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

Friday, April 15, 2016

#BookReview: You've Got the Wrong Girl by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu

On the jacket:

On a sultry night, on a deserted lawn overlooking a moonlit Taj Mahal, two strangers make passionate love and promise never to meet again... But promises are meant to be broken, right?  This is the story of Dushyant Singh Rathore - the 30-something bestselling author of Kinda Cliched, a blockbuster romance novel based on his one night of bliss with a girl whose name he does not know. Under pressure to produce a money-spinning sequel - from his obsessive fans, his hit-seeking publisher and a sceptical journalist ready to expose the true-story angle as a marketing gimmick - he sets off, three years on, to find the elusive girl whom he had promised never to seek out.  When his quest, many twists and turns later, leads him to the unlikeliest of places, Dushyant discovers there's a little more to this love story than he had anticipated. Will Dushyant get a second chance at love? What if the wrong girl was really always the right one for him?  Delightful, unconventional, heart-warming, You've Got the Wrong Girl! is a roller-coaster ride through love, lust and everything in between.


A quick read, I read You've Got The Wrong Girl while travelling and since I was travelling alone, the boom made for a good travel companion. This is a story of a best selling author who wrote a story taking a leaf out of his own life. Since that story did remarkably well, now Dushyant is standing face to face with a demand for a sequel. But to write a sequel, he needs to find the heroine of his story. Now, he has practically no time in his hands and needs to find the girl whose name he doesn't know.
Dushyant is the kind of guy I wouldn't want to know in real life, 'coz I really wouldn't know what to make of him. We've all known men like him and have shared a very strong love-hate relationship, which had the power to destroy us both. The book begins with two strangers meeting at a party and though they didn't intend to, they end up spending more time together than they had planned. The story takes time to grow on you, so keep reading. Dushyant doesn't make much sense in the beginning. The cover is attractive and inviting - when I read the blurb and saw the cover of the book, I wanted to know more about Dushyant and his mystery woman. Does he find her? What happens after that? Does the story end with another story or does Dushyant get to win his lady love? There are too many questions to be answered and I suggest you read the book and know!

Rating: ****/5


Saturday, April 2, 2016

#BookReview: A dog eat dog-food world by Suresh Chandrasekaran

On the jacket:

A hilarious pseudo-history of marketing management, which explicitly denies resemblance to any actual history, and which will be horrified if some semblance be found. ‘A dog eat dog-food world’ is the story of a man who discovered that the path of life is strewn with treadmills and, if you get on one by mistake, you could keep running all your life to stay in the same place. The story of how just minding your own business can lead to unexpected consequences, guided by the ‘invisible hand’ of long dead economists. Anything you learn from the book – be it the basics of marketing management or a satirical view of Society – you do at your own risk.  The tale only dogs the doings of Spike Fortune who only sought to feed dogs and Jerry Fortune who, being fortuneless, gets dragged helter-skelter by his uncle Spike’s careening pursuit of commercial success; Spike’s rival Tom Rich, who is unwillingly dragged into upstaging Spike and tries to do it by teasing the palates of cats, helped by the bumbling efforts of his nephew, Jasper Rich who would rather be chasing girls than chasing cats.


An intelligent book has a good fill of humour, A dog eat dog-food world reminded me of Dilbert as a complete story.  I will be honest, I didn't start enjoying this story from page one. In  fact I was a little bored by page 3. It was after getting into the plot a little that I was glad I had picked this book up. One thing is sure, the author has a kick-ass sense of humour. 

What made me keep reading was the unraveling of quite a curious story. Full points to the author for creating and imaginary plot and making it so humourous. I am yet to find an Indian author of recent times who treats humour with such ease, but I guess my search stops now. 

In A dog eat dog-food world, a very rich man doesn't know what to do with the riches and  the stress about how to spend money, makes him sick. Upon getting the suggestion to invest parts of his money into a good business, the man invest in a dog food company. And thus begins a tale of the corporate world - competition comes in, rivalries begin, egos take over and the need to survive becomes the driving force.

An intelligent book, A Dog Eat  dog-Food World is as close to brilliance as it gets. However, be warned that there is a possibility that like you too might want to stop reading it after a few pages. Keep reading, as this book will give you a lesson in management all the time being candid and witty. I also got a faint hint of Wodehouse, but that could be just me. 

Rating: *****/5

[This is an author request review. However, the views expressed are my own and unbiased.]

Thursday, March 10, 2016

#BookReview: Ambling Indian by Aina Rao

Book Review:

"This book, a fun trip through India—with all the peculiar experiences of the country, has the ingredients to intrigue, the spice to savour, and the nuggets of reflection to delight! Meet the characters of Chand TV and Changa Times—Madam Chandni, Mr. Chatu, Mr. Raja Chata, voluptuous Ms. Kitry Kat; and the others—the boyfriend Runny Singh, Tinuji, swashbuckling Mr. Anal Manbee, Jamal and the Mangoman. Watch their lives intertwining with the young and lively Ambling Indian’s, as they navigate through the lanes, bylanes, gallis, and mohallas that make up much of India. Coast through Bollywood, the elite Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management—hallowed Oxbridges of the East; weddings, politics, and modern offices. Duck and dive as you avoid the cows, potholes, and street dogs. Celebrate the functions and everything else that is the substance of modern India; chaotic yet captivating. Sit back, brace yourself for a quirky, rollicking auto rickshaw ride, and lose yourself in time as you travel with the aam aadmi (the common man). Discover an India like you have never seen before— through the mirror of the Ambling Indian, Aina; who discovers an unknown side of herself too."


I am not sure exactly how to review this book. A hilarious take on India is a very dicey topic of late, with everyone's sentiments getting hurt about practically everything. Nevertheless, Aina Rao has done a pretty decent job. The over the top characters and their names are funny, though after a time, they start getting on my nerves. 

What Rao has done is taken real life events, and put them together in a hilarious account . Her sense of humour is unique and different. The cover of the book is attractive and definitely a crowd puller. India, Indians and the situations we brave practically every day of our lives has been put together in this book. As you read the book, you will be travelling with the common man of India and seeing a regular person's life. The characters have very over the top names and are particularly interesting, upto a point.

A quick read, ideal if you are in need a mood changer.

Rating: ***/5

#Giveaway: You’ve Got the Wrong Girl by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu


On a sultry night, on a deserted lawn overlooking a moonlit Taj Mahal, two strangers make passionate love and promise never to meet again But promises are meant to be broken, right? This is the story of Dushyant Singh Rathore the 30-something bestselling author of Kinda Cliched, a blockbuster romance novel based on his one night of bliss with a girl whose name he does not know. Under pressure to produce a money-spinning sequel - from his obsessive fans, his hit-seeking publisher, his pushy agent and a sceptical journalist ready to expose the truestory angle as a marketing gimmick - he sets off, three years on, to find the elusive girl whom he had promised never to seek out. When his quest, many twists and turns later, leads him to the unlikeliest of places and the strangest of characters, Dushyant discovers there's a little more to his search than he had anticipated. Will Dushyant discover his mystery woman? What if the wrong girl was really always the right one for him? Will he get a second chance? Delightful, unconventional, heart-warming, You've Got the Wrong Girl is about one man's journey to discover his heart and the supremely unpredictable nature of love.


Terms & Conditions:

The giveaway prizes will be provided by Hachette India, subject to availability.

 Hachette India is not responsible for prizes that are lost in the mail.

 The giveaway will be in India ONLY. 

 Any disputes arising from this contest are subject to jurisdiction in Delhi.

 Winners will be determined by the management of Hachette India. The decision of the 

management will be final and no queries will be entertained in this regard.

 The entries may be screened for defamatory content/language. Hachette India reserves the 

right for last minute cancellation and change in terms and conditions.

 Participants should be Indian residents.

 The contest will start on 10th March 2016 at midnight and end on 30th April, 2016 at 

midnight. No late entries will be accepted.

 Spam entries or entries that are not valid will be immediately disqualified

 There will be five (5) winners. Each winner will win a copy of You’ve Got the Wrong Girl as 

well as one of the titles listed below

  • A Man called Ove by Frederik Backman
  • The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
  • Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy
  • The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez
  • The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec
  • The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks 
  • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  • The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
  • Too Good to be True by Sheila O’ Flanagan

Each winner will get a total of two books, subject to availability.

 All entries that are only entered in the Rafflecopter widget will be valid.

 Number of entries for each task has been provided in the Rafflecopter widget. Every person 

who enters the giveaway needs to do at least one task that is listed above for their entry to 

be valid.

 Winner has 48 hrs to respond to intimation by Hachette India before another winner is 


 Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway.

 Blog Tour hosts cannot enter the giveaway.

 The same giveaway is being hosted on all blogs. There is no separate giveaway on all blogs.

Please embed the following link to your blog for the rafflecopter giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

#BookReview: First Brush on the Canvas by Writersmelon

On the jacket:

14 stellar stories & inspiring quotes on writing. Source of insipration for aspiring writers & for all those who wish to re kindle their love for reading short stoies.   Blurb :  Graham, Daniel, their friendship, life and death. Vampires, guardians' adventures at night. Coffee, love and a new couple. Imli and her mother in a complex web of darkness. A small town girl confused about virginity. Michael Jaikishen and his writing endeavours. Child adoption by a gay couple. Mahabharat - a modern tale in an epic form. The spine-chilling tale of Tina and Uncle Joe. A juicy love story by our guest author Sujata Parashar. These and many other unputdownable stories in this book.  First Brush on the Canvas is an anthology comprising selected stories from Melonade (2014), a nationwide writing marathon organized by Writersmelon dot com.


It took me a while to sit down and write the review for this book, because honestly, I needed time to decide what to write. First Brush of Canvas is an anthology - of mixed genres. The cover is quite interesting and quite gels with the title of the book. The font, however, is too small for my comfort. The anthology is 14 stories, divided into three genres - comedy, romance and thriller. 

The stories are winning entries of a nationwide competition. While the stories under the romance and thriller sections were enjoyable, I didn't quite enjoy the comedy section. Diptee Raut's Tina was my first read of the stories and happens to be my favourite of the lot. Brilliant and spine-chilling, I must say.

The book needs some proof-reading. Banerjee has done a good job with editing the stories. What bothered me a bit was how the stories were divided into genres. A decent read in all.

Rating: ***/5

#BookReview: My Dream Man by Aditi Bose

On the jacket:

"I need to write. I need to sit my ass on that chair and write. I haven't written in ages. Actually I haven't written for the past two years. Rather the past one year, ten months and seventeen days." - from My Dream Man  In her debut novel in the romance genre, Aditi Bose has portrayed romance in an altogether new light. Her prose is realistic, candid, sympathetic and romantic - all at the same time. She doesn't miss out on the humorous bits either. My Dream Man is a novel about the female protagonist's inner desires and the challenges that the reality offers.   Ajopa Ganguly is a girl in her twenties who lives with her parents in Delhi. Her life is fine except for one tiny problem. All publishers have rejected the manuscript that she has very painstakingly written. She believes it's more because she is not a known celebrity rather than because the plot is not appealing enough. She is so disturbed by this that she has been baking cupcakes and embroidering handkerchiefs instead these days. This is when Aniket Verma re-enters her life. He is a professor of economics who is well known in his circle. He's twelve years older to Ajopa. They had been good friends till a misunderstanding happened five years back.   What happens when they meet again is what the story is all about.   An honestly written book, My Dream Man, is insightful as it examines how forces beyond our control help us make personal decisions. As Ajopa says, it is all about "deep choosing".


My dream man is a story about a twenty-something girl, Ajopa, who is trying to make her name as an author. Well, actually, just to get her manuscript published. However, the bad news here is that all she is getting is rejection. Disheartened, she is whiling away time, trying to keep her mind occupied when a man, a professor of Economics, and much elder to her, comes back in her life. The she's had a huge crush on him, is not a very reassuring fact for her.

The cover of the book is a little odd, if you read the blurb. While the blurb suggests romance, the cover gives the hint of erotica. Turns out that the book is neither. In fact, the book reads like a personal account out of someone's personal diary. My dream man is an ideal in-flight or short journey read, something you can finish from cover to cover in a couple of hours. The language is simple and the plot doesn't drag or bore you. 

While a new author writing about an author's struggle in getting published and adding a romantic angle to it is quite a nice idea, a good editor might have helped giving the book the right treatment. An average read, which could have been better with crisp editing. The way the book has been written in the style of a struggling author's diary is innovative. Wonder if there were parts which were autobiographical, however, that is best left as a speculation!

Rating: ***/5

Saturday, February 27, 2016

#BookReview: In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

On the jacket:

From the Pulitzer Prize winner, a surprising, powerful, and eloquent nonfiction debut.  

In Other Words is at heart a love story—of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. And although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery had always eluded her. So in 2012, seeking full immersion, she decided to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world.   

In Rome, Lahiri began to read, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice. Presented in a dual-language format, it is a book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Nabokov. A startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.


For someone who has just started learning a foreign language, this book was a delight. Frankly, I cannot imagine learning the language and mastering it so well that I can write in it - even a diary entry of five sentences. In Other Words came up just when I had started to get restless wondering where Lahiri is, it's been pretty long since The Lowland. Well, the wait was well worth it!

In Other Words is very different from Lahiri's other stories. This is a love story between a person and a language. The depth here is unimaginable. Through multiple short essay like prose, Lahiri has described her stay in foreign, her journey of learning the new language and then implementing it in real life, trying to read in it and hold conversations. From venturing out armed with a dictionary to not needing it at all, the transition must have been one incredible experience. 

For someone who can write only in three languages, this attempt by Lahiri was a big deal. Though I read the English translation of it, the emotions of the journey of learning, mastering and writing in a new language seeped through the words. 

Having learnt and studied Italian for two decades, Lahiri lived in Rome for a while. And only after she stayed in the land, amidst its people, did she find out her comfort with the language. The book is autobiographical and I'd recommend it highly to all those who share my love for words.

Rating: ****.5/5

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

#BookReview: Mother, Where's My Country?: Looking for Light in the Darkness of Manipur by Anubha Bhonsle

On the jacket:

In her powerful, poignant book—one of the best non-fiction works from India in recent years—Anubha Bhonsle examines the tangled and tragic history of Manipur, and of much of India’s North East. Through the story of Irom Sharmila—on a protest fast since 2000—and many others who have fallen victim to violence or despair or stood up to fight for peace and justice, she shows us an entire society ravaged by insurgency and counter-insurgency operations, corruption and ethnic rivalries. Drawing upon extensive interviews with personnel of the Indian army and intelligence agencies, politicians and bureaucrats, leaders of insurgent groups, Irom Sharmila and her family and ordinary people across Manipur, Anubha Bhonsle has produced a compelling and necessary book on the North East, the Indian state, identity politics and the enormous human cost of conflict.


I have weeped throughout while reading this book, right from page one. I still am. So pardon me if my review is a little haphazard. Ideally, here is when you close this window to go buy the book to read, but if you need more convincing, let me try.

Going by the condition of the country, everyone has an opinion now. Opinions are varied and rigid. Amongst it all, there are the states in north east India, fighting their own wars which almost all of us are completely unaware of. Mother, Where's My Country?: Looking for Light in the Darkness of Manipur is Bhonsle's account of Irom Sharmila's fight against AFSPA. All through reading the book I've had mutiple emotions but the strongest where awe for the author. The book begins with an unidentified girl trying to talk about her rape, but not really succeeding in. The girl them recounts Irom Sharmila's story which is gory, heart wrenching, inspiring as well as touching. 

In a country where the entire mainland is living a more or less free and independent life, how and why are people in some states not living the same lives? Such questions don't cross our minds because we really don't know what the real deal is. Yes, we hear that she is on fast until death and how the government is reacting to that. But we know nothing about the life she is leading, or the people she is fighting for are. We have no clue what our army is doing to them or what the militant groups are. We just don't have any idea. Activists are not very loved people, here in India, more so when they are women. Because, the first way to silence them, is of course by raping them. Unfortunately (rather, fortunately), some women are stronger than the barbaric around them. Today, when there are so many opinions floating around about the incident with another activist from yet another forgotten part of the country, Sori Soni, this books comes more as a jolt, reminding us what we are conveniently missing.

I highly recommend this book, especially now. Bhonsle is said to have interviewed more than hundred people for this book and to get to talk to Irom Sharmila, it took more than eight years, for they could talk only when she was out of the jail. The narration and events are one sided and while I didn't particularly feel the need to know the 'other' side of the story, you might.

Rating: ****.5/5


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