Monday, August 31, 2015

#BookReview: The House that BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan

On the jacket:

I'll make my sisters squirm like well-salted earthworms. I won't sell. Even my jutti wont sell. And if I die na, then even my gosht won't sell! The late Binodini Thakur had been very clear that she would never agree to sell her hissa in her Bauji's big old house on Hailey Road. And her daughter Bonu, is determined to honor her mothers wishes.  But what to do about her four pushy aunts who are insisting she sell? One is bald and stingy, one is jobless and manless, one needs the money to 'save the nation' and one is stepmother to Bonus childhood crush-brilliant young Bollywood director Samar Vir Singh, who promised BJ upon his deathbed that he would get the house sold, divvy the money equally and end all the bickering within the family.  The first word baby Bonu ever spoke was 'Balls' and indeed, she is ballsy, bullshit-intolerant, brave and beautiful. But is she strong enough to weather emotional blackmail by the spadefull? Not to mention shady builders, wily politicians, spies, lies and the knee-buckling hotness of Samars intense eyes? Sharply observed and pulse-quickeningly romantic, this is Anuja Chauhan writing at her sparkling best!


The House That BJ Built is a sequel to The Thakur Girls. The names of Chauhan's characters bother me. I am all for uncommon sounding names, I have one myself. But when almost everyone has such name combinations, when no one in the family sounds like they are related, it bothers my OCD. I cannot flaw with Chauhan's storytelling, and keeping the Indian readership in mind, the language too is perfect. Simple, easy-flowing, narrative and with a lot of Hinglish words. I however would have preferred to read this story in Hindi. 

As has happened with a lot of well-recognised authors on this side of the millenium, their first book brings with it fresh style of writing, fresh plots and very innovative style of presenting the story. Then innovation quotient starts dipping lower. Anuja Chauhan's  The Zoya Factor was one such. Battle of Bittora was extremely witty. Then it got repetitive. The style, not the plot. What I cannot take away from Chauhan though is, that she is a good story teller. 

This story is primarily about the relationship between Bonu and Samar. They share an interesting relationship though they are not Zoya and Khoda, neither are they Jinni and Zayn. As the title suggests, the story is about the house that the Thakur girls grew up in and its impending sale. The story is a sort of a roller coaster and Chauhan has managed to hide quite a few twists, turns and surprises in the plot. The story mainly talks about Bonu but Samar and Chachiji are somewhere important too. 

Rating: ***.5/5

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Live stream on #Fame App

How active on social media are you? Are you on twitter, pinterest, facebook, everywhere? Fantastic. Now, how would you feel if you were told that you can have access to a live streaming platform where you can display your own talent? Sing, tell stories, dance, cook, create music - do whatever you are good at, and do it for an audience, from wherever you are? Sounds amazing? Now imagine all this in an app. You open the app, display your talent and there it goes for the world to see and appreciate. Seriously, it sounds too good to be true. But, it is true. #fame app is how this can be done and you can learn the power of live stream on #fame app on August 30, 2015 at the #famestarsLIVE event. The stream will be from 12 PM to 3 PM. 
It is being predicted that in a few years, most of the Internet traffic will be made by videos only. In the next three years, smart phone users are expected to be watching videos for an average of 20+ hours in a month. For brands and businesses, this is the ideal way to create and stay ahead of trends. Imagine how many people you can reach out to through this app. Have your own fans, fans of your talent.

Livestreaming is what can be called the latest boon to people who love the entertainment industry. Make no mistake, 2015 will be owned by live streaming video on social media. It is basically the future of media and the continuation of the democratization of media
#fame has come up with the most wonderful app in which you have the liberty to live stream shows, interviews, musicals, celebrity news, gossips, and everything else! That said, you can also know how your favourite stars stay fit and beautiful, your horoscope for the week or you could yourself turn into a fortune teller. How about being a dance teacher? Poet? Log in to the app and join the stream! The #fame app has it all!

Watch prominent personalities talk about this in learning & unlearning session on how live streaming is the next big thing. Amongst them will be cricket expert Ayaz Memon and film critic Raja Sen who will share their insights. A power packed interaction is what is promised, and we assure you, you wouldn’t want to miss it for the world!

The #fame team will also share tips & tricks on how to make your live stream successful. The entire session will be broadcasted live on #fame app from 12PM to 3PM. The #fame app is available on the app stores in your smart phones. Just download and browse through. You will be surprised at how amazing the experience is. I sure was!! The app is extremely user friendly and packed with entertainment. The menu is simple and precise. 
Hop in and be a part of what is the coolest and the hottest in town! Remember the date and the time – August 30, from 12 PM to 3 PM.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Particpate in the #MillenniumFlashback Challenge

Terms & Conditions for the #MillenniumFlashback Challenge

 All the participants should either be fan on Hachette India Facebook page OR follow Hachette India’s 

Twitter handle @HachetteIndia.

 Participants should be Indian residents.

 Participants can participate only on Twitter or on Facebook. Multiple entries on both Facebook and 

Twitter from the same participant will not be accepted.

 The contest will start on 24th August, 2015 at 01:00 pm and end on 25th August, 2015 at 03:00 pm. 

No late entries will be accepted.

 Participants will be eligible for the winning, only if they correctly answer all 6 questions on Twitter or 

all 3 questions on Facebook by 25th August, 2015, 03:00 pm.

 Participants must include #MillenniumFlashback in their responses.

 The entries may be screened for defamatory content/language.

 Hachette India employees and its partners’ employees are eligible to participate in the contest but 

will not be considered for the prizes.

 Hachette India reserves the right for last minute cancellation and change in terms and conditions.

 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.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

#BookReview: Age of Anxiety by Indranil Banerjie

On the jacket:

India has been Independent for just about two decades when a young Bengali boy, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, takes his place within the portals of an ancient school that continues to glorify its colonial past. India is changing and the city that was once the proud capital of a vast Colonial empire is in rapid decline but the school holds out, white and resplendent amidst the surrounding gloom and depredation. Sarat Chandra, cut off from his familiar world, is thrown together with a bunch of boys who hail from diverse backgrounds - Marwaris, Anglo-Indians, Armenians and Muslims. Within the school’s portals he must adapt and conform to its ancient traditions. He finds a new name, makes friends and discovers the first flush of romance but struggles to come to terms with his family’s precarious financial situation, which fuels his inherent anxiety. Much like Sarat Chandra, the city too is grappling to come of age. Mired in post-Independence politics and economic decline, anxiety and gloom has spread through the populace jostling for space in an increasingly crowded and unrelenting city. The elite have taken over the mansions left behind by the colonialists while the poor throng the pavements and empty spaces. Will Sarat Chandra find his place in the city or is he forever doomed to be the outsider, the ‘mofussil’ boy with an identity crisis? This is a story about a generation numbed by the anxiety of the Sixties and the Seventies, about music dying in the bars, entire populations quietly fleeing the city and yesteryear's generation fortifying themselves within anachronistic colonial institutions to hold out against change.


There are two reasons I wanted to read this book: 1) The blurb. And the mention of a character called Sarat Chandra Chatterjee made the dormant Bengali in me, very very curious. 2) The author. I am a sucker for books written by journalists - fiction and non-fiction. In my opinion, journalists already know the art of presenting a story to the readers, so more than half the job is already done. 

And the book did not disappoint me one bit. While it did take me a while to sit and write this review, the book in itself is a wonderful read. There are very few writers out there, while reading whose books, you wish that they write more and that you get to read them all soon.

In this beautifully written tale of young Sarat, Banerjie has handled human emotions so sensitively, yet one can see sparks of wit. A tale truly beautifully told. Our boy Sarat, grew up in post-colonial Calcutta amidst various privileges. But the thing was, that this privileges came with a price. Somewhere in between all this, Sarat's father loses his job and he is almost thrown out of school. The story in itself covers the differences in classes, homosexuality, the very infamous emergency and the Calcutta described is the one which still exists in the by-lanes. If you've just been a visitor to the city, you might not be able to identify with it, but if you know and love the city, you might end up thanking the author for portraying the heart of the city.

Rating: *****/5

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mother and Child

- Meetal Vyas

When I first held my little boy in my arms, I didn't know how to react. 

There were no tears of joy or pain from vaginal birth. It was a strange feeling. The slight tugging of the invisible umbilical cord and the heaviness in the heart, not from the lactating sore breasts but from the fear of the raising this little being. 

I had waited; waited very long to be a mother. And when it actually happened, I didn't know how to react. All I knew was, why exactly the other procedures didn't work; why the little being didn't arrive from the conventional birthing method. 

That's because he was born from my heart. He chose me to be his mother. God chose our bond. 

I teared a little when I first saw him cling to me. The trust from a tiny being who would call me his mother. That's when I realised, I was a mother and I had a soul baby. 

With no physical or mental preparation for the new guest, a couple of days went in explaining and re-explaining and then explaining some more to people as to how come I had a baby without being pregnant! Well that's because he grew in my heart and not in my tummy. 

I can't thank God enough for this little miracle in my life. He fell right from the heaven into my lap. No, I haven't adopted him, he has adopted me. He chose me to be his mother. My love, my life, my little star. 
                                                                                        - Soul mother :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Relationship Goal: Nurture It

~ Smita Kumar
This is how a relationship works... 
Let's take the example of a plant. You can't just buy a plant, water it once then forget about it. And then keep expecting it to flower and bear fruit and look all pretty and nice... 
It just won't... 
It will wither and die... 
You need to water it everyday. You must give it time, take care of it, give fertilizers, show some sun, protect it from harsh weather. Only then will the plant grow strong, bear flowers & fruits for you and look really healthy & pretty.
If you miss out on any of the above it will suffer and in turn will not be able to give you what you expect from it.  If you leave your own plant and water other random plants outside, they might give you whatever in return depending on what you've given them. But your own plant, the one that was yours, will die a slow, painful death. 
And once its dead you won't be able to bring it to life. If you abandon it and someone else takes it and starts caring for & loving it, then that person will get the rewards and you'll just be sitting empty handed.  
Similarly you can't just get married and forget your spouse. Your spouse is just like that plant you got. You must give him/her your time everyday just as you water the plant daily. From time to time, do things together for each other and that will act like fertilizer to make your bond strong.  Protect your relationship & avoid harsh statements, abuses and insults. Talk and share everything with each other honestly. 
This will prune out any misunderstandings and help you both grow.  Only then will your relationship blossom into a beautiful one. If you miss out on these then your relationship will suffer. Don't expect a lovely relationship if you've never bothered to give it your time and effort. And if you leave your own spouse and go out and have random flings, please don't expect your relationship to last. Sooner or later it will end.  And if you abandon your spouse and someone else comes along in their life, you'll be the one sitting alone with with regret and jealousy.  
So please go and care for your relationship while it's still alive and still yours!!! It will be worth every bit if you sincerely put in the time and effort. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#BookReview: India On My Platter - The 20,000 km Food Journey by Saransh Goila

On the jacket:

Backpacking through the country, young chef Saransh Goila sets off on a culinary trail through India, where in he discovers the various nuances of local cuisine. From rural villages to barren deserts to freezing mountains, he unfolds the flavor of his destination by meeting local villagers or erstwhile royalty, picking up a tip or two to use in his kitchen. Wherever he goes, he makes sure to visit the famous eateries of that place. Through him, the reader can vividly smell the spices and taste the dishes that are described. The recipes given also present ways on using locally found ingredients. From having steaming Murthal ke paranthes to savoring tasty street food in home town Delhi, from cooking on a boat in Varanasi to cooking dishes using a bamboo hollow in Assam, Goila does it all and presents his adventures in a lucid, flowing narrative peppered with humorous anecdotes.


India On My Platter - The 20,000 km Food Journey is chef Saransh Goila's travelogue across the country and it includes some fantastic recipes. Having seen Goila cook up storms in the kitchen, on tv shows, I already expected this book to be a smasher. Adding to the fact that he seems to a simple, earthy guy I was sure to expect some very recipes of the land. It is not that one gets to travel through India at a stretch and indulge in what they love doing the most, and Goila made the most of it. Starting from Delhi, moving on to Punjab and travelling southwards via Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.

The language is simple. A little crisp editing could have made the travelogue more interesting. Nagpur being my hometown, seeing  Saoji's recipe made me very happy. Recipes from Kolkata were disappointing, though. Goila's travel tales are not only heartwarming to read, but also

I have book marked the recipes of sindhi kadhi, sikkim chicken curry, chocolate football momos, tofu kofta, chicken rizala, saoji curry, baghare baingan, hyderabadi gobhi musallam biryani and tomato, dried fenugreek & wine rice, to try out in my own kitchen very soon.

Rating: ***.5/5

Monday, June 22, 2015

#BookReview: Simple plane love by Priyanka Luthra

On the jacket:

A perfect landing is a mirage, the more you chase it, the more it eludes you…' Meet Captain Meera Khanna. As a first officer on an Aeroflot Aviation plane, with a luxurious apartment in the beautiful city of Manila, she seems to have it all. Flying to exotic destinations, navigating turbulent flights through typhoons and handling engine failure are all in a day's work. Even when a leg injury forces Meera to take time off her busy schedule, she has the perfect solution - an exciting vacation to Subic Bay with her glamorous best friend Diana, aka Dee. And nothing could have been a better idea, what with the unexpected arrival of her childhood friend, the suave Aditya. But when Aditya seems to want more than friendship, it throws Meera off-kilter. Will Meera's perfect life come to an abrupt landing? Or will she find her happily-ever-after? In Simple Plane Love, join Captain Meera on a rollicking adventure, where navigating an aeroplane seems simpler than negotiating the many twists and turns of love.


I had read Luthra before I read her book. I had stumbled some of her short stories even before I knew who she was. And I'd wondered if she is a published author. Surprisingly, she wasn't one back then, but now she is.

Simple Plane Love is a simple story of a simple girl, Captain Meera Khanna. Do you, for even a second believe that a girl who flies fearlessly can be simple and have a simple story. Well, yes and no. Meera is one of us. In fact, there is a Meera in all of us. Bold, yet scared. Sure, yet nervous. Independent, yet a child. An independent girl, Meera lives alone in Manila. The book begins with her last flight before she packs her bags to head back to India. 

Luthra has developed her characters with love and care. It shows. Be it Meera herself, or her mother, her boss or her friends, they are all well-rounded characters. The events seem straight out of a real person's life and nothing seems far fetched. Having said this, I think Luthra can do better. I look forward to even more beautifully sketched stories by the author.

Rating: ****/5

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

#BookReview: Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing Edited by Annie Zaidi

On the jacket:

Unbound is a collection of some of the most significant writing by Indian women over the past two thousand years. Divided into eleven sections, it encompasses writing on various aspects of life: spirituality, love, marriage, children, food, work, social and individual identity, battles, myths and fables, travel, and death. While many of the pieces are commentaries on the struggle that women undergo to overcome obstacles—social and political—all of them showcase the remarkable creative ability of their creators. The term ‘women’s writing’ has often been used to limit and stereotype the work of women writers. But it also has a larger and more constructive meaning, and that is the sense in which it has been used to inform and describe the context of the book. As Annie Zaidi explains in her introduction: ‘Women bring to their writing the truth of their bodies, and an enquiry into the different ways in which gender inequity shapes human experience.’
Selected from hundreds of novels, memoirs, essays, short story collections and volumes of poetry that were either written in English or that have been translated into English, the pieces in this collection include the most distinctive and powerful voices from every era. There are verses from the Therigatha, written by Buddhist nuns (circa 300 BCE), and writing by poet-saints like Andal, Avvaiyar, Lal Ded, Mirabai; modern classics by writers 
like Ajeet Cour, Amrita Pritam, Arundhati Roy, Attia Hosian, Bama, Bulbul Sharma, Irawati Karve, Ismat Chughtai, Kamala Das, Krishna Sobti, Mahasweta Devi, Manju Kapur, Mannu Bhandari, Mrinal Pande, Nayantara Sahgal, Pinki Virani, Qurratulain Hyder, Rashid Jahan, Romila Thapar, Sarojini Naidu, Saudamini Devi, Shivani; and powerful new voices from our time like Arundhathi Subramaniam, Nilanjana Roy, Nivedita Menon.


I had not read a lot of Indian women writer in the past. Few, whose names kept coming up in conversations, yes. But mostly, not. So when the opportunity to review Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing came up, it was thrilling. I have not read Annie Zaidi before though I have heard good things about her books. So, I picked this book up with some trust and some hesitation.

The cover is, let's not be shy with words, KICK-ASS. I was sold to the book here itself. When I turned the cover and reached the index, whatever doubts I had went flying through the window. This book is an extremely ambitious and daring project, I must say. Ambitious and very very difficult. It is not a matter of joke to research about women authors from the last 2000 years, read them, decide whom to include and whom not to, pick their best works and put them together in an order that will appeal to the reader, is no mean feat.

When putting together an anthology what is probably the most difficult, is choosing which stories to include and which ones to leave out. Also, in this case, which authors to include. Zaidi has done a great job regarding this, in my opinion. While reading Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing I felt that there is something in the book for everyone. You can pick your favourite authors/translators and read/re-read them. You can also have a pick from the authors you have not read but heard of. And, you can read works by authors completely unknown to you. 

If this book was compiled by someone else, the chosen authors and their works might have been different. But it becomes easier to associate with the chosen ones, once you read Zaidi's account in the introduction.

If you love literature, I'd say give this book a try. It is one such anthology which you might want to read a few pages of today, and come back to months later, to read someone else as your mood demands. This is a book to keep.

Rating: *****/5

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#BookReview: Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan

On the jacket:

Betty Plum has never been in love. She's never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T. Toby starts school it's like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid's arrows. It's like a bomb has exploded – a love bomb!  More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn't died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that's when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about …  Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?


Not a fan of YA fiction as I keep saying but I must say that Bloomsbury publication is coming up with some really good fiction in this genre, even for people who don't particularly like reading this genre!

The second book in the Ladybird series, Love Bomb is a light hearted take of our protagonist Betty Plum and her life. Betty has just turned 15, and though a little late compared to her peers, but she is finally in love and that too with the new kid in school. Toby is the new kid in school and according to Betty, the true love of her life.

The book begins on Betty's 15th birthday, when she breaks the tradition of reading her dead mother's letter to her. This used to be abirthday tradition but this year she decides she doesn't want to read it, when she learns this is the last one. Eventually she does open it and read it. 

Back at school, Betty seems to be getting Toby's attention. She is moving away from her best friends in the process but new love is previous too. How do things move on from here for Betty? 

The story is fun and cute, a story almost all girls can related to. A well-written book that will keep you hooked.

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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