Book Review – Unsettled by Neelima Vinod

unsettled

Title : Unsettled

Author : Neelima Vinod

Publisher : Indireads

ISBN : 978-1-927826-07-2

Cover Illustration : Madhiya Qureshi

 

Book Blurb :

The hundred-room house is a rich tapestry of memories and hidden secrets, a dark, forbidding place, rumoured to be haunted by a vengeful Yakshi. Propelled by a desire to save their marriage, Divya and Raghav journey to the haunted mansion in search of the mythical Scrolls of Love.

Written five hundred years ago by the banished court poet Shankara, they are fabled to have the power to heal and reignite lost love. Is this just a legend, or are the couple heading towards a chilling destiny?

 

Review :

Unsettled is a tale of love. True love that makes people face the impossible as well as the dark unrequited love that makes them haunt a place forever.

 

Divya suspects her husband Raghav of cheating on her with his childhood friend. Plagued by vivid dreams and determined to save her marriage, she consults Dr. Ray, a notable therapist suggested by her friend Emily. When he suggests that they visit her village Cherakad in search of the Scrolls of Love which will help bring love back into their marriage, Raghav, though reluctant, agrees. But not all is as easy as it seems. The Scrolls of Love is hidden somewhere in the hundred-roomed Big House and is fiercely guarded by a Yakshi, Thathri. Will they be able to get it or will they fall prey to the Yakshi? Will they be successful in salvaging their marriage? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

 

What captured my interest from the very beginning is the absolutely beautiful lyrical quality of the prose. I enjoyed the narration so much that I just HAD to look up the author’s blog! Each page is a play on emotions, especially the scenes of Thathri and the poet Shankara. The plot is engaging  with two threads running simultaneously, the marriage problems of our contemporary couple and the unrequited love of Thathri. It’s surely a page turner with beautiful verses strewn in between and cliffhanger moments. Both the female characters have been sketched vividly by the author but IMO the male characters would’ve benefited with a li’l more attention.

 

Overall, It’s a short and sweet read, and recommended for anyone who loves beautiful prose. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed. Neelima Vinod is surely an author to watch out for!

 

Disclaimer: Received the e-book from the author in exchange of an honest review.

 

Book Review – Don’s Wife by Vinod Pande

Don’s Wife is the debut novel of Director-turned-Author Vinod Pande of Ek Baar Phir, Yeh Nazdeekiyan and Sins fame. The movies were far ahead of their time and stirred up many Hornets’ nests so I was expecting nothing less from the book. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a story of love as well as crime, revenge as well as retribution, a tale of hope and honor and tragedies.

Kamini belongs to a middle class family but falls in love with Harsh who is the son of a much feared and respected underworld don. When Kamini’s parents disagree to the match, she is won over by her father-in-law with his selfless love and cute antics. Their fate takes a disastrous turn when The Don is murdered and Harsh has to step in his shoes and flee the country, leaving behind Kamini with a newborn. Disillusioned by Harsh’s numerous affairs, Kamini starts on her chosen path of social service and politics and carves her own niche among the people. Loneliness gets the better of her though and she falls in love with her bodyguard – Jayant. Will she chose Harsh or Jayant? Will Harsh come to know of her affair? Who murdered her? Pick up the book to find answers to these questions, dear reader.

Great characters make a great book. Kamini is strong, affectionate, lively as well as levelheaded but she goes out stealthily in the night for a rendezvous with her lover. Harsh loves the scholarly life as much as he does the one of a don. Even though he loves Kamini, he still sleeps around. Jayant is loyal and rational, but falls in love with his benefactor’s wife. All the characters in this book have shades of grey as happens in real life too. The book unfolds just like a movie and has very strong visualizations in some places. This story is not high and dry; lots of emotions in this one. There are passionate lovemaking as well as action-packed crime scenes as there are scenes that force you to think.

Editing would have made this book great. Imagine while reading a thought provoking scene you suddenly come across Dr, ‘Jackyll’ and Mr. Hyde! Or when the bodyguard is introduced as an officer from the Indian Navy ‘SEALS’! I couldn’t help but guffaw. Poor editing certainly takes away from the pleasure of reading and I hope Mr. Pande will hire a good editor for the second edition of this book as well as for his next effort. After all, editing makes good writing great. Even though the start of the book is pacey and intriguing, it loses out somewhat towards the middle due to a lot of backstory ‘dump’.

I did enjoy the book and my best wishes with Mr. Pande for Don’s wife.


The Blurb
 
Lethality of beauty and inner radiance brutally felled, after several dastardly attempts on her life in different cities of the world, Kamini, the firebrand leader of the emerging new party, the icon of the youth, the idol of the world of glitter and glamour, the revered social reformer, the enigmatic wife of the dreaded underworld Don Harsh Jadhav, assassinated by unidentified gunmen at the unlikeliest of places, right at the front door in the porch of her own house. With mere two mortal shots, death had snatched her from life and what a life! She could launch a million ships, both with her beauty and her exceptional brilliance. A fulsome life but a born rebel. Defiantly left all this to marry a man she loved, a man, she was to learn rather late in the day, was the son of one of the most feared mobsters in the country. A woman who went beyond, beyond the societal mores in her passionate relationships. Then, then the world did not remain the same. A saga began. A saga of revenge and hope, of aspirations and betrayals, of human tragedies and triumphs. A story of tall men and even taller women where heroes are not only heroes and villains are not only villains. Story of Kamini, more powerful in death than even in life
 
Buy @
 

 

 

 

Meet the Author
Vinod Pande is a producer, writer, editor and award winning director whose body of work includes films such as Ek Baar Phir (1979), Yeh Nazdikeeyan (1982) and Sins (2005) among many others. He has also made popular TV shows such as Airhostess (1985-86) and Reporter (1992-97). He worked as programming head for Sahara TV (1997-2000). “The Don’s Wife” marks his debut as a published author. 

 

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Book Review – The Malhotra Bride by Sundari Venkatraman

The Malhotra Bride

Title : The Malhotra Bride
Author : Sundari Venkatraman
Publisher: Flaming Sun; 2 edition (February 11, 2014)
ASIN: B00IE4R20U

The Malhotra Bride is Author Sundari Venkatraman’s second novel, the first being Double Jeopardy. With this novel the author has forayed into the self-publishing world and I wish her lots of luck and hope she’ll sell lots of copies.

Suneeta is a beautiful and lively girl who wants to chase her dreams of becoming an interior designer so when her parents ‘fix’ her marriage with the most eligible bachelor in town – Akshay Malhotra of the Malhotra Garments, she hatches a plan to get rid of the prospective groom. Even though Akshay is quite smitten by Suneeta and is ready to allow her the freedom she desires, she doesn’t relent and sends Akshay packing. But when she comes to know that her very strict parents are planning to hold a ‘swayamvar’ for her, she hesitatingly signs a ‘contract’ with Akshay to be his bride. Whether she becomes the Malhotra Bride or not is for you to read and find out my dear readers.

The novella was a light and breezy read and I finished it in a single sitting of 3-4 hours. Yes, that’s how engaging and interesting the story is! I couldn’t keep the book down and was compelled by Suneeta and Akshay to turn page after page. The first thing that attracts me to a book are the characters and I found beautifully sketched-out and real characters in this one. Starting with the strict Gokul Rishi to the understanding Grandpa Ratan to The Malhotras, all were interesting as well as believable. I think, of all the characters in this novella, Grandpa Ratan (or dadaji as he is fondly called), steals the show! Sundari has a strong voice and it comes across in the narration. The plot is full of unexpected twists and this makes the book un-putdownable. I did wish though that the conflict were more intense. The ‘contract’ was not used to it’s full potential. I wondered to myself what if both sets of parents had found out about it? And then, what if Grandpa Ratan had found out about it? It would have made the climax more nail-biting. But well, that’s just me and the author has done a fab job with the book so no, this doesn’t take anything away from the book.

I would recommend this book as a quick weekend read to all Romance lovers of the world. Yes, the world because some of the rituals described in the book are very visual and I’m sure everyone will enjoy them.

Book Review – Tuki’s Grand Salon Chase by Parul Sharma

Tuki’s Grand Salon chase is a Chick Lit by Parul Sharma of the Bringing up Vasu: That First Year fame. Tuki is a talented hairstylist who is working steadily and diligently towards The Plan of her life, opening her own Salon Blues. When catastrophe strikes she realizes that she has nothing to fall back on; she doesn’t have a Plan B. She escapes to Goa and tries to pick up the pieces of the Jigsaw puzzle called Life. This is a heartwarming story of dreams, love and friendship in Tuki’s life.

The starting of the book is fairly interesting as I immediately wanted to know the reason why somebody will be screaming like a banshee inside an upmarket Salon like The Factory. The intriguing start, however, was lost on the numerous characters I was immediately heaped with starting with the minions to the senior stylists. I kept going back to read who was who and If the book cover hadn’t told me that the protagonist should be someone called Tuki, I would have missed her appearance altogether. It took the fun element out of the story but things soon picked up as the characters became more well-rounded, interesting (and few).

Tuki as the protagonist of the novel is a well-sketched out character. While I loved her empathy levels and her fierce sense of pride, I sometimes wished she would stand up for her rights or speak her mind. I understood, of course, that nobody is perfect and this makes reading the story more fun when we root for the characters, when we plead to them to stop doing something obviously stupid or when we cheer them on to go do it. Of course I was urging Tuki to see through the facades people (like Renee or Sweety Bhabhi) put up and urging her to speak her mind to her love interest. The men in the story were absolutely delectable too starting with the eccentric writer Bijoy to the neighborly and well-meaning Faraaz as well as the sexy and suave Arvind. Even though I wanted Tuki and Arvind to pair up, I couldn’t help but feel sad about Faraaz too. Even peculiar Bioy and formidable Paromita were well-liked characters. After reading the book I can confidently say that I love ALL the characters in this book.

The story itself was full of twists and turns and there wasn’t a dull moment. As soon as I thought I was on familiar ground, Parul Sharma would fling a twist at me and I was left wondering “what next?” Tuki’s grand Salon chase is a wonderful read and I would highly recommend it to lovers of this genre.

 

Tuki’s Grand Salon Chase by Parul Sharma

 

The Blurb
 
AFor most hairstylists, the move from the dingy Lovely Beauty Parlour to the upmarket Nancy’s Factory would be reward enough. Gifted, young Tuki though has her sights set on a bigger prize – her own salon! Her well-laid plans start going awry as soon as the striking tattooist Faraaz joins Nancy’s Factory. Tuki needs to handle Faraaz’s advances, figure out the mystery behind the disappearance of the elderly, eccentric, brilliant writer Bijoy Dutta and rescue the multilayered Sweety Bhabhi from destitution.
 
Finding herself at the heart of one storm too many, Tuki decides to run away from the leafy lanes of Bandra to the old-world Portugese villas of Goa. In the comforting embrace of the village Aldona, she finds herself struggling with her rather untimely attraction to her enigmatic neighbour, the charming Arvind and sharing house with Bijoy, haunted as he is by the ghosts of his past.
 
Armed with nothing but a pair of scissors and the jigsaw pieces of her broken dream, Tuki has to navigate through Mumbai, Goa and London to find out if the universe is conspiring to make her or break her.
 
Tuki’s Grand Salon Chase is her heartwarming tale of finding love and hope in the unlikeliest of places.
 
Buy @
 

tuki

 

Meet the Author

 

 

Parul Sharma grew up in the small towns of Uttar Pradesh. This was fortunate because it ensured that she ran into some rather quirky characters pretty early on in life. Once done with schooling, she made the rather dubious choice of studying Economics, a sentiment with which Economics agreed, no doubt. This made way for a degree from Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad where many inspiring cups of tea were consumed, among other things. 



She has worked with the corporate sector for several years in companies such as Genesis Burson-Marsteller (New Delhi), Arvind Brands Ltd (Bangalore) and Indian Market Research Bureau (Mumbai) in marketing communications and qualitative market research, but she also writes novels. 



The bestselling Bringing Up Vasu: That First Year was her first book and described the travails of Mira, a young, first-time mother. Her second novel was By The Watercooler – the story of Mini and Tanya, young women who find that the corporate ladder is actually a greasy pole. All her books have been published by Westland. She has also contributed stories to the Chicken Soup For The Soul series and to Femina.



Parul lives in Mumbai with her husband, two children and sometimes, if she’s lucky, Kittu, the street cat. 



Parul is passionate about animals and their welfare and would like to open an animal shelter in the future. 

 
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Book Review – Done With Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra

done-with-men

Book : Done With Men
Author: Shuchi Singh Kalra
Publisher: Indireads www.indireads.com
ISBN: 978-1-927826-32-4
Cover Illustration: Mariyam Iftikar

Before I plunge straight into my opinion of the book, Take a look at this super cute book trailer:

 

Cute and fun isn’t it? This trailer definitely made me pick up the book and let me tell you that I wasn’t a bit disappointed. The book certainly lives up to the expectations set up by the trailer and more.

Done With Men is a light romantic comedy set in Goa. Kairavi ( or Kay) is a quirky, bubbly travel journalist who has had her fair share of loser boyfriends and has decided to steer clear of men, both literally and figuratively, and has a tattoo that says Done With Men etched on her skin in a desperate attempt. But when she crosses path with the super sexy Orthopedic in a hospital she is admitted to, she starts to look forward to meeting this suave and sexy doctor and falls head over heels in love with him. Is she taking a hasty decision yet again or will Vivian D’ Mello turn out to be The One is for you to read and find out.

The author has portrayed real and believable characters, not too perfect ones as is the case in many romance novels. The language is light, breezy and funny, filled with funny one-liners that left me in splits. The Thought Bubble is someone we can all identify with at some point or another.

I finished the novella in a sitting and then visited it again simply because I had so much fun reading it. I would definitely recommend this to RomCom lovers around the world as the author has thoughtfully added a reference to all the Hindi words used at the back. It is a light and fun read, capable of lifting up your spirits on a dull and boring weekday.

You can buy Done With Men here or here. Pick it up and enjoy !

 

Book Review – Grays Hill by Barbara T. Cerny

Barbara T. Cerny’s Grays Hill is an out and out romance but it is also a heartwarming tale of friendship. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and would recommend this to all the readers who love romantic fiction.

The main characters of the story were well sketched and I can actually see OJ, Rafe, Geoff and Cat in my mind’s eye when I think about them. The characters belonged to the real world and not too perfect like some romance novels portray their protagonists to be. OJ has a sane mind on her shoulders but is challenged weight-(and height) wise. Rafe is a good administrator but has lived in his dead wife’s shadows for too long to care for his children. The flawed protagonists made reading Grays Hill all the more fun. I liked the fact that Geoff’s friendship with Oksana remained platonic throughout the story. Geoff came across as such a sweet, strong and caring character that I wish the author would write his story some day.

The act at the Great Masquerade Ball had me in splits, butterflies danced in my stomach while I read the romantic escapades and the scene where OJ is separated from her lover had me sobbing in the sheets. The built-up to the conflict was slow yet strong and I couldn’t put the book down after I started it. The climax however seemed too far-fetched imo and I couldn’t relate myself with it.

Overall, Grays Hill is an entertaining read and I enjoyed it immensely. Pick this up if you’re looking for a warm and witty tale of love and friendship.

 
Grays Hill By Barbara T. Cerny

 

The Blurb
 
After her father committed suicide rather than face his mounting gambling debts, Oksana Wallingford knows she will have to work in order to keep food on the table and her younger brother, the new baron, in school. When her best friend finds her a position as the nanny of his brother’s children, it is the opportunity Oksana needs. But what she didn’t contend with was Rafe, the recently widowed Duke of Essex and her new employer.
 
Oksana and Rafe’s personalities are like oil and water. However, what begins as mutual hate slowly begins to change into something more. But what future can they have when Rafe has sworn off marriage for good?
 
As the mismatched pair struggles to come to terms with one another, a disaster that throws everything into question strikes them both.
 
Buy @
Kobo |
 

Grays Hill

 

Meet the Author
 

 

Barbara T. Cerny grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado. She served twenty-two years in the US Army Reserves, retiring a Lieutenant Colonel in 2007. She is an information technology specialist and supervisor. Barb writes historical romances good for late teen and adults. She puts a lot of history and adventure into her work. Words are her passion, they do matter.
 
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Book Review – Sirens Spell Danger

‘Sirens Spell Danger’ is a collection of three crime thriller stories by three veteran blogger-turned-authors and being a devour-er of crime fiction, I couldn’t resist picking up the book. My heartiest congratulations to the authors for taking a giant leap by self-publishing this book. As it is said – well begun is half done. True to the book’s title, all the three stories are of men lured into dangerous situations by beautiful women. Let me start the review story-by-story.

#1 – Femme Fatale – The first story follows Vikram, a soon-to-be IPS, as he is lured into a trap by gorgeous Tanya. It soon turns out to be a life and death situation for not only him but lakhs of Bangalore-wallahs. The story is speedy and action-packed, sprinkled with funny and catchy one-liners. The fight sequences are very visual and in my opinion, the best part of Femme Fatale.

The story could do with tighter editing – there are redundancies as well as a typo or two. I was unimpressed by the beginning even though the story picked up towards the end of first chapter. In my opinion, the news story about Mr. Reddy could have been incorporated at a later stage rather than the first page. A reader browsing a book in a store may not have the time ( or the inclination) to read the full chapter before deciding to buy (or not).

My rating – 3.5 / 5

 

#2 – Bella Donna – The second story in the book is about Detective Inspector Shardul Reham as he matches his wits against a meticulous and unscrupulous serial killer, who is after high-profile victims. The author kept me guessing the identity of the murderer till about two-thirds of the story – which is great considering I grew up with Dupin, Holmes, Poirot and the rest. That the story and the clues were well researched, there’s no doubt. In fact the relationship of the clues to the name of the story is fantastic.

Tighter editing will definitely help this story shine more. There was a typo or two around and in some parts of the story, the author got lost with research so much so that it became difficult for the reader to follow. Also, the author has stressed some parts in the story when she reveals the clues. Let the reader come up with the Ah! moment – no need to poke fingers in his eyes to make him see.

My rating – 4 / 5

 

#3 – Bellary – The final story in this collection is a paranormal piece set in a small mining town – Bellary. The protagonist Jay, an officer with the IB, is sent to this city to prevent an impending danger and has only about a week to do it. The situation tenses when he lands up in prison because of saving a beautiful damsel-in-distress. It was interesting to see whether he would run out of time or save the city. The best part of this story is that there was never a dull moment.

The paranormal part of the story though, was a huge cliche for me. Without taking the risk of revealing the story, let me just say that it felt as if I was watching an episode of Alif-Laila or Hatim Tai or some other such tale. Even the method of conquering the evil-one was full of cliches for me.

My rating – 3.5 / 5

 

Overall, the book is a quick one time read and I did enjoy it. I wish the authors luck for the success of this book.

(This review is a part of a blog tour for ‘Sirens spell danger’ arranged by The Book Club)

 

Sirens Spell Danger 
By 
C.Suresh, Radha Sawana & Karthik L
 
The Blurb
 
There are sirens and, then, there are sirens. Some warn you of danger and some lure you into danger…Lured by a sexy siren, Vicky is mistaken for a secret agent, kidnapped, tortured and slated for death. Will he survive and save Bangalore from going up in flames?…There is a serial killer loose in the city leaving mysterious messages around the bodies of the victims. Are the messages a challenge to the police or a siren call to lure another victim…Jay is sent to Bellary to investigate a possible ISI plot. Was it merely a murky political plot or was there something more sinister in the offing? And why were two women suddenly singing siren songs of love?…Three tales of nerve-racking suspense and pulse-pounding action.
 
 
Buy it @
 
Meet the Authors
 
C. Suresh
(Femme Fatale)
 
Fiction has been an addiction but the need to make a living took Suresh through Chemical Engineering and an MBA at IIM-Bangalore and, from thence, to a long 16 year stint in the area of finance with specific expertise in fertilizer subsidies and a further two years as consulting expert in the same area. That, in his words, about sums up the boring part of his life, except for the people he was privileged to meet.
 
Otherwise, he can be described as a mess of contradictions – a bookworm but avid trekker; alone but never lonely; enjoys solitude but loves company; lazy but a perfectionist, the litany is endless. Trekking, which side-tracked him from the writing for which he quit his job, is a major passion and he does, at least, one trek in the Himalayas every year in addition to numerous local treks.
 
He reignited his passion for writing with a fairly popular blog www.jambudweepam.blogspot.in and, currently, also has a short story – A Path of Thorns – published in a collection “Uff Ye Emotions”. His short stories The Gates of Hell and Yesterdays and Tomorrows have won contests. You can read a sampling of his fiction here.
 
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Radha Sawana
(Bella Donna)
 
Radha Sawana is part secretive, part playful, part ambitious, part indolent, and as a result, completely confused. She has been a bookworm as far as she can remember, and so it came as no surprise to her when suddenly the thought of starting her own blog occurred her. Thus, in the 4th year of her education in BITS Pilani, she started her blog ‘Entropy’, the name paying homage to her subject of specialization – chemistry. 
 
Entropy began with the random thoughts of her mind and before she realized it, she had started writing short stories too. Her first stories – The Late Goodbye and 48 Hours – were widely loved. Her personal favourite on her blog is her still untitled collection of three short pieces called Harakiri, Saisei and Wind. She is currently writing a seven-part story called Seven. 
 
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Karthik L
Karthik, a management consultant by profession, has always had fondness for stories from his early childhood when he used to keenly listen to stories told by his grandfather. Over the next twenty five years, he has been voraciously consuming fiction starting with Enid Blyton and moving on to Arthur Conan Doyle and then Isaac Asimov. One fine day he decided he had heard enough stories and he start telling them instead and so he started his blog ‘Lucifer House Inc.’ in 2008. He has been continuously been striving to entertain his readers through his blog posts over 5 years, winning some blogger awards as well in the process. The blog has a Google page rank of 3 and figures in the Top Indian blogs directory.
 
Do click on these links to check out some of his short stories.
 
 
One of his stories ‘Nootropic Egress’ won the best story award under science fiction category in a story telling contests and was published in multi genre anthology ‘Ten Shades of Life’. He has recently started another blog ‘Three Realms of the Mind’ to share his passion for his three favorite fiction genres – science fiction, fantasy and historic fiction with the rest of the world. He dreams of being a bestselling author in one of these genres. Last but not the least, he shares alma maters (IIT and IIM) with some of the most popular contemporary Indian authors and hopes he can share their success in garnering readers as well.
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Blog Tour Schedule
(19th Jan- 25th Jan 2014)
 
19th January ’14
Sonia Rao (Spotlight)
soniaraowrites
 
19th January ’14
Rubina Ramesh (Spotlight/ Review)
The Book Club
 
20th January ’14
Janaki Nagaraj (Review)
Memoirs of A Homemaker
 
21 st January ’14
Byrappa (Spotlight)
Byrappa’s Notes
 
21st January ’14
Flaming Sun
 
22nd January ’14
Sridevi Datta (Spotlight)
The Write Journey
 
22nd January ’14
Jaibala Rao (Spotlight / Interview/ Review)
My School of Thoughts
 
23rd January ’14
Sumeetha Manikandan (Review / Interview)
Book Reviews by Sumi
 
24th January ’14
From the Heart – Neel
 
25th January ’14 (Review)
Dola Basu Singh
Shiuli
25th January ’14 (Interview)
The Tales Pensieve