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!
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