Book Review: Encounters of a Fat Bride

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Title: Encounters of a Fat Bride

Author: Samah Visaria

Pages: 159 pages

Plot: Madhurima Pandey is twenty-five, single, and gradually coming to terms with the annoying ‘you’re next’ nudges from family and friends. But soon they realize that chances of finding a groom for her are slim-mainly because she’s not. At 93 kilos, she knows she isn’t the ideal weight for marriage, even if her family believes she’s the ideal age.
Despite her reservations, the hunt begins, and so does a spree of rejections until Harsh comes along. Madhu cannot believe that a boy with no obvious flaws has agreed to marry her. Low self-esteem makes her suspect he’s either impotent or a homosexual, but she doesn’t turn down the proposal immediately.
A negligible period of courtship and a hurried engagement follow. But does Madhurima really find her happily-ever-after? Or are there more surprises in store?
Jovial, witty and unapologetically honest, Madhurima Pandey’s story of struggle and survival in the run-up to her D-Day gives you a refreshingly new take on the big fat Indian wedding.

Thoughts: In ‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’ we follow Madurima Pandey, our twenty-five year old protagonist whose family is looking for a groom for her in a typical arrange marriage set up. Madhurima is well educated and independent but not really an “ideal” bride as per the society because she weight 93 kgs. While her friends are having fairytale weddings, she is facing several rejections due to her weight. This causes a serious damage to her self esteem. The story revolves around Madhurima’s struggle to find a groom until the day of her wedding. Even the chapters are titled as a countdown to the wedding.

The book unveils from Madhurima’s perspective. Her sarcasm, anecdotes and take on things add an essence to the story. The flow of the book is seamless and the language is simple. The characters are quite relatable and realistic.  The gamut of arrange marriage and its effects are very well portrayed. I finished reading the entire book in a day. I was eager to find out who and how does Madhurima marry.

The book is a lighthearted, funny read that addresses the issues like body shaming, concept of arrange marriage, dowry, etc in a way that it appeals the reader and also highlights these issue.

Ratings: 4/5

PS: Thank you to the author for giving me a copy of the book for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Spy

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Title: The Spy

Author: Paulo Coelho

Page: 208 pages

Plot: In his new novel, Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Adultery, brings to life one of history’s most enigmatic women: Mata Hari.

HER ONLY CRIME WAS TO BE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN

When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city.

As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men.

But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.

Told in Mata Hari’s voice through her final letter, The Spy is the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to defy convention and who paid the ultimate price.

Thoughts:   The Spy is based on the life of Margaretha Zelle, famously known as Mata Hari an exotic dancer who bewitched the most influential men of her time. The book is a historical fiction based during the World War 1.

As a child, Margaretha Zelle was abused by her school principal. She got married to an Indonesian solider and escaped from her home town. Soon she realized that her husband was an abusive man and she tried to put up with it for a few years but after a point she left him and their daughter behind to find solitude in Paris. In Paris she started a life as an exotic oriental dancer and in no time gained popularity amongst the Parisans for both wrong and the right reasons. Soon her lifestyle brought her into suspicion and she was charged of being a double agent and arrested by the French in 1917.

The opening of the book is with a bang on a very crucial note where Mata Hari is being executed by a firing squad and she refuses to wear a mask and faces her death in the eye. Mata Hari is a tale of a woman who dared to defy the conventional norms of the society and had to pay the price for it. There are many books written on Mata Hari but what sets this book apart is the format of the writing. It is written as a letter from Mata Hari to her lawyer and a reply from her lawyer to her. We feel Mata Hari’s pain, enthusiasm, passion, shame, courage, numbness all of it. The author has taken creative leverage and added his own version of fiction to the real story to make the book interesting.

If you like Paulo Coelho’s book and historical fiction do give this book a shot!

Ratings: 3.5/5

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Book Review: The Corner Office

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Title: The Corner Office

Author: Katerina Baker

Page: 180 pages

Plot: Tara Johnson’s sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she’s one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he’s willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.

Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it’s her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it’s the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he’s still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.

But Tara’s increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand

Thoughts:  ‘Corner Office’ is a contemporary romance novel revolving mainly around Tara Johnson, a thirty five year old, ambitious senior executive, running for the position of a Managing Director at a Fortune 500 company. She has given it her all, ignored her personal life and relationships to reach where she is. But she is not the only one aspiring to be the Managing Director. Richard Boyd, a fellow senior executive, a rival of Tara’s since fifteen years is ready to give it all to become the MD. He is a charmer and he pretty much gets whoever, whatever he wants with much ease. The rivalry and the constant bickering between Tara and Richard is quite a lot of fun to read. Tara has always been a rule abider until the day Adian, joins her team and she gets into a steamy affair with him. This is against the office policy and the story picks up from here on.

Tara’s character is much likable from the beginning itself. I like her go getter spirit, the way she is focused yet when it comes to her mother she leaves everything behind and attends to her needs, even the tiniest ones and the way she inspires her fellow women employees at Women’s Network. Richard’s character is the one that you will strongly dislike at the beginning but fall in love with towards the end. Adian’s behavior was a bit ambiguous and hence the course of his actions was not justified well. His character seemed to change drastically in a short time. I really didn’t understand why such a strong person like Tara did not put him in his place sooner. Towards the end I really wanted to know who gets the corner office and how. Hopefully there will be sequel.

The story is narrated from Tara’s point of view. The writing is smooth and apart from the romance, the premise also offers a lot of corporate politics, stalking, blackmailing, etc. I quite liked the book. It was a quick read. I wish the author good luck for her book release and I definitely look forward to reading more books from her.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: The book releases on 23rd June, 2017.  I would like to thank the author and the publication for sending me the ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Mary Poser

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Title: Mary Poser: Butterflies and white lies as Bollywood Comes to Nashville

Author: Angel A.

Pages: 478 pages

Plot: The recipe for a warm and humorous story…

In a modest bowl of Nashville, gently place a girl who is Country music, Bible belt, and a Steakhouse foodie.

Then add a surprise portion of exotic and handsome Anglo Indian, who is a passionate Bollywood director, vegetarian and Hindu.

Stir vigorously on a bed of intense attraction.

At first, the ingredients will seem to clash and separate.

Keep stirring…

Include a dollop of jealous boyfriend and a meddling mother.

Splash in a serving of fun and mischievous friends. Keep stirring…

Add a dash of crazy aunt and a minister father to keep the flavors working together.

Sprinkle in even more complicated family members to taste.

Cook on high emotions.

The secret ingredient that cuts through the sweetness is a final layer of shocking revelation that adds a surprising depth of flavor.

Finish with a twist of ‘Oh My God! Is she really going to do that?’.

Serve as tasty bite-size chapters in a novel dish of mayhem and madness with a side of Country music and Bollywood dancing.

Thoughts:  This book had me at the mention of Bollywood. I had to pick it up and find out an American’s perception about it. Mary Poser is plotted in Nashville, also known as the Bible belt.

Mary’s family is a traditional Christan family, making her an ideal daughter even if she has to let go off her dreams. Mary attends a Film Festival with her friends one night and meets this dashing Indian film director, Simha. Both are drawn towards each other and connect instantaneously. Bam! Mary’s conscious reminds her that she cannot fall in love with a non Christian man but her heart says otherwise. And the turmoil begins… With on and off communication and a lot of drama, Mary and Simha try to find their way in and out of this situation.

The plot seemed promising but the writing failed to live up to the mark. The characterization demanded more strength. The religiousness and at times racism came across more strongly than the love story. I couldn’t connect with Mary’s character since it didn’t seem realistic. Her choices in life were appalling and seemed too extreme. I enjoyed Mary’s and Simha’s love story in bits and pieces. The fact that for most of the book Mary was dating another guy she wasn’t in love with, diluted the love story.  What I really liked was Rumi’s quote references made at the beginning of each chapter. I loved the end with the butterflies in it.  To wrap it up, this was a mediocre book with mediocre plot and weak characterization.

Ratings: 2.5/5

PS: – Thanks to author for sending me a copy of this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

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Book Review: Bridges- A Daphne White Novel

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Title: Bridges: A Daphne White Novel

Author: Maria Murnane

Pages: 194 pages

Plot: It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears.

And laughter. And love.

The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here’s to the power of friendship!

Thoughts: This is the second book in the Daphne White series. The first one was ‘Wait for the Rain’. This book is about the three Musketeers, Daphne, Skylar and KC whose friendship has lasted from college till mid-forties. They finally decide to meet after their ‘Caribbean vacation’ which was three years back. Skylar is finally getting engaged and invites Daphne and KC to New York to celebrate, as Skyar calls it for a “non bachelorette” weekend.

Daphne has finally completed her first novel and is looking for an agent to help her connect with the publisher. But she faces polite rejections from most of them. She is facing a tough time but refrains to tell her friends. The weekend with Skylar at her fancy apartment, makes Daphne revisit her past choices. KC has a secret of her own. The three women are at a turning point in their lives. What comes next is a lot of drama, outbursts, celebrations and friendship goals.

The author nails the female friendships correctly. I loved every bit of their interaction, the crazy fun they have over the weekend, the support they extended to each other, conceding of fights and just being there for each other in time of need.  It has a ‘Sex and the City’ vibe to it. The book is narrated from Daphne’s point of view. The writing is intruding and crisp. The characters are well woven, quite realistic and the relatable. The story is predictable but still worth a read.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: – Thanks to author for sending me a copy of this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

Book Review: The Nest

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Title: The Nest

Author: Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Pages: 368 pages

Plot: A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

Thoughts: ‘The Nest’ was a semifinalist for the Goodreads Readers Choice Awards 2016 in the best fiction category. I usually like reading family dramas and I had to read this one.

The book is about the Plumb family and the inheritance left by their father called “The Nest”.  The Plumb family siblings, Leo a successful entrepreneur in an unhappy marriage,  Melody, a mother of twin daughters who has a big home morgatage to pay off, Bea who is a short story writer stuck with her long due novel and Jack who lives with his husband Walker and has a loan to pay are eagerly waiting  to receive the inheritance. All the siblings are relying on the inheritance to solve their problems and ensure a secure future until Leo messes it up for everyone with drugs, an accident, a Porsche and a girl. Everyone’s morality and family love comes to a test.

While the plot was ordinary and the ending a cliché, the writing stood apart. The book was narrated from various point of views which could have worked for some readers but it didn’t work for me. At times the point of view changed with in the same paragraph itself. It was really brave and adventurous of the author to do this but it didn’t work well all the time.  There were too many opinions at once. I do like complex characters but I really couldn’t connect with any of the characters. They all seemed shallow, self absorbed and selfish. Maybe if the book had fewer characters or limited Point of views, the empathy factor would have increased. I could only finish the book because it was well written. In short, it is a well written book with a mediocre plot.

Ratings: 3/5

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Book Review: The Indua Challenge

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Title: The Indus Challenge

Author: R. Durgadoss

Pages: 286 pages

Plot: Bharat is in chaos. While the kingdoms fight each other, Alexander’s forces gather for the assault, their leader lured by tales of supernatural weapons and the elixir of immortality. Only one man can save the subcontinent from domination by the Greeks: the young Chandragupta Maurya, trained under the aegis of the ‘dark brahmin’, Chanakya.

When an ancient seal is found, sharing the secrets of the brahmastra, the redoubtable weapon of the Mahabharat, it is up to Rudra, young commander of the Mauryan Nava Yuva Sena and lifelong friend and confidante of Chandragupta, to decode it. Along with his fellow commandos, and with the able guidance of his guru, Rudra embarks on a quest that takes him from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the seas of Rameshwaram, hunting the clues that will lead him to the brahmastra. On the way, he meets the Chiranjivis, ancient beings tasked with divine duties, and learns the secrets behind his own birth and his mysterious powers.

But Rudra must be careful, for not all enemies were dispersed with the death of the mighty Alexander. Treachery lurks in the home, and when Rudra is framed for the attempted murder of his sovereign, he must pull every trick at his disposal to reveal the enemy, and save his kingdom from plunging, once more, into bloodshed and chaos.
A historical, mythological adventure story, The Indus Challenge is sure to appeal to readers interested in the storied past of India and the legends woven into its soil.

Thoughts: The Indus Valley Civilization is based over centuries right from the times of Kuru war to the Kal yuga. The plot is mainly based in the time zone when the Greek King Alexander aims to extend the boundaries of the kingdom across the world, to Chandraguta and Chankya’s conquest to dethrone ‘Nanda- the evil King’ and accomplish an ‘Akhand Bharat’.

The story focuses on the hidden knowledge of unveiling the secrets of Bramastars, Chiranjivi’s and other mythological events. Along with the historical facts about Alexander and Chandragupta, the fictional tale of Rudra, the Yuga Purash is weaved in. The blend of fiction, history and mythology is the highlight of this book.

The most intruding part of the book for me was reading about Alexander and Chandragupta together. We have read of them individually but imagining them together was quite a treat. I loved the historical and mythological insights that the book gave. The drawings and the symbols were very helpful while devouring the book. The narration was crisp but I felt it got too text bookish at times.

If you love historic and mythological tales, you can give this book a shot.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: – Thanks to TBC for sending a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Book Review: A Tapestry of Tears

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Title:  A Tapestry of Tears

Author: Gita V. Reddy

Pages: 190 pages

Plot: Set in the early nineteenth century, A Tapestry of Tears is about female infanticide, and the unmaking of tradition. If a woman gives birth to a female child, she must feed her the noxious sap of the akk plant. That is the tradition, parampara. Veeranwali rebels, and fights to save her offspring.
The other stories span a spectrum of emotions and also bring to life the varied culture and social spectrum of India. Woven into this collection is the past and the present, despair and hope, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Thoughts:  The author, Ms Gita V. Reddy usually writes children fiction. She has ventured into writing short stories for adults with ‘A Tapestry of Tears.’ This book consists of 12 short stories deep rooted in the Indian culture. The stories touch upon various dilemmas that a woman faces. Issues like female infanticide, women’s struggle during partition, female killing, etc are well highlighted. The stories also touch upon an aging mother, self reflection of a person, losing your loved ones, working on marriage etc.

I am not much into reading short stories since I like to empathize with the characters of the book and since short stories are mend to be short, there is a possibility that they lack to offer a well crafted and  well expressed characters. But with this book I must admit that I was able to empathize and well as sympathize with most of the characters and their struggles. The stories are very well narrated and the word flow was seamless. I was immersed in each and every story in this book. My top three picks of stories would be ‘A Tapestry of Tears’, ‘The Quizzing Glasses’, and ‘Only Her Daughter’.

I simply loved this book and would recommend it to all those who like reading stories with female protagonist, books about relationships and emphatic tales. Looking forward to reading many more books by this author.

Ratings: 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: Truly Madly Guilty

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Title:  Truly Madly Guilty

Author:  Liane Moriarty

Pages: 415 pages

Plot: Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Favorite Quote: “There is no special protection when you cross that invisible line from your ordinary life to that parallel world where tragedies happen. It happens just like this. You don’t become someone else. You’re still exactly the same. Everything around you still smells and looks and feels exactly the same.”

Thoughts:  Truly Madly Guilty, won the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards in the Fiction category. I have read a few books by Liane Moriarty and they were pretty interesting so I decided to give this book a read.

This book is about an incidence that takes place, out of the blue which changes the course of life for three families. Who thought a simple BBQ would turn into a fateful event disrupting the normal lives of three families and will leave their marriage, friendship, survival at stake? Will they be able to cope up? Revive? Get back to being normal? Read the book to find out.

The story maneuvered between two months after the BBQ and the day of the BBQ. The mystery is well built but I felt that the revelation didn’t live upto the mark. I was quite a bit disappointed by it since I was anticipating a breath stopping, sharp gasping suspense. The story did seem a little stretched and could have kept the interest of the reader higher with a tighter edit.

There are three couples Sam and Clementine, Erika and Oliver, Vid and Tiffany whose POVs are clearly dissected. Understanding each character and their thoughts, feelings and behivour was effortless. I especially loved Erika’s character and her complicated friendship with Clementine. I really liked the characterization and also the fact that wherever relevant the odd behavioral habits of the individuals were backed up with a psychosocial explanation.

Over all the narration is the strength of the book, there are a few high moments but the story line could have been better.

Ratings: 3/5

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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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