Best Reads of 2015

The year has been tumultuous for various reasons. And yet, sailing through turdy waves, I managed to read 50 books through the year. Few have been good, most have been lukewarm, and some have been great. A little glimpse of the best 5 (in no order) to usher in the new year. Hope you have a great bookish one!

Image Courtesy: Google

Paper Towns by John Green – The tale of Margo and Quentin was quite gripping, getting predictable towards the end, but nonetheless it was chilling in some parts. Wouldn’t rate it higher than The Fault In Our Stars, though both are very different in nature. Paper Towns lacked a little something, I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly, but somehow Margo’s story disappointed me a little. It met my expectations but didn’t exceed them. Still, one of the best I’ve read this year. Hope to read all John Greens and David Levithans in 2016.

ogThe Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – By far the best read this year. I love both her stories and the way she narrates them. There’s pain and love, all mixed up, and that’s what happens when both ends meet. The story about an orphaned girl and her search for destiny in a faraway land touches many chords. Korobi is a delicate yet strong girl, named after the Oleander flower, which is poisonous too. She isn’t, but her destiny is, in the story. Do read if you like complex human relationships.

 

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The Guardians of the Halahala by Shatrujeet Nath – The fact I don’t read mythology or fantasy got nullified this year with the #1 Vikramaditya Trilogy. A very engaging read, taut storyline executed wonderfully. Kudos to the author for bringing back Vikramaditya in style. Just to know what happened next to the characters, many of us are waiting eagerly for the sequel.

amy tanThe Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan – Let’s say I like reading cross-cultural stories. Amy Tan is a hugely successful writer and she made her debut in my bookshelf this year. It was such an enriching experience to read about America and rural China in parallel plots, exploring various relationships. The story is laced with rural beliefs, superstitions, folklore, all but relevant in a later life too. Relationships between a Chinese immigrant mother and her her America raised daughter was heartwarming to say the least. I loved the book and next in line is The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan.

noronariNoronari Katha by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay – I perhaps read more Bangla than any other books at any point of time. Can’t shy away from the vast and rich literature my language boasts of. One of my favourite writers is Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay. Even though he’s an octogenarian, the stories he writes are relevant forever. Again a complex web of human relationships, mostly between a pair of man and woman, the most primitive relationship. It’s an endearing read that will leave you introspecting on your relationships.

Do tell me how many books you read this year and the ones you loved. Happy 2016.

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Book Review : The Bestseller She Wrote

Blurb View: 

Image Courtesy: BlogAdda

Image Courtesy: BlogAdda

He was a bestseller… She wanted him to make her one.

Paperback king, Aditya Kapoor’s life is straight out of a modern man’s fantasy. His literary stardom is perfectly balanced by a loving wife and a spectacular career. With everything he touches turning to gold, Aditya is on a winning streak.

Shreya Kaushik is a student with a heart full of ambition. Young, beautiful, and reckless, Shreya speaks her mind and obsessively chases after what she wants. And what she wants is to be a bestselling author.

What happens when their worlds collide? Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Can real ambition come in the way of blind passion? Can trust once broken, be regained?

Master storyteller Ravi Subramanian, delves into the glitzy world of bestsellers and uncovers a risky dalliance between a superstar novelist and his alluring protégé.

The Bestseller She Wrote is a combustible cocktail of love, betrayal and redemption.

Review: 

What do you expect when you pick up an overtly hyped book for review? Obviously, the best. When a bestseller author like Ravi Subramanian shifts gear from banking/finance/gaming to supposedly romance as a genre, readers have to be eager to know how he fares. With that much anticipation, I too wanted to know how differently or similarly he wrote this book. Romance-thrillers are picking up pace slowly in India and it’s not darn easy to balance both.

As I’m sure most of the readers are acquainted with the plot or blurb, the story is about an author (and a banker, there’s no respite from those jargon here too) and a fan who plots a diabolical scheme. Let me not get into spoilers, rather try the character sketch of the main characters. ‘Aditya Kapoor’ has drawn inspiration from a certain bestseller author, whom everyone loves. There are very blatant bits taken from his life to build the character, either with his permission or in plain humour. Shreya Kaushik is the one who probably gets more attention in the book as the ‘fan’ who becomes much more than that. I liked the way her character is shown evolving from her IIM days and the plot she schemes.

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Massy or Classy – Who Reads These Books and Why?

Writersmelon is proud to be a partner at the Tata Lit Live! Mumbai Literature Festival 2015. This is a guest article from one of the team members at Writersmelon who attended the litfest curtain raiser blogger meet in Mumbai. 

The Tata Lit Live is in its 6th year now and one of the best Literature Festivals in Mumbai. They organized a blogger meet ahead of the festival on 20th October and Writersmelon is proud to be associated with it.

Image Courtesy: Zohra Merchant

Ravi Subramanian, Deepa Gahlot and Anil Dharker. Image Courtesy: Zohra Merchant

After facing some bad traffic and munching upon super yummy snacks at Café Zoe in Lower Parel, I got on board with the discussion. The panel comprised of three diverse personalities – Ravi Subramanian , one of my favourite authors, someone I admire for his super balancing act between being a banker by the day & author by the night, Deepa Gahlot – author of King Khan – SRK and festival director Anil Dharker. For the curtain raiser event of Tata Lit Live, they had chosen a very relevant topic of discussion, especially for creative professionals – “Is Freedom of Speech threatening Democracy itself?”

From freedom to express political, social & creative viewpoints, the discussion headed to one of my favourite topics –

What is crappy but massy, classy but élite content for a book?

Why are so many ‘crappy/massy’ books being published these days?

Do they really deserve to be printed at the first place?

The answer to all this, again lies in that powerful word called ‘Freedom’.

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Books and Music…Music and Books… by Biddu

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Are they country cousins or blood brothers linked by a certain commonality?

Music came to me from a very early age. It came from an ambition to make a career from what I loved. To make something of myself. Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones etc, they were the soundtrack of my youth and I wanted some of what they were having. It was glamourous and sexy, fun and ego boosting, being up there on stage. It was also a great way of meeting girls!

The idea of writing novels came to me much later, when I was older, slightly wiser and because I needed to do something apart from music which I had been doing since the age of 13. I was sitting on a beach in Spain having taken a break from music and gradually boredom set in. I was pretty healthy for my age, my brain cells were still working, so I was thinking of what I could do that would interest me. I did not have to be passionate about it, but interested surely. I was thinking of opening a restaurant or writing a novel. I knew nothing of running a restaurant and even less on writing books.

But ignorance is a great motivator, so while mulling over these two ideas and as the waves lapped the shore line, I realised the discipline in writing books was very similar to creating music. You spend hours on your computer which is linked to your keyboard and you spend all day working a melody. Some days the music you create sounds like a dog’s dinner, on other days it sounds pretty symphonic and hot. Working on a novel is also a lonely gig. You look at a blank page on your lap top and then hope the words flow in sentences that are eloquent, dramatic and make for an interesting narrative. You can write a few lines or a chapter in a day depending on the groove of your feeling. In music and in writing books, there’s no point waiting for inspiration or you could be waiting for Armageddon! You just get on with it.

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Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws

Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws

Biddu was born in India, where he started his career playing in a pop band whose influences lay in the classic repertoire of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Following his early success, he decided to hear West and move into the international music arena. He struck gold, signing the unknown Carl Douglas and producing “Kung Fu Fighting?” which went on to become a hit all over the world. He also wrote and produced hits for Tina Charles and soul legend Jimmy James.Around this time, Biddu became involved in Indian music: he composed the cult “Aap Jaise Koi” for the film Qurbani which set a new landmark for sales in India He followed this up with a pop album, Disco Deewane, with Nazia Hassan, which became the largest selling pop album in Asian history, and was the first Indian album to hit the charts in fourteen countries. In 1995, Biddu wrote and produced the three-million-selling album Made in India with the singer Alisha Chinai. To date, Biddu has sold over thirty-eight million records worldwide.

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Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws

Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws

Favourite Christmas Books and Movies

I’m participating in this amazing blog hop where I’m probably among the rare ones bereft of any crafting, DIY or cooking skills. Leaving those to the more competent and efficient women, I’ll share my Christmas favourites with you readers, many of which have stuck with me for years.

1. Home Alone (1990) 

Can our generation even dream of a Christmas without a clip of glimpse of this movie? Given the fact that the lead child actor, Macaulay Calkin belonged to the same era, we kids could very well identify with him. I still recall the year this movie was screened in our school, on the last working day before Christmas vacations. The chill and cheer in the air were enough to usher the festive season in.

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

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Books for life: Celebrating #IAD

 

Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws

Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis

Writing is not everyone’s cup o’tea, but reading is, or at least it must be. It’s not onerous to read – a book, a magazine, an article, a paragraph, or even a single sentence. Reading is a habit that will take you places, through magical universes and realms you have longed to visit, through the past and future while you read them in present. “I have been an avid reader” – I bet many of us must have begun their #IAD blog posts with this claim and they are very well so. Debdatta of b00kr3vi3ws has been extremely prudent in conceiving the idea for International Authors’ Day and a blog hop. We’ll write all about books, reading, writing and more – for you.

Few favourites.

Few favourites.

I can’t recall how long I’ve been reading, but it has been nearly three decades. And now when I introspect, I haven’t even read a sensible portion of everything I ever want to read. My parents had been kind enough to hand me books along with food from a very tender age. The rhyme and picture books have slowly graduated to fairy tales, mostly translated in Bangla/English from Russian and Ukranian folk takes. I’ve been lucky enough to scourge through those books in the Kolkata International Book Fair for a few years and enhance my collection. Shelves started spilling books and my father had to find me a study desk with bookshelves beneath. As my trips to the Book Fair increased each year, the bookshelf started shrinking. Innumerable Bangla and English books spilled over to my bed, the dining table (except for lunch and dinner times), the television stand, a piece or two inside the almirah, on the fridge top, and even inside my school bag.

I couldn’t buy every book I wanted, as I have been taught to respect and judge the value of money. I used to wait for gift cheques and solid cash from my grandmother(s) on birthdays/Durga Puja/Saraswati Puja/Poila Boishakh (Bangla New Year). My first Tintin (in Tibet) was courtesy maternal grandmother and I still cherish the copy for a handwritten note from her. I would demand for books rather than dresses on each occasion and it certainly made my relatives wonder if I were feminine enough. My father wasn’t worried, he built huge book-almirah with four shelves for me. For us.

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Reading by November

Well, I keep reading books every month, and loads of them. Some for pleasure, others for review. That doesn’t mean the books for review aren’t for pleasure. It is just that, the books for my own mental peace are the ones I don’t have to write reviews about.

A group of book lovers and bloggers decided to write a meme about the books they were reading that month. I had to join, for they are my friends. Here’s a (tentative) list of the books I am going to read this month. Most of them are by Debut Indian Authors as I have decided to participate in the Debut Indian Authors’ Month – Readathon 3 organized by the Tales Pensieve. The others are an addition to the list. I might add more, as they come. I’ll be updating links to the review as I keep posting them through November.

Image : Self

Image : Self

The Secret Proposal – Aniesha Brahma

The Vague Woman’s Handbook – Devapriya Roy

A Vision of Angels – Timothy J. Smith (Ebook)

The Storm in my Mind – Ayaan Basu

The Price You Pay – Somnath Batabyal

The Weight Loss Club – Devapriya Roy

Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai – Rishi Vohra

Caretaker – A.X. Ahmad

Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom – Nalini Rajan

Govinda – Krishna Udayasankar