Quite fantastic, this KHANtastic

In India, Bollywood is a religion in itself. And, it wouldn’t be wrong to say, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, and Aamir Khan are the holy trinity. In their individual personalities, these three megastars embody everything Bollywood stands for.

And KHANtastic by Sanjukta Nandy is an incredible compilation of episodes that show how well-written a script by the Universe their lives are. I had goosebumps when I read that all three of them were born in the same year, just months apart. Not just that, the coincidences extend far beyond, and you might want to read the book to live them in their full effect.

Full points to Sanjukta Nandy to such well thought out compilation; she’s been amazing in knowing where exactly to break an episode and how much to reveal at one time. If you are a fan of even one of these megastars, this book is the probably the most perfect thing to show you that their backgrounds were far from how seemingly perfect their lives today are. Not just that, without being preachy, Sanjukta gives excellent insight into their determination, their dedication towards their dreams. If that does not inspire to you to work on achieving yours, I’m not sure what will.

Thank you, Rupa Publications, for offering me a review copy of this KHANtastic book!

IT IS THAT TIME OF THE YEAR! #December Delights

I’ve always had a strange and strong fascination with December, and Christmas. It’s such a wonderful time, filled with so many wonderful things: Christmas, the winters, a combined celebration of the end of one year and the beginning of another, Secret Santa. My most favorite out of all things December, however, is all books that are centered around a winters and/or Christmas theme.Before I begin what this post is about, a shoutout to Vidhya Thakkar for organizing this blog train; I wouldn’t have written this post otherwise, certainly not this year.

Here’s my list of 5 Christmasy and/or Wintery books that I think you can consider for putting up on your list too:

The Christmas She Always Wanted by Stella Bagwell (Mills & Boon)

I bought The Christmas She Always Wanted in the November of 2009, and since then I read it at least once every year, definitely around Christmas time. This book is super super special; it isn’t just my first Mills & Boon, it is also my most favorite Christmas tradition.

Blurb (taken as is from Goodreads): Angie Malone left Christmas wishes to her daughter. After all, nothing could fix the broken heart Angie had had since Jubal Jamison married another woman. She had never seen Jubal again…not even to say she was carrying his child.But now a miracle might happen for Angie and her little girl. With Jubal hired as the vet for the Sandbur Ranch, there was a chance for father and daughter to find each other. And with Christmas just around the corner, perhaps Jubal and Angie could finally forgive the past – and become the family they’d always wanted to be…

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

I read Let It Snow only a few months back, and I looovvvveeeee it! It isn’t all nice and warm and Christmasy, it is also very brilliantly written.

Blurb (taken as is from Goodreads): It’s Christmas Eve and Gracetown has been buried by snow. But the weather is more than just an inconvenience. When one girl unexpectedly steps off a stranded train, she sets off a series of life-changing events.

Soon fourteen pumped-up cheerleaders will descend on the local Waffle House, the Duke’s DVD night will be rudely interrupted for a Twister mission, and a lovesick barista will determine the fate of a single teacup pig …As the three stories collide, strangers cross paths and romance blossoms with heart-warming consequences.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling

Why this one is on the list, is pretty obvious, isn’t it?! Why specifically this book? Because such exciting new beginnings, that’s why. For me, books 1 and 2 of Harry Potter will always be better than the rest of the series because they are the start of something so so fabulous, and also well-written.

Blurb (taken as is from Goodreads): Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Winter Stories by Enid Blyton

I am yet to read this one, even though its been a while since I bought it. But the cover is so pleasing to look at, just having it on my shelf is such a feel-good thing. This year, of course, I’ve managed to pull it on my immediate TBR and I cannot wait for a cold winter night to devour this one.

Blurb (As taken from Goodreads): Snuggle down with this heartwarming collection of classic tales, celebrating the magic and excitement of winter. These fun, entertaining stories are ideal for newly confident readers and are the perfect length for reading aloud at bedtime or in the classroom. It’s an ideal stocking-filler too!

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

This one, again, is on my immediate TBR, simply because I’ve just bought it. But I am pretty confident that I’ll like it, because Sophie Kinsella and Becky Bloomwood are quite the combination you need to have the perfect winter, and a perfect Christmas in this case.

Blurb (As taken from Goodreads): Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It’s always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers.And now it’s even easier with online bargain-shopping sites – if you spend enough you even get free delivery. Sorted!But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky’s parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she’ll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong? With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . .

And that is all from my side. But let’s not stop here; tell me about your favorite seasons and which books you like to read in your favorite season in the comments below, maybe?

This post is part of #DecemberDelights by Vidhya Thakkar and Rupa Publishers should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. Hosts are not responsible for any infringement caused.”

Book Review: Soliloquy of a Small-town Uncivil Servant by K K Srivastava

The book’s blurb makes you want to read the book asap. What it does not tell you is to have patience.

5 pages into the book and I was ready it to DNF it. In the beginning, the narrative is more philosophical than story-based. However, DNFing doesn’t come easy to me. So, I read along.

I’m partly glad I did, because the narrative changes to a story soon after, and it starts to get intriguing too. Characters started coming in and I wanted to see how the story takes shape.

It proceeds well, in terms of the narrative. It is insightful and interspersed with life lessons, some of which left me in awe of the author’s life observation skills. Which is really the book’s USP. It isn’t difficult to guess that the author has lived a life and had done his best to understand it at every twist and turn, and even otherwise.

However, it falls flat when it comes to the prose. Heavy words, long sentences are used to present convoluted thoughts; a single thought, in quite a few places, is rephrased and told several times over. This, for me, was particularly hard to get by, because I couldn’t establish a stream of thought around the narrative.

I’d say, if you are a reader with patience, try this one out. It isn’t easy to make a dent in this one, but with the author’s life lessons, it might just be worth it.

Book review: A Will To Kill by R V Raman

If there is one thing I can say from all the books I’ve spent reading is: A good mystery can pull you out from the deepest of reading slumps. I struggled through two books all of June and I haven’t finished them yet. A Will to Kill was exactly what the doctor prescribed.

A Will to Kill by R V Raman is (seemingly) the first book in the author’s Athreya’s series. (I was hoping it would be this, because Athreya comes across as an interesting character!)

Blurb

An ageing and wheelchair-bound Bhaskar Fernandez has finally reclaimed his family property after a bitter legal battle, and now wants to reunite his aggrieved relatives. So, he invites them to his remote Greybrooke Manor in the misty Nilgiris – a mansion that has played host to several sudden deaths; a colonial edifice that stands alone in a valley that is said to be haunted by the ghost of an Englishman.

But Bhaskar has other, more practical problems to deal with. He knows that his guests expect to gain by his death. To safeguard himself against violence, he writes two conflicting wills. Which one of them comes into force will depend on how he dies.

Into this tinderbox, he brings Harith Athreya, a seasoned investigator. When a landslide occurs, temporarily isolating them and resulting in a murder, Athreya finds that murder is not the only thing the mist conceals.

My review

Quite an interesting book by several standards. It is well-written and well thought out. What really stood out for me was how subtle the book is: in terms of its language, characters, the plot, the narrative, and so on.

So many characters but the story transitions seamlessly; I wasn’t confused between any of the secondary or tertiary characters, and I think that is quite an achievement. The narrative keeps you hooked, except for a few places where it seems to drag, or rather not move ahead.

The other thing that I think could have worked on was the amount of repetition of accounts. It came to a point where I’d proceed without reading chunks of content because it is something that’s already been said. Apart from that though, amazing writing skills, certainly.

Once an editor, always a cautious reader! I couldn’t help but spot a few typos that I personally thought were too obvious not to be taken care of.

But in the end, it all comes together decently. The story takes quite a few unconventional turns and that is what has the potential to keep the reader going. The character sketches are on point too, as is all the description of the location. In all, just a little bit of patience and you have a page turner on your hands.

If mysteries are your game of choice, no harm in picking this one up.

Disclaimer

I got a copy of this book HarperCollins India in exchange of an honest review. The views herein are my own and there has been no monetary transaction involved.

Book review: Narasimha by Kevin Missal

The mythological fiction scene in India has been on a roll since a few years now. New authors, with their take on tales we’ve grown up listening to are taking centre stage and it is often overwhelming to see what all the power of imagination can accomplish. And while, it is heartening to have so many new voices come up, I think what makes the difference is how well an author can connect to their readers.

I’d heard about Kevin Missal A LOT before I read this book, my first by the author. And I think he deserves the adulation and praise. I especially liked how the language, the prose is simple and not flowery that makes your head spin in circles to understand one simple detail.

Narasimha has the same characters as the original tale we’ve heard. But the author spins his own tale and does it very well. The book is a page turner for the most part, though it tests your patience in some places. The story is through multiple PoVs but the transition is handled well. Two things that stood out most for me: clean character sketches and well-placed and well-written monologues.

A very decent effort by a very good author, definitely, this is definitely a mytho fiction I’d recommend to every body.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Book review: The Children of Destruction by Kuber Kaushik

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory.” – J.R.R Tolkein

Fantasy, I think, is a very tricky genre to write. While one has the creative liberty to build a world of their own, it is important to ensure that one’s reader is on the same page, if not on the exact same word. 

As a reader too, one is needed to invest in with an open mind and embrace the absurdity that magic sometimes can feel. The Children of Destruction by Kuber Kaushik comes across as an honest attempt to create a fantastic fantasy novel, but falls short just a little before it crosses the winning line. 

About the story

Now, I am going to tell you this as best as I can. The story is about a group of children (sort of the chosen ones, with emphasis on how that isn’t really as cool a thing) are brought together by circumstances to bring a back a book that was stolen by this group called the Black Rangers.

You can read the blurb on Goodreads here. (I strongly recommend you do.)

My review

Now here’s what is confounding about this book. It is a very, very well written story, with good world-building and character sketches. What really stood out for me was that for the protagonists, the author does not launch into elaborate descriptions of how they look and what they wear. Every character is revealed to you eventually and in just enough words that give you a picture but also leave things to your imagination.

There is Alice, who is already confounded and almost frustrated with her identity before she realizes she can do ‘things’. There is Kharsan who is still taking his time to understand that he has a brother who can do ‘things’ and the situation with his father, when he and the said brother need to run away from people who want to kidnap the said brother. The said brother is called Adam, and he is incredibly adorable. There is Violetta, who has inherited a shadow, other than her own, and she calls him Shade. There is Kit, who is a fox when she is not an impeccably dressed, extremely attractive woman. 

I’d say, quite an interesting mix of characters. 

I should have seen the attack from the shadow-monster coming. It’s been almost two whole days since I was randomly attacked by anything.

The story starts of really well, well enough to get you and keep you out of a reading slump. The dialogues are well-written; some of them are so brilliantly witty and sarcastic. 

I loved loved loved Alice and Kharsan who are both so sarcastic and yet so different. These are also the two characters that stay in the forefront more than the others. The pace is good and the story is filled with hooks. 

Now here is the disappointing part. The story, so well done in the beginning and with such well written characters, fails to come together in the end. I am not going to elaborate on this more, because that can lead to spoilers, but I am seriously hoping that there is a part 2 that give context to every loose end, and a lot of them in there, in the story.

And in spite of all this, I am going to give this book 3.5 / 5 because of the writing and the characters. Some really good work there. 

Disclaimer

Thank you, Srishti Katiyar from Penguin India, for sending over a paperback copy of this book for me to review. The views expressed herein are my own; there has been no monetary compensation involved.

 

Book review: Murder in Midtwon by Liz Freeland

Happy Publishing Day, Murder in Midtown! I may be super late to finish reading this, but I am so glad I made it in time for the review to go up just as the book gets ready to make its place in many more hearts.

If I ever get down to compiling a list of my favorite book people this year, almost every one from this read is making it to the list. And Louise Faulk is going to be at the top if not my most favorite.

Murder in Midtown

Such an endearing, well written character! I’ve seen the previous book in the Louise Faulk Mystery series get a lot of love from people and it is hard to not know why. There is so much I want to say about how much I love Louise Faulk and why it is one of the best written characters I have read ever.

And, of course, Liz Freeland takes all the credit for putting so much thought, for breathing life with her words in this character, and all others.

Murder in Midtown is a tightly woven mystery set around the investigation of a fire that brings down the building of the publishing house Louise Faulk, killing one of her bosses, Guy Van Hooten. Louise believes, due to past experience, that she can investigate the incident and bring justice to the people Guy has left behind.

What follows is a journey that is intriguing, with subtle tones of humor. That is, in fact, one of the things I liked the most about the book, the writing. The humor, especially the bits that Louise directs at herself, is so understated. And also such a brilliant way to give depth to Louise’s character; it helps the reader understand the little traits of Louise, little things about her, without directly listing them out. Thus saving the reader from a prose that is lines and lines of adjective-filled descriptions.

Did I mention that Louise also goes on to becoming an actual policewoman (although till the end of the book she is on probation)? A less dealt with buy one more insight into the gem that is Louise Faulk.

And the end! Such a beautiful beautiful one, it almost gave me goosebumps (it turned out to be more intriguing than the real mystery about the murder, to be honest!). It did break my heart a little too.

Every single character, the way it has been written, will certainly stay with you until long after you’ve finished reading this book. Pick this one up if you get a chance, for you won’t regret knowing Louise Faulk.

I am going to give it a definite 5 / 5.

Thank you, Net Galley, for a review copy of this book, The reviews expressed herein are my own and there has been no monetary compensation involved.

Book blitz: Her Prince Charming by Sundari Venkatraman

 

Print Length: 141 pages
Publisher: Flaming Sun (Indie published) 
Publication Date: February 9, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
Available on Kindle Unlimited
Coming soon: PAPERBACK 
Genre: Romance
 
It’s instantaneous attraction when Tanuja Bhatia from Delhi meets Raj Malhotra from Bombay at the Bombay Central Station.
 
The mutual attraction soon blossoms into love over the next couple of meetings. 
 
Tanuja and her simple father fail to see the crisis brewing in their own home. Her not-so-nice stepmother Gurinder is totally against the idea of Tanuja meeting her Prince Charming which would make her step-sister Harpreet seriously envious. By the way, Harpreet’s main aim in life is to simply make her half-sister miserable. 
 
While Raj’s parents and Tanuja’s father try to arrange a marriage between the two with a help of a mutual friend, the evil stepmother comes up with a plan of her own—to marry her stepdaughter off to Sonu, a good-for-nothing idiot. 
 
Can Her Prince Charming lift Tanuja out of this life of drudgery and boredom and give her the happiness she deserves?
 
*A prequel to The Malhotra Bride, this book is also to be launched in paperback soon
  
It would be great if you can add this book to your TBR


Sundari Venkatraman is an indie author who has 42 titles (38 books & 4 collections) to her name, all Top 100 Bestsellers on Amazon India, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia in both romance as well as Asian Drama categories. Her latest hot romances have all been on #1 Bestseller slot in Amazon India for over a month.
 
Even as a kid, Sundari absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome as she grew up reading all the fairy tales she could lay her hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end. 
 
Soon, into her teens, Sundari switched her attention from fairy tales to Mills & Boon. While she loved reading both of these, she kept visualising what would have happened if there were similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine. Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years. 
 
Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! And Sundari Venkatraman has never looked back.

Click here to check out all the titles by the author…

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Book review: Bestseller by Ahmed Faiyaz

Books about books are the most interesting kind of books. But books about books come into existence and become bestsellers are more interesting than the most interesting kind of books. If you don’t believe me, please read Bestsellerby Afhmed Faiyaz and you’ll know.

About the book

Akshay Saxena, recently sacked from his job as an editor a magazine in UK, lands as job that requires him to save the once-famous-but-now-drowning Kalim Publishing. His first challenge: to bring out five bestsellers within a year.

My review

This book has all the ingredients of a bestseller, like every single thing. The narrative is interesting and informative; this one is a page turner in the truest sense.

In fact, here’s a line from the book that pretty much sums about what I think about this book:

I spent a couple of hours reading her manuscript, which was an easy, breezy read with a simple and engaging narrative.

The author has created so many wonderful characters, each one so relatable. The publishing scene in India is very colorful, for the lack of a better word, in terms of the stories, the books, the authors that we are introduced to with every new release. There is something for every one, whether you love romance, chick lit, young lit, or non-fiction. And the conventional barometers, if they ever existed, for what will become a bestseller are forgotten.

In Bestseller, the author attempts to create such a colorful world and nails it so well. The book is hilarious, more than anything else, but if you are a budding writer, this one can turn out to be pretty insightful too.

Great vocabulary, a decent pace, and super interesting characters make this book a very deserving bestseller.

The numbers

This year is turning out to be a year of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 reads!

Disclaimer

Vandana Chaudhary of the @vinfluencers was kind enough to send me a review copy of this book in exchange of a honest review.

Book review: The Girl Who Went To The Stars-Written and Illustrated by Ishita Jain and Naomi Kundu

Someone’s really stocking up books to accomplish that reading non-fiction goal this year! I finished my first non-fiction of the year, this beautifully written and illustrated book by Ishita Jain and Naomi Kundu: The Girl Who Went To The Stars and Other Extraordinary Lives.

The Girl Who Went To The Stars

About the book

The Girl Who Went To The Stars and Other Extraordinary Lives is a collection of stories, or essays, if you may say so, about Indian women who showed incredible courage to follow their dreams, no matter how difficult it was to achieve them.

My review

This book isn’t just an incredible collection, but is also wonderfully well-done. Given that it’s target audience is children of 6+ years, I think this is one of the best books parents can get for their children to read.

What makes this book a winner for me is the fact that it is as much an inspiring read for adults as it is for children. And it goes without saying that, even though this book is about women who battled all odds and achieved their dreams, it isn’t meant only for little girls to read. In fact, let’s also get our boys to read books like this one to encourage gender sensitivity.

The collection targets an interesting gamut of cultural and professional diversity, while also striking a balance between talking about women who are known and the ones we don’t hear much about. It features women like Amrita Devi, from this group of people called the Bishnois, who gave up her life to protect the khejri trees from being cut down; Cornelia Sorabji, who was India’s first female lawyer, Mary Kom, who is first Indian woman boxer to win a medal at the Olympics; Padmavathy Bandopadhyay, who became India’s first female air marshal; and Usha Uthup, one of the most revered singers in Bollywood. It also talks about the challenges these women faced and how they overcame them to become the examples that they are.

The language used is simple and each story/essay is very concisely written. The content is just about enough to introduce these extraordinary women as examples to children with potential to inspire children and adults alike to look up and read more about them. I see a lot of potential for parents to devise some really cool activities using the content in this books. The illustrations are equally charming and very tastefully done. The cover will steal

Read this book, is all I can say, irrespective of whether your gender, your age, your profession, your caste, and anything and everything in between.

The numbers

Do I really need to say that I give this book a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5?

Disclaimer

I received this gem from the lovely people at Penguin in exchange of a honest review.