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Showcase Sunday #7

The aim of Showcase Sunday by Vicky @ Book, Biscuits and Tea is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

I haven’t done this in forever but last month, I had such a massive haul, I really wanted to show it to you and decided to do a vlog for a change. What do you think? You like the vlog or the blog post? It’s my second time doing this so I am still learning.

 

Have you read any of these books? Are you looking forward to reading any of them?What was your haul for this week? Put your links in the comments below and I’ll come visit your book haul.

 

Butterfly Season by Natasha Ahmed

Date Published: March 20, 2014
Publisher: Indireads
Pages: 169
Source: Review copy provided by Indireads
Format: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

On her first holiday in six years, Rumi is expecting to relax and unwind. But when she is set up by her long-time friend, she doesn’t shy away from the possibilities. Ahad, a charming, independent, self-made man, captures her imagination, drawing her away from her disapproving sister, Juveria.

Faced with sizzling chemistry and a meeting of the minds, Ahad and Rumi find themselves deep in a relationship that moves forward with growing intensity. But as her desire for the self-assured Ahad grows, Rumi struggles with a decision that will impact the rest of her life.

Confronted by her scandalized sister, a forbidding uncle and a society that frowns on pre-marital intimacy, Rumi has to decide whether to shed her middle-class sensibilities, turning her back on her family, or return to her secluded existence as an unmarried woman in Pakistan.

We follow Rumi from rainy London to a sweltering Karachi, as she tries to take control of her own destiny.

Buy it here – Amazon US | Add on Goodreads

My View: As is characteristic of me, I jumped into the book without any clue to its plot. What held me on was the easy going language, the interesting plot line and the effortlessness of the story reeling me in. 

The plot isn’t very innovative or original but it stands its own in the context in which it occurs. The cultural relevance of Pakistan is another distinguishing factor. 

The writing is smooth flowing and although a couple of instances had me raising my brow in a ‘really?’, they were addressed later on and made sense. The romance is well done and not too mushy but it would have really helped had the book been given more pages and time for the romance to develop instead of looking insta-love. I hate those.

The characters were real and at times seemed hyper but I guess some people are like that in real life.

Overall, the book made for a quick, interesting read. I look forward to more substantial and lengthy book by the author in the future.

3/5 stars – I liked it.3 stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Indireads for a review copy.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Date Published: April 5, 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 337
Source: Local Library
Format: Hardback

Goodreads Synopsis: Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

Buy it here -Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: The author’s ‘The statistical probability of love at first sight‘ has been on my to-read list since forever. In fact, I think it has been more than 2 years since I bought it but I still need to get to it. But surprisingly when I saw this one sitting on a library shelf, I decided to read this one first. You know how it goes, you borrow books from library and they are the ones actually getting read while the ones on your own shelf sulk away. Oh, well.

As usual, I went in this book blind, no back cover reads, no reviews gone through. Just straight dunk-in. So what did I find? To begin with, I had a feeling this might be getting somewhere but then after another few pages, I thought maybe not. This seems like one of those cliche’d, been there-done that read.

I truly found love for this book in the second half. I can see you nodding your head there. You know me too well, don’t you? Wherever travel comes in a book, I am all for it. And I gobble it up like it’s my very favorite food. Well, actually, it is! Even though I would have wanted some more of that travelling and descriptions but I realized the book wasn’t about that.

As I go through some of the reviews now, I realize a lot of people didn’t like this one for it being cheesy and cliche’d and almost unbelievable. Okay, I would agree it is a bit cheesy and cliche’d and unbelievable. But then isn’t this what books are for? Sometimes life doesn’t give you what a book does. You get to believe and hope and make those dreams come true. That’s not heard of in real life. And that’s what got to me. It’s what made me love this book. The little thoughts, the similar thinking styles of the main characters. That’s not possible, I know! But still I loved it. I gorged on it like anything. It gave me my breath of air, my unfulfilled dream came to fruition. Umm, okay, I know you are thinking I have probably lost it by this time.

Some of the writing in there is truly worth savoring and I read few sentences multiple time just to let all that beauty sink in.

Perhaps it could be the stage of my life from where I’m looking at it that this book makes absolute sense. It makes me see how this book is believable, how it can happen. It makes me want to fall in love and stay there, even at a distance but still in love. Ahh, the feeling.

I think Ms. Smith has given us a fresh concept albeit with the help of some cliche’d story line and instances. I believe this is one of those books that had it come at any other time, I might have given it a pass and commented on it being cheesy but right now, it means the world. It means everything. And someday I would like to send that postcard and ‘wish you were here’.

4/5 stars – I really liked it. 4 stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

The Mother I Never Knew: Two Novellas by Sudha Murty

Date Published: 2014
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 216
Source: Review copy provided by Random House India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis:

What secrets lurk in a family’s past—and how important are they in the here and now?

Sudha Murty’s new book comprises two novellas that explore two quests by two different men—both for mothers they never knew they had.

Venkatesh, a bank manager, stumbles upon his lookalike one fine day. When he probes further, he discovers his father’s hidden past, which includes an abandoned wife and child. Ventakesh is determined to make amends to his impoverished stepmother—but how can he repay his father’s debt?

Mukesh, a young man, is shocked to realize after his father’s death that he was actually adopted. He sets out to find his biological mother, but the deeper he delves, the more confused he is about where his loyalties should lie: with the mother who gave birth to him, or with the mother who brought him up.

The Mother I Never Knew is a poignant, dramatic book that reaches deep into the human heart to reveal what we really feel about those closest to us.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Flipkart  | Add on Goodreads

My View: Once again skeptical of trying a new Indian author but always the one for taking risks, I dived in.

At the beginning, the simple writing did not impress me as such. It is one of the things that puts me off, in fact, because I find it an obstacle as it distracts me from the concept and the story. However, I soon realized that this was not the case with this book. Despite its simple writing, I could focus on the story and the writing aided in adding to the simplicity of the story.

Well, the story isn’t unique but not a mindless repeat as well. It has new facets and is told in a very subjective way. The author has made the story her own.

Although the story could have been just that, a story, instead of a novella. It could have been said in much less words and even less drama but I believe then I wouldn’t have been made privy to all the minor details that bring out the characters and their importance to the story line.

Both the stories have a Bollywood movie feel to it but I preferred the first one over the second. The second one is too dramatic for my taste, dramatic to the extent of being unbelievable. The unnecessary stretch and added drama put me off towards the end and I was just looking forward to it to end. The first story in comparison talks about families and cultures in contrast, describes the different characters in the family and their mindsets. It takes a lot of time to get to the point but that time doesn’t seem like idling away, it adds value to the story. However, the same time seems wasted to me in the second story, with incidents of no value taking place and unnecessary emotional brouhaha that I would rather stay away from.

Having read through other reviews of the book, I realize this is not Ms Murty’s most stellar attempts at writing and I would love to read Wise and Otherwise which has been more widely appreciated. However, having said that, I did not feel like this was an underwhelming performance. Since this is the first of her works I read, I had no set criteria to compare it to and no expectations. I guess that worked in the book’s favor.

Recommended for a one-time light read if you’re okay with some drama.

3.5/5 stars – Somewhere between ‘I liked it’ and ‘I really liked it’. images-25

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Random House India for a review copy.

Shattered Dreams by Shubha Vilas

Series: Ramayana: The Game of Life #2

Date Published: February 4, 2015
Publisher: Jaico
Pages: 404
Source: Review copy provided by Blogadda
Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis:

Shattered Dreams is the sequel to the national bestseller, Rise of the Sun Prince, in the new spiritual and motivational series Ramayana – The Game of Life. Twelve joyful years have passed in Ayodhya since the wedding of Rama and Sita at the end of Book 1.

Now, in Shattered Dreams, Shubha Vilas narrates the riveting drama of Rama’s exile. Through tales of Rama’s unwavering and enigmatic persona, the book teaches us how to handle reversals positively; through Bharata’s actions, it teaches us to handle temptation; and through Sita’s courage, to explore beyond our comfort zone. This complicated family drama provides deep insights on how human relationships work and how they fail.

With Valmiki’s Ramayana as its guiding light, Shattered Dreams deftly entwines poetic beauty from the Kamba Ramayana and Ramacharitramanas, as well as folk philosophy from the Loka Pramana tales, to demonstrate how the ancient epic holds immediate relevance to modern life. Experience the ancient saga of the Ramayana like never before.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Flipkart  | Add on Goodreads

My View: Frankly, I was a bit hesitant before giving this book a nod. I only get along with the writing of very few Indian authors so I am skeptical when trying a new one. A few pages into the book and all my doubts were  put to rest. Shubha’s writing didn’t put me off. He has a rich vocabulary and the writing makes for a smooth, easy read. It was natural and didn’t grab my attention enough to distract me from the concept of the book.

I had not read the first book but being well versed with the general theme of Ramayana, I didn’t think I would feel any disconnect and I was right about that. I believe that will be for most of the readers who have a cursory knowledge of Ramayana.

What I liked about the book was that the instances are well-detailed. Some of those I was not aware of so that added to the dimensions. I especially liked the lessons that one can take from different episodes that are put up in little boxes. It also makes them easier to get back to. The author’s analysis in those instances comes handy. These lessons are applicable from a household situation to even a managerial one.

Also, if one is interested in learning the meaning of certain Hindi or Sanskrit words, they have been taken straight from the epic and then their translation is given. It makes it easier for someone who wants to go back and read the original text someday. You can start building up your dictionary right away.

What I had trouble with was that even though the footnotes had to be there to add perspective, sometimes it was cumbersome to go back and forth and also took the attention away from the smooth flowing story line. Another of my pet peeve are certain typos. And some analogies drawn seemed too general or too abstract to draw my interest. Also, certain expressions like ‘Sita giggling mindlessly’ doesn’t gel well with my conception of Sita so I had trouble imagining and believing it.

Overall, the book makes for an easy, interesting read for people who have or haven’t read Ramayana in the past. The author has worked hard to glean lessons from this epic. The lessons are of benefit to everyone from an average Joe to a marketing consultant. The book flows smoothly and makes you want to go on reading. The author’s in-depth research and analysis makes this an unabridged version. In fact, certain of the historical events or meanings of certain words were new to me and lent the story a refreshing new perspective.

Sorting down this epic into volumes makes it seem less daunting a task to read it all. The way the author has broken it down into parts and further chapters makes the reading effortless and enjoyable. The book is recommended for all those who have an interest in history-based books, epics or those who seek to learn lessons from age-old stories and apply them in the new age world.

3.5/5 stars – Somewhere between ‘I liked it’ and ‘I really liked it’. images-25

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Paper Towns by John Green

Date Published: September 22, 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Pages: 305
Source: Review copy provided by Bloomsbury India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis:

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Buy it here – Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: I have a wonderful relationship with John Green. In short, I love him. My first audiobook that I finished listening to was Looking for Alaska. And not only that, I loved it. 5 stars loved it. Then I bought a paperback and then I announced my love to the world until a couple thousand more people bought the book on my recommendation (or so I hope). And then I read The fault in our stars which didn’t do a similar magic for me but was good nevertheless. Up next on my list were Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines, so I was thrilled when I got a chance to review this one.

For the record, I finished it in a weekend, a weekend which was really busy else it would have been less than 24 hours. So does that mean it’s good? Umm, not so sure about that. This one’s unlike John Green. In fact, so unlike him that I almost felt as if someone else had written it. I guess when you read the best work written by an author and then read his/her other books, it hits you bad. Because you storm in expecting a masterpiece but of course, no author can hit the mark with every single one of his/her book(s) and certainly can’t please every reader. So I kept an open mind and read on. The reason I finished this book quickly was because I wanted to get to the good part soon. Did it arrive? We will see.

There are three things Paper Towns makes me want to do – One is to read Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Song of Myself, and the other is to pick up The Bell Jar (a minuscule mention but I don’t know I just want to read it). And the third is to run away, escape and go on a solitary road trip. Hmm, how does that all fit in? I have no clue.

The book didn’t really grasp me either from the beginning or at the middle or even towards the end. It just went on and on and I kept on reading looking out for the silver lining. I wonder sometimes why are John Green’s central female characters eccentric? Is this how he sees women? Is this how women around him have been? Or is this is the way he likes his women? Ahem, well enough about John Green and his preference in women. Alaska, I loved. Margo? Nope. In fact, I might even hate her. Quentin, he’s cute but stupid too. I want to hit him hard on his head and drive him to his senses. I admire his perseverance and hard work but he really needs to face the truth. For the other characters, my perception changes with situations. Radar, I do like though. So John Green again  presents us likable characters for the most part. And that’s some relief.

What I liked the most about the book was the road trip and that lasted very few pages. :( I wish it could have been longer. I also liked the unraveling of the mystery bit. And I liked some of his prose.

What I didn’t like was the abstractness. John green, you do not do abstract. I have not come to expect this from you. It boggled my mind and made me wrack my brains. Your books are a no-brainer, light-hearted comedy. And that’s what I was looking forward to.

But if I try and think how I would have felt had I gone in without the John Green tag, not so bad, I guess. I mean there was a story, some mystery, a few laughs, an adventure and well-developed characters. Not so bad, right?

I also did like the poetry bits in there and feel like solving Whitman’s unending poem like one does with a puzzle.

Overall, this book makes for a good one-time read in a leisurely setting. Don’t go expecting a John Green book and don’t expect it to hurry up and you will do just fine.

3/5 stars – I liked it. 3 stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Bloomsbury India for providing the review copy.

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Series: The Bone Season #2
Date Published: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Pages: 506
Source: Review copy provided by Bloomsbury India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis: Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

Buy it here – Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

Here’s an Audio clip from Audible if you’d rather listen to the book.

My View: Ah, where to begin? Let me take a deep, deep breath first. Oh God, I think I am still in the world of Scion. Watching that breathtaking action with my own eyes, recoiling in fear for Paige’s safety, wishing with bated breath that my favorite characters come out of this book alive. *sigh* That’s really all I have to say.

Compared to the difficulties I faced with The Bone Season, this one’s been easier on my mind. Now that the world building has been done for the most part, there is less of information to take in and more of hard-hitting action, just the kind I like. And with a female character to top it all, ah, an icing on the cake.

Not to say that there are no new facts or terms, plenty indeed. I thank my stars I read the two books back to back. I do not envy those who had to wait for an year and a half to read this one. That would certainly be mind-numbing at best and a disorienting experience at its worst. But now that I am done with this one, I have to wait another year for the next in the series and believe me when I say it’s pure torture.

Samantha Shannon has done it yet again. Her prowess in the field of creation and imagination is unrivaled. She will grab the rug beneath your feet in an instant and you will be left gaping. I love how she keeps me on my toes throughout, always being a step ahead of the confines my mind can take me to. It’s almost like having a ring of roses with her (read the book to know what I’m hinting at) and it’s thrilling to say the least. Exhilarating indeed.

This one is a page turner for sure. I did myself a mini marathon of the two books and spent all my time (apart from work hours) reading away, much to the chagrin of my family and friends. Also, there just might be a pile of work in the background giving me the evil eye. Gah! I guess I will get to it before it plans on entering my dreamscape and pushing my spirit out of my body. I think it’s gonna be a while when I turn to the ordinary English vocabulary once again. Till then, stay away from the poltergeists and make sure your mask is in place. Oh and watch out for those cold spots lest an Emim catch you in its throes. *insert hysterical laughter here*

4/5 stars –  I really liked it.

4 stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Bloomsbury India for providing the review copy.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Series: The Bone Season #1
Date Published: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Pages: 466
Source: Review copy provided by Bloomsbury India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis: It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Buy it here – Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: I had been hearing good things about this book. So when I landed a chance to read and review it, I jumped, of course. Did I read the book summary? Did I even notice its genre? Well, as is the case with me, I always jump into a book blinded. Although I am thinking I really need to atleast look at the genre from now on. Because sci-fi is so not my field. Fantasy also only rarely makes the cut. Well, Sci-fi should be fine if I can get my head around it but no luck with that. *sigh* This reminds me of Wool by Hugh Howey. That was another of my impulse reactions, although I did end up giving it 4 stars and loving it regardless.

With The Bone Season, things are a bit different. Its sheer size scared me at first. A 466 page book! I have a tendency to gravitate towards shorter books. ;) I decided to read a bit about the author first. Wait, she was what 21 when she wrote the book? And considering she is being hailed as the next J. K. Rowling is something. It almost put me to shame. Did I while my life away while people were busy writing it out? Phew! Anyway, not to lament on it more.

Once I did get to reading, I think my mind keeled over. I couldn’t understand any of it. It was like I was reading a foreign language. I was pretty sure I had made a mistake with the genre. This just wasn’t my thing. Even my Kindle dictionary gave up over the words mentioned. A lot later, I realized there was glossary at the back of the book. *facepalm* Anyway, it was tedious to go back and forth, so I sat down and finished reading the glossary first. How many words did you think I managed to remember the meaning of? I think I can count those on my fingertips. Bleh.

Next thing I did was skim through peer reviews. I saw a lot of readers had faced a problem with the new information but managed to love it anyway. That did boost my confidence a bit and I felt a lot less stupid than earlier. So with a boosted morale, I read on.

*Insert here a huge outstanding applause for the author* At such a young age, the author has done really well for herself. The world building is intense and just mind-blowing. I still can’t get my head around it. It’s mind numbing. And don’t even ask me the information. So much of it. I noticed some reviewers have called it information dumping but the term feels kind of rude. So I will stick to information overload, especially in my case, since I don’t read much of the genre and can be called naive.

After some time, I decided to stop grasping information and focused on the plot instead. Viola, it hit the mark. I remember using this strategy with Wool and it having worked even then. Once I acquainted myself with a general idea of the new world, the characters and the where goes what, I found myself settling comfortably. And therein began my liking towards the book.

Once I had done that, the pages flew by, the words read themselves and I drifted with the plot. I can’t even begin to imagine the author’s dreamscape *snickers* (read the book to know what I am talking about or if you already know it, good for you). How vividly she would have crafted the world and made sense of it. To be frank, it does take the reader time to sort things out for themselves. Since the world was created by the author, she might have had easy access to all her concepts but the poor, bewildered reader was hit with it on all sides at once. And that is the biggest flaw of the book.

But the plot, the world building, the characterization, the unveiling and development of characters, the plot progression is all right on.

I especially loved the last quarter of the book. It was packed with more action and less information. Everything happened so fast and I loved it all.

And having read this book, I am hoping I will do better with understanding the next one. I’m jumping into it right away.

3.5/5 stars – Somewhere between ‘I liked it’ and ‘I really liked it’.

images-25

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Bloomsbury India for providing the review copy.

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

Date Published: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Random House India
Pages: 287
Source: Review copy provided by Random House India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis: The thought-provoking new novel from the international bestselling author whose words change lives.

Linda knows she’s lucky.

Yet every morning when she opens her eyes to a so-called new day, she feels like closing them again.

Her friends recommend medication.

But Linda wants to feel more, not less.

And so she embarks on an adventure as unexpected as it is daring, and which reawakens a side of her that she – respectable wife, loving mother, ambitious journalist – thought had disappeared.

Even she can’t predict what will happen next…

Buy it here – Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: I don’t think I can start talking about this book before giving you a bit of a glimpse into my relationship with Paulo Coelho.

I had heard so many good things about The Alchemist before I finally got a chance to read it after finishing my 12th board exams. And thereafter I read it twice more. I know the opinion is still divided on this one, with some loving and others hating it. It has sold some million copies but still you will come across people hating this book. I believe what riveted me to the book was how the author conveyed a powerful message hidden in a very simple story, easy for everyone to understand and written in a beautiful prose as well. Other authors could have said the same in more complex stories and difficult sounding words but some things are better said simply.

After The Alchemist, I read Eleven Minutes and was taken aback by the stark difference between the two books and couldn’t even believe it was written by the same author. Anyway, I thought that was a huge jump for me to make and resorted to reading other of his works. Although, The Alchemist still stood out for me regardless of how many of his other books I read (the number is six, I think).

So when I saw The Adultery being released, I realised it has been almost 8 years since I last read one of his books and decided to get back to one of my favorite authors.

Adultery is quick to begin, sparking interest but as it proceeds, it tends to get a bit on the dull side. I understand where other readers are coming from when they say the book is boring. It certainly doesn’t hold your attention throughout. You have to keep getting back to it.

However, despite the dullness,  I have found Coelho’s work to bridge the gap between the concrete and abstract with The Alchemist being the only book (amongst the ones I have read) which was very concrete while the others have elements of abstractness in it. Abstract isn’t something I am afraid of. In fact, I would go to the extent to say that I welcome it. It helps every individual reader define the abstractness in their own way, making sense of it as it applies to them. And that’s brilliant.

What I did appreciate about this book was that it took on a hush, swept away behind the curtains concept and laid it out in the open. It showed how adultery is perceived differently depending on the gender of the person indulging in it. It reflected on why adultery happens and what one goes out looking for in the first place. It reaches inside the individual and looks at the thoughts, beliefs and feelings that make the person indulge in adultery. Also, some of his prose is beautiful leading to introspection and identification. He touches upon a lot of concepts and ideas in this book.

What did leave me wanting for more was that due to the author’s urge to look at so many different things, the connection from one concept to another was a pale thin thread at best. And that left the reader bewildered and thinking ‘where did this come from?’

Since I haven’t read Coelho in so long, I am not the best to judge how his writing or books have traversed over time but certainly an author also can’t do the best each time. There will be lapses and modulations from one work to another.

Overall, I didn’t get as much as I wanted from the book. It’s a bit difficult to keep going through. It is advisable to read many books at a time and insert this one amongst the rotation. Having said that, I am not entirely disappointed. I liked some prose and concepts a lot. They made me reflect and others I could identify with. Coelho hasn’t lost his touch. He is just delving into different subjects and exploring a bit. And I like it.

3/5 stars – I liked it.

download (8)

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Amish Tripathi: What’s Next?

Pretty sure you have heard of author Amish Tripathi and his famous Shiva Trilogy. So when Westland Publishing contacted me to help reveal what his next book was going to be about, I jumped in.

And I received something in the mail as a clue.

IMG_20150119_212215 IMG_20150119_212242

 

 

 


Gorgeous, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

Check out my first vlog to know more (forgive me for poor video and audio quality, first timer here).

 

And shhh just for you, a little birdie tells me it’s going to be about The Mahabharata. Stay tuned for more information. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to be in the know.

Also, if you are in India, attend the Jaipur Literature Festival (21-25 January) on the 23rd where Amish will spill the beans!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald & Movie Review

Date Published: 1925
Pages: 180
Source: Owned
Format: Paperback

Goodreads SynopsisA portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, The Great Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–“Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Flipkart | Amazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: Sometimes it’s just hype and at other times, the hype is just right. The hype about this one being a classic kept scaring me away, yeah, I am scared of books that take time to enter my head. And that hype was so wrong. Well, atleast in the it being classicy classic way. I took 6 months to read Crime and Punishment and not just because of its hefty size. This? This, I finished in a few hours marathon at night that ended at 4:30 am. Yeah! The hype that was right – of this being a good book. It was. It certainly was.

First few pages (make that 50), I wasn’t sure where this book was heading. And I would certainly not have said it was going great. It was easy to understand and smoothly going by, definitely. But I was curious to know Gatsby, the person the book was named after. And so far it looked that the book was more about the narrator. ‘Hurry up, will you?’, I said. This book is only 140 pages long! I want to know you, Gatsby. Come, meet me.

And then, things changed. Gatsby was being unraveled, and I was liking it. Oh, so this is what he is all about. My my! I would love to have me a man like that. 5 years, did you say! (Not revealing much in order not to give spoilers).

The writing is fluid and makes for an interesting narrative. The plot is innovative, to say the least. And I do love myself some old romance devoid of physical intimacy and sex that are rampant in the current romance genre books. Do I sound like an old lady, because I assure you I am not.

The book is easy to read and one classic you can finish in a few hours. You don’t have to rack your brains over this one, for sure. There are some strange coincidences in this book that make you wonder, ‘oh really; life is certainly a mystery’.

Although I would admit, I read the last couple of pages twice in order to push the author into changing his mind while I was reading it again. Fitzgerald, how could you? I am devastated. I don’t like you, you know? And if you do not change that ending, I may never read another book by you. Are you listening? Of course, he isn’t. Or maybe he’s smirking down at me from heavens above, thinking all the time ‘what a foolish little girl’. *snort* I didn’t like him anyway.

Would I read it again? Probably, even if just for the kicks. Or maybe I will scratch out that end and write it myself. Although it would probably stop being a classic if I did that. But really. How could he? And the narrator, the stupid narrator, worthless. Why could he not open his mouth? Huh. See what Fitzgerald has got me into? Bad mouthing him and his characters. Those are the books I love where the plot and the characters have me all tied in a knot. Although I assure you, I did not cry. I. Did. Not. My mouth could have dropped open in shock though, in all probability. That’s it.

Have you read this one? Are you avoiding it because it’s a classic? Pfft. Read it. It will take only a few hours. 3. 4 maybe. Come on. You can do it. I believe in you. It’s just a simple, little story. And oh, I liked it, in case I forgot to mention. I have a tendency to ramble on. Probably I am doing that right now. Okay, stop! Oh God.

Movie

I am devastated. I don’t know what to say. The movie has done me in. For starters, I am so glad I read the book first because the movie is no way near my imagination. It’s so different! Do you see the book cover above? That’s how my mind imagined it all, in black and white and subtle and classy. The movie? It’s full of colors, and sounds and it’s brashy. It took me some time to get used to that for sure.

And woah, it took me another good while to get used to Spiderman (Toby Maguire) and Jack from Titanic (Leonardo DiCaprio). I just couldn’t picture them together.

Once I got used to the above, I was taken in by that world – the world of color and charm and love and heartbreak. OMG, I think I fell in love with Leonardo all over again. He can say so much without even uttering a word. Oh my, those expressions! How does he do that?

And the music, woah. One of the songs I had heard in a coffee shop 6-8 months back and have been trying to find it and when it came on in the movie, I was zapped. Amazing music.

For most purposes, I think the movie did justice to the book. It took the romantic angle a bit further, rest was keeping in line with the book. But it was while watching the movie that I realised Fitzgerald wrote so beautifully. How could I have missed those lines? I think reading a classic in a 4 hour marathon isn’t the best way, perhaps. And now I feel like I should definitely re-read it. Ahh, the movie makes me want to fall in love all over again. It was beautiful, simply beautiful.

And now I just want to sob. Gatsby, oh my Gatsby. You, the epitome of generosity and love. Nick Carraway said it well, when he did, that they are a rotten bunch, every single one of them. And you, you are the one. The only one!

It’s 90 years to the day the book was written but it’s words still strike true. The selfishness and greed of people, the tendency to serve their own motive without a glance at the other. I wonder sometimes did the world never change or was it the far-seeing eyes of these profound writers?

To sum up, I upped my rating from 3.5 to 4 because this is a masterpiece!

3.5/5 stars – Somewhere between I liked it and I really liked it. 

4/5 stars – I really liked it. Recommended to be read and watched
immediately after. You will be blown away.

And now I want to change it to 4.5!4 stars

It's all about Books!

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