Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

Book Name : A Teaspoon Of Earth And Sea
Author : Dina Nayeri
Genre: Lit fiction
My rating : 4.5/5
Publishers : Allen and Dunwin
Book source : Review copy from  MYSMARTPRICE.COM

Synopsis from Goodreads

Growing up in a small rice-farming village in 1980s Iran, eleven-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister, Mahtab, are captivated by America. They keep lists of English words and collect illegal Life magazines, television shows, and rock music. So when her mother and sister disappear, leaving Saba and her father alone in Iran, Saba is certain that they have moved to America without her. But her parents have taught her that “all fate is written in the blood,” and that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. As she grows up in the warmth and community of her local village, falls in and out of love, and struggles with the limited possibilities in post-revolutionary Iran, Saba envisions that there is another way for her story to unfold. Somewhere, it must be that her sister is living the Western version of this life. And where Saba’s world has all the grit and brutality of real life under the new Islamic regime, her sister’s experience gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of.

Filled with a colorful cast of characters and presented in a bewitching voice that mingles the rhythms of Eastern storytelling with modern Western prose, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a tale about memory and the importance of controlling one’s own fate

My views

I have officially been bitten by the Iran mania . First, it was Reading Lolita in Tehran , and now this book. And I am going to be continuing this odyssey with Persepolis next ..Back to what I thought about the book. The starting was a little shaky ,with the author switching POAs , but once past thirty pages, I started liking the book .  The pace is languid , and Dina's prose meanders and serenades us slowly,but steadily , and by the time she is done with her story , I was in love with the characters, so much so that I started  thinking about 'What happens next? after the book ends'. This , I think is a mark of a beautiful novel . Something that makes us spend restless nights thinking about the fates of the characters, that one starts feeling their pain and happiness definitely is a masterpiece. It might not be in the league of The kite Runner , but the lilting sadness that lingers around the protagonist of the book(Saba) just takes one's breath away. 

Dina has woven a beautiful story that is poignant , heart-breaking, liberating  and fun at the same time. I loved how she has spent time etching every single character with great precision through the things they do or say. I totally fell in love with Saba's character and found myself rooting for nice things to happen to her.  After reading Lolita in Tehran and the revolutionary ideas put-forth by the author, I found Saba' s quiet struggle against the New and baffling Iran rather refreshing. Though saddened by the choices she makes , I could understand why she chose to take more difficult path.  The mystery behind her mother and twin sister's disappearance is something that will keep us on tenterhooks.   

Also , the switching between point of views is a rather clever move by the author. Though , initially it did seem a little choppy, once past thirty odd pages, the change in perspectives and POAs was a welcome break as it took the melancholy off the narrative. Saba's vibrant tale of subversion of the establishment and   the  facets of a village life in Cheshmeh  she has with her friends (Reza and Ponneh) is the perfect foil for the  narration of atrocities that the Islamic state thrusts on Iranians. And choosing Khanom Basir as one of the narrators was also a good idea, considering how different her view-point is from Saba's. I also loved how Saba imagines the life of her twin sister Mahtab in America and concocts stories about her life. She lives her fantasies through her sister's imagined life. A brilliant idea, if you as me!

I also enjoyed reading about Saba's and her friend's obsession for all things American , and how she thirsts for  books and novels and English music. It is even difficult to imagine how simple things that we take for granted ( like wearing a red nail polish or  reading a mildly scandalous  book )were banned in post-revolutionary Iran. Such level of censorism is just frightening.  

What will Saba do with her life? Will she stay in Iran , with its Pasadars and moral police draining every bit of life out of her , or will she flee to America  and search for Mahtab and her mother? Read the book to find out :) 

Overall, an awesome read..Recommended for all lovers of literary fiction. You'll love it if you loved The kite Runner and A thousand Splendid suns. 

Thanks to Mysmartprice.com for sponsoring my book. Want to buy this book ? Check out the best deals on the book here .  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Timeline by Micheal Crichton : Mini Review

Publisher : Ballantine books
Copy source : Personal
Rating : 3.5/5

Synopsis from Good reads

When you step into a time machine, fax yourself through a "quantum foam wormhole" and step out in feudal France circa 1357, be very, very afraid. If you aren't strapped back in precisely 37 hours after your visit begins, you'll miss the quantum bus back to 1999 and be stranded in a civil war, caught between crafty abbots, mad lords and peasant bandits all eager to cut your throat. You'll also have to dodge catapults that hurl sizzling pitch over castle battlements. On the social front, you should avoid provoking "the butcher of Crecy" or Sir Oliver may lop your head off with a swoosh of his broadsword or cage and immerse you in "Milady's Bath", a brackish dungeon pit into which live rats are tossed now and then for prisoners to eat.
This is the plight of the heroes of Timeline, Michael Crichton's thriller. They're historians in 1999 employed by a tech billionaire-genius with more than a few of Bill Gates' most unlovable quirks. Like the entrepreneur in Crichton's Jurassic Park, Doniger plans a theme park featuring artefacts from a lost world revived via cutting-edge science. When the project's chief historian sends a distress call to 1999 from 1357, the boss man doesn't tell the younger historians the risks they'll face trying to save him. At first, the interplay between eras is clever but Timeline swiftly becomes a swashbuckling old-fashioned adventure, with just a dash of science and time paradox in the mix. Most of the cool facts are about the Middle Ages and Crichton marvellously brings the past to life without ever letting the pulse-pounding action slow down. At one point, a time-tripper tries to enter the Chapel of Green Death. Unfortunately, its custodian, a crazed giant with terrible teeth and a bad case of lice, soon has her head on a block. "She saw a shadow move across the grass as he raised his axe into the air." Try not to turn the page!

Through the narrative can be glimpsed the glowing bones of the movie that may be made from Timeline and the high tech computer game that should hit the market in 2000. Expect many clashing swords and chase scenes through secret castle passages. But the book stands alone, tall and scary as a knight in armour shining with blood. --Tim Appelo
My thoughts : 
The way it started , I thought it was going to be a 4 star book for me , but somewhere in the middle the narrative started sagging and getting a little repetitive. Definitely a memorable cast of characters .The idea is exhilarating, maybe the editing could have been tauter.Towards the end I was just waiting for the book to get over and move on to something else. 

If you like reading about the medieval times ( which I don't ) , you might enjoy the vast amounts of information you can glean about 14th century France. I just found the be headings and blood shed and the bravado of the knights just too much to stomach. Maybe I really don't fancy historical fiction (though this isn't technically of that genre).  The technology part of the idea behind the book is rather interesting , and I found myself enjoying the parts where Crichton explained the nitty- gritties of quantum physics. I am definitely going to pick up more books on the idea of parallel universes and quantum physics (though I never enjoyed my physics classes in school).Which just goes on to prove my pet peeve that our education system sucks and does not pique enough interest in children. Rote -learning   
of formulas is definitely not the recipe for life-long love and curiosity. 

Amazing amounts of research has gone into creating this book( as evident from the bibliography at the end ) , and I respect that ,which is why I am giving this book a 3.5.(less)

Overall , an ok read. If you dig Knights and gory stuff , you might like this one! I loved it because the idea of parallel universe is just so intriguing.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Powder Room by Shefalee Vasudev

Genre : Non- fiction
Publisher : Ebury Press (Random House )
Copy source : Mysmartprice.com
You can buy this book : Here
My rating : *****/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Ever been intrigued by the Indian Fashion Industry—its stereotypes of drugged models, gay designers, and fascinating but unaffordable clothes?

Join Shefalee Vasudev, former editor of Marie Claire and an acclaimed fashion journalist, on a deep‑sea dive into the gagging depths of Indian fashion. In Powder Room, she offers an insider’s view of people who make the industry what it is—from a lower middle class girl who sells global luxury for a living to a designer who fights the inner demons of child sexual abuse yet manages to survive and thrive in the business of fashion, or a Ludhiana housewife on a perpetual fashion high.

Besides candid interviews of known names in Indian fashion, Shefalee provides a commentary on new social behaviour, urban culture, generational differences, and the compulsions behind conspicuous consumption in a country splitting at the seams with inequalities of opportunity and wealth. From Nagaland to Patan, Mumbai, Delhi, and Punjab, Powder Room mirrors how and why India ‘does’ fashion.(less)

What I thought about the book :

I don't think I have ever been a keen follower of fashion and could barely tell a Sabyasachi ensemble from a Masaba masterpiece. But that was before I decided to indirectly get involved in the world of fashion .I now faithfully thumb through the fashion glossies to make sure that I keep myself abreast of the latest fads and 'Fashion'. Well, if there is one word that is abused and bastardized , it has to this F word, Fashion , which changes at a mercurial pace like the moods of a sullen,moody teenager. Moody or not, my fascination was piqued and I decided to read this book. A fellow blogger had also recommended this book and rated it highly.

I found Powder room brilliant, insightful and full of amusing anecdotes  Ex-editor of Marie Claire , Shefalee Vasudev has written this book like a sociologist would have, with considerable journalistic detachment. Having observed various facets of 'fashion' from close quarters , her observations and arguments don't seem sensational or voyeuristic.The book is divided into ten chapters , where Shefalee tackles a different story or talks about a certain aspect of the world of fashion. Apparently , she spoke to close to 300 odd people before writing  this book. The academic rigor and research  she has  put into this book is evident in the mind-boggling amount of data and information that hits the reader.

Right from the first chapter, where Shefalee talks about Raakesh Agarvwal , a troubled , yet hugely successful designer who was abused as a child and still has demons inside him that haunt him , to the socialite wives of Ludhiana to the lower middle class girl selling luxurry products , to the politics behind the fashion weeks , Shefalee weaves a narrative that bounces back and forth like a ping-pong ball.Yet , at no point in time will the reader feel disoriented, because the stories she has to tell are all extraordinary.
My favorite stories have to be the one about the lower middle class girl and that of the Ludhiana society ladies.  If you are looking for scandals or gossip , this might not be the book for you(of course , that aspect is there too). This book is  more an exercise in  sociology, an attempt to see where the fashion trajectory of India is headed. The chapter on models was an eye-opener. Madhur Bhandarkar probably has done a huge disservice to the model community by  talking about the negative aspects of the modelling world. Shefalee's book will make you realise that such wayward models are exceptions and not the norm. Huge egos of designers, manipulative PR agents , unscrupulous editors, appalling lack of integrity in fashion journalism..Shefalee's book talks about them all. Maybe if you just want the juicy parts, you'll still love this book.  
The chapters on Patan Patola and the last chapter on the politics at the fashion weeks makes one realise the pettiness and business-mindedness  of some factions on designer community and  the clout that the big brands have over everyone. It is disheartening to note that going by the way things are being handled old traditional weaves like the Patan Patola will probably go extinct soon.  Hats off to the family for trying to keep this art alive, but one does wonder if a more commercial approach is required by the artisan family to ensure that their craft doesn't go extinct with them. I was also moved by the chapter on Imchi Imchen and how Nagas feel alienated from the "Mainland".I am intrigued enough to want to read a book on Nagaland and how insurgency has affected the people there.   

Maybe there is an underlying tone of melancholy and desperation in the book. Certain parts of the book paints a rather bleak picture of how things are in the fashion industry , but somebody has to talk about these things.

Overall an excellent book that I 'll recommend to anyone curious about the Indian  fashion industry. Five star all the way ( I decided that I would give a five star to this book barely into 100 pages of reading this book!)
Thanks to Mysmartprice.com for sponsoring my book. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blinkers off by Andaleeb Wajid

Genre : Indian YA Fiction.
Publisher : Rupa
My rating : 3/5
Copy source : Uncle OT on behalf of author ( I suppose)

Synopsis from Goodreads

Is it going to be like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun?

Noor has no idea that this frustrating question will turn around the course of her documentary film in more ways than she can imagine. At present she is more concerned about Supriya, the college diva who will make sure that she walks away with the credit while Noor does all the hard work. Moreover, when Supriya’s gorgeous boyfriend Dennis mysteriously makes an appearance in her film-making class, Noor has to deal with her burgeoning feelings for him. The documentary is being shot at a wedding where Noor discovers the secret of the bride’s unhappiness. Should she help her out and face the wrath of the bride’s parents later? Should she involve Dennis as the bride is his friend’s sister? But as things come to a head at the wedding, Noor realises that there’s no easy solution in sight, especially when the blinkers begin to come off.(less)
My thoughts 
What a sweet little story! Blinkers's off is possibly the first Indian contemporary popular fiction I have read which has a Muslim protagonist- which was extremely appealing to me. I am not going into the plot as the synopsis does a good job of it and  if I am going to outline the plot , it will pretty much be repetitive. What I am going to talk about is the freshness of the book. I read it in a couple of days , and that is saying a lot considering the fact that I normally take a few weeks to finish any book. 
Blinkers off is fast , breezy fun book that will remind one of their college days .It is essentially a love story (a love triangle at that ). There were other reasons why I wanted to read this book.I was intrigued about how a Muslim protagonist would think. No different from anyone else , but still I wanted to read the book mainly for that. Secondly , the part about the protagonist filming a movie at a wedding also  got me all curious about how the subject would be tackled. 
Story-wise , it was pretty straight forward with all the expected misunderstandings that are the staple of any book that deals with Young adult love. No flowery language or complicated writing , just simple story telling.This , I  feel is the biggest strength of the book. Noor is an  extremely likable character, despite all her hang-ups and  insecurities , while Dennis is the quintessential Alpha male archetype that any girl would swoon over. From the supporting cast , I liked Nandita's charecterisation the best  and could somehow not tolerate Noor's mother. I found her extremely harsh and critical . Oh, I also loved Roshan ( Noor's know-it-all kiddo brother). Supriya, the supreme snob does her job well and makes us hate her from the word go. 
Overall, a sweet little book that is breezy and fun. This book was like a bowl of khichidi and ghee for me - comforting and soothing, with no major twists or complicated writing. Next time when I am looking for a breezy fun book , I know I'll consider Andaleeb's other books ( She is really prolific and has had a book coming out every year).

Thanks Uncle OT for introducing me to this author's book. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Truth Of All Things by Kieran Shields

Genre : Historical Crime fiction
My rating : 4/5
Publisher : Crown Publishers (Random House)
Copy source : Publisher


Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, in the summer of 1892, a grisly new witch hunt is beginning....
When newly appointed Deputy Marshal Archie Lean is called in to investigate a prostitute's murder in Portland, Maine, he's surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork.  He's even more surprised to learn that this death by "sticking" is a traditional method of killing a witch. 
     Baffled by the ritualized murder scene, Lean secretly enlists the help of historian Helen Prescott and brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey.  Distrusted by officials because of his mixed Abenaki Indian ancestry, Grey is even more notorious for combining modern investigative techniques with an almost eerie perceptiveness.  Although skeptical of each other's methods, together the detectives pursue the killer's trail through postmortems and opium dens, into the spiritualist societies and lunatic asylums of gothic New England.
     Before the killer closes in on his final victim, Lean and Grey must decipher the secret pattern to these murders--a pattern hidden within the dark history of the Salem witch trials.
My Thoughts
I have always have a morbid fascination for the Salem witch trials . Actually ,make that all things esoteric or things that logical reasoning has no answers for. Which is why I wanted to read this book.  The idea of this book is brilliant ,and so is  the execution. I have immense respect for any writer attempting historical fiction and can only imagine the amount of research that would have gone into creating an authentic feel .
 Though this is Kieran's first book , it doesn't feel like a work by a debutant author. I loved the charecterisation of  both Preceval Grey and Archie Lean , and feel that this is a hit combo that needs to be watched out for. Grey's reserve and single mindedness is the perfect foil for Lean's earnestness. Both are immensely likable in their own ways and will remind you of Holmes and Dr Watson in more ways than one.Their verbal sparring (in jest , of course) and banter makes the book rather enjoyable.  I also liked other characters who help the duo race against time (Helen and Dr Steig) and look forward to reading Kieran's next book. 
 Story line-wise , I thought that the first hundred off pages were a little dragging , but once the murders start happening frequently , the pace picks up. The ending , though not very unexpected is handled very efficiently and will keep you on the tenterhooks. The author has brilliantly captured Portland in 1892 .  
  Overall , a nice read brimming with a wealth of information on the Salem Witch Trials  and a investigating duo that is fun.   

THanks to Crown publishing for sending me this copy yo review. All ideas and opinions in this review are mine and only mine. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

From the eye of my mind by TGC Prasad

Book : From the Eye of my mind
Author : TGC Prasad
Genre : Fiction
Publisher : Random House (Ebury)
Copy source : www.mysmartprice.com
My rating : 4/5

Blurb from the back cover of the book

I am eighteen years old and five feet six inches tall. I have  big eyes,long fingers ,and I am healthy because I eat my food on time.I also have a mole on my left palm. Grandma says," Mole on the palm is bad luck.' Eric Hoffer, an American writer, said ,'A great man's greatest good luck is to die at the right time.'I wondered what a right time to die was? I feel I have an eye in my mind and I close it when I am with strangers. 

Mallika is autistic and lives in a strangely whimsical yet ordered world of her own.When her mother breaks the news to her that her beloved brother Ananth is going to be married. Mallika's fragile world collapses. How will she deal with a stranger in her life and home? Told in an inimitable style, From the eye of my mind  is a charming tale of acceptance,love and a beautiful mind.

My thoughts 

I have an autistic cousin whose brother is getting married in a few months. So, when I got to know about this book ,I didn't think twice before wanting to read it. I hadn't read any reviews about the book then.Now that I have finished reading the book, I am happy that I picked it up. From the Eye of my mind is a charming , sensitive book. The story line is fairly simple and told from the POV of an 18-year old autistic child. She loves humming beetles songs ,  downloads and reads anything she can lay her hands on and is a mini encyclopedia of sorts. Her world is shattered when her big brother decides to get married . Mallika doesn't know how to deal with the new 'stranger' in her life. The rest of the story is about Mallika's journey towards acceptance. 

I don't know much about autistic children , except that certain faculties are extremely well-developed , while certain others(particularly social interactions)  are lacking . TGC Prasad wonderfully captures Mallika's thought process well and has let his simple story-telling style shine. One can't by start loving Mallika and her  motley  family. I quite liked Mallika's dad's charecter - a hen-pecked mild-mannered LIC officer who sells LIC policies to all and sundry.Other characters are also extremely believable. I also loved the way Mallika spouts trivia  at the most inopportune moments.. The book is totally adorable, I have to say.

The story is not just about Mallika's acceptance of the her sister-in-law , but also about the family coming to terms with a new addition to their family. Mallika's mother's attitude grated on my nerves , but I am willing to concede that a lot of Indian women with sons of marriageable age think that way, and that it is very representative of the thinking of the Indian middle class. I would have given a 5 , but decided against it because I didn't like the way the ending was handled.It was a little rushed and dramatic for my comfort. Maybe I am too much of a feminist to accept  the brother wanting  his new bride to quit work to help his mother cook and take care of his sister. Which is why the book gets a 4 from me. 

Overall , a lovely book that is breezy and poignant at the
same time. One would be reminded of Mark Haddon's The curious incident of a dog in night's time. But this book is very Indian in the context and brims with extremely believable characters  not to mention being narrated from the POV of an extremely adorable and intelligent child.   

My rating : 4/5 

Thanks to Mysmartprice.com for sponsoring this book for me. Do drop by their website to check out the best deals on books.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Masala Murder by Madhumita Bhattacharyya

Book : The Masala Murder
Author : Madhumita Bhattacharyya
Genre : Mystery
Publisher : Pan MacMillan
Source : Copy from Mysmartprice.com
Rating: 4/5
verdict : Go for it !

Synopsis from goodreads


She didn’t set out to become Calcutta’s expert in infidelity cases, but that is where her detective agency has taken her. When the deceit gets too much, she finds a welcome distraction – and a means to pay the bills – by becoming a food critic for a magazine. And since she once dreamed of becoming a pastry chef, she doesn’t mind much, does she? But what really turns her on is solving a juicy mystery. 

Her worlds collide when a gourmet provisions supplier she had once profiled ends up dead under suspicious circumstances. She might be rusty, but her food-obscured nose can still sniff out a murder, and she decides to launch her own investigation. Then her ex-boyfriend shows up at her doorstep when he finds himself being treated as prime suspect in the kidnapping of his own wife! Suddenly, Reema is handling not one but two cases. With no access to official evidence, she relies on the meddling group of do-gooders she has dubbed the Calcutta Crime-Fighter’s Club. 

If all this wasn’t trouble enough, the alluring Shayak Gupta turns up around every corner, and while she can’t seem to resist him, she doesn’t believe a word he says either.

This first Reema Ray mystery follows a comical ride through Calcutta – as Reema comes to terms with her feelings about the men in her life while whipping up delicious meals and being beset by criminals and the police alike!

What I thought of the book 

 I love cosy mysteries , and this book was a delight to read. My grouse has always been that there aren't enough cosy mysteries by Indian writers , and Madhumita probably heard my whining and decided to write this book ;-0  . The best in this genre IMHO is Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri Series( Mma Ramotswe is a strong contender too , but  not as fun as Vish Puri ) . Though Madhumita's  protagonist comes nowhere close to Vish Puri, Reema is a good contender. I love the concept of a struggling Private Investigator who takes up food writing because her practice isn't doing too well. She is mostly bombarded with matrimonial background check cases and takes to writing movie reviews and food reviews .  Then , she stumbles upon two cases ( one a kidnapping and another  a murder ) and cannot get herself to stay away from either ..    

Plot-wise , I didn't think it was anything spectacular , as one of the two cases was really easy to figure out right from the beginning . The other case wasn't ok  and one doesn't get the satisfaction of slowly working things out as layer upon layer of mystery is peeled open to reveal a stunning answer . No, this book is not going to be one of that kind. Infact , Madhumita takes her time to even get into the first case ( almost 60 -75 odd pages) . But that could be  because this book is envisioned as first in a series of several books and  Reema's background and her circumstances in life is delved into in detail. 

I can totally see myself wanting to pick up the next in the series mainly to see what happens to Reema next. But Madhumita has done a great job of painting character sketches of people .Of course one cannot compare  Madhumita's Reema to  Alexander Mccall's Mma Ramotswe and her peculiar brand of home-grown justice .But Reema is sure to flourish in her own way. There is a strong chick-lit flavour to this book as the book is narrated in first person. Now I know a few people who feel that crime fiction in first person is amateurish  but I am not one of those people. First person account of an investigation somehow is perfect for a book like this where the investigator's circumstances is as important as the crime investigation.    

The last few books that I've read have been by Bengalis ( and two of them called Madhumita!) , and I can't but think about the rich literary landscape of Calcutta that has been the honing ground  for so many authors.

Overall , a charming read. Don't look for crazy plots or nail-biting speed. This one is meant to be savoured. Perfect for a sunny ,lazy sunday afternoon.

My book was sponsored by Mysmartprice.com. Love shopping for books online? You should check their site out to see which site offers the best deals in not just books , but a host of other categories.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

S.E.C.R.E.T by L.Marie Adeline

BOOK name : S.E.C.R.E.T 
Author : L.Marie Adeline 
Genre : Erotica 
Publisher : Broadway books (Random House)
My rating : 3/5 
Source : Publisher 

Synopsis from Goodreads 
Cassie Robichaud’s life is filled with regret and loneliness after the sudden death of her husband. She waits tables at the rundown Café Rose in New Orleans, and every night she heads home to her solitary one-bedroom apartment. But when she discovers a notebook left behind by a mysterious woman at the café, Cassie’s world is forever changed. The notebook’s stunningly explicit confessions shock and fascinate Cassie, and eventually lead her to S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T, an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, most intimate sexual fantasies. Cassie soon immerses herself in an electrifying journey through a series of ten rapturous fantasies with gorgeous men who awaken and satisfy her like never before. As she is set free from her inhibitions, she discovers a new confidence that transforms her, giving her the courage to live passionately. Equal parts enticing, liberating and emotionally powerful, S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T is a world where fantasy becomes reality.(less)
What I thought about the book 
This is not a genre I normally read , which is probably why I didn't like the book too much .But that's really not the book's fault.I can totally see erotica fans lapping this book up.The ending was unexpected (possibly the only unexpected thing in the entire book). Maybe the book deserves a 3.5, but I really didn't emphathise with Cassie(the protagonist) at any point , and often found her a tad whiney. Considering the fact that life or circumstances have not been very kind to her, such low self-esteem is understandable. I found myself skipping though the fantasies impatiently as I found them rather boring and repetitive.The premise of a mousy under- confident woman seeking sexual emancipation (leading to increase in her confidence levels) is rather interesting, but I suspect that the book didn't do justice to the premise.I once read an Irving Wallace based on this premise and remember quite liking it. That was more than a decade back and I have no clue If I'd like it if i read it now. I am just wondering now whether I'd like  50 shades of grey. 
Overall , an ok book. If you love erotica you might want to pick this book up. If like me , you want to just find out what this genre is all about, I suggest you give this book a miss. 
Thanks to Random house for sending me this book.  

The Other Side Of The Table by Madhumita Mukherjee

Book name : The Other Side Of The Table 
Author: Madhumita Mukherjee
Publisher : Fingerprint  
Rating: 4/5 
Source : Publisher 
Genre : Fiction (Epistolary)

 Synopsis from Goodreads  Circa 1990.
A world drawn and woven with words.
A bond punctuated by absence and distance...
Two continents. Two cities. Two people.
And letters. Hundreds of them.
Over years. Across oceans. Between hearts.
Between Abhi, who is training to be a neurosurgeon in London, and Uma, who is just stepping into the world of medicine in Kolkata.
As they ink their emotions onto paper, their lives get chronicled in this subtly nuanced conversation through letters ... letters about dreams, desires, heartbreaks, and longings... about a proverbial good life falling apart, about a failed marriage, a visceral loss, and about a dream that threatens social expectations...
Letters that talk. And don't. Letters about this and that. Letters about everything...
Letters with a story you would never expect.(less)

My take on the book 
There are books that will cry hoarse and demand you to  pick them up , and there are the unassuming ones that will quietly work their magic on you . Before you  reach the last page of the book , it  would have successfully cast a spell on you. The Other Side of The Table belongs to the second variety. I have always loved reading epistolary books ; this books hasn't disappointed me as well .Letters fly back and forth Abhi, who is a neurosurgeon based in London and Uma, a feisty girl stepping into the world of medicine in Kolkatta. What do they write about ? anything and everything that goes on in their life.

Madhumita has done a great job in capturing the essence of both the characters through the letters they pen. Uma who appears rather immature and impetuous at the beginning mellows into a resilient woman as things get tough at work and with her domestic front. Abhi , who initially comes across as a level-headed intelligent chap turns pessimistic when he gets ill.Lovers lost , disappointments faced, new achievements conquered - the letters tell them all.

The language is lovely and the editing taut.  Despite being an erudite piece of fiction, the book is amazingly easy to read and not pretentious one bit.The pace is just right and will keep you hooked till the end. I read this book in not more than two stretches , and wanted to sorely get back to the book when I couldn't read it in-between . Which is why I think that this is a rather good book , as not many books make you want to drop everything else you are doing and get back to them pronto.

Overall, a thought provoking book that will weave its magic on you.

My rating 4/5

Many thanks to Arcopol from Fingerprint  for sending this copy across.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review of Faraway Music by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu

Book name : Faraway Music
Author : SreeMoyee Piyu Kundu
Genre : Fiction
Publisher : Hatchette
Copy : Review Copy from Mysmartprice.com
Rating: 4/5
To cut a long story short: Poignant, powerful  and lyrical

Synopsis (from Good reads)
 On a long-haul international flight writer Piya Choudhury tells the one story she hasn't yet told - her own...

Loved and indulged by her mother and grandparents, but haunted by the mysterious absence of her father, Piya grows up in Kolkata, a gifted and impetuous child who pursues her studies with the same passion as she does her first few adolescent crushes, until a savage encounter leaves her repulsed. She moves to Mumbai hoping to become a journalist and falls deeply in love with her editor, Abir, but when a controversial story she is working on is stymied, she is forced to choose between the man she loves and her own integrity. Years later, she is settled in New York, married to a renowned artist who helps her find herself creatively. A liberated, successful, and dynamic writer, Piya has everything she's ever wanted, until she is revisited by her past...

Sensuous, profound, lyrical and moving, Faraway Musicis a story of family, friendship, fame, love and loss - and all that lies in between...
My thoughts
It wasn't love at first sight for me with this book.I almost labored for 40-50 pages till i could start appreciating the awesomeness of the book. I am so glad i didn't put it away! The protagonist,Pia Choudhry is an acclaimed writer.She narrates her story to a journalist on a long flight journey. The narrative flits between the past and the present as Pia reminisces about her crushes, friendships, flames and lost loves right from her childhood. I started enjoying the book when Pia moves to Mumbai to intern with a newspaper. It was intriguing to read about the life of an intern in the big, bad world of journalism. From being asked to bring chai to being relegated to running errands, Pia unexpectedly lucks out and becomes a name to reckon with. She also makes friends and learns a lot about life. A job shift later , she ends up in one of the biggest newspapers in India and  falls in love with her editor. But things go awry leaving Pia emotionally wrecked. Will she find true love and come to terms with the various demons inside her? You'll have to read the book to find that out!    
  Sreemoyee's writing is drenched with passion and is one of the most poignant proses I've read in a while. Most characters are extremely well-etched, and Sreemoyee has done a great job in maintaining a melancholic tone. The book aptly captures the dynamics of contemporary relationships, and I am sure a lot of people will relate to Pia's efforts to find love and more importantly stay in love. I am assuming Sreemoyee has drawn heavily from her her own life as a journalist and later as a PR head. All i can say is "What a beautiful debut !" Looking forward to reading more from her. 
Overall a wonderful book I'll recommend to people who enjoy good  Indian fiction. 

My rating -4/5 
 Disclaimer: The book was provided for review by Mysmartprice.com .All opinions expressed in this review are my own.