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: Chanakya in Daily Life

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Title: Chanakya in Daily Life

Author: Radhakrishnan Pillai

Pages: 290 pages

Plot: Life is unpredictable and full of challenges. One wrong step and everything can come crashing down. In such a scenario, one often wishes for a roadmap of life, but how is that possible?

Bestselling author Radhakrishnan Pillai’s much-anticipated book, Chanakya in Daily Life, will help you navigate the rough seas of life and stay on course. Covering all aspects of life from the personal to the professional, it will tell you everything from how to begin your day to how to end it, how to choose the right job, stay financially secure, have a happy married life, raise your children the right way, achieve the perfect work-life balance and much more. Like always, Pillai decodes and simplifies the visionary king-maker Chanakya’s teachings from the Arthashastra and Chanakya Niti to provide solutions for any problem that might crop up in any aspect of your life.

Thus, Chanakya in Daily Life is the perfect guru who expects only one thing from the shishya—a willingness to learn.

Thoughts: ‘Chanakya in Daily Life’ is a non-fiction, self help book inspired by the teachings of the great Guru Chanakya’s book ‘Arthshastra’. Mr Pillai has simplified his teachings for a lay man to understand and incorporate in his life.

The book is sectioned into three parts: Personal Life, Professional Life and Family Life. These sections are further distributed in smaller chapters, explaining various aspects and activities one can undertake to improve his life.

The writing is simple and direct. The language is kept simple to be well understood by anyone. The matter is crisp and the book is not dragged with unwanted examples making it a quick read.

We know most of the things that are highlighted in the book but we never tend to incorporate these things thinking for it to be too trivial and petty.  What I liked the most about the book is the fact how small things can make a big difference in our productivity and overall craft our lives.

This book simplifies the knowledge derived from the king maker himself making it easy for a common man to discipline his life and achieve his overall goals.I would recommend this self help book to all those who are looking for a road map to better their personal, professional and family life in tandem.

Ratings: 3.5/5

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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: 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 Review: Finding the Angel

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Title:  Finding the Angel

Author: Rubina Ramesh

Pages: 139 pages

Plot: All She wanted was love…
Shefali is a die-hard romantic. Having lost her parents at a very tender age, she is in search of a place which she can call home. Her passion for Art lands her a job as an art curator to the famous artifacts of the Ranaut Dynasty. When she meets the scion, Aryan Ranaut, she feels that her dream might come true until…
All He wanted was to trust…
Living the life of a modern day Prince is no easy task for the young and dashing Aryan Ranaut. Having lost his father to a rapacious woman, Aryan has severe trust issues. But upon meeting Shefali, he feels he could let down his guard. Until…
All They need is to find The Angel…
Just as Aryan realizes his love for Shefali, one of the most precious artifacts, The Angel, goes missing from the Ranaut collection. All fingers point towards Shefali—more so because she leaves the palace without telling anyone on the very night of the theft.
Finding the Angel is a story where duty clashes with love and lack of trust overrides passion. Under these circumstances, can The Angel bring the star-crossed lovers together?

Thoughts:  “Finding the Angel” is a novel by Rubina Ramesh, the founding member of The Book Club. And there was no chance that I would miss reading this book.

‘The Angel’ mentioned in the title is a rare artifact that goes missing from the Ranuat Dynasty home and the entire plot revolves around finding it, with a passionate love story between a love stuck art curator and an arrogant prince running parallel. Shefali is an art curator by profession who has lost her parents at an early age. She is a person driven by love. A modern day prince, Aryan Ranuat is a charming, womanizer who is arrogant and has major trust issues due to his father. Both are damaged in their own ways. The flames spark between them from the minute they meet but as fate has it they can’t be together, neither can they be apart.

The passion shared between the leads clearly comes across to the reader. I loved how courageous and bold Shefali’s character was. More than the suspense the love story made an impact on me. The book was correctly paced with no pointless descriptions. It was crisp and to the point. The narration manoeuvred between past and the present. I wouldn’t say that the transition was seamless. It was confusing at few points but after reading a bit more the time of incidence taking place became clear.

I loved the story and I personally think that it would make a great Bollywood movie. Once I started the book, it was very difficult to put it aside. I would recommend this book those on the watch out for a royal love story with a suspense angle to it.

Ratings: 4/5

PS: – Thanks to TBC for sending a copy of the 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: A Perfect Murder and Other Stories

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Title:  A Perfect Murder and Other Stories

Author: S.R. Nair

Pages: 170 pages

Plot: A naïve man and a divorcee, a wronged woman’s fight for justice, a poor woman’s desire for an iPad, a charming young man plots to seduce a beautiful, blonde tourist, a staunchly orthodox immigrant’s struggle to assimilate in the U.S. … These are some of the captivating stories in this book which heralds a distinct voice and is a “seriously good read”.

Thoughts:   I have always been a little hesitant to read short stories, until recently when I have read a few short stories in a row and I am becoming fond of short story books. A Perfect Murder and Other Stories by S. R. Nair contains 14 short stories about murder, matrimony, betrayal, greed, dowry harassment, reach of the internet, etc. The book is quite short but it covers wide range of genres. The plot of the stories are based in India and America. Most of the stories are spread across three to four pages except for two, ‘A Perfect Murder’ and ‘Salma’s Fate’ that are around twenty-five pages long.

I liked the fact that the author managed to do justice to each and every story in only 170 pages. The narration is crisp yet apt enough to understand the characters and the plot. All the stories seemed realistic and authentic and the emotions of the characters were easily conveyed. My top three story picks from the book would be ‘Ipad’, ‘Visa for America; and Zubair.

Ipad: This story is about Hira bai who just got aware of the existence of Ipad by her employee’s son who has visited from US. Her innocence and love for her husband are well portrayed in just three pages. The reason she wants an ipad is heart touching.

Visa for America: An executive form US finds his wife on an Indian matrimony site. But love is not always the reason people marry. There is much more to it. I like the mystery created in this story and I loved the end.

Zubair: A progressive Musilm, Zubair, is forced to move to US due to family pressure. He is really concerned about his orthodox wife and kids adjusting to the US culture. But to his surprise he is the one facing trouble while his wife and kids adjust easily to the west.

With gently detached narration, realistic plot and authentic characterization, makes this book is an enjoyable read.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the 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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