Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Book Review #84 : The Secret Wishlist

Publisher : Westland
Genre : Fiction
ISBN : 978-9382-618-188 
Price : 175
Pages : 256

The Secret Wishlist revolves around Diksha, Ankit, Tanu, Sandeep and Abhay. It starts off in Chennai, where, as a sixteen-year-old, Diksha is like any other typical teenager. She and her best friend Tanu spend hours and hours of time studying, discussing the latest crushes and gossiping. Enter Ankit, Diksha’s elder brother’s friend. Both Ankit and Diksha start liking each other and spending quite a bit of time together without the knowledge of either the parents or her elder brother.

Cut to the present. In Bangalore, Diksha is married to Sandeep and they have a son Abhay. Diksha’s entire day, rather, existence revolves around both of them. Right from making the morning tea, to breakfast, lunch and dinner to catering to every whim and fancy of Sandeep and Abhay, Diksha seems to not have an individual life at all. She does not seem to mind her daily mundane life either.

Initially, when the book begins, the way she keeps on shuffling between both the periods of story is too interesting. The school life of Diksha isn't kept too cheesy like other authors. Then her equation with Sandeep, her husband is described perfectly. I was able to imagine each and every sequence as it seems to be real and not a single part seems to be filmy and exaggerated.

However, a sudden event in her cousin’s life seems to jolt her out of her existence. At the behest of the cousin, she decides to try and take some control over her life and makes a wishlist – a list of things which she truly wants to do.

By a fortuitous turn of events, Tanu (who has been working at Gurgaon and recently re-located to Bangalore) re-enters her life and tells her that Ankit has been wanting to get in touch with her since a long time. With this conversation, Diksha’s heart and mind are forced to confront whether she would really want to meet him; if yes, what would the future course of action be, etc. How the issue is sorted out forms the climax of the story.

The best part about Preeti’s writings is the time and effort spent in etching out each and every character and the interactions between them. Diksha as a bubbly teenager; Diksha as a housewife; Diksha as a housewife wanting to live out her wishlist; Diksha as a housewife imagining what it would be to go back to Ankit – all the various stages have been carved out beautifully. Sandeep’s character has been shown to be a typical, male chauvinist who only cares for his well-being without giving a thought to what his wife wants. The draggy narration of how the protagonist's husband uses as housemaid and sex toy as if is not painful enough, it is repeated in every tenth page making sure the readers still continue to hate him.

Few bits I liked are the Salsa and the details, the mother in law who seemed extremely understanding and sweet. Such characters again are rare species in real life. I mean there are mothers who support even rapist sons so I don't think a mother in-law will support a daughter in-law immediately if she wants to walk out of a marriage. I liked the concept of writing down a secret wish list and I loved the cover page which lead to my great expectations.

Every woman and for that matter every man should read this book. The women cause we at times let people take us for granted and also there needs to be some self searching to be done. Some women get so engrossed in their mundane house-office work they forget what it is to actually live. And all the men so that before they start considering their wife to be just a "housewife" realize that she too is a human who has her own dreams and life.

Preeti Shenoy managed to pick one of the most ignored topic in Indian society, the suppression an indian housewife goes through, which although is quite appreciated, is also a story that is already known to everyone. A warm, heart-touching tale of a woman who tries to break free from her abusive husband and find her own calling.

Shenoy is able to create moments of laughter, surprise and above all empathy through her words, which stream effortlessly across the pages. One yearns for the love and contentment she describes, and hopes to find such friendship and unconditional acceptance in their partner.
Verdict - One time read.
Rating – 3/5

Monday, 19 June 2017

Book Review #83 : Chicken Soup for the Indian Bride's Soul

Book Author
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Raksha Bharadia
Westland Publisher (2011)

A new addition to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soulseries, Chicken Soup for the Indian Bride's Soul is full of delightful insights into married life and the days preceding it. The heartwarming stories of an Indian wedding, the initial meetings in an arranged marriage, the hectic wedding preparations, the traditional rites and rituals, the new fumbling relationships with the in-laws, the gradual love and understanding between husband and wife, and the start of a new life are all brought to life in this book. Their distinct Indian flavor can help every Indian woman connect with these stories effortlessly.

I love this book! I read it a few months back and I know, I would want to re-read it in the future as time goes on. It is an inexpensive, good quality, well written book you can gift to any of your near and dear relatives or girl friends who are about to get married! It's a great, insightful book for a bride-to-be, or any person in a relationship as a reminder of what's important in life and relationships.

Nice little read in which reminds you why you are getting married. This book is equivalent to a good friend. It is a self help book with over 344 pages and specific sections, each section having little experiences/stories that women have shared.

Chicken Soup for the Indian Brides Soul is for all you women, whether you’re newly engaged, recently married, or reflecting on years of married bliss. Stories of elopement, big fat Indian weddings, groom-hunting in arranged marriages, dealing with in-laws, wanting that jaw-dropping lehenga and having that perfect wedding day this collection will tug at your heartstrings, make you laugh, cry and perhaps see your family in a totally different light. Most importantly, this book will remind you of how strong the bond between couples in love can and must be if they are to share their lives together.

Rating – 4/5

Book Review #82 : The Other Side of the Bed

This is coming late, 2 years late, infact; but better late than never! I had put up a Facebook post in 2015, a quick review about the book, but back then, was immersed in a lot of academics, I guess, as I was hell bent on finishing my Masters, which led me to putting off the full fledged review for later. I was just cleaning my bookshelf recently, when I came across this bestseller and I was reminded of why I didn’t yet review it on my blog! Such good books do deserve to be in my directory of reviews!

  • Author: Bhavya Kaushik
  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Parlance Publishers
  • ISBN: 9788192480930, 8192480933
  • Pages: 260

The Other Side of the Bed is a moving and poignant story of a man, who loses his beloved wife to a bomb blast and the way he deals with his loss and grief. It is a story which tries to answer the age old question - What to do when someone you love dies? First look at the title and the cover and people will be moved by it. The story is a perfect recipe for people and an inspiration for those who have lost their near and dear ones and are not able to come out of that grief. It's a guide to let go of your sadness and live life for the others theory. This book is very well written, be it in terms of writing or in terms of matter, and feelings it wishes to convey and it does so with a stroke of sensitivity. 
Characterization is so good that you empathize with all of them. The sub-plots add layers to the story and the woven fabric comes out so beautiful. The book is not at all filmy, not sermonising, not over-the-top. It takes you through a journey thats heart-breaking and yet inspiring in a certain way. This story deals with the horrifying menace plaguing our society--bomb blasts. Bhavya Kaushik has portrayed the lives of some innocent victims so beautifully, so sensitively. The pricking, consuming regret of losing dreams, of losing loved ones has come alive in his words. 
The way Nakul and Devyani connect and come together in order to accept with their irreplaceable loss is so touching. The journey these two lost and shattered souls (grief mates) undertake to move ahead and overcome their loneliness makes us believe that compassion is not lost from the human heart. This story teaches us to spread love and hope---these are the two things that can make a society a beautiful place to live in. 
Bhavya Kaushik is one fine wordsmith in describing pain, ever so beautifully-
When I was asleep, somebody came and disassembled me into thousand pieces and then hurriedly put me back together in a second, losing some of my pieces on the ground, or placing some of them incorrectly.” 

We all feel we have a forever long time with the people we love, but we never remember to turn up to them and express our love to them. This book comes with a simple message, "Do let your loved ones know, you love them and how much they mean to you, before it's too late." 
I didn't like Nakul actually getting over Tamanna and packing all her stuff in a box, after her demise, labelling it "Do not open"..Very heart wrenching. I liked the fact that at the end, Nakul finds peace in Tamanna's absence and gathers the courage to sleep on her side of the bed, erasing the last wrinkles caused by the twists and turns of Tamanna's body. 

You’ll smile and then you’ll be appalled. You’ll weep and after a couple of pages, you’ll be inspired to wipe those tears off. The words will break your heart and at the same time, fill those cracks with hope and faith. I am so sure that this story is going to stay in the hearts of people. Remarkable job, Bhavya! One of the finest books, I have read so far. It has won a permanent place in my library!
I hope the further editions have a tighter proof reading though. 
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who loves reading about relationships. Who would say it was his debut book?!
Rating : 5/5

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Book Review #81 : Mrs Funnybones

Author : Twinkle Khanna

Publisher : Penguin India

Pages: 240

Price: Rs 299

I have a hard time thinking of this as a book – to me, it’s a collection of articles or blog posts or journal entries…maybe. Anything, but not a book.

The book, is narrated by Mrs Funnybones – Twinkle Khanna. Random, quick, funny, and well written, every chapter is an insight into her life. I must also mention that this book is not a showcase of the glittering life of a superstar’s wife. It is mostly a narration of scattered, unimportant, normal, quirky things that happen in her life, which are not exactly interesting, but her ready wit ensures that they are not boring either. The language is casual and breezy and perfectly echoes the humor and the point that the author is trying to implicate. The narration is very vibrant and cheerful which is why you feel relaxed reading this book.

Big Expectations:

To be honest, I had big expectations from this book. Mostly because, I have read several of her articles, and have really enjoyed them. She is sassy, sarcastic, and has a great sense of humour, which reflects in her writing. The title and the cover work very well. They stand out, and also convey the mood of the book.


Although the book has been appreciated and endorsed by who's who of the glamour industry, it book did not quite meet my expectations. Admittedly, the expectations were pretty big to begin with, but it’s not just that. The book is in the genre of humour, and while some segments were genuinely funny, there were also bits where the jokes were cliched, and seemed forced; almost as if the book was trying too hard to be something it’s not. She is way more funnier and wittier on her social media!

VERDICT : Reading the book felt like sitting and having a cup of chai with a close friend, the same comforting familiarity of knowing what she was talking about. It is a book to be read especially on those days when life wears you out and you need something to smile about. Nothing too complicated and yet holds you sternly to the pages with its light and good nature.

Rating – 3.5/5

Friday, 16 June 2017

Book Review #80 : The Dead Girlfriend

Not really the best R.L. Stine book, I had expected lots of excitement, lots of horror or creepy things.

This is one of the earlier R.L. Stine books. It is an easy read, really meant for preteenagers who are looking for a little scare. If you take it at face value, it is a very entertaining story about a new girl who comes to town and meets a good looking guy whose last girlfriend recently died under mysterious circumstances, and perhaps she is next.

Sadly, the cover is pretty much the only horrific thing, that and some event that happens near the end. Other than it, it is a pretty tame and calm story. Sure there are some events happening that could give you a case of small goosebumps, but mostly I was wondering when the real excitement would start, and as the pages went by, the end was coming nearer, I wondered if a few threats, a few arguments here and there would be all to the story.

Sure, it kept me excited to find out who did it. I had a list of people who could be possible suspects, but I can say that finding out who did it for real was quite a twist for me. The plot, as I said, was pretty boring. I was expecting lots of ghosts, lots of horror and hauntings, but well, meh.

The ending was pretty decent, but it felt like it was cut off short. 
Would I recommend this book? On the one hand, yes. But it is also quite a bit of boring and blandness. If you are looking for a scary book, I would recommend other books by this author. He has written some amazing stuff. But this book can be skipped.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Book Review #79 : The Baby Trail

Early thirtysomething Emma decides it's time to have the baby - but it just doesn't happen to order. Emma goes through a funny, touching and ultimately moving journey as she struggles to accept the reality that maybe it's never going to happen. The Baby Trail is a novel rich in texture, light and dark, and humour with a biting undercurrent.

On the fertility meds you can go from placid to full out rage in a split second! If you haven't dealt with infertility this book is still a good read, although you may not understand why Emma acts like she does. Infertility takes a toll on your self worth & sanity, but it helps to know you are not the only one who feels the way you do.

All Emma wants is a baby but she has 'unexplained infertility'. She goes to great lengths to get a baby. Parts of the book are laugh out loud hysterical, and other times you want to give the heroine a big hug!!

The title of The Baby Trail kind of says it all – this is a book about the trials and tribulations of a couple trying to get pregnant. It’s a very easy read – It handles a sensitive subject with humour and sometimes a little irreverence.

As Emma and James’ story develops, it does tug on the heartstrings. As the months go by and Emma takes one negative pregnancy test after another, it’s hard not to feel bad for her. As she watches her friends conceive seemingly effortlessly whilst she undergoes inconclusive tests and invasive procedures, the layer of humour becomes a thinner and thinner mask for a fairly heartbreaking situation. I think any reader – particularly female readers – will feel her desperation and hopelessness.

I loved this book. I laughed out loud & cried my eyes out too. I wish I could give this book to everyone suffering through infertility & to those who want to understand what a loved one who is struggling with it goes through. This book should be available in the waiting room of every fertility clinic.

Book Review #78 : The Deliberate Sinner

Author-Bhaavna Arora
Publisher- Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Genre- Fiction
Pages- 165
ISBN-13 – 9789382665205

The Deliberate Sinner has a wonderful cover that screams for attention and gets it. The story raises some important questions.

This book is a story of Rihana- free spirited girl yet confined in emotional turmoil about family and society, Veer- A product of a typical patriarchy society who firmly believes in receiving everything in relationship but giving is out of his dictionary. Rihana puts up with Veer’s extreme behavior and also try to work out the marriage because of the family and society. When she realizes Veer’s infidelity, she decides to walk out of the marriage but again it wasn’t an easy way out, as the world around her firmly believes that a dishonest husband deserves to be forgiven which makes her to become a deliberate sinner.

This book is close to reality of many women’s life.  I appreciate an author for her bold approach in the novel and her ability to deliver the message in a right manner. Bhaavna has done a tremendous job in delivering the exact emotions of a Rihana about the sexual preferences and equality in sexual act to the readers and explicitly stated woman’s point of view on sex in a relationship without making it sound vulgar or exaggerated.

Raj was an important character in the first half, but soon disappears only to come back later to disappoint. But all of it falls flat on the weak story line. Then ending of the book is what disappoints the most. If she wanted Veer to catch her in bed with another man, just so that he understands what she felt, she could have slept with Raj again. Or should have told Veer about their one night stand that happened when she was engaged to him. But instead she decides on staging an act with a random friend of hers who conveniently agrees to be a part of this mindless drama. Why the book gets its title is explained in the last line of the story.

Language and writing have kept consciously simple by the author, the person who reads is never over laden with witty lines and idealistic terminologies. It has quite a few graphic sex scenes as well.

In this story the author has explained various relationship issues like – Domestic Violence, Marital Rape, societal problems (premarital sex), Indian Mentality regarding Marriage (Dowry, man’s dominance) and consequences of Divorce in a womanly way. However, Rihanna’s character is designed as an empowered and self-respecting woman and she doesn’t consider herself as a sufferer but a survivor and crusader.

Overall, this story has portrayed the relationship blues in a feminist way, projects men negatively though. It is a good read to understand sexual nuances of a woman; however fails to take care of the relationship issues in an objective way.

Rating : 3/5

Monday, 12 June 2017

Fishbowl Lives

There is nothing groundbreaking about this post, since everyone is aware of the dark side of the glamour world…the desperate struggle that newcomers go through, the compromises they have to make and the drugs and the partying which can take its toll.

The fashion industry is choc-o-bloc with debauched people and that it is tough to get ahead without making compromises, the competition is fearsome and the going is tough.

Successful models are often sad, lonely, broken people, addicted to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes. Godfathers are cruel, manipulative, exploitative.

Only those who maintain their honour, dignity, identity in a cruel world that spills over with grime behind the glamour manage to sail. Many fall prey to the hazards of their fishbowl lives.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Love That Stays Forever.. Until The Hour Of Separation

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” ~ Khalil Gibran

What is death and life? What is body? It is the soul connection you have with someone, that is not going to be with anyone else.

I love the song Chaandaniya from Two States ~~

“Jism ye kya hai, khokhli seepi. Rooh da moti hai tu.
Garaz ho jitni teri. Badle mein jindadi meri.
Mere saare bikhre suron se geet piroti hai tu..”

This will be a man who will entirely embrace my real, flesh-and-blood body that mellows, changes and ages, that reveals a lifetime of pleasure and pain and does more than merely “represent” me—the body that is me.

This will be a man who will understand that my body tells my stories, holds my secrets and reveals what I have grieved over, hoped for and dreamed about. Of the spectrum altogether, he will claim that it didn’t matter to him at all what I look like, saying, “I love you, not what you look like.” What I look like is me. It’s all of me, and that’s what he loves unconditionally.

All of me.
Exactly as I am.
And his love is my safety net.

And the feeling, stays forever with you, until the hour of death, even if the person doesn’t.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Silent Silence

 Avoiding each other's eyes,
Unintentional touches,
Long gaze outside the window,
She tried to search something that was lost and would never be found.

He gobbled the tasteless food without commenting, something he rarely did.
Neither did she pass any snide remark on this unusual happening.
With teary eyes, she ate her food with full concentration,
Like it was the most important thing in the world.
Is silence always silent? 
Not all the time...

Sunday, 4 June 2017

10 Signs That Show You're A True Bibliophile

A bibliophile is someone who breathes, sleeps and eats books. Someone who dreams about letters and texts and everything bookish. Being a bibliophile isn't easy because there's something that is constantly on your mind - So much to read, so little time!

1. Your idea of paradise and ultimate fantasy is having your own walk-in library.

2. An unfinished book does not let you sleep in peace.

3. You would rather curl up and read a book than go out partying. Reading is your partying.

4. The smell of a book brings you immense pleasure.

5. You never move past a bookstore without going in.

6. A book is like your go-to person for coping up with all tragedies in life.

7. You treat books like they are your babies.

8. It is annoying when someone interrupts you while you’re in ‘the zone’.

9. Unexpected endings may leave you unsatisfied, intensely angry, or simply saying, “what the heck was that?”

10. When you try to bring along that big, heavy book on a family trip and, you always get told to leave it behind.