Friday, 3 May 2013

Valentina Goldman's Immaculate Confusion, Marisol Murano

Paperback, 350 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Hipso Media (first published August 1st 2012)
098405569X (ISBN13: 9780984055692)
edition language


Since her arrival in the United States from Venezuela, Valentina Goldman isn’t exactly living the American Dream. She’s living the American Nightmare. Her late husband, Max, has left her a young widow, a step-daughter whom Valentina didn’t want, and a bi-polar ex-wife. And oh, having given up her dream job in New York, Valentina is also unemployed in Arizona. Part "Bridget Jones Diary," part "Modern Family," "Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion" is the story of a woman trying to get a handle on her whacky life in America. In breathless, blog-like snippets, Valentina compares her own story with that of her eccentric sister, Azucena, who has bizarre troubles of her own down in the tropics. "Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion" is a funny and moving story about what happens when a passionate South American woman moves to the USA and, like so many of us, ends up with a life she never imagined.

My Review-

Admit it; we all are human beings living our respective lives on earth’s face. Quite often, while we are busy with our own lives, it tends to collide with a few others and we think that they are a part of our lives when the truth is, our lives and their lives are two mutually exclusive events. Amidst all the chaos when the momentum begins to dip someday, we realize that we have lived our lives and we have made memories. Then there is a need to share those experiences with someone up and close. Valentina Goldman is on one such stage of her life where she wants to look back at the life she lived and narrate it to someone. That someone is none other than her stepdaughter Emily. The story begins when she emigrates from Venezuela to the U.S. and the world slowly begins to turn upside down.

The tone of the novel is very conversational. Totally justifies the fact that the book is a narration of her life experiences by Valentina herself. The chapters are very short and lucid. They work wonders at keeping the reader engaged. The language is very simple and the humor gets you rolling on the floor. The story is fun and young. The cover speaks volumes about the Valentina and what a charming woman she is. Throughout the story, Valentina comes across as a fun person who is a little clumsy and has had bad luck but still this book is completely worth it. It makes you laugh which is essentially, what a book of this genre is supposed to do and above all this book is I bet you won’t regret it. Hits the right spot every time with every emotion. That’s Marisol Murano for you ladies and gentlemen!



Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The City of Earthly Desire, Francis Berger

Paperback, 546 pages
Published September 26th 2012 by CreateSpace (first published 2012)
1478387882 (ISBN13: 9781478387886)
edition language


A gripping story of ambition, lust, seduction, and betrayal. . .

After the communists destroy his dream of becoming a recognized painter, Reinhardt Drixler escapes Hungary and moves to America to further his artistic ambitions and provide a better future for his young family.

Twenty-five years later, his son Béla falls in love with Suzy Kiss, an alluring striptease dancer whose interest in Béla can be summarized in two words: green card.

When Suzy is mysteriously deported, a devastated Béla must make a decision – should he stay in New York and continue with the noble artistic ambitions his father instilled in him, or should he follow his heart to Hungary and explore the enticing and risqué opportunities blossoming in Budapest after the collapse of communism?

The City of Earthly Desire is a sweeping novel of love and lust, beauty and vulgarity, humor and pathos, and art and ethics. The story is peopled by a memorable cast of characters who are as intense, turbulent, and ambivalent as the place and time they occupy. Like the great novels of the 19th century, the narrative is epic in scope – entertaining and humorous, yet profound

My Review-

Art and love are similar. They are such that they instill a strange desire within you and that desire refuses to die down. Reinhardt Drixler is a devoted artist for whom art is a way of living. Settled in Hungary his life falls prey to communism and gradually the communists set out to destroy the only dream he has ever had. He, along with his family flees to America where things fall into place. His young family and him became stable after years of struggle. Over years, Reinhardt made his best efforts to pass on his knowledge of art along with other qualities to his son, Bela. With years, he grows up to become his father’s reflection, only younger. Twenty-five years later, Suzy Kiss comes by. Suzy Kiss is one hell of a gorgeous, alluring woman who made her living out of doing striptease. Bela being madly in love with the woman, her profession holds little importance for him. He accepts her with an open heart, only to be betrayed later for her love was shallow, only concerned with American citizenship. An unaware Bela went on entertaining his thoughts on the relationship, mistaking her lust to be love. Later, Suzy is mysteriously deported, which turns Bela’s world upside down. A heartbroken Bela, now needs to choose between staying back or moving back to where his roots are. He chooses the latter and down the line lays down a completely different climax to the story. In Budapest, he meets different kinds of people who influence his life and mould the story into something new.

The City Of Earthly Desire to be precise is fabulous. There is love, there is lust, there is betrayal and there is a socially and politically changing Hungary. The story necessarily represents two different generations of the same family and the effects of the scenario of the country now and then on      people and their lives.

The language is smooth and does not let me put it down even for a second. The plot is very well laid out and as smooth as the language. The emotions are simple, yet complex. There is a certain degree of uniqueness about the book in terms of the blend of the emotions. Berger is a narrator of a different kind. I have spent a lot of time trying to describe how I felt about his narration. Later I realized that describing his writing is like describing the taste of water and I gave up. The book perfectly blends with everyone’s taste no matter how you like your book to be.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Tantra, Adi

My Review-

Sometime during a chilly winter’s eve I was walking the familiar crowded streets when a book had caught my attention. It was the end of the month and all that I had was 200 bucks in my pocket. Without a second thought I went ahead and wasted it on the book that then appeared like a wonderful, wonderful piece. That evening I went back home and begun on the book. On the first page itself, I sensed it. I sensed that it was a bad buy. I had gambled my money and lost it. That particular night I swore never to lay my hand on a vampire book again. I still am the one who posts sarcastic jokes not just on social networking sites.

Four years later, I broke the promise and decided to review this one. I saw the cover and I yelled to myself, ‘Heck! The cover is tacky!’ But nevertheless I had to at least try to read it before I gave up. So yes, the story begins in NYC where a vampire hunter Anu Agarwal has that one person whom she dearly loved is dead. She resolves to seek revenge and that leads her to New Delhi. What she finds out on landing in India is that this is a land where danger lurks in the air. One does not need to be bit and get his or her blood intoxicated to end up as a dead piece of meat. On the other hand Anu has an aunt who is devoted to get her married or at least into a romantic relationship. But Anu is simply not interested. All that could ever interest her is the mystery of the death of the only person she loved and that secret mantra. Tantra, is Anu, the protagonist’s journey to find the much desired, powerful mantra.

First of all as I already stated, I hate vampires and I hate the blood-sucking. Secondly, the cover is ugly. I mean the black and the blue is a lovely combo but the graphics work ruins it all. The concept though a little clichéd is interesting only because the setting is in India. It is unrealistic too provided there is no history that vampires have had in India. Nothing about the literature convinced me on the same to be honest. Anyways but the story had a really fast pace. There were no grammatical errors or should I just say that the author has flawless knowledge in terms of grammar which again is my preliminary concern when trying out a debutante because of the simple fact that the market is flooded with such books with too many typos and horrible grammar.

As a character Anu’s aunt pleases me the most. Her nature is of a typical Indian aunt, irritating and haughty. I love her for she comes as a breath of fresh air amidst the traditional action-packed vampire hullaballoo. I absolutely adore how the author has incorporated tantra and mantra, two of the most powerful weapons of Indian mythology into the foreign concept. The book gives away too much and yet doesn’t elaborate enough when it needs to. I’m afraid that is where it might lose most of its readers. A book, especially when part of a series, has to balance both the suspense and the requisite knowledge. That is the basic essence of it. If you give away too much, no one buys the next book and if you don’t elaborate on the essentials, no one buys the other books in the series either. Either you destroy the series for the readers or you don’t create enough interest. However, this is only the first book in the first series by a debutante author. Nothing is lost if he learns from what mistakes he has made and chooses to correct them in the next installment.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Fire On The Mountain, Anita Desai

My Review-

Nanda Kaul has spent the prime of her life performing the duties of an ideal householder. Those days are now gone. The dusk of her life has arrived and she unlike others intends to spend it in complete solitude. Thereby she chooses to settle in Carignano in Kasauli far away from her children, grand children and the great-grand children. She is an indifferent woman who finds pleasure in the company of pine and cicadas and not amongst fellow humans. One fine day her inner peace is disrupted by a letter. Nanda, who flinched away by the arrival of the postman himself is equally disappointed by the contents of the letter which stated the arrival of her great grand-daughter Raka to spend the summer with her.
Raka, by nature is a reflection of Nanda. Her arrival in no way interferes with Nanda’s lifestyle. And since things don’t go the way Nanda expects them to, she feels drawn to Raka. A part of her wants to know her better for they seem a little too alike to her. She too finds solace in walking the woods and comes back before the sun sets.
Amidst everything so awkward, enters Ila Das, a NGO worker, a chatterbox of a woman coming to visit her friend after long. Her presence because of her nature however is not completely appreciated by both Nanda and Raka who consider her arrival as sheer interference into their lifestyle. She came over to spend the entire day and both Raka and Nanda begin to open up. And one night after Ila is gone, Nanda receives a phone call. And that phone call serves a perfect end to this mesmerizing tale.
As a reader I kept thinking of Nanda and Raka as the protagonists and sidelined Ila more because of her late arrival than because of her overfriendly nature. Of course no one would have thought to the tragic end. I mean I bet Anita Desai would have grinned to herself thinking “you didn’t see that coming, did you?” The initial part of the story of course combines the essence of solitude and womanhood but the end comes as a shocker! I’ve always loved Desai as a story teller. She makes me feel every emotion with her writing. I saw a pride in Nanda when the book began. As I went on, I realised how hollow she felt and how she tried to shield herself from the world. Later I saw Raka doing the same. I saw Nanda connect to Raka on a very soulful level. I saw Ila trying to break the barriers between both of them. And before I knew I had devoured the whole book.
Desai, her work, she leaves me agape, wanting for a little more.

The Child In Me, Ian McEwan

My Review-

Stephens Lewis is a successful writer leading the life of a householder with a three year old daughter Kate and wife, Julia. His life is simple yet joyous until one day Kate gets lost in a supermarket. What follows is the usual search for Kate. However with time the parents begin to realise that Kate is not coming back. Consequently the marriage begins to fall apart and the story begins to investigate the mind of the protagonist, Stephen Lewis and his relationships with his wife, his parents, his friend Drake and his friend’s wife. Soon after the relationship with his wife has begun to corrode, he embarks on frequent journeys to his past when he was a child.
The Child In Time lets loose a world where contrary to the common belief a man too is affected by the happenings around him. It reveals the sensitive facet of male species which quite often is ignored and considered non-existent. His guilt for being responsible for his daughter gets kidnapped and his loosening tie with his wife is quite evident. His memories of a childhood so serene float by and he realizes that he hasn’t lived it enough. His friend Drake on the other hand is living a story in his mind, the one of a carefree kid where he merrily spent his childhood without having a single thought about growing up and taking responsibilities, unlike the childhood he had.
The book emphasizes only on men and how things happening around them go on to affect their psyche. The book doesn’t belong to a particular genre. There is a lot of drama, a little bit of mystery and lots of sensitive thinking that goes into the writing. The language used is subtle and yet shakes you up vigorously from within. It reflects on a man as a whole, demarcating the changes in his life and his from one stage to another. As a kid, Stephens was a happy go lucky; when he grew up to be a man he made sure he was loving and tender towards the love of his life and as a father he wanted to be responsible and adorable; all of which he definitely was. But there was this one step that went wrong and his world turns topsy-turvy.
Over all a very good book in terms of concept, a simple one as a piece of literature and a highly sensitive one on humanitarian and sentimental grounds.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Test Of My Life, Yuvraj Singh



Cricket is the most popular game in the Indian sub-continent. People will do anything to watch every match that India plays. There are thousands of kids across the nation who simultaneously dream of finding a spot in the playing eleven, someday. Each player with his approach at game acquires a special place in the hearts of the audience. The flair of the game is such that you can’t just let it not get to you. A name has been consistently coming up in the cricketing circle as a top performer and when the same personality was diagnosed with cancer, it did have a disturbing effect. Yuvraj Singh then became a whole new person the moment the news leaked. The change was drastic and ‘The Test Of My Life’ is an account of that out-of-control-Punjabi.

The book starts on a very humble note with Yuvi recalling how things began and his realisation of something, somewhere being wrong. Slowly from that level, the book begins to delve deeper into the minds of a cancer patient. From the kickass batsman he descends onto a different level. It begins to deal with the sudden change in psyche. There is a more humane way in which the book begins to connect to the reader.

Who knew that while Yuvi tried to hit the bowlers for runs, he was struggling to breathe? Who knew that the man who was trying his best to win in a simple game will have to fight against cancer next? The book comes across as nothing but sheer inspiration not just to the many who are fighting cancer but also to us who with our packed schedules and busy lives forget to live life. There is nothing I can complain about in this book. The language is simple which I guess is deliberate to reach out to more people. Also the targeted audiences of the book are not avid readers but fans of the game who have been following Yuvraj’s life and his game keenly. The most interesting part of the book would be the last 10-15 pages consisting of photographs of Yuvi’s life as a whole.

In all, a book every cricket fanatic would in his personal collection. Or for that matter a book on every cancer patient’s bedside table giving him the much needed hope and strength.


Sunday, 31 March 2013

How About A Sin Tonight? Novoneel Chakraborty


When you talk about Bollywood or rather the darker side to the Indian film industry, there are a few people that will attract you: a legendary actor who has had a controversial past; a celebrity kid; a new comer and maybe someone who despite being physically present but is living in a world completely detached from the rest of the world.

With five people from similar backdrops, ‘How About A Sin Tonight?’ is a tale of survival and twisted love by Novoneel Charaborty. Shahraan is a legendary actor with a successful acting career and a controversial personal life for loving a libido. Reva and Neev are newcomers to the new world of the Indian entertainment industry struggling for survival. Nishani is a newcomer too but the one born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Kaash on the other hand is trying to find balance between his public image and his personal life.

The book has been divided into three parts, namely Book One (1986-2010) Secrets Of A Sin, Book Two: 2012 Cries Of A Sin and Book Three:2013 Whispers Of A Sin.

The most interesting in the lot is Shahraan Ali Bakshi. He is successful and he is haunted by his past. He has gone through a lot; lived his days and messed things up big time. He is the quintessential legend in the picture but still humane. He symbolizes that very stage in your life that is supposed to be the end and yet it is not. The climax of his life hasn’t arrived yet.

As interesting as the names might sound the content is absolutely tasteless. The concept of casting coup and the deep dark secrets is appealing but the author does very little justice. When a concept is this enthralling, it ought to be backed up with power packed twists and turns. If not dramatic twists and turns at least the timing of the events could have made up for a lot of the absence of innovation. The idea of stating the individual stories and then intertwining them to a climax did not completely work well due to the predictability of the climax. There was rash and irrelevant use of a few words. I completely understand what impact it was supposed to make on the reader but again it did nothing but make the book come across as tacky. The editing too could have been better.

To cut the long story short, there is scope for lot more than what has been done. The book owes itself just to the plot and nothing else.