Book Review: Cabbing All the Way by Jatin Kuberkar

This book inspired two different thoughts in me. One, in the world that we live in today, anything that saves time and takes away even one of the struggles we deal with everyday is welcomed with open arms. 

Another thing, which I think is the bliss of today’s life, is the strong bonds that develop between strangers-office groups, train groups, gym groups, cab groups are as common as they are endearing.

Jatin takes you on a ride with one such group. The blurb of the book and the cover are both inviting. Jatin’s cab group has twelve people, including him, or twelve minds, as the author prefers to call them, who come together to attempt car pooling as a solution to their exhausting daily commute.

The story is a decent attempt by the author to bring together twelve characters and give each one the same amount of footage; he has done this really well and certainly scores brownie points for it. The story is equally distributed between the twelve characters and, in a way, it is refreshingly different from similar stories belonging to this genre. 

The author’s use of language is good too. He has used some Hyderabad slang here and there, but has also given their English translations/equivalent so that the uninitiated don’t feel left out. 

Another good thing about the story is that it is a short, quick read. It does not unnecessarily drag.
However, there’s one thing that I, as a reader, would’ve liked to see. I would’ve loved to see the author add a little more depth to his characters. Although the story is in first person POV with the author as his namesake, he certainly has done justice in giving space to all his characters. However, I felt that my connect with the rest of characters, as a reader, lacked somewhere. At 150 pages, the story is a short read, so probably adding to it a few more tens would’ve improved the reading experience. 

In all, though, a good debut. If you are looking for a breezy read to accompany that holiday breakfast/brunch or just something that is a companion for your long commute to work, you might want to take a look at this. 

My Rating: I give this one a 3/5. 

Book Review: Crème Brûlée by Ramona Sen

DisclaimerI received a free paperback of this book from Rizwan Khan of Rupa Publications India and Rizwan, I cannot thank you enough for this absolutely wonderful read. The review is my honest opinion about the book and I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

The Blurb:

A quintessential Bengali anglophile, Aabir Mookerjee, is back from Oxford and can often be spotted basking in the comfort of colonial clubs or pottering around his restaurant, E&B, whose chocolate mousse has been garnering all the attention.

Troubles begin when The Mad Hatter opens across town and its attractive young proprietress shows a knack for concocting sweetmeats. Meanwhile, Aabir’s mother and the family priest unite to find him a ‘suitable’ bride. His monosyllabic sister won’t help and his incorrigible friend is too much the flagrant Lothario to be depended upon. Soon, the easily disoriented Aabir finds himself swamped by more ladies than he can handle.

Perhaps the only person who can bring things to a head is his dead grandmother, who watches over the family with an eagle eye from her unearthly abode on the coconut tree.

Hugely engaging, with bountiful laughter, read along to know how Aabir fares, even as he inches closer to the best dessert he can get his hands on and a romance he hadn’t bargained for.

Psst: The reader runs the risk of unappeasable hunger pangs, which is not to be held against this lip-smackingly tasty book

My Review:

Creme Brulee, outright, is one of the most comforting, hilarious, and beautifully written books I’ve read in a while now. There have been very few books that have made reading such a pleasure.
I picked up this book because it promised food. The protagonists  Aabir and Kimaya are restaurateurs, their places famous for their desserts.  The blurb isn’t all that distinguishing. Which is why I expected a normal fight-first-fall-in-love-next kind of story.
But the book surprised me in the best possible way and oh-so-pleasantly. The story flows so beautifully, so smoothly, it is easy to get lost into it and leave all wishes of coming out.
Ramona creates a world that is all desserty (I know there isn’t a word like that )and funny.

The book is written in a very ‘polished’ language, if I may say so and floors you like nothing else. There is a plethora of characters but not one that seems out of place. Every single character, from Thakuma to Debjani, from Purohitmoshai to Geeta, from Aatreyee to Tanuja, from Pepper to Lady Mountbatten, and of course Aabir and Kimaya will win over your heart. Every single character has been portrayed so well, written about so well. I loved how Ramona has weaved Aatryee and her monosyllabic conversations into the story. Wonderful! Aabir and Kimaya are your regular people, but the author has woven a charm around them that is hard to escape. It is hard not to fall in love with these characters-Purohitmoshai included!

My favorite characters: Thakuma (one mean spirit this woman, pun intended), Debjani, and of course the odd job boy!!!

This is one splendid book that I’d really really recommend for everybody to read.

My Rating:

Certainly a 5/5 for this one!


Guest Post: Varsha Dixit on the Right and Wrong series coming to an end

Varsha Dixit is a writer who I am, as a reader and reviewer, totally proud of! Her Right and Wrong series (Right Fit Wrong Shoe, Wrong Means Right End, and Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right) is one of the most enjoyable series I’ve read and I’ve loved all three books, especially the last. Her books have so many emotions floating around that it’s hard to escape the whirlwind.

With Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right, her very popular series has come to an end. As a reader, departing from characters that I’ve been connected to for so long is very emotional experience. And I’ve always wondered how it is like for the author, who has given life to these characters!

Well, Varsha was kind enough to let me know her experience!

Here’s what I asked her: 

You’ve come to the end of a really fun-filled series. How do you feel about it? How easy or difficult was it to come up with the series? Was this how you had planned it always or did the stories come as divine inspiration?

And this is what Varsha has to say:

When I started writing Right Fit Wrong Shoe in 2006 it was more of a cathartic process. Grieving over my father’s demise whom I was extremely close to, I needed something to bring equilibrium. Something that was far removed from the emotional turmoil I was undergoing. Thus I started writing random thoughts and disjointed story ideas. The idea that appealed most to me was a story of best friends. Friendships have always played a very important role in my life and continue to do so. Friends are the family we choose and I have to say I chose well. Just like my two pivotal characters – Sneha and Nandini.

Aditya Sarin was not supposed to feature so largely in the book. However with Nandini and Aditya’s first meeting, on paper, I realized that these two need a book of their own and so did Sneha. Thus a series was born.

When I envisaged Gayatri I thought of her as a quintessential vamp but with a back-story. Even my bad had to have some good, some logic. Thus came Gayatri’s strong bond with Nikhil and why it existed in the first place. That is how ‘Right and Wrong’ series became about three women in three different phases of their lives.

Now that I have written, ‘Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right’, the last book in the series, I feel exultation that all my characters have found their happy ending. However, somewhere inside of me there is a certain ache that I will no longer be writing about the shenanigans of – Gayatri and Viraj, Sneha and Nikhil and Nandini and Aditya. These characters have lived with me since 2006 so there is definitely a void. But I’m an optimistic person and cursed or blessed with an overactive imagination. Thus even though, I will never forget Nanindi, Sneha and Gayatri and their better halves, my journey as an author is far from its end. There will be new characters, crazy plots and more books. For every end is a new beginning.

Thank you Nikita for inviting me to do a guest post on your blog and I wish you the best in all your writings. Good luck to you and your wonderful readers.

Varsha Dixit is the bestselling author of contemporary romance. ‘Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right’ her latest book released in August 2016. To find out more about Varsha and her books visit her website or her author page on Facebook. Twitter: @Varsha20

Guest Post: Sundari Venkatraman on what she’d like for the paparazzi to ask her!

Sundari Venkatraman is undoubtedly one of my very favorite authors. She has everything that takes for one to be a celebrated author: talent, dedication, discipline, passion; all of this is proven by the breakneck speed at which she publishes her novels.

As her beta reader for many of her projects, her reviewer, and an ardent fan, I know for a fact that it isn’t long before she becomes a hot shot celebrity author. 

And it was this that inspired my question when she graciously agreed to do a guest post for my blog.

Here’s what I asked her:

We all dream about being those hot shot celebrity writers someday who the paparazzi goes crazy for. What’s the one question you’d like to be asked when you are interviewed on a national platform one day? And of course, what’ll your answer be?

Over to you Sundari:

Thank you for the thought-provoking question Nikita. And yeah, it’s a tough one 😀
I agree with you when you say that we all aim to be hot shot celebrity writers. The question that I am looking forward to answering the paparazzi is:
Journo: Why did you go independent? Isn’t being an indie author more difficult?
Sundari: To begin with, I didn’t have a choice. I had my books first on my computer and later on my blogs as serials, as I kept receiving rejection after rejection from publishers around the world. Luckily, that never stopped me from writing. 
All this time, the Universe had a different plan for me and it fell into place when I met Rubina Ramesh online. After reading a couple of chapters from a serialised novel on my blog, she asked me if I had ever thought of self-publishing and even pointed me towards Rasana Atreya, a famous indie author. As they say, the rest is history. 
The journey has not been easy. But then again, I wouldn’t call it difficult. Yes, it has been extremely challenging. I have a host of people to thank for my success. My beta readers, my cover artist, all the bloggers who have patiently read and reviewed my books honestly and most importantly, my readers who have made me what I am today – a world famous author. 
I am extremely thankful to Amazon for having made this possible. Life for an indie author has been simplified due to the advent of Amazon. They are the best partners to have on your side. 
Blog tours by The Book Club have been a powerful support for marketing. I realised along the way that I also have a flair for social media marketing. When the marketer and author work shoulder to shoulder, they can create magic is what I see from my experience. 
Yeah, being an indie author is an exhilarating journey, one that I completely relish. 

Book Review: The Smitten Husband by Sundari Venkatraman

Disclaimer: I got this book as a beta-read copy from the very dear Sundari Venkatraman, and I am thankful for the trust she places in me!

With this yet another gem from the treasure trove of stories she holds, Sundari Venkatraman proves one more time why she is called the Queen of Romance. She weaves magic, love, passion with her words with such intensity that you don’t have an option but to drown into her stories. And you come back feeling happy, hopeful, and, most importantly, comforted.

For me Sundari’s books, especially her Marriages Made in India series, are like the sweet old Rajshri movies, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hain. Read her books when you need that dose of comfort and hope.

Another one of her plusses is that she writes in a way that makes the words read themselves out to you. Flowery prose and creating a mini thesaurus is something that she stays from, which kind of becomes the USP of her stories.

The Smitten Husband is the second book in the MMII series. It is the story of Chanda’s (from The Runaway Bridegroom) eldest brother Ram and Sapna, a young, beautiful, fiercely independent, and strong-headed girl.

The characters are sketched well and are pretty relatable. There is a certain level of idealism that comes through, but it isn’t overpowering.

What I liked most about the story was Sapna’s conviction, which might also come across as her adamancy, that her Prince Charming was going to come in her life in a certain way. So much that Ram’s riches, and of course his charms, aren’t enough to get the girl budging. I found that one thing very different from what I’ve read or seen otherwise.

The story is simple and sweet, and short enough that you could just curl up with it for a few hours and have an enjoyable reading session.

My Rating:

A certain 5/5 for this one.

Book Review: The Mahabharata Code by Karthik K. B. Rao

DisclaimerI received a review copy of this book from Karthik K. B. Rao (the author of this book) and Rubina Ramesh (of The Book Club). Thank you guys, for an intriguing read! 

TMC by Karthik Rao is how a software engineer would recreate the Mahabharata. The terminology and techniques are all technology.

In a lot of places, the way the author translates mythology into technology is exemplary, certainly a job well done.

The story moves between the protagonist’s past and present, and while the author has made an effort to make a distinction, in some places the transition is confusing.
I thought that the prose stretched a little, especially in about the last 50 pages. In some places, managing the patience to keep reading required effort.

The author uses a decent vocabulary and language, and the book scores well on the editing part too. Except for the frequent repetition of certain phrases, it is a decent effort.

It is apparent that the author has given enough thought to what he’s writing and has done his research well. However, though this is a retelling of the Mahabharata, I got the feeling that the author is more biased towards the Ramayana, a little more in favor of Rama than of Krishna.

If you are a technology buff, you might want to give this one a try. If you aren’t, the story may not really grip you so much, but you might want to read for the sheer beauty of how the author, very imaginatively, swaps mythology with technology.

My Rating:

I’ll give this one a 4/5.

Book Review: Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right by Varsha Dixit

Disclaimer: I received a  free paperback of this book from Rupa Publications (the publishers of this book) and Varsha Dixit (the author of this book) as part of the book’s blog tour being conducted by The Book Club. Thank you Rupa, Varsha, and Rubina Ramesh of the fabulous TBC!

RWWR is the third installment in Varsha’s quirky and humorous series of three love stories. And by all means and parameters, this one’s certainly the best one.

RWWR is the story of Gayatri and Viraj. Gayatri is Nikhil’s  (introduced in Right Fit Wrong Shoe and the male protag of book #2 Wrong Means Right End) foster sister, and Viraj is the ‘mad’ scientist who works for Nikhil and Aditya (the male protag of book #1 Right Fit Wrong Shoe).

Gayatri and Viraj are shown to be people who fiercely guard their innermost feelings, thoughts, and demons from everybody except themselves. If you’ve read the earlier two books, you’d know the vamp that Gayatri was, or still is?!

The way Gayatri has been portrayed floors you, all the more if you’ve read the previous books. She inspires you and makes you want to know more about her. It makes you wish that she doesn’t have to go through the ups and downs of life that she does, some really harsh and some that give you goosebumps.

Viraj is eccentric. And Varsha has shown this amazingly! His conversations with his ‘audience’ of everyday is amusing, to say the least. The characters, of course, are dealing with their own demons but the past isn’t too overwhelming. What’s been done well, is Varsha’s attempt to tell you that the past is only as important as we make it to be. It could be a deterrent, it could be a motivator. But it should be you who decides what it means for you.

And now for what won my heart over! The effortless flow of the story. The story flows beautifully, no situation seeming out of place or a leap of faith or handled insufficiently. The simple language used adds to the list of what makes this book a page turner.

My Rating:

A 4/5 for this one!