Posted in Book Reviews

Book review: A Morsel of Different Shades by S K Sanyal

My goal for 2018 was to diversify my TBR in terms of the authors and genres I read. AMODS sounded really different from everything I’d so far and I decided to go and ahead and experiment with this one.

About the book

Sumitra Ghosal came all the way from Bankura in West Bengal to join the education service in the recently formed Bundeli State. During the period from 1956 to 1990, spanning more than three decades, she got shunted around small towns and semi-rural areas. The book is woven around her experiences on women teachers’ lives. She found, for some teachers, cruel circumstances charting out the unknown trajectory, while for the others, the evil streak already present manifested itself rather blatantly during their teaching careers.

My review

Saying that this book was a successful experiment wouldn’t be entirely wrong. It most certainly diversified my TBR in terms of the type of books I read.

This one focuses more on the narration than dialogue. Dialogues are sparse, and most of the story is told in description. Like a third person account.

I’d say that this book came across more as Sumitra’s biography, or maybe an essay on Sumitra’s career and the difficulties she faced.

The book is nice. Interesting too. I’d call this a significant achievement because the time of the book is very monotonous. As are the characters.

Most characters that Sumitra encounters in her journey have compromised on their morals in one way or another. Almost of these episodes sound very similar to each other. She does meet a few people who haven’t but the former easily overwhelm the latter.

The book also becomes a heavy read because of the heavy narration.

And yet, I was intrigued to know what happens next. How does Sumitra fare in her journey? I know this sounds ironical and weird too, but this book is as relaxing as it is heavy.

My rating

⭐⭐⭐.5/5

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book review: Killer Moves by Varsha Dixit

For me, it is a good story if I want to sit up at night to finish it. A lot of Varsha’s previous work had left me so impressed that I didn’t wait for a minute before signing up for this blog tour!

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About the book

Aisha Khatri is fiercely protective of her father and her niece, Kiara, after she lost the rest of her family. She gives up the one dream she’d had so that she could take care of her family.

When Kiara goes to Goa for a modelling assignment with Kabir Rana-acclaimed photographer and suspected murderer-life puts Aisha in a situation where she not only gets to fulfil a part of her dream but also use the one power she has and never wants to use.

My review

It took me 8 hours to read this book and every minute, every single second was definitely worth it.

Varsha writes humor and sarcasm as well as she writes romance. (Go read Only Wheat, Not White if you haven’t already!) The same goes for this story too.

His life was a cracked mirror in an empty house—it could reflect light but owned no light of its own.

The characters are well-defined. Aisha, especially, comes off as the most well written character. The killer too. Varsha’s minimal description of the killer’s personality everytime is enough to send that proverbial chill down your spine.

The best part, it isn’t just one twist. The story will surprise you in the most expected as well as unexpected ways.

The chemistry between Aisha and Kabir is also one of the highlights of this story. Well-written and the perfect combination of the clichéd and new.

“You are a tourist too?” Aisha prodded.

“I’m here for work.” He replied after a few seconds.

“Oh! What do you do?” Aisha moved closer.

“Lie.”

Aisha paused. Now, that’s honest.

“I make people look beautiful and then others use that contrived beauty to sell things. So, like I said, I lie!”

The only place where I thought this book could have been done better is the editing. There are too many typos to go unnoticed.

However, the only downside is that the Grammar Nazi in me was slightly disappointed. The well-paced story makes up for a lot of it.

The numbers

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Disclaimer

Thank you to the super efficient, The Book Club, and the author, Varsha Dixit, for giving me a copy of this book.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book review: Driven by Desire by Shilpa Suraj

Shilpa Suraj is back with a new release and how! Shilpa is one of my favorite authors and I was so so delighted when she asked if I’d like to review her latest, Driven by Desire.

About the book

Driven by DesireDriven by Desire is the story of Krish, who is the owner of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, and Maxine, who is-wait for it-a vintage car restorer. Destiny takes them both on a drive when they decide to give their relationship a deadline of thirty days.

You can read the full blurb here.

 

 

 

 

 

My review

Shilpa had me when I read that the heroine of this novel was a car restorer. Say hello to a female lead who is covered in sweat and motor oil and still looks hot, not because she is pretty, but because of her excellence in what she does gives her substance. Thank you for Max, Shilpa!

The best I can describe Driven by Desire is like this: It is a warm and cozy journey that leads to a happy, joyous ending. Throughout this book, and more so in the end, I laughed through my tears and cried as I smiled. The end of this story is one of the most beautiful happily-ever-afters I’ve read, and is definitely one of my most favorites.

This one has it all: beautiful characters, on-point character development, and a super strong and super sweet story. It is beautifully written and is well-paced with good vocabulary. Although the story has a strong emotional backstory, Shilpa keeps the tone light.There are some really hilarious moments too, so you might want to watch out when you read this book in public.

Max is the star of the story. Kudos to Shilpa for creating a character who is covered more in motor oil and sweat than in foundation and lipstick. Not that the latter is bad (I am a fan of some good foundation myself, so there!), but it is high time that we let people, women, be who they want to be, the way they want to be. Let’s not let these yardsticks decide life for us.

Max isn’t just beautiful; she isn’t just an independent woman who lives life on her own terms. Max is beautiful because she has an independent mind that doesn’t shy away from making the first move, taking rejection and the downfalls in her stride too. Max is the woman of substance we all need today.

Brian, Max’s father, is another one of my favorite characters in this story. A special mention to Krish, who is hot, of course, but Shilpa portrays him much more than that. She does not focus or harp too much on the fact that he is a Greek God. She focuses on making him as real as possible, a man haunted by his past, worried about his future, and burdened by the present.

This one is a beauty. If you are a fan of romance, go to the Juggernaut app now, and download this one. You won’t regret it for even a second.

Disclaimer

I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review. The views above are solely my own and there has been no monetary compensation involved. Thank you for this gem, Shilpa!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

When Penguin India sent me a mail asking if I’d be interested in reviewing this book, it had been a while since I’d read, and enjoyed, a YA-fiction. I’ve stayed away from the genre ever since clichéd starred in every other novel.

When I read the blurb of this book though, I was intrigued. The blurb sounded as interesting as looked the cover.

About the book

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black is the story of 17-year old Ella, who is whisked off to the place of her dreams, Brazil, in the most nightmarish way. By her parents, who refuse to answer any of her questions. When Ella chances upon the truth, her life changes in a way that there is no going back. As it does for Bella, Ella’s dark side.

My review

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black starts with introducing Ella and Bella, and the relationship they share. What I liked the most about this book is that the reader isn’t often told what kind of a person a certain character is. The characters traits, their back stories, all of it is revealed as the story. You aren’t really ‘introduced’ to a character.

Even as Ella uncovers the truth of her life, and the lies too, layer by layer, the reader also comes to know about the characters layer by layer.

Written in first person PoV for Ella, the story takes the reader through the complexities in Ella’s life and in her head. Ella is a very complex character, and in a lot of what she does, as a reader, my instinctive reaction was to reach out and comfort/stop her.
Ella irritates you, but you can’t help your heart going to her.

The story is dark, scary in a few places. That helps set the tone of the story. Though I must say it is SCARY in a few places.

What makes the book even more interesting is Emily Barr’s easy writing style.

And the title! It conjures up on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of mystery, and the revelation will blow up your mind!

This one was definitely a page-turner for me, the kind that you sit up at night to finish.

The numbers

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Disclaimer

I received a paperback of this book from Penguin India, in exchange for an honest review. There has been no monetary compensation involved.

Thank you, Penguin India, for introducing me to this beautiful, beautiful book and beautiful, beautiful author!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Soldier Prince by Aarti V. Raman

Unlike popular opinion, romances aren’t the easiest thing to write. This popular opinion, I think, puts more pressure on romance writers, but let’s keep that discussion for another day.

But there is this whole breed of authors coming up who are out to change people’s opinions, show them that this genre is not ‘shallow’.

One among them is Aarti V. Raman, one of my favorite writers and favorite people in the world. She’s out with a new series, The Stellengard Royals’ Saga, and the first book in the series, The Soldier Prince, released on May 22, 2018.

The Soldier Prince

About the book

The Soldier Prince is the story of Prince Alexander from the Royal Family of Stellengard and Sasha Ray, who is, obviously, a commoner. Sasha meets Alexander at the deli where she works. The story is about what happens when Alexander’s royal life clashes with Sasha’s normal one.

You can read the full blurb here.

My Review

When I say that Aarti is one of my favorite authors, it is not because she is one of my favorite people. It is because she is such a passionate writer that when you read her works that passion reaches out to you; it is almost like you can touch it.

The Soldier Prince is all makes-you-go-weak-in-your-knees, yes, but there is so much substance behind it. Beautifully created characters are the USP of this story. Every single one of them.

Like, when Sasha is in the royal library, you are not just told that she is in the royal library, you are told what she is doing, what she is reading, and why she is reading what she is reading.

Like, when Alexander decides what he wants to do in his capacity as the Prince, you are not just told what he wants to do, you are also told why and how he intends to do it.

There are details and back stories that make each character real for you. Even Lena, who makes a relatively brief appearance. And no, not long, complicated back stories. Simple ones, but done just enough ones.

The book is divided in five parts, each focusing on a phase in the prince’s life. While this does not really the alter the way the story unfolds, this is a different kind of treatment that helps you set your expectations as to what is about to happen. I liked this way of organizing chapters, because now I can easily go to my favorite scenes 😉

This one is as rich in mystery as it is in romance. The well-timed twists and a well-balanced vocabulary make this one a definite page-turner. It definitely ticks of all check boxes when you are looking for a happily-ever-after read that is not cliched.

Disclaimer

I got an electronic copy of this book from the author, in exchange of my honest opinion. Thank you Aarti, for making me a part of your tribe 🙂

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Sail Away by Celia Imrie

I went to the #takemeback mode soon after I came back to India after a vacation on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. Take my word for it, it is an entirely different world on board a cruise, one which exudes elegance and fun at all times.

My ‘withdrawal symptoms’ found a cure when I received a mail from Sneha Khaund, from Bloomsbury India, asking if I was interested in reviewing a list of books, one of which was Sail Away.

About the book

Sail Away is the story of Suzy Marshall and Amanda Herbert, whose chance circumstances in life bring them on board an Atlantic cruise. Amidst friends and acquaintances, old and new, the two women are united by chance circumstances and the biggest mystery of their life.

My review

Sail Away has one of the most beautiful covers ever! I didn’t take this book out of the house for the longest time because I didn’t want that cover to spoil. (Of course, when it came to the battle between saving the cover and wondering what happens next throughout the day, the latter won!)

This was the first time I was reading a book by Celia Imrie and I am already bowled over by her writing style, the way she weaves the story.

The author takes sometime to build a backstory for both her lead characters, Suzy and Amanda. The story takes its time to build but when it picks up pace, you’ll know how important that backstory is. The buildup gives you time to understand the characters and enjoy their journey.

The story is visualized beautifully. Celia pays attention to small details when creating a scene, which makes for easy visualization. And she does that perfectly well, without really harping on the minutest details; giving you just enough so that you know what your characters are doing in a scene.

An interesting thing that I noticed about this story was the level of details or the depth of the backstory Celia gives for each of her characters; it depends on how key their role is to the story.

The story is the hero in Celia’s novel. The story stays the center and everything revolves around it. Without letting it take away from the story, Celia paints a beautiful picture of the trip on board the cruise. The story flows smoothly, with good vocabulary.

I thought the end dragged a bit. But when I look back now, I think it was mostly because I really wanted to see what happens in the end.

This book is definitely making it to my list of my best reads of 2018.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Matsya by Sundari Venkatraman

I love reading mythology. I wouldn’t call it one of my favorite genres, but I like knowing about the various traditions and myths the origins of which are rooted in these many stories.

So, when favorite author Sundari Venkatraman asked if I wanted to read her first mythology publication, I couldn’t say no.

About the book

Matsya is the first  book in Sundari’s Dashavatar series, Hindu mythology stories that regale the ten forms of Lord Vishnu. Matsya is the story of how Lord Vishnu saved the world in his half-fish, half-human form.

You can read the full blurb here.

My Review

Although it is aimed more at the children readers’, these stories can really be read and enjoyed by people from any age group.

Sundari writes in a way that feels like she is reading out the story to you. There is a certain warmth with which she tells her stories. The short story that is Matsya is also written in her impeccable writing style. The simplicity of the narration adds to make it an enjoyable read. In a time where mythological fiction is gaining popularity, it was nice to see an author tell the stories from our childhood just the way they are. (Not saying that I don’t like mythological fiction; just stating that this is a refreshing change from the trend. And, who says you can’t like both?!).

Because it is a short read, this is a perfect story to fill in time during commute or while you wait for people at meetings. If you have children who love bedtime stories, I’ll also recommend that you have this book on your Kindle (the device or the app).

From writing steamy romances to mythology now, I am in awe of Sundari’s writing prowess. Read this book for just that, if nothing else.

The Numbers

A 5/5 for this one.

Disclaimer

I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review. The reviews expressed herein are solely my own.

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Malhotra Bride by Sundari Venkatraman

Not been there, so I don’t know how it feels when one decides whether the other person is the one or not. But I do know that arranged marriages in India are a tricky business. In just about an hour of meeting somebody, you are to decide if you want to spend your entire life with them or no.

Sundari Venkatraman, who is one of my favorite people on this planet, tackles this subject in one of her first books, The Malhotra Bride, which recently came out in paperback.

The Malhotra Bride

About the story

The Malhotra Bride is the story of 20-year-old Sunita whose family insists that she now settle down in life. Translate to, get married. But Sunita is ambitious and wants to have a career before a husband. Coming to her rescue is the handsome Akshay, who promises that he’ll help her fulfil all her dreams when she has married him.

The story is about how Sunita takes a leap of faith to enter into a contract marriage with a stranger, who seems to know her better than her own family.

You can read the blurb here.

My Review

I stoically believe that 20 is not the age for someone to get married. Especially today, the Instagram age, where appearances are in the driver’s seat and feelings or the ability to understand them has taken a back seat. But then, these things sometimes get so circumstantial that no one can do anything about it.

Through Sunita’s dilemma and Akshay’s understanding, Sundari sends out a strong message about what it takes to make a relationship work. And she does that without being too preachy about it.

Sunita starts off a confused but determined young girl, who decides she doesn’t want to marry. Marriage to her is living by another’s consent, especially because this is what she has seen in her own house. Can’t blame the girl, really. However, Sunita’s naivete in the beginning really started getting to me. I wasn’t irritated, really, but I had this constant feeling to go shake her out of her confusion and insistence. Akshay is the kind of man that every girl dreams of.

While I liked how the two main characters were written, but I thought the secondary characters could have been better. They are either completely sweet and understanding or too rigid in their beliefs. I would have liked it better if a few characters were a little grey.

The star is definitely the story and how Sunita goes from being a confused, damsel-in-distress to a young woman who finally starts believing in her own dreams.

If you are somebody who likes romances and stories rooted in the Indian culture, this is definitely a recommended read.

The Numbers

A 3/5 for this one.

Disclaimer

I got a review copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review. The review is solely my opinion of the story.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Crossing Lines by Aarti V. Raman

I am a fan of strong characters in stories. And I am an even bigger fan of authors that can create strong characters. Aarti V. Raman features in that list and I know she is going to stay.

About the book

Book 2 in the Geeks of Caltech series, Crossing Lines is the story of Shiv and Naina. Shiv has a past that he is not particularly keen on making his present and is looking to rebuild his life like what he’d define normal. Naina’s presence in his life, however, makes him realize how much of a bad news he can be.

Naina, from the time she meets him, has this inane urge to protect Shiv, to fix whatever is wrong with him and his heart, literally. What she doesn’t know is that in protecting him, she might just end up risking her own heart.

Having told you what the story is about, I personally think that the blurb of this book is one of the stars. Why don’t you read it for yourself here?

My Review

Be it Abeer and Meera (With You I Dance), Dev and Zara (Still Not Over You), or Shiv and Naina, Aarti creates characters that you can relate with. Visualize. And that is not limited to just her characters; it also extends to the scenes and emotions she is exploring.

Keeping up with book 1 in the series, Still Not Over Youthis one is also about second chances, but, obviously, with a difference. I wouldn’t call the theme unexplored, but Aarti adds her touch to the story, making it her story. The struggles that Shiv and Naina go through and the dilemmas they face are what a lot of readers will identify with.

And the best part, she uses simple words, that you and I can understand and visualize clearly. (I still haven’t gotten over with the way she wrote about Sycamore drive in Still Not Over You, and I think I never will.)

Coming to her writing style, all I can say is that Aarti has a fan forever in me. Aarti has a typical writing style, which is very much like she were conversing with you. It is like, because she cannot speaks to her readers directly, she makes sure her words carry every emotion she wants you to feel.

And that cover! Just go see it for yourself, because I can have only so many words in this post.

If visualization is what you are rooting for in a story, pick up this book. If you are looking for something that will bring you out of a reading slump, pick up this book. If you are looking for company with that Sunday brunch on a summer afternoon, pick up this book. If your weekend night plans include curling up with a book, pick up this book.

In short, PICK UP THIS BOOK!

The Numbers

5/5 for this one, because I loved it more than Still Not Over You!

Disclaimer

Thank you Aarti, for having me as your beta reader and for involving me in little discussions that impacted the book in a big way!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Asmara’s Summer by Andaleeb Wajid

I discovered this personification of sass called Andaleeb Wajid when a line from her book When She Went Away was the prompt for a writing contest. And she has turned out to be such a wonderful discovery. From her Instagram posts to her novels, Andaleeb is a treasure to know.

Asmara's Summer

The Blurb

Asmara’s Summer is the story of 17-year-old Asmara, who was hoping and planning to spend her summer vacation with her family in Canada. Instead, she now has to stay at her maternal grandparents’ in a nondescript locality in Bengaluru. Translates to a place and people that Asmara and her friends consider downmarket.

You can read the full blurb here.

My Review

I had, at first, thought that this was a teenage love story, something that, unless written well, I’ve lost the patience for. But I kept aside that prejudice because, even if it was, I wanted to see how Andaleeb wrote it.

The most important purpose of me writing this review is because I don’t want you to miss a chance to read anything by this fabulous author.

I am pretty sure that you would have guessed this one to be a very predictable one, especially if you have read the blurb. And I am not going to deny that. It certainly is a predictable story. But not without its share of surprises, ones that actually make your jaw drop. I also think that to make a story as predictable as this one is what helps a reader understand an author’s ability to spin a story. While the plot is familiar, how the story goes ahead, the little moments, the little things related to culture and life in a certain place give Asmara’s Summer the freshness that is one of the surprises.

Andaleeb’s writing kept me hooked throughout, and in spite of running schedules that don’t let me have a lot of reading time (read: my poor time management skills), I finished this one pretty faster than I thought.

Asmara, obviously, gets her sass from her creator, making her a delightful character. A character like hers could have been painted as selfish very easily. Or, to rephrase, if not written correctly, readers would have thought her to be selfish quite easily. But here, while I did criticize Asmara for her resistance and prejudice, I still empathized with her.

And while this is a short read, Andaleeb still manages to not make it look hurried. Asmara’s equation with every other character is defined and explored well, and nowhere does the story seem hurried or loose.

And, of course, I have to stay how funny it is. I laughed my heart out and was thoroughly impressed at how she made it funny but not trivial.

If you are looking for an Indian YA author, you cannot and should not miss Andaleeb. By the way, you know what I am doing at the time this review goes live? Reading Andaleeb’s latest, Twenty Nine going on Thirty.

The Numbers

What makes you think I’ll give this one less than a 5!