Reema’s Matchmakers by Sundari Venkatraman

41DMfvd+7dL.jpgReema’s Matchmakers by Sundari Venkatraman is her latest book in the Romantic Shorts series. It is the story of second changes.

The blurb:

Pavitra is young, good-looking and unbelievably sexy. She’s also divorced and a single parent to a two-year old. Though she’s totally averse to the idea of a relationship, one day she connects with Abhishek through Reema’s Matchmakers—a popular haunt for singles wanting to mingle.

Except Abhishek and Pavitra have sworn to themselves that they plan on staying single, free and uncommitted. Abhishek—who has women swooning over him—simply drops by to help his cousin Reema get the party going. But then Cupid strikes unexpectedly leaving both of them joyful yet confused and vulnerable.

To construct barriers is so much more comforting than opening oneself to love…

Will they take the risk, grab a second chance and get married again?

*A brief version of this story has been published in the collection Matches Made in Heaven

The story:

Pavitra, divorced with a two year old son, lives with her parents. One day, her friend, Reema, who runs a matchmaking network, Reema’s Matchmakers, invites her to a party of single parents with the hope to get her hitched. Pavitra is not interested in remarriage but still goes to the party because she does not want to let Reema down. Reema’s cousin, Abhishek, a widower with a daughter, is also attending the party to help Reema.

My take:

A simple story of second chances with realistic characters. I loved the pace of the book. The language is simple and the story just flows.

Would love to read Reema’s story someday.

 

White Christmas: A Novelette by Sunanda J Chatterjee

41ToP7rwVeL.jpgI picked up White Christmas: A Novelette. A heartwarming family drama about forgiveness, acceptance, and love by Sunanda J Chatterjee from the Kindle Unlimited Library.

The blurb:

Successful lawyer Melissa, stay-at-home-mom Jessica, and Chef Dominic have not visited home for Christmas since their father died two years ago. But when their elderly mother invites them home for the holidays and shares her plan to sell the house, the three siblings plan a surprise for her. Little do they know their mother has a surprise of her own.

Meet the White family for their unexpected Christmas reunion.

The story:

Melissa White, 32, is a successful lawyer in New York. Divorced three years ago after just two years of marriage. She has a busy practice and believes in hard work. Her younger sister, Jessica, a brilliant chemist is now a stay-at-home-mom to three children and their younger brother, Dominic, is a chef in the making. The three of them have not visited their family home for Christmas since their father died two years ago.

One day, Melissa receives a call from their mother inviting them all for Christmas and she also lets her know that she plans to sell the house. The three of them talk to each other, blame each other for her loneliness and plan a surprise for her.

But they are in for a surprise.

My take:

I loved the siblings, their inter personal relationship and their relationship with their mother.

This is a sweet and warm story, perfect for the holiday season.

Would love to read a more detailed story of the three of them.

 

 

The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya

The Speaking Stone Cover.jpgI received the book The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya as a review copy from the author and am thankful to him for the same.

The blurb:

Can a piece of stone reveal a great story buried in the heart of a forgotten history?

A young man found a piece of ancient-looking stone with strange images and Sanskrit inscriptions. A quest to discover the origin of the stone brought him to the distant part of the country where he met a vivacious young lady, pursuing her dissertation proposal.

Their search began from the city museum to a far-flung rock mountain which revealed a century-old story of a seductive danseuse, her enigmatic lover, a string of her admirers, a painter with a photographic memory, a bird that could speak in many voices, a benevolent king and a gruesome conspiracy. And the most important clue to decode the final secret was with the missing part of….

The Speaking Stone

But in the process of unearthing old secrets their lives were also in danger…

The story:

In 2016, Saikat, buys a mysterious stone, which is actually only half a piece of a bigger stone from a vendor selling artefacts on a pavement in Mumbai. The stone has four faces and something inscribed in Sanskrit, cut into half. The vendor also tells him that he has named the artefact, The Speaking Stone because he thinks that the stone has a great history and that makes Saikat all the more curious to know about the other half of the stone.

Shuvashini Guha, 24, a PhD student of history of Calcutta University, is asked by her guide to find a unique topic for her dissertation. And a book fascinates her, and makes her curious about Tripura and prepare a dissertation accordingly.

After some enquiries, he starts on a journey to Unakoti, 165 kilometres from Agartala, in Tripura. It is at Kolkata airport on the way to Agartala, that he sees a girl with a book, History of Tripura: from monarchy to democracy, and is curious to know about her. He is happy to find her on the same flight as him. They meet in Agartala and start on the adventure to find the treasure.

The book moves back and forth between 2016-17 with Saikat and Shuvashini and 1900, with the old kingdom, king, conspirators, a sculptor,  a dancer….

My take:

This book is a historical thriller which kept me on the edge of my seat. Two stories run in parallel in two different centuries and sometimes, I would feel lost. There is fiction and there is reality and there is reality and fiction interwoven so many times that it was difficult to separate the two. The author’s effort and his research is visible as the story proceeds from Mumbai, to Chandannagar, to Tripura, to Kolkata and then Agartala and Unakoti.

The characters are relatable and realistic. The author has introduced the main characters, Saikat and Shuvashini in a different way, after giving a brief about them. The descriptions of scenes have been minutely detailed, like Shuvashini tucking the boarding pass inside the book when the security check is complete. We move from Mumbai to the far north eastern part of India, Tripura.

The language is simple and the story is fast paced and the twists and turns make it unputdownable. A little bit of editing would make it crisp and more interesting. The book has all the elements that make it a suspense novel with puzzles and mystery games. The book also has illustrations and pictures that help explaining the complicated parts.

The Speaking Stone Banner

 

DISCLAIMER: I received this book as a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

Three Times Lucky (Jasmine Villa Book 3) by Andaleeb Wajid

41mdTomZPQL.jpgThree Times Lucky (Jasmine Villa Book 3) by Andaleeb Wajid is the third book of the Jasmine Villa Series. This book is the story of the youngest sister Athiya, set in Bangalore.

The blurb:

Athiya Hasan didn’t believe in love. She thought it was over-rated and yet, something happened inside, every time she thought of Farhaan Ahmed, the man her sister was supposed to marry.

Farhaan can’t get Athiya out of his head and in a bid to get to know her better, he offers her a job in his office. But now, he’s her boss and it means Athiya is further away from him.

A mistake in judgment turns out to be a grave error for Athiya whose father worries about his rash and angry daughter. But Farhaan steps in like a knight in shining armour to save Athiya. Only, Athiya doesn’t want one, no matter how attracted she is to him.

Will Athiya and Farhaan get past their differences and give love a chance? Three Times Lucky is the third and final book in the Jasmine Villa series, written by Andaleeb Wajid, author of acclaimed novels such as More than Just Biryani, My Brother’s Wedding, The Crunch Factor and House of Screams.

The story:

Athiya, 24, the youngest of the three sisters is a firebrand. She is outspoken and is not scared to express her opinion. She is impulsive as well. After the marriage of her sisters, she, along with her father, moves to an apartment as Jasmine Villa was being rebuilt into six flats as a joint development project with Farhaan’s company, of which four of them would belong to the three sisters and their father. She does not like celebrating her birthday, as it reminds her of their mother’s death. The bond among the sisters is very strong and the girls meet often.

Farhaan is completely her opposite, he is mature, patient, and understanding. As a routine, he meets Luqman and Ana every Friday at their house for dinner. It is during one such dinner that Ana realises that Farhaan has a soft spot for Athiya. And then Farhaan offers Athiya, who is fresh out of college, a job in his company. And then something crops up and Farhaan offers to marry her.

My take:

I binge read the entire series and enjoyed how the author has connected the stories and created her characters. They are relatable and realistic and as the series moved from Tehzeeb’s story to Ana’s and then to Athiya’s, I felt that I was with the sisters and seeing the story right before my eyes. The girls are strong and independent and the boys are understanding.

The story takes off after the second book of the series with the characters from her previous books making regular appearances maintaining the continuity of the story line. The secondary characters also have important roles to play. The scenes as well as the emotions have been described in detail. The language is simple and the story moves fast. And once I started the series, I could not put it down.

 

Loving you Twice (Jasmine Villa Book 2) by Andaleeb Wajid

510o3QJz6qL._SY346_.jpgLoving you Twice (Jasmine Villa Book 2) by Andaleeb Wajid is the second book of The Jasmine Villa Series and can be read as a standalone. This book is the story of Ana and Luqman.

The blurb:

Ana Hasan has never given much thought to love and is focused on her new job. She keeps her feelings closely guarded and is good at pretending that everything is fine, even when it isn’t. When she finds herself seated next to Luqman Ahmed on an international flight, she knows why has avoided men like him all her life. But she also remembers everything that had drawn him to her the previous times she met him.

Luqman is tired of travelling for his job and is seriously considering relocating to the US. But his plans go awry when he’s seated next to his friend Ayub’s sister-in-law Ana. He considers himself lucky to get some time talking to pretty Ana whose eyes have always captivated him from the moment he met her for the first time.

It isn’t too long until they discover their feelings for each other but Luqman is travelling to the US and by the time he returns, their lives are thrown far apart and brought dangerously close at the same time. Will they be able to get back their love for each other again? Will they survive the double whammy that fate has planned for them?

Loving you Twice is the second romance in the Jasmine Villa series by Andaleeb Wajid, author of acclaimed novels such as More than Just Biryani, My Brother’s Wedding, The Crunch Factor and House of Screams.

The story:

Ana Hasan works as a behavioural counsellor at an international school and has been selected to represent her school at a conference in Kuala Lumpur. Her older sister, Tehzeeb, now happily married with a six-month old baby, convinces their father to allow her to go for the conference. As it is her first flight, Ana is nervous. And she is surprised to see Luqman, her brother-in-law’s best friend come and occupy the seat next to her, and he helps her overcome her fear of flying and they get talking.

Luqman is the youngest of three brothers and is the black sheep of the family as he works as a software developer with a top IT firm in Bangalore, while his older brothers are in property business. He is going to San Francisco on a three-week project.

One day, Ana’s father says that there is a proposal for Ana from Farhaan, who happens to be Luqman’s oldest brother. Ana is the good one, the one with moral compass, the grounded one and she decides to marry him for her father’s happiness and put Luqman out of her mind. Meeting Ana for the fourth time, Luqman is struck by her decisiveness, clarity and beauty.

And once he comes to know of the impending wedding, he takes the next flight back to Bangalore but fate has something else in store. Luqman meets with an accident and has short term memory loss.

My take:

The story takes off right after the first book in the series. The characters from the previous two books make regular appearances in the story and I could feel the continuity between the two books. More so, because I binge read the series in three days.

As with all her books, the characters are realistic and relatable and even the secondary characters have important roles to play. The scenes are well described, and so are the emotions. There is love, romance, friendship and drama. The language is simple and easy to follow. And the story is fast paced and that makes the book unputdownable.

 

 

One Way to Love (Jasmine Villa Series Book 1) by Andaleeb Wajid

510U0vwhr1L.jpgOne Way to Love (Jasmine Villa Series Book 1) by Andaleeb Wajid is one book that I borrowed from the Kindle Unlimited Library. This the first book in the Jasmine Villa series.

The blurb:

Tehzeeb Hasan lives in the quaint Jasmine Villa in Bangalore with her father Yusuf and her sisters Ana and Athiya. Their rundown little house is no villa but Tehzeeb loves it dearly. Not too keen on marriage, she hopes to work for a few more years in an NGO before her father succumbs to one of the many inevitable proposals sent by nosy aunties. A chance meeting with an old friend Yusuf brings home, results in a marriage proposal for Tehzeeb who is reluctant and wary.

Young, handsome architect Ayub Ahmed is one of the most eligible bachelors of the city and he is not interested in getting married either, until he meets beautiful Tehzeeb. Their vastly different backgrounds do not matter until after they get married and Tehzeeb realises that she’s expected to be a perfect bahu, dressed in flowy ghagras, and wearing jewellery at all times. Stifled by the numerous vapid parties she attends with her mother-in-law, she yearns to break free.

Will Tehzeeb go too far in her quest for her own identity amidst the well-coiffed ladies who lunch? Will her love be enough to overcome the sense of betrayal Ayub feels over her actions? Tehzeeb and Ayub’s story, One Way to Love is the first in the Jasmine Villa series, a romance novel series by Andaleeb Wajid.

The story:

Tehzeeb Hassan lives with her father and younger sisters, Ana and Athiya in Bangalore. Their father, an accountant, bought the house ‘Jasmine Villa’ decades ago with the intention of demolishing this house and making a new one but this was not to be as the land was under dispute and also the expenses on lawyers and their mother’s illness. They lost their mother a six years ago when they were 16, 15 and 14 years old respectively. The sisters are very close and share everything with each other.

Tehzeeb works as an accountant for an NGO and her sisters are still in college.  One day, their father’s college friend comes home with a proposal that Tehzeeb marries his son, Ayub Ahmed, an architect. She is not interested in getting married immediately because she wants to continue working and helping people but her father tells her that this proposal is better than those he is fending off for quite some tome and that she should give him a chance. The girls are surprised at this sudden proposal from a stranger and Tehzeeb decides to see for herself and decide whether there is some problem with Ayub.

Ayub Ahmed, 28, is being forced by his father to hire his friend’s daughter as his assistant and has set up a meeting with her at a coffee shop so that Ayub can see whether the girl is qualified and suitable for the job. And Ayub and Tehzeeb meet at a coffee shop and agree to marriage after an initial confusion.

Ayub is surprised at his father’s choice of bride. Tehzeeb’s family is not as rich as they are, his mother has no idea and his father is already planning the wedding dates. But his father has his reasons which he reveals to Ayub and they keep it a secret between them. Tehzeeb is scared, she likes Ayub’s sister, but his mother is different.

My take:

Usually, a book on romance finishes when the lead pair confesses their love to each other and then everything ends happily ever after with an epilogue in some book. But this love story is different. Her, a girl and boy meet, they fall in love, they get married and the love story and family life move in parallel.

I loved the characters, Tehzeeb, for her independence and Ayub, for his understanding. They are realistic and we meet people like them often. The bond between the sisters and their conversations have been depicted well. I loved Ana’s practicality and Athiya’s boldness. The feelings of both the characters have been described and I loved it when Ayub realises his love for Tehzeeb before she realises it herself. The scenes have been described in detail and the chemistry between the lead characters sizzles.

The author’s writing style is simple and the story moves at a fast pace. The story has everything, family, friendship, love, drama, misunderstanding.

This the first book in the Jasmine Villa series. The best part is that we can read them as standalone as well. I binge read the three books of the series and was not a bit disappointed.

 

 

 

A Useful Death by Sriram Chellapilla

51-3vvr7-QL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_I received the book A Useful Death by Sriram Chellapilla as a review copy from Writer’s Melon and am thankful to them for the same.

The blurb:

Aspiring actress Priya is dead. It’s a suicide, and rumour has it that Anil, son of politician and former Telugu-movie superstar Mohan Krishna, drove her to it. Just another film-industry scandal? Or something bigger, much bigger?

Partha, hired by Mohan Krishna’s family to handle the crisis, thinks so. Why won’t such a powerful father defend his son, Partha wonders. Is there an intra-family war? Whose interests are playing out in the media and on social media? Is a political game afoot or is this all connected to Mohan Krishna’s own dubious past? And why are student unions getting involved?

Even as Partha and his associates, Seema and Harish, confront the ethics of being involved in a war with no heroes, they are drawn into a dangerous hunt. They must negotiate a tangled and vicious world to answer one question: a young woman is dead—to whom is her death useful?

The story:

An aspiring actress Priya is dead and the police that it is a suicide as there is no forced entry. And the media is in a frenzy. All this before her debut movie is released. The police also realise that her laptop and smartphone are also missing. And the primary suspect is Anil, the only son of Telugu industry’s biggest Superstar, Mohan Krishna, who is about to enter politics. Anil is suspected because Priya was supposed to start opposite Anil in their debut movie which was shelved before it went on the sets.

Inspector Pratap is on the job. Sirisha, Priya’s friend, who discovered the body is questioned. Junior Artistes Association and National People’s Party have started protests.

And Anil’s family want Partha Rao to help. Partha and his crisis management associates, Seema and Harish start the investigation and the conspiracy unfolds.

My take:

This is one book which actually kept me guessing for a long time. There were many moments when I felt that I should keep it down, but then something would come up and I would continue with it. Initially, it is very slow, it took me three days to reach page 100, and then it picks up pace and the twists begin. The narration is in the form of a script with detailed descriptions of scenes, characters and action, and sometimes I felt that I was watching a movie, especially the action sequences. Some descriptions could have been lesser. The characters are very well-developed and their back stories have also been mentioned.

The book gives an insight into the film industry and what new actors go through.  The story has all the ingredients to make it unputdownable: suspense, murder/ suicide, politics, film industry, suspects, clues, university students, protests, money and power. The language is simple and the twists and turns are unpredictable.

I loved the book and would definitely like to read more from the author.

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