Crème Brulee by Ramona Sen

91DV0-LoVgL.jpgI received Crème Brulee by Ramona Sen as a review copy from Rupa Publications and am thankful to Rizwan Khan of Rupa publications for the same.

The blurb:

A quintessential Bengali anglophile, Aabir Mookerjee, is back from Oxford and can often be spotted basking in the comfort of colonial clubs or pottering around his restaurant, E&B, whose chocolate mousse has been garnering all the attention.

Troubles begin when The Mad Hatter opens across town and its attractive young proprietress shows a knack for concocting sweetmeats. Meanwhile, Aabir’s mother and the family priest unite to find him a ‘suitable’ bride. His monosyllabic sister won’t help and his incorrigible friend is too much the flagrant Lothario to be depended upon. Soon, the easily disoriented Aabir finds himself swamped by more ladies than he can handle.

Perhaps the only person who can bring things to a head is his dead grandmother, who watches over the family with an eagle eye from her unearthly abode on the coconut tree.

Hugely engaging, with bountiful laughter, read along to know how Aabir fares, even as he inches closer to the best dessert he can get his hands on and a romance he hadn’t bargained for.

Psst: The reader runs the risk of unappeasable hunger pangs, which is not to be held against this lip-smackingly tasty book.

The story:

Aabir Mookerjee,30, comes back to India from England after the death of his father and is staying with his mother, Debjani and younger sister, Aatreyee, in the family home in Calcutta. The other members of his household are an army of servants, some temporary and some permanent, two dogs, and his late grandmother, Thakuma, who lives atop the coconut tree. Not to mention the greedy Purohitmoshai, who comes to their house as if it belongs to him, and is only tolerated by Mrs Debjani Mookerjee. Their family loves chocolate.

Aatreyee has inherited a lot of qualities from her Thakuma and speaks in monosyllables. Rana Raina is his closest friend from childhood.

Aabir is very English in his tastes and always immaculately dressed.  He is too polite and likes to speak only in English. He is the proprietor of E&B restaurant, less popularly known as Eggs & Bacon, on Park Street, which is famous for Chocolate mousse.

Kimaya Kapoor, 26, the owner of The Mad Hatters tea party, is a widow and has been encouraged by her mother-in-law to open the tea room. Kimaya has a peculiar dress sense. Crème Brulee is her specialty. She has a friend in England, who is coming down to Calcutta.

To increase his clientele, he has an idea of a business proposition which he needs to discuss with the proprietor of The Mad Hatters tea party, a newly opened tea room. For Kimaya, an alliance with E & B would give much needed publicity.

Purohitmoshai brings marriage proposals for Aabir because of the big gift dangling from Mrs Mookerjee, but Aabir is not interested.

My take:

The author has woven a beautiful story around a simple plot and the English used is ‘educated english’ as mentioned in the story. The characters have been developed very painstakingly and each character, even the supporting ones, has an important role to play in the story. The story is set in Calcutta, I loved the use of Calcutta in the book and not Kolkata.

The conversations between the characters are very realistic. Aabir’s penchant for colours increased my vocabulary of colours. The book has funny descriptions and is hilarious at times. The names that Kimaya uses for Aabir are funny.

My favourite character in the book is Thakuma, there was never a dull moment when her spirit was around.

All in all, a book written in a lighet vein and a must read.

Excellent Debut.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

 

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I am Big. So What by Shuchi Singh Kalra

29200157.jpgHow do you feel when you get kissed by the first crush of your life and that too after twelve long years???

I am Big. So What by Shuchi Singh Kalra is the story of a not so thin girl, Roli, set in Delhi and Chandigarh.

The Blurb:

Is it only in India where people don’t realize that starting a conversation with, “Oh, you’ve put on weight!” is incredibly rude?

Perhaps I should respond with “Oh, you’ve become uglier!” so they get the point.

From stores that do not stock clothes my size to unsolicited advice from neighbourhood aunties, my life—quite annoyingly—is ruled by the numbers on the scale.

What’s the big deal about being big? You may wonder.

Well, quite a lot, actually.

For starters, you get dumped by the only man you’ve ever loved, social situations go from awkward to embarrassing within seconds, and don’t even get me started on the family’s never-ending search for a suitable groom. They just don’t make men my size these days!

Nevertheless, here I am, about to meet Suitor No. 7. Begrudgingly, of course.

Ride along as I navigate the crazy arranged marriage market. And trust me, it’s crazier when you’re more than a little curvy.

The story:

Twenty nine year old Roli Kapoor, daughter of an ex-army man, an ex-student of DPS Vasant Kunj, works from home as a freelance graphic designer. Hers is a service based business. She is the arty, dreamy type who loves her cheese, adores desserts, loves baking cupcakes, Bradley cooper, cooking, eating and dressing up. She is pretty but obese. Even as a school girl, she was bullied and humiliated because of her size and  that had lowered her self-esteem. Now, over the years, she has come to love herself the way she is. The first thing that people notice about her is her size and often that is all that they noticed. Her nutritionist asks her to cut carbs in her diet, and she has been doing so for three years.

She has a younger sister, who is three years younger and everything their father wants them to be. Monika is her best friend since kindergarten and they have an unwritten BFF code- never to shop alone. Monika is getting married to her school sweetheart, Sanjay, who Roli thinks is a lousy person. To top it all, her boyfriend went absconding on her without an explanation a year ago

Her parents are desperate to get her married but she is not much of an advocate of arranged marriage. They have searched for a suitable groom for her in all the possible ways and she has already rejected six of them, not to mention those who rejected her because she is fat. Their interfering neighbor, Mrs Khurana, Orange aunty, has a match for her, a techie guy. She agrees to meet Suitor number seven, on a blind date, with the thought that this one is her last, if this did not work, nothing would.

So she goes to meet Kabir Wagh, the blind date, an average Joe next door, rather chubby bespectacled face, so regular looking that he almost looked familiar. They part as friends but, on the second date, her past rears an ugly head and she runs away leaving Kabir speechless. Her sister is supportive. She meets Monika and they also fight over something.

She takes up a real-job in a start-up, Cyber Weave, and moves to Chandigarh. Divya, her boss, is more of her friend and coaxes her to join the gym. She is getting used to her life in Chandigarh when suddenly she sees Kabir.

Will she tell him what made her run away? Will they patch up? Will Roli find true love?

My take:

The cover fits the title and the story. The plot is simple and has been portrayed in a very simple language. The characters have been developed well, are very true to life and the conversations between them are very realistic. The flow is steady and does not break even when the story moves back and forth. All the characters have an important role to play, be it the main ones or the supporting ones.

The story has been written in first person from Roli’s point of view. Each one of us has one or another flaw and can relate to Roli in one way of another, be it because of our weight, our height, our looks or anything else. The author makes the reader realize that even with all the humiliation, Roli still stands as a confident girl.

The descriptions are funny and I found the six boy-dates very hilarious.

Though the story moves back and forth but the track was not lost.

 

Happy Relationships by Lucy Beresford

28601442.jpgI received Happy Relationships by Lucy Beresford as a review copy from Fingerprint Publishing as a review copy and I would like to thank Megha Parmar for the book.

The Blurb:

Why do some relationships give us great joy and others become toxic?

What role do we play in our relationships?

Are our relationship skills weakening in the age of social media?

From the moment we are born we rely on others for our survival. But as we get older, we can sometimes find relationships upsetting and frustrating.

In this insightful, well written book, psychotherapist Lucy Beresford cuts to the chase of how to have harmonious, fulfilling relationships.

Whether it’s with our partner, our kids, our boss, or our mother-in-law, or perhaps most importantly ourselves, all our relationships require – at some stage in our lives – a little bit of tender loving care.

A helpful toolkit in dealing with everyday dilemmas, Happy Relationships at Home, Work and Play will boost your confidence, encourage insight and empower you to be the best you can in all your relationships.

My take:

There are certain books which you read, write a gist of the story and then write what you feel about the book. But this book does not fall into this category. It is not a story book or a work of fiction.  This book has been divided nine chapters discussing relationships with self, parents, siblings, friends, children, in-laws, co-workers, ‘the other’ and the social media. The author has used case studies in the form of letters to explain various topics using the names mentioned in the letter so that it is easy for the reader to follow what she is talking about. There are boxes in between these with tips.

She says that we are relational creatures and relationships are the mood music of our lives. She also mentions that we are independent as much as we are relational creatures. For majority of us, there is at least one relationship in life and we long for the peace a good relation brings. She also mentions that different people have different history, different needs and so a different template is required while dealing with different people.

She talks about our relationship with our own self lasts a life time and that with our parents provides the earliest templates that we have for our later relationships. She also mentions that siblings are the crucial anchor people in our lives. She talks about friendships and mentions that when our friendship goes wrong, we feel so emotional, so bereft. She mentions that intimate relationships are the very cornerstone of human social existence and says that one of her clients summed this up as ‘efforts in, rewards out’. She also mentions that we never choose our relationships with our in-laws and that as compared to our parents, they love us conditionally. She has spoken about our relationships with our children, about the joy, the rewards and the hurt they give us. As our children grow up, our relationship with them also changes.  She also talks about relationship issues at work calling ‘Workship’ being the new playground. She has alo spoken about the upsides and downsides of Social Media.

She has touched many topics but topics like bullying, friendship audit, sibling rivalry have been explained well.

The book has been written in a simple language with examples making it easy to read. Though there are some topics which may not be pertinent in the Indian context but still I feel a lot of it needs to be read and understood. Not once, not twice, but every time, a need is felt. I have placed it conveniently on the dresser next to my bed.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

 

 

 

The Temple Tiger and More Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

51grTJdeYSL._OU31_AC_UL320_SR206,320_I received the book The Temple Tiger and More Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa Publications and would like to thank Rizwan of Rupa Publications for the same.

The blurb:

In continuation of the narratives in The Man-eaters of Kumaon, The Temple Tiger and More Man-eaters of Kumaon further details Jim Corbett’s hunting exploits, as he is called upon to take down tigers, leopards and bears in regions such as Dabidhura, Muktesar, Panar and Tanekpur. Apart from the hunts, the accounts vividly describe the flora, fauna, people and local legends of the areas Corbett went to, and his experiences in them, ranging from hair-raising to rib-tickling.

Simply told and capturing the essence of the Himalayan ranges, The Temple Tiger and More Man-eaters of Kumaon makes for a compelling read.

My take:

This is the last book by Jim Corbett on his hunting experiences in India. This book is a continuation of his previous book, ‘Man-Eaters of Kumaon’. As with his previous book, he has made the hunting episodes look quite interesting using simple language to describe them in detail. The best story is the last one, The Talla Des Man-Eater, which is long and it took me two days to complete.

His descriptions of the flora and fauna reflect his knowledge about them and his experiences. He has mentioned the various difficulties that he had to undergo during his hunting expeditions. The author has given detailed descriptions of the jungle and ravines that he went to. In each story he has made an effort to describe what lead him to the scene to shoot the tiger and also how he eventually did it.

I loved the book immensely and enjoyed reading every word of it. There were parts in the book that kept my hair on end.

A highly recommended book for all ages with a word of caution, some descriptions are not for the weak hearted.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

With You I Dance by Aarti V.Raman

51bXZDhf5-L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWith You I Dance by Aarti V.Raman is the second book by the author that I have read. Other books by her are Kingdom come and White Knight. This book is the story of a ballerina who loses everything in one day- her job and her man. The story is set in Mumbai and some part in New York.

The blurb:

Once upon a time….

Meera Sagar had everything—the perfect job as a principal ballerina (for a prestigious New York ballet company) and a man who loved her as much as she loved him. But tragedy struck on the night before her biggest performance, forcing her to do the one thing she never wanted to do—come back home. To Mumbai.

Now, a year later, Meera is still trying to pick up the pieces, while fending off marriage proposals from her well-meaning but traditional Gujarati family, and figure life out all over again. By starting a ballet school in Mumbai. But she has two problems. One, she doesn’t know anything about running a business. And two, she can’t dance. Not anymore.

Enter…

Abeer Goswami. Hotshot junior partner at a South Bombay law firm and a man nursing a broken heart. When he meets Meera again, the woman who left him, he tries his hardest to be her friend, to help her…and not let the past get in the way.
And then…

There is the sexy Zoya Sehgal. Meera’s only friend in the city and the woman Abeer is currently seeing.

They say triangles have pointy edges, for a reason.

Will Meera find a new dream in her ballet school? Can Abeer and Meera find their way back to each other again? And, most important, has Meera danced for the last time?

With you I dance is a warm, funny, at times heart-rending, love story of second chances, true love, and finding yourself when your dearest dream has vanished.

The story:

Meera Sagar, the elder offspring of a Gujarati family in Mumbai, wanted to be a ballerina ever since she was two years old, wanted a ballerina costume for her fifth birthday and wanted to go to New York to study ballet at Juilliard. She left home at seventeen and now, at 26, she is back in Mumbai, after losing her job at Vogler Ballet Company and the love of her life. Her friends from New York not answering her emails or Facebook messages

It has been almost a year, her parents want her married and are on the search for eligible bachelors, so she meets a prospective groom after much cajoling from her parents and finds him to be a joker. Her nineteen year old brother, Nikunj alias Bullet is the only supportive person she has in her family.  One line sums her up: ‘Dance was all she knew, dance was her first great love and she was terrified she’d danced for the very last time.’ She is stubborn and feels that she has three alternatives: Alternative 1- To dance, but she has a panic attack on stage; Alternative 2- To marry a joker proposed by her family and Alternative 3- To start a ballet school in Mumbai. She settles for the third alternative.

She emails Zoya Sehgal, her old friend from school, from kindergarten to the tenth standard, a headhunter for one of those companies that provided executive business solutions, and they decide to meet at a pub. And they run into Abeer and Zoya introduces Abeer as a lawyer who has moved back from Boston and is a junior partner in one of the best law firms. And much to Meera’s surprise Abeer tells Zoya that he knows Meera and she is the girl whom he had asked to marry and she took the next flight back to India.

Abeer Goswami, is the good son to his mom, good older brother to his cousins, great friend man comfortable in his own skin, a closet romantic and a sorted individual. He knows himself, his own flaws, his failings and his strengths. He has always been there when she needed him. She danced better when he was in her life. She loved him like she loved ballet. And now she is seeing him after 11 months, 2 weeks and 3 days.

Abeer, being the person that he is, tries to be supportive and help Meera start her ballet school. Meera feels he is now seeing Zoya and also that she should not spoil his life with her complications………………

My take:

I love romance and this is one book that kept me smiling long after I had kept it after finishing the book, not once but twice. The cover is BEAUTIFUL. Full credit goes to the author and the designer. Even though the story is simple, it has been depicted beautifully with detailed descriptions. The language is simple and the flow is steady. The characters are life like, well developed. The conversations between the characters have been beautifully written, I could imagine it happening right before my eyes. The relationship that Meera shares with her brother has been depicted beautifully. She has described the feelings of both the characters.

The author has covered many emotions in the book: humour, love, friendship, chemistry between the main protagonists, fighting hidden demons, sibling love and also parental pressure. The book is also about making your dreams come true.

My favoutite character was Abeer, once he came into the story, I could not put the book down. He is so perfect, and I soooo loved him. Understanding, supportive, dependable, adorable, I can’t put an end to the list of objectives that I have for him. Even after Meera left him devastated, he is still there to help her as a friend, giving up everything for her.

All in all, a completely flawless book. There us but one flaw…. An epilogue would have been the icing on the cake.

Her English is impeccable, even the simple words that she has used have been used in such a way that has made the book all the more likable. The font size and the spacing are very good (I could read without my glasses!!!)

UNPUTDOWNABLE, complete romance.

Highly recommended.

Logically Stupid that’s Love by Shikha Kumar

51Y6Fcs5EwL.jpgLogically Stupid that’s Love by Shikha Kumar is the second book by the author. Her first one being ‘He fixed the match, she fixed him’.  The story is about Kartik and Sahana.

The Blurb:

Kartik: Yes, I want to be successful, and that’s not a crime. Trust me, I too would have wanted the same as Ms. Stupid, but I can’t toss away my hard-work of years for a girl. We would have had a beautiful love story had she not been my boss’s daughter.
Sahana: I know he’s ambitious and doesn’t know his heart well. But I’m sure one day Mr. Logical will come to my way of thinking, and we’ll have a beautiful life together thereafter.
He flirted with her for five days; she waited for him for five years, only to be shattered irrecoverably one day. Logic seems to be winning the battle, until destiny refuses to move on and adamantly brings them face to face again.
In life’s moments of struggle and comfort, the heart and mind must join hands to combat.
A love story dedicated to the generation that never values what comes easy. Wish a few logics were a little less stupid. But nevertheless…

Logically Stupid, That’s Love.

The Characters:

Kartik Brar, 24, from Amritsar, is doing his MBA (marketing) at IIM, Calcutta, when he applies for a job at a startup named DataMagica, owned by Mr. Ajit Khurana. Kartik is young, ambitious, career-oriented and logical. He wants to make a name for himself, come what may and has no time for anything else. He has a younger brother, Vinayak, Vinny. He has four close friends.

Sahana Khurana, 20, the only daughter Ajit and Alka Khurana, is fun loving. She loves to party and shop with her friends and is not serious about her studies or her career. She is beautiful.

The story:

Kartik sees Sahana at a hotel in Mumbai where she has gone to attend a family wedding and he is there to pick up his car and drive down to Goa on a paid vacation for a few days there before joining his first job at Datamagica. What he has not bargained for is a girl in the back of his car. The girl is none other than Sahana, who has runaway from her parents to escape marriage. They become friends and travel around Goa together. They come back to Mumbai and board the Rajdhani to Delhi and Kartik is shocked when he sees that Ajit is Sahana’s father.

They meet again after two years at an office party and start communicating with each other. Kartik gets busy furthering his career and Sahana gets into MBA at Nagpur. She comes back again to Datamagica to do her internship and her friendship with Kartik blossoms into love. Until one day, Kartik sees Ajit sacking another staff member for looking at Sahana.

Kartik snubs her and breaks her heart. He compensates by becoming a brute and getting involved in his work, becomes the youngest COO and she gets engaged to Rahul. Events lead to Shana joining Datamagica and meeting Kartik every day.

What happens then? Read on and find out.

My take:

The story is simple and there are a lot of emotions that have been dealt with in this story. The characters have been developed in such a way that it was easy for me to picturise them. The supporting characters have an equally important role to play in the story. The conversations between the main characters and that between the other characters have been depicted well.

The language used is simple. The chapters have cute names. The relationship between Kartik, his mother, his brother and his friends, Sahana, her mother, her best friend and her maid has been beautifully depicted.

Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

91JSdssI5LL.jpgI received Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett as a review copy from Rupa Publications and would like to thank Rizwan Khan for the book. The book has an introduction by Ruskin Bond and is a collection of Jim Corbett’s hunting experiences.

The Blurb:

Jim Corbett was every inch a hero, something like a “sahib” Davy Crockett: expert in the ways of the jungle, fearless in the pursuit of man-eating big cats, and above all a crack shot. Brought up on a hill-station in north-west India, he killed his first leopard before he was nine and went on to achieve a legendary reputation as a hunter.
Corbett was also an author of great renown. His books on the man-eating tigers he once tracked are not only established classics, but have by themselves created almost a separate literary genre. Man Eaters of Kumaon is the best known of Corbett’s books, one which offers ten fascinating and spine-tingling tales of pursuing and shooting tigers in the Indian Himalayas during the early years of this century. The stories also offer first-hand information about the exotic flora, fauna, and village life in this obscure and treacherous region of India, making it as interesting a travelogue as it is a compelling look at a bygone era of big-game hunting.

My take:

The author has presented the tiger as an animal which does not prefer to eat humans and eats them only when it accidentally discovers that the humans are edible. He has given instances of a few tigers and how they came to become maneaters.

The author has made the hunting episodes look quite interesting. He has used simple language to describe his experiences. I loved the book immensely and enjoyed reading every word of it. There were parts in the book that kept my hair on end.

He has described the nature beautifully. He has mentioned the various difficulties that he had to undergo during his hunting expeditions. His knowledge of nature and his oneness with nature comes to light in the episodes narrated. The author has given detailed descriptions of the jungle and ravines that he went to. In each story he has made an effort to describe what lead him to the scene to shoot the tiger and also how he eventually did it. Though the font size is small, still the book was a quick read, I feel because of my inability to put the book down as I wanted to know what would happen next. The author has also expressed his regret when the animal he chose to put down was not a maneater. The descriptions of the victims really moved me and I just could not have any pity for the tigers then and I felt for the villagers and the family of the victims.

A highly recommended book for all ages with a word of caution, some descriptions are not for the weak hearted.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.