Posted in Books

Book Review: The Longest Ride, by Nicholas Sparks

The thing about popular authors is that their reputation precedes them. Even if I haven’t read their books or know their style, just by the way people around me rave about their work, I feel that their books will, or should, have that quality in their work. There are exceptions to this case of course, but when I hear Nicholas Sparks, I imagine that he’s at the top when it comes to romance fiction, considering my sister is one huge fan of his work. Continue reading “Book Review: The Longest Ride, by Nicholas Sparks”

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Book Review: Wise Enough To Be Foolish, by Gauri Jayaram

About the author:
Gauri Jayaram is a mother of two girls, amateur athlete and a part-time writer. She is also a management school drop-out, traveller, entrepreneur, and in full time employment with the world’s largest escorted touring company. She is a little bit of many things, and still not satisfied. This book is her debut offering. Continue reading “Book Review: Wise Enough To Be Foolish, by Gauri Jayaram”

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Book Review: Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri

About the author:
Jhumpa Lahiri is an London-born Indian author, whose work has won international acclaim including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and being shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize. She is also a member of the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, appointed by Barack Obama.

My thoughts:
Life… life isn’t always only roses without the thorns. It usually never is, but sometimes, if things seem to be going well, then it would feel like it is. Most novels hinge around getting that rosy, all-is-well, happy ending that life, in that situation, might not get. We’re happy to read that, I guess, because we know that alternative thorny ending, and we wouldn’t want to wish it upon anyone, not even a fictional character. Reading a story that takes us into the skin of a character makes us feel like that character is more than that.

This is the first time I’m reading a Jhumpa Lahiri creation. I’ve heard of her works, and a couple sit in my wishlist still. The first thing I found linking the stories was the Bengali backgrounds, and then immediately, the foreign setting. This was both a positive and a negative about the book. Whereas I liked that the characters had accomplished something, were settled in life and had good things going their way too, the common backgrounds after a couple of stories became repetitive. Different, distinct characters yes, but they felt same after a while. The other thing that links the stories of course is that not all endings are happy. They’re more realistic than fictional. It was a twist perhaps, but one that went with the flow. So it felt nice to read even with the depth. For me, the best story, though I liked the story Unaccustomed Earth, was the one titled Only Goodness. A sibling’s world perhaps, but not one that I would find understanding in my life.

The book goes into the intricacies of relationships and pulls us in easily. Not a fun read, but it makes us return to it, mull over it. Thought-provoking and realistic, a book that’ll stay in my bookshelf for a long time to come.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book Details:
Title: Unaccustomed Earth
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
ISBN: 9788184000603
Genre: Short Stories / Fiction
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR 295

 


This book was given to me for review by Random House India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(Oct 6th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Chokher Bali, by Rabindranath Tagore

About the author:
Rabindranath Tagore is possibly the most famous poet to come from India. For his beautiful, profound and sensitive verses, which expressed his poetic thought, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

My thoughts:
There are some stories that have you hooked by the characters, the setting of the novel and the simplicity of the language. These books, I feel, are very rare. One such book I came across was written by one of my favorite poets, one of the greatest writers and one who is well respected around the world. Rabindranath Tagore is known more for his soul stirring verses perhaps than his novels, but a book by him still appealed to me and it was as good as poetry in prose.

Chokher Bali is not a story that all would love. It doesn’t flow quickly, and neither can it be finished in one day. It’s a family drama, set in the time when families were more orthodox than they are now. It speaks of traditions and superstitions. It is the story of the young widow Binodini, who follows the customs by returning to her village to live there for a couple of months after her husband’s death, yet accepts the invite into the house of Rajlakshmi, who lives with her son Mahendra and his wife, the young and naive Ashalata. The story is about the intricacies of emotions like love, passion and desire. Not just the love of Mahendra for Ashalata, but of Mahendra’s love for his mother, his mother’s affection for Binodini, Bihari babu’s deep friendship with Mahendra, the odd friendship formed between Ashalata and Binodini and a lot other inset emotions. But most of all its of that love of Mahendra towards Binodini, who he thinks is more a match for him than Ashalata.

The story weaves in and out of the lives of these characters with consummate ease, stitching culture and love together. Tagore creates deep characters and tells more with simple words better than any writer I know of. He takes us back to the time of British India flawlessly. If I knew to read Bengali, I would read the original. There’s always something different in a translation. I’ve to read some of his other works now, prose ones I mean. It’s beautiful to have a story speak to you.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book Details:
Title: Chokher Bali
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Translated by: Radha Chakravarty
ISBN: 9788184003048
Genre: Fiction/Drama
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR 299

 


This book was given to me for review by Random House India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(Oct 6th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: A Maverick Heart: Between Love and Life, by Ravindra Shukla

About the author:
Ravindra Shukla is a graduate of IIT-Bombay. He works for IBM in emerging technology and business analytics in IT software technology. His professional experience includes working with consulting firms – PWC and IBM in USA for 15+ years. He is a member of the Film Writers Association, Mumbai. His interest includes – writing fiction, literature and movie scripts apart from sports, movie and travelling across the globe.

Cover and blurb:
A cover with three shadows does not give away anything about the story, and reading the blurb, I can only assume it’s the silhouette of the three protagonists.

My thoughts on the book:
There are some books that you don’t know whether to like or to unlike. It has a balance between the good things and the not so good. So it depends on how the story moves you, and how it is put across that you decide. This book is part of that category I feel.

Do the characters appeal to me? Yes and no. To start with, the main characters are restricted to three. So that’s good. However, who they are in the end, how deep their characters go, still remains mostly a mystery. I’m not moved by their actions. If Richita and Rahul are in love, their conversations do not indicate it. And for most part, the alternating first person and third person narrations confuse me as to what part is by whom. One minute we’re seeing the story from Rahul’s eyes, then right into the author’s eyes as he shows us Richita’s world.

Is the plot the same-old boring love story? No. Definitely not… both Richita and Rahul realize they are in love but society and dreams make their journey drift apart. The attitude of society, the reservations toward love marriage, parental pressure, corruption, friendship, love, and politics etc.… the story has a bit of everything. It gave the story a little essence, but with so much thrown into the works, it also added to the confusion.

Things I didn’t like at all… I feel the major bone of contention, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is the alternating first and third person narrations. Another is that the parts in the US felt off, I couldn’t connect with them at all. A sense of magic felt lacking in the book, possibly because of the length, and the slow start. Some parts like the molestation attempt at the beginning felt unnecessary. I realize it was probably done to show a strong character to Richita, but the part didn’t work out. The guy pushes her into a bathroom, and corners her, yet she finds a bottle of red chilli powder conveniently there on a table? That’s a little over the top masala for my liking. And editing left a lot to be desired as well.

Does the book have quality? Yes. It does, in bits and pieces. You may have to hunt for it since it might be lost on you with the uneven pace of the book. But it’s not a total bore. It has a promising plot, but the execution falls on its face. It feels like the author has tried to express a lot of different points through the book, but that has brought the overall feel down. Think before you buy, I’d say.


Rated 5/10
Rated 5/10

Book Details:
Title: A Maverick Heart: Between Love and Life
Author: Ravindra Shukla
ISBN: 978-93-82473-00-8
Genre: Fiction/Drama
Publishers: Frog Books
Price: INR. 195

 


This book was given to me as part of the Readers Cosmos review program. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(Sept 9th, 2013)