Heartbreaks and Dreams by Parul A Mittal

Heartbreaks and Dreams by Parul A Mittal

Heartbreaks and Dreams: Girls at IIT is the first book by Parul A Mittal, an IIT Delhi girl herself.

It is the story of Tanu, a girl from a middle class baniya family, who clears the IIT entrance exam and joins IIT Delhi. She is one of the girls in a class of students. In the first year, at IIT, students from different streams attend classes together, so she fortunately has one more girl to attend classes with and from then on she is an outlier.

As a part of ragging, Tanu is made to propose to a senior in a red t-shirt and he falls in love with her. She falls in love with a classmate and her lab partner falls in love with her.

The book also talks about inter-hostel competitions, exams, stress and being a girl at IIT. Despite all this, she does not lose focus and does well.

The book is very interesting and gives an insight into the life of girls at IIT which might have changed now. Overall, a good book.

As soon as I finished the book, I picked up its sequel, which I had already read and read what happened to Tanu after IIT.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Srishti

The Love Asana by Milan Vohra

The Love Asana by Milan Vohra

The Love Asana by Milan Vohra is a story of love and revenge.

What would you do to the person, who you think is responsible for the death of the only living family member, and that too your little sister, when you were not there to help her? Revenge, of course.

How would you feel if someone, who offers to marry you is a playboy, a billionaire and seen with a different woman on his arm in his photographs, and says that he is doing so to clean up his reputation and save your only brother who stood by you when you were at your lowest.

Vivan Parashar’s younger sister died in a car accident and after going through her diary, he is sure that Deepak Dewan was the cause of her death. And he is out for revenge.  Pari Chand, a yoga teacher, has had a traumatic childhood. She is Deepak’s sister. She has a Yoga Studio in Vasant Vihar.

Vivan tells Pari to marry him, only then he would help her brother stay afloat in his business and Pari out of love and obligation towards her brother, marries him.

Like every Mills and Boon, they have their share of ups and downs, fall in love and live happily ever after.
I liked the story but felt that the hindi dialogues could have been avoided.

A little note for readers: I bought this book from the website of Harlequin India, and they copy they sent was very old and dirty and the cover was torn at places, I wrote to them and did not get a reply, so please think before you order at their website.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Harlequin India

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the Mahabharata told from Panchaali’s viewpoint. I could even call it her autobiography. The book has been written in first person. Draupadi or Panchaali comes out as a strong, outspoken, intelligent, well read, selfish and passionate lady. She dreams of breaking bonds that shackled history.

This book starts with Draupadi’s along with Dhristadyumna ‘Dhri’, emerging, as twins, from the sacred fire. She feels that her father, King Drupad was not happy to see her emerge as he wanted only Dhri but Dhri holds on to her hand and takes care of her. Dhai ma is the mother figure for both of them and can read Draupadi like a book. Draupadi learns the language of law and the court and even sits with her brother to learn the lessons from his tutor.

There is a part in the book, just before the Swayamwar, when Draupadi feels that she is in love with Karna, something we did not know. She is won in the swayamwar by Arjun, dressed as a Brahmin and from a palace; suddenly finds herself walking through a forest to a hut where she is made to sleep on a tattered rag on a floor and is forced to marry all the five brothers as an order from their mother which they can’t refuse. Then her father brings them back to the palace and he seeks Vyas’s advice on her marriage, who says that she has to marry all the five of them and would be a wife to each brother, one year at a time, from the oldest to the youngest.

They are reinstated in Hastinapur, then again forced to move to an arid area which is given to them as their inheritance and with the help of Maya, construct the Palace of Illusions, which is envy of everyone. All is well until the Kaurava’s, who were invited for the Rajasuya sacrifice, invite them to return the favour.

Draupadi’s feelings have been voiced in the book, be it her acknowledgement of the fact that Kunti is a wise woman, that she herself is a bad mother (her own children were strangers- cool and distant) and a good wife but confesses that she did not love any of her husbands (supporting them in good times and bad, providing them comforts and extolled their virtues). Her relationship with Krishna and her feelings for Karna have also been mentioned in the book.

The author has also mentioned about Amba’s rejection, the story of Gandhari and Dhritarashtra, the story of Kunti-Madri-Pandu and the story of Nal-Damayanti.

The author has researched thoroughly and has stuck to the facts, adding a human touch to the epic and what comes out makes a deep impact on the reader. We were kids when the greatest epic was telecast on the National TV network and would be glued to the television, the roads would be empty and the markets would open after the episode would be over. The characters in that epic were very strong.

I started the book, unknowingly, on the very same day as the new Mahabharata was scheduled to be telecast on the cable television in India, as I am not a TV buff. The Mahabharata we studied in school or read in the Amar Chitra Kathas was very war oriented and Draupadi was mentioned, but not in details. I re-read the Amar Chitra Kathas alongwith the book and enjoyed the book even more.

Book Source: bought
Publisher: Picador

Nick of Time by Komal Mehta

Nick of Time by Komal Mehta

Nick of time by Komal Mehta is the story of two friends Alehya and Shagun, best friends since childhood. They used to spend all their childhood vacations together in Chandigarh at Shagun’s Grandparents house and Alehya is like a member of Shagun’s family.

Alehya, now lives in Mumbai and works there. She has resigned from her job, is attending the farewell party organized by her colleagues when Shagun calls her up and tells her that she is getting married. In her excitement, she does not hear the name of the groom and reaches Chandigarh after ten years only to find no one at the airport ot receive her. She meets Vicky, her childhood enemy at the airport, waiting to receive her and later gets a shock to know that he is the groom.

She hates Vicky and everytime they meet, sparks fly. Shagun requests both of them to call a truce till her wedding and they try to do so for her sake. She tries to get them to do errands together so that they become friends. There is a lot of confusion and complication.

My take:
I did not like the cover much because I had to cover up the book to read in the Metro. Secondly, there is an excessive use of Hindi dialogues which was not required. The change of who “I” is, is pretty confusing. Somewhere, it is Alehya, somewhere, Vicky and somewhere, Shagun. Though, this could be because the author wanted us to look at everybody’s viewpoint. She could have written the book from one person’s viewpoint and the others could have been in the third person.

Signing up for the Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013

 

It was at 6.00 amImage in the morning today that I received a tweet  from Adite Banerjie. After my son went off to school and I started reading her blog, I came across the Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013. As I had started blogging only in February 2013 and have around 65 books that I had already posted reviews of and am into reading Indian Authors both from India and those of Indian origin, I thought, let me sign up.

As only 103 days are left in the year, my plan is to post reviews of 105 books by Indian Authors, I would be posting links from my blog also in order to complete the desired number.

Hope to be there….

The Indian Tycoon’s marriage deal

The Indian Tycoon's marriage deal

The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal by Adite Banerjee is a love story and a mystery novel rolled into one.
Maya Shome, 23, is a landscape designer who lives alone in a barsati in Delhi, since she moved to Delhi from Howrah after her father, Subodh Shome, a government schoolteacher, passed away four years ago. She financed her own college education at Miranda House, through a scholarship and two part time jobs. She works as an intern in a prestigious firm and wants to make a name for herself in the landscape business. She has only one objective- to bring down the man who had tormented her father’s every living moment and made his life an eternal hell- Kamalkant Dev or KD of The Dev Group of Enterprises (DGE) – her Enemy Number One for the last thirteen years of her life.

Krish Dev, 30, is a strategic management consultant, and heir to the DGE. He cannot see eye to eye with his father and feels that KD controls and rules everybody. He wants to start his own work but his father tries to hold him back. He needs a wife who he can present to his dictatorial dad. But, she would have to sign a watertight contract first. The most significant part of the contract being keeping the marriage a secret, from everyone, even from her family and the media and would get in return, a luxurious lifestyle. Rohan Shetty is his leave-nothing-to chance-assistant.

KD, the business tycoon, a womanizer, a ruthless dictator is the chairman of DGE. On his 55th birthday, he decides to announce the marriage o his only son, Krish to Amisha, the daughter of another businessman, Mittal- an alliance that would pave the way for a friendly takeover of Mittal’s company. But, thanks to Rohan, Krish beats him to it and tells him that he is marrying Maya, surprising Maya.

KD ensures Maya is fired and Krish ensures she marries her.

The deal: A Business Proposal with clear terms and conditions. They would work together as a two-member team on the most ambitious project of its kind in the country.

My take:
A Mills and Boon Mystery that is what the book is. The story is fast paced and kept me glued to the book till the very end. I stayed up till 2 AM to finish the book. The story did not drag one bit. The characters have been developed very well, you can actually picturise them. I loved it when Krish would call her Mona Lisa.

An excellent work done

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Harlequin India Pvt Ltd

A Vague Woman’s Handbook by Devapriya Roy

A Vague Woman's Handbook by Devapriya Roy

The Vague Woman’s Handbook by Devapriya Roy is everything but a handbook. It is the story of two friends who very different from one another.

Sharmila Chatterjee, Mil, a 22 year old, newly married woman, takes a zero semester so that she can work and support herself and her husband Abhimanyu Mishra, who is pursuing a PhD. They have married against their parents’ wishes. She is late for a job interview at the Indian Academy of Literatures because she cannot locate it as she has left the map at home. Mil likes tea brewed well and swears by Pure Magic biscuits.

Indira Sen, a Senior Government officer, is her boss. She has a son, Prateik, who lives in Mumbai and a 19 year old daughter, Nina, who is studying to be a fashion designer. She stays in Hauz Khaz with her dominating mother; obsessive compulsive mother-in-law (who wants to know the number of times the hands have been washed) and her Uncle. She drives an old car. She receives a letter from a credit card company about an immediate payment for an outstanding amount. Indira and Mil get along like a house on fire, listening to each other’s problems and trying to help each other.

Indira Sen’s introduction, a lady in a blue saree parks her car outside a café, takes out a book from her bag, hoists the sunglasses above her head where they act as a sort of improvised headband, takes out her reading glasses from her bag and settles down comfortably, begins to read and gets deeply immersed in the book oblivious to the world around. That surely resembles me but the café can be replaced by the parking at the Metro Station.

The author has described Delhi and its places, the weather, its people very beautifully. A simply written fast paced book which I liked a lot and am waiting for another book by the author.

A must read for everyone who wants a nice, light read.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Harper Collins

Are You the one? by Jennifer Bernard

Are You the one? by Jennifer Bernard

When I read that goodreads is going to choose five lucky winners to gift a signed copy of ‘Are You the One?’ by Jennifer Bernard, I immediately applied, but could not wait for the draw, so I ordered it and as promised to Jennifer, I am posting the review within a day of reading the book.

Identical twin sisters, Annabelle ‘Bella’ and Mirabelle ‘Mira’, both doctors, live in Chennai with their parents. Bella is older than Mira by a few seconds and is more outgoing. Bella plays the guitar and Mira, the piano.

Stephen Collingworth lives in London and after a recent trip to Chennai, his father tells him that he has arranged his marriage to a girl in Chennai, the daughter of his best friend, as a repayment of a debt of gratitude and would disown Stephen if he does not marry the girl. He comes to Chennai to meet Bella and ,

Annabelle does not want to marry and tells her sister Mira to fill in for her whenever Stephen comes home and tells her childhood friend, Michael to act as her fiancé. The Bella Stephen meets at home and the Bella he meets outside are completely opposite and Stephen is confused as to who the real Bella is. Even when he comes to know that they actually not one but two girls, he gets confused further.

It’s beautifully written, easy to read and keeps you glued. I loved it. An excellent job done, Jennifer!

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Pagerturner

My Journey by Abdul Kalam

My Journey by Abdul Kalam

When I received an email from Rupa Publications, asking me to review APJ Abdul Kalam’s My Journey Transforming Dreams into Actions, I was thrilled. It is a collection of his recollections, in the form of short stories, of various events in his life. As is mentioned in the blurb, “He describes those who have been the closest to him- his father with his love of good, his mother and her great kindness, the mentors who helped shaped his thoughts and outlook.

He has written about his father’s four mile walk every morning to the coconut grove, which he felt added something to his personality, an element of calm to his personality that even strangers approached him for help with their problems. He says that he too starts his day with a morning walk. He mentions in another story that watching a boat come to life from pieces of wood was probably his first introduction to the world of engineering. He learnt that we have to acknowledge the power of nature. As an eight year old, during World War II, when sanctions were imposed on India, he would distribute newspapers to supplement the family income. He talks about how the religious leaders of various religions would meet every Friday evening to discuss the events happening in the town and how they managed to manage matters firmly and openly without letting it grow and fester- his first lesson in management.

In another story, he has spoken about his mother who served everyone and God with utmost devotion, selflessness and piety- a lesson that he has carried from her life- commitment. He talks about his sister, Zohra, who used her gold as a guarantee with a moneylender to borrow money required for his admission to a college. Jalalluddin, whom he has mentioned in a lot of stories, was his first mentor. The author mentions that he was the one who introduced him to the world outside, encouraged him, influenced him and instilled in him the power of positive thinking. He even mentions about his disappointment at not being able to join the Indian Air Force, and how he started believing in destiny. He talks about his favourite books and mentions that the religious texts from all religions have influenced him greatly.

He mentions about his brush with death and his realization that a nation is built by the power of sacrifice, toil and virtue. He describes his deeply emotional and intellectual relationship with Dr Vikram Sarabhai, who taught him to look beyond failures and also how the scientific and spiritual leaders can work harmoniously or larger goals. He talks about his life in various scientific institutions of India- his failures and successes in the world of science.

A beautifully written book with a lot of nice stories. My personal favourite is “My mother and my sister”. The stories may be short but the message they carry goes very deep. I would recommend reading one story at a time, slowly to actually understand the deep meaning present there. The charcoal drawings by Priya Sebastian have added a lot of meaning to the chapters.

Book Source: Review copy from Rupa Publications
Publisher: Rupa Publications

The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal

The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal

The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal is the story of an Indian girl from brought up with traditional Indian values.

1976
Vinita Shelke, 19, is the topper of her class in Shivraj College, Palgaum, Karnataka. Her father is an accountant and her mother, a pious, traditional housewife. Her elder brother, Vishal, is a chartered accountant who works in Bombay. She learns Bharatnatyam and Prema is her best friend.
Somesh Kori, a rich landlord’s son, is the college heart throb and the captain of the college cricket team. As a wager in a bet, he makes Vinita fall for him, plays with her emotions and leaves her when she is pregnant.
She decides to keep the baby and says that she would do whatever she can to take care of the baby. To save the family name, her parents and her brother move her to Bombay where her brother takes care of her. Her family tells her that her son was stillborn.
She reconciles with her life, studies in Bombay and gets a job there. She is introduced to a few eligible men. Girish Patil, a divorcee from New Jersey, is one of them. She likes him and is unable to divulge the truth to him, even thogh, she does not intend to do so. May be this is her destiny.

Thirty years later:
Mrs Vinita Shelke Patil, who now lives in New Jersey with her husband, Girish, and daughter, Arya, receives an anonymous letter from Bombay saying that her son is dying and that her brother knows the details. Her husband, who does not know her secret, is out of town and she cannot confide in her daughter. When she tells it to both of them, Girish withdraws into his shell and Arya, after her initial withdrawal, becomes her confidante.
She decides to go back to Palgaum, meet her family and her son. She wants to be there for her son, Rohit, who teaches Chemistry in Shivraj College and help him in whichever way possible, even if that means that she becomes the bone marrow donor or talk to Somesh and ask him to become one.

 My Take:
The characters have been very beautifully described. Vinita is strong and independent, yet an introvert and modern yet traditional; Girish is very understanding and open; Vishal is very strict on the outside but very soft inside; Arya, very understanding. Communal riots between the Marathis and Kannadas add a little political angle to the story.
I liked the way the author has described the courtship of Vinita and Girish, she wanting to tell him everything, but somehow, cannot do so and he so open about his past. She has wonderfully shown the different directions a mother daughter relationship can move depending upon the people in question.
A very well written story of a mother’s love for a child she did not know existed. As I was reading, I got so involved in the story, like all Shobhan Bantwal’s stories, that I could not keep the book down and was reading in the kitchen waiting for the water to boil and dreamt of the characters.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Fingerprint