Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Bestseller She Wrote by Ravi Subramanian - A BlogAdda Book Review

About the Author : Ravi Subramanian, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, is a best-selling Indian author with a number of commercially successful novels under his belt. I've personally enjoyed his novel, 'If God Was a Banker' in the past. Here's a link to his official site : http://www.ravisubramanian.in/
Get your copy of this book from Amazon! The Bestseller She Wrote

Cover : When you first get hold of the book you notice the bright yellow cover and the words "Love. Betrayal. Redemption" etched on it, that is an instant eye grabber and might have compelled me to pick this book had I seen it in a bookstore. Now I hate it when book covers come with blurbs or stickers saying- 'soon to be a motion picture' or 'now a major motion picture' and sadly this cover does have a blurb at the bottom. But I am willing to let it slide since it does not clash with the cover theme. 

Plot : Here's what Amazon.in had to say about the plot - 

"He was a bestseller… She wanted him to make her one.
Paperback king, Aditya Kapoor’s life is straight out of a modern man’s fantasy. His literary stardom is perfectly balanced by a loving wife and a spectacular career. With everything he touches turning to gold, Aditya is on a winning streak.
Shreya Kaushik is a student with a heart full of ambition. Young, beautiful, and reckless, Shreya speaks her mind and obsessively chases after what she wants. And what she wants is to be a bestselling author.
What happens when their worlds collide? Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Can real ambition come in the way of blind passion? Can trust once broken, be regained?
Master storyteller Ravi Subramanian, delves into the glitzy world of bestsellers and uncovers a risky dalliance between a superstar novelist and his alluring protégé.
The Bestseller She Wrote is a combustible cocktail of love, betrayal and redemption."

My Experience : Can you see from the blurb how this book can be construed as a thriller? At least that is what I did and ended up cursing myself.It started out leisurely but picked up the pace sooner than later.
I felt no connection between the title of the novel and its contents. Rather than dealing with the 'bestseller', the plot deals with an amorous love affair between Aditya, who revisits his college as a guest speaker and Shreya, a student and an aspiring writer. And thus starts the illicit affair between the mentor and the protege and Aditya's previously perfect life takes a nosedive kept afloat only by his conscience. The author does portray Aditya's dilemma eloquently- 'Nothing in life is more wretched than the mind of a man conscious of his guilt'.
Aditya's wife, Maya was the one relatable character in the book but the writer did not do her justice. It frustrates me when a character starts out with depth and complexity and yet, is ignored by authors to make way for irritable protagonists.
Shreya Kaushik, the career driven IIM-B student, is smitten by Aditya's charms and ends up using him to publish her book, as Aditya finds out later to his dismay.

The Good and The Bad : Here are some of the hits and misses with the story.

  • The one redeeming feature of this book is that it provides the readers with quite a few catchy quotes like:

"Life is binary in many ways. There is no way that we can move away from each other slowly and painlessly. There has to be a complete exit."
"Without these bookstores, there will be no books, and without books, there will be no culture." Amen to that.

  • The chapters are short and the writing is crisp.
  • That being said, the plot is entirely too predictable. And the plot twists that have been introduced fall flat.  The minute you're done with the first chapter you will realise that the story revolves around an illicit affair- something Bollywood has perfected to the T and it makes ample sense as to why this book would be serving as the script for the next 'motion picture'. 
  • The book definitely has its Chetan Bhagat moments. Let's keep it to that.
  • Character development was a nightmare. It was hard to sympathise with any of the characters in the book.

Rating : 2.5/5
Genre: Romance ThrillerPublisher: WestlandPublication Year: 2015ISBN No.: 9385152386 
Price: INR 295 for around 392 pages

Final Verdict : I expected a lot from this book and it fell flat. If you are looking for a coffee table book and want a one time read to get you out of your reading flunk, you can check this one out. But beware, it reads like a bollywood movie and you would be hard pressed to find originality in the way the story is told.
Go ahead and check out 'The Bestseller She Wrote' on the Goodreads page.

P.S. I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian BloggersParticipate now to get free books!
However, all views and opinions expressed in this post are my own. Thank you for reading.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Ramayana: The Game of Life - Shattered Dreams (Book 2) - A Blogadda Book Review

"Life is a combination of hope and despair, the one that dominates you carves your personality."

Shubha Vilas's latest novel based on the Indian epic, Ramayana is filled with such wonderful motivational quotes while exploring the incidents leading up to Rama's exile and Laxman and Sita's decisions to join him.

For those not familiar with the Indian epic, Ramayana, here's the briefest of description I could conjure up : Lord Rama, King Dasaratha's son and the rightful heir to Ayodhya's throne is sent off to exile, where his wife Sita and brother Laxman decide to join him. They embark on an adventure taking help from the army of the Vanaras when Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the demon king. Ultimately good presides over evil and Rama and Sita are united.

Shubha Vilas's Ramayana: The Game of life series revisits the epic and gives us valuable insights into the sub plots, the characters and what went through their minds at each stage. I was surprised at how relatable it was even in these modern times and how there was something to learn from each page. The great thing about this book is that it serves a dual purpose, it reacquaints the reader with our roots, our national literature and at the same time offers motivation that reader's can absorb and apply in their day-to-day lives. It reads as a self help book, if you will, but with an actual story we Indians have grown up with. Needless to say it caters to every nationality if they had a mind to read it.

Plot: This is the second book in the series Ramayana: The Game of Life. The author has delved deep into the characters and their minds to bring forth the riveting drama of Rama's exile onto paper. And he has achieved this daunting task with elan and then some.
The story revolves around Rama's coronation; the turn of events that leads to the realization of Kaikeyi's boons,  Manthara's scheming and plotting to have Bharat as the rightful king on the throne and King Dasaratha's decision resulting in Rama's exile.

My experience: I loved the crisp flowing writing style and the eye catching footnotes on almost every page offering insights, thoughts on life and motivational quotes from the author. This book also made me want to actually pick up the unabridged Ramayana and relive the famous epic. The extended storyline of 'Ayodhya Kanda', dealt with in this book, explores family ties, societal values and the complex conundrums of human life in general. To say the least I was enraptured and finished the book within record time. I already picked up its predecessor The Rise of the Sun Prince and am looking forward to the next instalment.

The look and feel of the paperback edition of Ramayana: The Game of Life - Shattered Dreams is pleasing to the senses. The cover is beautiful and the play of colours captures the essence of the story. The pages are of good quality and the font is easy on the eyes. The binding however could have been better.

About the author: "Shubha Vilas,  a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker, holds a degree in engineering and law with specialisation in Patent Law. His leadership seminars are popular with top-level management in corporate houses. He also helps individuals deal with modern-life situations by applying the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and other dharmic traditions." - Amazon.in

Rating: 4.5/5. I didn't find any flaws with the plot or the writing style and have thoroughly enjoyed the story.
Genre: Mythology
Publisher: Jaico Books
Publication Year: 2015
ISBN No.: ISBN-13: 978-8184955316
Price: INR 350 for around 400 pages

Final Verdict: Intended for all ages, this book is a must-have on your shelf. I can honestly say that you won't regret picking it up even if you aren't a fan of mythologies!
Pick up your copy here: Ramayana: The Game of Life - #2 Shattered Dreams

P.S. A special thanks to blogadda for introducing me to this series. This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

'My True Love Gave To Me'...because 'cold nights are for falling in love (with books)'!

Let's just all take a minute to admire the cover! This is the UK cover of My True Love Gave To Me : Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins.
Ain't it a beauty? It is. It. Is.
Let's stare at it a while longer! :D 
I still cannot get over the fact that the edge of the pages are lined with pink!!! :')

Now if you asked me to make a list of my favourite current YA authors I'd probably name most of the writers listed in this book. I've been dying to buy this book since Stephanie Perkins announced that she's editing a collection of 12 festive YA stories by some of the heavy hitting young adult fiction authors (including herself) for christmas.
Like most short story book compilations by various authors, this one too guarantees to be a pile of hits and misses. More hits than misses, I hope. :)

There are 12 stories in here, for the 12 days of Christmas, and I know I'm a bit late to the reading party, but I found out that you can enjoy them whenever you need to revel in a bit of yuletide or festive spirit, which I'll admit, I need pretty much all round the year!

I'm not through the entire book, but I'll keep updating this post as I read a new story and review it for you guys. As for now, I'm literally pumped to read them. :D

Here are the titles of the stories in My True Love Gave To Me,

1. Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
2. The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
3. Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena
4. Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han
5. It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
6. Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
7. Krampuslauf by Holly Black
8. What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
9. Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire 
10. Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
11. Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
12. The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Have you read any anthologies lately? Do share! :)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

December-January Book Haul!

For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed a good read. There's nothing like cozying up to a book after a tiring day, or any day for that matter. Over time I have switched to ebooks for the portability factor (what with tons of free titles available and customized e-reading apps and devices). So after my exams were over in December, I  decided to pick up a few books and it's such an amazing feeling to physically turn a page and breathe in the chlorinated odour of a fresh book I tell you!
I'm buzzing with excitement to share my haul with you guys. Here we go...

(left to right)

1. The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee. 

It is set in the 1960s and deals with the ups and downs of Ghosh family during the Naxalite era in West Bengal. What I've gathered from the rave reviews of this ambitious and successful novel by Neel Mukherjee is that it speaks about the quintessential 'bangaliyana' (bengali-ness) within the folds of a family in trying times in the history of politics of Bengal. It was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker prize in 2014. I'm really looking forward to reading this book.
  OR  Buy from Amazon.in

2. Insurgent by Veronica Roth.
 I loved Divergent, no lie. So naturally I started reading Insurgent, the second book in the series but had to stop half way through it because my expectations fell flat. But I'm going to give this book another go! Second time's the charm, maybe?
   OR  Buy from Amazon.in

Insurgent releases in 2015! And the trailer looks real good. :D

3. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. 

This book has garnered adulations from almost everybody on BookTube and I'm very excited to start the Shatter Me series by one of NYTimes bestselling authors.
  OR  Buy from Amazon.in

4. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. 

    The overview of this book got me hooked and honestly, I can't wait to read it. Here's what wikipedia had to say,
"A teenage girl in Tokyo sees no escape from the bullying of her classmates, and her sense of isolation is deepened by an unhappy family life. Before she takes her own life, Nao is determined to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who is more than one hundred years old. Nao finds comfort in writing in her diary, addressing an imagined reader and friend.

On the other side of the Pacific, Ruth, a novelist living on a small island off the coast of British Columbia, finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the beach—possibly debris from the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. Inside is Nao's diary, and Ruth becomes obsessed with finding out how the story ends."
  OR  Buy from Amazon.in

5. The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

    I was charmed by A Young Doctor's Notebook by the same writer, so i decided to pick up this number. (And yes, the comedic drama series A Young Doctor's Notebook is based off of Bulgakov's acclaimed novel by the same name and has Daniel 'Harry Potter' Radcliffe and Jon 'Mad Men' Hamm playing the young and old doctor respectively!)
  OR  Buy from Amazon.in

6. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. 

Well if you haven't heard of A Game of Thrones by now, I don't know which rock you've been living under! This already popular series was popularised by the HBO drama series titled The Game of Thrones (go watch it, i'll wait. And you can thank me later :D :P ) So I finally went ahead and treated myself for Christmas with this set. And needless to say, I am beyond excited to finish reading them all before the next season of GoT arrives!  

  OR  Buy from Amazon.in

Stay tuned for upcoming reviews for the books mentioned! :)
Have a book-tastic weekend y'all! :D

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A Dystopian World

If you are rooting for Katniss Everdeen to bring down the Capitol or running with the Maze Runners or even searching for a Brave New World in your Time Machine, you dear reader, are a fan of dystopian literature.
Nowadays we associate the word dystopia with any work of fiction that depicts a bad place/circumstances preferably set in the near future. In this post I'll be listing the works of fiction that I've come to love as a piece of dystopian literature and hope that you find reading suggestions from amongst them.
I'll be segregating this post into two parts, listing dystopian novels by 'classic' or 'contemporary' tag. Hope you have as much fun reading through list, as I had compiling it!

Classic Dystopian Literature

1. "Utopia" (1516) by Thomas More 

     First published in 1516, Thomas More's Utopia is one of the most important works of European humanism. Through the voice of the mysterious traveler Raphael Hythloday, More describes a pagan, communist city-state governed by reason. Addressing such issues as religious pluralism, women's rights, state-sponsored education, colonialism, and justified warfare, Utopia seems remarkably contemporary nearly five centuries after it was written, and it remains a foundational text in philosophy and political theory.

Get this book at Amazon OR 
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2. "Nineteen Eighty-Four" (1949) by George Orwell

      Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. While 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a "negative utopia", that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world — so powerful that it's completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions — a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

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3. "The Caves of Steel" (1954) by Isaac Asimov

       A millennium into the future two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. Isaac Asimov's "Robot" novels chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together. Like most people left behind on an over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley had little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions. But when a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Baley is ordered to the Outer Worlds to help track down the killer. The relationship between Life and his Spacer superiors, who distrusted all Earthmen, was strained from the start. Then he learned that they had assigned him a partner: R. Daneel Olivaw. Worst of all was that the " R" stood for robot--and his positronic partner was made in the image and likeness of the murder victim.
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4. "A Clockwork Orange" (1962) by Anthony Burgess 

      A vicious fifteen-year-old "droog" is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick's magnificent film of the same title.
In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to "redeem" him—the novel asks, "At what cost?

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5. "Lord of the Flies" (1954) by William Golding

      William Golding's compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first, it seems as though it's all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious & life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic & death. As ordinary standards of behavior collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them—the world of cricket & homework & adventure stories—& another world is revealed beneath, primitive & terrible. Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was 1st published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger'sThe Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought & literature. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a classic.

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6. "The Handmaid's Tale" (1985) by Margaret Atwood

      Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

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7. Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley

     While this dystopian masterpiece and “Fahrenheit 451″ could be interchangeable as the top two, “Brave New World” gets the nod because the writing itself is the best. This novel is incredible, showing a society where left leaning thinking and self hedonism is taken so far to the extreme that one person’s utopia turns out to be an appalling place where the irony of a peaceful existence has caused society to lose all concept of art, honor, religious beliefs, or anything that often defines culture. The “utopia” has people who have no sympathy, no empathy, and this vision of a future is as chilling as any other on this list.
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Contemporary Dystopian Literature

8. "The Hunger Games" (2008) by Suzanne Collins 

     Set in a dark vision of near future a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her younger sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence.
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9. "Divergent Trilogy" (2011) by Veronica Roth

     In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
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10. "The Maze Runner Series" (2009) by James Dashner

Described as "Lord of the Flies meets Ender's Game meets Holes" by Dashner himself,The Maze Runner is Dashner's first attempt at conquering a national market with his writing.
If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.
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11. "Legend Trilogy" (2011) by Marie Lu

      The flooded coast of former Los Angeles. Two warring nations of North America–the Republic and the Colonies.

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen–year–old June is a prodigy. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country, she is being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles.

Born into the slums of the Republic’s Lake Sector, fifteen–year–old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother is murdered. And Day becomes the prime suspect. Now, caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival while June tries desperately to avenge her brother’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together and the sinister lengths their country will go to in order to keep its secrets.
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12. "Never Let Me Go" (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro

      As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.
And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.
A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance – and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro’s finest work.
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P.S. All the summaries have been taken from Goodreads and Amazon. I thought it'd be better to get professional help this one time than me trying to describe each book in brief!

If I've missed out on titles or if there are books you think I should read, please do put them in the comments! Thanks for reading. :)