Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Bachelor's MarriageBachelor's Marriage by Akshat Pradeep Solanki
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Thanks Mr Solnaki for providing a review copy.

It is my belief that I should not write negative reviews. That is way I did not write any review for this book because I did not like it. But the author prodded me to write a honest review no matter how bad it might be. So here goes:

The language and grammar is atrocious and that is totally off putting. Nobody expects every Indian writer to write like Shakespeare. But if you want to write an English novel you should know the basics of the language at least. The blame also goes to publisher who published this cacophony of some English words without any editing.

The story is meandering and very childish. I neither know how it ended and nor do I want to know because it was a torture to read it.

It has become fashionable to write a college days novel for every engineering student after Chetan Bhagat's five point someone. Not every engineer can be a writer and it is not required also. Mr Solanki is no Chetan Bhagat. Period.

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Friday, 13 May 2016

The Second ComingThe Second Coming by Shubha Menon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shubha Menon did a fantastic job. This is rom-com with a lot of comedy and lot of romance. In fact it has more humor and satire than comedy.

Our heroine Mrinalini Mehta aka Mini is a happily married woman who is also regarded highly in her office also. She lives happily with her hubby Shyam Mehta who is a cricket enthusiast. Her boss Mahatta calls her Mrinalini and regards her as a top notch wedding planner. But is she happy? No. why?

“It was not as though Shyam was a bad husband. Far from it. He was a good provider. They lived comfortably. He made a loving father to polka, spoiling her, bending backwards to fulfil her every whim. Mini cared for Shyam and was dependent on him in many ways. It was just that their marriage had degenerated into some kind of listless, mechanical routine, where they went to office, came back, ate, slept and then left for work again the next morning. The excitement has fizzled out, never to return. She knew that Shyam cared for her and she was certain that there was no other women in her life. But let’s face it, Mini mused, neither one of them was exactly thrilled to see the other anymore. Shyam just didn’t make her heart beat faster.”

Sex is almost non-existent in their life. She is overweight and binge eat to fill the void inside. What does she wants then? One she wants to loose 5-7 kgs and second:

“She did want to have a relationship, but she did not believe in sex for the sake of sex. She want a beautiful episode- something to cherish and hug to herself on nights when Shyam snored to loudly or when he picked chicken out of his teeth with fingernails. Something that made her believe that Mills and Boon romances did happen, even to women like her. It was not about sex, it was about romance. It was about finding a soulmate, versus being stuck with a marriage partner”

And does she find the soulmate? Well almost. Enter Rustom, the Mumbai head who is all that what she wanted tall, dark and handsome except two little flaws. He has married for money and stuck with his wheel chair bound wife and second he is a skirt chaser and slept with many office colleagues. So she gets hot sex but not other things. He didn’t even said ‘I love you’ to her before or after making sex.

Happy Marriage is a myth and who needs marriage except marriage planners. She is aware of physical limitations and menopause is approaching fast. So she strays but regrets and doubt remains.

The novel is path breaking in the sense that its not a regular rom-com and they lived happily ever after. She enters into extra marital sex in full senses. The sex scenes are described in a very aesthetic way. Still the author has portrayed her in such a beautiful way that you never judge her or consider her as tramp. Her point of view is fully explained logically and you go with the flow of story and at no point of time you question her motives. You understand the insecurities and motivations of Mini and Sympathies with her.

In fact she herself questions and then the position is explained beautifully as someone explains to her:

The lady sighed "Love? Love doesn't just happen. It has to be worked upon over a lifetime. Because before love, comes respect and before respect, understanding..." she rambled on "And this is where women go wrong".

In the end she develops cold feet and return to Shyam. They supposedly live happily ever after. And the best part is Mini snubs Rustom and not the other way round.

That’s sums it up. The humor is top rate. She is not afraid to self deprecate her or the outlandish marriage plans they make for super rich. There is never a dull moment. The supporting characters are also funny and her friends are a riot.

Shubha Menon’s prose is brilliant. He is a good command on language and there is some very poetic moments. Though it’s a fiction but a lot of married couples will easily identify with it. There is touch of reality here which is ironic sometimes. Life sucks when you are in a rut. But as the author says this is life and there is no escaping it. The fairy tale romances are a myth and you have to come back to the roots sooner or later. These affairs are simply not worth it.

It a total Bollywood masala material. Yash Chopra camp will like it because in background throughout there is marriage going on. Lots of scope of song and dance routine. Vidya balan or Sonakshi as Mini, Abhay Deol as Rustom.

A very brilliant effort for debut novel. Full marks. Way to go Shubha.

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Keeping The PromisesKeeping The Promises by Dhruv Gajjar
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Thanks Goodreads and the author for providing a review copy in giveaway.

I would not suggest it to anybody. If you have read Love Story by Erich Segal or watched Schin-Rajeeta starer 'Ankhiyo ke Jharokho se' you can safely avoid it. The story is cliched and not even better than by any Mills and boons, forget about the classic of Segal.

No need to tell the story after pointing out the above and reading the blurb. The promises are flimsy and the Hero Dhruv Gajjar aka Gajju would have moved on anyway after the usual grieving period. These kind of love story are being written by writers like Rabindra or Durjoy Datta and they do a far better job than this.

If the story is partially autobiographical as the name of author and protagonist is same then I feel sorry and sad for the author and M (Mystery girl i guess). Also it is a debut novel. But it still can't redeem the book.

The language/ grammar is bad. The way story is told is superfluous and confusing. Editor was clearly absent at the publishing house and it is printed without any editorial efforts.

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I of the Storm:Discover your True SelfI of the Storm:Discover your True Self by Anju Sharma
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks Goodreads and Ms Anju Sharma for providing a review copy in giveaway.

Ms Anju Sharma is very well read in spirituality and philosophy. The author has presented the complex subject in a very easy form. The author has read extensively on the subject from various sources and gurus/ authors like Rumi, Geeta, Buddha, Vipasana of Goenka, Freud, Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kobat Zinn to name a new. The author has understood them in depth and taken what she experienced as right. To quote Kabir here

साधू ऐसा चाहिऐ जैसा सूप सुभाय
सार सार को गहि रहे थोथा देय उडाय
Saadhu aisa chahiye,
jaisa soop subhay
Saar saar ko gahi rahe,
thotha de udaay

A gentleman is like
a thresher in character
As it absorbs the core
fluff it lets skitter

The author is just like the Sadhu in the above doha. The author also makes this point as told by Buddha in kalamas:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

I usually don’t give summary of book as it is given in book blurb but here it is not given. Thus to summarize the book is divided in four sections.

Section one is “The journey within” which explains the various mental processes going on within us and how we perceive the world.

Section two is “On the path of discovering your true self” which describes various techniques like Vipasana of Goenka and Mindfulness meditation of Zinn.

Section three is “Find the best of you” which explains compassion, happiness, stress, love and friendship. It gives a very good formula to measure happiness and stress.

Section four is “Experiencing healing” which is about healing process.

The book is very good and will prove highly useful to the uninitiated. However the persons who have experienced some of spirituality will find it a bit elementary.

The book is divided neatly in sections and chapters. Each chapter is self contained. Most chapters start with a quote of Rumi and some with others.

Indian authors writing in English are found wanting in the expression and there are many mistakes. But this book is written in simple yet powerful and lucid English. The language is unambiguous and conveys the very complex subject matter lucidly and in a very simple manner. That is the beauty of it. There are no spelling or grammatical mistakes.

Word of caution as also told by author at the outset. Meditation and spirituality is no panacea for all medical and other problems. Also it is not for skeptics. It is no substitute for medical help and not all problems can be cured with it.

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Monday, 9 May 2016

The Case of the Empty TinThe Case of the Empty Tin by Erle Stanley Gardner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story is simple. Mystery is simple. Setting and characters are light unlike now a days. I like the light tone and playfulness of characters. Now the novels are so dark and depressing. Chemistry between Perry and Della is crackling. Paul Drake is very supportive and hapless in front of Perry's antics. Some things remained unanswered and some loose ends were not tied.

Still a very enjoyable story.

Some excerpts:

That's one thing about my husband. No matter what happens, he can sleep like a log. I don't think he ever actually worries about anything. I don't mean by that he isn't concerned over the situation. He simply doesn't worry about it. If he knew he was going to be executed tomorrow, I don't think he'd lose a minute's sleep. He'd simply say, 'Well, if it's going to be that way and there's nothing I can do about it, there's no reason for losing any sleep over it.

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