30 January, 2012

Vivek & I

Title:         Vivek & I
Author:     Mayur Patel
Price:        INR. 299/- (Available for Rs. 284 at Flipkart)
Publisher: Penguin Books India

Kaushik, a teacher by profession takes up a job in a local school of a sleepy town called Valai in Gujarat. Trying to come to terms with a broken heart, he feels that there could no place better than this small town to nurse himself to normalcy. What he had not bargained for were nosey people, small town gossip, a colleague falling for him & last but not the least falling in love again.

Falling in love again and that too with his own student, Vivek, Kaushik faces a dilemma. He is not sure how Vivek, who in all probability is straight, take his confession in case he decides to make one. He is scared that in the process he might lose on the lovely friendship that has developed between them. He has become a mentor, a role model & a support system for Vivek and he cannot fathom to lose to that trust.

To add to his woes the thoughts of Krishna (his ex) do not leave him. While he is struggling with the demons from his past & present, a colleague, a female teacher falls in love with Kaushik and is not ready to accept his rejection. He loves her friendship but cannot come out in open because he feels that Valai is too small a town to accept the fact that he is gay.

What will Kaushik do?
Will he confess his love to Vivek & risk his friendship?
Or will better instincts prevail and he would let it be?
If yes then can he bear the budding romance Vivek feels towards a classmate of his?
Or will jealousy override his emotions?
Will he ever let go of what happened between him & Krishna?

Read the book to know more.

My Verdict

I have read a book on lesbian relationship (Manju Kapur’s A Married Woman) but this is a first Gay romance that I have read and to be honest I took some time to get adjusted to the whole premises of a guy lusting for a guy. No, I have nothing against a gay or lesbian relationship. I have been an advocate of each to its own but reading about it is a little more than just talking about an issue.

Initial hiccups aside the book becomes a worthy read and handles a sensitive issue with a maturity which is commendable. I am sure somebody who feels the way the protagonist feel will relate to the book.

The writing is lucid and the way the book moves from present to past to reach to a conclusion is very good. There is no urgency to conclude the book and it works in its favour. Recently I have read so many books which are in such a tearing hurry that no time is spent on characterisation and that is why the change is a welcome relief. You start feeling for the characters and their happiness & sorrow begin to matter to you.

The other thing that I loved was the setting of the book, the way the author has described the small town makes you yearn to live in one. I specially loved the rainy setup of the book.

My only issue with the book was that the protagonist keeps on devising ways to win over his love but towards the end when he let goes and decides to choose a path that will give him peace it happens a bit to suddenly. When the reader has a feeling that how will the author wrap it all up a solution springs suddenly.

But otherwise it is a nice, peaceful book. It shows a small town life in a nice way and handles a taboo topic quite respectfully and the fact that the proatgonist is gay is just another thing in the book, no major ho hallah has been made around it. All in all a book which leaves you tranquil in a way. A good read. A love story with a difference is how I will describe this book!

My Rating 3.5/5

27 January, 2012

Zero Percentile–2.0, Missed IIT kissed Gurgaon

Sorry for going missing from this space. Been tied up with hundred & ten things which I will share in the coming week. Please bear with me for some time and in the meanwhile here is a book review :-)

Title:         Zero Percentile–2.0, Missed IIT kissed Gurgaon
Author:     Neeraj Chhibba
Price:        140/- (Available for Rs. 105/- @ Flipkart)
Publisher: Rupa & Co.

A sequel to Zero Percentile Missed IIT Kissed Russia, this book is the story of Motu, Pankaj, Priya, Arjun & Nitin each fighting a battle within.

Motu is trying to save his company from an eminent hostile takeover. For him this company is his bread, butter, heart & soul and he leave no stone unturned to save it. But what is disturbing him is the fact that it might be Pankaj who is behind the takeover.

Priya works with Motu but is in love with Pankaj. She is torn between her two best friends, whom will she chose.

Arjun is a single father bringing up a special child. His wife had left them when she realised that she had given birth to a daughter who was not perfect.

Nitin is fighting the battle of AIDS and the stigma associated with it.

Pankaj is a changed man, betrayal by people whom he had trusted the most makes him a ruthless man. For him it is money which matters the most.

These 5 parallel but interconnected stories form Zero Percentile 2.0, partly written in flashback the book takes us through the lives of the each character and how they build up a software firm merely on the basis of their talent, hard work & perseverance and how few mistakes unravels the finely built partnership. How they build back the burnt bridges forms the crux of the book.

My Verdict

This book is a sequel to Zero Percentile and takes forward the story of Pankaj, Motu & Priya. The first book had the advantage of a new setting, Russia and this book shows us the time when software industry had just begin to thrive and there were success stories all around. This itself is a novelty according to me and sets the book apart.

The book begins slowly and makes you wonder about the lingering past which is discussed continuously but not revealed until later. As soon as the past begins to unravel the book catches a pace and becomes a fast paced roller coaster ride.

The grudge that I have with this book is that it tries to pack in too many issues. Fighting the stigma against AIDS, issues faced by parents (single parents) while seeking admission for a special child in a school, the 26/11 saga, it has all and mind you these are just side stories and have been dealt with very quickly which makes you feel that they have been wrapped up too quickly and given easy solutions.

But all that doesn’t take the fact away from the book that it is immensely readable and the plot keeps you glued in about what will happen next.

A fast paced book about ambitions, friendship, love & life that is how I will sum up this book. Go grab a copy and am sure you will finish it one sitting.

My Rating 3/5

Up Next

Book Review of Vivek & I

12 January, 2012

Gujarati Kitchen - A Book Review

Title:            Gujarati Kitchen
Author:        Bhanu Hajratwala
Price:           INR/- 395
Publication: Westland - Cookery

I saw the title of the book & started dreaming.
I had the book in my hands and I started drooling over the pictures.
I read the book and felt like trying each & every recipe.
I tried few and fell in love with them.

If you have been following my blog regularly you will know that I have a very strong Gujarat connection. Have spent some 8-9 years there and albeit slowly but steadily have fallen in love with their cuisine. To be honest I started with being wary of the fact that all that they cook is sweet and then I went on to the phase of hating the food that was supplied by my dubbawala. It was much later that I really started enjoying their food. If you really need to know the taste of Gujarati food you either need to eat at somebody’s home or you need to visit those Gujarati Thali joints. Such is my love for Gujju food that I have searched a Thali joint here as well and keep having my fill of the taste and that is the very reason that when I saw this book up for grabs at Blogadda I decided to nominate myself and boy did I regret? Nah!!!

The book begins with a introduction from the author and states her culinary journey. Having spent her life abroad she struggles to bring up Indian recipes with limited ingredients. How she crosses the hurdles, learns new dishes, experiments, teaches people around her forms the crux of the introduction and trust me it makes for a good read.

What follows next is a delight for people who love to cook or people who wish to learn cooking. The book is divided into sections like, Starters, Main Dishes, Breads, Pickles etc. and goes on detailing on each recipes. The only thing that shocked me was a Non Veg section in the book, I mean Gujarat food & Non veg are not surely not synonymous but when you read the Introduction you will realise where it comes from.

Let me state in bullet points as to what makes this book a great help
  • The author has taken special care in describing the basics like measurements, translation of names of spices in English/ Hindi. This would be of great help for people who are starting to learn cooking.
  • Each & every recipe has been described in fine details, in fact in some cases where folding is required the author has taken pains to illustrate it with diagrams.
  • The pictures with the book are damn good. what makes the pictures work is the fact that though have been taken nicely and the food presented beautifully but still there is something in the presentation of the food that isn’t too polished and makes it look believable. Mind you that makes a huge difference to me because I get assured that even I can make it :)
This review wouldn’t have been honest & complete if I had not tried one of the recipes, thus I decided to cook Methi Thepla. This is one dish that we all love at home and I have been making with hit & trial so when I had an authentic recipe in my hand I decided to try it. And here is the result. (I made Thepla in the laccha paratha fashion ;))

I served it with Tomato chutney and Shreekhand the latter of course was not made at home but the book carries it’s recipe also and I am gonna try it soon. The Thepla's were a hit and everyone over ate.

Thank you Blogadda for such a delicious book.

My Rating 5/5

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

07 January, 2012

Some News & Lots of Challenges ;-)

Happy New Year dear friends :)

Firstly my apologies for disappearing from the blogosphere (I was away for a valid reason but more on that later) and secondly thanks for the lovely feedback on my interview at Blogadda. Each comment there and in the post here is precious for me and I will be replying to each one of them soon.

The reason of my absence was the sickness of L’lle one. He was suffering from throat infection because of which he had high fever, which also resulted in him not eating anything (he is teething also) and which resulted in a severe case of constipation. In few words last few days have been hell, with him having restless nights, not eating anything & having trouble over something as simple as potty. I mean he is a nanhi si jaan and the amount of pain he had gone through gives me Goosebumps. Thankfully now he is on the road of recovery. Here I must say that all said and done I have given birth to a smart L’lle fellow. This isn’t coming from the mouth of a proud mother; let me tell you why I am saying what I am saying.

He has never given us any problem in taking medicines but when he is sick he just refuses to take them. So we go to lengths like holding his arms, legs etc. to give him medicine. But the smart fellow outdid us this time. As soon as we would go near him with a spoon he would start shaking his head from left to right (as if saying no-no) which literally meant that even if we managed to hold onto the rest of his body it would still be difficult to give him medicine and even if we managed, some of it would still spill over. As my hubby said to him, “where do you learn all these tricks from?” I seriously wonder where do kids get these ideas from. Seriously! Thankfully those days are over and I wish he never falls sick again because it tears our heart to see the bundle of energy down.

Besides this, life has been hectic. We are moving out to another rented apartment next week, the move would mean my travelling time will increase but the area we are moving-in is good. Another piece of god news is that hubby’s office is moving to a nearby area which would reduce his commuting time from 2.5 hours to 45 mins. Isn’t that amazing? The whole movement reminds me that I need to come up with Part 3 of my House Hunt series; I have loads of masala to share.

In fact there are many more posts that are brewing in my mind wish I had more time but lack of it is not deterring me from opening a new blog. Yes, very soon I am coming up with a new blog on Cooking. I have always been fond of the same, even had a group blog for it but now have decided to foray in it all alone. The blog has been made, Title given but it needs finishing touches. So may be in a fortnight will share the link here.

That brings me to another love of mine i.e. books. In 2011 I had taken 2 challenges and managed to complete 1 successfully.

The first one was S Krishna’s 2011 South Asian Challenge. Under that challenge I managed reading 32 books and accordingly I can crown myself to be a South Asian Guru ;-), the list of books that I had read can be found here.

This year again I am taking up the challenge again and this is my sign up for that.

Besides that I took the Good reads challenge wherein I had committed to read 50 books but as per their widget I have read only 17 books which is impossible. So I need to go check that and unfortunately I am not getting time to do so at home. One day! And yes I am taking up the Goodreads challenge for 2012 and have committed to read 50 Books!!! Yes that many!!! Wish me luck :)

Besides that I am committing myself to the challenge put up by The Book Vixen and the goal is very simple, I need to outdo myself in the number of books that I had read in 2011. So good luck to me on that.

And to top it all, I pledge that I will review if not more, then at least one book per week. Which simply translates to 48 reviews and if I can review more than that then I will treat myself to a chocolate fantasy at CCD ;-)

I am calling this challenge a “Let’s Review More n More books” Challenge!!! Game for it? If you are then feel free to pick this badge and flaunt it on your blog

Up for the challenge?

Updated on 9th Jan '12

After reading Reema's post I have decided to add 1 more challenge here with a hope that it will overlap with the above challenges and would be an easy go ;)

Off The Shelf Challenge where we are supposed to read those unread books that have been lying neglected in our bookshelf for God Knows how long. You can read the details of the same here. The level that I have chosen is Tempted (5 books to read

03 January, 2012

The Girl in the Garden

Title:         The Girl in the Garden
Author:     Kamala Nair
Price:        INR 495/- (Available for 371/- at Flipkart)

Rakhee lives with her fiance in Minnesota but one fine day when he wakes up all he can find is a letter from her. A letter which makes him come face to face with the past of his fiance. In her letter Rakhee narrates to him the story of her life. A story which she feels can make or break her relationship with her fiance. The book unfolds as he reads the letter.

Her mother had left her & her father when she was 10 year old. She remembers her first & only trip to India; a trip that would change their lives forever. In India she meets her mother’s relatives. She freaks out with her three cousins and comes face to face with things which had been hidden from her. Secrets like why her mother had fled from everything she had loved & the fact that her mother could have a guy (who is not her father) in her life shocks Rakhee to the core. And then she finds respite in the mysterious & beautiful garden behind their house a place that is out of bounds for everyone.

The walled up garden behind their house holds a big secret, a secret which shatters Rakhee’s life & her beliefs.

What is the secret & what is behind the wall is best read.

My Verdict

I wish I could have elaborated more on story but trust me it is very difficult. Not that there is no story but the fact is that there is so much that if I let out anything the book will lose its fun. That is why I want you to discover the book by reading it yourself.

Beautifully written this book is a treat to read. The way each layer peels off and the secret is revealed is lovely. In fact I guessed the direction of the book or rather the secret but the way it was narrated, it was charming. The characters are developed well; there is enough suspense to keep you glued in.

The secret though is a little unbelievable but then the there is a magic in the book which makes it like a fable, a fable which you want to believe in despite the fact that you know that it cannot happen in real life. Another thing that stands out is the description of India, it will surely remind you of our own summer vacations & dilemmas we face as kids when thrown in a completely new environment.

Difficult to believe that this is a debut book of the author, she surely has a way with words.

My rating 4/5

Before I forget!!! The thing that made me pick this book above others was the beautiful cover. The textrue of the paper used in cover & the imprint on the cover makes it beautiful.

Reviews to coming up next
  1. The House of Silk
  2. Mumbai Roller Coaster
  3. Zero Percentile 2.0: Missed IIT Kissed Gurgaon
  4. Vivek & I

Share This Post