Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Her Secret Husband - Book Review


Her Secret Husband is Sundari Venkatraman’s tenth book. This is book three in the 5-novella series titled Marriages Made in India.

This is story of Ruma who falls for the rich and handsome Lakshman. Ruma is a middle-class girl and her parents have arranged her marriage with Bunty. As Ruma’s engagement is soon to take place, Lakshman and Ruma get married in secret. This marriage is supported by Lakshman’s sister and brother-in-law. Ruma’s grandmother too has plays an important role in arranging this secret wedding. So Ruma is already married before her engagement to Bunty. It is their plan that Ruma’s parents would give in when they are told about her marriage at the time of engagement, in the presence of friends and relatives. However destiny has some other plans. Just before engagement it is revealed that Bunty and his family had furnished wrong information regarding their business. As a result of which the engagement is called off. Lakshman marries Ruma the very next day.

What I liked about Sundari’s writing is its simplicity. She doesn’t go for unnecessary descriptions and complex sentences. She tells her story in simple words and simple language. This is the biggest USP of her writing. This being a romance falling in Mills & Boons genre one can’t expect much from the story. It is high on romance and erotica quotient and I am sure it wont disappoint its readers. 
 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Six Suspects - Book Review


Vikas Swarup’s six suspects is a murder mystery. Vicky Rai, a minister’s son is killed at his farmhouse in a party which he had thrown to celebrate his acquittal in a murder case. Apparently he had shot a bar girl for refusing him a drink. The police cordon off the venue. They search each and every guest. Six guests are found in possession of guns. These are the six suspects.

All these six suspects have a back story of their own. A corrupt bureaucrat who is suffering from a split personality. An American foreman who travels to India to marry a girl whom he has seen only in her photographs. On landing in India he finds out that the photograph is of a famous Indian movie star, who too is found with a gun at Vicky Rai’s party. Then there is a mobile thief who has had a sudden windfall and is in love with Vicky’s sister. A tribal from the distant land who is in search of a sacred stone which is stolen, is also one of the suspects. Vicky Rai’s father, a minister, who dreams to become a chief minister, is forced to resign because of the wayward ways of his son. He wants to get rid of his son. He too is found in possession of a gun. So who has done it?

The author creates wonderful back stories. Though they are far stretched and highly improbable, they are riveting and entertaining for sure. There is a flow in the author’s writing which wants you to read more.

However with a novel called Six Suspects you want to read a good murder mystery. On this count alone this novel is disappointing. The climax, if it can be called one, is wafer thin. This thick book would have been worth the read, if it had an interesting climax.

Unrequited love

The title walk in the rain and the picture of a couple walking on a beach with a colourful umbrella turned upside down, gives an impression that this book is a romantic novel. Yes, there is romance but this book is a thriller.

This is a story of introvert Surya and his classmate Sandhya. Sandhya forges a friendship with the reserve, introvert Surya and they become inseparable. They even spend their vacations together. Then one day Sandhya suddenly disappears. Circumstances and a wicked uncle Hari force her to take up a new name Saloni and enter the flesh trade. Surya is taken to the brothel by his friend Imran. Surya meets Saloni but doesn't recognize her. He doesn't even touch her. As a result one feckless person considers that Surya has some sexual problem and offers him a cure for his predicament. Surya is irritated. A small accidental push leads to a full fledged quarrel. That man kills Imran. Surya wants to take revenge of his friend's murder. Surya has heard Saloni call that man Hari. Hari has fled the spot. Surya thinks as Saloni has called him by his name, she would know his whereabouts. So he tries to get to Hari through Saloni. Needless to say he discovers that Saloni is Sandhya and the lovers are reunited.

What I liked about the novel is the pace and the easy narration. That kept me hooked. I finished reading the entire book in a single setting. The characters and the plot make the book a page turner. This book is high in entertainment quotient for sure.

There are couple of typographical errors in the book which I wish were avoided. The novel has got a good pace, but at (many) places the writing is confusing.

This book is like watching a Bollywood movie. You don't use your brains and you will have a good time reading this book. Don't ask questions like why does Surya want an instant revenge and you are bound to enjoy this book.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Little Black Book of Stunning Success


Robin Sharma's The Little Black Book of Stunning Success is published for the first time in the world by Jaico Books. This book contains short write ups which will help you achieve your goals. As the blurb says, if you're truly ready to live your dreams, this book is your fuel.

The author's writing, as always, is simple and easy to understand. The examples he gives are easy to relate and inspiring. This book is not about making great acts, it is about doing simple things, which will inevitably total into a big picture. To quote a line from the book – The best way to get to your greatness is through small continuous steps – what I call the '1% wins.'

The author says, I'm not the someone who would every tell you that you could get to your dreams without having to make some sacrifices and pay the price in terms of dedication and self-control. Speaking of focus, he says 'The most successful human beings are wildly focused. They have a very clear picture of what it is they want to create by the time they reach the end of their lives and then they have the discipline (and courage) to stick to their mission, saying “no” to everything that is not the mission critical.'

Telling us to enjoy life, the author tell us that we take life too seriously. But at the end, the billionaire gets buried next to the street sweeper. We all end up as dust.

According to the author one of the primary traits of the world-class performers (in business and in life) is their ability to 'detach from the noise.' Each day, 'noise' such as little crises, minor interruptions and interesting distractions beg for our attention. To get to your own unique form of personal and professional greatness, it's important – no, essential – to detach from the noise and stay 'on vision.'

Imparting an important lesson, the author says, “the hours that ordinary people waste extraordinary people leverage.” Speaking of difficult times he says, 'The challenging pieces of our lives just might be when we are most alive. And, if you are awake to them, they always bring tiny miracles.'

Indeed this book hold tremendous potential to uplift your life. It will help you overcome your weaknesses, build your strenghths and live your ultimate dream.




Saturday, 18 February 2017

Open-Eyed Meditations - Book Review


I had great expectations from Open-Eyed Meditations. I have been meditating for a long time and with a title like that I was eager to learn more meditation techniques. But in the initial pages itself I felt that I was cheated. The title is meant only to attract the audiences. The word meditation in the title is sure to attract many readers. What the writer has served us under this garb is left overs of footnotes in his Ramanyana- The Game of Life series. Yes the subtitle, of course in a smaller font says practical wisdom for everyday life. But I was so attracted by the words meditations that I read the subtitle only after I had finished the entire book.

Once you accept the fact that this book is not about meditations, you come in a mental state to appreciate the positives, which fortunately are more than one, of the book. In the authors own words ‘Open-eyed Meditations is a distillation of wisdom tips for modern live; a unique self-help book wherein each meditation takes you on a journey to the past, bringing a secret herb to heal a problem of the present.’ The writer draws stories and incidents from the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana and imparts us moral lessons. The writer has succeeded in creating a buzz by selecting a catchy title ‘Open Eyed Meditations.’ He again does an excellent job in giving the chapter headings. So we have catchy headings like ‘Do Likes Make My Life’ ‘X Factor influencing Success’ ‘7 Secrets of Innovations’ and ‘*Conditions Apply – In Love.’

I really liked some of the ideas mentioned in the book. Let me enumerate a few. The author says many problems don’t need to be solved, they need to be just tolerated. This type of problem solving is called ‘Delayed Management.’ An intelligent problem solver is not a one who solves every problem, but one who knows which problems to solve and which to tolerate.

With people whom we love over relatively longer periods of time, it is important to remember that people seldom change, our perceptions do, based on steady expectations. The author says that we can choose any symbol in our life that will either act as an upgrader or a downgrader.

The author says that we will do good to remember that relationships don’t need us; it is we who need relationships. If there is any need we can be selfish about, it is this need.

While telling us how to deal with difficult people, the author says expecting people’s natures to change to suit ours is like expecting the lion to dwell peacefully in a city with a human. The best way to deal with those having contradictory nature is by maintaining respectful distances. When circumstances force you to deal with them, keep the interactions to minimum. The writer tells us an interesting fact that a human is an average of five people he is surrounded the most with. Speaking of anger management, the author says that anger is nothing but need not fulfilled. So to manage your anger look for the underlying need which is causing it.

Speaking of destiny he says that our life is like a novel, where some pages have already been written and the remaining pages get written depending on our present actions. I liked what the author has to say about forgiving. He says that forgiving is the sign of being concerned about the future and hatred is the sign of being stuck in the past. According to him most people assume others’ actions based on the data base of their bad experiences. Rather than assuming others innocent until proven guilty, we assume others guilty until proven innocent.

The writing is simple and easy to understand. The book does indeed contain some gems of wisdom. So except for the super deceptive title, this book makes a decent read.

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

The Pursuit - Book Review

An Unsuitable Boy

Anik Par’s the Pursuit has an interesting premise. An unwed girl delivers a child. Her parents give it away. However they tell her that the child was still born. After three years she comes to know that her child was alive when born and given away by her parents. The Pursuit is the story of her search for the child.
https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/B01LYMTKYH/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=maheshsowani-21&camp=3638&creative=24630&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B01LYMTKYH&linkId=93acbd9723aff8402191c403e8f2e06c
In spite of such an interesting story, which had ample scope for emotional ups and downs, the plot fells flat. The climax, is hard to believe. Why would a trafficker in Mumbai extend help to the protagonist to find her missing child. Also the ease with which she locates the child, robs away the thrill in the story. The book is ridden with grammatical mistakes, especially tenses have gone wrong in many places.

Yet I congratulate the writer for coming up with such a novel plot for his book.
This book has been published by Leadstart Publishing.
 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

White Clouds, Green Mountains - Book Review


Living in the hills was like living in the bosom of a strong, sometimes proud, but always comforting mother. When you have received love from people and the freedom that only mountains can give, then you have come very near the borders of Heaven. Ruskin bond says in the opening story Mother Hill in this collection called White Clouds, Green Mountains.

The following write ups Song of the Whistling Thrush, Visitors from the Forest and Monkey on the roof are about the birds, insects and animals who entered the author's room in Mussorie, where he wrote his stories on his typewriter. In Trees by my Window he speaks of the vegetation in the mountains.

Travels with my Bank Manager is about the travels in the forest with this colourful manager. This story with a tinge of humour brings back the banking era when there were no computers and the manager had to borrow the author's typewriter for bank audits. A Long Story shows how adults weave stories to entertain the children. In Binya Passes by the author in his own words look back on love of long ago.

Road to Badrinath is a travelogue which depicts the journey, faith and the people of the mountains very well. The story In Search of Sweet Peas is all about a school boy's innocence and adventure. The Wind on the Haunted Hill is about children who are lost in a haunted hill. The Night the Roof Blew Off shows the harsh life of people living amidst the beautiful mountains. The Last Truck Ride is about an old Truck driver who is in the habit of driving fast and what happens when a stray mule suddenly appears before him. In And Now We Are Twelve the author narrates his tryst with the legal system when he wrote a slightly risque story. He says he is not the most inventive of writers, and fantastical plots are beyond him. His forte is observation, recollection and reflection. The School among the Pines again depicts the hard life of children in the mountains who have to walk through the forests, which are inhabited by man-eaters.

Ruskin Bond never disappoints you. With his vivid descriptions of the mountains and interesting character sketches, he makes you feel good and this book is no exception to it. This book is actually a compilation of the author's earlier published works. Unfortunately like other books of Ruskin Bond recently published by Rupa, there are typographical mistakes in the book. If those are ignored, this is a nice collection.


How to woo a girl

Finding Juliet is the story of Arjun. Arjun is a simple guy with romantic ideas. He has some girls in his life. But all of them, except  Anjali, dump him before he can take the matters forward. Anjali is his loyal friend. 

Then he moves to Bangalore. Krish, who works in his office, becomes his love guru. Soon our simple Arjun turns into a sex god. His relationship with all the girls is of no strings attached, friends with benefits kind. 

However soon he realizes the futility of all and finds true love in Anjali. The following words by Krish summarize the novel. “Lust satisfies the needs of your body and ego, but it does nothing for your soul, because soul is nourished by the pristine happiness that comes with pure love.”

The author weaves real to life people, moments and even relationships. This novel is as much about lust as it is about love. The author juggles between these two successfully. It is indeed his success that the novel no where appears vulgar. The story is gripping and interesting. It will remind you of your relationships.

However what I did not like about the novel is that it reinforces the stereo types that good girls, who form the marriage material, do not sleep around and a guy should have as many sex encounters as he can before he settles down with a girl.

Yet this novel is entertaining. You will have a great time reading it.
'I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.'

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Finding Juliet - Book Review


Finding Juliet is the story of Arjun. Arjun is a simple guy with romantic ideas. He has some girls in his life. But all of them, except  Anjali, dump him before he can take the matters forward. Anjali is his loyal friend. 

Then he moves to Bangalore. Krish, who works in his office, becomes his love guru. Soon our simple Arjun turns into a sex god. His relationship with all the girls is of no strings attached, friends with benefits kind. 

However soon he realizes the futility of all and finds true love in Anjali. The following words by Krish summarize the novel. “Lust satisfies the needs of your body and ego, but it does nothing for your soul, because soul is nourished by the pristine happiness that comes with pure love.”

The author weaves real to life people, moments and even relationships. This novel is as much about lust as it is about love. The author juggles between these two successfully. It is indeed his success that the novel no where appears vulgar. The story is gripping and interesting. It will remind you of your relationships.

However what I did not like about the novel is that it reinforces the stereo types that good girls, who form the marriage material, do not sleep around and a guy should have as many sex encounters as he can before he settles down with a girl.

Yet this novel is entertaining. You will have a great time reading it.



by
Toffee


Blurb

Arjun is an incredibly nice guy who believes in true love and is waiting for it with open arms. He falls in love, not once or twice, but thrice. And every single time, happiness – like the girls he fell for – comes very close to him before pushing him away. His only pillar of strength in all his moments of grief and dejection is his childhood friend Anjali. Dejected by the games played by girls and fate, he leaves Hyderabad for Bangalore and ends up meeting Krish, an irresistible flirt. 

Krish understands Arjun's predicament, pacifies him with his words and enlightens him about the most complicated species ever created by God – Women. And then, Arjun's life changes forever. Will Arjun find the one he has been waiting for, or will he end up becoming a flirt? Will he ever taste lasting happiness? Join Arjun as he tries to figure out women and discovers the meaning of love, lust and life… all in his journey of Finding Juliet.


Read an excerpt here from Finding Juliet...

‘I have fucked you enough. Now you can fuck off!’ I said furiously, as I pushed her away from the bed.
‘You are such an asshole!’ she said, looking angrily at me as she stood up. Her cheeks were red with anger.
I saw her as she stood naked, with her hands on her hips. She was expecting me to say something, but I didn’t. It simply doubled her anger.
‘All you guys are the same. You want women only for sex,’ she stated furiously, pointing a finger at me.
I could have refuted her point easily and proved that she was being a hypocrite, given the fact that she had a boyfriend and yet she had slept with me a few moments ago. But I didn’t bother to respond and I just looked away from her. Disgusted, she let out a deep sigh and began picking up her undergarments, which were lying on the floor and started wearing them hurriedly. She moved towards the door where her black denims and purple tee were. She wore them in an instant and fished for her comb in her handbag. She brushed her hair and then wore the earrings I had removed before kissing her ears. She took some more time to get ready, gazing at herself in the mirror and adjusting everything, and I wondered how girls gave so much importance to their looks even during moments of distress.
Eventually, before leaving, she threw me a disgusting look and said, ‘I will never see your face again.’
‘Thank you. Now get lost,’ I said as she slammed the door shut.
After she left, I pondered over what had just happened and what had been happening in my life. ‘You shouldn’t have been so harsh on her’ – a soft voice from inside my heart said. But I strangulated it in an instant. I had lost enough in my life by listening to my heart.
Just a few moments ago, I was rolling in bed with Aditi, and after we came together, she began talking to me endlessly, like most girls do after sex. I was more interested in looking at the fan on the ceiling and wondering why it was spinning anticlockwise and not clockwise.
While talking, she had grazed her finger over my shoulder and moved it slowly towards my arms and said, ‘Behind these strong muscles, there is a weak heart, yearning to be loved and dying to be cared for. You can hide your pain from the world, Arjun, but not from me.’
That was when I had pushed her from my bed and I didn’t really understand why I had reacted so strongly. Was it because I had been hiding my true face from the world successfully all the while? No one had ever tapped the underlying guy inside me, except Krish. But when Aditi said those words, I became very defensive. The last thing I wanted was someone knowing about the void inside me.
I got up, splashed water on my face and looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were crimson red. And even though I was nowhere near smiling, I saw an evil grin on my face. I splashed water once again and looked at myself. The grin grew wider and scarier. ‘How had I been and what have I become?’ I asked myself. I saw the image in the mirror once again. I couldn’t look at it and smashed the mirror with my hand. Pieces of glass got stuck on my knuckles. A big piece made a deep gash, but it didn’t hurt as much as the scars on my heart did.
I then riffled through the shelves to find weed – my temporary solution to permanent problems. I rolled a joint hastily and lighted it. After a few puffs, I felt feather-light and forgot everything that had been going on in my mind. Surreal images flashed in front of my eyes, and when I closed them, I saw myself waiting at the gates of heaven, even though I was, in fact, right in front of my bathroom door.
I tried to get in as I had to pee, but I tripped and fell on my face, my forehead hitting the tap find. The thud sound was what I remembered last, and I woke up to see myself lying on a hospital bed the next morning, with Anjali standing beside me.


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About the author



Toffee is a simple guy who loves the complications of life. He used to write code by the day and books by the night earlier. But currently, he is busy writing assignments and chasing deadlines in his Master's in Business Analytics from the University of South Florida. Toffee loves narrating interesting stories with subtle insights. Through books, he wants to share beautiful stories, reach out to people and touch their hearts. Finding Juliet is his second book, written specially for India's Generation-Y.

You can stalk him @

              

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Friday, 10 February 2017

What Patriotism means to me

#The Four PatriotsI want to do something for the country.” Everyone mouths this dialogue at some point of time. For some the only way to serve the country is by fighting with the enemy at the border. Of course this is one of the ways of serving the country and the effort and sacrifice of our soldiers cannot be undermined.

But not that all can join the army. Does it mean that we cannot do anything for the country? No, absolutely not. We can take small steps to make India better.

How about paying all our taxes promptly. It is this money that will be used for building infrastructure and also implementing welfare schemes for the poor.

Plant a tree. Save water. Go cashless, go paperless. There are so many ways. Even when you are switching off the fans and lights in your house and office when they are not in use, you are serving the country.

Don’t litter. Discourage others from doing so. Don’t desecrate the ancient monuments by scribbling your names and drawing hearts on it. Do some charity. If not by donating money, just go and spend time with the poor and the needy. Teach their children to read and write. I am sure the list is endless. Hence forth make your tiny contribution to making the nation great and never say is desh ka kuch nahi honewala. 
 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

It's All About Mahi - Book Review


It’s All About Mahi is a novelette about Dhoni and Gaurav who is his die-hard fan. The novelette traces journey of Mahi right from his debut up to his winning worldcup. It also tracks Gaurav’s life during this period. Gaurav has a girlfriend Barkha who hates cricket. Gaurav tries to meet his God but is disappointed when the meeting doesn’t materialize.

Real life scenes like Gaurav fighting with Abhinav for he says nasty things about Dhoni while watching match on TV, makes the book easy to relate. Barkha’s hate for cricket could have been further developed. But this book is about cricket. May be that is the reason why this track is not further developed.

What I liked about this book is the flow of writing. It is not easy to write such a noveltte which has no story but only few incidents to narrate. Except for the excessive use of & the writing is clean. This is a short read, which can be finised in just a few mintues. But you will enjoy every moment of it, if you have been die hard fan of someone.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

These Circuses that Sweep Through the Landscape - Book Review


These Circuses That Sweep  Through the Landscape is a collection of stories by Teajswini Apte-Rahim. The author must be given full marks for the variety of topics around which she weaves her stories. Human conflict, both external as well as internal, is a predominant theme all the stories in this collection.

Homo Coleoptera is a story about an aging man and his wife who refuses to age. This makes the man insecure. The story ends with his tragic death.

Thank God for Star Trek tells the story of a troubled mother and her young daughter, from the daughter's perspective. The story shows how TV diffuses tensions at least for some time.

The Mall works very well as an experimental story. It depicts the depression, insecurities and feeling of being lost among a urban-goer very well.

The protagonist of the story Cotton is the cotton itself. In the story Drinks at Seven the issue of how suspicion as to infidelity crops up in a marriage is dealt with. Sandalwood is the story of a woman who after almost two decades of marriage is thrown out of the house because her husband wants to live with another man. Her existence is only for cooking the food which her children like.

These Circuses that Sweep Through the Landscape shows insecurities, rivarly and idiosyncrasies of aging men.

Having praised the author for dealing with a variety of topics and bringing the conflict very well, I must warn the readers that these stories are too prosiac and are difficult to comprehend. I was unable to understand the end of most of the stories. I feel the stories or for that matter any literary work must be perspicuous  that the readers are able to understand it. The author utterly fails to make the meaning clear. Also a veil of gloom covers all the stories. You feel disturbed after reading these stories. This may be termed as success of the author, but it wont appeal to most of the readers.

'I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.'
 

Monday, 6 February 2017

A walk in the rain - Book Review


The title walk in the rain and the picture of a couple walking on a beach with a colourful umbrella turned upside down, gives an impression that this book is a romantic novel. Yes, there is romance but this book is a thriller.

This is a story of introvert Surya and his classmate Sandhya. Sandhya forges a friendship with the reserve, introvert Surya and they become inseparable. They even spend their vacations together. Then one day Sandhya suddenly disappears. Circumstances and a wicked uncle Hari force her to take up a new name Saloni and enter the flesh trade. Surya is taken to the brothel by his friend Imran. Surya meets Saloni but doesn't recognize her. He doesn't even touch her. As a result one feckless person considers that Surya has some sexual problem and offers him a cure for his predicament. Surya is irritated. A small accidental push leads to a full fledged quarrel. That man kills Imran. Surya wants to take revenge of his friend's murder. Surya has heard Saloni call that man Hari. Hari has fled the spot. Surya thinks as Saloni has called him by his name, she would know his whereabouts. So he tries to get to Hari through Saloni. Needless to say he discovers that Saloni is Sandhya and the lovers are reunited.

What I liked about the novel is the pace and the easy narration. That kept me hooked. I finished reading the entire book in a single setting. The characters and the plot make the book a page turner. This book is high in entertainment quotient for sure.

There are couple of typographical errors in the book which I wish were avoided. The novel has got a good pace, but at (many) places the writing is confusing.

This book is like watching a Bollywood movie. You don't use your brains and you will have a good time reading this book. Don't ask questions like why does Surya want an instant revenge and you are bound to enjoy this book.
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