Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review - The Quest for Nothing

The story - What happens when your aspirations and love are on a collision path?

The Quest for Nothing is the story of a young corporate executive who has everything going his way - a rewarding career, a loving wife and an enviable life, until...

Success is like a mirage. Every milestone that is achieved loses its significance to the next one in sight- a mad race that never ends.

Life is a series of crossroads. Every decision made determines the complexity of the path ahead- a maze of intricate choices.

The race is on and the stakes are high. Akash has made some choices along the way; blind choices that have led him to the midst of a sinister, life threatening corporate scam. Will he manage to redeem himself or become yet another casualty of this mad dash?

A contemporary saga of treachery, deceit and ruthless ambition that explores the fundamentals of human relationships and love.

My take - To start with, the title gives away absolutely nothing about what is inside the book. I was expecting another novel which would be solely about the corporate life and the office politics which are the basis of most of the novels with a corporate backdrop. But I was in for a surprise as the author has given some twists and turns which keeps the reader guessing as to what will happen next.

The protagonist, Akash, is a character that is very common among all of us. Those working in the corporate sectors of Mumbai and Delhi can easily relate with him. Told in a series of flashbacks, the story takes us back to the end of his college life from where the mad race starts. It also describes the love story of how Akash meets Deepali, his wife.

The story also states the reality of life and relationships in general. Of how love may or may not lose its lustre over a period of time. Another main character that we see in the second half of the book is Monisha, Akash's colleague. I don't want to tell too much about her as it may take the fun out of reading the book.

Caught in a scam, the book shows the inner turmoil faced by Akash while having to make some decisions which will affect the rest of his corporate and married life. A well written book, which gives a peek into the life of many of the metropolitan couples and their corporate life. It is fast paced and can be finished in a few hours.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book Review - Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat

The story - Once upon a time in small-town India, there lived two intelligent boys.

 One wanted to use his intelligence to use his intelligence to make money.

One wanted to use his intelligence to start a revolution.

The problem was, they both loved the same girl.

Welcome to Revolution 2020. A story about childhood friends Gopal, Raghav and Aarti who struggle to find success, love and happiness in Varanasi. However, it is not easy to attain these in an unfair society that rewards the corrupt. As Gopal gives in to the system, and Raghav fights it, who will win?

My take- This is one book which I have been waiting to get my hands on since the day it got out. After hearing mixed reviews, I was dying to read it and find out for myself. Finally I got my hands on it and finished it off in one day. Yes, this novel, like all all the previous works' of Chetan Bhagat keeps you hooked right from the first page. A very intriguing prologue keeps you curious and the novel moves at a fast pace to keep you engaged throughout the whole story. 

My first thought when I read about the story was that it would be written from the point of Raghav ( who I assumed would be the protagonist), as it is him who fights against the corrupt system. But I was in for a surprise when I found out that the whole narrative was from the stand point of Gopal. He is a character who is innocent in the beginning and turns to corrupt ways due to the plain unfairness of the society. Though he has a lot of negative shades, one cannot help but sympathize with him towards the end of the book. 

Aarti, is the female character who is loved by both Gopal and Raghav and one has to read the novel to find out whom she chooses. Like all the previous female characters of Chetan Bhagat's novels, she is the ideal beautiful and gorgeous girl whom all the guys want to make theirs. ( I wonder why the females have to be so perfect in all his novels?! Couldn't they be not so perfect!) 

Anyways, coming back to the story, Raghav is the one who wants to start a revolution in the country by 2020. Hence, the title, Revolution 2020. The book handles some serious issues faced in the education system and the Government of India. The viewpoint of Gopal narrating his torturous days of facing the entrance exams and getting into the engineering college, IIT (which is the dream of the majority of Indian parents) is very well expressed. Students can definitely relate to this novel as it is something which we all would have faced. Also, the bribery system that is very prevalent in the Indian Government offices are also tackled here. This is the story which is very much happening around us. The backdrop of Varanasi is also significant as it the place where people come to wash off their sins. A well written narration about the place is also one of the plus points of the book.

However, though the story kept me engaged till the end, I couldn't help but compare it to Chetan Bhagat's previous works. Somewhere I felt that some of his previous novels like Five point someone, One night at the Call centre and 2 states- the story of my marriage were much better. (The view point is solely my own and may not be shared by others) Do give this one a shot as the story is sure to make you think though it can be considered a light read.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Review - Starry Nights by Shobhaa De

Starry Nights is a gripping page turner which gives you the feeling of watching a Bollywood movie. It tells the story of Aasha Rani, the ravishingly beautiful 'Sweetheart of Millions'. We see the vulnerability of a small town girl who pays a price to get where she is today. We get introduced to a lot of colourful characters surrounding her, including her scheming Amma, Akshay Arora, the reigning stud of 70mm and the object of Aasha Rani's desire, the Shethji, the don of the underworld under whose hallowed sheets her career is sealed, Kishenbhai the distributor who gives her the first break and his heart, Linda the manipulative journalist who deceives her into friendship and much more, Sudha, her younger sister whose envy and hate of her sister's success makes her Aasha Rani's worst enemy.

In the second half of the book, we are also introduced to more characters like Jamie (Jay) Phillips, Gopalakrishnan, Shonali and more is revealed of Appa, the father whom she had hated initially. I would not like to reveal more about these characters as it would take out the fun of reading the novel as it is with the arrival of some of these characters that Aasha Rani's story takes a major twist.

The plot is interesting enough to keep the reader engrossed and guessing till the last page. The novel gives a peek into the lives of the Bollywood stars and the harsh reality of the movie world. It definitely makes us wonder if these are reality and whether the lives of the stars are not as blissful as in the movies. Aasha Rani's character is that of a strong woman but somehow she fails to get sympathy in some of the situations. A lot of hindi phrases are scattered throughout the book which may make it difficult to follow for the non Hindi speakers.

Go for this one if you are one who loves watching good masala packed Bollywood movies as Starry Nights will keep you guessing and turning the pages as you simply have to know what happens next!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review - Chai for Beginners by Jane Ainslie

Chai for Beginners tells the story of Sita Sinclair, hailing from Sidney in Australia, who at the age of 27 has been dumped by her boyfriend, lost her job and needs a new place to live. It is about her journey in search of spirituality, love and self discovery. The book also portrays the friendship between Sita and Mrs Sharma, her new neighbour who tells her more about the Ramayana and her namesake, Sita. 

Things begin to change as soon as she takes up a new job in an advertising company, where she meets the gorgeous art director, Callum. She also befriends Gerome at the office, who plays cupid and is the one shoulder for her to lean on. Things take a twist as she visits a spiritual healer who tells her more about Karma and her past life. 

Persuaded by Mrs Sharma, Sita is enchanted at the thought of visiting India with her. However, tragedy strikes and it leaves Sita in having to make the journey on her own. The rest of the novel takes us to New Delhi, Varanasi, the Ganges and Mt Abu. It gives us an insight of a journey through Sita's eyes as she visits India for the first tine. All her emotions are beautifully drawn out and it gives us a feeling of having gone to these popular spiritual places in India. 

Above all, it is the story of a woman in search of herself and coming to deal and handle things in her own terms. It is the story which we can relate to at some point or the other, be it the friendship, the love, the betrayal or the adventure. This is the debut novel of the author, Jane Ainslie, and we can certainly look forward to many more promising works from her!

About the Author: Jane Ainslie was born in the windiest city on the planet, Wellington, New Zealand. She first visited India in her twenties to study meditation. She returned three times more to advance her studies. She currently lives in Adelaide with her husband and four unruly pet ferrets.

PS- Not only is she a good writer and friend , but a wonderful person as well!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Metamorphosis... Changes of life...

We humans are definitely a strange lot. Right from the time we are toddlers, we are encouraged to grow and learn new things. Once you learn to crawl, walking becomes the next step. From then, you learn to run around creating havoc all around. Soon, it is time for your first day of school. Before you know it, you are a part of a group. You make friends, you learn to laugh and cry. Soon it is time to move on to the higher grades where you get tougher competition.

You have hit your teens. You hav been waiting to get here!!! Something in you urges you to be a part of the so called 'cool gang'. Somehow or the other you feel like you are where you finally belong. Then the time comes for you to say bye bye to school life. Its College time!!! The day you get to shed your school uniforms and go to college. Which was what you wanted way back in school. Now that you are in college, you find out that bunking classes and hanging out with friends is so much more fun !!! You may fall in love, have your heart broken (though not necessarily in that order!!). Some of us may even find our soulmates by that time.

The day has come to leave college and enter into a corporate world. Where you have to survive a cut throat competition in order to survive. Soon you are running a rat race. In the meanwhile, you get married, have kids. By the time you are comfortably settled, you would be well past your middle age!!! Soon the day which you have been waiting for finally arrives - "Retirement".

Its time to get your children settled, marry them off. You are now in what is known as old age. Yeah, you are a grandparent now with nothing much to do. You could be victim of some or many old age problems and diseases. Ur passion for life slowly dies.

In the end, we find ourselves wistfully thinking if only we could turn back the hands of time. If only we were back in our childhoods, where the biggest worry we probably  had was the next day's homework!!!

Taking a BREAK- A luxury or a necessity?

The luxury of having nothing to do but read and write all day long. Throw in a couple of chocolate bars, a tub of rich chocolate flavoured ice cream, I think I would call it my personal heaven. It is a luxury. The luxury of doing what you want in your own time.

Scurrying around to the calls of the world, not to mention your job, it is a luxury that most of us would die for. Well, your idea of luxury may not be the same. It may be going shopping, watching a little TV or watching that favourite movie you have already seen, like a thousand times. Or it may be taking your dog out for a walk in the park, simply sitting on the beach watching the sunset.

We often forget to grab even a tiny piece of luxury, or a step outside of our routine lives. Everything goes as planned, from the time we wake up at the sound of our mobile phone alarm ringtone to the time we spend talkin to our loved ones.

The stress sometimes gets too much to bear that it might result in some of us having a nervous breakdown or feeling disappointed with ourselves. Couldn't that be avoided? It may seem like a luxury, having a little time to do what we enjoy doing the most, but in fact, could be an actual necessity, when it comes down to it.

From time to time, we feel the urge to wind down, slow things down a bit. Mostly and most of us, ignore that urge and tend to carry on like nothing is wrong. What we don't know is the damage that we are doing to ourselves and our dear ones in the long run. So, take a little time off right now and enjoy the things that's happening around you. You may be very surprised with the results!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review - Ancient Promises by Jaishree Misra

My marriage ended today. Without the lighting of oil lamps and beating of temple drums, but in a cramped divorce court, in the manner of these things. So begins Jaishree Misra's debut novel Ancient Promises. A book that kept me thoroughly engaged from the beginning to the end, deeply engrossing and moving at times. It is the story of a woman's painful journey of self-discovery, marriage, divorce and motherhood. It talks about the pain that one has to face while losing one's true love.

Janaki or Janu, is like any other typical teenager, whose native is Kerala, but is brought up in Delhi. She falls in love with Arjun, a Delhi boy from the Boys' school. But their love is short lived as Arjun travels to England to be with his mother and continue his education there. Meanwhile, Janu is married off at an early age to the 'Maarars', a highly respected family in Kerala. The book reveals Janu's sufferings in a loveless arranged marriage and the misery she has to endure by her husband's family. The birth of her daughter, Riya, does little to end the loneliness as she had hoped. And when she meets Arjun expectedly after all these years, can she find the true love that she had thought lost?

Eventually, she flees to England to escape the loveless union. But does happiness really come when you go searching for it? Or is it something that we have to search within ourselves? Janu's journey, brings the answers to all these questions.  Above all, we see the various forms of love in a woman - the school crush that soon blossoms into love, the love that she hopes would be reciprocated by her husband and his family, the love of a mother to her daughter, which the author believes is by a stroke of fate or Karma or Ancient Promises, as the novel is aptly titled.

Go for this one if you are looking for a meaningful journey through a woman's life and the feelings she associates with each stage. It also beautifully portraits the mother daughter relationship and the vulnerability of a mother towards her daughter. It is a well written book and I found it deeply moving. The inclusion of some Malayalam words may render it a bit difficult to follow for the Non-Malayalam speakers though. But the inclusion of these words will be much appreciated by those speaking the language as it enhances the reading appeal.

The work is semi-autobiographical and this would increase the curiosity of the readers as to distinguish which is fact and which is fiction. Definitely a must read as it is sure to bring about a nostalgic feeling in all our hearts.

Book Review- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The lead character as the title indicates, is a woman of strong character - Lisabeth Salander. She is a security analyst by profession who is given the assignment of assisting Mikael Blomkvist. Mikael Blomkvist is the co-publisher of the magazine Millennium. He is accused of committing libel, though innocent. He decides to take time out of his postion from the magazine, during which he is contacted by Henrik Vanger, the industrialist and power magnet behind the Vanger Corporation. Henrik Vanger, now 83, is mystified by the disappearence of a girl in his family 40 years back. He believes that she was murdered by one of his own family members. Blomkvist is appointed to solve the mystery behind her disappearence. Though not a professional investigator, he accepts the assignment with great skepticism. A journalist by profession, Blomkvist investigates into the case along wid Salander and makes shocking revelations about the day Harrriet Vanger went missing. Lisabeth Salander is appointed to assist Blomkvist further along the investigation.

As the book progresses, we are pulled deeper and deeper into a dark secret that threatens the very existence of the Vanger Corporation itself. The hacking of Lisabeth Salander into the most complicated of computer networks would be admired by the readers. The entire plot can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle with pieces scattered here and there that falls together to form the bigger picture. The climax would leave the readers guessing and astounded when the truth is finally revealed. Lisabeth Salander comes across as one of the strongest female characters that we may have across in fictional history. Though portayed as a hostile character in the beginning, she quickly earns a warm place in the hearts of readers.

One of the only drawbacks I felt while reading this book was keeping up with the members of the vast Vanger family. A large family with a lot of Vangers dead or living across the country is a bit difficult to keep track of, but even that is simplified through graphic representations of a family tree.

A definite must read if you are one who loves suspense and crime thrillers. It would keep you engrossed right from the beginning to the very end. The fact that the author, Stieg Larsson, did not live upto see the success that his work had become strikes a chord throughout our minds.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...