Book Review: Deceived

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Title: Deceived

Author: Heena Rathore P.

Pages: 350 pages

Plot: How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiving betrayal.

Thoughts: Let me start by saying that this is Heena Rathore’s debut novel and I was blown over by the plot, the writing and the suspense build up. ‘Deceived’ is a psychological thriller tracing the unsolved murders from the past and the recent ones. The story starts with a news article from the 1970’s about a missing teenage daughter who is the prime suspect of her parents’ murder. In present, the story revolves around Allison, whose mother and brother were brutally murdered when she was a child. She lives with her roommate Sam and her well trained pet dog Max, until one day when she decides to move in with her boyfriend Danny. Steve, Allison’s cousin who is also a journalist decides to trace the recent murders with a motive to find the killer of his aunt and cousin. The more he finds out the dangerous it gets…

At the beginning of the novel the author has given clear distinction in traits of a psychopath and a sociopath that helps a person with a non psychological background like me to distinguish the trait of the characters in the book.  I simply loved the way the story was narrated from different perspectives. The journal entries from the psychopathic murderer were the most chilling part of the book. The outcome of the darker side of love, obsession, betrayal and revenge makes the book a must read for all the psychological novel lovers. . This book couldn’t have had a more appropriate cover. I simply loved it. I was expecting a little more from the ending since the buildup was phenomenal. Never the less the book was a page turner and I could barely put it down.

I would recommend this book to all the people who love psychological thrillers. I am sure this won’t disappoint you.

Ratings: 4/5

PS: – Thanks to the Citrus Publication and the author for sending a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Book Reviews: The Girls

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Title:  The Girls

Author: Emma Cline

Pages: 355 pages

Plot: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Favorite Quote: “…I was confusing familiarity with happiness. Because that was there even when love wasn’t…”

Thoughts:   There was a lot of hype around this book and it was a close winner of the Goodread  Readers Choice Awards 2017 for the Fiction category. I finally got a chance to read this book this month.

14 year old Evie, daughter of a divorced couple seems to lead a rather dull life until one day she spots a group of unkempt girls in the park. They are confident, carefree, with no care of being accepted, just being themselves, everything Evie is not. Suzanne from the group particulary caught Evie’s fancy and her obsession begins. She starts mingling with the cult which the society dreads, spending more and more time with them, filling the void. Over the period of time her obsession with Suzanne intensifies to the level where there is no line between right or wrong.

This is not a regular teenager coming of age novel; it is much deeper and intellectually well rooted. The plot is based in North California in 1960. The author has done a commendable job in bringing this era to life with her narration. The book unveils from Evie’s point of view transcending between the past and the present seamlessly. The book is very well written but at few places like description of a simple meals, etc is overly written.  The pace of the story is a little slower than it should have been. The characters were well carved but I honestly could not connect to any of them. I found Evie’s character annoying at the beginning and later her choices made me roll my eyes, but I really didn’t sympathize with her at any point. But I loved the parts where Evie nails the worlds perception about girls in genral and their illusionary love that fixes things.In all the book didn’t really impress me but few parts made the read worthwhile.

Ratings: 3/5

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Book Review: The Legend of Laxmi Prasad

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Title: The Legend of Laxmi Prasad

Author: Twinkle Khanna

Pages: 233 pages

Plot:  A collection of utterly magical stories that will leave you crying, laughing and wholly enchanted.
A gangly young girl transforms her village with a revolutionary idea. Sixty-eight-year-old Noni Appa finds herself drawn to a married man – ‘Why do people have to define relationships, underline each word till the paper gives way beneath,’ she wonders. Bablu Kewat becomes obsessed with sanitary napkins much to his family’s horror, and a young woman keeps checking the weather forecast as she meticulously plans each of her five weddings. Funny, observant and wise, this is storytelling at its most irresistible.

Favorite Quote: “Life is but a play of chance in the game of choice.”

Thoughts:  I am a fan of Twinkle Khanna’s quick wits, her sense of humor and her unapologetic views on various issues. She dares to bare her thoughts to the world which is visibly evident in her tweets and columns for TOI.  The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad is the second book from the author. I quite enjoyed Mrs Funnybones which was classified from A to Z taking us through various facets of her life.

This book is a collection of four short stories with lead protagonists breaking the ideologies and societal norms and bringing transformation in the society in their own ways. The first three stories have a strong female protagonist and the fourth one is a male character, inspired from the real life, who is working against the tide to help female hygiene and sanitation. Let’s dig in a little more into these characters.

Laxmi- Laxmi had always seen that women were treated as a burden in her village. Birth of a girl child brought a hefty load of dowry. Until the time Laxmi decides to bring a change and comes up with an idea so simple but so meaningful that the birth of a girl becomes a reason to celebrate. I loved Laxmi’s character and the fact that how simple thoughts can change lives of generations to come. I especially loved the note on which the story ended.

Noni Appa- 68 year old Noni Appa is a lonely widow, whose only daughter is settled in London. Her only support system is her younger sister Binni. Noni Appa and Binni both decide to take up yoga classes with Anandji. Noni Appa finds herself drawn to her yoga teacher and dwells on the thought ‘log kya kahenge’ until she breaks free. I loved the relationship Noni Appa and Binni shared and how supportive Binni and Noni Appa’s daughter was of her decision. I loved the fact that Noni Appa broke free from “log kya kahenge’ and set an example for the society.

Elisa Thomas- Elisa was married for five times with five weird men. Sooner than later she got back to her parents house leaving her marriage behind. Her well educated father always said that ‘a man is a man is man’. The story intended to bring out the fact that according to the society, independent, well-educated women need a man to survive in the society even if the man in her life is insane or just for the namesake.

Bablu Kewat- Inspired from the achievements of Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man famously known as the man who wore a sanitary pad. All Bablu Kewat wanted was to make a low cost sanitary napkin which will benefit the women who cannot afford the expensive sanitary napkins sold by the big conglomerates. Little did he know that his noble intentions would be misread and he will lose his friends, family and respect? But this didn’t stop him until he achieved his goal. This story stood apart in the book because it was the only story with a male protagonist thriving to make a change for the female sanitization which was considered a as a female problem, a taboo to be spoken about.

The stories are simply narrated and various issues are highlighted. There are times where Khanna’s cynical narration makes the reader grin. It is a quick read for all the Twinkle Khanna fans.

Ratings: 3.5/5

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Book Review: Soulless

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Title:  Soulless

Author:  M.V.Kasi

Pages: 303 pages

Plot: They say when you take revenge you lose a part of your soul.

But Sia hadn’t felt her soul in a very long time. She only knew the feeling of soul-crushing fear and helplessness. Especially during the nights, when she fought an invisible enemy that terrorized her during the nightmares. Her days weren’t any better either. She spent them desperately trying to gain control of her life while battling her various fears and addictions.
She was only twenty three, but she had resigned herself to live the rest of her life that way. Fearing the unknown.
Until it all changed one day.
Now she remembered. And she knew. She knew that the monster from her nightmares was real. And also that her soul had been ripped apart from her.
The memories brought in fear, rage and pain, along with a strong craving for a swift payback.
But revenge was a dish best served cold. And it required a complete absence of emotion.
So now? Now she plotted. And she schemed. She prepared herself in every possible way to hunt and destroy her enemy.
But every mission, however well planned can go awry. Sometimes it’s because even though one can be soulless, there is always the heart. A very weak and desperate heart that was being stolen by a man.
A man who was like a bright spark of vivid colors in her otherwise dark and dreary life.
A man who was only supposed to be collateral damage in her ultimate war.

Thoughts:  Soulless is a revengeful tale that brings out the psychological repercussion of unresolved traumatic childhood issues with a lot of jaw dropping twists.

Sia, our protagonist is an heir to a successful empire, Blush International. She is a strong, ambitious and talented with severe psychological issues that keep her up at night. She is a girl with a revengeful mission whose soul has been ripped out as a child. She moves to Hyderabad from Boston to accomplish her operation when she meets Ajay, a handsome and successful young entrepreneur who is bent upon taking Sia out on a date in spite of her repeated cold detached refusals.

The story is well narrated and fast paced. I was looped in right from the beginning till the end. The narration maneuvers interestingly between past and present, unveiling the plot twists little by little. The name of the book and the cover are totally apt for the plot.  I loved the characterization since I was able to empathize and sympathize with both Sia and Ajay. I loved their sizzling chemistry, the way they try to one up the other each time.

I did feel though that Jo and her family accepted things too easily which seemed a bit unrealistic to me. I absolutely despised the way the book ended abruptly at the turning point. Hopefully the story will pick up right from where we left in the sequel titled ‘Ruthless’.

Overall, this book is quite an interesting read with ample of twists and a strong characterization.  Eagerly looking forward to read the sequel.

Ratings: 4/5

Grab  your copy @ Amazon.com Amazon.in Amazon.co.uk

About the author: By day, MV Kasi works for a software company. She currently lives in Hyderabad, India with her husband and son. By night, she gives in to her fascination to explore the human psychology and the various facets of life in her writing. She has particular fascination with successful people who are not considered ‘normal’ by society’s standards. Her love for reading has led her to start writing on her own. She likes to add depth to her characters and explore their psychological motivations. Due to the nature of topics and plots, she does not shy away from writing about sexuality or violence. Despite covering some heavy topics, she likes to infuse humor into her writing.

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Book Review: Behind Closed Doors

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Title:  Behind Closed Doors

Author:  B.A. Paris

Pages: 304 pages

Plot: Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Thoughts: Behind Closed Doors was a semifinalist in Goodreads’ best mystery/thriller 2016 category. I would start by saying sorry for subtle spoilers in the review, but I had to let it out.

The book is about a married couple Grace and Jack, who are perfect in the eyes of the world but have a very unusual dimension of life inside the house. Grace is an epitome of a perfect wife for the world, but she is carrying the burden of secrets she dare not share with anyone. Jack is a handsome and a successful lawyer, who specializes in defending victims of domestic violence. But appearance can be deceiving.  Grace had a younger sister, Millie, who was born with a down syndrome. She was soon going to move out of the boarding school and move in with them. But Jack has some special plans that give Grace nightmares.

Bravo to B.A. Paris for writing such an amazing debut novel.  The plot was unlike any other suspense novel I have read and I loved the narration, flow and the characterization. The narration was fast paced, gripping and consuming. It was so well plotted and narrated that shivers and panic ran down my body a couple of times.  I simply loved the characterization. I loathed the psychopath Jack’s character to the core and felt protective about Grace. I loved how seamlessly the story swirled between the past and the present creating a confluence in tale at a point.

I especially loved the end conversation between Esther and Grace. How understanding and sharp Esther was. Also, even Mille could identify Jack’s evilness and how her act instilled fresh hope and courage in Grace. I read this book over a period of two days and I must say that my heart was at peace only when the book ended. The book left me with a lot of after thoughts mainly if Grace could have planned an escape sooner?

All the mystery/suspense lovers watch out for this one.

Ratings: 5/5

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Book Review: Multitudes of Ripples

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Title:  The Multitudes of Ripples

Author:  Vaachakmitra

Pages: 276 pages

Plot: The novel is a first person narrative of an entrepreneur who struggles to make sense of his life. He reconstructs his memory while recuperating from a nervous breakdown. The distortion in his narrative is not only the manifestation of psychopathology of his mind but also an exploration of human values. The novel demonstrates how optimism incorporates meaningful semantics even in the face of psychopathology. The dualism of hope and pathos creates a touch of absurd, almost reminiscent of Kafka and Camus

About the Author: The author is a research scientist by training. He is a technical consultant who works in an advisory capacity to the pharmaceutical industry. He specializes in intellectual property, technology up gradation and information technology. He is a science writer specializing in theoretical and philosophical foundations of modern scientific thought.

Thoughts: The book is a tale of a person who is trying to make sense out of his life. The narration is in the first person and more autobiographical in nature. The story unveils in-detailed incidents that take place in the life of the protagonist right from childhood and then on.

The plot is based in Mumbai and the city of ‘Mohmayi’ which is a parallel universe created in the author’s imagination. Our protagonist seemingly has alter egos, Manas in Mumbai and Nachiket in Mohmayi. The story efficiently highlights the psychological and philosophical state of a person who has lost a loved one and the emotional turmoil.

The cover and the blurb itself were intruding enough to make me pick this book, but I was a little disappointed with the slow pace and excessive detailing of the story. The book could have been much crisper enough to hold the readers interest till the end.

Ratings: 3/5

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Book Review: By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

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Title:  By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Author:  Paulo Coelho

Pages: 208 pages

Plot: Rarely does adolescent love reach its full potential, but what happens when two young lovers reunite after eleven years? Time has transformed Pilar into a strong and independent woman, while her devoted childhood friend has grown into a handsome and charismatic spiritual leader. She has learned well how to bury her feelings . . . and he has turned to religion as a refuge from his raging inner conflicts.

Now they are together once again, embarking on a journey fraught with difficulties, as long-buried demons of blame and resentment resurface after more than a decade. But in a small village in the French Pyrenees, by the waters of the River Piedra, a most special relationship will be reexamined in the dazzling light of some of life’s biggest questions.

Favorite Quote: “Life takes us by surprise and orders us to move toward the unknown -even when we don’t want to and when we think we don’t need to.”

Thoughts:  By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept is a tale of spiritual journey of love, sufferings and relationships. Just like most of the Paulo Coelho books, this book too projects things which have a greater meaning in life.

Pilar our protagonist is an independent woman whose expectations from life are getting a job, marrying having kids and living a normal life. Until she meets her childhood love who is a spiritual leader, who sees the world with a different perspective. He has the power to heal the pain and his destiny is to serve the world.

The narration of the book is very poetic and dreamy; the words pierce right through your soul making it a surreal reading experience. The story is average but the mystical narration makes up for it. I love that God is believed to be a female figure. I did miss out on a lot of Catholic references made in the book since I don’t understand Catholicism much but I could quite connect with the explanation of accepting, loving, surrendering, suffering and losing.

I would recommend this book to all those who are firstly Paulo Coelho fans and secondly interested in a well narrated story.

Ratings: 3.5/5

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Book Review: Love Muffin and Chai Latte

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Title:  Love Muffin and Chai Latte

Author:  Anya Wylde

Pages: 300 pages

Plot: Clear your calendar, turn on your voicemail and get cozy on the sofa as Anya Wylde has decided to dip her toes into the world of contemporary romance …

Love Muffin and Chai Latte follows the journey of Tabitha Lee Timmons as she deals with financial stress, loony relatives, some crooks, an unhappy bride to be, a grumpy old man and two heartbreakingly handsome men.

Love Muffin and Chai Latte is a contemporary romance novel where West meets the East. Tabby our protagonist has migrated to England from America after one tragic happening in life. She has lost her job, her house and is on the street when her yearlong boyfriend, Chris proposes to her. She is confused at first but accepts the proposal.  She finds out later that day that his actual name is Chandramohan and she has to learn everything about the Indian culture before meeting Chris’s rich, orthodox, traditional family. Maya, Chris’s sister steps in to help them and the story picks up from there.  Tabby visits India and meets Chris’s extended family. She finds it difficult at first to cope up but pretty soon she adjusts to the culture and becomes a part of the family. She particularly becomes close to Maya and Dev, a cousin of Chris. I won’t say more about the story since I don’t want to leak any spoilers.

I would refrain from calling it a romance novel. I would rather categorize it in humor or drama. The narration was pretty good. The interactions though could have been woven in a comprehensible manner.   There were a lot of interesting plots. Diversity in cultures is well highlighted. There were moments in the book that made me laugh out loud but few of the jokes were really cheesy. I thought the book was too filmy, in a way inspired from a Bollywood movie. Few plots were too hard to believe. Haven said that if you leave logic at bay, this book was a quick fun read.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

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Book Review: Hello, Agnieszka! (Between Two Worlds #2)

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Title:  Hello, Agnieszka! (Between Two Worlds #2)

Author:  E. Journey

 Pages: 275 pages

Plot: A raw tale of early love, rivalry and betrayal.
A passion for music. Her oldest son’s suicide attempt forces Agnieszka to reveal a past she has kept from her children. A young Agnieszka discovers a passion for music upon hearing her grand-aunt Jola, a concert pianist in Poland, give a recital. Jola hones her talent and feeds her dreams of becoming a concert pianist.
Shattered dreams. But real-world problems, thorny relations with a mother tied to her roots and betrayal by lusty Aunt Jola a shatter her dreams.
A 70s love story. Young Agnieszka finds love that renews her hopes for happiness. Sadly, it ends, cut short by forces outside anyone’s control. Sustained by music and memories of her first love, Agnieszka grows and gets a second chance at happiness.

What happens when you have to disclose the past that you were trying to bury to protect your children? Hello, Agnieska the second book in Between Two Worlds series is all about the buried past re-routing itself into the present. In the last book, Hello, My love we see the ups and downs in Elise & Gerg’s relationship. The second book picks up from where we left, but the difference is that the protagonist of this book is Elise’s mother, Agnieska.

Agnieska is forced to reveal her past to her children when her eldest son, Peter tries to commit suicide out of depression and is diagnosed with a genetic disease.   The book takes us through Agniseka’s rough childhood, her tough relationship with her mother. She finds herself drawn to becoming a pianist when she hears her aunt Jola play and playing the piano becomes her only comfort through her rough days.

The story is poignant and churns a lot of emotions in the reader. Agnieska comes across as a very strong character, making her and inspiration for turning around things in life. She is an epitome of strength and determination. The narration is evocative and I loved this book much more than the first one.

This book is a tale about heartbreaks, rough childhood, loving and losing, hitting the rock bottom and learning to rise again.

Rating: 4.5/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

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Book Review: I Am The Ocean

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Title:  I Am The Ocean

Author:  Samita Sarkar

Pages: 204 pages

Plot: Samita Sarkar thought she was destined to spend her entire life running. Never giving herself a moment’s rest, she studied hard and graduated from university with top grades, and then promptly began a tireless job search. But although she thought that she had done everything by the book, life still hadn’t given her any answers. She knew that God had a plan, but what was it? Stricken with anxiety while facing midsummer heat and sizable life decisions, the thrifty twenty-something Canadian–who had never before travelled for travel’s sake–purchased a discount bus ticket for what she thought would be a few weeks of reprieve in The United States. Embarking on her journey with nothing but a small suitcase, a broken handbag, a killer manicure and a copy of “The Bhagavad Gita,” Samita would spend her days wandering streets and beaches, and her nights in jostling buses or on cramped couches. Marvelling at the beauty around her, Samita finally discovered what the world has to offer to those who stop running, while learning lessons that would set the course of the rest of her life.

This book is a travel memoir of a twenty something Canadian girl who has just graduated from the university with top grades and is on an exhausting job hunt. Until one day she decides to break the monotony of life and embarks upon a physical and a spiritual journey along the east coast of the USA, on a very little sum of money and the holy ‘Bhagvat Gita’. I simply loved the references from ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ which were quoted from time to time. It truly added a flavor to the book. I loved the staunch faith she has in the almighty, her friend, Krishna.

The book takes us through the various regions of USA and brings out the peculiarity of each place. It was fun to read about the interesting characters that the author met during her journey. The entire journey molded her into the person she is today. Truly travelling alone makes you more courageous, confident and self aware. The narration is so good that I actually felt that I was traveling with the author. After reading the book, I was bit by a travel bug and I am inspired to take up a solo trip myself.

This book is recommended to all the people who love to travel and to those who are looking to choose a path for themselves rather than letting life decide the course.

Ratings- 4/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

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