Monday, September 30, 2013

If You Could See Me Now- Cecelia Ahern.

Author- Cecelia Ahern
Price – INR 225 (
ISBN – 9781401383817
Genre- Romance

Synopsis (As given behind the book)- 

Elizabeth Egan's life runs on order: Both her home and her emotions are arranged just so, with little room for spontaneity. It's how she counteracts the chaos of her family -- an alcoholic mother who left when she was young, an emotionally distant father, and a free-spirited sister, who seems to be following in their mother's footsteps, leaving her own six-yearold son, Luke, in Elizabeth's care. When Ivan, Luke's mysterious new grown-up friend, enters the picture, Elizabeth doesnt know quite what to make of him. With his penchant for adventure and colourful take on things large and small, Ivan opens Elizabeth's eyes to a whole new way of living. But is it for real? Is Ivan for real?

If You Could See Me Now is a love story with heart -- and just a touch of magic


This is part of a project I'm doing, 10 books, 10 genres, 10 days.

I know what you’re thinking. For a genre like romance, why choose an author like Cecelia Ahern? But don’t. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Read the review. The reason I chose this book is because it is beautiful. It is filled with fantasy and is romance escapism.

Elizabeth is a fastidious interior decorator. She lives a life of monotony and routine. She has always been the responsible one in her family. As a child, her mother abandoned her family leaving her to take care of her younger sister. Her father is still awaiting his wife’s return. Her younger sister is an alcoholic whose child, Luke is left in care with Elizabeth. Elizabeth tries her best to get along with Luke but the burden of responsibility has her tightly wound up and in this she has forgotten how to enjoy herself.

When Ivan from 'Ekam Eveileb' comes to visit Luke, Elizabeth feels Luke is making him up as little children do sometimes. She treats him as Luke’s imaginary friend and ignores the situation most of the time.  After a while, she begins to see him but still treats him as the father of a friend of Luke. As time goes by, the focus of the book shifts from the relationship of Luke and Ivan to Elizabeth and Ivan.  Their relationship graduates from that of friendship to love. He helps her rediscover herself, get rid of all her inhibitions and generally let loose. She starts to believe in fairy tales again, in love again. 

As the relationship blossoms, Ivan goes to his boss Opal for advice. He has fallen in love with her. This is where we find out that he was her imaginary friend. The same person that only she and Luke could see. In that world, imaginary friends can only exist till the person NEEDS them. When they blossom as people even if they still want their imaginary friends they can’t have them as they disappear and throw themselves into helping someone else. Opal tells Ivan that there is no point of pursuing this relationship because unlike him Elizabeth will grow old and eventually stop seeing him (in the literal sense).

Yes, the end is slightly tragic. But don’t all the immortal love stories end tragically? Ivan slowly fades in Elizabeth’s eyes and he visits her in a dream, telling her why he has to leave. They end up together without each other. Thus ends the magical journey back home. Back home to childhood, back home to oneself. Free from everything yet bonded to something.

The best about this book is that although the theme seems childish, it isn’t. It really has quite a deep meaning to it and if you can read between the complexities and layers of the book, you’re sure to enjoy it.

Rating- 4.5/5

Favourite Quotes/excerpts:

·          “She likened it to a childhood crush, such strong almost obsessive feelings, but more, it had depth. She felt attracted to everything about him, the way he talked, the way he dressed, the words he used, his apparent innocence. Yet he was filled with a deep knowledge of wise insights. He always said the right things, even when she didn't want to hear them. The darkness lifted and she could suddenly see beyond. When he breezed into the room, he brought clarity and brightness with him. He was walking hope and she could tell that things for her be… not fantastic or wonderful or happily ever after, but that they could be okay. And that was enough.” 

·          “You've come to give me a piece of your mind, I repeated, looking at her. "You know that phrase is really beautiful. The mind is the most powerful thing in the body, you know, whatever the mind believes, the body can achieve. So to give someone a piece of it...well, thank you, Elizabeth. Funny how people are always intent on giving it to the people they dislike when it really should be for the ones they love. There's another funny thing. But a piece of your mind...what a gift that would be." I looped the last stalk and formed a chain. "I'll give you a daisy chain in return for a piece of your mind." I slid the bracelet onto her arm.
She sat on the grass. Didn't move, didn't say anything, just looked at her daisy chain. Then she smiled and when she spoke her voice was soft. "Has anyone ever been mad at you for more than five minutes."
I looked at my watch. "Yes. You, from the o'clock this morning until now.” 

Friday, September 27, 2013

None but Him by Tina G.

Image Source
NONE but Him: Fiction

AUTHOR: Tina G. The author is a housewife who was born in Chandigarh, Punjab. She was brought up and educated in Punjab and is currently residing in Rajasthan. She has a penchant for reading and writing. This book is her first attempt at carving a niche for herself as a professional writer. (Bio from

BEST SELLER(S): None but Him is Author's debut work.


Manyata woke up in the morning with a headache and realised that she was locked in Param’s embrace. She could feel his constant breath against the nape of her neck. She didn’t move and shut her eyes again lest she wake him up. Her eyes filled with tears and her throat was choked. Whatever happened between them was totally uncalled for.

When Manyata’s mother, Mamta, walked out of her husband’s home, Manyata too left with her. Though she had her inhibitions about going to Chandigarh but for the sake of her mother, she had to. But what she feared happened and she had no choice but to dance to the music. The person she didn’t want to meet ever came into her life again and she realised that she had never got over him. Though she had tried to get him out of her system but her heart was not smart enough. She realised that it was none but him for her.


Manyata’s heart was pounding as her mind was in a great turmoil. She had always kept herself engrossed in her studies and then in her job, but the memories which she had tucked away in a little corner of her heart had come to the fore and flooded her thoughts. She could not evade them. The past had come to haunt her. Manyata smiled to herself slyly. She needed to be comforted more than her mother. Five years ago, when Manyata had gone to Chandigarh for her cousin Sheetal’s wedding, her whole life turned upside down. Those bitter-sweet memories had often made her break down into tears. She had cried herself to sleep many a night.

MSM Speaks: Oh, what a wonderful surprise this was! I had started reading with the prospect that this love story would be as predictable as others and I would have to just get over with it. But how wrong I was. After a couple of pages, I realized that I was so wrong! The protagonist is a self made woman who has been going through a lot since her childhood. Her parents are separated and she sticks to her mother and moves to the city where her past memories of love and heartbreak come back to haunt her. In a freak coincidence, she ends up being with the love of her life, in an arrangement which she had never anticipated in her worst day dreams! 

I thought the book would be predictable, but Ms. Tina has proved me wrong! You cannot judge this simple love story by following complex ideas! The words are simple and smooth with emotions that each and everyone of us can connect to. The transition to the portions of Manyata's life may not flow seamlessly but as a debut novelist, Ms. Tina has a promising future ahead! It's a love story with a lot of twists! I wish her all the best! MSM Recommends!

My Rating: 3/5

Author's e-book copy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Journey to Ithaca

Author: Anita Desai
Publisher: Vintage / Random House India
ISBN-13: 9788184000771
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 400 Pages
Copy courtesy: Publisher
Rating: 3.5/5

Now she knows why the Mother went on that pilgrimage, why anyone goes on a pilgrimage, and why she must go too.

Journey to Ithaca by Anita Desai is about poignant pilgrimages of the protagonists, painted with so much beauty and pathos, it takes you on one of your own. Desai does that. She is masterful in carrying a reader in her arms to surreal places, in unforgettable realms. I shall always remember the time I read my first Desai novel, The Artist of Disappearance. I shall always remember how she took my breath away with almost every sentence. She weaves similar her magic in Journey to Ithaca, but in certain places, in certain ways. It is not a sustained work of genius like The Artist... is. I remember wanting to cry sometimes, so overwhelmed I was with the beauty of her language.

Like here: Isabel is quiet, separating two ideas and then putting them together again: Grandmother does not want them to go to their parents, and grandmother does not want them here. 'Then where can we go?' she asks, not knowing a third place for themselves. 

And here: ...and a jasmine that flowered and flowered as though it thought itself to be in paradise.

But I also remember being bored at times. Especially the last few pages. Perhaps I was tired of reading the the book, perhaps Desai of tired of writing it. The end of Matteo and Sophie's story and that of Laila or the Mother's and that of Giacomo and Isabel all come to a laboured end, but that's perhaps how it feels when one reaches Ithaca.

Journey to Ithaca takes us along on the arduous road to self discovery of Matteo, his antithetic wife, Sophie, and the spiritual journey of the Mother/Laila. As Mateo tires of his bourgeois Italian upbringing and heads to India with his newly-wedded wife, Sophie in search of life's true purpose, we fall and flail along the path with them. Sophie is disgruntled with the dirt, the disease and the poverty of India and wants to live the 'Goa' life, while Matteo suffers in his search for a guru, until at last he finds refuge in the Mother. Sophie does not understand Matteo's blind faith in the Mother and proceeds to uncover her past in the hope to open her husband's eyes. Sophie learns about the spiritual guru's past as Laila, a rebel, who dances her way to India, and finally meets her spiritual master and destiny.

Desai's portrayal of Matteo and Laila strike home particularly hard because their search for the Supreme is laced with a lot of pain, doubt and conflict. The author is brilliant when she deals with strong emotions such as these. You can feel it sometimes like a body blow, when Matteo lies on the cold hard ground in wait and Laila weeps in agony to be united with her divine lover. Sophie's bewilderment draws sympathy too, but not as much. The characters are stark and the plot sublime. Reading Desai needs you to be buoyant, to float, and to let it take you to Ithaca and beyond.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Horseshoe Garage by Hitesha Deshpande

Though he has gotten used to his salary and his job at Grant Motors, Sarvesh still finds himself waking up in the middle of the night, his heart pounding with the excitement of a Neo-Racing dream. The technologically advanced cars and the smell of the burnt rubber of the tyres haunt him all the time. When Neo-racing creates space for a team from India, Sarvesh is determined to be a part of it. Tagging along as a non-description member of another giant team is not going to suffice. Along with his best friend Rags, he is determined to lead his own team on to Neo-racing race circuits. Naaz is an orphan who has been raised in a garage and has never studied beyond the fourth grade. She has taught herself all that she knows about cars by working alongside sweaty mechanics. This knowledge allows her to deduce in three seconds that the car design created by Sarvesh and Rags will not qualify for New-Racing. Friendship is tested, loyalties are questioned and spirits are broken in this challenging race to achieve an impossible dream

This is Hitesha's second book I read and it was worth the wait. [ Read the review of her first book here ] I remember staying awake all night to finish this one and that does not happen often now-a-days.

Nothing pleases me or tempts me to pick a book more than a neat and meaningful cover after the synopsis has been processed by my brain.

So for first impressions and the excitement to go on a journey for fulfilling one's dreams was spot on for me.

Personally , when I know the end of a story , it is more endearing to me [ I read the end of any thriller after 100 pages and then continue to finish the book ]. It is a good enough challenge to fill in the blanks of how , who , when , where about every single event that leads one to the climax.

So , yes , the story had a bit too many twists for my liking . The plot had few cliches which I certainly did not understand or like now that I reflect on the book. BUT , did I think of these as much when I was reading the book ? Hell NO ! I finished the book in 2 days and I loved every bit of the attention this book demanded.

When it comes to Indian fiction that is not entirely based on finding love or spending your day plotting how to woo your next-door-girl character , I will totally recco this book , specially to guys.

Dude ! such terms and such details about making a car .. Hats off Hitesha for so much research and details. And to even make it bearable for an technologically challenged person like me !

what I loved most about the book [ and the previous too ] are the characters ! So damn real , so much possibly flawed and yet heroes in their own stand. I totally love Rags and his girlfriend for being the most adorable couple I have read in recent times.

there is a dream , there is friendship , there is action , there is drama , there is love and then there is more of melodrama. There is a wedding , there is the same  dream still alive , there is victory , there is joy and then a very happy ending.

Ah! I can still imagine my smiles when I closed the book (washing away any bit of frustration I had as the book's end dragged a bit )

My rating : 3.5/5

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Journey : Transforming Dreams Into Actions by APJ Abdul Kalam

From a small boy growing up in Rameswaram, to becoming the country’s eleventh President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s life has been a tale of extraordinary determination, courage, perseverance and the desire to excel. In this series of anecdotes and profiles, Dr Kalam looks back on key moments in his past—some small and some momentous—and tells the reader how each of them inspired him profoundly. With warmth and affection, he talks about the people who left a deep impression on him as he was growing up and as an adult, and the lessons he drew from his interactions with them. He describes those who have been the closest to him—his father with his deep love of God, his mother and her great kindness, his mentors who helped shape his thoughts and outlook. There are heart-warming accounts here of his childhood years spent in a small town by the Bay of Bengal and the many struggles and sacrifices made on the path to becoming a scientist and then the President of India. Dr Kalam also writes about the times when failure and dejection nearly overtook him and how he prevailed over those obstacles by drawing strength from books and spirituality.

  For the sake of your emotions and thoughts , some books should be read one story at a time.

This was one such book that I deliberately read a little slow. Two stories a day at the max.  Having read "Wings on fire" thrice already , and some more articles on this inspiring man , the stories offered another peek into this genius's life. It offered me was hope , strength , the values and character of a person so respected and mostly it offers a glimpse into the old times when people knew the importance of a good education system , fair and peaceful co-existence of religions and to know of people who are so ordinary to us but yet make an everlating mark on the people known to them.

I was moved to tears at many instances , as I read of Dr Kalam's family's struggles and then at the failures he mentions so honestly and yet with a resolution that he shall overcome all these with hard work and faith in himself.

This is a book to be read and read frequently , atleast at every point of time when you face failure and want to give up.

The illustrations by Priya Sebestian add so much grace and beauty to every story that it kind of transports you in to that moment.

You can read an extract of the book here

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Guardians of Karma, by Mohan Vizhakat

About the author:
Mohan Vizhakat is a senior management professional stationed at Bangalore. The author’s keen interest in the rich heritage of Indian mythology helped him weave together this story, his debut.

Cover and blurb:
To be absolutely honest, the cover is a turn-off. It feels very childish and though the genre is indeed fantasy fiction, the cover almost makes me reluctant to read the story. The story from the blurb feels interesting, with the sole hope of Devlok resting on the shoulders of a warrior monk.

My thoughts on the book:
I am a big fan of fantasy fiction to be honest. I liked what the publisher of this particular book had to offer in the genre the last time, so it was with that expectation that I disregarded the cover design and started reading the book. The story of Hara and Acharya Parashu, their journey to rescue another Acharya from the capital of the Daityans, starts off with panache that we come to expect of such a detailed plot. The demonstration of the strength of the Bheeshma monks was also quite exciting to read.

The first indication of mythology was also very interesting. The mythology I know in that regard is very different, and I like the way the author has changed it to suit the situation. There are parts in the book that make you question the mythology as well. There is action, and that pulls you in. There is also an unexplored love angle.

Though the plotline is exciting, I didn’t quite feel the magic of a mythological fiction in the narration. There is talk about spirituality, which though interesting, tends to become heavy and boring later on, and I chose to skip a few pages.

Not the best I’ve read, but again, not the worst. Nice research, put across well, and thought provoking. More spiritualism than fantasy or mythology or sci-fi I guess. I’ve to read it again sometime, and maybe then it’ll make more sense than it does right now.

My rating: 6.5 / 10

Book Details:
Title: The Guardians of Karma
Author: Mohan Vizhakat
ISBN: 978-93-80349-95-4
Genre: Fiction (Scifi, Mythology, Fantasy)
Publishers: Srishti Publishers
Price: INR. 250

Reviewed by Leo

Shared with

  1. First Reads Challenge at b00kr3vi3ws
  2. Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve

This was reviewed for Srishti Publishers, who I thank for the review copy. No other payment was taken for this review.

'Keys' by Santhosh Joshi

Title- Keys
Author-Santhosh Joshi
Publisher-SJ Foundation
Source-Review copy (via Think Why Not)
Price- INR 280/-    
(Book cover and author's pic)

                Self-help is one of the money minting genres as far as ‘Indian writing in English’ is concerned.’Keys’,the debut work of  Santhosh Joshi,a life coach and past life regression therapist based in Mumbai(India) belongs to the same.Though this book exhibits many of it’s generic traits what makes it different from the rest,is the inherent honesty and sincerity put in by the author to break free from the genre stereotypes(in which he has been successful to an extent).
             Through this book,the author gives us tips to live a happy and fruitful life.He tells why it is important to ‘Heal your past’,’Live your present’,and ‘Plan your future’(which he thinks are the ‘keys’ or the HLP way to a regret-free life).In keys,Joshi hasn’t attempted anything new,it follows the same set patterns of any other successful self-help book,(so,we get to read so many real life examples and notes on measurable steps to be taken during ‘stressful situations’ .There are even beautifully drawn and intelligently worded cartoons before the beginning  and a quick recap box at the end of each chapter!)but still ‘Keys’ stands out from the rest as the author is confident about what he wants to convey and at the same time is bold enough not to dress up his thoughts in a quasi-spiritual language

About the book- As I mentioned before,’Keys’ belong to the self-help genre.If you are not a great fan of inspirational/motivational stuff,you can safely keep yourselves away from this book but if you are,then I am glad to say this one is not only worth trying but also one of the decent works belonging to the genre to have hit the Indian book stores in the recent past.The book has three ‘keys’ and each one is again divided into eight to ten chapters.So the first ‘key’ has eight chapters which will enable ourselves to a)heal our past by making ourselves realise the importance of learning from our past,b) utilise our true potential c) get rid of our residual emotions from the past d)release attached emotions e)reconnect to the inner child in ourselves f)forgive and forget ;to name a few.   Likewise the second section deals with living our present life to the fullest wheras the third one discusses the importance of planning the future .

The Writing- The language used by the author is simple,conversational English(obviously, in a ‘self-help’ book,what else do you expect?).Thankfully,there aren’t many hindi words (unlike the recent desi ‘inspirational books’)appearing every now and then.Typos and grammatical errors are also very few which was also a pleasant surprise(honestly,I was anticipating more of them as the book is from a relatively new publisher!)

What I liked the most about the book-
1.The book is written in a simple,conversational manner so that the reader can easily relate to most of the things which the author is talking about.
2.The real life examples which the Joshi has described are also believable and relatable.Be,it the story of Kavitha,who is anxious about her future or Kavya,who can no longer be a ‘kid’ as she is a “mother now!”The author has intelligently linked each and every message he wants to tell to one of his personal experiences.
3.The cartoons which are there before the beginning of each chapter made a lot of sense to me.The author has drawn his pictures himself and deserves a pat on his back for not copying pictures from anywhere else for his book.
4.The cover design of the book was also really good.
What I didn’t like-
1.The length of the book-At 270 pages,the book is too long.
2.Repetition of thoughts-Some thoughts and messages are repeated which easily bores the reader.

Verdict- A decent self-help manual.Rating-3/5

Thursday, September 5, 2013

An.Al : The Origins by Athul DeMarco

An.Al - The Origins

ISBN - 978-81-7234-470-2
PAGES - 264
GENRE - Splatterpunk
BINDING - Paperback
SOURCE - Author

AUTHOR - Athul DeMarco

SYNOPSIS - [From the back cover]
There are legends and myths and fables and parables. And the tale of the man with two heads is one of them. And here is where it all begins... 
When the proverbial shit hits the roof and when the invitation to play is a gift-wrapped, mutilated body of a stray dog stuffed inside a gunnysack, you know that the game is serious and dangerous.
When the city's most powerful couple's only son goes missing in broad daylight, that too from right under their noses, you know that they boy will never live to tell his tale.
When you have been loved a little too much by your father, you know that your mind will twist itself into an unimaginable ugliness. The only way to stop the madness now, is to understand it. To let it play along with it. And to hope when the time comes, the knife finds a sweet spot.
This is where it all began...this is the story of the man with two heads. 

Andy: "You drinking again?
Alfie: "Is that something you ask a fish?"
Andy: "You do know that fish float in the same water where they defecate right?"
Alfie: "Your point being...?"
Andy: "..."
Alfie: "Say it... Say that I am awesome!"

FL Speaks - Almost 2 years ago, the author of this novel sent me a draft. 68 pages of non-stop, fast paced blur of a story. After reading the draft, I knew this was going to be one scorcher of a ride.

That draft is now complete. It is now called An.Al - The Origins.
*quick clearing of that thought*

When you pick up a book, you either pick it up because of 3 reasons. 
1. The title or author
2. The cover art
3. The blurb

For me, the author is known. The title is very suggestive. And while I looked at the cover art, the blurb sealed the deal. You know you're going to finish it at one go.

Talking of characters, Andy and Alfie has to be the most ridiculous, smartass and incredible-pain-in-others-ass conjoined twins. This book is about them. It is also about Anita. Or more correctly, La Femme Anita. Shit, that girl is a nightmare and a wonder with a switchblade. If you ever want to see your innards in detail, you know who to call. 2-3 more books involving Anita and the nations mother's will tell their kids, "so jao bete, Anita aa jayegi". She is the female version of Dexter. Only more deranged.

Andy and Alfie are your amateur sleuths. Kids who are considered freaks and have more time in their hands than they probably should. They are inseparable (quite literally) and yet as different as (whats the fucking term??) Andy is the quiet one, the lesser of the necessary evils. He is Watson to Alfie's Sherlock, Joey to his Dennis. And fucking always bickering with each other. 

From killing people on whims to solving cold case files, from cannibalistic pleasures to drinking milk in a pub, this book will take you on a roller-coaster ride of what-the-fuck-was-that. Incredibly fast paced coupled with hilarious dialogues to gory action, the chase to who comes on top is on. 

The only thing that kinda bothered me was the lack of depth of the characters. When picturizing Andy and Alfie in my head, all I could think was one had a mop of long hair and beard while the other liked to be as clean shaved as a woman's back. I'm hoping Andy and Alfie will be back and probably we will get to know them better. Anita would've been another fantastic anti-hero if we knew her better. We all know her beginning and we have seen bit of the middle years. Yet you can never have enough of her.

We readers are never satisfied. You can only cram as much in a story without going way overboard. The line held, the dominos didn't topple and the book ended in a frenzy. Just like it began. Making you wanting more.

Not everyone would like this book, to be honest. Those whose daily diet involves doses of the likes of Durjoy Dattas and their soppy, ass licking so-called romance will probably be disappointed that sex scenes are missing. Others will probably be floored with this one. This book is what new-age Indian authors should read for some originality. [Although the case of the landlord was extremely Agatha Christie-esque]

Nevertheless, buy the book. Love it or hate it, try something new. Maybe there is an Anita in you (hopefully not). 

Athul aka @Zennmaster has finally delivered on his debut. The language is a shade more controlled than what he tweets. How he managed to keep his ball-scratching, bowel-moving vocabulary away from his novel is unfathomable. 

Here's to hoping we get to see more of Andy and Alfie.

My Rating - 4 stars

PRICE - INR 250/-

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Illicit by Dibyendu Palit


Author: Dibyendu Palit
Translator: Arunava Sinha
Binding Type - Paperback
ISBN 13: 9780143067726
Publisher: Penguin Books India
No. of Pages:128
RATING: 3.5/5

What's that they say about great things coming in small packages? Dibyendu Palit's 'Illicit', translated into English by Arunava Sinha, is just that. With an artistically designed cover and a title like that, the book is a pick-me-up, and thankfully it doesn't disappoint.. ahem... even between the covers. One wouldn't expect any less from Palit, who is a renowned short story writer.

The plot spans just three days and is a slice of the protagonists' illicit life. Jeena, an attractive young housewife is bored of her 'wooden relationship' with much older husband, Ashim. Partha, her neighbour, is married, a father of two, and equally bored in his marital life. We are introduced to them in the high point of their illicit relationship when the two are planning a secret sojourn to Puri. Quelling her self doubts and pangs of guilt, Jeena takes the bold step to be with Partha.

In the next three days that Jeena spends with Partha, she discovers that all is not as it seems. Partha's lust takes an aggressive turn and Jeena feels violated. Beguiled by shame, self pity and doubt, she decides to head back home and put to an end everything illicit.

Illicit is a deliberate and intense book. The author takes his time to build upon his Jeena's guilt, purposefully punctuating it with the mundane. We see her squirm uncomfortably under the weight of her feelings one moment and pondering upon a cup of tea the next. Now she is losing sleep calculating her risks and now she is flowing with the moment. Palit's skill is apparent in the way he juxtaposes these contrasting elements, much like real life. He takes no moral stance and simply tells the story of the greatest kind of conflict - one that a person has with himself.

The language is simple and accessible; at least the translator, Arunava Sinha, makes it seem so. The lucid prose makes for easy yet thought-provoking reading. Palit is a gifted writer for he leaves you sighing at love's (sometimes) futile cause at the end of its 128 pages.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Race of my Life - An Autobiography (by Milkha Singh)

Sometimes, to be inspired, you need to have an inspiration. Be it to achieve things, or to even think of what you want to achieve. I remember, a few years ago, I wanted to be a tennis player for India. I used to follow all of Roger Federer’s matches, even collected pictures, wallpapers, stats and what not. I’m digressing here. Sorry. I mean to say that when you’re having a dream, you would also, most likely have an idol. So perhaps, for a sprinter, to be Milkha Singh might have been one dream.

I’ve not yet seen the movie, so to read the story first was quite refreshing. Right from the time before partition, to him fleeing for his life (puts the title into perspective), the book was a very honest read. I wouldn’t criticize the story, because only he could write his life like it is. It isn’t some fiction to say it needed something, and it should have had this. It is an autobiography, and this particular one, is inspiring.

It is the story of an idol, of an Indian great, and a story of courage, determination, belief and excellence. I’m honored to have read it, and I would read it again soon.

Book details:
Title: The Race of my Life
Author: Milkha Singh
Genre: Autobiography
ISBN: 978-81-291-2910-9
Publishers: Rupa Publishers
Price: INR. 250

Reviewed by Leo

Shared with

  1. First Reads Challenge at b00kr3vi3ws
  2. Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve

This was reviewed for Rupa Publishers, who I thank for the review copy. No other payment was taken for this review.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Princess Trilogy (Book #1) by Jean Sasson

Image Source

AUTHOR(S): Ms. Jean Sasson worked for Dr. Nizar Feteih, the head of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre. For the first two years shewas in charge of doctor's meetings, but later was promoted to the high-ranking position of Medical Affairs Coordinator, which basically meant she was Dr. Feteih's right hand. In 1978 she traveled to Saudi Arabia to work in the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh where she met Peter Sasson, her future husband. They married in 1982 and Sasson left the hospital after four years of service, but the couple remained in Saudi Arabia until 1990.During their time in the Middle East, the Sassons made many friends, including members of the royal Al-Saud family, who visited the hospital. The most notable of these friendships was between Sasson and "Princess Sultana", the princess about whose life The Princess Trilogy tells. Sasson is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Image Source: Jean Sasson

BEST SELLER(S): Princess Trilogy, Princess Sultana's Circle, Princess Sultana's Daughters, Princess, The Rape of Kuwait, Ester's Child, Mayada, Love in a Torn Land, Growing Up Bin Laden, For the Love of a Son and American Chick.

Read Swarnali's Review of the Same Book here!

SYNOPSIS (From Goodreads)Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. She has four mansions on three continents, her own private jet, glittering jewels, designer dresses galore. But in reality she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons. Hidden behind her black floor-length veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband, her sons, and her country. Sultana is a member of the Saudi royal family, closely related to the king. For the sake of her daughters, she has decided to take the risk of speaking out about the life of women in her country, regardless of their rank. She must hide her identity for fear that the religious leaders in her country would call for her death to punish her honesty. Only a woman in her position could possibly hope to escape from being revealed and punished, despite her cloak and anonymity. Sultana tells of her own life, from her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage - a happy one until her husband decided to displace her by taking a second wife - and of the lives of her sisters, her friends and her servants. Although they share affection, confidences and an easy camaraderie within the confines of the women's quarters, they also share a history of appalling oppression as everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations; thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age, young women killed by drowning, stoning, or isolation in the "women's room," a padded, windowless cell where women are confined with neither light nor conversation until death claims them. By speaking out, Sultana risks bringing the wrath of the Saudi establishment upon her head and the heads of her children. But by telling her story to Jean Sasson, Sultana has allowed us to see beyond the veils of this secret society, to the heart of a nation where sex, money, and power reign supreme.

Ownership of my body and soul would soon pass from my father to a stranger I would call my husband, for Father had informed me I would be wed three months after my sixteenth birthday. I felt the chains of traditions wrap tightly around me; I had only six short months of freedom left to savor. I waited for my destiny to unfold, a child as helpless as an insect trapped in a wicked web not of its own making.

MSM Speaks: A friend recommended this one to me, as I was craving for something real to read. I started off with preconceived notions about Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries. This was an eye opener in so many ways. It's the story of Princess Sultana, the youngest princess of the House of Al Sauds, who always, at some personal level, tries to resist the restricting shackles of certain Islamic traditions. She is the first one to defy her most pampered brother Ali by not giving in to his threats and tantrums. She also goes a step ahead to make his life miserable. Her tantrums and trickery are fun to read, revealing her fiery and unfettered spirit. 

As a part of her growing up, she sees her older sisters, especially Sara, who goes through a reckless marriage, with its horrible pains and atrocities, going through the turbulent times quietly. She feels like a trapped bird and manages to break some rules with her sharp tongue. She faces the loss of her mother along with certain stark realities when she becomes of a marriageable age. However, fortunately, she gets married to a man who loves and respects her. Princess Sultana regrets that she could not do much in the public domain, however, small small steps taken by her make for a positive change in the attitude of at least the Royals. Islamic traditions of halawaabaya etc. are depicted in great detail. 

All in all, it makes for an emotional read, that touches you and takes you in a stride with Sultana's emotions. However the only issue that I had with the (auto)biography was that I did not feel satisfied with Sultana's ferociousness. I felt there was something incomplete or missing in the entire write up. But that's just my opinion and it should  not stop you from picking this one up. Princess gives a wonderful and real insight into the life of Saudi Arabian women. MSM Recommends!!

My rating: 4/5
PRINCESS - THE TRUE STORY OF LIFE INSIDE SAUDI ARABIA'S ROYAL FAMILY @ Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers) (c) The Sasson Corporation 2004
ISBN 978-0-553-81695-2
flipkart price: 231/-INR

Pradhamadrishtya-Malayalam Crime Thriller: Update

I'm really glad to share the latest update of the upcoming Thriller , 'Pradhamdrishtya' here.The latest teasers of...