Read

Instagram has become my favorite social medium. There was a point of time when I was addicted to Twitter and life was all about notifications of likes and retweets and comments about how hilarious you were, or trolls telling you how much you sucked, or random people commenting upon your display picture. But one fine day, after a particularly vicious attack by trolls who hated me for finding Sharukh Khan (or was it Salman?) funny, I purged the account. And was left with a lot of time on hand, which I decided to invest on Instagram. And I am happy to state that it is much happier, prettier, rosier place, though the last bit might be the filters.

Anyhow, the reason I am proclaiming my love for Instagram at this time is because, when this year started, every time I picked a book, I would Instagram about it. When I started, it was just another fun thing to do – but slowly it became a thing – so much so that I realised that if I did not let Instagram know what I was reading – I would jinx my reading, and actually stop. Yikes. So, I continued the trend, and at this point of time, I am happy to declare that I know exactly how many and what books I have read so far.

Unfortunately, not many, but now that I have a list, I think it is only fair that I talk about them. I started the year  with Murakami’s IQ84, which my sister gifted for my birthday. I had started it maybe in December, but the reading caught speed only in Jan, when I posted about it. It was perhaps the longest book I had read, but like every Murakami I have read, it was sensational. I am not much of a fantasy reader – except Harry Potter which I positively adore – but Murakami’s work, though full of talking animals, and parallel universes, always gets me deeply involved, and wanting more. In short, I love Murakami.

Once I finished 1Q84 (which again, I repeat, you must read if you are a Murakami fan). I forayed into the hitherto uncharted territory of Autobiographies – with The Unsuitable Boy – combining my love for reading with my love for Bollywood. This was also my first purchase on my kindle which saying something since I have had it for 2 years. Not a literary masterpiece, obviously, but I am not so naive as to expect that, but a good, fun read for someone who was brought up on a heavy dose of bollywood. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know why Karan Johar is keeping his distance from Kajol now? (yes, you can kill me).

I then moved to my all time favorite genre – crime/Psychological thrillers with The Hypnotist (Lars Kepler – nice overall, but a tad slow and predictable) and Black Water Lilies ( Michael Bussi – oh my God so much awesome that he almost climbed the charts to share space with my other favorite crime thriller author – Keigo Higashino). I picked another Murakami – Norwegian wood – which was nice, not awesome, but more real, and also Carrie by Stephen King – after I saw it referenced here. The latter was very interesting, much like I would have expected a Stephen King novel to be – because I have only read Fire starter by him other than this. But I am not sure I will venture into his genre for sometime.

This is when I saw that Anuja Chauhan – my favorite commercial fiction author in India – had released Baaz – so I just had to pick it up. This one had a male protagonist, unlike her previous books that were all centered around women – and was set against an armed forces back drop. It was also a bit too long, and it definitely did not end the way I would have wanted it to.  Then, once again I returned to the safe comforts of thrillers with Into the Water – by Paula Hawkins, who wrote Girl on the train – and this one absolutely lived upto my expectations. I cannot resist a book which presents to you a twist in the last line of the book. Plus, somehow, the protagonists of this book had a strong resemblance to the protagonists of Broadchurch on Netflix, and that made me love it even more.

Next in line was Loyal Stalkers, sent to me by Chhimi , which I reviewed here  . I read I see you – by Claire Mackintosh, again a thriller, only it was sort of meh – creepy but meh. And then once again, I picked Murakami – this time his autobiographical book on running marathons. I am not a runner per se, but I have a fascination towards running – and somehow the thought of it has always interested me, rather than the actual act of running. So I read it, got all charged, and then did nothing about it.

Then, the weather got better, summer ended and so did the need to be in air conditioning all the time – which meant more TV. There was a pretty big dent in my reading schedule, and it was a while before I picked my next book – a recommendation in vogue, and my first Turkish Author – Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak. While it started extremely promisingly, the book eventually turned out to be the story of just one of the said daughters, and left me craving for more about the rest. But yes, it gave a good view into the Turkish culture, and that part I loved. This is when I also read an e-book version of Catcher in the Rye – finally – almost 12 years after I first claimed that I had.  It was then back to Michael Bussi to see what other tale he would spin with Dont Let Go – which was once again, a bit of a let down after his first two books.

I moved on the The Silent Wife, by A.H.A Harrison, which I found to be more of an insight into the lives and minds of a couple married for 20 years and now falling apart – so no, it wasn’t a thriller, but it was deeply, deeply disturbing. But I finished this book in 2 days flat, mainly because I had a hair straightening appointment, which meant sitting in a chair for 4 hours with no one to talk to. But it had it’s pluses as you can see, not limited to shiny, straight hair.

Now I am reading Bossy Pants, by the star of my current TV binge series, 30 Rock – Tina Fey. Which would actually be the third non-fiction read for this year – which by the way, is a miracle in itself. But technically, I don’t consider autobiographies non-fictional, as in yeah, it’s not fiction, but it is a story, so what if it is true?

So that’s where I stand. I have yet another non-fiction, which is actually almost  a self-help book, a genre I have scoffed at all my life, and I will be giving it a shot as soon as I am done with the life and times of Tina Fey. Till then, I am just glad this year had me revisit books, and more so, because a lot of this reading is in the company of Zo. And for the last two weeks, in our little book nook, in our new house. And while the new house deserves a post of it’s own – for the benefit of those who don’t follow me on Instagram, I will leave you with a glimpse here. Till then, happy reading to all of us!

Capture

Advertisements

Loyal Stalkers – Book Review

Last week, I was waiting for the latest books I had ordered on Amazon to be delivered, and was in for a surprise when I was greeted with not one package, but two. The other was from PanMacmillan publications and in it was Chhimi Tenduf-La’s third and latest book – Loyal Stalkers.

9781509876303loyal stalkers_2_jpg_251_400

 

I am not sure if you remember, but 2 years ago, I had read and reviewed this author’s first two books – The Amazing Racist and Panther, and they had been incredible in my view. This third book, is a collection of short stories based in Sri Lanka.

I am not a very short story person, and I had my apprehensions when I picked it up. There are more than 10 stories – telling us about the lives of people in Srilanka. These people came from absolutely varied backgrounds and situations – what with stories involving smugglers, cricketers, security guards, house-help, rich socialites and even a serial killer. The very span of the different facets of Srilanka living that you could see through these stories was downright astounding.

The highlight of the book however was that every story had some character, main or otherwise, linked to some other story in the book. This was not a surprise element, and is mentioned on the blurb itself. But I think that the subtlety with which these linkages were handled is commendable. The stories also panned across different times, and you would see the same character in a different story at a much later, or sometimes earlier phase of their life. And through this, the author ensured that he brought about some amount of closure to each character and their life, an aspect that I am immensely thankful about. Also, while I know it is not realistic expectation, but the only minor grudge I had was when there were characters I wanted to know more about, and expected them to come up in other stories, but they didn’t.

Not all the stories were your typical happy endings, but then reality never is, is it? And while some stories made me cry, some made me smile, and some actually made me cringe at the rawness, the graphic detail – the warm undertones remained through out. Yes, I do of course have my favorites in the lot, but that is more an individual opinion about the actual events that happen, rather than the story itself.

All said and done, I think it was extremely engrossing read, and I would recommend it to anyone. In terms of rating it, I might go as far as calling it Chhimi’s best work so far, more because of this unique format that offers you variety, but brings you back to the all encompassing common theme of life.

Once again, thank you Panmacmillan, and Chhimi for sending this across – I am sure everyone reading it will love it!

Fables from India – Book Review

I have hardly been reviewing books on the blog for a while now. And I have definitely never reviewed short stories, heck I don’t even read short stories. But when I came across Fables from India, by Uday Mane, it immediately caught my attention. Mainly because I am no longer the only reader in the house, and my reading time is now dominated by what I read to Zo.

The book is slim, and has 22 stories, which means none of them would be too long. The blurb spoke of a variety of stories, ranging from kings and princes, to farmers, to trees to dogs and pet lambs. The stories span over 5-6 pages each, which is just slightly higher than what would hold the attention of a 5 year old.

I started reading the book, and was not disappointed. It was fun, the stories were interesting, they all ended with a moral, some more obvious than others. All of them are set in traditional, ancient India, and will definitely remind the readers of the stories they have been told by their grandparents during summer vacations. This also seems to be the setting visualized by the author himself, going by the cover of the book, which has a story telling session on with a bunch of kids.capture

The language is very easy and clean, and made it possible for me to glide through the pages with absolutely no difficulty. The sentences are simple, again, I assume keeping in mind the target audience. At first, I tried reading out loud to Zo, but as expected, the stories were a tad too long to be read out aloud. I then switched to reading on my own and then narrated the simpler versions to Zo. All were well received!

Overall, this is a very good book for children. While each story eventually reiterates upon the learning we have all been brought up with – like the victory of good over evil – it never gets preachy, making it all the more palatable to a younger audience. The variety of stories keeps the reader interested.

I for one will keep this copy handy for when Zo moves to her next phase of reading. And that should be enough said about it.

Day 3 – (What’s the story) Morning Glory?

I started 2015 with  my first Murakami, and coincidentally, started 2016 with Murakami too. Only, in 2015 I finished the book on the 1st itself. And this year, I finished one chapter, and haven’t opened the book again yet. But I am hoping that doing that little bit I did makes this year as awesome as last year was in terms of my reading.

Last year, I was on a roll. Though I began rolling quite late in the year, once I started, there was no stopping. The only thing I have to admit is that I played safe and stuck to the genre that in itself ensures that no one stops midway through a book – thrillers. Crime fiction, to be exact. And I tried crime fiction set in Japan (Keigo Higashimo), France (Michael Bussi), London (Robert Galbraith) apart from the usual American stories – all of them amazing. The only deviation I made was for a couple of Indian authors, and for Murakami, who is provides me my literary dose.

So book wise, it was a happy year. I decided that reading indeed made me very happy and it was essential I keep it up, instead of lying on the beanbag and flipping channels, or worse still, scrolling down my Twitter, FB and Instagram feeds while the television played something random I didn’t even care about. And honestly, it needed a lot of discipline. One, because social media is way too enticing. And two, marrying a non-reader means he doesn’t get how difficult it can be to keep your book down and sleep, when there are delicious twists happening the story. But I managed!

I even tried my hand at non-fiction with ‘Blood telegram’, but I have not managed to finish it. turns out, fiction is my thing. And while I do want to ‘expand my horizons’ I don’t seem to have the ability to do it. And all those stories call out to me from the bookshelf, as I  diligently plod on through the real events which should interest me, so eventually I succumb to temptation every time.

IMG_1195

Then we bought our new home, and I decided I needed a dedicated book area, more than a book shelf. We have all the time in the world to decide what we want to do in this house because we don’t get it for another year. So I surfed through Pinterest and a lot of ideas caught my eye, all we needed was a spot where the ideas could become reality. And I think I found it – there is the perfect spot in the house which will eventually be my ‘Book-nook’. Ofcourse, it will take time and there might be changes to the idea, but I am really looking forward to it.

Till then, I will build my little library. Scourge through Amazon, and Flipkart, looking for the best deals. Search for my favorite authors, gorge on their writings, and then wait for them to release their next book. Sit wide-eyed late in the night, forgetting about the presentation the next day, or the fact that I need to be up early to get Zo to school. Lost in the pages, in a world unknown to me, amongst strangers who seem like I have known them forever.

If that’s not bliss, I’m not sure what is.

 

The bestseller she wrote – Book Review

So I decided to get back on the book review bandwagon once again, and picked up this title by well known Indian author – Ravi Subramanian – who has usually written Banking thrillers, and this was publicized as his first foray into ‘Romantic intrigue’. I haven’t read any books in this particular genre, and quite honestly, I have never been a big fan of the romance genre itself. But I was curious to find out how an Indian author dealt with it.

Bestseller

I haven’t also read any of his older books. I did start ‘If God was a Banker’ years ago when it was released, and I distinctly remember putting it down after page three, because of a particular sentence that described a female character with the word ‘bomb’. Now I’m not feminist, but this didn’t go down very well with the little bit of literary snobbishness I am guilty of. I mean, ‘bomb’? But a long time has passed since then, I thought it was time to give the author another shot.

So here’s my two-pence. The story is about an IIM-B alumnus, banker turned famous commercial author, Aditya Kapoor, and his tryst with yet another IIM-B student, almost banker and wannabe famous author, Shreya Kaushik, some 15 years his junior. Their’s is the ‘romantic intrigue’ that was spoken of, and the story is quite a candidate for a Bollywood movie, considering it has almost all the elements we need for on – attraction, love, ego-clashes, betrayal, sentiments, ambitions, revenge and a fair bit of drama. But how well does it work is the question.

My answer is, just about ok. I got bored initially, it seemed like an unnecessary tale of infidelity and mid-life crisis. But as the story progressed, it got interesting to the extent that there were twists and things happened, the characters showed shades of grey, instead of the stark blacks and whites,  and I actually wanted to finish the story, know how it ended. And so, I kept at it, and credit to the author, the book kept me engrossed for a while.

The problem came to the fore when it came towards the end. I was left feeling betrayed – by the sheer laziness and convenience with which things were wrapped up. The characters, which seemed to be building up through the story, fell flat by the end, and I felt there was no effort at making them more realistic, more genuine. A hurried closure, a random twist, and we were done. So many parts in the story which you might have wanted a bit more closure on, were left gaping open. It was like the author realized that this had to be made into a Bollywood movie and hence the only befitting end was what was presented. As I said, absolute anti-climax.

I am not saying my expectations were high, they were not, I wasn’t expecting a literary gem when the author himself had promised us a comfortable, laid-back read; which is why I am not getting into the language used or the prose in itself at all. But when you pick up a paper-back, you want a story that keeps you engrossed, and has a justifiable end to it. In this case, the latter element was missing.

Would I recommend it? Well, not really, unless you are the kind who wants something easy to read, and doesn’t nitpick on loopholes in the story line and characters and writing. If you couldn’t care about all that and just want entertainment, go ahead. Or better still, wait for it to be made into a movie with Salman Khan starring in it.

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Panther – Book Review

More often than not, when you pick up a book by a particular author in quick succession to last one by him/her, which you raved about, you’re ever so slightly let down. Atleast that’s what has happened with me in the past. And that’s what I was afraid of, when I picked up Panther, by Chimmi Tenduf-La, within a month of having read and reviewed his last book here.

Panther

Panther, tells the story of Prabhu, a teenager who is brought into the glamourous world of elite schooling, clubs and partying, and most importantly, into the world of cricket, owing to his tremendous talent in the game.  Along with Indika, rich, suave, and also a good player himself, Prabhu lives a life of a regular teenager, something he has always looked forward to. Because Prabhu has a murky past, and has seen more pain in his childhood, than most see in their lives.

The book seamlessly shuffles between the past and the present, written in different styles, demarcating them clearly. The past is dark, and the author hasn’t hesitated in bringing forth the rawness, the gore, and at times it hurts to read, and think and imagine what the child is going through. But amidst all the happenings, the focus remains on Prabhu, his emotional turmoil, his determination, his positive outlook and belief that eventually things would get better.

The present is more relatable. You root for him, as he weaves his way through the ups and downs of regular teenage life. For me, his friendship with Indika was a highlight of the book and I loved the relationship they share. There are other important characters that impact Prabhu’s life, both in the past and the present, and they range from amazing, awesome, to downright disgusting and horrible but then we cannot complain because every story needs its fair share of antagonists as well and what matters is they get what they deserve. They do, to some extent, thankfully.

The book is a smooth read, and for me it’s a positive one. Considering we have two stories running in parallel, the screen time each gets sometimes seems a bit less, you tend to want a bit more on what happened, how it did, and what was happening. But I am assuming getting all that detail in one book, and yet keeping crisp might not be the easiest of tasks. That being said, Prabhu will be a character I will remember for a long time

Thank you Chimmi, it was a pleasure reading this book, and hope you write a lot more. Perhaps even a sequel to Panther?

The amazing racist – Book Review

Last week, I received another book for a review, “The amazing racist” by Chimmi Tenduf-La. The cover had a quote that called the book “Outrageously funny and deeply moving”, and this made me pick it up in the first place, because I love my dose of humor; the more outrageous the better.

BUP_DFT_DFT-16-91

The story is about an English school teacher Eddie, who comes down to Srilanka on a teaching assignment, and falls in love with a gorgeous local beauty, Menaka. Menaka herself comes from a powerful, elite family, headed by her very strict, very respected, adamant, and most importantly, white-skin hating father, Thilak Rupasinghe. So when the couple decides to get married within 6 weeks of seeing each other, the father is far from amused, and tries every trick in the book to not let it happen.

This, is what I thought was the whole story. You know how our English boy manages to thwart the heart of his SriLankan prospective father-in-law, and manages to have a happy ending with the woman he loves. And this is where the humor lay too. But strangely, Menaka and Eddie get married before a third of the book is over.

And honestly, this is where the story begins. This book is the story of Eddie and Thilak, not Eddie and Menaka. This book is funny, yes, but this is not a book you will categories in the humor genre. This book is what is mentioned in the latter half of the quote – deeply moving. Very, deeply, moving. The rest of the book deals with Eddie, and his life with Thilak, and a new entrant in their lives, Eddie and Menaka’s daughter, Kiki. Menaka relegates into the background, offering an occasional twist. The evolution of the Eddie’s place as an outsider in Thilak Rupasinghe life, to that of his closest confidante, the only person he trusts, the only person who cares for him, more than his whole family, keeps you glued, wanting to go on, seeing how it all ends.

The Amazing Racist managed to do something not many books have done in the recent past – it made me cry, for quite some time after the book was finished. It deals with the most basic human emotions, prejudices, insecurity, loyalty, love, and beautifully so. For a debut novel, I am extremely impressed with the author’s talent at keeping the reader spellbound.

Some books you like for how well it is written, some books you like for the story. This book, you’ll love for both. Definite thumbs up, definite must read.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!