Thursday, December 26, 2013

#48 : The Tragedy of Woman By Ray Dacolias : A Review




BOOK TITLE: The Tragedy of Woman

ISBN: 0989564622

AUTHOR: Ray Dacolias

GENRE: Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 348

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: We contacted the writer to feature his book in our ongoing campaign #Womanifesto.  The writer accepted immediately and sent us the book.

SUMMARY: Oscine is born with a hereditary illness that compels her parents to ignore and despise her; consequently, she grows up waiting for that one special person who will rescue her from loneliness and allow her to truly experience the world. She communes with Nature in ways that mystify those around her and is revered in her neighborhood and at school for her good deeds.

Oscine eventually leaves home, becomes a nurse, marries, and has three children; yet it is a marriage without love, and her husband treats her as if she is a bondservant. And then she meets Abraham, a kind, caring doctor, and the two fall in love, but she vows never to leave her husband because she believes in the sanctity of marriage. Abraham consults with Eli, his best friend, a rich, handsome and charming rogue with the ladies, who tells him how to win over Oscine. But Abraham is unable to follow this advice. Meanwhile, the marriage between Heath and Oscine continues to disintegrate, and he begins to treat her worse than ever. Oscine still loves Abraham but now wants to stay in the marriage only for her children.

Will Oscine leave a man who cares more for his precious cars than his own wife? Will Abraham take charge and rescue Oscine from a man who does not care about her physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual well-being the way he does? And what will happen to Eli as he observes this great love between Abraham and Oscine? Will he change his attitude that women are merely conquests, to be cast off once they are conquered, and give them the honor and respect they are due?

REVIEW:

The title aptly summarises the story – The Tragedy of a Woman – The tragedy of our fragile and angle like protagonist – Oscine.

I couldn’t help but cry at parts of the book especially when Oscine was mistreated. The reason being really simple – The writer has portrayed our protagonist as this perfect selfless woman who is dedicated to her husband and her kids in spite of her terrible health condition.

One other thing the writer seems to have got right is the typical male dominant mentality and the patriarchal society which has branded women as nothing short of child bearers, housekeepers and cooks.

But the real beauty of the book lies in the contrasting character sketch of the other male in the book – Abraham, who believes that women are equal to men and should be treated so.

Then there is this other contradicting “Female” character of that of Vivian – who is the complete opposite of Oscine and the other major reason for all the pain inflicted upon her.

I just didn’t want to put the book down for two reasons – The riveting narrative and the story line with plenty of twists. Will Oscine survive her childhood? Will she find a man who won’t bother her illness? Will she fall for Abraham? Will Eli get his revenge?

The second part of the book is complete part of the first. It’s the story of Abraham’s friend Eli. That part didn’t make much sense to me initially. In fact I wondered why the writer was dragging the story so much. Then occurred a twist connecting Eli’s story with that of Abraham’s. 

The writer has done a brilliant job of keeping that suspense element alive and kicking. The first part of the book is that old school English sort of narration while the second was simple yet conveyed all emotions perfectly.

Two things I loved about the book – The Tragedy and other emotions, the suspense.

I have no qualms or complaints like I normally do!

Overall, a riveting and heart wrenching read which depicts the sad and sorry state of women.

VERDICT: A must read by both men and women! Please go ahead pick it up & read it.

RATING: 4.5 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The writer has written 4 books and that’s all we seemed to find about him!

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle & Paperback

PRICE: Rs.62 (For Kindle)

BOOK LINKS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/363368



Note : This review was first posted in 
Readers' Muse

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

#47 : Life After Hell : Surviving Sexual Abuse by Gladys Quintal : A Review



BOOK TITLE: Life After Hell : Surviving Sexual Abuse

ISBN: 1492325996

AUTHOR: Gladys Quintal

GENRE: Non-Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 136

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE:Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: We stumbled upon the book in goodreads and wrote to the author to feature her book as a part of #Womanifesto campaign. She sent us a review copy.

SUMMARY : After being separated from my mother twice in my 10 short years of life, I was more than a little excited at the prospect of being reunited with her again. Unfortunately, my elation was to be short-lived when the visits to my bedroom started. Threatening to send me away again or turn the loaded gun he kept in my wardrobe on us all, he kept my silence. It was to be another six years until I escaped the abuse of my mother’s husband and another 30 years before I was able to bring him to justice. Ironically, the one person that should have protected me and helped me fight to stop him, my mother, is still with him to this day

REVIEW:

When I finished reading the book I was simply dumbfounded. I had this false impression that the west treats its women way better than Asia. The book was an eye-opener. Be it New Zealand or India or USA, perverts will be perverts. The only change is the way which justice was served.

 The writer practically lost her childhood to an abusive step-father. Her mom took the icing of the cake. Calling her a mom is a disgrace to motherhood. It is the ultimate blow to any women. I don’t have words to praise the writer for surviving that ultimate blow. Justice might give her a closure of things but can that lost innocence of childhood be brought back? I don’t think so.

The book is simply a blow by blow account of the abuse that the writer faced. To remark that the writer was bold enough to pen it down as a book is the understatement of the century. How often do we see abuse survivors come out with tales of torture? Only the really women who don’t care about the thoroughly judgemental world even attempt to talk about it.

In a literary point of view, the writing was simple. The writer emoted in a unique way. She didn’t really explicitly mention her feelings but when you read the book, you would perfectly understand her emotions of being violated.

More than how the book was written, what was written really matters. We have seen lots of articles written in news papers and blogs about such rape and abuse incidents. Those articles are a projection of events by a person who hasn’t witnessed them in first person. But when we read them it sends a shiver up our spine. Then imagine reading a riveting firsthand account of such events. It is rather disturbing in a way.

Strangely, Sympathy was the only emotion I didn’t feel while reading the book. I wasn’t sympathetic towards the writer.  Why should we? She is a bold person who has survived hell. You don’t sympathize with such people; you bow down to them and look up to them for inspiration.

The writer and her book are inspiring. Her way of getting over things (She is WRITING a book on avenging vampires. She has moved on found a husband and has children. 
I have no qualms at all with this book (like I normally do even with a 5 star rated book!)

VERDICT: We @ Readers’ Muse look upon the writer Ms.Quintal, salute her for boldness and whole heartedly recommend her book.

RATING: 5 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A survivor of sexual abuse, Ms.Quitnal has recently written the true account of her childhood, titled: Life After Hell: Surviving Sexual Abuse. She has tried to convey what happened to her as well as her journey to finally getting justice..
A lot of her real life experiences have gone into her fictional works - especially her first book : The Man of My Dreams, where she created a vigilante vampire that kills rapists and child molesters..... 
She loved Vampires and the paranormal ever since she can remember and always envisaged  writing a book or two on the subject! She has written 3 books in The Dream Series so far: The Man of my Dreams, Be Careful What You Wish For and The Chosen One. She is currently writing the 4th book in the series: Succubus: An Erotic Companion. All Paranormal Romance novels with Vampires (of course) as well as a bit of blood and gore thrown in and the 4th one is slightly on the erotic side! 
She also recently published a short story (Why Won't Someone Help Me?) about her health issues and the trouble with getting diagnosed or treated for invisible illnesses.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Digital

PRICE: Rs.184 (Kindle)


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Friday, December 13, 2013

#46 : I Want Back My SPARKLE! : Breaking the global chains of gender slavery by Shahla Khan : A Review

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BOOK TITLE: I Want back my SPARKLE! :  Breaking the global chains of gender slavery

ISBN: 1482052040 

AUTHOR: Shahla Khan

GENRE: Non-Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 226 pages

FORMAT:Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Stand alone


HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: We reached out the writer as a part of the #Womanifesto campaign – She sent her book for review

GOODREADS SUMMARY:  A whopping 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales every year, according to the Office of National Statistics, ONS, 2013. The numbers in South Asian countries, India being on top are outrageously alarming. Are we in a position to just sit and wonder why and do nothing about it? According to Shahla Khan, the author of I Want Back My SPARKLE, the answer is NO, we need to take control and it is a deficiency in our passion to end sexual violence which is why the statistics are ever increasing. For several years, across the globe, women and crimes against women were the last items on the list for economists and policy makers to be fixed. In the last 20 years, the scenario has changed drastically with regards to the research and implementation of Laws. For example, the recognition of rape in marriage as a crime in the UK, in 1985. Despite, these rational Laws and support centers, rape, domestic violence and stalking are still blooming. “It is all about knowledge. In western countries, the main factor responsible for these crimes is manipulation, while in South Asian communities, culture is the culprit”, says Shahla. In her book, she has transformed complex research related information from Law, Forensic science, Psychology and Gender Studies into simple, yet useful information. The book basically opens up the horizon of knowledge for men and women to understand the strategy of manipulation and the lame excuse of culture, propelling these crimes. Shahla reports that another major cause of these crimes blooming is the myths around them. Most people believe in the myths, rather than the facts around these crimes. Women today, even though educated, are confused in this fantasy world of their prince charming dream and their willingness to stoop down to every level to make that fantasy true. This shuts their logic button to spot manipulation from strange and also known men, who play them just for fun. On the other hand in South Asian communities, society puts extreme premium on women who sacrifice their lives to run a home and the ultimate destination of every “good” woman according to the cultural and religious customs is the kitchen sink or the laundry room at most. Shahlas book comes from her excellent cultural insights from her life in Saudi Arabia, India, Switzerland and the UK. In, I Want Back My SPARKLE, the readers will learn how to: 1. Determine if they or someone they know is a victim. 2. End victimization and step out of an abusive relationship. 3. Avoid false claims of sexual harassment from men or women. 4. Create a wave of change in their home, community, at workplace and in the global scenario. 5. Be prepared to handle themselves in crisis. 6. Claim back their Status of respect Power of speech Access to freedom Right to happiness Knowledge and education Love not lust Existence as an equal!

REVIEW:

When I spotted this book in the goodreads giveaway I right away wrote to the writer asking more details about the book etc. After all, not every day you come across such a book written exclusively to motivate women and encourage them to be bold.
The writer has dealt upfront with almost all forms of crime against women – Domestic Violence, Rape, Child abuse etc. She has done her research well.

The book begins with snippets of statics and cases of violence against women. Each issue is tackled separately in a manner that would make the reader realize they actually knew all that yet choose to turn a blind eye. The writer has used the conversational style to tackle common myths associated to each and every issue. Myths, prejudices, narrow thinking – Every single negative or baseless thought against women has been dealt in way that would make you nod away. This ensures that the readers aren’t bored by the facts and its interpretations. One thing I loved was the flow of ideas. The writing was cohesive, clear and concise. Statistics normally tend to bore people but when written in a certain manner it makes people realize their ignorance.

Crime against women is a widely talked about issue. But sadly it just remains in that “talked about” state. The real change hasn’t happened yet. The writer has put has wisely used her strengths to try bring that change. She has simply pointed out things that are always ignored.

The book doesn’t really tell you anything new. It just refreshes what we have conveniently chosen to forget.

SPARKLE- the main focus of the book (I am not expanding that acronym! It’s spoiler not to be let out). The expansion pretty much summarises what a women really needs.

FOR MEN: The book elaborates what it feels like to be abused and gives you umpteen reasons to let women live in peace. Please give it a read.

FOR WOMEN: The book motivates you and encourages you to be bold, save yourself from being abused. If you were abused in some form, it isn’t the end of the world for you.

My only complaint, writer has tried to adapt a global perspective to suit Asian culture and I am not sure how successful it would be. For changing the attitude and mindset of an entire continent can’t be achieved in 228 pages. It’s a herculean task. Also the book is overpriced!

Overall, a great effort by the writer.

VERDICT: The book is worth being used as a textbook in schools to educate female children protect themselves.

RATING: 5 on 5 ( MAINLY FOR THE EFFORT!)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shahla is a young author currently living in the UK. She was born and brought up in Saudi Arabia in a loving Indian family. Soon she moved to India, where she did her Bachelors in Commerce. Being a big fan of Yash Chopra films, her dream destination to enjoy and explore life has always been Switzerland, hence her MBA college decision! One year studying for a Masters degree in the lap of White Chocolate Alps was magical for her. 

She wrote her first poem when she was 8 and since then she never stopped writing. She has written school plays, Dramas, marketing articles for student societies, speeches, magazine articles, newspaper articles and won several prestigious awards in debate competitions. 
She enjoys shopping and reading chic lit for fun. Her idea of a perfect holiday is with a bag full of books at a luxury resort by the beach, all by herself, if she is away from home.

Having travelled across Saudi Arabia, India, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, Scotland, UK and the UAE, she cherishs the experience she got. Understanding different cultures and exploring their traditions is a treasure not many people happen to own. Her books will share this treasure with people around the world in the wittiest and most interesting way possible. She says that her success is when you read her books last page and smile all by yourself

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Hardbound, Paperback, Digital

PRICE: Rs.1152 (Paperback)

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#45 : The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri : A Review

 
BOOK TITLE: The Homing Pigeons

ISBN: 9380349912

AUTHOR: Sid Bahri

GENRE: Fiction - Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 328

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Nimmi Vashi @ The Readers' Cosmos sent us this book as a part of her review program. We thank her for the same.


SUMMARY:: In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar, little does he know that his life will change forever…..
When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom that she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it…..
They say Homing Pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines

REVIEW:
Love,lust,prejudice, male prostitution, Self-examination, contemplation and fickle minded confused people. That just about sums up the the story line.

The book is aptly titled “the homing pigeons”, for the homing pigeons always returns home to its mate, no matter how “far” it travels. That's exactly what happens with our protagonists. The above line can't possibly qualify as a spoiler can it? Putting two and two together, one can really predict the climax. That's how the book is written. A love story where the boy loves the girl and girl loves the boy, they don't tell each other, go on with lives,   meet midway and rekindle love, only to break up and drift apart? And it's titled “the homing pigeons”. It’s obvious isn't it?

Then where is the usual twist element? What is a love story sans a good twist! Well! There is plenty of it in this book. In fact, too many twists for my taste. You have decided that your lovers are going to be united, you have titled the book so, what is the point in putting a twist in every other chapter?

I guess the writer saw this question coming. His tag line – Not all love stories are perfect, but then neither are people – answers my question. Our protagonists’, like every other people on planet earth are imperfect. They have their own insecurities along with a bloated ego causing them to take all possible wrong decisions. Reality- bites!
Though one thing I found a bit far-fetched was Adiyta being “forced” to take up prostitution after losing his high paying job. In this patriarchal society, that idea seems more than far-fetched, it's virtually impossible.

The story is rather complex. The narrative forces the reader to concentrate and keeps them hooked. Reason: It's a twin narrative with a perpetual time travel. If you stop paying attention you might end up feeling disoriented and confused.

The book sort of left me feeling wistful thought the writer signs off in a positive note. For a debutant, Sid Bahri has done a great job. The writing was simple and crisp. He has beautifully dealt with usual prejudices of the conservative Indian society.

Love stories aren't exactly my cup of tea, especially if they are this mushy - “ Oh!I am in madly love ” sort. Thank god the writer spared me of that agony! Thanks Sid!

VERDICT: Give it a read. But a word of caution – Don't go for it if you are already depressed.

RATING: 3.8 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sid has been a necktie-clad executive in the corporate world. He has also been a necktie- clad waiter. He has written for charity and writes for writing for passion.  

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback

PRICE: Rs.150


NOTE: This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program". To get free books write to  thereaderscosmos@gmail.com
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#44 : Murder At Cold Creek College by Christa Nardi : A Review

Murder At Cold Creek College (Cold Creek #1)
BOOK TITLE: Murder At Cold Creek College
ISBN: 1492323829
AUTHOR: Christa Nardi
GENRE: Fiction – Crime & Mystery
NUMBER OF PAGES: 340
FORMAT: Digital (PDF)
SERIES / STANDALONE: Cold Creek #1
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The writer mailed us a copy for review. We thank her for it!
REVIEW:
When the writer contacted us for the review, we sort of jumped into it right away. Murder of a Womanizer, Psychologist in the play. Bring it on! Given my dear co-blogger's pile of “To-Read” books is overflowing, I dived to reading it.
Psychology professor Dr.Adam Millberg is found murdered in Cold Creek college's rec center. The usual suspects : Girlfriend (Plenty there), Ex-Wives ( again plenty : 4), colleagues and the students. The story follows the investigation of the murder narrated by Adam's Colleague Dr.Sherdian. Enter State police office Brett McMann who has been assigned to investigate. He takes Sherdian's help to crack the case and love blossoms between them (Well...okay! The case gets cracked).
There are multiple suspects ranging from Sherdian's colleagues Kim, Ali to various other staff and students in the college. Thanks to a fact that Adam was playboy and traps every other women with his charm. Our protagonist seems to be one amongst the handful women who didn't fall for his antics and kept him at arm's length. Thus she is chosen to “help” the cop out. Turns out Adam slept with a lot of women, took photos/videos of them in the act and blackmailed them. Not only did he simply blackmail, he kept ledgers of the blackmail.
Predictably, that turns out to be the motive for his murder. That's the ironical part of the book. Normally in a crime novel, the motive is elaborated then the murderer is found. But in this book, the murderer is “found” and the motive is later elaborated before the murderer is officially arrested.
The writer has done a rather good job of not revealing the suspects till almost mid way of the book. She kept me guessing till the very end. Initially the book seemed rather mysterious. It sort of lacked that suspense element in the start. But as the story line progressed so did the suspense element. The plot sort of peaked only when Sherdian's car gets vandalized. That is actually when the reader begins to really suspect whom the murderer might be.
There are strong influences of Nancy drew in Christa's writing. Though the story line is unique, for a seasoned Nancy Drew reader the similarities are hard to escape.
What I loved about the book: The writer clings on to that mystery and suspense element very well. The writing was clean sans that usual twisting redirection one finds in a mystery book
What could have been better: Way too many suspects and characters. Every other woman seem to have had an affair with Adam,
VERDICT: Definitely worth a read though it has the usual recepie for a crime novel
RATING: 3.8 on 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: From childhood, as a fan of Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, Perry Mason, and the Hardy Boys, it was inevitable that Christa Nardi would continue her love of books and particularly mysteries. With a career in technical/nonfiction writing (under real name), it is not surprising that her love of mystery transformed into not only reading but writing mysteries. Christa combines her love for reading and writing on her blog. 
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital
PRICE: Rs. 187 (Kindle)


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Monday, November 25, 2013

#43 : Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Can you keep a secret?
ISBN: 0440241901
AUTHOR: Sophie Kinsella a.k.a  Madeleine Wickham
GENRE:Fiction- Chic Lit
NUMBER OF PAGES: 368
FORMAT: Digital (E-Pub)
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Stumbled upon it while looking for a light chic lit to read.
REVIEW:
Chic lit. That one genre I turn to when I am going through a rough patch. That one genre people don't take seriously. That one genre which can make a woman in turmoil feel better!
This book was no different. The protagonist Emma cariggan like any other normal women has her share of secrets. On her way back from a conference Emma's flight is jilted by turbulence  sending her into  panic mode making her blabber all her secrets to a complete good looking stranger sitting next to her.
She forgets this whole episode until that “good-looking” stranger turns out to be her company's elusive CEO, Jack Harper who is visiting her office. What follows is a complete comedy.
Emma finally breaks up with her long time “perfect” boyfriend Connor and falls in love with Jack Harper who like most of the men in chic-lit stories, break her heart only to come begging later.
It's a feel good kind of story that ends in this happily ever after note. Typical Kinsella style.
One big drawback with Kinsella's writing – It's just too predictable. Especially if you have read the Shopaholic series. Its plain monotonous. Reality bites. It can’t end the same all the time can it?
Yet, no matter how predictable the book is, the reader is always left feeling good and happy. That’s exactly why Kinsella is famous and her books are widely read in this genre
VERDICT: Read it when you are down in dumps. Will do you good.
RATING: 3/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Madeleine Wickham (born 12 December 1969) is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming ("The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic") to the latest book on being married and having a child ("Shopaholic & Baby"). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Hardcover, Digital
PRICE: Rs.294.60 (Kindle)
BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0031RS7X6/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb


Note : This review was first posted in 
Readers' Muse


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