Friday, January 23, 2015

#BookReview: How to stop your grownup from making bad decisions (Nina the Philosopher, #1) by Judy Balan

On the jacket:

Nina has questions.   Are moms just little girls who are taller and wear prettier shoes? Can I call pest control services to get rid of a pesky seven-year-old boy? What if my sister is a voodoo high priestess? Is a grownup refusing to grow up the same as someone pretending to be asleep? Are teachers not allowed to admit they're wrong?   WHO. LEFT. PARENTS. IN. CHARGE?  Somebody had better have the answers.  Big announcement: Nina's mom is going to marry Dhiraj! He's not the wicked stepfather by any stretch of the imagination. He's much, much worse. He's a rapper! And a bad one at that. And his rapper name is Dhiraj Fist aka Diddy Blood. Case rested. After all, dumb is the new wicked.  Nina must stop this catastrophe, but she's going to need co-conspirators. With her sister Nikki, who seems to keep disappearing mysteriously, and her mother's best friend, Ashwin Uncle, who's now fighting with her mother, Nina must find a way to save her favourite grownup from making a really bad decision. Because, really, grownups just can't be trusted to make the best life choices.  As sweet as it is funny, Nina the Philosopher is a brilliant, witty, thought-provoking series that tells the story of a modern-day fairy tale: a single mother and her two wonderful, hilariously angst-ridden daughters. It's the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Without a wimp. Or a diary.  The book is beautifully designed and illustrated by a remarkably talented new artist, Priyanka Shyam.


I have been reading Judy since she was just a blogger and am one of her fans. No, that doesn't mean I am biased. I'd loved Two Fates but didn't like Sophie Says that much. So here I have her first book for young adults and let me be frank, this is Judy's forte. 

How to stop your grownup from making bad decisions is a collection of excerpts from Nina's diary. Oh wait! Nina is a blogger. Yes, she's cool that way. Your average, over-thinking pre-teen who wants to do the right things in their literal sense but is totally harassed by the grow-ups in her life. The eleven year old, in her own world, sees the rest of the world as it should be seen - where elders say something yet do something else, don't get the basics of life and can make the silliest of decisions. 

Younger daughter to a single mother, she feels she is her mother's mother at times and her sister Nikki ... well, let's not talk about Nikki *rolls eyes*. Then there are her grandparents who are much fun and there is Ashwin uncle who is the most fun to be. Her mother is dating someone who goes by the name Diddy Blood and fancies himself to be a rapper. If a rapper as her mom's boyfriend wasn't enough, the man had a seven year old son Polka Dot who was sent to this world just to annoy Nina, one would think.

Judy has got the essence of a pre-teen's mind to a T. Characters are well-defined and so easy to relate to - specially, Nina. Also, it doesn't matter how old you are, you will relate to Nina's joys, confusions and frustrations with the elders in her life. 

I have read quite a few books for young adults by Indian as well as foreign authors, over the last year and I have no qualms in admitting I found 'most' of them disappointing. Everyone is trying to ape The Twilight. Whatever for? Give a pre-teen a story about pre-teens living normal lives. A twelve-year-old me would have lapped this book up and waited for more. Even now, I lapped it up over a few hours and yes, am waiting for more similar books from Judy.

I almost forgot to add, I loved the cover design. 

Rating: *****/5

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

Monday, January 19, 2015

#BookReview : Dancing With Demons by Nidhie Sharma

On the jacket:

Karan Pratap Singh is on the brink of winning the Amateur Boxing Championship, when in a moment, he loses it all. His fall from glory seems fuelled by ruthless arrogance and an out-of-control anger management problem. That, however is just symptomatic of a deeper issue. Buried under layers of his fractured subconscious lies a childhood secret he cannot come to terms with.  Sonia Kapoor is a beautiful, volatile young woman with a secret that torments her at night but a secret that she feels no guilt for.  When fate throws Karan and Sonia together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir up trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. But, is redemption possible without forgiveness?  Dancing with Demons is a fast-paced action drama of love, loss and resurrection.


Dancing with Demons is basically a sportsman's love story. The cover does justice to it, if you look at it closely. Another amazing thing about this book is that, I heard it's being made into a motion picture? 

Karan is expected to be the next best thing in the world of boxing, Karan is all set for the biggest match of his life. Things go wrong and not only does he lose the match, but also faces a ban of four years. Needless to say, Karan is shattered and so is his coach Jerry, who is more like a father figure to Karan.

Karan meets Sonia who seems to have turned up in Mumbai the same fateful night that he lost his match and come to stay in his neighbourhood. Sonia has a past she is hiding and Karan is fighting his own demons. 

Two people fighting their demons are brought together by fate and one day, both decide to faight their respective demons. Love does bloom in between them but at the cost of what? Can their kill their demons successfully?

The story line is interesting but for me it sort of dragged. The author has done a good job in framing the plot and the characters but it could have been done in fewer pages, I think. Also, the pace could have been quicker. 

Rating: ***/5

#BookReview: The Perfect Groom by Sumeetha Manikandan

On the jacket:

Very little has gone right in Nithya’s young life. So, when a proposal from a young, handsome NRI comes along, her mother jumps at the opportunity and packs her daughter off to the US with her perfect groom.  Nithya seems to have settled in with Ashok, ostensibly happy, if as yet childless, in her new life. When an old flame comes back into her life, however, the cracks in her perfect marriage begin to show… 


Most love stories begin..well, at the beginning. Two people meet, sense attraction, deny it, cannot, they give up, and fall in love. The Perfect Groom doesn't have any of your regular love stories.

This story is about Nithya, now living in the US with a man she married in an arranged marriage. Back home, she has a mother and sister. Nithya's husband Ashok is distant and their relationship is not one per cent of what regular married people are. Manikandan has manintaned an air of mystery around Ashok's behavior. MArried for three years, Nithya is expected to bear a child. This story has everything - your regular dramatic and mean mother-in-law, a struggling mother, a doting sister, a mysterious husband, gossipy relatives and a regular woman trying to stay strong.

To everyone, Nithya's life is perfect but in real, it's hollow and she is waiting for her own sister to get married so that she could get out of this sham. There where is the love?

It comes from where Nithya least expected it to, from her past. I do not want to divulge of give you even a peak into the story because I really want you to read this one. I read it in one sitting, I had to know what happened in the next page, and the next, and the next...

Rating: *****/5

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

#BookReview: Pyar aur Poetry by Roopa Menon

On the jacket:

College beauty Arundhati Basu would rather stick her head in the proverbial oven than host this year’s Founder’s Day event with tongue-tied nerd, Nikhil Menon. Compared to the brilliant but elusive poet, D. G. Beckett, Nikhil is a green toad.  As Arundhati gets to know him, however, she finds herself oddly drawn to the shy geek, and he, in turn, grows in confidence as he spends more time with her. His hopes for a lasting relationship with Arundhati seemed to be within his reach.  If only she could forget D. G. Beckett!


Pyaar Aur Poetry is a kind of story I read after a long, long time. Yes, opposites meet and sparks fly, but the treatment given to the plot makes hearts dance in one's heart. 

A story about typical SoBo pretentious snob, Arundhati Basu and awkward, toungue-tied Nikhil Menon but the interesting angle is thrown in my the very mysterious and brilliant poet D G Beckett, who no one really knows about. Arundhati and Nikhil are absolute opposites but by a sadistic twist of fate (or so it seems), there are thrown together and need to work as a team.

When they get to know each other, Arundhati and Nikhil seem to be falling for each other. But! D G Beckett rules Arundhati's mind and curiosity. So what happens? Does Arundhati find out who this mysterious man is? Does she leave Nikhil for this man who had invoked the emotions in her that she didn't knew existed?

A very well-scripted tale of love, Menon has proved she is an author to look out for. The characters are very well-crafted and people one can easily identify with. A lovely story.

Rating: ****/5

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

#BookReview : The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

On the jacket:

I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’  Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered.  She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.  Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim...


I am a big, big fan of Christie and her series of Poirot/Marple novels. Nobody creates a mystery and unravels it the way she used to, in my honest opinion. So, when I saw Hannah's book, a novel featuring Christie's beloved Poirot, approaved by the legacy - I had to read it. the blurb sounded interesting too.

But let me tell you, I was disappointed. Firstly, this is a big, relatively thick book. Christie finished telling her stories in almost about half the number of words. So I should have guessed that the plot in this book will drag a bit. And drag it did.

The mystery wasn't bad, to be honest. When the book began, it was quite captivating. Narrated by a police detective Catchpool, probably the worst detective I have ever read about, Catchpool made me miss Hastings a lot. This case happens when Poirot and Catchpool are staying in the same establishment and one day there are three murders in the same hotel. The very same day, Poirot has a very odd experience with a terrified lady who rushes into the cafe he was present in.

Interesting? Yes it was. But where the story failed was the narration. It was too long and the climax too made-up. Christie remains the queen of crime and I really don't want to sound rude, but no one else should attempt writing Poirot stories.

Rating: **/5

[This was a personal read.]

Thursday, January 8, 2015

#BookReview: Thackeray Mansion by Sankar, Sandipan Deb

On the jacket:

In this sequel to Chowringhee, the third instalment in the life and tribulations of the naïve and innocent young Shanker, he is once again out of a job and without a roof on his head. After much difficulty he finds a job as a manager in a grand but crumbling building in the posh area of the city: Thackeray Mansion on Scudder Street. The narrator directs his keen eye and sympathetic ear to tell captivating stories of those who live in the homes within a home of Thackeray Mansion and those who work in it. The mysterious disappearance of Philip sahib's wife, the hilarious monologues of the feisty Poppy Biswas and the grouchy Baradaprasanna, the seductive Sulekha Sen who morphs into the respectable Seema Chatterjee and the love of Dorothy Watts for Rabindranath Tagore: stories nestle within stories and the result is an astonishing novel filled with joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, despair and hope.


The first time I saw one of Sankar's books was when I was about 16, and my father was bed-ridden, fighting cancer. Next to his bed, in the ground floor room of my grandfather's Calcutta house, was a huge book shelf. One row in it had a series of Sankar's books. Me being me, one day I was looking at the books in the shelf, when my mother said how much my father loved to read Sankar. Instant love. I knew I wanted to read this author, all of him.

Years later, in Bombay, I happened to pick up Chowringhee. I had seen the movie and remembered it scene by scene. I lapped up the book. Calcutta, for me was always about meeting the family during the school, the city I had heard about in numerous stories from my mother. Chowringhee brought a lot of those stories alive.

Originally published as Gharer Moddhe Ghar in Bengali, the last of the trilogy of which Chowringhee was the second part. In Thackeray Mansion, Shankar, our protagonist is jobless and no place to live in. Calcutta is a character here, as it is in Sankar's stories. She will invoke every emotion possible, within the reader.

Thackeray Mansion is yet another attempt by Shankar to survive, sustain and find his ground in the city of Calcutta. Sankar is a brilliant writer, and each of his books have been brilliantly translated. An unkind, restless, impatient, harsh metropolis - Calcutta and Shankar's journey through the city as well as life. 

Rating: *****/5

[A personal read.]

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.]


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