Saturday, December 27, 2014

#BookReview: Butterfly Season by Natasha Ahmed

On the jacket: 

On her first holiday in six years, Rumi is expecting to relax and unwind. But when she is set up by her long-time friend, she doesn’t shy away from the possibilities. Ahad, a charming, independent, self-made man, captures her imagination, drawing her away from her disapproving sister, Juveria.  Faced with sizzling chemistry and a meeting of the minds, Ahad and Rumi find themselves deep in a relationship that moves forward with growing intensity. But as her desire for the self-assured Ahad grows, Rumi struggles with a decision that will impact the rest of her life.  Confronted by her scandalized sister, a forbidding uncle and a society that frowns on pre-marital intimacy, Rumi has to decide whether to shed her middle-class sensibilities, turning her back on her family, or return to her secluded existence as an unmarried woman in Pakistan.  We follow Rumi from rainy London to a sweltering Karachi, as she tries to take control of her own destiny.


I have come to read indireads novel, they are all filled with so much love, hope, emotions and everything mush. This is Natasha Ahmed's first and let me tell you it was a delight to read.

Butterfly Season is a book about 30-year-old  Rumi and deals with love for a woman in present, modern Pakistan. It is always nice to read about young people in Pakistan, we are so similar yet so different. It's so easy to put yourself in the plots and go about leading the lives of the characters because, as I said, we are so similar!

In Butterfly Season, Rumi has just lost her mother and to recuperate from the pain that has caused back, she has come to London for a holiday. Here she meets Ahad, a publisher and drop dead gorgeous man. There is an instant attraction and without waiting  for a second to think, they start dating. Living abroad and in a relationship, we tend to forget that we have moved on but our families back home haven't. This is South Asia and we are still supposed to not love but marry. The same happens with Rumi. Her family disowns her and she has to make several choices. What unravels next is for the reader to know.
Ahmed writes really well and the book is well-edited. Living in this part of the world, we are not new to stories (a lot from the real life) where women coming from conservative families are known to break all barriers and lose themselves to love. Ahmed has put that across beautifully. This is one writer I would want to read more of, I hope she is writing!

Rating: *****/5

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

Friday, December 26, 2014

#BookReview: Rabda : My Sai...My Sigh by Ruzbeh N Bharucha

On the jacket:

Sai Baba in every breath …  Rabda has attempted suicide and chances are that he is going to die. Sai Baba of Shirdi enters the hospital room and awakens the spirit body of Rabda. The two, Master and musician, begin to converse about life, death and everything in between.  Set in the present, Rabda takes the reader to the past, to when the Sai lived in His physical body. The life and philosophy of Sai Baba of Shirdi are revealed, often in His own words, and questions pertaining to Him and spirituality answered. A powerful spiritual read, Rabda is journey you really do not want to miss.


I cannot begin to write about this book, without writing about Sai. When I got a mail about this book, I didn't really understand it. A book about Sai? Fiction? Inspired? What? I took a breathe and re-read the blurb. I knew I had to read this book. And that reviewing this book will be very difficult for me. I am not a religious fanatic, I mostly pray to my father and to Sai. I pray because they give me strength. Sai is my friend, my guide. And every time I have stood in front of him, well ok, his idol, and looked at his eyes, I have cried copiously. The only times when I cry uncontrollably yet feel light after I am done. Such is Sai, he makes me a stronger person.

Rabda is a musician well past his prime in age, who is a Sai bhakt. The story begins with him hovering somewhere between reality and the sub conscious. Rabda's real name is Ciaz, but baba calls him Rabda. He was in this state of unconscious because of the forty odd pills he had consumed, apart from the copious amount of alcohol he had gulped him. Hovering somewhere between life and death, he realises baba is in front of him, talking to him, trying to knock some sense into him.

Bharucha is a spiritual writer. But this book is no where close to being preachy or overwhelmingly about the saint/god it's been written about. It is most interesting to read, facts peppered with fiction and language not pretentious but from day to day life of the current age. The moment baba's conversation with Rabda begins, I could sense a tingling in my system. Ok, probably because I am a believer. But still!

From talking about Rabda's life to his own, the book takes the reader through the journey of Sai's life, how he came to Shirdi, his interactions with people - believers and non-believers. By the time the book was over, I had this aching in me, wishing I was born decades ago, and in Shirdi. Other than the fact that the book is about Shirdi and Sai, another brilliant fact is that the author has taken a religious discourse and made an interesting book out of it.

Rating: *****/5

Thursday, December 25, 2014

#Giveaway: Winner's Curse by Dee Walker

Christmas is over!!

But we are back with a fantastic giveaway!!

Five copies of 
Dee Walker's super hit thriller 
Winner's Curse

We shall accept multiple entries, no worries.

Just make sure you fulfill/tick each parameter every time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 19, 2014

#BookReview: The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

On the jacket:

The story of a family, divided across generations and cultures, wrestling with its future and its past, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is at once magical, mouth-watering and heartbreaking.  Of all the family gatherings in her childhood, one stands out in Amina’s memory. It is 1979, in Salem India, when a visit to her grandmother’s house escalates into an explosive encounter, pitching brother against brother, mother against son.  In its aftermath, Amina’s father Thomas rushes his family back to their new home in America. And while at first it seems that the intercontinental flight has taken them out of harm's way, his decision sets off a chain of events that will forever haunt Thomas and his wife Kamala; their intellectually furious son, Akhil and the watchful young Amina.  Now, twenty years later, Amina receives a phone call from her mother. Thomas has been acting strangely and Kamala needs her daughter back. Amina returns to the New Mexico of her childhood, where her mother has always filled silences with food, only to discover that getting to the truth is not as easy as going home.  Confronted with Thomas’s unwillingness to talk, Kamala’s Born Again convictions, and the suspicion that not everything is what it seems, Amina finds herself at the centre of a mystery so tangled that to make any headway, she has to excavate her family’s painful past. And in doing so she must lay her own ghosts to rest.


The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is Mira Jacob's  debut novel. Set in India, Seattle and Albuquerque, the book spans from the late 70s and early 80s to about 1998. 

In 1979, we meet the Eapen family in Salem, India where they are visiting from America. The main character here is Thomas Eapen, a surgeon in Seattle. While in India, his mother tries to convince him to stay back. His wife would love to stay back, but Thomas wants a better life for his family.

The story moves to 1998, where we see Amina Eapen who is now a photographer in Seattle. Thomas is unwell and his wife calls Amina home. Here the story goes back to the early 80s, where Amina and her brother Akhil were children. We see them growing up and travel through time with their lives. Akhil is shown to have some problems but Thomas doesn't take it very seriously. This creates a mystery angle, about Akhil.

Bonds, connectiosn to the homeland, relationships, connections between old and new worlds, everything has been given such a fine treatement, it's hard to believe this is Jacob's first novel. The element of secrecy has been paid special attention to and the treatement given is wonderful. 

This book is indeed, as the author says, ",,,what it means, as an immigrant, to make a life in a stolen country."

Rating: *****/5

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

#BookReview: Slightly Burnt by Payal Dhar

On the jacket:

"Sahil was going to say it, no matter what stunt I pulled and then things would be all weird between us, because, you know, I just didn't feel that way about him."  Sahil has been Komal's very best friend since, well, forever. Which is why she doesn't want to hear his confession. But there isn't much she can do to stop him from saying what he has to say. When her brother gets unwittingly tangled in the whole mess that ensues, Komal finds that she is out of her depth and in desperate need of help.  Slightly Burnt is a fresh take on coming of age in India. 


Slightly Burnt is a young adult book and has a particularly attractive cover.An easy read, it lures you into the plot almost from the very beginning. A story about Sahil and Komal who are best friends till the time they have a conversation which almost breaks their friendship. Sahil confesses to Komal of his love for her and all hells break loose in the freindship. How do the friends deal with this? 

Dhar has dealt with important issues in a very smooth manner.She has kept the language simple, yet good. Despite being an easy read, Slightly Burnt has also tackled issues like homosexuality, one of the burning issues of this country and amongst the youth. 

A one-sitting read, I liked this book quite a lot.

Rating: ***.5/5

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

#BookReview: Mirage by Ambika Rikhye

On the jacket:

Mirage is a story of an ordinary girl, Neena, with extraordinary courage. She is disdained by her parents for not living up to their expectations inspite of them warning her. She gets into an ugly mess and is disowned by her family. Will she get her life back on track? This is a story of love, relationships, friendship, betrayal, faith, revenge and forgiveness.


Mirage is a story about Neena, a medical student, who is stuck in a wrong line of education trying to please her parents. The story begins with the day of her results, of exams in which she hadn't fared well. Her results were a disaster and her parents devastated. At this point, Neena told her parents she doesn't want to go on with this course any more. Took a while but her parents came around. Neena joined a new college, now to study arts. age old stereotype of one who cannot do professional courses, ends up doing Arts, it's so easy. Well, alright.

Neena goes to college and the story takes the reader through a very eventful three years of her life. The story has a lot of character and each is well defined. She falls in love and wants to marry the man she loves. None of the people in her life, her friends or her family, like the guy. Here, she makes the mistake of eloping and marrying which leads to her family disowning her. What happens next isn't something Neena bargained for. 

Giving a very fresh treatment to a story of a regular girl, Rikhye is indeed a good story teller. Editing leaves a lot to be desired, and good editing would have taken the story up by a few notches. Madhya Pradesh is referred to as a city, everyone seems to be going there. Not to a particular city in the state. Also, Neena's senior from college, Jyoti was supposed to be posted in Madhya Pradesh. But in the climax, towards the end, we see that her best friend is also there. Why is everyone going there? 

The story unravels at a relaxed pace and when you begin reading it, nothing will prepare you for how it ends. I would want to read more stories coming from Rikhye.

Rating: ***.5/5

[This is an author request review. However, the views are all mine and unbiased.]

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#BookReview: The City Son by Samrat Upadhyay

On the jacket:

Set in Samrat Updhyay's signature and timeless Nepal, The City Son offers a vivid portrait of a scorned woman's lifelong obsession to get revenge for her husband's infidelity, with devastating ramifications for an impressionable young man.  Acclaimed and award-winning author Samrat Upadhyay—the first Nepali-born fiction writer writing in English to be published in the West—has crafted a spare, understated work examining a taboo subject: a scorned wife’s obsession with her husband’s illegitimate son. When Didi discovers that her husband, the Masterji, has been hiding his beautiful lover and their young son Tarun in a nearby city, she takes the Masterji back into her grasp and expels his second family. Tarun’s mother, heartsick and devastated, slowly begins to lose her mind, and Tarun turns to Didi for the mothering he longs for. But as Tarun gets older, Didi’s domination of the boy turns from the emotional to the physical, and the damages she inflicts spiral outward, threatening to destroy Tarun’s one true chance at true happiness. Potent, disturbing, and gorgeously stark in its execution, The City Son is a novel not soon forgotten.


Easily one of this year's best books, The city son is hard hitting. Let me warn you, you will be horrified. But trust the author as he knows what he is writing; let him handhold you through the story of a young boy.

This story is about 'Didi' and Tarun. Didi is a married woman who lives in the village with her two sons while her husband, a learned man, lives in the city and rarely comes home. When Didi learns of her husband's second family in the city, she moves in with them bag and baggage. She takes over the household and the young child, Tarun who was her husband's second wife's son.

Tarun's mother Apsara loses her mind and is no longer able to take care of Tarun. Under Didi's care, Tarun is treated more like a lover than a son. He is only ten years old. Yes, the book is this shocking. This goes on till even after his marriage.

The City Son talks about how this relationship affects Tarun even after he is a grownup. The complexities of his character are harsh and so real. This book will punch you right between your eyes and leave you stumped. It's real and it's raw. It's not a book anyone can pick up and enjoy, you need to have an appetite for it to digest this story.

Rating: *****/5

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

#BookReview: Breaking News : A Woman in a Man's World by Kamla Mankekar

On the jacket:

Breaking News: A Woman in a Mans World chronicles Kamla Mankekars experiences as one of the first women journalists in India. Engagingly written, Breaking News vividly portrays the struggles of a woman in a primarily male-dominated profession while recording the cultural and social changes that marked the pivotal decades of Indias history. The book depicts the hopeful years of a newly-born nation, the despair and resilience of those who came to India as refugees after Partition, the cultural ferment of the 1950s and 1960s, the political turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s and the social transformations of the present moment. It offers readers a splendid view of the momentous events that have led to the present.  In recounting anecdotes of her encounters with newspaper editors and proprietors, refugees and social activists, actors, playwrights, musicians and poets, industrialists, politicians and ordinary people, the author creates sparkling portraits of the people who have shaped modern India.


It's not easy for a woman to survive in a man's world that we live in. But things are getting better, women are streaming ahead and while are moving shoulder-to-shoulder, some are zipping ahead of the men. And contrary to common belief, no, it;s not easy for a woman. It's very difficult, men cannot tolerate a woman being better at them and women are jealous. So a woman who wants to excel in her line of work has it tough from both side.

Author Kamal Mankerkar is a journalist, an industry dominated by men for years. Look around and most of the big names in every section of the media are men. With specks of woman, here and there. 

Mankerkar, in her book Breaking News, has out up the turmoils women have to face in this  Interesting, to say the least, this book is an eye opener even for someone like me, who has been in the industry for close to a decade now. And along with this, the book also talks about India and how it developed post independence.

A serious, yet delightful read. One needs to give this book a go.

Rating: ****/5

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

#BookReview: On Women by Khushwant Singh

On the jacket: Well known for his unabashed interest in the fairer sex, Khushwant Singh revelled in the notoriety his interest evoked, almost as much as he did in the response he received from women. Indeed, this enduring obsession provided fodder for some of Singh’s best-known work, both as a journalist and as a peerless raconteur. 

On Women, a wide-ranging selection of Singh’s writings on the subject, includes Singh’s recounting of an embarrassingly drunken meeting with Begum Para, an actress of yester years; a sharp profile of Shraddha Mata, a tantric sadhvi who was alleged to have borne Jawaharlal Nehru’s illegitimate child; and a touching sketch of Singh’s grandmother in the twilight of her life. Also featured in this volume are unforgettable women characters from Khushwant Singh’s most popular works of fiction: Georgine, a clueless American teenager who is seduced by a middle-aged tour guide in Delhi; and Nooran, a young girl in pre-Partition Punjab, who discovers the sweet pleasure of first love only to be overtaken by cataclysmic events which leave her adrift.

Insightful, poignant, and occasionally wicked, the essays and extracts in On Women are testament to why Khushwant Singh remains one of the most popular writers of our times.


It's always a delight to read Khushwant Singh and to read a new collection of his short stories is even more a pleasure. Short stories spanning through his lifetime, set in different places and timezones, amidst a variety of people - these stories throw light on Singh's experiences of love and sex.

While on one end Singh talks about his wife Kaval Malik, he also talks about Phoolan Devi, a retarded beggar at Churchgate, the beautiful Ghayoorunnisa Hafeez of Hyderabad. Peppered in the book are stories about his encounters with the vivacious Sadia Dehlvi, journalist Anees Jung, his grandmother to the universal seductress Amrita Shergill, Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa, sadhvi tantrik Shraddha Mata and even Protima Bedi. 

This book is candid and unabashedly to the point. But then what is a Khushwant Singh book, if not this! The book begins with few fictional characters taken from his other works and moves on to the various women and how they affected his life. A classy book, this is a book which needs to be read. It celebrates life and women, just like Singh himself did.

If you are the kind of feminist who hates men, you won't llike this book. What the anthology had going for it from page one is that the collection is of very well picked stories. We might not all agree to his views but Singh's interpretation of women was indeed interesting. 

Review: ****/5

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

#BookReview: On Love and Sex by Khushwant Singh

On the jacket:

This selection of Singh’s writings includes an extract from his autobiography, in which he describes how he lost his own virginity. It contemplates on sexuality in India, after having seen a newly-wed couple consummate their marriage on a moving train and the poker-faced account of an incident in a doctor’s clinic which leaves Singh feeling 'buggered'. Also included in this book are selections from his works of fiction - a mixed marriage, a stirring account of a Hindu - Muslim union in Mughal times, and the rooftop massage, in which the masseuse Molly gives Mohan Kumar an experience which she asks him never try to repeat.


It's always a delight to read Khushwant Singh and to read a new collection of his short stories is even more a pleasure. Short stories spanning through his lifetime, set in different places and timezones, amidst a variety of people - these stories throw light on Singh's experiences of love and sex.

From talking about his first love which happened in college, to his days in England where he lost his virginity, this book is candid and unabashedly to the point. But then what is a Khushwant Singh book, if not this! Singh had written about trying out Rajneesh's approach to sex, to a memorable train journey and stories which throw light to his life and experiences. 

A refreshing book, in a very Khushwant style of experience.

Rating: ***/5

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

#BookReview : The Winner's Curse by Dee Walker

On the jacket: A political thriller about national ID numbers, power and greed. Orphan Harsh makes it to the billionaire club with a burning vision, sheer intellect and the blessings of his political Godfather. The favours must now be paid back through a huge Guru Dakshina. To honour his Master’s wish, Harsh, with the help of his fellow IITians, sets out to create a never-seen-before governance technology around the national ID numbers, that will change the face of democratic India.  Everything is at stake: money, reputations, egos and morals. Even lives.  Will they succumb to insatiable greed in the murky games of politics, backstabbing and subterfuge or will they be redeemed by the ‘Ten Commandments’ that once forged their ideals at college?  If you thought that supreme technology and unalloyed power can bring lasting change or that e-governance and transparency can address the ills of our system, The Winner’s Curse will force you to think again. For what’s at stake is: YOU.  The Winner’s Curse: the turbulent voyage of talent and intellect in the morass of turpitude.

Review: The book begins with the ten IIT Commandments as written by R Gopalakrishnan, Director, Tata Sons and the story begins in March 2012, in Delhi.

'The Winner's Curse' is a political thriller about India, technology and greed. America had India under surveillance and without the Home Minister Ambasamudram Rajoo's knowledge, the CIA and the NSA had collected more than 6 billion documents on Indians within just a year. All this was done on the guise of strategic coorperation. 

Billionaire Harsh Mittal is called by his patron who is referred to as The Master. Together, they sit and hatch a plan to combat this situation. What happens next. The book includes in itself The Ten Commandments of IIT; Harsh being an alumni of the institute. We get to see a transparent view of how IIT graduates look at life & deal with it, and how their actions in turn affect India. 

A very crisp plot, a well-thatched plan and well-defined characters, The Winner's Curse makes for a fine read. A very tight plot with many sub-plots, what I loved is how the sub-plots are dealt with. Despite there being numerous flashbacks, the transitions from past to present to past is effortless and smooth. 

Editing leaves a lot to desire and to be honest, this was the only hitch in the reading experience. The book starts at a slow pace and but evolves steadily. The author knows what he is writing and is in control of the plot. At no point did the plot go off track.

Rating: ****/5

[This was an author request review. However, the views expressed are solely mine.]

#BookReview : The Shrine of Death by Divya Kumar

On the jacket:  Prabha Sinha, an IT professional in Chennai, is plunged into a murky world of idol theft, murder, and betrayal aft...