Drama

The Perfect Groom - by Sumeetha Manikandan

9:44:00 AM

Very little has gone right in Nithya’s young life. So, when a proposal from a young, handsome NRI comes along, her mother jumps at the opportunity and packs her daughter off to the US with her perfect groom. Nithya seems to have settled in with Ashok, ostensibly happy, if as yet childless, in her new life. When an old flame comes back into her life, however, the cracks in her perfect marriage begin to show…

Honestly, The Perfect Groom (by Sumeetha Manikandan) is a very familiar story. It is a light read meant for times when you want to pick up a book but know there will be lack of concentration. Things that I liked about Sumeetha’s book were Nithya’s moments with her in-laws and obviously the happy ending.

The plot presented is quite predictable and so are the characters. I believe that universally story-outlines are limited and every author presents those same outlines in new flavours, with new colours and different twists. But The Perfect Groom lacked all of that! I wish the author would have invested more in bringing out the emotions of each scene. I wish she would have been more descriptive of the characters.

Another thing I admired about the book was that it was a tight story. By this I mean that there were no unnecessary scenes/situations or even characters. The story might be predictable but it has the potential to resonate with a varied audience. This is precisely why I feel that Sumeetha should have dug deeper.

Would I recommend The Perfect Groom? As a super-light read yes!

Would I ever pick up another book by the author? I sure would give it another shot!

Rating: 3/5 (as light as a read can get!)

alop admin

Anniversary GIVEAWAY

7:11:00 AM


So its that time of the year again.

You know, when we come out with giveaways and stuff.

ALOP celebrates its 3rd anniversary in a week. And that can only mean happiness to spread around. So all you folks get ready to win Flipkart vouchers provided you charm us with your answers.

So here's the situation. Imagine its the end of the world/you're stuck in a desert/you've been locked in your home and there is nothing you can do. No tv, no much needed mobile phones and certainly no humans or pets around. All you have is a book. Naturally, you'll read it before you tear it off and eat the pages to survive, but, lets not go there.

So, my friends, the question is, which book will be your companion? Will it be your favourite book? Or the book that you first read and thus want it to be your only companion at the very end? Or will it be a book that you always thought you'd read but somehow never got to it? Or will it be the one you'd buy with the Flipkart voucher that you hope to win?

Tell us the name of the book and 'why' would that one be your choice?

Simple really. Your answer must have at least 50 words. The more words, the better the feelings.

Email us your answers at alotofpages@gmail.com

WAIT. That's the easy part. You'll also have to fill the Rafflecopter giveaway form/box below.

For those of you who're new to Rafflecopter, you just need to read the instructions, do as required and then click on "ENTER". If you do click on "ENTER", without actually doing what's required, alarm bells ring at your ultra secret HQ and you make it to your favourite "REJECTED" list.

Guys, we DO want to give out these vouchers. The least you can do is take part properly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Indireads

Canvas of Dreams, by Jaya Siva Murty

3:04:00 PM



Riya seems to have lost everything—the man she loves to another woman, her husband to death and her soul to fear. Can she confront the nightmares of her past and dream of a better future?

Canvas of Dreams is the debut novella of author Jaya Siva Murty. Riya, the protagonist, goes for a function in Singapore, only to run into Ryan, her old love at an exhibition. But once again, they end up going their separate ways. Once she’s in Mumbai, talking with her best friend leads to her decision of spilling the dark secret in her life. As a solution to her nightmares, she also decides to start an art gallery, which brings Rehaan, a talented artist into her life. And in another direction returns Ryan as well, leaving her with a choice to make.

It is a simple love story with not many twists, and one that seems very probable. A light read which can be finished in a few hours, so I feel it would be best for a journey. It is interesting enough to keep our attention even though we do have an idea where the plot is headed. Jaya’s language also makes it easy for the reader, as it is simple and lucid. We see some fun philosophical comparisons in the novella too, which manage to make us smile. All in all, a good effort.





Reviewed by Leo, for Indireads.
The book can be puchased via the Indireads website at www.indireads.com

Indireads

The Contract by Zeenat Mehal

9:58:00 AM

Circumstances have forced the young divorcĂ©e, Shahira, to accept Hussain’s unusual proposition. As per their contract, she’ll have his name, will be paid to look after his ailing mother and motherless daughter and will be left well alone by him. Perfect!
Until her new husband decides to stop playing by the rules…

My views :  After a long time , I am getting to read novellas which have a simple plot , a well thought story and such amazing writing. The charaters feel real , the situations are so much beleivable and above all , the end is satisfying not just for the story ended but I actually felt good for the characters. 
Both Shahira and Hussain have their bitter past to move forward from and they both mistrust each other right from the beginning. It is therefore heart warming to see Hussain make the effort to heal himself and Shahira. Add to the mix are two adorable kids and even more adorable MIL character.
This book is sweet , hopeful and a total feel-good thing ! Perfect for a cold day , accompanied by your favorite drink !
Rating : 4/5
PS : I received a review copy of the book from Indireads.com . The views written are my own.

Historical Fiction

The Ekkos clan by Sudipto Das

9:23:00 AM

"The Ekkos Clan" is the story of Kratu’s search for the killers of his family, his own roots and the mystery behind his grandmother’s stories.

It’s the fascinating account of Kubha and the basketful of folklore she inherited from her ancestors. The eventful lives of Kubha and her family span a hundred years and encompass turbulent phases of Indian history. The family saga unfurls gradually, along with Kubha’s stories, through the three main characters – Kratu Sen, a grad student at Stanford, Kratu’s best friend Tista Dasgupta, and Afsar Fareedi, a linguistic palaeontologist.

Afsar hears about Kubha’s stories from Kratu in a casual conversation, but she figures that these stories are not meant to be mere bed time tales – they contain rich linguistic fossils and layers of histories.

In a bizarre incident Kratu miraculously survives an attempt on his life. His sister and uncle had not been so lucky. Were these murders acts of revenge, or a larger ideological conflict connected to Kubha’s stories which conceal perilous secrets that should be suppressed?



My views: All our ancestors have wonderful tales , specially the families who have migrated from Bangladesh or Pakistan years back. Even years after staying here , the cultural and linguistic differences are subtle yet clearly visible. But never before did I pay attention to the fact that all this are signs of evolution of a language , of a culture and yet each of us in our own ways are as similar and as different from the next person. 

The Ekkos clan is a story of Kubha , an extraordinary lady who entertains and teaches her kids a lot of stories from her home town. Each story is then passed over years by her kids to their kids and grandchildren. what no one realizes is that the tales are deep rooted in history of civilization and hold the key to some very important facts about the origin of the oldest culture. 

The writing of the book is very engaging and detailed in all aspects. There is no lose threads in this tapestry of life of Kubha's lineage - both in terms of her tales and the people of her family. 

This book gave me enough ideas and facts to understand a few things about language and its transitions over centuries and geographies, while thanks to the references mentioned , I hope that some day I will be able to know and understand a lot more about India's rich cultural heritage and factors which shaped us this way. 

A must read for its thriller quotient and the way it adds to your knowledge. Win Win for me. 

Sudipto Das , you are no less than Kubha you wrote about :) 

Rating : 5/5

Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

1:09:00 PM

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
My views : After a long time I read something which was so intriguing and psychologically fascinating. I always find human behavior amusing to the point that there is always something that shocks you. In life , we meet so many people who bring out different reactions out of you but there are very few who make you compete and play their game 'cause there is no other option. It doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as you play by their rules. Nick and Amy are one such couple who are playing a dangerous game. They make you laugh , sympathize , entertain you with a charming life and make you feel the cracks in the life. But their game is far from being normal. It is engaging , creatively wicked and weirdly CREEPY ! Yes, that's one book whose characters spooked me a bit and I loved it.  I cant wait to read other book by this author.

Rating : 5/5

Blahblaholic

A Newlywed's Adventures in Married Land by Shweta Ganesh Kumar

11:36:00 AM


Title : A Newlywed's Adventures in Married Land
Author : Shweta Ganesh Kumar
Genre : Chick-lit, Travel, Journal

~ Summary ~

"Former workaholic Mythili moves to the Philippines to be with her new husband Siddharth. Once there, however, she is faced with unemployment and expat wives, all the while struggling to overcome culture shock. Is Siddharth’s love enough to help this real life Alice find her way out of Wonderland?"

~ Review ~

It is a very breezy read,  you can read it in one go. It is Mythili's story, which begins in present time as she picks up her favourite book, Alice in Wonderland, and then goes to the past couple of years and ends in present time. 
What I really liked are the constant connectors to Alice, the names of all chapters and the quotes at their beginnings. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the lines from Alice were woven in the chapters wittily. It makes for a fun read which you would enjoy reading while travelling. I could connect with when she snaps at people who ask her if she eats cows, and that entire conversation is something a lot of us can identify with, because the half information about India that is online, is not ono so far fetched that it is funny, but also ridiculous to the point of disappointment. It is a narrative so you feel like you're actually inside her head, exploring her thoughts and feelings.
What I didn't like, however, was the one dimensional characterisation of almost everybody except Mythili and kind of Siddharth. Everybody else were stereotypical side characters, with little to them but unredeemable qualities which I personally do not like. Also, the references made to both schizophrenia and anorexia, in my opinion, seem to trivialise the diseases.

"Mythili wished she had met Sarah under different circumstances. She would have liked her. She would have liked her even more if she was sure Sarah was completely lesbian. Yes, sad, very sad, but honestly, she would have. Yes, she had a girlfriend, who Mythili was having a hard time identifying as a girl at all. She had short cropped hair, a very square jaw and was dressed in a men’s sweater t-shirt with jeans and sneakers. A pair of thick glasses and absolutely no makeup. She was solid looking and could easily pass for a rather handsome, clean-cut guy. It was her very masculinity that had Mythili on the fence. If Sarah had really switched sides on the gender she preferred to be with, why not be with a girly girl; why a girl who looked like a guy? Didn’t that mean she still liked guys?"
^ This paragraph I found extremely disturbing. And disrespectful. This is obviously a character flaw, and I get it but I got so disconnected from the character and lost what little identification I felt. 

~ Verdict ~

1/5
I read a few reviews about this book and I found that people generally liked it, I can see why. Its a continuous flow and it is interesting. Personally, it didn't do anything for me. I didn't quite enjoy it as much as I thought I would after the initial 20 pages. 

You can find out more and buy it here. 

Historical Fiction

Book Review:The Thugs and a Courtesan by Muktha Singh zocchi

9:10:00 PM

Title:The Thugs & a Courtesan
Author:Muktha Singh Zocchi
Price:195 INR
Source: review copy via Think Why Not
Pages:191
Publisher:Shristi Publishers 
Genre:Historical Fiction
 I have had the opportunity to review quite a number of desi (Indian Writing in English) works by first time authors in the recent past.While some of them had been really good,the majority of them were either passable or slightly above average works.So,when I got this new book to review from the wonderful people at 'Think Why Not',quite naturally I was expecting the book to fall into either of the above categories.
         ' The Thugs and a Courtesan' is a difficult book to review.The author has attempted to pen a historical fiction with the 'thug culture' as it's backdrop. Set in the 18 th century India,the book traces the journey of a thug/nomad (left to the reader's discretion)named Firangia and in the process gives a bird's eye view of life in pre-British India.In the course of the journey,he fights,romances,imbibes virtues and protects his fellow men.Well,that's all what I remember as far as the basic plot of the book is concerned.There are many sub-plots woven into the narrative with some of them being cute and short love stories.
           The book has got a novel premise and the writer deserves applause for trying something like this in her debut work.The mystery surrounding Chanda Bhai's character has come out really well.But as it's often said,good ideas don't necessarily translate to blockbusters. 
            The basic problem of this book is that it's too confusing.There are far too many poorly written characters (even the protagonist is not well etched out),innumerable sub plots with absolutely no connection to the central plot and the story loses focus in more than a couple of occasions.What makes the matters even worse is the manner in which the story is told.The writing is way over the top and at times too self-indulgent.A 'heavy' subject like this would have worked big time had the author resorted to a somewhat 'light' treatment.In short,'Thugs and a ....' is not an easy read by any stretch of imagination.

Verdict: On the whole,'The Thugs and a Courtesan' belongs to the 'could have been better' category.Rating- 2/5. 

PS: I would like to thank the wonderful people at 'Think Why Not' for sending me a review copy of this book.


-nikhimenon

Daakshi

Seoul-Mates - by Pamela Q Fernandes

10:51:00 PM

She’s a down-on-her-luck foreigner struggling to fit into a close-knit society, and he’s the heir to one of Seoul’s largest business empires. The marriage of Anglo-Indian Katia Rosario to Jihan Kwan, Seoul’s most eligible bachelor, sounds like a fairy-tale romance. Except that it’s not.

Seoul-Mates, by Pamela Q Fernandes, has everything a romantic novel essentially needs – the damsel in distress, the bad-boy and the villain. The concoction of love, pain, drama and evil brewed by Pamela is almost perfect!

This book was my debut with Indirom Novella and I wouldn’t change that (that does say a lot). By the end of the book I did fall in love with the protagonists (Katia & Jihan) and their story. This read more like a short story rather than a novel. I do think it has the potential to be explored more, and here is why: 
  • Each character, even the supporting ones, had depth to them. The author could have built those and highlighted their equations with our hero & heroine.
  • Katia & Jihan’s meeting & courtship needed to be meatier for me. After all how the guy woes the girl is quintessential for telling a romantic story.
  • While his proposal seemed perfect, I do wish her turmoil of entering the marriage would have been shown. It was a difficult decision for her! 
  • The character of Jihan’s sister seemed untouched, there was potential there too. Whatever glimpses of the little sister-in-law’s relation with Katia have been shown were nice.
  • Spoiler alert: Imo’s (Korean for Aunt) breakdown, god knows was the perfect opportunity to flare up the drama. This was the manic masala bit of this story.
Pamela’s plot might not be the freshest, but her story definitely leaves you feeling hopeful. If I do ever get a chance I would want to know ‘Why did she pick Korea as the destination?’ 

As a one-time read I would definitely recommend Seoul-Mates. Here’s wishing author Pamela Q Frenandes a full-blooded next book!

Rating: 3/5 (it’s a light read)

author requested

The Devil's Gate-An impossible Journey by Deepak Kripal

8:59:00 PM




Title:The Devil's Gate-An impossible Journey
Author:Deepak Kripal
Price:175 INR
Source: review copy send by the author
Pages:240+
Publisher:Leadstart/Frog Books
Genre:Fantasy/Thriller

                   I am not sure how many of you have heard about this cute little book called 'The Devil's Gate:An Impossible Journey' by first time author Deepak Kripal which had hit the stores recently.Frankly speaking,even I was not aware about this book till it's author sent me a review request a couple of weeks back.I was a bit apprehensive about choosing this book for review but still decided to give it a try as the blurb managed to impress me.

The Plot :Well,the story is pretty weird.United Animals (U.A.),a secret agency meant for the protection and welfare of the animal kingdom decides to send their special task team comprising of a Cat (Katy) and a Dog (Dug) to the island of five hundred graves,an island which becomes visible only at night and  widely believed to be inhabited by Devils.Their Mission is to negotiate with the Demons and persuade them to allow animals to inhabit the island as human beings are fast destroying their natural habitats.During their pursuit the duo gets an acquaintance in Billy,the tawny fish owl.True to the tag line,'TDG' narrates the story of the trio's impossible journey to meet the ruler of the island of five hundred graves.The climax is open ended leaving room for a sequel.

The Characters: The book has three principal characters.Katy-the stubborn but intelligent Cat;Dug-the 'trained' yet jovial Dog and Billy-the geeky and philosophical Owl.These three characters have been well etched out though the dialogues given to them go overboard quite often.The villain and the peripheral characters are also well written and the author definitely deserves applause for lending some degree of believability to his characters.

The Writing:It's hard to believe that 'TDG' is a debut work.The writing is imaginative,well researched (honestly,I didn't know that there was a prehistoric fish called Dunkleosteusand packed with enough twists and turns to keep even the most disinterested reader hooked to the proceedings.Except for the heavy philosophical lines which appears often,Deepak has used simple,conversational English to tell his fantasy tale.Infact it's his competent writing which makes even the most implausible of the situations/scenes work.

Possible Inspirations and references: The overall tone of the story is similar to that of the 'Madagascar' series and Nikhil Advani's National Award winning  animation adventure,'Delhi Safari'(animals embarking on an adventurous journey).Though the inspiration is pretty evident,the book never relegates itself to a bargain-basement version of the above two.'TDG' definitely has an original and a solid story to tell and succeeds in it's efforts to a very large extend.Likewise,I believe that the inspiration for the 'island of five hundred graves' comes from the algae island in 'Life of Pi'.

The scenes/stuff which I liked the most in this book-

1.The scene in which Katy meets Dug for the first time.

2.The sequence in which Billy rescues Katy and Dug from Kako.

3.The meaningful dialogues (though their placement and relevance in a genre like this are debatable). Sample this-" I know about a resource that is fading,humanity it is"

What I didn't Like: The book isn't entirely devoid of flaws.

1.The heavy duty philosophical dialogues between the animals (Katy- Dug-Bill) though well written don't quite gel with the overall mood of the book.
2.The pace slackens a bit towards the middle.A little bit of editing could have made these portions crisper.
3.Another thing which I felt is that the animals in the story quite often talks and behaves like humans.

Verdict: On the whole,'The Devil's Gate' is a good read.If you have a penchant for 'Madagascar'/Delhi Safari kind of stories,you will definitely enjoy this journey to the mysterious island! Rating- 3.25/5

-nikhimenon

Daakshi

The Mad Tibetan - by Deepti Naval

6:56:00 PM

Through the prism of life emerges The Mad Tibetan: Stories from Then and Now. Each story carries the visual and emotional impact, and vivacity of a film.

I have a bundle of books (I am sure we all do!) that have been picked up because of the Author’s name. Many have lived up to those expectations and some have been a let-down. Not necessarily bad but yes they have dwindled. Regrettably, in the latter category belongs The Mad Tibetan, by Deepti Naval.

I have been an admirer of the art-house actress Deepti Naval. Her name as an author was enough to make me want to read this collection of eleven short stories. The compilation is a mixed bag, some are her personal accounts and some figments of her imagination. I would agree that each story does in fact have the potential ‘vivacity of a film’ but they all seem half-baked. Was Ms. Naval in a hurry while penning these? I wonder!

The title story The Mad Tibetan starts on a different tangent and ends on a different one. There was potential to close the loop and tie the two ends together but sadly that didn’t happen. After all, the title story is expected to be the strongest and the main focus. Stories like D and Thulli too lacked the magic I expected from her, these were supposed to be through the ‘prism of life’. Since she is an industry insider, I was looking forward to the story Balraj Sahni. She could have explored and added a unique angle to the veteran actor’s story. Why didn’t she?

Enough of the negative, I’d like to share my top four stories of her collection. The Piano Tuner would knock on your heart and it has immense potential to be developed into a screenplay. I secretly wish this would have been the focus of her collection. I liked The Morning After too, feels like a variation of the 1983 movie Masoom (which isn’t a bad thing), it deserves to be re-read. Ruth Mayberry will invoke emotions from the deepest corners of your heart for the protagonist. I felt the turmoil and the character’s frustration with the story Birds. This was a not-so-simple and a moving one!

However, four stories weren’t enough to salvage the book overall. Yes, they didn’t see the light of their potential. Hope the next time around Deepti Naval will give us a more gripping book or a short stories’ collection.


Rating: 2.5/5 (with a heavy heart)

100 year old voices

#BookReview : Living to be a hundred by Meera Shashidhara

10:05:00 AM


Nineteen centenarians from different countries and a cross-section of society, share their memoirs, intertwined with the history of their century, as they experienced it. They were ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives. In these pages, they share their values, beliefs, habits, attitudes and lessons learnt from living to be a hundred. Most important of all, they tell us how to harmonize science and soul. They were around from the rustic horse and buggy age to the sequencing of the human genome. They witnessed the Big Bands performing, the railroads being constructed, and Gandhi's non-violent movement against the British. They have had personal experiences of the Great Depression, the World Wars, the Japanese invasion of China, India s freedom struggle, and apartheid. They have lost children to war and poverty. 

So what inspired them and kept them Spirited? What did they learn from history? How did they find the strength and the will to keep going in times of despair? In their diverse narratives, they offer us a common and real hope for health, longevity and a saner world-based on our own humanity.

My Views : Though I do not read many autobiographies / memoirs , I do like them a lot. I believe each one of us has something to offer to the next generation - whether to follow our steps for being right or completely ignore us when we go wrong. Stories of common people specially inspire me a lot. Their words are simple , loaded with their experiences and so heart warming. And what touches me most is the strength they carry within themselves while being vulnerable in front of the world. So open ,caring , helpful and humble .. Do I have it in me to be that today or some day tomorrow ?
With all these thoughts I started reading this book and it was much more satisfying than I expected. As the author says in the introduction , I am not eager to meet death but I am not afraid either. If there is one thing the people mentioned in the book believe in is to be alive all time. To accpet life might be hard , but there is always hope. And then there are friends and family to love and to let them care for you.

These people live with simplicity , indulge themselves in the slow motions of life and have haunting thoughts on everything that any human thinks about. I loved the second part of the book which has such amazing quotes from people whose perception of the world and understanding spans over 100 years. I felt like being under the shade of old trees , so huge and roots so deep that they appear like pillars of timeless beauty and wisdom.

Absolutely amazing journey this book is. I am glad this book came into light and I read it.

Rating : 4/5

Check out the teaser for the book Here

James McDonald

Rainy Day Poems, by James McDonald

12:24:00 AM

There is something quite cheerful to poetry. It makes you remember things, takes you back in time.



The book “Rainy Day Poems” by James McDonald is something I found while browsing the Kindle store for free e-books. I’m not sure what made me try it, but it is a collection of poems that is (and I don’t think there’s a more suited word for it) cute. It brought out the innocence of childhood.

These are poems about a child dreaming of the future, a nightmare he has after seeing a spider etc. One that really felt nice was the one where the boy builds a sandcastle for his sister, but starts again when the sea washes the castle away. It’s sweet in showing the boy’s patience and limitless energy. And oh yes, the one about the cow and the farm got a big smile on my face.

Just for an e.g. here’s part of a poem from the collection.

Right then and there I stood straight up,
And looked her in the face.
And said with pride and confidence,
I plan to live in space.

Like pirates of long ago,
My ship will take me far.
Around the moon and back again,
And to a distant star.

The illustrations for the poem are somewhat odd perhaps, but still cute (yes, I know that I told this word before). The rhyme is mostly that familiar ABCB beat. This is children’s poetry I guess. This is a book for the child’s imagination to grow, and one for the adult’s mind to take a break after a heavy literary fiction.



Why should you read it?
Fun, light hearted poetry that feels like it is a perfect fit for children.



Rating: 3.5 Stars

Book Details:
Title: Rainy Day Poems
Author: James McDonald
Genre: Children’s Poetry
ISBN/ASIN: B00A9AN0DK
Publisher: House of Lore via Amazon
Price: Free (as on 12th June 2014)



Reviewed by Leo.

nikhimenon

Working hard is not good enough by T.G.C. Prasad

7:30:00 PM


Title:Working hard is not good enough
Publisher:Random House India
Pages:248
Price:250 INR
Source:review copy via Think WhyNot!

                          As the title implies,T.G.C. Prasad's latest work 'Working hard is not good enough' belongs to the self-help genre.This is the author's third work in the same genre (the previous ones being 'Unusual people do things differently' and 'From the eye of my mind') with this one being mostly targeted at those working in the marketing field and in the corporate sector.The book has got about a dozen chapters,each one emphasizing on a vital quality/virtue which every entrepreneur/marketing professional should possess to succeed in his/her career.
                As in the case of any half-decent book belonging to this genre,'WHGE',too is peppered with real life examples of highly successful men,ranging from the former American President Bill Clinton,(the late)Steve Jobs to Srichio Honda.While some of them (the examples) are quite well known(Walt Disney getting fired by a newspaper editor for the apparent lack of good ideas),there are a few ones which even the die-hard fans of this genre might not have heard of.(the story of Bill Gate's initial enterprise called the 'Tref-o-data' which failed big time).Some of these stories are genuinely inspiring and helps a great deal in putting across what the writer wants to convey to the average reader.My personal favourite is the one involving George Washington and his Army officer.
               The author himself promises at the very beginning of the book that this will have very little of theory and more of real life stories in it.He must be applauded for sticking to his promise as not even once has he tried to sound 'intellectual' by putting in some high end marketing jargon in 'WHGE' to impress his reader(which he could have done easily,given his background in consultancy and marketing).Even a lay person like me (Who has no interest in business and marketing) could easily relate to Prasad's writing.
            The book is written in simple,conversational English but it's not a light read by any stretch of imagination.Well,whatever Mr.Prasad is trying to say(the salient point being the importance of thinking and doing things differently to become successful in life)is well intentioned and makes sense most of the time but the biggest problem is that it ends up monotonous,over long(atleast a couple of the chapters deserved better editing)and a bit bland after a point.Besides,it doesn't tell anything new.Don't we know all these life-fundas already?

Verdict-On the whole,TGC Prasad's 'Working Hard is not good enough' is a must read,if you are a management student or an administrator.My rating-3/5

-nikhimenon

Fiction

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green

4:44:00 PM


THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

ISBN - 978-0-141-34565-9
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2012
PAGES - 324
GENRE - Fiction
PUBLISHERS - Penguin

AUTHOR - John Green

BESTSELLERS - Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines

SYNOPSIS - Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

EXCERPT - 

“May I see you again?" he asked. There was an endearing nervousness in his voice.

I smiled. "Sure."

"Tomorrow?" he asked.

"Patience, grasshopper," I counseled. "You don't want to seem overeager.

"Right, that's why I said tomorrow," he said. "I want to see you again tonight. But I'm willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow." I rolled my eyes. "I'm serious," he said.

"You don't even know me," I said. I grabbed the book from the center console. "How about I call you when I finish this?"

"But you don't even have my phone number," he said.

"I strongly suspect you wrote it in this book."

He broke out into that goofy smile. "And you say we don't know each other.”
 


QUOTES - 

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” 

“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” 

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” 

“The world is not a wish-granting factory.” 

“Books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” 

“You are so busy being YOU that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” 

"That's the thing about pain," Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt."

FL Speaks - Everywhere I look, people are talking about this book/movie. Be it twitter, where everyone is advising those who plan to read it to keep a box of tissues nearby or be it Instagram, where selfies with the book is the new hip thing. And so, I jumped on the bandwagon as well. No, you won't find me on Insta with a selfie of the book. Yet.

TFIOS is a masterpiece. That's my verdict. Although it didn't make me shed tears, much to the chagrin of millions of others who filled a bucketload of it, it did made me immensely happy and equally sad. More like a scotch on the rocks. The scotch being the happy me and the ice, well y'know. 

And now we begin. This is the story of Hazel, a thyroid cancer patient whose inevitable end is prolonged by a miracle drug. And yet, she is destined to live her life with her disease never knowing when it could relapse. And then she meets Augustus. This is a tale of friendship and love, that spans infinities. Hazel is funny without trying to be, Augustus is a charmer with the good looks.

This is a story about death. This is also a story of an entire lifetime that you can fit in before you succumb. This is a story of hope and wishes and tears and laughter and ambition. John Green has weaved magic with his words. Magic that you don't want to unravel. You end up wishing for a miracle. But then, as Augustus says, the world is not a wish granting factory.

Ever get the feeling of the calm before the storm? This is the book. From the very first page, you realize the impending storm is coming. And you hold on to the calm as long as you can. Now, maybe you know, half of how Hazel and Augustus life has been. They've been riding the calm or trying to. The wish of this book is not to make you cry. It is to make you live the life our young heroes are leading. Crying is just the side-effect of feeling.

The last 100 pages are ruthless. I can very well imagine this is where your restraints fail. Its a complete sob fest hereafter. Hazel probably wouldn't want us to cry. She hated being pitied upon. She also wanted people to notice everything.

The ending was abrupt. I would've liked to know more, but John has left something for the imagination. In a way, that's how it should be. We make our own endings.

RATING - 4.5/5

MOVIE TRAILER : Do NOT forget to watch the movie when it comes out (already has in the States)



P.S| This book is dedicated to Esther Earl. Esther was a young girl who lost her fight to her disease. Her family and wellwishers have set up a foundation "This Star Won't Go Out". I hope you check out TSWGO and help any way you can.

eBook

A Scandalous Proposition by M.M.George

12:30:00 PM

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A SCANDALOUS PROPOSITION: General Fiction, YA, Indirom

AUTHOR (Bio from Indireads)M.M. George is the pen name of Mimmy Jain. Mimmy lives in London and edits stuffy academic books and journals when she is not dreaming up frothy romances. Mimmy has been writing as far back as she can remember. She won her first national award for writing in the International Year of the Child, at the tender age of 14.
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She had her first romantic story published around the same time in a national magazine. For many years, she wrote a humor column, which was published under various names in India Week, The Financial Express and National ReviewAs Mimmy Jain, she has been a mainstream Indian journalist for the last 27 years and has worked in senior positions at publications such as The Economic Times,The Times of India, The Financial Express and Mint.

BOOK(S): A Scandalous Proposition  is her debut e-novel.

SYNOPSIS:

When Ranbir Dewan offers to make small-town girl Mira Talwar his mistress for six months, she is shocked 
and refuses outright. But fate has other plans for them. Will the sensual attraction Ranbir and Mira share 
mature into something more substantial?

EXCERPT

She blushed and tried to bring her hand down, but her dupatta was caught in her earring. She pulled at it impatiently, but it refused to budge. She was just about to tear it away recklessly, when she heard the scrape of a chair and then felt his warm breath on her neck as a long finger extricated the flimsy material from the little bell in her ear. She closed her eyes to quell the thudding that started suddenly in her heart.

“You still haven’t learnt how to get yourself out of sticky situations, have you?” said a soft voice in her ear. She shivered suddenly as Ranbir caught hold of her hand, forcing her back against him, his fingers rubbing softly on the sensitive skin of her inner wrist. “These are the Dewans you are tangling with, Mira. Be very careful.”

MSM Speaks: Ah! After a long time, I read a book of this genre, Chick-lit that is. And let's just say "A Scandalous Proposition" is a fantastic mixture of Fifty Shades of Grey, Ekta Kapoor's Family Saga and some invisible background Hindi music. I mean this in a good way, don't be judgmental, you! It is a tiny package of handful of pages and works like a charm. 

Mira comes to New Delhi to find a job with her mother and younger sister, Reema and finds herself in a sticky position hard enough to extricate herself from. Unpredictably, she does find a way out of it, only to land in another hot boiling soup cooked by Mr. Ranbir Dewan - touted to be the hottest bachelor, who is also a heart breaker. But he cannot ignore Mira, the one who wears shimmering earrings and bangles that would irritate the hell out of him, but also fill his silence with music. He finds himself irresistibly attracted to her and despite her initial apprehensiveness and hostility, she reciprocates like dew drops, not in earnest. 

Not all is birds and bees with them though, mind you! They have very real issues to deal with, their sister and brother respectively who have got themselves into trouble, together. Now it is on these seemingly polar magnets to reconcile the situation and work their way around the scandalous proposition which Ranbir gives to Mira, who like any dignified woman, declined. But somewhere deep down her heart, she finds herself imagining the forbidden prospect. Ranbir's and Mira's journey beyond the physical attraction is worth a read. Totally mazedar read!!!!! MSM Recommends!! 

You can get the e-book here at Indireads

Contemporary Romance

Pyar aur Poetry by Roopa Menon

9:54:00 AM

College beauty Arundhati Basu would rather stick her head in the proverbial oven than host this year’s Founder’s Day event with tongue-tied nerd, Nikhil Menon. Compared to the brilliant but elusive poet, D. G. Beckett, Nikhil is a green toad. 
As Arundhati gets to know him, however, she finds herself oddly drawn to the shy geek, and he, in turn, grows in confidence as he spends more time with her. His hopes for a lasting relationship with Arundhati seemed to be within his reach.

If only she could forget D. G. Beckett!

My views : Have you ever felt love for some one whom you do not know except his writing ? Ever fell for someone whom you perhaps admired for talent without knowing who he really is ? If yes , you will find those memories hitting you back when you read this novella. And then there are people whom you notice not but a chance encounter leaves you in awe !

This is a story of discovering talent in some one you have never bothered to know. A story of a guy finding unique way of overcoming his inhibitions and trying to win over his love.a clash of literary choices and the merits of each. I absolutely liked both the characters in equal proportions. while some where i relate to Nikhil finding it hard to be liked , i also have been like Arundhati when it comes to exploring Indian literature. if Arundhati had ever read a tale like this one , i am sure she would have respected Indian writers ! It was most amusing how Nikhil deals with DG Beckett !

I really liked this fresh take on love in college setting.

This is an e book which you can buy here


Freelancer

The Long Earth - Terry Pratchet & Stephen Baxter

5:22:00 PM



THE LONG EARTH

ISBN : 978-0-552-16723-9
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2012
PUBLISHERS - Corgi, Random House
PAGES - 432
BINDING - Paperback

AUTHOR - Terry Pratchet & Stephen Baxter

SYNOPSIS - NORMALLY, WHEN THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO, HE LISTENED TO THE SILENCE.

The Silence was very faint here. Almost drowned out by the sounds of the mundane world. Did people in this polished building understand how noisy it was? The roar of air conditioners and computer fans, the susurration of many voices heard but not decipherable.... This was the office of the transEarth Institute, an arm of the Black Corporation. The faceless office, all plasterboard and chrome, was dominated by a huge logo, a chesspiece knight. This wasn't Joshua's world. None of it was his world. In fact, when you got right down to it, he didn't have a world; he had all of them.

ALL OF THE LONG EARTH.


EXCERPT - 

1916: The Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of no-man's-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive--some said mad, others allege dangerous--scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson finds a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and...a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.
 


FL Speaks - Its been quite a while since I last picked up a book. Hence, this review might not be upto the standards expected of ALOP.

Moving on, as I wound up my 2 month long sabbatical at home, I found this exorbitantly priced bookshop in the airport. Amidst those forever long stacks of books by Grisham and Nora Roberts, The Long Earth was silently waiting to be picked up. And that is what I did. I picked it up, paid a ridiculous price of 450 bucks and sat down to devour each word.

Remember, its Terry Pratchett we are talking of. He's the master of satire and funny in the fantasy word. And Baxter, is a renowned Science Fiction author. In between sips of cold coffee, the ocassional glances to the pretty cabin crews and the inevitable boarding of the flight, I found my sweet spot. The next three hours were a blur.

With the occasional turbulence ofcourse. The book starts ridiculously simply enough. It starts with a box that has a switch and is powered by a potato in the middle of it. And that's when things start getting interesting. Anyone can make that devise. It is devastatingly simple if you follow the instructions. And once you hit the switch, voila! you're no more on earth. I mean, you're. But not on the earth you were a second ago. And that realisation and the simplicity of it and the imagination of the writers blew me away. The Long Earth is a never ending line of parallel earths, each different from the main earth as we know it.

You want to start over? Hit the switch and you're on the next earth. You don't want to be there too? Step over to the next one. There are thousands of earths lying in wait for you to start over, thousands of earths left to be explored. And its just a thickness of a thought away.

Joshua Valiente is a hero. The day humankind discovered the stepping device and the parallel worlds, Joshua Valiente as a kid, rescued hundreds of other kids from various worlds, because they were simply dumb enough not to read the rules. But there was something that no one knew about Joshua. He didn't need a stepper box to step to parallel worlds. He was a natural. This book is the journey of Joshua along with an entity known as Lobsang across the vast lengths of the Long Earth. It is the story of the Green family, who left their fortunes and lives in the old earth to travel to a different earth hundreds of steps away to start base all over again. Farming, hunting and food gathering has become the new 'in' thing. 

But just as the Long Earth opened up a lot of possibilities for the already overpopulated Earth, it also brought along a few demons of their own. With more than 50 percent of the population deciding to jump ship, the economies collapsed. There is no law and order in the new worlds and there is something more terrifying millions of worlds away that might meet up with the humans.

Spoilers : If you plan to read the book, don't read this. If you do not, go to rot13.com to decode it.

Zrrg gur gebyyf. Gurl'er sevraqyl, gurl'er uhtr, gurl fvat orggre guna Whfgva Ovrore naq lrg fbzrguvat vf fpnevat gurz gb zvtengr. V jnf rkcrpgvat n zber bs n guerng guna gur bar gurl zrg ng gur raq bs gur obbx. Naq gur pyvznk jnfa'g jung V rkcrpgrq rvgure. N ahxr tbrf bss ba rnegu naq Wbfuhn naq Fnyyl (jubz lbh'yy zrrg va gur obbx yngre) ehfu gb gur fvgr bs qrinfgngvba. V jbhyq'ir cersreerq vg vs gurl fbzrubj fgbccrq vg. Ohg gura, nz abg gur bar jevgvat guvf.

All in all, it was a great first book. Don't let the genre fool you. True, it has more of a Baxter touch than Pratchett's, however, it does manage to end the first book well.

Rating - 4/5

Kishalay Bhattacharjee

Che in Paona Bazaar by Kishalay bhattacharjee

9:39:00 AM

North-East India is not an ‘imagined community’, separated from the politics and policies that govern the rest of the country. It is as real as the violence that has torn the land apart, leaving its people grappling for a semblance of normalcy, if nothing else. The north-east isn’t just a hotbed for insurgency and deadly casual encounters, a stop-over on every international rock band’s schedule, or where used syringes lie waiting in dark alleys. There are other realities as well— of forbidden love, weddings, fascinating cuisines, childhood memories and other 'unimportant stories' that never made it to our newspapers and television screens. 
Years in the media have taught him that not all revolutions will be televised. Che in Paona Bazaar finds Bhattacharjee deep in the heart of Manipur, demystifying a state that was once just a source of ‘news’ for him. He delves into public memory, digging up collective histories to bring to life a people forgotten by their fellow-countrymen, of women hardened by constant hardship and of a youth struggling to merge their multiple identities.

My Views : I took the longest possible time to finish this book , considering the fact that I loved it from page 1. When I started the book, All I had in mind was the term "seven sisters" , but it took me a while to name all seven of them without referring to Google . Ok, i am not really proud of this but well , this is all I knew of the states. I felt this book will tell me a lot about the states - both good and bad. But this book surpassed all my hopes and expectations. This is an easy and engaging read if you let the words be nothing but words. and that is the difficult task in itself. Every once in a while I paused , expressed my disbelief on what I read , told it to my husband and still I could not make sense of what I actually felt.The author has incorporated a character Eshei( the word means music / song ) and through her journeys and feelings he has expressed the anguish , pain and how some find a path while others resign to the darkness. The folktales , the culture , the food of these lands is so fascinating while living there is no heaven. Why we are bothered by the north eastern people coming to other states for work or settling while never asking why there are no such opportunities in their homeland ? there is so much to know and explore about this mystical part of the nation and I hope I get a chance to visit north east once in my lifetime. Absolutely loved Kishalay's style of presenting his observations and tales of the common people.

I wanted to know more about my country , the people and how we differ , for the first time. And I am happy I got a chance to read this book as the beginning of my quest for knowing my own nation as a whole or state-wise

Rating : 5/5 
Please do give this book read.

MIB

Movies Inspired by Books: Anniyan(2005) v/s Tell Me Your Dreams(1998)

8:53:00 PM


                             In MIB (Movies Inspired by Books),we have a new weekly series where we'll discuss about the Movies (which we think are) inspired by books.By 'inspiration' we aren't referring to those rip-offs neither are we talking about those films which are 'official' adaptations of the originals.So don't expect a 'Three Idiots'(Five Point Someone) or a 'Silence of the Lambs' to be featured in this series.This week we'll be writing about the 2005 Tamil Blockbuster 'Anniyan'(Aparichit in Hindi and Aparichitudu in Telugu) directed by Shankar which we believe is heavily inspired by Sidney Sheldon's 1998 Best-seller 'Tell Me Your Dreams)

                    Anniyan was considered a path breaking film when it got released in the year 2005.The film which told the story of a meek Iyengar named Rules Ramanujam(Amby)was not only a highly entertaining film but also a huge critical success.Ramanujam is a lawyer who never does anything against his conscience and is highly frustrated with the 'disorders' in the society.He takes up cases of the underdog but loses badly in the court due to lack of evidence.Meanwhile is love life is also going nowhere as he is too timid to confess his love for his childhood sweetheart,Nandini.One fine day,Ambi stumbles upon a website which promises to keep a check on the rot in the society.The mild-mannered Amby who is highly frustrated by now with the 'horrible experiences' he has been having in life logs in to the website and shares information about all the 'bad people' he has met in his life.From there on,the story takes a new turn as Amby discovers that all the people against whom he has complained in the website are getting killed one by one(by a mask vigilante serial-killer who calls himself 'Anniyan').Parallely,Nandini is charmed by a supermodel 'Remo'.Half way through the movie,the audience,Nandini and the investigators who are investigating the serial killings get to know that Ambi,Anniyan & Remo are infact the same person and books him for the murder(s).How Ambi proves his innocence and saves himself from conviction is what the rest of the film portrays.In a brilliant climatic interrogation sequence,Amby transforms to Anniyan and Remo in split seconds and stuns the audience.Similarly there is a tail-end twist which is sure to surprise the viewers. 
                             
 'Tell Me your Dreams' is the story of Ashley Patterson,the introverted software professional who is hated by her co-workers,the extroverted singer Toni Prescott and the timid artist Alette.Dr Peterson,Ashley's father is a renowned surgeon who is super specialised in Minimally Invasive Surgeries.Ashley is having nightmares and she fears that someone is stalking her.Toni is romantically inclined towards a jeweller while Alette finds her Mr.Perfect in a fellow artist.One Night,Ashley is petrified when she discovers that someone has broken into her house and has written 'You will die' on her dressing table mirror with her lip-stick.She calls upon the deputy police inspector for help only to find him dead outside her apartment,the next morning.Meanwhile two other murders have also happened somewhere else (the victims being Toni's and Alette's boyfriends respectively)and the similar pattern of the murders clearly indicate that it is the same person who is behind all these three acts of crime.Towards the middle of the story,it's revealed that Ashley,Toni and Allette are infact the same person and one of these personalities is responsible for the murders. 


Why we believe this film is an ‘inspired’ work?

There are many things in common.Both the film and the book weave the concept  of Multiple Personality Disorderinto a crime thriller plot.What could have been a mundane saga of revenge and vigilante justice is elevated to a higher level with the brilliant use of this medical concept in the story.There are many other similarities between the film and the novel.Forinstance,Ashley is not even remotely aware of the existence of her other two alters where as they obviously know her as the weak and boring Computer geek.The pattern is the same in Shankar’s film too.Remo and Anniyan know Amby as the good for nothing Iyengar lawyer but he doesn’t know that they exist.The court scenes, hypnotising scenes and the transformation of Amby to Anniyan and Remo are all there which makes  it pretty evident that the character of Amby is modelled on the Sheldon protagonist,theintroverted Computer professional  Ashley Patterson.The movie also has a curiously similar tail-end twist too.

Why the film is not a rip-off?

The film, though it narrates the tale of a meek and timid man who is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder has an authentic and original story line which is in no way similar to Sheldon’s work.The characters of Amby,Anniyan and Remo are properly etched out and the director has ensured that he has included all the essential elements like colourful and well choreographed song sequences (Kumaree,Remo….), hilarious comic sequences (Vivek-Amby sequences), gravity defying stunts to entertain the audience.The concept of Multiple Personality Disorder is explained in the simplest way possible and the narration is fast and anything but confusing. While Sheldon’s novel switched gears to become a court-room drama mid-way,’Anniyan’ proceeds as the typical Shankar brand of Vigilante film and culminates in a riveting confrontation between Vikram and Praksh Raj where each of the alters come forward to help Amby.The back-story explaining the birth of Anniyan and Remo are entirely different from that of Toni and Alette though they have the recurring theme of childhood trauma associated with them.
                  On the whole,Anniyan though heavily inspired by Sidney Sheldon’s ‘Tell Me Your Dreams’ is a genuine and honest work and can be considered as an intelligent film maker’s fitting tribute to the master story teller.


-nikhimenon

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