Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#105 : Daughter By Court Order by Ratna Vira : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Daughter By Court Order
ISBN: 8172345216
AUTHOR: Ratna Vira
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review copy from Fingerprint! Publishers. Thank you guys!

SUMMARY :A seemingly innocent remark over an innocuous cup of tea. Aranya discovers that her family has been fighting a decade-long legal battle over her grandfather’s expansive estate, all the while not only keeping her in the dark, but also keeping her very existence out of the court’s knowledge!
A cesspool of emotions, half-truths, betrayals, and the unspooling of long buried dirty family secrets threaten to overpower Aranya and disrupt what modicum of peace and balance she has in her life as a single mother of two children. At the centre of this storm is the one woman who, ever since the day Aranya was born, has had nothing but curses and abuses for her; who has deliberately kept her name out of the court; who has wished her dead for every day of her life; who refuses to now remember her birth. The woman who is her mother. Her own mother.

This is the story of a woman fighting against power, money, deceit, and treachery for her right to be recognised as a daughter. A daughter by court order . . .


A summary that promises the tale of an unwanted daughter and tackling the social stigma of gender inequality is sure to catch the eyes for avid readers. Add the writers’ background (her parents are renowned journalists) to the summary, the book is sure to create a wave. Throw in some brilliant promotional plans by the publishers and la! We have a best seller. That’s this book is a nutshell.

Our protagonist, Aranya is the quintessential unwanted female child loathed by her own mother, mistreated by her brother and let down by her father. Thanks to unconditional love from her grandparents and aunts, she manages to grow into a confident adult who can stand up for herself in-spite of her own mother plotting against her. She goes onto to win a court battle against her mother who categorically denies that she has a daughter (Thus the title).

Characterisation: Majority of the characters barring a few were well penned. The story line aided the characterisation, for, the subject requires not just protagonists, but the supporting characters as well to pack a punch.  The only character that required a lot more depth was that of Aranya’s husband. His characterisation was rather shallow and didn’t quite do justice to the whole story line. Aranya’s kids desrve a special mention. It is easy to show multitudes in an adult’s character. Showing variance and making a child character emote is not an easy task. The writer sure aced it!

Narration & Story line: The theme of gender inequality requires a compulsive narration. Especially when the protagonist’s own mum is portrayed as a misogynist who spews venom on her own daughter, the writer is forced to an arduous position to cook up something truly compulsive. This writer managed to put forth a compelling story. The narration did have some fair share of slips but that could be overlooked, for, the crux of the story was narrated well enough.

There are two ways of emoting: Active (Shouting out, using brash words) and passive (Silent tears, sad smile!). The writer has portrayed both ways with such perfection that even a novice reader can distinguish between all sorts of emotions. In such stories laden with sadness, writers by enlarge tend to get sadness, pain and anger all confused. This writer managed to create distinction between the three most over abused emotion.
Language: Needless to say that the off spring of a journalist and a highly educated economist can’t possibly mess up with language. The writer’s knowledge of the language aided in delivering all the right emotions that a given situation requires. It is pleasantly and mildly shocking that the writer is a rookie.

To sum it up, in a country that worships mothers, a tale of neglect and hatred with a compelling narration is bound to become a best-seller.

VERDICT: Must read. The plight of a daughter can’t be portrayed better than this

RATING: 4.5 on 5

Ratna Vira holds a masters degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, as well as a masters in English Literature from St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. She also holds an MBA.

She is the daughter of senior journalist, Nalini Singh, and SPN Singh.

Ratna juggles her corporate career with her writing and love of art. She lives in Gurgaon with her daughter and son, where she is at work on her second novel.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback & Digital

PRICE: Rs.180.50 (Digital)


Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse

Monday, January 19, 2015

#104 : The Other Side Of The Table by Dr.Madhumita Mukherjee : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Other Side Of The Table
ISBN: 9788172344474
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review copy from Fingerprint! Publishers in exchange for a honest review. Thank you guys!

SUMMARY : Circa 1990.
A world drawn and woven with words. 
A bond punctuated by absence and distance...
Two continents. Two cities. Two people.
And letters. Hundreds of them.
Over years. Across oceans. Between hearts.
Between Abhi, who is training to be a neurosurgeon in London, and Uma, who is just stepping into the world of medicine in Kolkata. 
As they ink their emotions onto paper, their lives get chronicled in this subtly nuanced conversation through letters ... letters about dreams, desires, heartbreaks, and longings... about a proverbial good life falling apart, about a failed marriage, a visceral loss, and about a dream that threatens social expectations...
Letters that talk. And don't. Letters about this and that. Letters about everything...
Letters with a story you would never expect
Yet another book that is written as a collation of letters! Is writing a story in the form of letters the latest fad?! Some writers weave exceptionally cohesive stories in spite of writing in a format that by default renders the story incoherent and there are the others, who are fascinated by the concept of “letter narration” and fail miserably at it.  Uma and Abhi inadvertently end up being each other’s punching bag.
This book/writer belongs to the neither category. Uma and Abhi exchange a series of letters until Uma finally lands in Abhi’s doorstep. The letters are about mundane things to their lives’ most important events.
The book opened with a great momentum, the letters back and forth seemed utterly fascinating. Unfortunately, there came a point when the narration got utterly boring and the story line began to slack. The pace had dropped so low that a novice reader would probably chuck the book midway. On the other hand, a seasoned reader would be patient enough to wait for the momentum to pick up.  This is one such book that requires its readers to wait patiently for the pace to pick up.
The other major disadvantage of such a book would obviously be the story line itself - Unless the protagonists exchange chronicles of murder or some topic which could be classified as borderline explosive, narrating mundane emotions would certainly backfire. That is precisely what happened with this book. The writer promised an array of intense emotions in her summery, but ended up writing a bland story which lacked finesse to produce that emotional bang. Normally a story line containing a miscarriage, a brain tumour and a failed marriage (not in that particular order) would evoke a sea of emotions even from a seasoned reader who has probably shed more tears over characters than in real life people. This book managed to just skim through all those heavy emotions instead of creating a wave.
The writing isn’t stellar either. The letters at time became a bit incoherent but the writer somehow managed to veer them back to track post an incoherent thread. This steering back tends to create a zigzag effect on the readers making them unsure of how to rate the book.
The characterisation is rather commendable. The writer has managed to show various shades of the protagonists in-spite of all those discoloured emotions she ended up with. The writer sure needs to be lauded for her effort to portray gender inequality prevalent amongst doctors. In fact, it was rather surprising to read that even such a critical profession suffers from the common evil of gender inequality. Hats off to the writer for bringing to light the stigma attached to a female surgeon. It is rather apparent that the writer might have had such an experience first-hand given that she is doctor herself.
In a nutshell, this book requires the patience of a season reader just for the discrimination thread of the story.
VERDICT: Not for people with a patience range of a teaspoon.
RATING: 3 on 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Madhumita Mukherjee grew up in Delhi and did her medical education from Calcutta National Medical College. She has been living and working in England since 2001 as a Paediatrician. She has a special affinity for epistolary novels as well as novels written as journals and diaries like 'Diary of a Provincial Lady' by E.M. Delafield, and 'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith. Besides these, she takes special interest in novels with medical themes such as 'A Country Doctor's Notebook' by Mikhail Bulgakov. Her message to the readers as a doctor is to never take health for granted.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Digital
PRICE: Rs.160 (Paperback)


Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse

Friday, January 16, 2015

#103 : Hidden Passion by Summerita Rhayne : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Hidden Passion
AUTHOR: Summerita Rhayne
GENRE: Fiction - Romance
FORMAT: Digital
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK:  I got the opportunity to read this book as a beta reader! Thanks Summerita for choosing me to beta read and also for taking my suggestions with a good spirit!
SUMMARY : Rukmani, the youngest of her family, has always had her way and she thinks she would too when the question of her marriage arises. But when she expresses her wishes, her world comes crumbling down because aristocratic affairs seem to matter more than her heart. Who can she run to but the strongest ruler of the region, Deveshwaraya?  Devesh finds himself torn between duty and desire. He is drawn to her yet being with her jeopardizes everything he has worked for. When even protecting her invites trouble, how can he let his heart become involved? 

Hidden Passion – the story of a princess daring to reach out for her heart’s desire.

I had the opportunity of beta reading this short and sprightly read. Our protagonist Rukmani, the princess falls for the quintessential “oh-so-hot” Devesh, who became the prime from being a humble farmer. When she suggests marriage both her family and Devesh initially balk away for Devesh cannot afford to have a rebellion due to this alliance. His desire and sense of duty clash with each other and though he desperately wants Rukmani, he is hesitant to take the ultimate step initially.
The story is truly what the summary promises – the story of a princess daring (translates to running away from home) to reach out for her heart’s desire.
When analysed based on the flexibility of the extent the writer takes up the suggestions of the beta readers, Summerita scores admirably. The difference between the initial draft and the changed story is remarkable. Certain parts of the story were added, and these gave the story's characters some much needed depth. It is a joy to read the changed version of the book and enjoy those parts that were added as a results of opinions being valued.
Most of the books involving a period theme tend to be borderline pukish-erotic. Thankfully this writer avoided that route. The chemistry between Rukmani and Devesh was crackling and perfect. In fact, it was a bit overpowering and left a lasting impression. So much so that I remember those parts in the best clarity weeks after reading the book.
The story had all the essential elements such as tragedy, romance and action in the right quantity making it a short yet delightful read.
To sum it up, the story line, the narration and emotions were packaged to produce a neat, short and sweet romance novel.
VERDICT: Why not?! Go for it!
RATING: 4 on 5
Summerita Rhayne writes sensual romance with emotional conflict. She took up writing when she was in her late thirties and hasn't looked back since. She first got published in 2013 and has won contests with Harlequin and Harper Collins India. Writing, she finds, is the only way to deal with the numerous story ideas bubbling in her brain which pop up more rapidly than her keyboard can do justice to. Especially when writing time is in short supply while juggling it with a job and the demands of a family. However, her pet belief is that a story and its characters have a life of their own and will find a way to make the writer pen them down. What else can one do when cerebrally confronted with the sizzling interaction of two Alpha characters? 

She prefers to call her books sweet and sensual to denote the slowly deepening relationship between the characters.

She loves winding down with music, movies and social networking.
PRICE: Rs. 63


Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse


Thursday, January 1, 2015

#102 : Letters From An Indian Summer By Siddharth Dasgupta : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Letters From an Indian Summer

ISBN: 9788172345495

GENRE: Fiction


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY:Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Fingerprint! Publishers sent us a copy in exchange for a honest review. Thanks guys!

SUMMARY: A love story between an Indian photographer and a French artist, Letters from an Indian Summer is suffused with a strong sense of serendipity and spiritually liberal doses of the things Arjun Bedi and Genevieve Casta hold dear in this world. The past, though, lurks constantly around every chosen corner. Will the secrets they harbor end up destroying them, or will the unspoken belief in their entwined cosmic paths be much too strong a force . . . ?


French artist, Indian summer and doses of spirituality - The perfect recipe for a picture postcard love story. The book was exactly that. A Picture postcard love story which delivered a soul stirring message to me.

Our protagonists Arjun and Genevieve are two nomadic souls who are in love with each other but don’t really realize that. But when they do, their emotional baggage from the past disrupts their harmony of sorts.
Romance novels these have become like Instant Coffee. They give you a good shot of energy but you really don’t have a recollection of having it. They don’t linger, they don’t affect you the way the good old traditionally brewed coffee does. Not being racist or stereotyping, Indian book market these days are inundated with such books that don’t leave an impression really. Thanks to trend that was started by a particular writer who “apparently” brought about “a much refreshing change” to the writing industry as many people claim.  This “refreshing change” is killing off writers like Siddharth Dasgupta ( the writer of this book). Is writing  masala stuff the sure shot recipe to success? What of such beautiful books that ooze of love and romance as it should.

This book is for a pure literature lover. It has a beautiful story narrated in an exemplar and exquisite manner. Yet it wouldn’t possibly sell like other “hot” romantic books. I would know for a fact that the book wouldn’t be “Welcomed” by the “masses”    (read people who read books based on the buzz that the book creates).

English isn’t our country’s mother tongue. It’s a borrowed language that was lent to us to help us communicate with the rest of the world. Aren’t we all taught to take good care of borrowed stuff? Then why does a book written in a rotten language sell like hot cake?

I can vouch for the language used in this book. The writer has maintained the original charisma of our borrowed language.  The plot isn’t racy, the narration does slack at times, but at least the writer hasn’t abused the language – a very common phenomenon with Indian romance novels. (I am not being biased. There are still some good writers around who can cook up a decent novel)

It is apparent that the writer is a well read and a well-travelled person for his reading and travels are reflected in his story. The writer has made even the crowded city of Delhi look so beautiful with an ethereal writing.  Characterization is another area that the writer definitely needs to be lauded for. Portraying two nomadic characters can look easy on the outset, but bringing that minuscule difference in shades of characterization is herculean task (take is from a “writer in making” trying to write a love story).  The writer is smart for sure.  Making the female protagonist a French person made the romance magical without consuming much effort. After all, the French are romantics at heart (Not stereotyping again! Just admiring.)

The cover and the font of the title are simply beautiful. The beautiful cover, the smell of a freshly minted book and the exquisite love story with rich characters – I feel in love with the book in spite of its slow narration.

VERDICT: Only for literature loves who can truly appreciate the art of writing and the beauty of the language.

RATING: 4.5 on 5


PRICE: Rs.213 (Paperback)


Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse