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Best Fiction I Have Read in 2016- The Girl On the Train By Paula Hawkins

Best Fiction I Have Read in 2016- The Girl On the Train By Paula Hawkins

So “The Girl on the Train” it is- the adult fiction book that topped The New York Times Fiction Best Seller list in 2016, in the Combined Print & E-Book Fiction category. It was for 10 weeks at the top of the list (as of October 30th), followed by Me Before You by Jojo Moyes with 7 weeks. With positive reviews right from the start, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins may seem yet another story, of love, lust and infidelity.

Yet, according to me, what clicked in the book is that element of suspense the narration held within it all along. Yes, indeed towards the end the book did get predictable, but otherwise, the book did have the right amount of clues thrown in at the right time. The Girl on the Train worked for me and here’s why it did.

The Plot
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day it’s the same route, moving past cozy suburban homes, and stopping at the signal that allows her to catch a glimpse of the same couple. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. 

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And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough for everything to change. Soon she is deeply entangled, in her own life as well as in the lives of many others. I wouldn’t want to divulge too much on the plot, but similar to other thrillers its best for readers to dive in on their own. The plot was cinematic indeed with vivid descriptions that played on my mind.

The Element of Suspense

None of the revelations in The Girl on the Train are straight forward. They keep you guessing, so as you read, the plot may seem to get murkier indeed.

The Ending
The only thing that left me disappointed was the ending, which played out like a movie scene. I felt it was a bit underdone, with elements of melodrama and action strewn in.

Despite this, a novel like “The Girl on the Train” is definitely a must read. It plays on your mind, pulls you into it and ensures you read it till that last page. That’s the power of Paula Hawkins and her well executed narration.

Kabali Mania Grips the Nation

Kabali Mania Grips the Nation

July 22, 2016- For many, this date would be a “self” declared national holiday. ‘Cause it’s the day when their very own Super Star, from the south of the Vindhyas, has a movie release- Kabali

If you think you have experienced fanaticism, wait until you have seen a “First Day First Show” of a Rajini movie. Not long ago, in a popular theatre in Egmore in Chennai, I experienced this unique fanaticism. As early as 4.00 am in the morning fans gathered around the life sized cut out of the actor to perform “paal abhisekam” (a holy bath with milk). It is a tradition that has been there for years now, for every new movie of Rajini Kanth. As fans hooted inside the movie hall in a feverish pitch, I noticed the currency notes and coins that were flung into the air- a few landing on me. The frenzied fans danced, clapped and shed tears as their “Thaliava” rendered punch lines after punch lines on the big screen in front of them. He was their living god! In a country obsessed with films, no other actor enjoys this kind of fan following. His appeal reaches far and wide, touching both the masses and the elite.

But what makes Rajini Kanth the phenomena that he is?

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When a humble Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, took to acting way back in the seventies little did he (or the world) know that he would become one of the biggest stars of South Indian Cinema. Having worked in over 150 films under the stage name of Rajini Kanth, his commercial stardom has been unmatched. His style, idiosyncrasies on screen, and punch line dialogues gripped the psyche of the people. His movies carried tailor made dialogues, with a message for every common man. No wonder, despite a couple of commercial setbacks, even at the age of 65 years, Rajini Kanth movies still garner enthusiasm, making him a phenomenon of sorts.

In his latest movie Kabali, set to release this Friday, Rajinikanth plays the role of an ageing don based in Malaysia. His fans understandably are excited to see what the film brings.

And cashing in on this Kabali Mania, are Big Brands, groups and corporates with Kabali merchandise and special screenings. From key chains, coffee mugs and phone covers; to silver coins and credit cards embossed with the image of the actor, the merchandise are flying off the shelves. Recently a fan in Malaysia took his Lamborghini Gallardo that sported Kabali posters, for a spin.

On a bigger scale, the official airline partner for Kabali, Air Asia unveiled an aircraft with images of the star and the movie. The airline has also planned a special flight from Bengaluru to Chennai for fans to watch the first-day-first-show of the movie.

For many of Rajini’s fans, it is a sort of obligation, to watch his movie first day first show. And this is the sort of magic Rajini weaves for his viewers.

*Featured Image Source: Air Asia

Books to Look Forward to In June-July 2016

Books to Look Forward to In June-July 2016

To all the book lovers out there, so far 2016 has been a good year with a plethora of interesting books being launched, both by Indian as well as international authors. In the next few months a couple of more interesting books have been lined up, some from bestselling authors and a few from relatively lesser known ones. I decided to pick out a few that would be worth looking at. Please note this isn’t really an exhaustive one, it is based on my personal choice and my reading experiences. A few of these books are already out. I havent really had an opportunity to read them yet, thus including them under my June-July list.

She Swiped Right into My Heart Paperback-16 May 2016 by Sudeep Nagarkar

516wu2bycytl-_sx325_bo1204203200_If you go all gooey over love, friendship and relationship novels, Sudeep Nagarkar’s books would not be much of a disappointment. Sudeep so far has authored six novels and I have loved the element of humor in it. They are light reads, perfect when you don’t want to exercise your brain much.

If you’ve never had friends, you’ve never really lived Geet, one of the most unpopular girls in college, is best friends with the beautiful and sought after Shibani. To win the popularity vote, Geet takes the help of college hottie Rudra, who agrees to act as her ‘boyfriend’—he sees an opportunity to get closer to Shibani. Little does he know that Shibani has been harbouring feelings for someone else all along. As misunderstandings and jealousies take centre stage, Geet must make a decision that will affect not just her own life, but also those of her loved ones. She Swiped Right into My Heart is a story about love—gained and lost—and the healing power of friendship.

Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up, Paperback – Rana Ayyub

512tmzfj1ol-_sx339_bo1204203200_The book was out in May this year and has already kicked up quite a storm. This self –published book, created a buzz when within minutes of its launch on Amazon, negative reviews came up.  Descriptions included: “Anti national book,” “toilet paper,” “Do not waste your money,” “fictional story by a so-called journalist,” and “lousy book, lousy author.” Interestingly, most reviews came from people who had not actually bought the book. Well, Amazon does have statistics and data of this. Several of the comments had nothing to do with the content of the book, providing no explanation to back their statements.

Gujarat Files is the account of an eight-month long undercover investigation by journalist Rana Ayyub into the Gujarat riots, fake encounters and the murder of state Home Minister Haren Pandya that brings to the fore startling revelations. Posing as Maithili Tyagi, a filmmaker from the American Film Institute Conservatory, Rana met bureaucrats and top cops in Gujarat who held pivotal positions in the state between 2001 and 2010. The transcripts of the sting operation reveal the complicity of the state and its officials in crimes against humanity.

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking Paperback – 15 Jun by Chris Anderson

414dd2gqpel-_ac_us160_For those keen on learning the mantras of Public speaking Chris Andersons books are a must read. Chris Anderson is the head of TED, a non-profit organization that provides idea-based talks and hosts an annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Since taking over TED in the early 2000s, Chris Anderson has shown how carefully crafted short talks can be the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, spreading knowledge and promoting a shared dream. Done right, a talk can electrify a room and transform an audience’s worldview. Done right, a talk is more powerful than anything in written form. This book explains how the miracle of powerful public speaking is achieved and equips you to give it your best shot. There is no set formula; no two talks should be the same.

The Gene: An Intimate History Hardcover – 17 May 2016 by Siddhartha Mukherjee

413tbr-63ll-_sx324_bo1204203200_I had read Mukherjee’s earlier book “The Emperor of All Maladies”- a profound humane biography of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. 
Siddhartha Mukherjee is a Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer. His first book read more like a thriller with cancer as the main character. Hoping the second book stands as riveting as his first.

The Gene- An intimate History is the story of the quest to decipher the master-code that makes and defines humans, that governs our form and function. The story of the gene begins in an obscure Augustinian abbey in Moravia in 1856, where a monk stumbles on the idea of a ‘unit of heredity’. It intersects with Darwin’s theory of evolution, and collides with the horrors of Nazi eugenics in the 1940s. The gene transforms post-war biology. It reorganizes our understanding of sexuality, temperament, choice and free will. Above all, this is a story driven by human ingenuity and obsessive minds–from Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel to Francis Crick, James Watson and Rosalind Franklin, and the thousands of scientists still working to understand the code of codes. 

An Unsuitable Boy – Hardcover – 13 Jul 2016 by Karan Johar

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Here is the 43-year-old director-producer of family dramas penning his biography along with author Poonam Saxena. An Unsuitable boy speaks about his personal life and sexual orientation, his candid confessions on how he was “effeminate as a child”. The book was launched on the first day of the Jaipur Literature Festival early this year.

End of Watch (The Bill Hodges Trilogy Book 3) Kindle Edition

51zgipfh1ll-_sx323_bo1204203200_For those who live and breathe mystery and thrillers, Stephen King is an absolute must. His books almost always leave me breathless. He has authored over fifty books and most of them have been worldwide bestsellers. End of Watch is the third in the Bill Hodges Trilogy.

“The cell rings twice, and then his old partner in his ear… ‘I’m at the scene of what appears to be a murder-suicide. I’d like you to come and take a look. Bring your sidekick with you, if she’s available…” an excerpt from End of Watch.

My Favourite Nature Stories Paperback – 1 Jun 2016 by Ruskin Bond

51scwiqem6l-_sx320_bo1204203200_No author has managed to captivate my mind and soul like Ruskin Bond. I have grown up reading his stories and his vivid descriptions of life in the mountains are simply unmatched. In this charming collection, Ruskin Bond talks about his various encounters with the natural world. From the chorus of cicadas to the song of the whistling thrush, from his love for sea shells to his favourite place on earth, Bond details why he has such an overwhelming love for nature. This book is for all who cherish the green world, just as Bond does.
This is a brand new book celebrating Ruskin Bond’s 82nd birthday. A book you could read along with your children.

The Secret of the Druids: Book 2 of the Mahabharata Quest Series Paperback– 21 Jun 2016

51gfps42bc-l-_sx323_bo1204203200_From Indis’s  very own Dan Brown- Christopher Doyle, comes The Secret of the Druids- Book 2 of the Mahabharata series. I like Christopher’s style of weaving history and ancient  secrets with science. His narration is almost always gripping.

Who were the Druids? Were they priests or astronomers? Scientists or sorcerers?
What is the ancient and terrifying secret from the Mahabharata that links the megalithic sites of Britain to the Druids, Julius Caesar and a mysterious Queen who lived 4000 years ago?
These are the riddles that Vijay Singh and the task force must answer if they are to save the world from a fate worse than death. But time is running out…
Explore the science behind the Mahabharata in this explosive thriller packed with action, puzzles and mysteries from the past.