Friday, May 13, 2016

#BookReview: The Wedding Photographer by Sakshama Puri Dhariwal

On the jacket:

On a seventeen-hour-long flight, a chance upgrade to business class lands journalist Risha Kohli next to handsome real estate hotshot Arjun Khanna. What’s more? Risha has been moonlighting as a photographer and her next assignment is Arjun’s sister’s wedding: the most anticipated social event of the year!

But Arjun doesn’t trust journalists and suspects this smart, sexy and incredibly spunky girl of using their mutual attraction as a ploy to invade his privacy for a newspaper scoop. And Risha, unaware of Arjun’s personal demons, is worried that this dishy tycoon’s unnerving behaviour will jeopardize her biggest photography gig so far.

What follows is a rollercoaster of snarky quips, sizzling chemistry and simmering drama amidst a Big Fat Indian Wedding.


Risha is a journalist who doubles a wedding photographer thanks to her very lenient boss who lets her take off on assignments, sometimes even overseas. That reminds me of my days of journalism and how not just me but nobody had such leave-giving bosses. Well, this is a story. So while Risha is retuning to India from one of her photography assignments abroad, she meets investment banker-turned-businessman, Arjun Khanna. Like all rich boys, he took thinks his privacy is what the world is after and to top that, he despises journalists. Fate plays its own game and Risha is to photograph arjun's sister's wedding! As is expected, while there is attraction, there is also Arjun's whim that Risha is in this to get some scoop for her pathetic newspaper. 

The book is as energetic and fun as the blurb promises. The charcaters are well-etched. One thing which always bothers me is how some characters are inspired from real life famous people and the author doesn't modify much on them. When you read about them, you know who the author is talking about. I feel this could be done without and like the other characters, the authors should create their own. 

I would have finished reading this book in one go had some glaring editing errors not made me cringe and take time off. 

Rating: ***.5/5

Thursday, May 12, 2016

#BookReview: Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

On the jacket:

A beautiful, powerful new novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of Sister of My Heart and The Mistress of Spices about three generations of mothers and daughters who must discover their greatest source of strength in one another—a masterful, brilliant tale of a family both united and torn apart by ambition and love.

The daughter of a poor baker in rural Bengal, India, Sabitri yearns to get an education, but her family’s situation means college is an impossible dream. Then an influential woman from Kolkata takes Sabitri under her wing, but her generosity soon proves dangerous after the girl makes a single, unforgivable misstep. Years later, Sabitri’s own daughter, Bela, haunted by her mother’s choices, flees abroad with her political refugee lover—but the America she finds is vastly different from the country she’d imagined. As the marriage crumbles and Bela is forced to forge her own path, she unwittingly imprints her own child, Tara, with indelible lessons about freedom, heartbreak, and loyalty that will take a lifetime to unravel.

In her latest novel, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni explores the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, and the different kinds of love that bind us across generations. Before We Visit the Goddess captures the gorgeous complexity of these multi-generational and transcontinental bonds, sweeping across the twentieth century from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston, Texas—an extraordinary journey told through a sparkling symphony of voices.


Before I write a review for the book in question, let me confess my love for the author. I'd read Oleander Girl a couple of years ago and I am not exaggerating when I say that a part of my stayed inside the pages of the story ever since. Maybe this has a lot to do with the fact that I am a Bengali, a probashi at that, and how even the smallest descriptions in the story brought back memories of the six-monthly school vacations spent in the city of Calcutta. Or maybe it is purely because the genius behind the author. Long story short, after having read four of her books now, I can say - I have a favourite Indian author.

This review is no one influenced by how much I love what Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni writes, or hey, maybe it is! Let's start at the very beginning. I have always marvelled at how some authors describe people so well. Like, so well! This is Sabitri's story - a story she tells her grand-daughter in a letter she is being forced to write, in a way. The purpose of the letter is to explain the importance of education in a woman's life. 

Effortless writing (or so the genius of the author makes us believe) and flawless character formation of very flawed characters, the author has brought together the plot perfectly. What I loved the most, let me be honest, is that the story is about three generations of women of the same family. This made me connect at a personal level for of late I've been wondering why I never asked my grandmother more about her lifetime. 

The thing about the main relationships dealt with in this story is that, they are close yet distraught. And I guess that is the case in almost every family. While Sabitri's story was inspiration, her daughter Bela, just seemed selfish to me - but that is how people are, flawed. All these women have earned the lives they are living and are dealing with them in their own ways. The genius of the storyteller shows in how the same incident is showcased from the pov of different characters. The novel spans across six decades and takes the reader along on a glorious ride. A must read!

Rating: *****/5

#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...