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Book Review: The Girl of My Dreams By Durjoy Dutta

Book Review: The Girl of My Dreams By Durjoy Dutta

read my first Durjoy Dutta book this weekend, and I must say I loved it. It surely was an unusual blend – of a love story and a psychological thriller. The Girl of my Dreams is an intricate tale of different shades of human persona. It has madness, mess, love and, manages to keep you on the edge from the first page.

The Book…

The book traces Daman’s journey in search of the “Girl of his Dreams”. Having met with a massive accident, Daman wakes up from a deep coma, with weird memory flashes. He seems to remember nothing about the accident, except that there was a girl named Shreyasi by his side at the time of the accident. Her hypnotic eyes seem to haunt him, and flashes of her face seem to appear in his dreams. Strangely, soon after, he meets a woman who claims she is the Shreyasi- the girl from his dreams. But is she the real one, whom Daman believes it to be or, is she simply just an obsessive lover and stalker? Unraveling this mystery is now entirely in Daman’s hands.

Characters & Plot

Every character has been etched in a fairly decent manner. Well-developed to suit the plot, whether it is the confused Daman, the more composed girl-friend Avni or the stable friend, Sumit. I loved the way Durjoy has brought out the flaws and insecurities that probably every relationship goes through.

Plot has multiple twists and turns. And as you tell yourself that you have probably guessed the outcome, would come yet another turn, which would change the course of the tale. The first half of the book races through, keeping you hooked. I wouldn’t say the same about the second half, as it tends to get a bit chaotic. A couple of portions seemed out of context. The narration could have been kept crisper, omitting unnecessary detailing.  

The Finale

An average climax with traces of a commercial Bollywood flick, I felt a little let down with the outcome. For the suspense that was built through the course of the book, the ending could have been worked out a little better.

The Girl of My Dreams by Durjoy Dutta is a novel of love, romance, thrills and suspense

A fast-paced metro read !!!

*Featured Image Courtesy: twitter
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: It’s All in The Planets- Preeti Shenoy

Book Review: It’s All in The Planets- Preeti Shenoy

It’s All in The Planets!!! Is it really so? We do often find life shaping up in a way that’s almost beyond our control. I remember reading these lines from a Ruskin Bond book recently- “What are we humans really just absurd little creatures strutting about as though we owned the earth and everything upon it. An ill wind comes along and we’re finished…” Bond’s writing never fails to make me smile at life’s little inanities.

So are all things in life destined to happen? Preeti Shenoy’s latest book delves into these questions, taking a peek into the role of planets and destiny on the lives of Aniket, Nidhi and Trisha. She brings together yet another complex web- of human relationships.

Aniket isn’t those dashing, handsome hunks. He does not have a Mills & Boons kinda sex appeal. All of 90 kilograms, he is an overweight, average looking techie from our very own city Bengaluru. He is head over heels in love with the beautiful model Trisha, who well, isn’t really all that intrigued by him or his mannerisms. Yet, the two are in a relationship. Trisha wants him to change in many a way. This leaves Aniket confused and insecure. He would do just about anything to make the relationship work, and seeks Nidhi’s help in the matter.

Nidhi is free spirited and pursues her passion, working as a pottery instructor. She is in a relationship with Manoj, who seldom appreciates the nature of her job. A chanced meeting with Aniket on the train, gets them talking. They enjoy each other’s company and she soon finds herself becoming Aniket’ relationship as well as fitness coach. How successful would Nidhi be in making Anikets and Trisha’s relationship a success? Or do the planets play a totally different role in all their lives? That’s the book for you in a gist.

Characterization

Preeti Shenoy has her main characters depicted with perfection, believable in every way; they are people you would find around you, in everyday life. Her story brings in Subbu, a true buddy, honest and frank to Aniket when he seeks his advice on all matters related to the heart. She portrays Manoj as the abusive person, who believes in the might of the man in a relationship.

She brings in an element of sweetness in Aniket, despite him being no tall, dark, handsome kinds, making him a loveable character. Nidhi‘s carefree yet mature demeanor makes her the girl most men would want to fall in love with. Aniket’s love and attraction towards the beautiful Trisha has certain innocence to it.

Writing and Presentation:

I would give a thumb up for the cover design, layout and the zodiac predictions at the beginning of every chapter. The most unique thing though is the manner in which the story has been narrated. I have read many a books that narrate the story in first person- books where one of the key protagonists brings out the entire story in their own words. Now here’s something of a different kind in Preeti’s latest. The two key protagonists – Aniket and Nidhi- simultaneously in their voice narrate their version of the same story.

The big letdown was the way the book ended. The final unraveling was pretty clichéd and predictable. Spoiler Alert!!! There wasn’t any explanation on the mental state and turmoil of Trisha and her life. Preeti does bring in a suspense element, yet despite this, the end seemed to be all hurried up and rather inadequate too.

I wouldn’t really call “It’s All in the Planets” a disappointment! I have read an earlier book of hers, “It Happens For a Reason” (Read the review here) and wasn’t too happy with it.

But with this latest, Preeti has definitely managed to bring in a decent read. Not really a great piece of literature, but definitely worth a read.  A quick and light book that’s perfect for a lazy weekend.

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A Forgotten Affair- By Kanchana Banerjee

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.

Book Review- A Broken Man by Akash Verma

Book Review- A Broken Man by Akash Verma

What’s our country like? Look beyond the glitz and glamour of the metros, and you would find a nation plagued by discrimination, caste systems and political skirmishes. And bringing out these very shades of the country is Akash Verma’s love saga – A Broken Man.

Akash Verma, based out of Gurgaon, India has authored two bestsellers till now- It Happened that Night and Three Times Loser. His work has taken him across the country and this travel experience of his reflects in his writing.

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A Broken Man delves deep into the lives of Krishna and Chhavi- two young souls who meet in a politically charged environment of the Lucknow University Campus. From the upper echelons of society, Chhavi is the intelligent and pretty Brahmin girl who falls in love with the humble Dalit boy Krishna, from an obscure village in Bihar. Hardships and poverty are part and parcel of his life. But destiny brings them closer and nothing really can pull them apart. For Krishna, she is an inspiration to pursue his dreams, of writing. For Chhavi, Krishna is the simple and honest boy she has always been in search of. She propagates equality and is seldom affected by the caste and status of Krishna. But will the same destiny that got them together give them a future? A Broken Man is this quest of a poor and deprived Krishna who goes in search of hope, love and a meaning to his life.

A simple story, sans sub plots, sure does give A Broken Man an edge. Yet, it did seem to be yet another class based love story, which one has read earlier in books or seen in movies. What really scores for Verma, is the simplicity in his narration. It was raw and real. No superfluous language or out of the box characters. Chhavi and Krishna, the two main characters of the book are believable personalities – ones you would encounter anywhere around. I liked the fact that issues such as reservation, corruption and politics were addressed, blending well with the main story. Did notice a few minor glitches of editing though.

 Take a deep breath before you are born here, my child! You take birth in a land where I struggled; Gave it my sweat and blood. A land that I thought belonged to me..… Unbridled, uncompromising.”

-From A Broken Man

Love goes beyond boundaries- of religion, caste, creed and nations. But the pain of separation grows deep within. A Broken Man with its straight forward story line may well be worth a  read, if you enjoy reading about India, want a light read and

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!!!

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.

It Happens For a Reason-Preeti Shenoy

It Happens For a Reason-Preeti Shenoy

Preeti Shenoy- Yes, she is an author I have been hearing a lot about. Her books are being discussed in the online circuit, she’s been nominated for the Forbes List of the 100 most influential celebrities of India since 2013 and, she is a blogger-turned-author. Ah ha! Now this last bit of info made me sit up.

And I read “It Happens for a Reason”! (Yawn Yawn Yawn….)

Let’s get to Vee, aka Vipasha. As a single mom, Vee juggles between her home run centre- “Paw Factor” for canines, and her job at the gym, to take care of her boy Aryan, born out of wedlock.  Way too simple, Vee seldom pays attention to her dressing, or looks (or the smell of dogs). Yet her pushy friend Suchi seldom gives up on her, and tries to fix her up with “eligible” men, to settle down in life. Vee on the other hand, isn’t too keen, given her busy schedule and the bitterness left behind by the man in her life Ankush. When on a bad day, over a few glasses of wine, Vee pours out her heart about her past life to Saurabh the quirky vet, she secretly develops an uncanny fondness for him. That’s when out of the blue, Ankush comes back into her life….

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The plot sure doesn’t seem to be breath taking or fresh. Infact, to me it was just another run-of-the mill Bollywood styled writing. Did I find some likeness to the erstwhile hit movie Julie? But anyways, a simple plot as it may seem, writing a love story/drama about the life of a single mother, involves bringing in greater depth to the characters, to their thought processes, their approaches to life and their other relationships and perspectives. Preeti’s book has practically done justification to none. What were Vee’s apprehensions about her future and life? Did she have lonely moments? Did thoughts of Ankush come up often? Emphases on these points have not been adequately done.

After a considerable number of pages with pointless narration and sub plots, Preeti brings Ankush back into Vee’s life. The chemistry between the two during the second half yet again has been completely ignored. Infact Ankush’s characterization seems to have been given least importance. Who was Ankush? (Apart from his professional background) What was his predicament, to walk out on Vee? The climax of the book too is a total let down. Very predictable.

I always feel when an author is writing a love story, he has to make readers believe in it. Readers must be able to relate to it. And this is where Preeti has failed in the book. Plain narration, in a typical school essay style, the writing does not keep you hooked for a long time. I ended up yawning quite a bit and flipped through most pages with extreme ease.

There aren’t many reasons to pick up the book “It Happens for a Reason”. Not a great work from a popular/ bestselling author. One might as well pick up a glossy magazine instead.