Book Review : Love Kills

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

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Meet Johnny W – Will, not Walker – named thus by his alcoholic father who died under mysterious circumstances. Johnny is the founder of Thy Will, a dead diction centre for the rich and the famous and the fiance of Mira Kermani, daughter of the richest man in town. His questionable methods aside, Johnny’s commitment to ridding his patients of alcohol and drug abuse is beyond doubt. How ironic then that Mira is found dead in her apartment from an overdose of morphine. But why is Officer Ray convinced that Johnny is the killer? Johnny’s assistant Sera, who secretly love him and his half-brother Zac are working hard to protect him from the officer. Or are they? Could Aunt Adele’s hunger for what was rightfully her sons inheritance have driven her to murder? Or is the murderer an unhappy patient? From the author of the disturbing and controversial Jacob Hills, an unputdownable story of crime and passion in the hill station town of Monele.

Review:

I had wanted to read Ismita Tandon since she’s one of the few women authors penning thrillers with love as the core theme. As the title suggests, this is a tale of love and death. Literally. It is intriguing whether love blooms on dead bodies or death comes riding in a love carriage. Meet the riders in this carriage Johnny, Mira, Sera, Zac, Adele and Officer Ray.

Set in a beautiful  and obscure hill station called Monele near Ooty, ‘Thy Will’ is an alcohol rehabilitation center run by Johnny Will. He prescribes things to his patients that are not strictly legal in a rehab. The idea is pretty unique in its own way. Johnny and Zac, half brothers and cousins have a dark and grimy past that is trapped in the vestiges of Thy Will. Zac’s mother and Johnny’s aunt Adele is a pretty but wasted lady torn in the dilemma of raising a child out of the wedlock.

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Book Review : The Winds of Hastinapur

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Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

‘My hair is white and thin now. In a few moons, the Goddess will claim me, and I do not have a fresh young virgin by my side to absorb my knowledge and take my place when I am gone. The Mysteries of Ganga and her Sight will vanish with me, and the Great River will become nothing more than a body of lifeless water… It is my intention, therefore, to tell you the story as it happened, as I saw it happen.’

The Winds of Hastinapur begins at the point when Ganga was cursed and sent to Earth. She lives among the mortals and bears Shantanu, the King of Hastinapur, seven children, all of whom she kills. With the eighth, she leaves. That boy, who returns to Earth, will prove to be the key to the future of Hastinapur. The story, as told through the lives of his mother Ganga and stepmother Satyavati, is violent, fraught with conflict and touched by magic. 

A lady of the river who has no virgin daughter to carry on her legacy, Celestials who partake of a mysterious lake they guard with their very lives, sages overcome by lust, a randy fisher-princess – these and other characters lend a startling new dimension to a familiar tale. Sharath Komarraju does not so much retell the epic as to rewrite it. 

Review:

Another Mythological fiction. Another Mahabharat. Although the epic seems to be the flavour of 2013-14 with a range of books on its characters, Mahabharat never gets tiring for some of us. We’ve had Arjun, Draupadi and other characters adorning our bookshelves these days, but Sharath Komarraju presents us with two very interesting and often neglected characters – Ganga and Satyavati.

The book begins with Ganga reminiscing about her life, her mother and the influence of Gods on her. Most of us have known Ganga only as a river and mentioned in Mahabharat, but her history and the course of her life is as interesting as other women in the epic. Ganga’s identity is primarily showcased as the mother of Bhishma who also bore other children to his father Shantanu. Satyavati is Bhsihma’s stepmother whom Shantanu married after he got besotted with her. Ganga and Stayavati make an interesting pair of women to be compared with each other.

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Book Review : Mistress of the Throne

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Image Courtesy: Google

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1631, the Empress of India Mumtaz Mahal has died. Yet, rather than anoint one of his several other wives to take her place as Empress of India, Mughal King Shah Jahan anoints his seventeen-year-old daughter Jahanara as the next Queen of India. Bearing an almost identical resemblance to her mother, Jahanara is the first ever daughter of a sitting Mughal King to be anointed queen. She is reluctant to accept this title, but does so in hopes of averting the storm approaching her family and Mughal India. Her younger siblings harbor extreme personalities from a liberal multiculturalist (who views religion as an agent of evil) to an orthodox Muslim (who views razing non-Muslim buildings as divine will). Meanwhile, Jahanara struggles to come to terms with her own dark reality as the daughter of a sitting King, she is forbidden to marry. Thus, while she lives in the shadow of her parents unflinching love story, she is devastated by the harsh reality that she is forbidden to share such a romance with another. Mistress of the Throne narrates the powerful story of one of Indias most opulent and turbulent times through the eyes of an unsuspecting character – a Muslim queen. It uses actual historical figures to illuminate the complexity of an era that has often been called India’s Golden Age.

Review: 

Historical fiction is one of the most difficult genre to delve into. You can’t have too much of history or too much of fiction. Any extreme will turn it into a drab history book or a complete fiction. Much kudos to Dr. Ruchir Gupta for choosing a very unusual subject – Jahanara Begum for his book. A quick recap into history and you’ll find that Jahanara was the daughter of Shah Jahanand Mumtaz Mahal, elder sister of Aurangzeb and the first crown princess of India.

The book covers Jahanara’s journey from teenage till her last days. It is a very comprehensive account, more intriguing as its written in first person. The reader feels like residing inside Jahanara’s heart and brain all the time. I must say I’m very impressed in the way Dr. Gupta has approached the subject. The fine line between fact and fiction is so well blurred at places that readers would doubt their own knowledge of history.

Jahanara Begum has been a fairly neglected character in history. Many of us might not have heard her name at all. But her importance in Indian and Mughal history is brought up beautifully in this book. Readers traverse through Jahanara’s life with each important incident beginning with her mother’s death. After Mumtaz Mahal’s death, Shah Jahan was devastated and became a loner. Jahanara held the family, her brothers and father together, and as a result was crowned the Princess of India, on the throne of the dynasty. Her life became important than anybody else in the kingdom, but at the same time, she was forbidden to marry any man according to Mughal rules.

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Book Review : Uff Ye Emotions – 2

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

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Like the lyrics of an old song which keeps repeating themselves in our mind or a fever dormant in the blood or an importunate lover impossible to get rid of, the memories of love or love itself keeps returning in our lives again and again at the oddest of times and the strangest of places. Randomly, beautifully, haphazardly or passionately, love lives up again for it has been waiting for you, waiting for this union, waiting to merge with you at last. So, keeping the trend alive and after the roaring success of our novice, Uff Ye Emotions, we are back once again with Uff Ye Emotions 2. With Love, comes many emotions some of them being pain, betrayal, hatred, hope and friendship. We fall in and out of love time and again, but we can never be tired of it because it is one of the only few aspects of life we can’t keep ourselves away from, isn’t it?

Review:

An anthology on love. Presumably the most common genre in the Indian literary world right now. Each such anthology needs extraordinary stories to stand out among the readers. The more I browse through such anthologies, the more mediocre they get. The original Uff Ye Emotions was probably very popular, though I confess not having read it. Part 2 gave me the impression of a badly filmed sequel.

Going by the usual drill with anthologies, I’m bound to dissect each story separately as they are all ingredients that make (or break) the dish.

1. The Client (Vinit K. Bansal) – A story with a predictable climax. The kind that makes you feel i’ve-read-this-somewhere-already, and it did get boring towards the end. Considering its the editor’s story, I didn’t expect grammatical and typographical errors, but they were galore.  Not impressive at all.

2. Moksha (Kunal Marathe) –  A better story among the others, with a good climax, tacitly written.

3. When Destiny Strikes! (Mahi Singla) – Another predictable story with errors. Not entirely badly written though, marred down by typos.

4. The Woman Who Waited (Shalini Katyal) – Shalini, I would say, has a flair in writing. But she chose a boring plot for this one. There’s way too much mush and emotion in the story which dilutes its essence. Climax is not bad.

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Book Review : Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai

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Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Autistic. Schizophrenic. Psychotic… 

They use these words to describe Babloo the doctors, his family, his teachers everyone except Vandana. She treats him the way he wants the world to see him. 

Mumbai the city that defines his ultimate desires. Will it allow him the love and normalcy he so craves?

Vandana yearns for a soul mate to rescue her from the confines of the Railway Colony they all live in. Is she looking in the right place?

Rail Man a fearless, real-life hero who succeeds in doing all that Babloo secretly wishes to do is Babloo his inspiration or is it the other way around?

A random twist of fate on Mumbais endless, serpent-like, jangling local train tracks ties all these characters together in a complex weave of love, heartbreak, and courage. 

Babloo draws the reader into his fascinating, heart-rending journey through the twisted, choked lanes of Mumbai, into an open space where he can finally exhale, be born again.

Review:

Babloo Srivastav is not your usual colony guy. Bandra Railway colony, that is. He wakes up with the vibrations of the first train in the morning and explores the railway tracks which are his own. He feels more at ease with the tracks and trains than his kin and kith. He doesn’t have any friends but is devoted to his lady love, Vandana. There are mysteries in his life that he isn’t much aware of.

Sounds good enough for a thriller?

The book cover and blurb suggests a love story, probably a one between Babloo and Vandana. But I would surely label the book as a thriller, not a romance. The adventures of Babloo are more important than his obsequious love story. He struggles to find a meaning to his caprices and is guided by an inner voice. Compared to his younger and efficient brother, he’s nothing, really. And yet his steely resolve and demeanour is frightening even to his parents. I can’t reveal the story here, but it is about Babloo turning into a different person altogether to prove himself to his lady.

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Book Review : Sorting Out Sid

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Image Courtesy: Flipkart

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Siddharth Agarwal a.k.a. Sid has it all a fifteen-year-long marriage, a bunch of devoted friends, and the chance to be the companys youngest-ever VP, all at the age of thirty-six
But, behind the scenes, his life is slowly falling apart, what with his marriage on the rocks, parents who treat him like a delinquent child, and overly-interfering, backstabbing friends. And thats not even counting the manipulative HR vixen and the obnoxious boss he must tackle in office.
So, when lovely, spunky single mom Neha materializes in his life, she brings into it a ray of hope. But will she cause the brewing storm to finally erupt?
Who said it would be easy sorting out Sid?

Review:

Came Valentine’s Day and I picked up this book for review. Not really a ‘Romantic’ novel per se, it has it’s own sauce of romance. Well, life is not only about traditional romance, is it?

The book is about Sid. It is his story. But it is as much a story of people cocooned around him – Mandira, Neha, Aditi – the women! Sid is someone most of us would be able to connect with – he’s not happy with his marriage, his job, his shortcomings and his love life. Sid has multiple persona, just like most of us – ‘Work Sid’, ‘Party Sid’,’Sid Uncle’, ‘Best friend Sid’, ‘Ex husband Sid.’ I particularly loved the way the author has explored each such persona and their different shades. A few people would find Sid repulsive with his beer-and-beanbag (Brownie) sessions, his unkempt ways and his fumbles at specific moments. But Sid is as normal as one can get. He laughs, he cries, he lies, he whines and he loves. He doesn’t hate, and that’s what I liked about him.

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Book Review : An Incurable Insanity

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Image Courtesy: Google

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Her heart fluttered when she heard the sound of the key turn in the lock. She quickly adjusted her maroon silk sari with the yellow border, the one that had caught his eye, and waited eagerly for his footsteps. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven… Yes, exactly seven steps before he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, then removed his shoes one by one and arranged them neatly side by side on the shoe rack. She smiled. He had been mindful of taking his shoes off every day now. “I am not used to it, but I will if you want me to. It’s probably a good thing to do anyway.” As he settled down, he would pick up the TV remote and, without looking at her, would say in his smooth baritone, “So how did you spend your day, anything interesting?” Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.

Review: 

Just when I had thought I had enough of Romance novels in 2013, another one came to me as the first book to be reviewed in 2014. I don’t know if it is coincidence or serendipity that the more I wanted to run away from Romance genre, it keeps coming back to me to usher the new year together. I’m not sure which genre the others have put this book into, but when I read it to the entirety, I would definitely term is as a Romance novel.

Author Simi K. Rao had me into a little surprise when her first chapter introduced the protagonists as Punajbis. Now, I’m strictly not a racist/provincial here, but being a writer myself, I know that most authors stick to their comfort zone in their debut books. Simi has managed to inculcate the perfect Punjabi flavour to her protagonists. The story is a racy, passionate, fierce, often violent, and completely on-the-edge romance. It is that kind of romance which most people are afraid of since its a little too much to handle.

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