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The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk-Sudha Murty

The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk-Sudha Murty

Reading real life stories are often so much more enjoyable than fiction. Sudha Murty’s “The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk” is one such book. The pages bring out Sudha Murty’s experiences as she lays down her learning on humanity and life.

It may seem to be no great literary work; yet, this book will surely win your heart over. There is absolutely no use of complex words; with the most simplistic form of narration. The book is a collection of 23 short stories and each one of them would leave you taking a peek into your inner self. The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk captivated me from its first page right till the end.

“It is very difficult to earn trust. It takes years to build and it can be destroyed in an instant by one bad deed. Trust requires an enormous amount of integrity and you have to prove every time that you are worthy of it. I am very grateful to our society and community.”
― Sudha Murty, The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk: Life Lessons from Here and There

What sets the book apart is that the stories aren’t fiction but real life experiences. Sudha Murty takes you on journeys across India, from Bombay, to Bangalore, to Orissa, places where she has touched lives through the Infosys foundation.

I loved the story of Vishnu, who achieves material success but knows not what happiness is. Another tale that gave me a sense of optimism, is that of a young girl who runs away from her step mom’s home, to be later found on a train bound to Bangalore. That journey changed the course of her life. All of the stories are about people, the kinds we all bump into every single day, in our office, home and neighborhood.

A light inspirational read with an amazing takeaway that would linger long in your mind. For those who don’t like voluminous books, and seek some quick food for thought, this book is a perfect read.

Book Review- Yashodhara Lal- When Love Finds You

Book Review- Yashodhara Lal- When Love Finds You

was recently told by an upcoming Indian author that my book reviews seldom present any Indian author and his book in positive light. Probably this is true, but it isn’t something I do with a pre-conceived notion or thought. At the beginning of 2016, when people were signing up for reading challenges on Goodreads, I took up a relatively different kind of challenge, of reading more Indian authors. We do have a fairly large publishing industry in our country, which churns out books by the dozens every month. Sadly, by the end of the year, I must say that I am a tad disappointed. 

Except for a few books, most of them aren’t really great literary pieces. Don’t get me wrong here. There is enough talent among Indian authors. There are decent story lines, and the comprehension and writing is fine too, considering English isn’t really the mother tongue of most. Yet, clearly, most books failed to leave a lasting impression. That magic, story tellers need to weave into their story to ensure readers are able to take something of the book when that last page is turned over, is missing. Most books are strewn with editing errors too.

Many authors, whose first book was a fantastic read, have failed to create the same impression with their subsequent ones. Yashodhara Lal’s latest book “When Love Finds You” is one such book. I loved her first book,Just Married, Please Excuse. It was a decent blend of humor and brilliant story telling. However, her latest book isn’t  anywhere close to this. 

Natasha, the protagonist in “When Love Finds You” is the strong willed working woman. She is the badaas boss, and she literally pushes her sub-ordinates to their limits to perform and bring in sales numbers. She is single and is sure that she has her life under control. At this moment enter, two new people into the office space, and into her life- Rishabh and Nikhil. Both are her superiors, smart and the entire office seems to drool over their looks. But things turn out a little different for Natasha as she begins to detest one, and the relationship with the other takes on a whole new form. Taking it on from here the book explores the emotional turmoil of Natasha, and how life teaches her to make some important decisions.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is an over stretched corporate saga, strewn with characters with no relevance. The second part delves into Natasha’s relationships. I liked the way the transformation in her is portrayed here, from the badaas girl to a mellower person. She sure is the tough boss, but she needs a bit of love and care too. The story actually picks up momentum from the third part onwards. I loved the way Yashodhara subtly highlights the stigma attached with a single successful woman. They are often considered vulnerable and face challenges in the form of sexual harassment too.

I wouldn’t really say the story line is something new, though I did like parts of it. It’s got a fairly predictable ending, and doesn’t really leave a lingering feeling after that last page is closed. Yashodhara Lal’s latest surely failed to impress!!

About the Author:

Yashodhara Lal is an IIM-Bangalore graduate who has worked across FMCG, technology and media companies, most often in marketing and most recently in leading corporate social responsibility for a large MNC. She is also a fitness instructor and a yoga and music enthusiast and lives in Gurgaon with her three loud children and perpetually bemused husband. Her bestselling titles include Just Married, Please Excuse (2012), Sorting Out Sid (2014) and There’s Something About You (2015). She is also working on a children’s book, Peanut has a Plan, due for release in 2016. When Love Finds You is Yashodhara’s fourth book.

 

Book Review- The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna

Book Review- The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna

So folks, she’s back again! And this time not as the columnist who tickles those “Funny Bones”, but as a fiction writer, well, a short story writer to be precise. Twinkle Khanna aka Mrs. Akshay Kumar is out with her second book. The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad hit the stands a couple of days ago.  Her earlier work of non-fiction, despite all the negative criticisms, did quite keep me entertained. This time around, Twinkle Khanna brings four women-centric short stories packed into one paperback. With 287 pages I managed to complete it entirely in one sitting. It indeed is a light read.

Let’s get to the first story, about young Lakshmi Prasad – a simple narrative of female empowerment in rural India. It is the story of courage and hope when Lakshmi stands up against the patriarchal practices in society and guides them to look beyond. Noni Appa, in the second story finds love blossoming in her life during her twilight years. The third story of Elisa finds her searching for love over multiple marriages. But the most inspiring of them, is the fictionalized story of the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, inventor of low-cost sanitary napkin machines. This Padmashri Awardee and his life have always intrigued me. It was a pleasure to read a story loosely based on his life.

All the stories broadly touch upon issues concerning women, their rights and concerns,mixed along with Twinkle’s signature style humor. Fairly simple writing, except for the use of unnecessary “superfluous” adjectives at junctures in the story. The underlying issues the book addresses isn’t something we haven’t already heard about. But of course they do need to be spoken about repetitively in a patriarchal society such as ours!!

So did I like the book? I wouldn’t really call it a great piece of fiction, but definitely appreciate the attempt made by Mrs. Funny Bones.

The art of writing short stories requires a certain skill, of being able to invoke the right emotion in those few pages and lines. And this is where Twinkle’s stories fail miserably. I wasn’t drawn to the characters nor did they leave a lasting impression. The writing was indeed simple, but it seemed more like fictitious commentary. Her tongue-in-cheek humor seemed way too out of place in many parts of the story. Though I was glad the stories had a happy end to it, they seemed blur and hurried. Agree that these are short stories, but the rate of build-up of the story and its winding up, just didn’t seem to correlate.

The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad failed to leave a lasting impression. Twinkle Khanna is surely better at writing weekly columns. Fiction doesn’t really seem to be her forte.

Chetan Bhagat- Review of One Indian Girl

Chetan Bhagat- Review of One Indian Girl

Chetan Bhagat is truly the most loved or, the most hated author in the country. Surely, on one side we have a large percentage of readers who simply cannot stop adoring his books, and on the other side there is a larger number who simply dislike his books. Despite all the brickbats he receives for his featured columns in major dailies, or for his stint as a judge on a reality show, Chetan Bhagat’s books do sell and they rake in the moolahs!!

To me he is neither good nor a bad writer. He is average and yes, definitely over-rated. Reading a Chetan Bhagat is akin to watching a Karan Johar or maybe a Salman Khan movie. Loaded with emotions and relationship tangles, the plot may lack depth, with seldom any logic. Yet we all watch them once in a way. Chetan Bhagat books are no great pieces of literature, yet they appeal to the masses, and that’s why his books are ranked as a best seller and I do enjoy reading them once in a way.

Getting to his latest book- One Indian Girl…

Radhika Mehta is educated, intelligent and ambitious. She is a topper of sorts and after her MBA degree from IIM; she lands herself a job as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. She heads to New York, to start her professional life, much to her parents’ dislike, who are more than keen to see her married at 21. New York is an all new world for Radhika. She lives her life and accomplishes on the professional front, earning a bonus her father seldom saw in his entire banking career. Her mother though doesn’t appreciate it and the pressure to “settle” down into matrimony is mounted upon her. Fighting away the stereotypes, Radhika, does well professionally, has a string of relationships that makes her move base, from New York, to Hong Kong and then to London. It teaches her life’s important lessons and gives her an insight into what she wants and who she exactly is.

She eventually decides to settle down into an arranged marriage, when the unforeseen happens. Her ex-es land up at her marriage venue. Radhika’s mind is in the biggest of turmoil’s. With her wedding just 24 hours away, she has her present and past all in one place. Who would she choose and why? What exactly is in the mind of this one Indian girl? Read the book to understand this as Chetan touches that one raw nerve- feminism.

The books delves into the deep lying patriarchy in Indian society. The restrictions that are not spoken about yet exist all around us. Radhika deals with an insecure boyfriend who cannot handle her earning more than him and later a married boss who becomes her lover, but seldom acknowledges that she could want to start a family too. Neither of the men she encounters understand that she could want to have both worlds- a home as well as a career.

The narration and content is candid and simple, filled with relatable incidents and connections. Chetan brings in the entertainment element with the dramatic Punjabi family, loaded with aunts and cousins galore, plus a wedding scene to top up the drama factor. I loved Radhika’s characterization, and her evolving from a simple West Delhi girl to a chick smart corporate woman. The narration in female first person is impressive, with the entire story conveyed as Radhika’s thoughts and views.

I liked Chetan’s view and stand on feminism. In a world where everything is almost a hype, and the true meaning of feminism lost somewhere, he brings out the choices that women are forced to make.

Yet, the book fails on many fronts. Highly predictable, it isn’t very different from his earlier ones. There is a degree of monotony in the tone and yes, you could comfortably skip a couple of pages. It also lacked that “spark” and humor that would have made the book otherwise a better read.

Surely Chetan Bhagat may be no great writer, but his Bollywood inspired writing does make him a fairly decent story teller.  Worth a one-time relaxed read ‘cause when you do finish that last page and close the book, you are left behind with a smile — and thinking.

Would it be a future Bollywood block buster? Well only time can tell that!

The Secret of God’s Son- Usha Narayanan

The Secret of God’s Son- Usha Narayanan

‘The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka. People will forget your name and your Gita!
May the world perish! May the world perish!’

This is the cruel curse Queen Gandhari throws upon Krishna. Mankind plunges into the evil of Kali Yuga. It is now on the shoulders of Krishna to reverse this curse and prediction. As he journeys through terrifying realms, he confronts Yama the Lord of Death and Shiva the destroyer and, vanquishes the Kali demon. He must lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery. And there is one powerful weapon still — the secret surrounding his origin. Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm? In the answer lies the destiny of all humanity!

The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to the highly acclaimed book Pradyumna- Son of Krishna by Usha Narayanan. After a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications Usha became a full-time writer. She is the author of several books including The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a lighthearted office romance.

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The book takes you on an interesting journey along with Pradyumna for, he is going to be the savior of all of mankind. It’s a cruel curse that Queen Gandhari cast upon Lord Krishna, and the consequences are not going to be good. Pradyumna has to save mankind from the evil clutches of Kali. He of course has the support of his loving wife Maya, yet, for Pradyumna this is no easy task. How does he do this and emerge victorious? Does he manage to reverse the curse? Loaded with the right blend of emotions, action, battle and drama, the “The Secret of God’s Son” would intrigue you right from its first few pages, till the end when you finally put down the book.

I loved Pradyumna’s characterization. He is charismatic yet has those shades of grey similar to what each one of us has within us. He asks rightful questions that stir your morals and conscious and you question yourself from deep within. Not to forget the characterization of Maya and the role of women as wives and mothers. Relevant in every way in today’s life and times.

Excerpt from the book: 

“Pradyumna smiled at Maya, knowing that this was just the beginning. Women such as those who had assembled here would provide the stability that the world needed in order to survive. Dharma could not win if half of humanity was denied their rightful place…”

The plot is strewn with twists and turns leaving you intrigued and drawing you into the vortex of the story. The climax of the book was perfect with the appearance of Kali. A visually stimulating read!

If you are a lover of the great Epics, Usha Narayananan’s The Son of God’s Son, won’t disappoint you. Usha has surely lived up to her reputation with this sequel. Rightly paced, with in depth research she knows how to bring out the best in a genre that’s generally a toughie for writers- mythology.

Another Excerpt from the Book:

“Draupadi will be the most beautiful woman on earth,’ declared a heavenly voice. And she will bring doom to the arrogant warrior clans.

The smoke turned black. Thunder rumbled in a cloudless sky. The priests felt a dread worse than death. Their eyes shut in fear and they failed to perceive the goddess, black as the void, who flashed out of the girl’s body. It was mighty Chandika, the fierce avatar of Durga, destined to devour the world using Draupadi as her medium.

Years passed. Blessed by the goddess, Draupadi grew into an enchanting woman. When Drupada arranged for her swayamvara, the kings who came to vie for her hand were spellbound by her charms. But she turned them away in disdain. She laughed at Duryodhana, the mighty Kuru prince. She scorned his companion Karna and called him low-born. The kings who failed to win her hand cursed her for her arrogance. And all the while, Chandika watched from above, her lips curled in contempt……”

A Forgotten Affair -By Kanchana Banerjee

A Forgotten Affair -By Kanchana Banerjee

“Sometimes you need to forget everything to recognize what matters the most….” One of those lines that would linger long in your mind, as you read A Forgotten Affair.

How would it feel to wake up one fine morning to realize that you absolutely have no idea about who you are, or where you are from? Sagarika Mehta is in one such complex situation in her life. A victim of the Mumbai bomb blasts, she wakes up from a deep coma, in the hospital only to realize that she has no memory at all of her past. Who was she? What was she like and who are the people she knew?

Reeling under the pressure of getting to know herself and those around her, Sagarika, finds herself whisked away to an altogether new place- Gurgaon- by her husband. He insists she starts life afresh. But does this really give her the answers she is desperately seeking? On the contrary she is loaded with more questions- What has she forgotten?

A debut novel by Kanchana Banerjee, A Forgotten Affair is a face paced fiction. It is the tale of the young and vivacious Sagarika Mehta, who is trying hard to piece together her life that seems crazier than a jigsaw puzzle. Would she be able to? And in the process what more does she discover?

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After writing feature articles for various publications, PR firms and companies for nearly two decades, Kanchana Banerjee decided to pursue her long cherished dream – to write a novel. She holds a master’s degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband, son and two dogs, Archie and Casper. A Forgotten Affair is her first novel.

As important as it is to have an interesting storyline, it is also necessary for authors to be able to put that storyline across to readers in an effective way. And Kanchana Banerjee scores high in bringing out the best out of the story. Superbly narrated and well-paced, the book leaves you guessing and, as you flip through the pages soaking in every bit of the narration, you are left enthralled.

Kanchana leads you into Sagarika’s world, which is as much unknown to you as it is to Sagarika. You journey with her, meeting friends and acquaintances, getting a glimpse into what her life before the accident was like. With elements of suspense well blended, you are led from Sagarika’s present to past seamlessly. No over the top dramatization and as you near the end of the book you as a reader are convincingly ably to piece together the two worlds of Sagarika.

With brilliant characterization A Forgotten Affair explores the various dimensions of relationships. It explores the beautiful friendship between Roohi and Sagarika. It brings out what it is to be in an abusive relationship. It brings out real love in a relationship.

A well packaged book-not to forget the lovely cover design. If you love contemporary fiction, then this book is a must read. Definitely Kanchana Banerjee is an author to look forward to in the future days to come.

This Time It’s Forever- Aditi Bose

This Time It’s Forever- Aditi Bose

There surely is no better feeling, than finding that one book that feels like magic in your hands. A book that takes you in from its very first page, right till the end. And when you are done reading it, you can feel your heart squeezing- a weird sort of ache and you clutch the book tightly unable to put it down.

I am one of those kinds who could read practically any genre of writing. I sometimes pick up contrasting genres back to back so that I am able to look at each book with a fresh perspective. My recent read was a book by Aditi Ray Bose- “This Time its forever”. The book is a tale of pursuit -of lost love, and finally accepting true feelings.

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Aisha Ahuja has almost everything in life. A decent job, a bunch of good friends and of course Arunavo. Their interaction though begin at a professional level, the daily rigmaroles of life get them closer to each other. Arunavo Banerjee on the other hand is this suave, mature, intellectual person. This charming man is every girl’s fantasy and Aisha also finds it hard to resist him. He has a past that he seldom wants to let go off. However, with the growing mutual attraction, the passion is almost waiting to break free. When one fateful night they finally decided to act upon their attraction, little did Aisha know that she would soon be seeing many twists and turns in her life.

When Arunavo walks out on her, Aisha misses him and his friendship. The walls around her heart are the only things keeping him out of her life. They knew each other’s heart and soul and now he was gone. Will Aisha allow that? Will she let his past win and her heart fail?

The book begins with an interesting prologue. A very short insight indeed into Aisha’s thoughts, stirring a high amount of curiosity, and well, you do start imagining the course of the tale, probably expecting a clichéd end to it. And that’s where Aditi Bose has successfully managed to pull it off. Don’t want to give away spoilers here, but yes, the book ends on a totally unexpected note. “This Time its forever” is a mixed box of feelings- of happiness, pain, anger, curiosity and surprises. But it sure does put you at ease once you bring that last page to a close.  

This simple, yet beautiful story of love and acceptance will turn you around. A great story to keep in your collection, and a perfect Saturday afternoon read!!!

Book Review- The Bestseller She Wrote By Ravi Subramanian

Book Review- The Bestseller She Wrote By Ravi Subramanian

Not often do you find an author writing a book on the life of an author. Ravi Subramanian’s latest book “The Bestseller She Wrote” does just that. A seamless weaving of a tale of an author told with ease and conviction.

It is the tale of Paperback king Aditya Kapoor’s life. His is 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. On the other hand is 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?

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That’s a gist of the blurb. Well, frankly I wasn’t really “wow-ed” reading the blurb.  It sure sounded like old wine in new bottle. The book cover too didn’t really do much to impress or catch my attention. In fact I probably would have given this book a miss if I had to come across it in stands. Nevertheless, I did go ahead with it.

So here was yet another predictable beginning. The first few chapters fail to keep you engrossed. I did have a deja vu feeling on having read something similar earlier (though it was the first Ravi Subramanian book I was reading). The progression was slow, until the point where you have read more than 50% of the book. The tale picks on from here and keeps you engrossed. No spoilers here, the twists and suspense thrown in get you going and lead you till the end of the book. So you do end up finishing the book…. hmmmm …..Ok with a smile on your face.

The narration style was on the informal side with no unnecessary cryptic sub plots. A believable portrayal of the main protagonists –Aditya Kapoor and Shreya Kaushik, unlike many other books I have read where the protagonists are made to look larger than life. The uncanny references to real characters in the real world did make me smile (Chetan Bhagat, Rakesh Maria, Ashwin Sanghi).

My thumbs up for:

The element of suspense that kept me guessing (though I got a hitch well before the end)

The writing style- Thank goodness it didn’t seem like a high school essay.

The blend of everyday characters- Perfectly fitted in with no clutter of characters.

My thumbs down for:

The unveiling of the suspense was too immature. Way too Bollywood-ish. He could have worked more on this for a better impact.

Inadequate description of the protagonists shades of grey. Well he probably left it to us to look at their negative side.

The blurb as well as the marketing of the book was suggestive of it being a romantic tale. I however was left to wonder if there was much of romance in it at all. It seemed more of a corporate saga of revenge and redemption, topped with a wee bit of romance.

The Bestseller She Wrote – definitely gets my vote. Decently paced and an easy read.

My Rating:

Book cover appeal: 2/5

Story & narration: 4/5

Suspense Element: 3.5/5

Romance Factor: 2/5

Overall reading experience 3.5/5

Get the book on Amazon.in

Paperback: 392 pages

Publisher: Westland (19 October 2015)

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

About the Author:1164847Described as the ‘John Grisham of banking’, by the Wall Street Journal, Ravi Subramanian, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, is the author of five bestselling commercial novels—If God was a Banker (2007), Devil in Pinstripes (2009), The Incredible Banker (2011), The Bankster (2012) and Bankerupt (2013)—based on financial crime. Having been a banker himself, he has a unique insight into the industry he writes about and a flair for spinning intricate plots that keep readers on the edge of their seats. His debut novel, If God was a Banker, won the 2008 Golden Quill Readers’ Choice Award and, more recently, The Incredible Banker won the 2011 Economist-Crossword Book Award in the ‘Popular’ category. He won the Crossword book award for The BANKSTER in 2012. Ravi lives in Mumbai with his Biotechnologist tuned banker wife, Dharini and his fourteen year old daughter Anusha.