Sunday, 30 December 2012

Stacking The Shelves #1

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews featuring the books I got this week, and I also mention blog news/happenings of the next week.



These are the books I received this week. This week I'll put up the reviews for


Hopefully I'll find enough time to pen something down.



Saturday, 22 December 2012

Book Review- Collected Stories, Anita Desai

 Published by Random House India
edition language
Buried resentments, unexpected disappointments, new friendships, small acts of cruelty, journeys that take you back to where you started. With trademark compassion and tender irony, Anita Desai’s short stories give us familiar worlds made unfamiliar, to wonderful effect. An ageing couple is stranded in a stultifying Delhi summer by the visit of a roguish old Oxford friend, who trades on his charm; an American woman turns to hippies living in the Indian hills, homesick for the farmlands of Vermont; a dog terrorizes the neighbourhood but is cherished by his stern master; a Delhi girl of slender means finds a new kind of freedom with her young friends, in her barsati home; a peaceful game of hide and seek turns into a nightmare; a businessman sees his own death. In one masterly volume, for the first time ever, here are Anita Desai’s collected stories —including Diamond Dust and Games at Twilight.
My Review-
This book is a volume of short stories by Anita Desai with a soulful connection. Published by Random House this book is one of a gem. What basically happens when you write short stories is that while you try to give it that usual fast pace, you tend to ignore the detailing and the chances of capturing those little intricacies goes down drastically. In Collected Stories, Desai completely surprises me with her abilities to balance between the two. The variation of plots, characters and emotions take me aback every time. When you try finding a connection between all of them, what you get is an asymmetrical pattern of tales that share a soul.
About The Author-
born- June 24, 1937 in India    
gender- female

Anita Desai was born in 1937. Her published works include adult novels, children's books and short stories. SHe is a member of the Advisory Board for English of the National Academy of Letters in Delhi and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London. Anita Mazumdar Desai is an Indian novelist and Emeritus John E. Burchard Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been shortlisted for the Booker prize three times. Her daughter, the author Kiran Desai, is the winner of the 2006 Booker prize.

Book Review- The Artist Of Disappearance, Anita Desai

Paperback, 176 pages
Published 2012 by Vintage Books (first published August 1st 2011)
8184002815 (ISBN13: 9788184002812)
edition language
In this trio of exquisitely crafted novellas, experience the soaring brilliance and delicate restraint of one of Indias great writers. In the opening novella, The Museum of Final Journeys, a junior Civil Service officer is assigned to a remote outpost. Bored with his new surroundings, he welcomes the diversion when he is called upon by an old retainer to help preserve the decaying treasures of one familys private museum. Tantalizing and nostalgic, this is an allegory of time and dissolution, and of how the past erodes beauty and the present.In the second novella, Translator Translated, a prematurely aged lecturer at a girls college chances upon the opportunity of a lifetime when a self-absorbed publisher commissions her to translate to English a collection of short stories of an obscure Oriya author. The assignment transforms her humdrum life, but when the authors family complains about a translation with which she has taken artistic licence her life unravels.Finally, in the title novella, set in Mussoorie, the reclusive son of wealthy, neglectful parents has a solipsistic existence in the remains of a burnt house high on a mountain. The arrival of a venal film crew from Delhi, making a film about environmental degradation, compels him to withdraw even further into seclusion.Intense, haunting and evocative, The Artist of Disappearance is a delightful rumination on solitude and human frailties.
My Review-
Stringing together three novellas, The Artist Of Disappearance is a one of a kind book that’ll take years of reading for anyone to come across. Anita Desai is of those very few novelists who manage to combine the rarest of the elements of the Indian culture and weave a story out of it.
The first novella, The Museum Of Final Journeys revolves around a junior Civil Officer who has been transferred to a remote place. To kill time and fight his loneliness, he devotes himself towards the preservation of a private family museum on the call of an old retainer. The second novella, Translator Translated, the story does circles around a lecturer at a girls’ college who tumbles into an opportunity of the lifetime when a publisher approaches her to translate a set of short stories from Odia to English. As the story unfolds, the lecturer sees her life transform. The final title novella, The Artist Of Disappearance, Desai explores the life of the son of a wealthy backdrop in Mussoorie living in a ruined ancient house in the hills and the changes that come about with the arrival of a crew from Delhi filming a documentary on environmental degradation.
The tales of solitude and the character’s approach towards it, or his attempts at combating it is what makes this piece so unique. The emotions are intense and haunting. There seems to be no facet that is left out on. Everything has been beautifully justified and wonderfully explained.
About The Author-
born- June 24, 1937 in India    
gender- female
genre- Literature & Fiction, Children's Books   

Anita Desai was born in 1937. Her published works include adult novels, children's books and short stories. SHe is a member of the Advisory Board for English of the National Academy of Letters in Delhi and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London. Anita Mazumdar Desai is an Indian novelist and Emeritus John E. Burchard Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been shortlisted for the Booker prize three times. Her daughter, the author Kiran Desai, is the winner of the 2006 Booker prize.

Book Review- Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri

Paperback, 333 pages
Published 2009 by Random house india (first published January 1st 2008)
edition language
original title
Unaccustomed Earth
These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.
My Review-
Jhumpa Lahiri reveals the plight of the Indians staying abroad with a collection of short stories named Unaccustomed Earth. There have been generations of Indians who have been living in the US. They have settled back in there and embraced the culture beautiffully with time. The changes that have come have been drastic. It is the transition and the aftermaths of the same that Lahiri discusses through a set of short stories. The book has been divided into two parts. The first part is a set of five short stories not related to each other. There is a dignified diversity in the characters in which you cannot just call a single, or a couple of characters to be the principal one. Each one has a different life, different set of problems and a solution they’ve sought out for, affecting the lives of the other characters. When they all amalgamate, they give you a distinctive peek into the complex working of the human minds. The major themes, or highlights are generation gap, drastic changes that completely change a person, extra-marital relationships and love after a certain age that in India is considered to be unsuitable.
The second set of stories, on the other hand are about the same people who’ve gone through different phases and how differently their lives have turned out. Ultimately, they discover love in the most unlikely place. The second part is entitled Hema and Kaushik after the names of the characters around which the stories revolve. Hema’s and Kaushik’s families are friends and the first story is an account of their families from a similar background trying to adjust themselves to the new environment. The family gradually drifts apart due to various reasons. The second story encompasses Kaushik’s life after the death of his mother, when his father marries someone else. The state of mind of Kaushik and the complicated relationships have been given the priority. In the third story, Kaushik meets Hema after twenty long years. Hema, a professor by profession is getting over her affair with a married man. Kaushik, now a photojournalist travelling the world is now set to settle down with a job in Hong Kong. Their encounter in Italy sends huge sparks flying and they realise they’ve met their soul  mates.
Frankly, I’m not very much happy with Lahiri again restricting herself with her characters only being Bengali. She has got oodles of talent. I understand that being a Bengali, she feels she has ample knowledge about the mentalities. If she can explore different cultures within India and get enough knowledge about them she’d craft equally good characters, just not Bengali. The detailed descriptions, and intricacies somehow slow down the pace of the story. She gets a [+1] for the detailing and a [-1] for the slow pace, both however don’t nullify each other. They render the story a whole different effect which is nowhere else to be found.
About The Author-
born- July 11, 1967 in London (England), The United Kingdom    

genre- Literature & Fiction   

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age.

Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989. She then received multiple degrees from Boston University: an M.A. in English, an M.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She took up a fellowship at Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center, which lasted for the next two years (1997-1998).

In 2001, she married Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist who was then Deputy Editor of TIME Latin America. Lahiri currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. She has been a Vice President of the PEN American Center since 2005.

Lahiri taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Much of her short fiction concerns the lives of Indian-Americans, particularly Bengalis.

She received the following awards, among others:
1999 - PEN/Hemingway Award (Best Fiction Debut of the Year) for "Interpreter of Maladies";
2000 - The New Yorker's Best Debut of the Year for "Interpreter of Maladies";
2000 - Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut Interpreter of Maladies (less)

Book Review- Phantom, Jo Nesbo

Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Vintage Canada (first published 2011)
030736108X (ISBN13: 9780307361080)
edition language
original title
The murder has been solved. But has justice been done? Harry Hole is back in Oslo. He's been away for some time, but his ghosts have a way of catching up with him. The case that brings him back is already closed. There is no room for doubt: The young junkie was shot dead by a fellow addict. The police don't want him back....

Denied permission to reopen the investigation, Harry strikes out on his own. Beneath the city's eerie tranquillity, he discovers a trail of violence and mysterious disappearances seemingly unnoticed by the police. At every turn Harry is faced with a conspiracy of silence. The criminals don't want him back....

Harry is not the only one who is interested in the case. From the moment he steps off the plane, someone is watching his every move and tracing his every call. Someone wants him silenced.
My Review-
Having read all the books Sheldon has written, you feel no other book, no other author can do justice to mystery, thriller or crime the way he did. Having picked up The Phantom and now after reading the book, I know how wrong I was. This man is a genius. This book is the ninth in what essentially is the Harry Hole series. Now I had no idea that such a man existed who is such a terrific writer.
In this book, Harry Hole returns to Norway after a three year long vacation to Hong Kong. His ex-girlfriend’s son, Oleg has been charged with the murder of his friend, Gutso Hanssen who is also a drug dealer. Years of drugs and alcohol addiction have left him consumed and his memory has faded too. He has forgotten his good times with Oleg but still agrees to help him. He is determined to get to the root of the problem and find the real murderer.
My head reels with my last night’s encounter with the book. There are too many characters and having read the ninth book at first, it becomes a little confusing for me. Even though it wasn’t the best place to begin with, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The mystery and the thrill sustains throughout the book and ends with a nail-biting finish. The narration is smooth and makes the book difficult to put down. The credit has to go to Don Barlett. He has done a commendable job bringing this Norwegian delight to bring to so many of us who wouldn’t have gotten the chance to have access to something that is such a wonderful read. The original title of the book is said to be Gjenferd which is so not related to Phantom which makes me wonder what triggered the English translation to be named Phantom.
 The rugged unfinished edges to Harry Hole’s character has already made me fall in love with him. I think I must go back and finish reading all the other books in the series and read this book again. 
About The Author-
born- March 29, 1960 in Oslo, Norway    
gender- male
Jo Nesbø is a bestselling Norwegian author and musician. He was born in Oslo and grew up in Molde. Nesbø graduated from the Norwegian School of Economics with a degree in economics. Nesbø is primarily famous for his crime novels about Detective   Harry Hole, but he is also the main vocals and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre. In 2007 Nesbø also released his first children's book, Doktor Proktors Prompepulver.

* Harry Hole
* Doktor Proktor

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Book Review- One Amazing Thing.

Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Hyperion (first published February 2nd 2010)
ISBN- 1401341586 (ISBN13: 9781401341589)                
edition language- English
original title- One Amazing Thing
Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. From Chitra Divakaruni, author of such finely wrought, bestselling novels as Sister of My Heart, The Palace of Illusions, and The Mistress of Spices, comes her most compelling and transporting story to date. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival--and about the reasons to survive.
My Review-
Nine different individuals, different origins, a visa office and an unexpected earthquake that forces them to huddle there for hours together. The charecters as mentioned in the synopsis are a punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

The concept is pretty nice and it has to be since it’s Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. She is one of those creative people out there who gets the craziest ideas regarding the concepts that make into fabulous reads. This one however gave me a few minor glitches. The narration is outrageous and the introductory part where Uma Sinha notices all the others around and those little things is really good. What bothers me is, how she tends to make the transitions from tale to tale. The introduction of the idea of sharing one amazing thing from each one’s life could have been presented in a better way though. The tales otherwise are inspiring in every way possible. After Palace Of Illusions, no one needs to explain how good Divakaruni is at narration.

My Rating- 4 outta 5 stars.
About The Author-

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her work has been published in over fifty magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over sixty anthologies. Her works have been translated into fourteen languages, including Dutch, Hebrew and Japanese. Her other children’s books are The Conch Bearer and The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming. Her novel The Mistress of Spices was made into a movie. She lives in Houston with her husband and two sons, and teaches at the University of Houston.

Book Review- River Of Smoke

Hardcover, 522 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by John Murray Publishers (first published January 1st 2010)
                       ISBN- 0719568986 (ISBN13: 9780719568985)                
edition language- English
original title-River of Smoke
                                 series- Ibis Trilogy #2                                 
setting- Canton (China)
literary awards- Man Asian Literary Prize Nominee (2011)

In September 1838, a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured laborers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbors of China. There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes tea, silk, porcelain and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned Paulette and a motley collection of others whose pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower have thrown together. All struggle to cope with their losses—and for some, unimaginable freedoms—in the alleys and crowded waterways of 19th-century Canton.

My Review-


So, where were we? The Ibis landed in the island of Mareech orMauritius right? In this installment of what will be called the Ibis trilogy, the voyage of the charecters continue. After quite a few lives lost, and some bloodshed the Ibis reaches it’s destination. Quite a few charecters are no more mentioned and some are new additions. In all the following charecters take the center stage.

  • Bahram Modi - Parsi Merchant from Bombay and father of Ah Fat
  • Chi Mei - A Cantonese Boat woman who is the lover of Bahram Modi
  • Ah Fat - Son of Bahram Modi and Chi Mei
  • Neel - Munshi of Bahram Modi
  • Vico - Bahram Modi’s purser
  • Zadig Bey - Armenian watch maker and friend of Bahram Modi
  • Fitcher Penrose - A Scottish botanist on an expedition to collect rare plants in China
  • Paulette Lambert - Daughter of a French botanist who accompanies Mr. Fitcher on his expedition.
  • Robert Chinnery - Artist, Paulette’s friend and son of George Chinnery
  • Commissioner Lin Zexu - The incorruptible Chinese mandarin who is appointed by the Emperor of China to put an end to opium trading.

Now that we know who’s who lets get back to the story. Neel Rattan and Ah Fatt have escaped the Ibis. Paulette has taken a step towards a fresh beginning to her life and Deeti is mentioned only in the start and briefly towards the end. The pace of the story is brisk in the start ( briskier than Sea Of Poppies, i.e.) and slows down after a while. After that every page is sheer disappointment. As I said, I wanted to hear more about Deeti. I wanted Zachary Reid to be there and see the love between him and Paulette bloom. I wanted more of Jodu too. I do not have problems with the language. I wanted a better story and the elimination of the charecters were unecessary too. The language has to be brilliant when Amitav Ghosh writes, but the storyline is the backbone. The second one in the Ibis trilogy is disappointment.

But hey, the start was brilliant and the author is brilliant too. The end I believe will be great too.He has to be back with a bang. I’m still looking forward to the third book.
About The Author-

Amitav Ghosh is one of India's best-known writers. His books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Incendiary Circumstances, The Hungry Tide. His most recent novel, Sea of Poppies, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy.

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexandria and Oxford and his first job was at the Indian Express newspaper in New Delhi. He earned a doctorate at Oxford before he wrote his first novel, which was published in 1986.

The Circle of Reason won the Prix Medicis Etranger, one of France's top literary awards, and The Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 1997 and The Glass Palace won the Grand Prize for Fiction at the Frankfurt International e-Book Awards in 2001. The Hungry Tide won the Hutch Crossword Book Prize in 2006. In 2007 Amitav Ghosh was awarded the Grinzane Cavour Prize in Turin, Italy. Amitav Ghosh has written for many publications, including the Hindu, The New Yorker and Granta, and he has served on the juries of several international film festivals, including Locarno and Venice. He has taught at many universities in India and the USA, including Delhi University, Columbia, the City University of New York and Harvard. He no longer teaches and is currently writing the next volume of the Ibis Trilogy.

He is married to the writer, Deborah Baker, and has two children, Lila and Nayan. He divides his time between Kolkata, Goa and Brooklyn.


Book Review- Beastly Tales From Here and There

0753807742 (ISBN13: 9780753807743)
original title
Beastly Tales from Here and There
From the impish to the brilliantly comic, Vikram Seth's animal fables in verse can (like Diwali sweets) be enjoyed by young and old alike. Familiar characters in a new and magical form, such as the greedy crocodile who was outwitted by the monkey or the steady tortoise who out-ran the hare, here take their place beside a newly minted gallery of characters and creatures who are quirky, comical and always fun. Of the ten tales told here, two come from India, two from China, two from Greece, two from Ukraine, and two, as the author puts it "came directly to me from the Land of Gup." This is a book that displays astonishing versatility of the poet who gave us The Golden Gate and All You Who Sleep Tonight. The flair and delight of Beastly Tales from Here and There is proof that Vikram Seth can try on most unusual clothes without in the least losing his unique poetic identity.
My Review-
My encounter with Seth happened way back in 2009 over the poem ‘The Frog and The Nightangle’ which is a part of this book. When I read the poem back then, I thought it was funny.But boy! How wrong I was! When I read it now, I understand how he exemplifies the brutal realities of the world with poetry. The book is essentially a children’s book. I’ll tell you why. He gives those little gems of advice with perfect innocence. When an adult reads the same, his mature mind sees the satire and the real message behind the story portrayed in the book.
The book is a compilation of ten long poems, where the protagonists are animals . Each poem is four to five pages long and has been written with sheer spontaenity. I think the fluidity comes from writing at a stretch, but of course one can’t give all the credit to that. This guy is a genius and has completely won my heart with his poetic abilities. His intelligence and wit outshines in every piece that is a part of the book.
About The Author-
Vikram Seth is the acclaimed author of three novels including The Golden Gate and A Suitable Boy, one of the most beloved and widely read books of recent times. He has also written five books of poetry, an opera libretto, a book of other libretti and two highly regarded works of non-fiction. He currently divides his time between the UK and India.

Book Review- All You Who Sleep Tonight.

Paperback, 61 pages
Published June 18th 1991 by Vintage (first published May 5th 1990)
ISBN- 0679730257 (ISBN13: 9780679730255)                
edition language- English
original title- All You Who Sleep Tonight: Poems
"Certainly not since Byron has anyone been more elegantly and literally amusing in verse." -- Philadelphia DailyNewsVikram Seth's novel in verse, The Golden Gate, was hailed by Gore Vidal as "the Great California Novel" and by the New Republic as "a tour de force of the transcendence of the mere tour de force." Now he brings his romance with the English language, his effortless access to the deepest reservoirs of feeling, and his ability to light up the plain surfaces of everyday life to this stunning collection of poems.
In All You Who Sleep Tonight Seth delves into the varieties of love -- love lost, remembered, and deferred. He evokes the unspeakable ironies of Auschwitz and the light-blasted streets of Hiroshima. He conducts the reader through Lion Grove in Suzhou, China, and across the Golden Gate Bridge on its fiftieth anniversary. Throughout, he displays the lyricism and attentiveness that distinguish the best poets of every era.
"Clear as a glacial pool, often as deep, Vikram Seth's new poems shine with unfashionable virtues. Seth gives joy by writing brilliantly well, unafraid to feel and to start us feeling." -- X. J. Kennedy

My Review-

All Those Who Sleep Tonight

All You Who Sleep Tonight is a collection of love poems by Vikram Seth. He places himself in different situations and writes poems that goes with each and every situation. The whole book has been divided into five sections, namely, Romantic Resides, In Other Voices, In Other Places, Quatrains and Meditations Of The Heart. The title of the book, ‘All You Who Sleep Tonight’ has been derived from the poem of the fifth section, which is also the last poem of the book.

The language is simple and the plots used are nothing fancy, just normal day-to-day locations where one could be for obvious reasons. None of it is too hard to digest. My favorite section would be the Quatrains. Little is said and more is expressed there. All of the poems in this section are four lines long and yet their charisma is something you can’t ignore. The book has about 75 pages and doesn’t take time to read and assimilate, but the charm of the simplicity of this book bewilders you. Even while I write this, I think of that red little suitcase and how his heart breaks when an old man instead of whom he is expecting to picks it up.

A must have for in every poetry lover’s collection.
About the Author-
Vikram Seth is the acclaimed author of three novels including The Golden Gate and A Suitable Boy, one of the most beloved and widely read books of recent times. He has also written five books of poetry, an opera libretto, a book of other libretti and two highly regarded works of non-fiction. He currently divides his time between the UK and India.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Book Review- Sea Of Poppies

Published May 1st 2008 by John Murray Publisher (first published 2008)
ISBN- 071956896X (ISBN13: 9780719568961)                
edition language- English
original title- Sea of Poppies
series- Ibis Trilogy #1                                 
characters- Neel Rattan Halder, Zachary Reid, Paulette Lambert, Benjamin Burnham                
setting- India
At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its purpose, to fight China’s vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.

In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.

The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, the exotic backstreets of China. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, that makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive—a masterpiece from one of the world’s finest novelists.
My Review-
History and literature are two of the most exotic subjects that exist on earth crust. Combining both of them beautifully into a story as beautiful and contemporary as this, is ‘Sea Of Poppies’. The first in the Ibis trilogy, this book encompasses the lives of a few charecters coming from different backgrounds and experiencing strife and bloodshed with their destinations unknown.
Deeti, the only female charecter is a simple woman. Her life turns upside down with her marriage to an infertile, worker from the Ghazipur Opium Factory. Furthermore, her mother-in-law drugs her on the night of her marriage when her brother-in-law impregnates her and Kabutri is born. His husband, dies and she is asked to sacrifice her life on his funeral pyre. She runs away with Kalua, an ox-man. To escape, they become servants on the Ibis.Others include, Neel Rattan Halder, Ah Fatt, Paulette and Zachary Reid. Neel Rattan Halder is a zamindar sufferring loses in opium trade with China. Selling off his lands to pay the debts is not an option for him and hence he gets tried to work as a labourer on the Ibis in Mauritius for seven years. His companion in the prison is Ah Fatt, a half-Chinese and half-Parsi opium addict. Zachary Reid is an American Sailor on the Ibis with Serang Ali being the second in the command. Paulette is a French Orphan living with Mr. And Mrs. Burnham (who is also responsible for Neel Rattan Halder’s trial). She meets Zachary Reid on a dinner and they are instantly drawn to each other. Hopeful of a better future, she boards the Ibis with Jodu and disguises herself as bengali woman, thanks to her years of close association with Jodu and her mother.
The highlights of an Amitav Ghosh novel, is always the plot. Being a bengali who has lived all over the country and travelled the world, he tends to come back to his roots and rediscover Bengal in his tales. The language is extravagant to be precise. The blend he makes out of those different cultures and dialects, it creates textures, imprints that last on your mind. Even though fictional, the story has an amazingly realistic feel to it, somewhat like it did happen to someone who lived back then, A commoner, perhaps. The story seems like a secret Ghosh’s ancestors passed on him and he conspicuously is letting the readers know of it.
 Paulette pleases me the most. She seeks inspiration from her great aunt and heads for Mauritius. She knows the aftermath of getting caught by her uncle. Yet she takes the risk. Brought up in an Indian environment has given her a whole new charecter than that she’d have had, had she been brought up in some other place. Her life being torturous and she still being hopeful is what inspires me and makes me simply adore her.
The idea of treating Ganga as the Nile and the Opium Wars dishevelling so many lives, is something that appeals me on the first place. The front cover with the pressed poppy flower on it and the back cover with the winds emanating the poppy seeds is very much in terms with the storyline. This book is defintely not a one time read. You’d read it time and again and find a competely different shade every time. I’m more than looking forward to reading it some other time and look at it in a different light. Rating Ghosh on Sea Of Poppies with five stars is a privilege.
About The Author-
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford, and has taught at a number of institutions. River of Smoke is the second in the Ibis trilogy, which was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and The Hindu Literary Prize in 2011. The first of the trilogy, the bestselling Sea of Poppies, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008. Ghosh’s other works include The Circle of Reason (Prix Médicis Étranger Award), The Shadow Lines (Sahitya Akademi Award), In an Antique Land, The Calcutta Chromosome (Arthur C. Clarke Award), Dancing in Cambodia and Other Essays, Countdown, The Glass Palace (Grand Prize for Fiction at the Frankfurt International e-books Awards), The Imam and the Indian and The Hungry Tide (Best Work in English Fiction, Hutch Crossword Book Award). In 2007 he was awarded the Grinzane Cavour Prize and in 2010 the Dan David Prize.

Amitav Ghosh currently divides his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Book Review- The Disengagement Ring

Paperback, 355 pages
Published by Hachette Books Ireland (first published 2009)           
               ISBN 0340977345                      
           ISBN13: 9780340977347             
edition language- English
original title- The Disengagement Ring
'We're her family. It's our duty to interfere.'

Kate O'Neill is ready to settle down, so when her commitment-phobic boyfriend Brian asks her to marry him, she accepts. Though she knows her close-knit family aren't fond of Brian, she feels sure they'll come round once they get to know him better.

But Kate's eccentric mother, Grace, is determined to prevent Kate from making the biggest mistake of her life. She hatches a plot to scupper the engagement, urging the whole family to do everything in their power to encourage a break-up. She even ropes in Will Sargent, manager of ultra cool rock band Walking Wounded, and unrequited love of Kate's life, in the hope that she can lure Kate away from Brian.

Reluctantly Will offers Kate a job as chef for Walking Wounded, and whisks her off to Tuscany for the summer, where they are working on their new album.

As temperatures in the kitchen begin to heat up, will Kate's feelings for Will be rekindled – or will she decide Brian really is the man for her.
Being in love is not enough. It is the realization that you care for someone so deeply, that is the whole charm of all of it. Kate O'Neil was a chubby teenager crushing on Will Sargent, her brother's friend. Will, on the other hand has been a handsome man and now a charming man with all the chicks drooling over him. Kate met Will on a chilly evening when he had run away from the boarding school his father had put him in after his mother died. Kate has a misconception that she is not good enough for Will and pretends to have moved on, proving her point by dating other men. Will too has had feelings for Kate but has been careful for not shitting in his own garden. He does not have a place to spend Christmas if the O' Neil's find out that he was messing around with the daughter of the family. Both of them are now dating different people. Will is dating Tina and Kate is dating Brian, whom the O' Neils fondly call the tree-hugger. The story kick starts when Kate decides to get married to Brian and lets Grace O' Neil know of their engagement without a ring. This gives Grace O' Neil, Kate's mother a feeling that Kate is doing something terrible with her life and needs to be stopped right there. Kate's sister, Rachel has a plan and heads out on implementing it. She manages to convince Will to woo Kate and make her reconsider the decision she made. It is then that Will makes a job offer to Tuscany and Kate grabs it with both hands, reluctantly. Things then take off in Tuscany where certain events make them realize of the love they share.
The cover of the book is pretty. Kate is pretty, conscious about herself, and yet so outgoing at times. Will is my kind of guy. Gentle, reserved and charming in every way whatsoever. Grace, Kate's mother appeals the reader with her gestures at making friends with Philip Sargent, Will's father, talking about their conversations to Will, gifting him the CD with Philip's interview. The way the story unfolds, different situations at which Kate, and Will realize their love, those last few chapters where things all of a sudden go wrong are the major highlights. With no cons and few great pros, this book hits the top spot into my list of good chick-lit stuff.
4 Stars outta 5.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Book Review- Age OF Hiblisk

Paperback, First, 400 pages
Published August 22nd 2012 by APK Publishers
9381791058 (ISBN13: 9789381791059)
edition language
It is the journey of Prince William and Princess Sara, the protagonists,through the magical and spiritual worlds of Pantolis, Hiblisk, and Ikra. As their voyage unfolds, they realize the true motive behind the terror employed by the dark forces of Dushtt to claim supremacy over the lands of Pantolis and beyond. Every new revelation brings to light the methodical madness employed by the dark forces and secrets of Mother Nature, which have been safely guarded for ages by the various civilizations of the secret worlds.

Their journey also introduces them to the divine forces that monitor the functions of the world and gives them access to legendary, mystical weapons and advanced spiritual knowledge which illuminates the flow of their understanding and actions towards various aspects of life. They use the knowledge gained, to try and bring peace, to their war ravaged lands and fight the ever-growing might and influence of the mysterious dark forces that haunt their kingdoms. Will the light of all that is divine, fighting under the banner of Prince William and Princess Sara, flicker away into oblivion against the might of the dark forces under Dushtt, or will they survive? ……..Only time in her womb holds the answer, potent enough to change the outlook of the very world we live in

‘Age of Hiblisk- A story with a soul’ Ah! Yes, this story definitely has a soul, a life of its own. Magically spun into a story is the journey of Prince William and Princess Sara.
The book is very much like those fairy tales that we grow up listening to. The balance between the good and the evil is disturbed with the evil trying to gain possession of the world. It is then that a brave lad takes up the responsibility to fight them. Everyone knows that the brave lad shall succeed and order shall be restored.
But that surely isn’t what makes the story worth your time. There is a lot of effort, thinking and creativity that has to go into it to make the story believable and not something that has just been made up.This art has been charmingly mastered by Sumukh Naik and practised vigorously throughout the tale. The imageries seemed a little filmy irrespective of the fact that they were put into words with utter finesse. The wordy sketches are fabulous giving you the complete feel of the happenings. You’re sure to get panicked, sympathize and empathize with every turn the story takes. That is what makes this book a commendable read, the very way everything known and heard of has been completely moulded into something new.
The perspective is simple and the narration creative, exceptionally creative. For me, the creativity did the trick. The simplicity of the perspective somehow disappointed me. You know simplicity is beautiful, surreal infact. But when the writing style is so glamorous, there has to be some amount of extravagance in the concept to match up, I feel.
That sort of gave me a minor glitch. Otherwise this 4 starer is complete bestseller material.

Book Review- Hattie Wilkinson Meets Her Match

Paperback, 362 pages
Published November 2nd 2012 by Harlequin (UK) Limited
edition language

In the eyes of the ton Hattie Wilkinson is a respectable widow, content with her safe, if somewhat modest life.

On the other hand Sir Christopher Foxton prides himself on being regarded as one of London’s most notorious rakes, with a particularly mischievous streak!

Upon their first meeting Kit threatens to shatter Hattie’s well-ordered peace—and her reputation!—if only she’ll allow herself to succumb to his playful advances. This time they’ve both finally met their match…
Sooner, or later, love has to make its way and into our hearts and into our lives. For Harriet Wilkinson, love came at twenty seven and as a widow. Her married life never lived up to her expectations. Charles Wilkinson had charmed her and her live in an illusion. The battle of Waterloo cut his life short and opened a world of trouble for her. Since Hattie Wilkinson has been on the shelf.
Sir Christopher Foxton too has his own pride. After his mother left him and a woman made fun of his deprived childhood, he refused to grow fond of any woman. His reputation is scandalous.
Destiny makes them fall into each other until they realize they are meant for each other. Love has to strike them really hard to make them believe that the emotion truly exists. And the pain for them is utterly sweet.
The concept may be simple and known but what sets this one apart from others is the way it is written. Crisp adjectives and a clear pinpointed idea focused very well. Love is beautifully broken down into a spectrum of pride, confusion, and what not. All of it seems to strengthen the magnitude of love bringing them together. One of those very few books that give you a hope that love doesn’t just exist, but changes people and changes lives.