie and she is the hero here. A very intense plot, it was specially interested to read how Callie tried to get rid of the chip inside her head and defeat the old man whom she hears in her head.  

The concept of body renting has been explored and Price has taken this to a new level altogether. Not being a fan of this genre, all this was so new and fascinating for me. Extremely entertaining, and engrossing. I suppose now I should read the preceding story as well, because Enders has got a new fan in me.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#BookReview : Supertraits of Superstars by Priyanka Sinha Jha

On the jacket:

Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Vidya Balan, Karan Johar. Each of these celebrities are adored and looked up to by millions who aspire to emulate their success stories. But what is it that separates them, and other Bollywood stars, from the rest? Which is that one defining trait that makes them stand out, and how can you benefit from knowing it?   In this one-of-a-kind book, Priyanka Sinha Jha looks at eleven luminaries from Bollywood, and the attribute that is perhaps most responsible for their success. She details their stories, their struggles, their efforts to overcome setbacks, and what it is about them that made them not just reach the top of their game, but stay there. Be it Amitabh Bachchan’s discipline, Aamir Khan’s perfectionist nature, Salman Khan’s generosity, John Abraham’s enterprise or Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s grace—each star has one unique quality that others can imbibe to reach greater heights in their own lives. With pithy observations and inspirational conversations, Supertraits of Superstars will show you how to live life star-size.  "Supertraits of Superstars could be a guidebook to a lot of youngsters out there who want to reach out for the stars and touch the sky." - John Abraham

Review:

We all see them movie stars on the screen, in films, attending award ceremonies, giving interviews and everything looks so perfect. Everyone is perfectly dressed, in perfect health and successful. We do know all this hasn't come to them in a platter, but rarely do we sit and think that movie stars are people who derive inspiration from. Of course, Hrithik coming out of the brain surgery, or Farhan Akhtar training for Bhag Milkha Bhag - are super swe-inspiring, but we don't really know much about the psyche of the person and what has gone to give them so much mental strength.

In Supertraits of Superstars, Priyanka Sinha Jha has picked up eleven superstars and in then, one major trait which has made them what they are. That's how the chapters are named. (eg) In Amitabh Bachchan she's picked discipline, while in Katrina Kaif, perseverance; reinvention in Vidya Balan and generosity in Salman Khan. In this book, Jha has also spoken about SRK, Aamir Khan, John Abraham, Ranbir Raj Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, and Karan Johar.

Each of these people have been under immense public scrutiny and have had numerous chances to crumble and fall. But they didn't. How and why is what this book tells you. Jha has spoken about other traits of these stars too, and not only stuck to the traits mentioned in the chapter name. Every star has something we can draw from; learn and implement from. 

A very quick read, for it's simple language and gripping content - you wouldn't want to not read it all in one go. Personally, I was sold to the book and it's idea, right after the first chapter - the one on Amitabh Bachchan. It is the one I know I will keep coming back to, from time to time. 

Other interesting aspects of the book are the the quotes and the caricatures of the artists at the beginning of their chapters. Brilliant work, I must say.

Rating: ***.5/

[The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.]

#BookReview : Virgin Gingelly by V. Sanjay Kumar

On the jacket:



I hope to be remembered in this street, amongst the lame, as the husband of the one with amorous thoughts and sexy legs. There used to be a writer here in this empty house, they will say. He had a porous mind.
A stubborn writer struggles with his stories in a city that has been encroached.
The last bastion is an urban agraharam near Mylapore where a bunch of misfits perform a strange kutcheri. Among these are existential street dogs, short-changed lovers, disgruntled housewives, runaways with bombs, veshti-wearing elders, and nihilist teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality. With a singular desire to escape, these characters visit each others stories creating a layered narrative of loss and ennui.
In language both gritty and humourous, and often surprisingly poetic, V Sanjay Kumars narrative, set in modern middle-class, housing-cooperative Chennai, tackles the simple conundrum of being and belonging.

Review:

I finished reading this book in the morning and all day, the book with it's stories and poems had been playing in my mind. I am still not sure how to review the book, lest I fall in doing justice to it. This book is not really for the ones who prefer easy reads, and few might not even like it. Don't let the cover pic fool your, this book is not about virgins or kathakali dancers.

You need to be patient. You need to delve right into the pages and live with the characters. Yes, be ready to be an onlooker in the story. The author ensures you are pulled write in. Very fine specimen of writing, the book is engrossing. On the flipside, you might want to stop reading. But don't. I would suggest, you read till the last page. You will feel enriched.

Narrated by the author, one will find various narrations and see a haphazard collection of them. It's as simple as this. Take your own life and pull up incidences from over the years, randomly, and place them one after the other but not in any order. The language is poetic yet simple, and the story, at times, seen from the eyes of other characters as well. 

There are sections in this book, which once can read and re-read. My favourite is this thing about what book collecting is, so much that I simply had to instagram the quote. I loved these lines so much, they are perfect. Another set of likes I loved is, "I miss Delhi. I miss the seasons, I miss the gehu roti titbits and I miss the Hindi sound of kutte kameenay."

Rating: ****/5

[This is a review for Market My Book, The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

#Author Interview : Pamela Q Fernandes

She is a practicing doctor and is now a published writer of a romance novella which I love devouring. Here I am, in conversation with Pamela Q Fernandes, author of Seoul-Mates:

Congratulations on Seoul-Mates being published. Tell us a bit about yourself?

Me? <Giggles> I am a general practitioner by day and a blogger/ writer by night. I was born and raised in Kuwait, have travelled to Kuwait, India, Philippines, USA and Oman because of school and training.
Did you frame the characters based on your friends and yourself, or built them on a fresh mould? 

I had lots of Koreans friends at the International Hostel while studying medicine in the Philippines. I saw them fall in love, out of love, fool around etc. The girls introduced me to their food, culture, customs, drama and music. So I wrote based on my experiences with them. But the story and characters were kinda fresh because an Anglo Indian- Korean pairing was next to impossible.

Weaving a plot based in Seoul, pretty out of the ordinary, isn’t it? I have a friend who absolutely loves South Korea. Do you too have any special love for the country?

Oh yeah. I didn’t want to write a story that was based in India. I wanted to use my book to display a new culture. Are you kidding me? (laughs) Love would be an understatement. I dig all things Korean- their music, drama, movies, some of their food. If someone were to make a movie out of my book I would even know which male actors I want to cast. But honestly I like South-east Asian everything in general, so Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Jap it’s all good for me.

Tell us something about your struggle with getting published. We have a fair idea that it isn’t a cake walk. But how was the real deal for you?

It was a lot of heartbreak and rejection. I struggled in the slush piles for a couple of years. I was really blessed when Naheed Hassan at Indireads took a chance and believed that Seoul-mates was possible. So now here I am.

So many romance novels out there, staying different yet on similar lines is important. Was that difficult?

An Anglo-Indian girl marrying a Korean was a tough sell. I think it still is. But then nobody knows the Korean culture at all. So weaving that into the story, creating characters convincing enough made it different enough. In the end it was a fulfillment of what two people wanted – to be loved. It was a tad bit difficult but the end result was great.
Any brickbats which really hurt, yet? 

Not really. The toughest part was convincing everyone that Katia chose to marry Jihan because she had to. Once that roadblock was removed it was smooth sailing.
How and when did you decide to be a published author? Was it always a plan, or did you start thinking on the lines when you thought you had a plot with you.

I always knew I was going to be an author. I had done a lot of writing in school and college. My teachers and English professors honed my skills because they strongly thought I was going down that career path. Things changed once I did medicine, but then I started medical writing, and I enjoyed writing so much that I thought why not write what I love. And that was the best decision I made.
What next? New genre; or you would want to stick to romance?

I always end up meeting romantics who have beaten unspeakable odds to be with the love of their lives and have made it. So as long as loves remains perennial so will my work in that area. Being the realist that I am, throwing a wrench of suspense in is probably what I will keep doing to my romances. 
(winks) I think I’ll juggle between romance, mystery and maybe speculative fiction.
Who do you read, who are your favourites?
George Eliot is my absolute favourite. Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Judith McNaught, Bronte sisters are some others. Among the current authors I like Tess Gerritsen and Hyatt Bass.
Any to-dos for wannabe authors?

Umm. Honestly I’m just a novella old, so I’m not the person to give advice. But I think Stephen King’s advice would be sound- Read a lot. The only way you learn is by reading and whatever happens to you as an author, be grateful. 
Buy Seoul-Mates here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

#BookReview : Haveli by Zeenat Mahal

On the jacket:


It’s the 1970′s in Jalalabad, an erstwhile princely state in Pakistan. Chandni is a self-proclaimed cynic and prefers to be called C. An orphan brought up by her domineering grandmother, a.k.a. The Broad, C is rebellious, quick-witted and stunningly beautiful.  When Taimur, a.k.a. Alpha Male, enters the closed universe of the haveli, he is smitten, but he’ll never admit it.   The stakes get higher when the father, who had so cruelly abandoned her at birth, returns and C’s dream of reuniting with him becomes a reality. But now she has to choose between her father and his hand-picked groom on the one side, and Alpha Male and The Broad on the other.

Review:

Haveli is Chandni's story. A dead mother and a father who deserted her, she has grown up in this grandmother, whom she refers to as The Broad, but calls Bi Amma and her half brother, Zafar. Chandni has been in love with a man years her senior, Kunwar Rohail Khanzada, since she was nine and he was twenty eight. Now, he has a thirteen year old daughter but this fact doesn't deter Chandni from her ambition to be his bride one day.

Chandni hates her name and prefers to be called 'C'. She also hates her Bi Amma, as she is very strict, but dearly loves Zafar. Also in the plot are Baba and Bua, whom C loves dearly and the love is reciprocated. Hell breaks loose in the haveli when while C is eyeing Kunwar, in comes the very handsome and sure of himself, Taimur, Baba's son, whom Bi Ammi has picked to be C's groom.

Taimur and C hate each other from the first glance. Or at least, C does. She picks the choicest names for him when she is angry at him - from Alpha Male, Evil Moriarity, Uriah Heep, to Darcy and even Heathcliff, as and how he made her blood boil. Taimur on the other hand, seemed to see through her and at times, called her Medusa. With her mind set on marrying Kunwar, Taimur was an irritation she didn't want. Imagine her plight when Bi Amma declared she was to wed him, Taimur, and Kunwar to wed a Ayesha Chugtai!

Amidst all this, C's estranged father returned to claim her. Just her, and take her away. Everyone sees a selfish plot behind this act, except C. She wants to go with him and even fights with her beloved brother Zafar for this. Will she? What will happen? Heartbroken, and with everyone who had once loved her, now against her decision, what will Chandni do? Will she fall in love with Taimur?

A very interesting and gripping tale of love, deceit, deception and loss, Zeenat Mahal has done a very good job in telling a story in mere 63 pages. Characters are well defined and the situations very new and fresh; she has also peppered the plot with a bit of timely humour. I read this book as a bystander of the events going by in C's life.

Rating: ****.5/5

[This is an author request review, however, the views are mine.]

Friday, February 21, 2014

#BookReview : Seoul-Mates by Pamela Q. Fernandes

On the jacket:


Jilted by the man she followed to Seoul, Katia has hit rock bottom. But within months, her whirlwind romance and marriage to Jihan has everyone talking.  Jihan is the heir to the Kwan business empire while Katia is a foreigner, an Anglo-Indian who has no business ensnaring Seoul’s most eligible bachelor. No one knows that their marriage is based on a contract, and that they have come together for their own ulterior motives.  Together in chic, metropolitan Seoul the two forge a relationship that is tested by intrigue, jilted lovers and a hidden nemesis.  Can their newfound love survive the forces ranged against them? Or will the vows they took be in vain?

Review:

A woman can never have enough love stories to read, and every love story has it's own tales of trials which tug the reader's heart strings mercilessly, yet, leave with them with a happy, mushy feeling. Seoul-Mates is a love story based in Seoul and that itself has such a fairy tale ring to it, doesn't it? I mean, I haven't read any plot framed around Koreans, before this.

A story about Jihan, heir to a business empire in Seoul and Katia, an Anglo-Indian girl who has followed the man she loved, Junki, all the way to Seoul, only to be dumped mercilessly. Jihan and Katia get into a contract marriage, Jihan because he didn't want his father to decide who he marries, and Katia, because, well, perhaps on rebound. 

Despite being in a contract marriage, and vowing never to bring in emotions, both fall in love with the other. A whole lot of incidents take place, some romantic and heart warming, some touching - until they both accept that they are in love and confess to each other. A whole lot of misunderstandings take place, in between, and these have been spun in the plot so cleverly, I was left biting my nails in anticipation.

An extremely good effort at portraying a tale of the hearts, peppered with deceit, cheating, misfortunes and heartbreaks - Seoul-Mates is an ideal read for your weekend afternoons.

Rating: ****.5/5

[This is an author request review, however, the opinion is all mine.]

Monday, February 17, 2014

#BookReview : The Prophecy of Trivine by Tnahsin Garg, Srivatsan Sridharan, Pulkit Gupta

On the jacket:



An emissary of an advanced alien race travels to the Earth to undertake responsibility of an experiment that has gone out of control. The outcome of this fateful experiment, which was conceived millions of years ago by her species, now rests in her hands. As she prepares to deliver her final judgment, she comes across three young men in a sacred forest who change her life forever. 

These three men- a scientist, a hacker and an artist, happen to take refuge in that forest, trying to escape from the oddities of their own unfair lives. Struggling with their dreams and demons, they begin to explore the dark and paranormal behavior of the forest by forging a companionship. From the rare flora and fauna breathing alive on the ground to the deadly wide expanse of the whimsy black sky, everything they find is yet another puzzle unsolved. 

Little did they know that four of them hold in their hands the future of mankind and much beyond imagination, they are connected through an ancient Prophecy that was long lost in the sands of time.

Review:

I was approached by one of the authors, Tnahsin, to review this book and despite this not being my choice of genre to read, I opted to. 

I began reading without much expectation but at the end of it, I must say, it's very difficult to keep the interest of someone who isn't a fan of the genres - but, the authors have managed to do a commendable job here. 

Characters are well-defined and true to themselves, the plot is sci-fi but the kind which can interest everyone. The continuity doesn't skip a bit and the narration is smooth. A tale about three friends - Phil, a hacker; siv, a scientist and Arty, an artist - by three writers. 

Phil is an ethical hacker who is trying to change the world in his own way. Like most young men are, temperamental and emotional, he is also a wanted criminal. Siv is a scientist who is very dedicated to his research. Arty is our artist who love art as well as literature with passion. Our villian here is a woman, Xona. 

Rating: ***.5/5

[This is an author request review. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview : An Unequal Harmony by Souvik Gupta

On the jacket:


02 April 2011: While the Indian cricket team fights on the Wankhede grounds to create history, two men engage in a game of words to determine the future of their lives. Reva a celebrated socialite journalist and Anshuman Mehra creative director of Indias most popular advertising agency are a happily married couple till a car accident relegates Reva to the ICU and reveals to Anshuman the biggest secret of their lives Siddharth Kashyap. A reputed fashion photographer, Siddharth had met Reva a year and a half after the Mehras got married. But what started off as a formal professional association soon morphed into a friendship that transformed into love. As Revas health swings between crisis and recovery, Anshuman and Siddharth retrospect their lives and associations with the woman who bound them together. It is through their reminiscence of the relationships and interaction with each other that we traverse through their meetings, their feelings, their heartbreaks, their dilemmas and their insecurities. However, what looms large is one pertinent question can Reva love two people at the same time?

Review:

A story revolving around Siddharth, Anshuman and Reva, An Unequal Harmony is Souvik Gupta's debut novel. Despite being a debut attempt, it was quite a decent and honest attempt. 

A love triangle between the three characters, the story begins at the point where all three are in the hospital. Set in an urban setup, the characters are well defined and the story progresses at a set pace. The plot transits between the past and the present at times, and I must say, these transitions are pretty smooth.


A light read, yet on a serious subject, the author involves the reader into the plot and as a reader, you would find yourself a witness to the preceedings in their lives. Questions arise. Can Reva love two people at the same time? Does she need to chose? Whom does she chose and how does the other react, in that case? 

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Srishti Publishers & Distributors. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

Monday, February 10, 2014

#BookReview : Destroyed by Ishq by Mr. Invisible

On the jacket:

Its not just a cold February morning that freezes all activity at IIT. The topper of the Computer Science batch is found hanging inside his room locked from the outside. A day later, in a fit of anxiety, his best friend erases his suicide note from his laptop, thereby obliterating the only way that could have led to understanding the reason behind such a catastrophe.  The smartest among the group of software experts asked to retrieve it finally gets hold of it, but silently gives up on finding it and withdraws with the stolen suicide letter. What is it about the letter that makes him hide it from the world? Why does he lose himself in the amaranthine ocean of agony and forgets all else on reading it? Love is life giving, but Destroyed by Ishq explores the other side of love. Are you ready to turn the page?

Review:

I started reading Destroyed By Ishq in a very intrigued frame of mine; the cover pic as well as the blurb made me very curious. However, the underlying note of suicide made me skeptical as well. The blurb also gives an idea of it being a whodunnit, there being a suicide and the best friend of the person who committed the suicide, erasing his suicide note.

An interesting narrative, the idea behind the story is quiet different and innovative. Characters are well defined, though, the excessive usage of exclamation marks was a bit bothersome. While the frame of the plot was interesting, the story dragged. I mean, love does hurt but that's not all that it does. Morose, unhappy plots do not appeal to everyone. 

Rating: **/5

[This review is for Srishti Publishers & Distributors. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]




Sunday, February 9, 2014

#BookReview : Advantage Love by Madhuri Banerjee

On the jacket:


When Trisha Mathur leaves Lucknow for Delhi with stars in her eyes, little does she realize how drastically her life is about to transform. In the din and drama of college student politics, she meets debonair politician-in-the-making Vedant Kirloskar, who sweeps her off her feet with his poetry and rakish charm. When irreconcilable differences drive them apart, a broken-hearted Trisha becomes wary of love and men. That is until the dashing tennis star, Abhimanyu, comes along and fills her life with love and laughter. All at once she finds herself in the midst of the glamorous tennis circuit which is in stark contrast to her small-town moorings.  Even as Trisha embarks on a path of love and self-discovery, fate brings Vedant back into her life, asking that they rekindle their old romance. Will Trisha dare take a second chance with Vedant or move on to play match point with Abhimanyu? Advantage Love is a compelling and passionate contemporary Indian romance that explores the complexities of love, friendship and career in a woman’s life.

Review:

Small town girl, Delhi, Mumbai, JNU, politics, love, heartbreak, tennis, celebrities, family ties, friendships - Madhuri Banerjee's third book Advantage Love has it all. Trisha, our protagionist, comes from a protective nuclear family, an only child from a small(er) town who is now living alone in Delhi and making her own mark. The book begins when Trisha is in college and the plot moves on over the next few years, where she has fallen in and out of love (or so she believes), has started working with UNICEF, her dream organisation and is hopefully smarter than the college girls.

Trisha meets Vedant, a politician's son, in college and they fall in love. After college, Vedant goes back home, to his world and his responsibilities, leaving Trisha and their relationship. Few months later, Trisha meets Abhimanyu and romance blossoms. Abhimanyu, incidentally is one of the country's top tennis players, whose close friend is Leander Paes.Yes, there is an entire chapter with Lee as one of the characters of the story. Anyway, love is blooming between Abhimanyu and Trisha - and Abhimanyu is doing all that Vedant had not - including taking her to meet his family and them loving her. Perfect.

But, like most 20 something girls, Trisha stumbles into Vedant who claims to be still in love with her. Her mind falters and she isn't sure what to do, whom does she really love? Abhimanyu or Vedant?

Advantage Love is a quick, travel read and one of your regular love stories, stories we all have lived sometime. The cover is really attractive, though tennis, comes into the plot only after 100 pages. Genre specific, yet an ideal weekend travel, specially now that we are in the month of love. There was a little bit of information mismatch in between - like when Vedant meets Trisha again, first it's said that he was staying at the hotel, then he asks her to meet at the Sheraton where he is staying and later he confesses to be at the venue hotel for a meeting. What is an important part of the book is how the author has subtly woven life and love gyan into the book, and this I absolutely loved.

Sometimes people fall in love with the idea of marriage more than the idea of being in love. Unfortunately it can ruin a #relationship.
Don't give up what you have today for a commitment u may want in the future. 
Rating: ***.5/5

[This review is for Rupa Publications. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]
  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#BookReview : The Treasure of Kafur by Aroon Raman

On the jacket:


‘The fate of an Empire trembles in the balance…’  

Hindustan, 1580 AD. The Mughal Emperor Akbar is at the height of his power, seemingly invincible. But twenty years of war have earned him many enemies, and rebellion is brewing, led by Asaf Baig, the tyrannical ruler of Khandesh. Baig has stumbled upon the knowledge that the fabulous lost treasure of Malik Kafur, that will guarantee victory to Akbar’s enemies, is known to an old woman called Ambu.  

Baig Kidnaps Ambu to wrest the knowledge of the treasure from her; but her twenty-year-old grandson, Dattatreya, escapes and flees across Hindustan to enlist the help of the one person who has the most reason to stop Baig – the Mughal Emperor himself.  Staying one step ahead of capture and death, Datta is swept up in a world of kings and warrior princesses, of uncommon friendships and an implacable evil; and a desperate race against time to save his grandmother – and the Empire.  

Aroon Raman, national bestselling author of The Shadow Throne now brings us a riveting saga of action and adventure set in Mughal India.

Review:

I had read Raman's first book,  The Shadow Throne a few months ago and was pretty impressed. A nail biting thriller, it had no hints of being a debut author's book. Next in line was a historical thriller, The Treasure Of Kafur and even just going by the cover, it seemed intriguing. 

A story about a treasure, but the plot is much more than what the blurb suggests. It's only when you start reading that you find yourself in the middle of a most unexpected plot. Set in the Mughal era, under Akbar's reign, our protagonist Datta has a connection with birds and animals, and can communicate with them. Also in the cast are Akbar, Maharana Pratap, Alauddin Khilji etc. 

All against the Mughal empire join hands and get together to find the treasure of Malik Kafur, and further use it to fund the process of defeating Akbar. Can they? Will they? Where does Datta fit in all this? 

A nail biting page turner, there is not a single dull moment in this book. Adventure, deceit, intrigue, romance, fantasy and some history - Raman has taken all the ingredients and woven a fantastic concoction. It's really nice to see, amidst so many mediocre books in the market, there are a handful of authors who know what they are doing, and do it rather well.

Rating: ****/5

[This was an author request review. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]


#BookReview: Joy in the Morning: (Jeeves #8) by P.G. Wodehouse


On the jacket:


Trapped in the hell-hole of Steeple Bumpleigh with his bossy ex-fiancee, Florence Craye, ...Bertie finds himself walking a diplomatic tightrope.

Review:

Wodehouse is nothing short of a genius. He is also someone who grows into you. So if you are not a Wodehouse fan, you just aren't. And if you are, you are one obsessed fan!

Wodehouse is funny, he can tickle your funny bone in the most devilish way. The plot is set at Steeple Bumpleigh, residence to Aunt Agatha along with her second husband who is better known as Uncle Percy. Aunt is away and uncle consults Jeeves about an important meeting of his. To stage this meeting, without the press getting the wind of it, other characters are introduced. Bertie, who is engaged the second time, his friends Nobby and Boko who want to get married to each other, and a host of others. 


Perfectly timed subtle comdey at it's absolute best, Joy In the Morning is one of my favourite Jeeves and Bertie Wooster novels now. One cannot help but love the names Wodehouse choses for his characters - Stilton, Bertie, Boko and others. Overall, a fantastic read.

Rating: ****.5/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

#BookReview : Romeo Juliet & Hitler by Rohan Gautam

On the jacket:


What happens when a girl meets a boy on a train journey and they eventually fall in love? A new Romeo and Juliet are born and what happens when their families find out? Enter Hitler. Rohan bumps into Shreya perchance and dreams of spending a lifetime with her. Love is in the air, the breeze seems colder, the stars shine brighter and life seems rosier but can it last forever? Like all other love stories, this one is also horrifying and hilarious in bits. As Rohan meanders through his feelings, travels across cities, gets thrown behind bars by pot-bellied policemen and is almost beaten in his own life and career, he still has to face the biggest test of all, facing Shreya's Hitler brother.Will he be able to win him over or will Hitler put brakes on their love? Romeo, Juliet & Hitler is a story of young love coming face to face with the grown up world and its notions of right and wrong. Will this set of Romeo and Juliet share the same fate as the originals or will they manage to win over all odds? Let's find out!

Review:

Romeo Juliet & Hitler by Rohan Gautam is another love story where boy meets girl, both fall in love and then steps in a villain. This is a story of Rohan who meets Shreya in a train and they fall on love. And then unfolds a long queue of events as do in all love stories, some nice, some not so nice.

The third character in the book is hitler, who actually turned out to be someone else and not the one I expected to be. Despite the title of the book mentioning the hitler, one would have thought this too would have been one of the central characters. But this character arrives in the plot for short duration and not for very long. The end is a bit hilarious but otherwise there isn't anything very new in the plot.

A nice, quick read, specially if you are travelling.

Rating: ***/5

[This review is for Srishti Publishers & Distributors. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview : Error Code Love by Suman Bhattacharya

On the jacket:


“I would give anything right now to reverse the clock by 24 hours but my Karma won't let me, I have to compensate for what I've done.” 
Kolkata 2008: driven by a crazed love, Dev, our next door shy software engineer commits the biggest mistake of his life. Over 72 marathon hours, he loses his education, career, love and life by a single act of madness. 
Bengaluru 2012: years later Dev reaches Bengaluru in search of a better life. Destiny brings him face to face with his first love once again. He chases the same impossible dream only to find himself burning and failing in love. On the verge of losing everything that mattered, Dev fights his sense of practicality and his crazy but limitless 'Love'. Let's find out who wins! 
Error Code Love takes you on an epic journey through the roads of friendship, jealousy, obsession, mistakes, redemption and love. It raises questions allied to grey areas of teen emotions and lets you find the answers within

Review:

Error Code Love is primarily about Dev who has just moved to big city Bangalore, where he is to join his new job. Here, he puts up with his good friend from college, Rishi. Dev meets, rather sees Neera and fall in love with her in the first glance. These things still happen in lives of just out of college 20- somethings' lives, I suppose.

So is this about Dev and Neera's love story? No. Neera is in a relationship with Neel and Dev is her good friend. And Dev is in a relationship with Isha, though he is in love with Neera. A dumb Neera, a possessive Neel, and a jealous Dev who in a way was using Isha to get back at Neera. Then something happens which stuns Dev and shatters everything around him.

The plot seems aimless and the characters are not very well defined. The plot has scope, maybe a bit of tight editing could have sorted the aimless rambling which gets in between the plot. A  quick, light read which will give you few good laughs as well.

Rating: ***/5

[This review is for Srishti Publishers & Distributors. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview : The Hunt for Kohinoor (Mehrunisa Trilogy #2) by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar

On the jacket:


A spine-chilling ninety-six hour hunt through the world’s most dangerous terrain where history collides with gunfire - will Mehrunisa get out of this one alive?   One morning on her way to work, Mehrunisa gets a call that will change her life forever. The truth about her missing father is at her fingertips - but it will take her on the most desperate chase of her lifetime.   A chase that will pit her against hardened Jihadis plotting the deadliest terror attack on India, that will test her mettle against history’s deep secrets, that will teach her that the price of love can mean bloodied hands ...   The Hunt for Kohinoor hurtles from from icy Kashmir to snow-clad Hindukush, from the sinister corridors of a military hospital to the warrens of Peshawar, even as the clock counts down to the impending catastrophe. 

Review:

This is my first read of the Mehrunisa Trilogy, and neither had I read Someshwar before. I had heard raving reviews about the author and her books, though. So, while skeptical of reading a book, I had not read the previous part of, I was also looking forward to what Someshwar had to offer, in the book.

Mehrunisa Khosa is the protagonist of this trilogy and the first book (before The Hunt For Kohinoor) is The Taj Conspiracy. The book begins with a dream Meherunisa is having. Only, the reader doesn't know it's a dream. the sequence was so thrilling, it had made the hair at the back of my neck stand up. The book eases into the plot very smoothly and at no point did I feel at loss for not reading part 1 of the series. But yes, I am left wanting to read the previous part before I go on to read part 3. I went to a book store looking for The Taj Conspiracy but it was sold out. So instead, I ended up buying another copy of this book, to gift to someone.

Mehrunisa has 96 hours to save the country from an attack which will erase more than one can think of. A racy pace, well defined characters and smooth transition between different events make this a definite thrilling read. The writing is of extremely high standard if compared to the average standard of writings by Indian authors.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Westland Books. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview: Four Miles To Freedom: Escape From A Pakistani POW Camp by Faith Johnston

On the jacket:


When Flight Lieutenant Dilip Parulkar was shot down over Pakistan on 10 December 1971, he quickly turned that catastrophe into the greatest adventure of his life. On 13 August 1972 Parulkar, along with Malvinder Singh Grewal and Harish Sinhji escaped from a POW camp in Rawalpindi. Four Miles To Freedom is their story.  Based on interviews with eight Indian fighter pilots who helped prepare the escape and two who escaped, as well as research into other sources, Four Miles is also the moving, sometimes amusing, account of how twelve fighter pilots from different ranks and backgrounds coped with deprivation, forced intimacy, and the pervasive uncertainty of a year in captivity, and how they came together to support Parulkar's courageous escape.

Review:

Four Miles To Freedom: Escape From A Pakistani POW Camp is set against the backdrop of the war between India and Pakistan, which took place in 1971. Or, what we call the war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Coming from a family, parts of which hails from Bangladesh, though settled in Indian part of (then) Bengal, since before this war, I have heard tales only of the war and not about partition per se.  

Four Miles To Freedom: Escape From A Pakistani POW Camp is a tale of a few men from the Indian Army who had been captured as prisoners of war, by Pakistan. Author Faith Johnston has created this tale, after meeting speaking to soldiers from this war, some of whom had also fought in the 1965 Indo-Pak war. With a fresh focus on the Army life, highlighting the duties and the tasks army men perform, rather than on their lifestyles, the story is as realistic as it gets. The book talks about Dilip Parulkar and his mates from Indian Air Force, who are captured as POW, and their lives over the next few months. 

Very well-researched, and with a smooth narrative, it is a moving account of what POWs go through and the escape attempts they make. Parulkar was captured and made a POW in December 1971. On August 13, 1972 Parulkar, along with Malvinder Singh Grewal and Harish Sinhji escaped from the camp which was in Rawalpindi. While story talks about bravery, gallantry, not giving up on one hand, it also talks about forced intimacy, deprivation and dead uncertainty of life and freedom. 

Though written in the form of a fiction, this book is decidedly non-fiction. 

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview : The Case of the Love Commandos (Vish Puri #4) by Tarquin Hall

On the jacket:


The wonderful fourth outing for Delhi detective Vish Puri.  When Ram and Tulsi fall in love, the young woman's parents are dead set against the union. She's from a high-caste family; he's an Untouchable, from the lowest strata of Indian society. Young Tulsi's father locks her up and promises to hunt down the "loverboy dog." Fortunately, India's Love Commandos, a group of volunteers dedicated to helping mixed-caste couples, come to the rescue. But just after they liberate Tulsi, Ram is mysteriously snatched from his hiding place.  The task of finding him falls to India's "Most Private Investigator". Unfortunately, Vish Puri is not having a good month. He's failed to recover a cache of stolen jewels. His wallet has been stolen and he's having to rely on his infuriating Mummy-ji to get it back. And to top it all, his archrival, suave investigator Hari Kumar, is also trying to locate Ram. To reunite the star-crossed lovers, Puri and his team of operatives must infiltrate Ram's village and navigate the caste politics shaped by millennia-old prejudices.

Review:

I am a self-confessed Vish Puri fan. So much, that I have coaxed, bullied and forced friends to read at least one of his books and then go around grinning when they can't stop gushing about him or quoting him. 

The Case of the Love Commandos is Vish Puri's fourth case and author Tarquin Hall has created another hilarious whodunnit, Delhi style. The plot is very close to present day India, in fact, it is one of our society's evils. Tulsi and Ram, coming from different segments of the society, dared to fall in love. Families get wind of this budding love and lock Tulsi in a room while they set out to hunt for Ram. This is where Love Commandos  step in, they are saviors of people in love. They rescue Tulsi from her home, to only find, Ram is missing from where he was hiding. 

Meanwhile, Vish Puri, who is having a bad luck streak, is looking for that one brilliant case which will pull his career up. He sets out to find Ram, but what unravels in front of him is not just a mystery of a missing person, but more!

Hall must have created Puri when he was feeling ticklish. Puri is your quintessential middle class Delhiite of the 80s, and in Hall's writing, where he ensures he mentions every detail of the scene including people, postures and surrounding, one can get a clear taste of Delhi that used to be. There is one more person who is even more charming that Puri, and that is his Mummyji - she is hilarious!

All in all, in this book also, Hall successfully pleases a Vish Puri fangirl.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]


#BookReview : The One She Was Warned About by Shoma Narayanan

On the jacket:

There's no such thing as a reformed rebel!   

Shweta thought she would have the whole marriage-and-kids thing sorted by now. But she couldn't be more wrong—her love life's a wasteland! So when she bumps into Nikhil, the bad boy from her past who still sets her pulse racing, she can't resist flirting with danger….   

Nikhil might have gone from zero to hero since they last met—although it's hard to believe from all the gossip about him!—but soon Shweta's hooked on the excitement he injects into her life…and on his spine-tingling touch! Perhaps the rumors are true—Nikhil really is as dangerous as his reputation….

Review:

Of late I have read a few Indian Mills & Boons and have been pretty impressed, to say the least. To be frank, I had expected cheesy, sleazy love stories but instead found that the stories are really good and the authors, totally worth reading.

My latest read was The One She Was Warned About by Shoma Narayanan, a story about Nikhil and Shweta, two people who have been together all their school life, hated each other and then met years later, to find uncontrollable attraction between each other.

Shweta, an accountant, was the perfect student, the miss-goody-two-shoes whom Nikhil, the brat, had teased mercilessly from kindergarten till when he was thrown out of school. Coming from a broken family, Nikhil has been everything a girl like Shweta, coming from a strict, orthodox family, would avoid. But that was then. Now, Shweta has been living alone in Mumbai, earning her own living. Will she let her wild side come out and take a risk with Nikhil? Will she step into something with someone whom she has known almost all her life, to be unreliable? Will Nikhil fall prey to this ugly duckling-turned-swan who has re-entered his life?

Decently paced, well defined characters and a fresh plot, The One She Was Warned About takes us to the backwaters in Kerala which are delightful to read about. What I specifically loved about this plot is, that the drop dead handsome Nikhil is not a Punjabi, but a Malayali. There are numerous good looking men all over India, but our plots for books and movies, ensure he is always a north Indian. Over all, a nice, quick read.

Rating: ****/5

[This is a PR request review. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview: The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

On the jacket: When powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden immigrates to the States under mysterious circumstances, he and his three...