Review: The Legend of Kuldhara by Malathi Ramachandran

Pages  – 280 

Publisher – Niyogi books

ISBN – 978-93-86906-00-7

 Pari, a bubbly girl of 16, unaware of her maidenly beauty is often reprimanded by her mother for not doing her chores and for playing with the boys unabashedly on the streets. 

On a visit to Kuldhara, Saalim Singh, the most trusted advisor of the Maharawal sets his lecherous eyes on Pari. The villagers’ only choice were to give huge amounts of taxes to Saalim Singh, give Pari’s hand to him or to fight the massive army of the Maharawal. 

As the story spins to life in the vibrant and colourful streets of Rajasthan, it slowly embeds it’s way in one’s heart.

Like a song, the narration shifts between the incidents of Pari’s life and Parvati, the wife of Saalim Singh and how the life of these two women are interwoven despite them having never met. 

It is about Pari’s fight to give a father to her child while Parvati fights the restraints of her marital life, the story shows the different aspects of womanhood and the impossible strength of a woman. 

The legend of Kuldhara is a tale of unity, family, belonging, friendship, love and womanhood.This tale beautifully encompasses all the stages in a woman’s life, from her early teens where she has no worries to the difficulties of motherhood and makes for a highly recommended read. 

 My Rating- 4.5 ⭐

Love,

Zoya 😘
 Link to buy the book – 

 https://www.amazon.in/dp/9386906007/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_g.7kAb8MMH9TS

https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/review-victoria-and-abdul-by-shrabani-basu/ 

https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/review-blowfish-by-siddharth-tripathi/

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Review : Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward 

Pages -304 

Publisher – Bloomsbury Publications  PLC 

ISBN – 978-1-4088-9103-2 

Jojo is barely thirteen, the offspring of Leonie, a black girl; and Michael, a white man. While his father is in prison, serving time, his mother is hardly a mother with her almost constant state of being “high”. They live in the house of his maternal grandparents Mam and Pop with Kayla, his baby sister. 

While on one hand Jojo has a beautiful relationship with his grandparents, his relationship with Leonie is strained and difficult. Leonie on the other hand , has to often choose between her children and her addiction and it is her children who suffer.  

When their father is about to be released from prison, Leonie packs her bags and her children off to receive him. It is during this journey that most of the story unfolds. 

The accuracy with which Ward depicts the complexities of relationships, shows her deep understanding of the human mind. A troubled teenager who is almost a father to his sister, a woman who doesn’t know who to love, an old man with deep secrets of his past, the book is a beautiful concoction of varied emotions and events. 

 The book is narrated through the point of view of different characters which also includes ghosts that makes it very interesting. Initially the book seems slow , but as the reader proceeds into the story, everything falls into place. 

Ward’s different writing style may prove to be difficult to understand as first, but as we delve into the story and become familiar with the characters it becomes easy. 

 It speaks of strong themes of racism, addiction, parenthood, class differences, bias, injustice and poverty while interweaving it with surrealism and the otherwordly. 

Perhaps it is this eclectic mix of the real and the unreal which has made this book a National Award Winner.

Love, 

Zoya 😘

 Link to buy the book : Sing, Unburied, Sing: WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2017 https://www.amazon.in/dp/1408891034/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_UQxiAb907V65D 

https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/review-victoria-and-abdul-by-shrabani-basu/ 
 https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/review-blowfish-by-siddharth-tripathi/ 

 https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/travelogue-dubai-day-9/

https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/review-flying-without-wings-by-rishabh-puri/

Review: Flying Without Wings by Rishabh Puri 

Pages – 190 

Publisher – HarperCollins India

ISBN – 9789352773206
She sees flights taking off to different parts of the worlds, families reunited and wonders about the love they have each day; as she works on her shift at the airport.

Never having set foot outside the town of Chandigarh, Milli finds her escape in the story books she reads, dreaming about a future she knows is only confined to her dreams.

An addict in the name of a mother, a father who left them when they were young, a brother in the army and a crumbling house, Milli craves for a real family. Struggling to make ends meet and needing someone to talk to, she downloads Clikrr, a dating app to give her atleast temporary respite from her loneliness.

And she swiped right on Karan.

Karan Singhania seems to have everything in the world one could ever think of. On the surface. A deepest tragedy at it’s core, the book pulls at your heart strings more than once.

A simple middle class girl, will Milli fit into Karan’s life? What are the secrets that Karan is keeping from her? Can love via a dating app can actually be love? Will Karan be able to trust Milli after his string of girlfriends who have only used him for money? Will they be able to sail through the tragedies that befall them.

Though the story sometimes seems a little bit Bollywood-ish but we must account for the fact that movies are inspired by real life. Also, I believe this work is very close to the author’s heart as I feel that Karan’s character  is  inspired by his own life.

A beautiful love story, lives filled with tragedy , a very brave man who never gives up on hope and a strong, wilful girl. Can they fly without wings? Can they fly at all?

Love,

Zoya 😘

Flying Without Wings (Ravinder Singh Presents) https://www.amazon.in/dp/9352773209/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_.dF.zb1VXG34M

Review: Victoria and Abdul by Shrabani Basu 

Review: Blowfish by Siddharth Tripathi

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Review: Victoria and Abdul by Shrabani Basu 

288 pages

Published: 2017 (updated edition) 

ISBN :  9789387146174 

Young and handsome, a 24 year old Abdul, is dispatched to Agra to present the Queen with a ‘mohar’ for her Golden Jubilee celebrations. 
 The young Indian man, immediately catches the elderly Queen’s attention and what was supposed to be a short trip becomes a temporary arrangement. Abdul Karim and his companion Mohammed Buksh soon find themselves waiting tables for her Majesty. 

Though Buksh remains in the position of  a servant, Abdul escalates to higher positions strikingly fast, much to the consternation of the entire household. 

He begins to share with his Queen, tales from India, who is fascinated by this land she rules but is barred to visit. Abdul Karim becomes the Queen’s Munshi or Teacher and gives her lessons in Hindustani. Over her lifetime, the longest living monarch despite her rigorous duties of ruling the biggest empire in the world manages to finish 13 hefty volumes of her diaries with her Urdu lessons. 

In a country where he was alone, from being a servant, to moving in the upper echelons of English as well as Indian aristocracy, the rise and rise of Abdul Karim was phenomenal. This did not go down unnoticed by the household who hated every move he made and read deeper into everything he did. They did their best to defame him and convince the queen to get rid of him.

Shrabani Basu weaves the tale of an Empress, a mother, a friend and a humble servant with her beautiful words seamlessly blending into each other. The beauty and genius of her narration lies in the fact that this non fiction seems almost like fiction. Who said reality could not be magical? 

The future rulers did everything in their power to destroy the presence of this young man from the face of history who was the friend and companion of the Kaiser-e-Hind in the  last years  of her life. But as they say , the truth will be uncovered someday.  

Interspersed with personal diary entries, authentic pictures, newspaper reports and articles, this well researched book gives a new insight into the Queen’s personal life. Her Majesty’s enthusiasm for the Oriental , her high esteem of her Indian subjects and her dedication to know and understand the language of the country she was a ruler of, all stemmed from one man, Munshi Hafiz Abdul Karim. 

This is the true story of the unbelievable friendship between the Queen Victoria of royal blood and a humble man of no lineage. The friendship between The Crown and a servant. A beautiful story that is also the truth.

Love, 

Zoya 😘 

Link to buy the book – Victoria (Movie Tie-in): The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant https://www.amazon.in/dp/0525434410/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_GdF.zbB32Y2FY

https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/review-my-name-is-red-by-orhan-pamuk/ 

Review: The Colours of Passion by Sourabh Mukherjee

238 pages

Published: August 1, 2017

ISBN13: 9789385854453 

Hiya Sen, is the Tollywood star who has gone from rags to riches in no time. Her life is a  perfect example of a fairytale.  From the village of Burdwan where survival was tough to the posh luxuries of Kolkata. She is at the height of stardom. Tollywood’s darling gets married to the most eligible bachelor Manav Chauhan. Few days later she is found brutally raped and murdered on a desolate road. 

Why would anyone kill the sweetheart of millions?

Manav Chauhan, handsome with an escalating business and a sprawling fortune is the most eligible bachelor of Kolkata. The business tycoon falls in love with the very beautiful Hiya who has an affair with another man while they are engaged. 

Was he really kind enough to forgive this lack of judgement by his wife? 

Neha Awasthi , ex fiancee and childhood friend of Manav is almost left at the altar by him. 

A spurned woman is a dangerous enemy. What lengths can she go to get Manav back? 

Deepak Awasthi  had to gain a lot from his daughter’s and Manav’s marriage. As Manav walked out of the marriage, his plans for his business were collapsing in front of his eyes. 

Can he take the immense losses in his stride?

Rituja Bose, former Tollywood diva clutching at her long lost fame. A passionate woman who holds her grudges. A public spat on a movie set with the younger actress and the threat of losing the role, is she the one?

An alcoholic model, Mayank has an affair with Hiya while she is engaged to Manav. A distraught lover, rejected by the woman he loves for a richer man. 

Among the starry lights of cinema and modelling, the rich and the famous, the suspects are a galore and ACP Agnimitra has to get to the heart of the crime.

From the first chapter itself , Colours of Passion piques the curiousity of the reader. The suspense builds up as plot thickens. As the reader delves deeper into the book, it becomes increasingly difficult to guess who the killer is. The book also looks into the psychology of the killer and shows us how the mind convinces itself of the righteousness of it’s action. Overall it makes for a gripping read.

 If you are looking for a thriller that holds your attention and keeps you on your toes , this is the book to pick up. 

Love, 

Zoya 😘 

Link: The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets Behind the Limelight https://www.amazon.in/dp/9385854453/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_n.E.zb1ZGMXN0 

https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/review-blowfish-by-siddharth-tripathi/ 
https://thebigbiblionaire.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/review-baaz-by-anuja-chauhan/

Review: Blowfish by Siddharth Tripathi

296 pages

Published : September 21, 2017

ISBN13 : 9789386643315

 

Mukund is every other guy in India. After completing his education, he has landed himself a job in one of the MNCs in the concrete jungle of Gurgaon. Few years into the job , he has earned himself a considerable bank balance, a WagonR and a paunch to make him a respectable member of the 9 to 5 society. Despite having a cushy job where he does the bare minimum and still manages to have his salary reach his bank account, he is unsatisfied and unhappy with his job and his life.

Wallowing in regrets and hating work, when he realizes his company is about to chuck him soon , instead of trying to save his job , he quits in order to pursue his true passion. Though his friends, Chaddha and Sampu crib about their jobs just as much, they are taken aback equally by Mukund’s rash decision.
Mukund on the other hand wants to pursue his calling , but there’s a glitch. He needs to find it first.  In this mess of his life, where every thing seems to be going haywire, he meets Suman who is just as confused as him.

Weeks pass by without him finding out what he wants to do, dejection grips him like an ice cold iron clamp around his heart when the housing society Secretary, Colonel Harpal Singh targets him and makes his life more miserable than it already is. He finds in him a reflection of his estranged son and places him under “house arrest”. Trials in a kangaroo court and a ludicrous duel, the threat of losing everything, Mukund’s life is quickly becoming a perfect example of what not to do in life, or is it?

Siddharth Tripathi’s Blowfish addresses India’s obsession with big cars and beautiful bungalows which are the only acceptable symbols of success. It shows a young man’s courage to take a decision that most would not be able to take and trying to find happiness amidst the rat race of money and power. Filled with quirky anecdotes, the cutely weird and highly relatable characters make the book a delightful read.

Pursuing a passion and trying to find joy in a country where the youth is coerced into believing that money, success and happiness are the same thing, is an act of immense courage. Chaddha’s frustration at losing his job, Sampu’s inabilty to deal with his impending fatherhood, Bumbum’s loyalty towards his employers and love for Fulki,  Harpal Singh’s inexplicable behaviour towards Mukund  and Rani Devi, the desi police inspector are all incredibly flawed, thus making the characters very real. The book is for all the people out there who are not sure where their lives are going and  for everybody else who could do with a few laughs. ( Don’t we all? ) Tripathi’s light hearted narration, with the comical antics of the characters make the journey a deliciously fun ride.

Love,

Zoya 😘
  Blowfish https://www.amazon.in/dp/9386643316/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_AcF.zbMEHHX7N

Review: Baaz by Anuja Chauhan 

Only those authors who have done things differently,have managed to carve a niche for themselves in this cut-throat competition, to be someone who is loved by the audience.

Anuja Chauhan, by seamlessly mixing Hindi and English in her writing, has made her work very relatable to the urban Indian audience, which not only speaks but also thinks in Hinglish.

Baaz, her fifth book, is a tribute to our men in  uniform. It shows us civilians, how much they give up to do  what they do. A big salute to all these great men and their families who sacrifice everything for the nation.

Why do they call you Baaz?” 

‘It means falcon,’ he replies solemnly. ‘ Or bird of prey. Because I swoop down on the enemy just like a Baaz would.’ 

Then he grins. The grey eyes sparkle. 

‘It’s also short for bastard.’

Ishaan Faujdaar, our protagonist is the adorable Air Force Officer no one can resist. From Chakkahera , a small village in Haryana to the illustrious IAF, Ishaan with his charm and talent makes the audience love him and root for him despite his cockiness.

War between the USSR backed India-Mukti Bahini alliance and America-aided Pakistan, 1971 is the perfect opportunity for the star of IAF to prove his mettle.

His Gnat, a tiny fighter plane has brought about massive destruction to F-86 Sabre Squadrons of Pakistan and has earned him the title of Sabre Slayer.

He is quite satisfied with his life when Tehmina Dadyseth breezes into his life, with her strong opinions, her Freesia ads and makes him question the very foundations of his. Having lost her loved ones in the name of patriotism, she is a  pacifist who hates the very idea of war.

The characters of Kung Fui , Tehmina’s aunt with her incredible sass and sauce; Raks and Maddy, his awesome buddies with their jokes and goofiness ; and fellow Gnatties Jana Gana Mana who are with Shaanu on his quest for glory and adventure make the story memorable and fun.

Twists, turns, war and a beautiful love affair keep the content interesting and the reader hooked.

Enough said, go pick it up yourselves . The weekend calls for some love, laughter and Baaz.

Love,

Zoya 😘

Review: You Never Know by Akash Verma 

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

 

Review: You Never Know by Akash Verma 

It was a pleasant surprise when an advance review copy of this book came into the mail for me.

Synopsis

Dhruv is happily married with two kids, has a satisfying job and is doing quite well in his life.

Anuradha, has been newly recruited by C&M, a very respectable advertising agency to work on ‘Mojo’ – Uni Cola’s latest product.

The competition between various advertising agencies to get ‘Mojo’ is fierce. Anuradha, with her confident ways and ability to stick to her opinions even in the presence of big shots manages to get the deal. This success is also Dhruv’s first as a branch head and victory tastes sweeter as it has come through Anuradha.
The electric attraction between them soon becomes impossible for the two of them to resist and they find themselves warming each other’s beds. This secret, exciting affair was going great but it begins to coil around their lives like a serpent and ghosts from Anuradha’ s past come to haunt them.

The secrets of her past, begin to spill into her present and endanger not only Dhruv but also his wife, Shalini and kids, Kabir and Siya. These people will go to any lengths to ensure that they get what they want.

Will Dhruv, a regular guy manage to cope with this threat to his family? Will he able to protect Anuradha and himself? Will he able to save his marriage? Will he make it back from the vortex of danger he has been propelled into?

Apart from depicting Urban India in all it’s reality, with its hollow glamour and dark ghosts in their closets, it poses several important questions to the reader. Can there be any justification of extramarital affairs? Do these relationships last? What impact does it have on the lives and outlook of kids who have been affected by such relationships? Who gets hurt? What about the person who through no fault of his/her own has to live with the pain all their life?

Love,

Zoya 😘

Review: Maneka’s Choice by Kavita Kane

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Travelogue: Dubai Day 9

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It was the second last day of our trip and it had to be made memorable, because the last would be used to shop last minute stuff so like the 9th episode of Game of Thrones this had to be epic.
(Big GoT fan, and since Winter is Here,therefore the reference. Can’t keep calm at all) .

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We have a lot of family and family friends in Dubai, so it was this huge family affair, and it was decided that we would go for a Desert Safari. We had a light lunch since dune bashing can make people feel sick.

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We were picked and taken to the desert via a bus. At the edge of the desert, we got strapped in a Land Cruiser and were tossed up and down as the car zoomed across the fantastic sand dunes.

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We stopped in the middle of the desert, where a beautiful camp greeted us. We chilled in the camp for a little while and got our hands painted with henna. There was sheesha, and a small photo session with Arabian Eagles.

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 A camel ride was scheduled after this which got us more into the desert vibe.

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Next up was quad biking, which I was initially afraid to ride and so I sat pillion. But soon enough I mustered enough courage to ride it myself.

20170428_165131.jpg Doing that, I realised why biking is such a passion. It really does feel great to manoeuvre a bike. Also I ticked off this activity from my adventure sport bucket list.

As evening fell, we moved into the Arabian style camp and were greeted to an absolutely stunning belly dance show and an equally beautiful Tanura Dance. 

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It was followed by a sumptuous dinner, where we gorged on delicious barbeque preparations and some not so delicious vegetarian food.

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Making my way back, leaving the desert, a feeling of barrenness took hold of me. That bittersweet feeling that refuses to leave you, when all is well, and the starlit sky reassures you, but you know it would be the last time you’d feel such things, because it is never going to be the first time again. Because the desert sands have a way of getting in your soul.

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 There’s an Arabic saying which says once you step on the desert sands, they hold you in their barriers forever. Perhaps, it is true. Perhaps it is not. I take in the desert landscape for the last time, the dark sky kissing the tops of the sand dunes, the vast, neverending stretch of the desert, its eerie silence echoing with unknown stories, the winds whispering tales of time. I fill my lungs with the desert air and an unimaginable longing grips me.

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All that we have lost, is it here? Does the stark, raw beauty of the desert hide our sorrows? Is it why the deserts have so little life, because all human suffering gets buried in the sameness of deserts everywhere? 

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Love,

Zoya 😘

Travelogue: Dubai Day 7 and 8

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part I

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Travelogue: Dubai Day 7 and 8

Now let me tell you something about the malls of Dubai. They are not just malls. They are a different world altogether. It’s not just a place to shop and eat, but to enjoy and experience. Each mall has been constructed with the agenda of making them look like a different world, therefore frolicking in different malls for days at a stretch is not to be judged 😀

Also I’m a little bit of a shopaholic if given the opportunity, so spending 2 whole days on shopping seems like a very good idea to me.

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Now you see those crazy high heels, I managed to walk in them and use public transport ( taxis not included ) for almost half a day, without spraining my ankle. A feat which would have been quite impossible back home because of the crazy roads as well as my tendency to dream and gaze at the sky while I’m walking. In my defense, I am sky person, if such a thing exists 😛

The other day we went to Gold Souk and were bedazzled by the jewels on display. All that glitters IS gold, literally. And sometimes diamonds too 😀

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Dubai has been made with the objective of making it the best city in the world. And they are doing their best to make it so and succeeding too.
Who would have thought that a desert could be converted to this happening place where nothing ever stands still. Who would have thought that the desert could have greenery and rains.
To make that happen the government has installed pipes everywhere which give timely water supply to the plants.

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The maintenance cost of plants is exceptionally high but they spend it to make the weather better and the ambience more pleasing.

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It pains me to see how we cut our trees and have converted a green city with plenty of rain to a hot, polluted city. We don’t have to spend money for greenery and we totally waste the blessing we have been granted with. I think faced with the enormous issue of global warming, climate change and the dangers we are facing, it’s high time we start trying to save our environment. Screenshot_20170705-154055Screenshot_20170705-154209Instead of waiting for governments which is completely penetrated by corruption at every level, we need to save the world. Because no one else is going to do it for us.

Love,

Zoya😘

Travelogue: Dubai Day 9

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part II

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part I

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini