The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

I love slow burn romances. For one thing, the author needs to be clever enough to weave a fantastic story around two characters who are not going to hit the sack anytime soon. You need a fabulous plot to hold the reader’s interest or make the characters so interesting that one has to follow them until the end.

Wall of Winnipeg and Me is an excellent example of a slow burn romance. The story is narrated from the point of view of Vanessa, the personal assistant to a football player. Though he is easy on the eye, his indifference annoys her to no end, so much so that she saves up enough money to pursue her own dreams. She is so angry with him that she quits the job and is happy to be on her own. At this point, one actually wonders how these two would ever come together and how Aiden could ever redeem himself after treating Vanessa with such annoying indifference.

And that’s why you can’t really put down this book.

Favourite Characters

Vanessa is my girl. I have long been an admirer of strong women characters and she certainly is one gutsy girl who overcomes all the challenges that life throws at her. She is strong, lovable and kind and after reading the book from her POV, I really wish I could meet her.

I found Aidan very cute. At first,  his indifference seems almost Autistic but as we progress with the story, we see that he just doesn’t give a damn about people he doesn’t like. By the end of the story, you actually admire his fortitude and many of the stuff that he does makes sense. He is not your quintessential romance hero but he is stoic, stubborn and committed to his girl. The secondary characters were equally adorable, especially Zac and Diana.

Favourite Scenes

One of my favourite scenes in the novel was the elevator where Vanessa totally loses it with a panic attack and Aidan holds her together. That and the scene where he sleeps next to her just so that she is not scared of the dark. Really, who needs smouldering glances and heated kisses when one can have a guy like Aidan to call you Muffin.

What didn’t work for me?

Hmmm… I have been thinking about this for a very long time today but couldn’t really find anything that seemed out of place. That said, the length of the book slightly bigger than an average romance novel so those who are used to shorter reads might be shouting themselves hoarse to pick up the pace. But it really worked for me and I couldn’t put it down (so much so that I had to forgo my work today just to read the book.

Would I recommend this book?

Absolutely! If you have an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription you can read this for FREE! (Which was awesome!) – Click here to buy the book

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#11 : Of “Brutally Honest” Reviews

DISCLAIMER : The write up below is strictly my opinion on the matter of reviewing in the context of books. At the risk of sounding rude, if you have a problem with the following write up, please li…

Source: #11 : Of “Brutally Honest” Reviews

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Color Me Rich by Mohan Deep

 

Color Me Rich 
by 
Mohan Deep 
Blurb 
A sensitive love story of a handsome and talented struggling painter Akash Saigal. What happens when he marries an extremely rich and beautiful artist and art investor Zenobia Taraporevala?
Prologue

J J School of Art, Mumbai.
 
Taking a charcoal pencil, Akash Saigal started drawing the wood-and-stone structure, popularly known as ‘Kipling Bungalow’. He was sketching sitting on a bench on which, in another era, K K Hebbar, M F Husain, Syed Haider Raza, Sadanand Bakre, V S Gaitonde, even Dadasaheb Phalke had sat with their sketchbooks, sketching the house where the author of The Jungle Book was born.
 
Ganpat Gupte appeared along with two of his gang. Gupte was the nephew of a minister, or so he claimed, and had the arrogance that comes with power.
 
“Ae Akash, kae karto?”
 
Akash looked up at the trio and said, “Nothing much. Just a drawing.”
 
“Okay. What is the day today?”
 
“Monday.”
 
“I should have known.Tere ko blue shirt hai na?”
 
Akash didn’t get the connection, but Gupte’s chamchas laughed knowingly.
 
“Didn’t you get it?”
 
“What?”
 
The three boys sang in unison, “Monday, blue shirt. Tuesday, black shirt. Wednesday, blue shirt. Thursday black shirt. Friday, blue shirt. Saturday, black shirt. Sunday…laundry!”
 
If Akash was hurt, he didn’t show it. He laughed sheepishly and continued sketching the bungalow.
 
But he would never forget this.
 
Today 
 
The elevator zoomed up, taking Akash directly to the penthouse on the 60th floor of Apollo Towers, and stopped with stomach-curdling smoothness. The door slid open to reveal his luxuriously done-up lounge.
 
He came out of the lift, turned down the passage, and walked over the deep-pile rug to the lounge.
 
He had returned from the salon.
 
He felt cleaner and fresher after his bimonthly facial – only Tanveer could give him a satisfactory shave – and pedicure. He liked to have his moustaches- like John Lennon’s – done like in the Sixties, and he liked sideburns.
 
His head was still heavy from drinking until the late hours, but he looked much better than he felt. His studio was to the right, almost hidden behind the lavish bar facing him as he entered.
 
Perched 550 feet above the city of Mumbai, he could see the Queen’s Necklace and the World Trade Centre. From Zenobia’s bedroom, the Gateway of India and the high dome of the Taj Mahal Hotel.
 
Pran smiled at him.
 
Akash returned the smile, picked up the bottle of Blue Label and poured himself a stiff drink.
 
“Isn’t it a little early for a drink?”
 
Without saying anything, Akash smiled, and switched on the TV.
 
The TV screen flashed a story over a video shot of Zenobia with him in happier times, followed by a shot of the Mumbai Police Commissioner’s heritage Gothic-style building and a subtitle: ‘Mumbai Police give clean chit to Akash Saigal.’
 
The newsreader said:
 
“Based on the findings of the forensic department and investigation, the Mumbai Police has declared the death of noted artist and socialite Zenobia Taraporevala suicide. It may be recalled that a year ago, Zenobia died from a fall from her 60th-floor penthouse. There were questions about her death. Was it a suicide, or an accident, or was she pushed to her death? Her husband, the famous artist Akash Saigal, was under a cloud all these months. It has now been established that tired of being confined to a wheel chair after a car accident, a depressed Zenobia committed suicide.”
 
Pran jumped out of his seat, still listening to the newsreader with open-mouthed amazement. He shouted: “Wow!”
 
Both the men hugged.
 
A shot of Prime Minister Narendra Modi now flashed on the screen, as the newsreader continued, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Singapore….”
 
Akash smiled tiredly at Pran.
 
“You already knew about it?”
 
Akash nodded and absent-mindedly picked up an envelope. He took out the card, glanced at it, and pushed it back. It was an invitation to his own function.
 
“Boss, when do we leave?” Pran asked.
“We have lots of time. The inauguration is after three hours, and the ministers never come on time. Agar aa bhi gaya toh hamari woh Fareeda baithi hai. Sambhal legi. Dad will take care of it. Chal baith, tu bhi le.”
 
“No, not me. I’m driving,” Pran said solemnly.
 
Akash knew that this was not the time to drink. He shouldn’t appear sloshed in front of the entire world and the prying media. He took another sip, and changed the news channel. 
 
And found himself staring at a picture of Zenobia on the screen. The still picture changed to a video shot of Zenobia and he at a party.
 
The newsreader was ranting:
 
“In India, the law mandates that the husband be questioned for cases involving the death of a woman within seven years of marriage. Akash and Zenobia had been married for barely two-and-a-half years. And Zenobia had died under mysterious circumstances, falling from the French window of her penthouse! The police always look for ‘the other woman’ in a case like this.”
 
The TV showed a shot of Suma, followed by a video shot of Suma and Akash emerging from the JW Marriott in Juhu. The newsreader went on: “And they found her in Suma. Suma Malkani, the beautiful ghazal singer.”
 
The State Minister for Cultural Affairs, Nanasaheb Palekar, was to launch the art school, named after Zenobia Taraporevala-Saigal, that evening at Powai. There had been several protests because of the controversy over her death, but the minister ignored them all.
 
A protest was planned for the same day by Kapila Khandelval’s NGO. It was unclear whether the NGO would go ahead with the protest or cancel it in view of the clean chit given to Akash by the police.
 
This project had been his baby and Zenobia’s dream. The government had given the land and the Taraporevalas had put in the money. Fareeda had inserted a business angle even in this dream project of Zenobia’s. The Zenobia-Akash Saigal School of Art had become the Zenobia-Akash Saigal School of Art and Business Management. She also had plans for a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in an annex. The minister had given the nod for that, too.
 
Akash’s mobile rang.
 
He looked at the screen and let it ring.
 
Taking a sip of his drink, he moved towards his den. He stepped into his room, and before he could shut the door, the phone near the bar table rang.
 
“Boss?” Pran said. “Fareeda is on the line.”
 
Fareeda would be having kittens without him. Akash’s association with the project had given it respectability and even a cultural cause, and got the plot at one-eighth its market value, and all the permissions.
 
“Fuck her!” Akash said, but he answered the phone anyway. 
 
Fareeda seemed frantic.
 
“The media will be here in three hours. And the minister, too.”
 
Akash said, “Fuck the media!” and hung up.
 
The TV newsreader went on:

“Before Akash Saigal hit the big time, he lived in a small apartment in Adarsh Nagar, in the western suburbs. His paintings didn’t earn him enough to buy a decent vehicle. He travelled by buses and cabs. While Zenobia almost took a sabbatical, Akash shot to fame with his mixed media and three-dimensional installations after marrying her.”
 
Leaning against the soft, cool leather of a luxurious sofa, Akash said, “Cigarettes?”
 
Pran was already sliding open the glass door of a cabinet. A carton of Marlboros had just one packet left. He gave the packet to Akash, grinned, and threw the carton in the trash box.
 
They might have been sharing the same flashback, the same past.
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
Mohan Deep, is an Indian author, painter and Feng Shui Master. Mohan Deep is the author of ‘The Mystery and Mystique of Madhubala’ (1996), ‘It’s My Life’ (Novel) (1997), ‘Simply Scandalous: Meena Kumari’ (1998), ‘Eurekha!’ – an unauthorized biography of Rekha. (1999), ‘Four Options’ (2000), ‘Feng Shui for the Bold & Beautiful, the Rich and Famous’ (2001) and ‘Nehru and the Tantrik Woman’ (2002). After a sabbatical of a decade, during which he touched upon the lives of people as a Feng Shui Master, he was back with The Five Foolish Virgins( 2013). Mohan Deep is arguably the only Indian author to write what is often described as controversial, unauthorized star biographies in India. Columnist-journalist and former editor of ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’, Khushwant Singh called him ‘a truly gifted gossip writer’. “The maverick writer”, like columnist-reviewer-poetess.
Tara Patel described him has also been called William Goldman of Bollywood’s stars (By Behram Contractor, the Editor of Afternoon Despatch & Courier) (Source) Kitty Kelly of India (By R K Bajaj, the Editor of ‘The Daily’). Interestingly, almost every book he has wrote/penned has invited controversies for its bold content.
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The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

One of my resolutions (Goodreads Reading Challenge)  this year is to read 50 good Science Fiction books that I will review on my blog. I am glad that the year took off really well with a great book.

I love to watch science fiction and especially Space travel stuff but I have never read any space fiction books. I am glad that I started this genre with a very promising book – The Martian.

The Plot

A dust storm forces a  Manned space mission Ares 3 to abandon their mission in Mars and the team believes that they have lost their crew member Mart Watney. But Mark Watney is very much alive and alone in Mars and it would take around four years for the next mission from Earth to arrive. With odds stacked heavily against him, Mark Watney in a la Robinson Crusoe style attempts the impossible – trying to survive on a hostile planet with limited food and water.

The plot was intriguing right from the start. Mart Watney charms us with his wry wit and sarcasm and we are rooting for him right from the first page.

My Review

Alright so you are stuck in Mars with limited food and water which would eventually run out. So what will an average astronaut do to survive? The answer is obviously ‘jugaad’ and Mark watney is the king there.

He grows potatoes, makes water, finds an old satellite and a means to communicate with earth…. and uses duct tape as a solution for most things.

One of the things that stands out high in this book is the indomitable spirit of Mark Watney. If we could but have one fourth of his undying spirit and wit, then I am sure that we will conquer any adversity in our life (on earth).

The book is strung together with Watney’s log entries that tell us what he did right from day 1. From solving complex equations to growing potatoes Watney’s never gives up. He is a prolific problem solver and even during the worst of the crisis that he faces on the Red Planet, he never abandons hope or his humour. We have much to learn from Watney…

My Verdict: I love the dry wit and sarcasm that comes through Watney’s log entries. They make for a very entertaining read. Go for it… you won’t be disappointed!

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The Madras Affair by Sundari Venkatraman

The Madras Affair by Sundari Venkatraman

The Madras Affair by Sundari Venkatraman

I was one among the many beta readers who had the opportunity to read the manuscript of ‘The Madras Affair’. I have been a fan of Sundari’s writing ever since I read her first book and ‘The Madras Affair’ is yet another best seller on her shelf.

The Review

The story begins with a rousing speech that Sangita Sinclair gives at a NGO that she has founded. Sangita is an enterprising character with a haunting past.

Married to a groom of her parent’s choice, Sangita’s life becomes a living hell with an abusive husband. Sexually abused Sangita’s only solace in life is her new born son. Thankfully she finds relief from her dreary life when her husband dies in an accident leaving her a widow. Sangita’s orthodox parents want her to live the life of a proper widow and try to impose dead-old traditional belief.

This is where Gautam makes an entry. Gautam is an hot American professor who teaches in the local University in Madras. He meets Sangita at the hospital where she works as a receptionist and falls in love with her. Sangita, who believes that she is incapable of physical relationship thanks to her past experience is reluctant to get involved.

This is a story of love, healing, transformation and triumph. Sangita is a woman capable of incredible strength of character but she is also vulnerable, delicate and charming. Gautam is a true gentleman and perfect foil for Sangita. He is pushy where he needs to be and charms the reticent Sangita into accepting his proposal of marriage. If only we could have more men like him!

Overall Madras Affair makes a great read and a perfect romance for the weekend!

Plus Points: Great plot, lovely story and a hot hero!

Minus Points: Wish there were more chapters about Sangita’s past life

Verdict: Go for it!

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Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd

Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd

Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd

This one of the readable books I downloaded on Kindle Unlimited. Though it is a second novel in the French Twist series, it was easy to follow the story. Lexi is in France to learn to be a Pastry chef. Her employer enrolls her in a prestigious pastry school and while she goes to school she also works at the village bakery. I loved the food descriptions and the recipes that suddenly popped out of the novel. The ideal place to read this book is at a bakery! You could devour cake after cake as you turn the pages!

The plot is simple and sweet. Lexi’s pastry school is very demanding and wants to make her the best pastry chef ever. Lonely in a foreign country where people are unfriendly in the beginning, Lexi finds solace in the friendship of Celine, her employer’s motherless daughter. Philippe, her employer is a widower who is interested in dating her but complication arrives in the form of Dan, Lexi’s lawyer friend. Lexi is in a dilemma and she tries to seek Christ’s help in deciding which man to fall in love with…

I liked the setting and the background of the story and subtle way it flowed through. Sandra Byrd’s French country life seems very idyllic and I have since marked it as a one of the places to visit in my bucket list. Sandra’s language is smooth and lucid.

My only complaint in this whole novel was the christian theme that seems to be sticking out like a sore thumb! Lexi goes to an Anglican church and finds that Philippe and Celine too go there… While this is a good move to keep the story rolling, Lexi trying to preach and chide her friend into joining the Church serves no purpose and  it doesn’t quite ‘gel’ with the story. (On a personal note, I have nothing against christianity, church or Jesus Christ. I would have said that same thing if the protagonist had suddenly started preaching the readers about Krishna and Rama!)

Apart from this one obvious issue, the book was quite interesting and will certainly make you google out ‘French Pastry Shops’ in your city. My advice is that take your Kindle along with you and sit there and read through the novel even as the appetizing delicious flavors of baked bread, Cinnamon and Chocolate waft through 🙂

Verdict: A worthy book to download from Kindle Unlimited

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Spotlight on Marijuana Diaries Compiled by Paulami Duttagupta

Name of the Book : MARIJUANA DIARIES
Compiler : Paulami Duttagupta
Edited by : Nethra A.

Read some reviews:

1. Sundari Venkatraman
2. Nikita Jhanglani
3. Ruchi Singh

The Story:

Marijuana Diaries, an anthology on addiction and obsession, has 17 stories by new and established writers. As writers introspect and celebrate addictions of various forms, the pages of this diary fill up.

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About The Authors

 

Contributors: Gulzaar, Raghuvir Shekhawat, Deepali Junjappa, Meera Bharadwaj,Priyaa Trippayar Sahasranaman, Subha N Nivedita and Dr. Tahmina Khaleel Rochelle Potkar, Paulami DuttaGupta, Reshma Ranjan, Rubina Ramesh, Nehali Lalwani, Nethra Anjanappa, Janaki Nagaraj, Aparajita Dutta, Brindaa Lakshmi and Ahana Mukherjee.

About the Editor

Paulami DuttaGupta 

Born in Shillong, many moons ago, with schooling at Loreto Convent, and an English Honors from St. Edmunds College, Paulami Duttagupta started her career with All India Radio Shillong. She had written and also given her voice to a few shows there. Later she came down to Kolkata and got a post graduate degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. She had also taken up a fancy to learning Spanish, but today confesses that she has forgotten most of it.

She has written for ‘The Times of India’ in the ‘Guwahati-Shillong plus Edition’ and also ‘The Shillong Times’. Television had always attracted her and was connected to the Bangla TV industry for about 6 years. She was associated with ETV- Bangla, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath in this period.

Having left her day job in 2012, Paulami took up full time writing. Her first novel, “Pinjar” released in early 2012.

Her second novel “Unplanned Destiny” released in 2014. She is also the screenplay writer of the national award winning Khasi film – “Ri Homeland of Uncertainty”.

“Ri” has been adapted into a novel and is releasing in Sepember’14.

She is currently working on her next project as movie script writer.

Apart from writing full length novels, she has written several short stories and articles. She has also contributed to the “Minds@work Anthology” and the “Family Matters International Anthology” in 2013.

Recently she has contributed to the “Learning and Creativity Anthology” , “Her Story Anthology”, and “Celebrating India – Love across Borders Anthology”.

When she is not writing or watching movies, Paulami is either reading biographies or classic pieces of literature. Cricket, food, cinema, books and music are an integral part of her life.

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