Book Review : All The Bright Places

This review was published in The Buzz Magazine

Blurb View: 

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

Review:

Did you know somebody committed suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world?

In most cases, they don’t leave any clue that could lead to a reason for their actions. It may be love, it may not be; it may be failure, and extreme ones at that; it may be Monophobia (that’s an easy one – just seclude ‘mono’, pun intended). We are yet to judge if suicide is right or wrong, since it is relative. But the grief it leaves the loved ones with is irreplaceable. Now don’t let this deter you from reading further, we are indeed talking about a love story, though it’s much more than just that.

Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet under ‘extenuating circumstances,’ on the ledge of their sixth storey school bell tower. We’ll keep the ‘who-saved-whom’ for later, for you to read the book yourself. It just so happens that both of them meet at a time when their own lives were shrouded by the cloud of ‘extenuating circumstances.’ Violet had lost her sister to an accident, and Finch (as even I began to fondly refer him) was going through a lot of trauma. They met, and gradually started to peel the layers off each other. They embarked on a journey together, and their pit stops are beautifully designed to be etched in memory forever.

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Book Review : Secretly Yours

secretly yoursBlurb View:

Everyone has secrets . . . but is hers the most shocking? Orphaned at birth, seventeen-year-old Sahil has always blamed himself for his parents’ death. He has little interest in life until he meets the enigmatic Anya in a chance encounter during the Shimla fest. Soon he falls head over heels in love with her, but Anya doesn’t reciprocate his feelings.
An accident leaves him in a coma and when he wakes up he makes a startling discovery-he can read minds! Now he can find out what goes on in Anya’s mind and maybe, just maybe, make her fall in love with him. But is Anya all she seems? Or is she hiding something?
Deliciously plotted, full of morbid secrets and startling revelations, Secretly Yours will make you question what you see and who you trust.

Review:

Secretly Yours is a romantic thriller with other elements as well. The first attraction of the book is surely the cover. Wonderfully designed, it is sure to catch the eye and that’s one of the reasons I picked this one. The blurb promises a love story and the book starts off on such a note. We meet Sahil, a teenager plagued with more problems in life than teenagers should ideally have. He’s an orphan and is blamed by his grandmother for his parents’ death. You bet that’s way too much to be handled by a young boy. He takes refute in alcohol and bruising himself. His passion for music, however, keeps him alive. And then he meets a pair of eyes that entice him as well as baffle him. As luck would have it, Anya enters his life and everything turns topsy-turvy.

What happens next? Sahil meets an accident, loses his grandmother and gains Anya. Or does he? Anya has a bagful of secrets that get uncovered over the second half of the book. I can’t give away her secrets as spoilers and hence, you have pick up the book.

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Book Review : What Might Have Been

Blurb View:

might have beenAs a fashion buyer at one of New York’s most glamorous department stores, Dana McGarry is a tastemaker, her keen instinct for fashion trends and innovative ideas coupled with a razor sharp business sense. But like the elegant and conservative store that employs her, Dana is caught between two eras—between being liked and standing her ground, between playing by the rules and being a maverick. Dana is sensitive and beautiful, but what you see is not what you get. Behind the cool and attractive facade, Dana is both driven by her need to control yet impeded by her expectation of perfectionism. As she competes to replace women at the top of their game, she is challenged by jealous colleagues. And when a wealthy love interest wants to open doors and support her ambition, she embraces Coco Chanel’s mantra of “never wanting to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” As the women’s movement paves the way, Dana finds a path to the career she wants at the expense of happiness that was not meant to be.

Steward captures the nuances of 70s life in New York City and provides the perfect backdrop for an independent woman determined to make her mark. What Might Have Been is a story that transcends any period.

Review: 

While I have read books covering various industries like hotels, automobiles, hospitals, and even films – fashion is certainly a first for me. A novel that is set in the fabric and fashion world of New York City and in one of my favourite decades – the ’70s – there wasn’t any reason I would turn down this one! And might I add that Lynn Steward has a pretty impressive way of writing her Dana McGarry series. Gorging on What Might Have Been for the last two days, I’m quite tempted to go back and read the #1 in Dana McGarry series – A Very Good Life.

New York City is the epitome of fashion with names that we revere all around the world. I have been to the Fifth Avenue and Manhattan’s high end stores and it has left me awestruck with the amount of hard work that goes behind all the glitz and glamour. With the help of cutting edge technology, using fabrics and designing them has become easier in this millennium. But how did it all work in the 1970’s? How did women working in fashion make their way through an outright competitive industry? Dana McGarry and her journey gives an insight into that era and I think it has been captured beautifully by Lynn Steward who has worked as a buyer.

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Book Review : Oleander Girl

Blurb View: 

photo 1 (1)Divakaruni’s descriptive, evocative writing makes you race through the book and then mourn its completion. For those who are fans of the author, this is a must-read. For those who have yet to discover her, this book is a must

People Troubled by the silence that surrounds her parents’ death, seventeen-year old Korobi Roy clings to her only inheritance from them: the unfinished love note she found hidden in her mother’s book of poetry. But when her grandfather dies, the young woman discovers a dark secret which will finally explain her past.

‘A coming of age novel in the best tradition, with a heroine who is both infuriating and endearing and most importantly, brave – Divakaruni’s gift is story telling and she is generous with her gift’- Huffington Post.

Review: 

It’s not easy to review your favourite authors’ books. There’s a certain amount of expectation that you already set even before reading it, and most readers like me keep on tallying their projections with each page or chapter of the book. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is one of my favourite Indian authors and I begin reading her books with an anticipation of new layers opening up in our normal human relationships. She doesn’t write about supernatural or psychos or serial killers, her characters are as close to us as ourselves, which makes them more appealing and real.

If you have read Divakaruni’s books, there’s quite often a story involving an unusual mother-daughter pair or sisters separated by distance and fate. The stories are immensely layered with a plethora of emotions, love, envy and often hatred too. Frequently set across continents and generations, there’s a vast expanse of familial tension, conversations, plots and subplots. Oleander Girl is about Korobi, well, mostly her and Rajat, her beau. Korobi is an orphan, raised by her benevolent grandparents with the memories of her mother.

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Book Review : The House That BJ Built

Blurb View: 

the-house-that-b-j-built-400x400-imae6zqyqg4tnprf“I’ll make my sisters squirm like well-salted earthworms. I won’t sell. Even my jutti wont sell. And if I die na, then even my ghost won’t sell!”

The late Binodini Thakur had been very clear that she would never agree to sell her hissa in her Bauji’s big old house on Hailey Road. And her daughter Bonu, is determined to honor her mothers wishes.

But what to do about her four pushy aunts who are insisting she sell? One is bald and stingy, one is jobless and manless, one needs the money to ‘save the nation’ and one is stepmother to Bonus childhood crush-brilliant young Bollywood director Samar Vir Singh, who promised BJ upon his deathbed that he would get the house sold, divvy the money equally and end all the bickering within the family.

The first word baby Bonu ever spoke was ‘Balls’ and indeed, she is ballsy, bs-intolerant, brave and beautiful.

But is she strong enough to weather emotional blackmail by the spadefull? Not to mention shady builders, wily politicians, spies, lies and the knee-buckling hotness of Samars intense eyes?

Sharply observed and pulse-quickeningly romantic, this is Anuja Chauhan writing at her sparkling best!

Review:

Picking up a book by India’s one of the most popular contemporary authors, Anuja Chauhan, was a mighty task. I hadn’t read her before, but knew that her novel ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ has been adapted into a television show. ‘The House That BJ Built’ is presumably the sequel of Thakur Girls.  The blurb seemed quite grippy with catchy lines and the promise of a ‘joint family’ story. So I began reading the book like unwrapping a lovely glitzy Diwali gift.

Few pages into the story and I was growing a fondness for Bonu. She’s fierce, that’s probably the best adjective to describe her persona. She’s an entrepreneur, in whatever crooked way it might be, and is making her mark slowly into the lives of people she has employed. She lives with Bauji, taking care of him in a huge dilapidated house, with very occasional visits from her four aunts and his hotness, Samar Vir Singh. Now about Samar – he’s the stepson of Bonu’s eldest aunt, and an epitome of hotness, besides being a young filmmaker in Bollywood. The aunts arrive after Bauji’s death, each of them with their kitty of problems and a common cause – to sell the house.

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Book Review : There’s Something About You

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Blurb View:

This is not your typical boy-meets-girl story. Okay, they do meet, but there are some complications. Trish is twenty-eight. She’s unemployed, overweight, single and snarky. She knows all that. And if one more person – just one more person – tries to fix her, she might explode. Sahil is thirty-five. He has superpowers. Well, kind of. He seems to think so, anyway. He’s also hot (in a geeky kind of way, but still). And he plays the guitar, helps the underprivileged and talks about his feelings. Aren’t guys like that supposed to exist only in fantasies? When Trish and Sahil meet, magic happens. Real magic, you know, like fireworks, electricity, that sort of thing. But here’s the problem. Trish doesn’t want anyone in her life. She has enough to deal with – dependent parents, flaky neighbours, bitchy editors, the works. And yet, Sahil is determined to be in her life. From the bestselling author of Just Married, Please Excuse and Sorting Out Sid, here is another zinger of a book.

Review:

Yashodhara Lal is three books old and I’ve read two of them. Much liked ‘Sorting Out Sid’ and picked up this one so that I could read about more such people. This book is about Trish, and she’s completely different from what Sid was. It’s her story, and a strong one, where Trish owns her life.

Trish is fat. She loses her job and opts for freelance. I began reading the book and realised these familiar traits. It becomes easier to identify with the character once you find things similar. But Trish is much more than what I am and I loved the character. The story begins with her woes – career, an ailing parent, her obesity which is the cause of much concern for her friend Akansha and her mother – the list goes quite long. It’s a lone battle against life and things are made easier with loads of humour. Enter Sahil too, though not in a typical boy-meets-girl manner.

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Book Review : HiFi in Bollywood

Blurb View:

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Image Courtesy: Amazon

An aspiring filmmaker. The dizzying heights of Bollywood and a strained father-son relationship.

Rayhan Arora’s long cherished dream is to be a filmmaker in the Hindi Film Industry but his formidable father has other plans a successful financial career in Corporate America and a marriage of convenience with Vanita, a medical student in the US.

In a final act of desperation, Rayhan abandons his promising life in California and secretly returns to Mumbai to work as an Assistant Director in Bollywood. The characters he encounters along the way become part of his journey of self-discovery – a self-proclaimed local goon with a penchant for acting; a powerful local politician who wants to marry Rayhan’s part-time domestic help, who in turn covets stardom; an angst-ridden, homosexual film director; ego-ridden film stars with twisted agendas; and the mysterious Viola who captures his heart.

HiFi in Bollywood takes the reader from the streets of Berkeley to the film studios of Mumbai; from red-light areas to police stations and from reality to dreams and back to reality again!

Review: 

Being a lover of Bollywood, I hadn’t much choice but to read the book. As I’d grown up on a staple of Hindi movies, ‘Bollywood’ as we call it, seemed very alluring from a distance. Most of the audience looks only at the glamour and glitz of it, ever aspiring to be on big screen, rather than acknowledging the gruelling work that goes behind a film. Rishi Vohra, being an insider in Bollywood, decided to write this book, fictionalising parts of it, blending with some of his own experiences.

The story is of Rayhaan, it’s all about him actually. He struggles between his dreams of being a director of movies in Bollywood, but ends up with a Berkeley degree in Finance, due to his father. It is a struggle of father and son’s aspirations, not too uncommon in our country. Innumerable readers will instantly identify with Rayhaan, as they go through the same turmoil. I’ve met Graduate students in the USA, who perhaps wanted to be something else, but had to toil in a wrong choice of industry. Rayhaan is also set up with a girl of his father’s choice in California, and he ditches meeting her, instead landing up in Mumbai to pursue his dreams.

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Book Review : When Our Worlds Collide

Blurb View:

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Akriti has led a pretty much sheltered life.
Zayn has been shuttled from city to city when he was growing up.
She is comfortable watching her life from the sidelines.
He wants to feel rooted to a place he can call ‘home’.
They meet each other quite by chance.
And both seize the chance to be someone they both need in their lives:
For Zayn, it’s a ‘Partner-In-Crime’.
For Akriti, someone who just knows how to be there for her…
When their worlds collide,
It is not what either of them expected it to be.
Zayn has a steady girlfriend. And Akriti has a crush on him.
What happens these two become friends?
The biggest adventure of their lives? Or the road to heartbreak?
What happens when two completely different people collide?
Do they become friends? Or, is their friendship doomed from the start?
‘When Our Worlds Collide’ is the story of two twenty-three-year olds,
Who are finally growing up and finding their feet in the world.
A tale of friendship and love, crushes and betrayals, messes and second chances,
Marriage and divorce… and the elusive happily ever after!

Review:

Aniesha Brahma has been a steady writer of romance. I’ve read all her books now, this one even before its release! Romance for young adults doesn’t need to be cheesy and Aniesha is one of those rare YA writers in India whom you can trust not making it cheesy.

You begin with an interesting line in the preface –

‘It’s not always about the happy ending, sometimes it’s about the story.’ 

I loved it, as I believe in it. Happy endings have cliche to such an extent that people have stopped liking stories that don’t have one. But it’s the story that matters at the end, not the ‘happy ending.’

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Book Review : Milan

Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws

Image Courtesy: b00kr3vi3ws

Blurb View:

From the author of The Accidental Wife, Simi K. Rao!
When a daughter turns marriageable age, what should a responsible father do?

Easy–wed her to the most suitable boy who comes knocking on their door.

Jai Bharadwaj, Mili’s father and owner of The Serenity Tea Estate in the idyllic Nilgiris would’ve probably liked to do the same, but being who he was, he had to ask her first.

But what would Mili say?

Review:

Indian weddings are like chocolate, you can’t get enough of them. But then, they need to be sold in really good wrappers for you to even consider them. Milan being ‘A Wedding Story’, had expectations raised to give us a good peek at a grand Indian wedding. The author is already writing a series on Arranged Marriage and this novella is probably an offspring of the same.

Firstly, the cover is gorgeous. It kind of glowed on my reading device and looked dazzling, much like an Indian wedding. The book started with a lot of promise giving the readers a glimpse of beautiful Connoor and into Mili’s life. Mili is an aspiring musician who wants to make something big out of her life. Just then, comes a marriage proposal from someone she considered a dork in school. He’s Ahaan and her parents as well the entire town is enthralled by him.

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Book Review : My Clingy Girlfriend

Blurb View: 

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

What is a clingy girlfriend?

A clingy girlfriend will go through your phone.

She will destroy the contact numbers of every other girl on your phone.

She will delete your Facebook profile.

And will give you forty-five missed calls in the sixty minutes you put your phone on silent for an office presentation.

A clingy girlfriend will say

Carry two sets of fully charged mobile batteries so you can be in touch with me. Always.

In my dream, you were flirting with some other girl and then ended up in bed. Dreams are a manifestation of some act that is carried out in daily life. Are you cheating on me?

You have issues. You need to get therapy. Are you cheating on me?

And the worst one – why aren’t we married yet?

Obrokranti Banerjee’s girlfriend ticks all of these and more. Caught between wanting to break up and the fear that he’ll never find another girlfriend if he does, Obrokranti finds himself doing things he never imagined – watching Shah Rukh Khan movies, having to fast with her on karva chauth and perhaps worst of all, having his girlfriend join him on a boys night out!

Bestselling author Madhuri Banerjee brings to you an uproariously howlarious account of a simple Bengali boy in Mumbai who copes, mopes and hopes to find logic and reasoning with his clingy girlfriend. It’s writing Madhuri’s never done before and promises to change her name if you don’t laugh at least five times while reading this book!

You know you have one too. This is your story. My Clingy Girlfriend.

Review:

A bestselling author. A Bengali protagonist. A man’s story written by a woman. These unique features made me read ‘My Clingy Girlfriend’ and write this review. While the book seemed interesting in its concept and presentation, somehow the narration failed to attract me. I haven’t read Madhuri before, though I’ve heard a lot about her books.

In this one there’s a story, yes. Obrokanti Banerjee is our man and his life is dissected in this book, well, mostly his love life. Narrating in first person, Madhuri gets into details of Obro’s life, his obnoxious Punjabi live-in girlfriend Radha, his obscure colleague Menon and other morons in his office. His life is almost doomed with a clingy girlfriend, someone who defines the very concept of clingy and is nearly abominable. She keeps track of every minute in Obro’s life, with frequent calls surpassing the man’s irritation level. She controls every move of her boyfriend, including whom he should talk, meet, or call.

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