Monday, July 29, 2013

The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran

Title: The Hope Factory



Author: Lavanya Sankaran



Publisher: Hachette (2013)



Genre:  Fiction


Date:  2013


Price: Rs.330



Pages:368

Snapshot: This is a story where the two main protagonists Kamala, a house maid hopes to have her son get good education and become a successful man and Anand who wishes to expand his factory to an international scale. Will their hopes build into a factory? Will they live the future they want and work towards?

The Story & The Critics Perspective: Lavanya slowly builds the story by a zoom into Anand's current situation where he meticulously prepares for a Japanese collaborator's visit for a huge contract and expansion. The author draws a picture as completely as possible, describing each character in entirety, sketching the minutest detail of their behaviour that makes the reader understand and predict them later on. Kamala on the other hand is a maid at Anand's house, at the mercy of his ill tempered wife Vidya. Anand, his circle and the description of his life and company was something I found very dull. Also this build up of characters and the first part of the story is very slow. On the other hand Kamala with her problems, limitations and ambitions keeps the readers interest alive.

Anand is sure to get this contract and needs a 10-15 acre land, this is where the story describes the process of buying land in India, its complications and politics involved. Kamala's story here dives into her past which started binding me to the book finally. She was widowed at a young age, lived with his brother for a few days, who himself being poor could not bear her burden and deserts her. She the respectful woman, with her only hope her son travels alone to a city (something a village girl would really dread). She begins by working for a few years at a construction site, living in the slum and eventually despite hardships, accidents and poverty makes her way into being a house maid and living in her own a small room house (which she is proud and happy about). Her only dream is to educate her son. 

We also meet a very interesting character here, cool Kavika, a carefree, modern bird, a single mom and we slowly discover an infatuation that Anand could never get over. Anand's acceptance of his feelings for her, him browsing over each of her facebook updates, glaring at each picture of hers and his thoughts wavering about her add a little flavor to the otherwise boring story of land acquisition. 
Kamala's life at work is not as easy as Anand's wife Vidya is a slave to her temper and could do anything in rage. However Anand is impressed by Kamala's son and wishes to educate him. That offer being an answer to Kamala's prayers of years. However around the same time Vidya's necklace is stolen and Kamala's son is being blamed for it. On the other hand Anand is not able to crack the land deal due to the local goons who wants a big share. What will happen to the hopes, the factory and their future? Read the story to know more.

The Review:

Positives: Its a story that touches upon the issues of politics around the land trade, the not so clean goons behind clean political hero's, the needs and rights of the poor. The author beautifully sketches and describes each character initially so that later on the reader understand them without words. I felt transported into the story from the middle and enjoyed it from that part. It is not a book that will make you think what happens next , but makes you ponder upon the problems and issues highlighted through the lives of these characters. The writing, language and editing are perfect.

Negatives:
The story goes a little slow in the beginning. It is mild and doesn't make the impact I wanted it to, while reading it and expected from Lavanya after her success of The Red Carpet. There are unanswered points too. One : what happens to Anand's feelings of Kavika? (this however is half way answered but after all the stories about his constant thoughts of her, a little description would have been amazing. Also what finally happens to Kamala's son...well unless the author plans to answer it in a sequel this is the part a reader pines for throughout.
But I may be biased and it may be my expectations that were too high.

The Verdict: A good read. 4 stars on 5

About the Author

Lavanya Sankaran's
first collection of stories, THE RED CARPET, was critically acclaimed in the UK and the US and a bestseller in India. She attended Bryn Mawr College and has worked in investment banking in New York and consulting in India. THE HOPE FACTORY is her first novel.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Give Away - The Weight Loss Club by Devapriya Roy



 About the Book :
 A warm, witty, gloriously realistic novel about living, loving and losing weight. 

Set in a middle-class housing colony, this is the story of stay-at-home mum Monalisa, who cannot clean the kitchen counter enough times; Meera, who is bullied constantly by her traditional mother-in-law; college-going Abeer, who isnt sure how to impress the glamorous Mandy; academic Aparajita, who has no takers on the marriage mart; philosopher Ananda, whom no one takes seriously; and Treeza, a former school secretary now sunk in gloom. Into their midst arrives Oxford-returned Sandhya: half hippie, half saadhvi, full spiritual guru. Under her aegis is formed The Weight Loss Club, throwing the lives of our heroes and heroines into utter and delightful disarray. 

But while chemistry brews and equations change, one question remains: who is Brahmacharini Sandhya, and why on earth has she moved into Nancy Housing Cooperative?



3 Author Signed copies of this book are up for a grab!!! Hurry

 All you have to do is just follow the simple steps below and thats it! In case of any queries please write it in the comments below this post.  

All the best :) :) :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Read Along of Left From Dhakeshwari by Kunal Sen - Post 1

A very warm welcome to all of you to the Read Along and Discussion session of the book "Left From Dhakeshwari' by Kunal Sen. When I read the first few pages of this book I was sure I had in my hands a masterpiece and the author will surely one day reach the pinnacle of success in literature world wide. 

With the hope of letting more people know about this book, to make sure it reaches the audience it deserves and The Readers Cosmos's aim to propagate quality Indian literature, I approached Sarika & Janhvi (The Readdicts) & Ankita Singhal. They were kind to show interest and invest their precious time for a Read Along of this book. Fahima M. a very active blogger and reader followed our tweets and I am very glad she too joined. 

The author Kunal Sen has been kind to send everyone a copy for the same. Of course I have read this book before, my review is here http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/2012/10/left-from-dhakeshwari-by-kunal-sen.html and he is one of the few authors I interviewed (I am very choosy about that), which is here http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/2013/01/q.html. However, there is nothing more fun than to have a Read Along with the best bloggers and reviewers I know. Thank you all and Kunal for making it possible and here we begin....

This amazing poster by Ankita shows the schedule of the Read Along. 

About the book:

Left from Dhakeshwari is a collection of interconnected short stories set in the Bengali milieu that deal with the themes of memories and homelessness. 


In the story We Were Writers, we meet a Bengali film actress, who after her brother’s suicide, returns to her small hometown and reflects upon the life she left behind; in Bomb Church, Aniruddha tries to piece together his mother’s identity after her mysterious departure, with the only clues available in the existential whodunit being: a soap-box, a brown shoe and the statements of five witnesses; Salt Lake recounts the unusual love story of a disfigured girl; in Alexandra’s Stalker, a man obsesses over a woman for decades. 


With an underlying tone of seductive melancholy, the book brings to life some tragic people and tells the tales of their failings and depths.

 About The Author


Kunal Sen (b. 1984) is an Indian writer in the English language. His first book, Left from Dhakeshwari, a collection of short stories, was published in 2012. His poetry has appeared in the anthology Ah! Poetry.

Kunal Sen’s forty-minute short, Cranberry Sauce, was screened by Entertainment Society of Goa at IFFI (International Film Festival of India) 2009 where it won the national nomination for best short film.


He lives in Goa and is working on his second book.


At the time of writing, Left from Dhakeshwari is in the running for the Economist Crossword Book Award, 2013.
  
 Connect with Him:
                                       Facebook / Twitter /Website/ You Tube/email
 Imp Links

The Hosts:

Myself :I am Nimi Vashi, blogger and founder The Readers Cosmos. If you enjoy our activities, want to be a part of Read Along please drop an email to thereaderscosmos@gmail.com.

Ankita Singhal:  She is a versatile personality. A voracious reader, a good reviewer (do visit her blog http://booklokcoffee.blogspot.in/), a writer too with her short story Lovelets got published recently. The list still doesnt end she is the creater of this eye cathing banner you saw at the beginning and all over facebook]   and twitter. Above all she is a friend you can run to anytime for everything.

Janhvi Jagtap &Sarika Patkovar:  I love to call them The Readaddicts - their blog I am sure you have already bookmarked http://thereaddicts.blogspot.in/. They are voracious readers and some day can create an encyclopaedia of reviews. Above all they are genuine and helpful and my guiding torch towards innovative experiments such as Read Along....
Fahima M:  A voracious reader, a great reviewer and a an active blogger. Check out her blog http://me24x7.blogspot.in. I personally look forward to her reviews. She is pro active and gets interested and enthusiastic about all activities surrounding books. Happy to have her in Read Along Gang.
For Interested Readers:
There was a time, I didn't like reading Indian Authors a lot. I had almost decided that the quality of writing had gone down (with a few exceptions ofcourse). At that very moment I got a few books, one of them was Left from Dhakeshwari, and a few pages in to the book my opinion changed forever. Though I have picked Kunal's brain a lot on this and trends of writing in India, after that also (can't help being myself).
This book is a collection of Nine short stories. Its not a light read and would make you think a lot. Many are open ended and left to the readers imagination. So any of you who is reading it the first time let it sink in, absorb it, think it and move ahead. Some stories are interconnected. All in all its a feast for the reader who loves to reflect, relish, go slow and imagine. Happy Reading!
Bloggers and Readers who want to support us and have loved this book please do put this button on your blog's side bar and leave a comment below. Those who do not have a blog and wish to support us share this image on facebook/twitter and tag Kunal (his contact information above).
 We all learn from our from interactions with fellow readers by gaining different perspectives and discussing important issues.  I am hoping for a fun read and rigorous discussion session with all of you. If you are reading this post please do comment, your presence on this page is highly valued, and your participation all the more. 
Waiting for them...Happy Reading! 






Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taken Already by Yaagneshwaran G

Title: Taken Already
Author: Yaagneshwaran G
Publisher: Notion Press
Genre:  Fiction
Date:  2013
Price: Rs.150
Pages:135
 Snapshot:  It is a story where two guys fall in love with the same girl but they are not aware. Before you conclude its usual stuff, no its clearly not, the surprise element at the end does entertain the reader.

The Story & The Critics Perspective:  Arjun falls in love at  first sight with a colleague Anita. Vinay his best friend since school is involved in online dating with a girl Deepali. Things progress at the same pace in their lives and they are happy. However Arjun does notice sporadic behavioral changes in Anita. Also the co-incidences in their lives now become too much to digest. Finally thunder strikes when Arjun sees Anita in Vinay engagement pictures tagged as Deepali. So who is Anita/Deepali? Why is she playing with their lives? Who does she love? Does she want something else?

Tempted? To know more read the book.

The Review:
Positives: Its short and crisp. There is no dragging and one can easily complete the story at one go. The plot is interesting though a little predictable. There are also possibilities of a sequel.
Negatives: The author needs to work on his writing style to deliver the story more emphatically. However the language is good and the author does have a lot of scope.

The Verdict: 2.5 stars on 5.
About the Author:  Yaagneshwaran is a product marketing Specialist at a reputed IT organization based out of Chennai, India. He is also an avid business blogger and conducts seminars for B-school students especially in the area of marketing. He is known for his earlier novel “The Group of Fools”. Apart from books, the author has a keen interest in entrepreneurship and spirituality.

I thank the author for a signed copy of the book.

The Weight Loss Club by Devapriya Roy

Title:The Weight Loss Club
Author: Devapriya Roy
Publisher: RupaPublications India
Genre:  Fiction
Date:  2013
Price: Rs.250
Pages:304
Snapshot: Are you a fan of Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies like Anand and Bawarchi? Well this is a similar story though many more characters and therefore more flavour and entertainment with the central binding character whose story remains a suspense. Tempted?
 
 The Story & Critics Perspective: To begin with the coverpage is extremely attractive and cool. One absolutely cant resist this book and it sort of gives an idea about the characters. Hatsoff to the designer.

Moving on to the story it is divided into six parts, each a phase that people in the Nancy Housing Co-operative go through. The characters are many and they are unique in their own sense and all of them have their own set of problems. The best part, its based in one of my most favourite cities - Kolkata and the icing on cake is, yes there is a description of the Durga puja time.

The lead characters are: the mysterious sadhvi Sandhyaji, Apu(Aparajita) the academic, a PhD student (like myself and thus I could instantly connect to her) and slightly on the heavier side, Meera - a young married woman with mother in law issues, Monalisa Das - a mom with a mission to have her children secure admission in best institutes, Abeer- Apu's brother - a BCA student- a cool guy, Ananda Bose - a lecturer, a philosopher and a bachelor who looks after his cancer victim mother and Treeza - a depressed beautiful lady.

Each one of these has their set of problems, for Meera its the unsatisfied mother in law as she delivers a second girl child. Apu has to loose weight to marry every parents dream - "the American guy". Monalisa Das's sons just cant get the scores she wishes they would. Ananda Das is alone and boring. Abeer likes a girl Mandy much above his league. Treeza is depressed and the author only wishes to tell you why much later. In the middle of all this arrives the Oxford return sadhvi Sandhya, with her own stories ,battles and her life's mission to help lives around her and something else? What that is...well read the book for that.

I would say the first part and especially the first ten pages of the story where the author sets the stage are so gripping that one wouldn't want to put the book down but as one heads towards the end of part one till beginning of part three it slows down and there is too much, sometimes just too many characters to absorb at a time. I wish she could have rather have structured introductions first and then into the story.

Part three onwards the book picks up its pace and caters to the readers interest again as Sandhya starts describing her own story. The best part is Sandhya's story is not just the suspense but also a very informative and soul searching part.Also the author doesnt tell you for long the story of what depresses the beautiful and chirpy Treeza? which is another part one keeps looking for.

The Review:
Positives: The author has told an interesting story with real life like characters. Along with it she has also mildly addressed issues like the female child, the obsession of parents with marks etc. Each character has his unique story and there is no overlap of multiple characters. Balancing so many characters well is indeed an accomplishment. Also the scientific facts mentioned about memory of genes being passed across generation is very accurate and I am very impressed by that.
Negatives: Some places the author has gone into too much description, the part where Treeza and her husband go for a party and meet the avalanche of characters that the reader cannot cope up with is not needed. The part two as I said earlier goes downhill after setting up high expectations in part one. A little restructuring there would help a great deal. Also there are some hind words in between , just two or three places which isn't expected.

The Verdict:  Over all an entertaining read. Let me into introspection at times. Worth a read. 3.5 stars on 5.
About the Author:
Devapriya Roy has degrees in English literature and performance studies from Presidency College, Calcutta, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she is pursuing a PhD on the Natyashastra (at least, that is what she says when asked what she does). Once upon a time, she was the Keo Karpin girl. Her first novel, The Vague Womans Handbook, was published in 2011. She is currently working on The Heat and Dust Project, the story of a quirky journey through India on an extreme budget, along with her husband, Saurav Jha. 


I thank Rupa Publications India for a copy of the book.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

English Bites! by Manish Gupta


Title: English Bites!
Author: Manish Gupta
Publisher: Penguin
Genre:  Education
Date:  2012
Price: Rs.250
Pages:344

Snapshot: This is a hilarious book that makes learning/ improving English/ GRE fun.

The Story From The Critics Perspective: Have you ever tried learning English for an exam? Have you prepared for GRE? Have you toiled for month trying to remember the similar sounding words that mean very different, and at the end of it all just confused and nowhere? Well this was my situation when I wrote GRE, three years back. 

There no doubts were a lot of ways people advised to learn the language mnemonics, break the word, repetitive revision was a common practice. However none of it was fun as was reading a book and learning from it. But that had a lot of effort involved. One has to fish out the word, search for its meaning and note it down. More challenging was when the same word could be used differently depending upon context. That truly killed people. People especially from vernacular schooling I remember had a hard time. Therefor when I heard about this book and the amazing reviews it got, I too decided to read it and I thank the author for providing me an opportunity to review it. 

Manish Gupta is an angel for everyone wanting to give GRE or improve their vocabulary as never before have I seen such fun filled story with incidences explaining words, the various ways in which they can be used all into a story of his own journey into learning the language and his life around that time. The incidents are hilarious, keeps the read light and enjoyable. 

The Review: 

Positives:  I was doubtful initially that the book might turn out to be boring but the writing and incidences kept it alive, not a single page seemed dis-interesting. the only rule to read this book is read it at your pace, one chapter a day or so, only then can you do justice to imbibing its essence and the authors efforts. 

The USP of the book is the meanings(and believe me even the multiple ones) are all there, so one just has to look at the end of the page for them, which makes it an effortless and easy read.

Negatives: None

The Verdict: Highly Recommended read. Hats off to the authors efforts. Not a traditional self help book that people run away from. 4 stars on 5. 

About The Author: Manish Gupta is a banking professional. When not crunching numbers he is busy engaging with and examining the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of the English language. He also likes trivia, travelling, adventure sports, delving into human psychology, and giving professorial discourses to colleagues, family and friends, and practically anyone who can give him a patient hearing. An engineering graduate from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh and an MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur, he lives in Mumbai with his wife Deepali, a medical professional, and daughters Tamanna and Prakriti.