Friday, 7 October 2016

My Closest Yaar...

There are many platitudes about friendship. I have realized that some hold true for some friends, but is there anything that holds true for all the friends.
Who is a friend?

Reminds me of all those slam books we would write in… What is love? Who is a friend? And many more such profound question.
And how innocently we would fill it up.

Some of us will use famous quotations –
“A friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

The oft-used “A friend in need, is a friend indeed”… sounds so tacky now.

Some would answer with stuff like-
“Roses are red
Violets are blue
My friend is the best
And that is you”

As I read through these, I realize that I have lost touch with most of these friends. Some of them I am not even able to find on facebook.

Today, the one thing that really defines friendship for me is that it is something that stands the test of time.

Clicking the experiences -

I know it’s such a cliché to say that my sister is my closest Yaar.
So convenient, no?

Not convenient, actually.

It is a blessing to have a sister with whom you have just two years of age difference, and with whom you share interests.
Believe me, being on the ‘same wavelength’ is extremely important. I have known people whose siblings have made their growing years a real pain.

In my case, things were more or less a smooth sailing.
We discovered the joy of reading together.
The two of us would have serious philosophical discussions.
We would watch Bold and the Beautiful, and Beverly Hills 90210.
We ventured into a new way of thinking after watching Oprah Winfrey Show. And yes, many more serious discussions followed after watching this one.

Then she got married.
Things changed a little, but whenever we would meet I was in the same zone and we could grasp some of the lost magic for a time.

And I got married.
There was no more a common ground always there for when we would meet. The get-togethers at the parents’ place were so very rare, it seemed.

Almost two decades later, we are back to being best friends.

Laughing it off -

Interestingly, she’s my 11-year-old daughter’s best friend too.
Just last night, my daughter called her up at 10 at night, and blabbered on and on.
My sister was busy but made time.
And the two of us laughed about it later.

People change. Time, circumstances, and experiences (in one word, life) change them. We changed too.

It is the rediscovering each other, it is remembering the old times, it is being able to speak your mind without thinking that make for great friendships.

The fact that my closest friend is also my sister has its’ added benefit.
I have someone to fall back upon during all the celebrations in the extended family.

True friendship stands the test of time. How does one do that?
I am going to use another famous quote to answer this.
“Accept me as I am. Only then can we discover each other.”

Quotes from Nilesh Rathod's Destiny of Shattered Dreams

"All suffering is a consequence of a constant quest. A quest to follow a mirage, the mirage that is the creation of our mind, the illusion of happiness, the illusion of being loved. That is what it is. Love itself is an illusion. We misuse the word so much we forget what it means. It means nothing, because it simply does not exist. It is the destiny of the mind to seek. When it does not discover what it seeks, it gives birth to hopelessness. And given our undying spirit, from that hopelessness rises hope itself. This hope takes us to the quest all over again, churning us in an endless cycle of suffering. This cycle is called life. Suffer you will, one way or the other..."

"Children are like water; they don't much care where the stream takes them. They do nothing to avoid or follow the contours."

"Hate is a conscious emotion, but we rarely express it openly. Identifying hate in oneself is probably even more difficult than identifying love. Hate must not be confused with anger. It is very different. Hate has no reasons. Often, it just sits deep in our body, rarely expending itself in a way that we can identify. Hate must be dispensed with periodically, when the object of hate is no longer there, hate cannot thrive, and the mind becomes hollow and without purpose."

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Character Interview (Running to Stand Still by Lauren Rosolino)

Title: Running to Stand Still
Author: Lauren Rosolino
Genre: New Adult Romance

Having read, enjoyed, and reviewed Lauren Rosolino's Running to Stand Still, I felt like I knew the characters. But I still had many questions for them.

Running to Stand Still is the story of Jaime and her family. Her family the very foundation of which got disturbed the night her mother, Amy left them.

Amy didn't get to say much in the book. Her point of view was never really explained. And yet, the author wrote about her in a way that I had a soft corner for her. 

Here are my questions to her and her answers.

Hi, Amy. I know it was not easy for you to leave. The very fact that you made your last evening with your family special, says a lot. Was it worth it, the leaving?

Yes. It took a long time for me to make the decision to leave. I didn't take it lightly. I struggled with it a lot. to this day, I regret that I had to walk away, that I had to hurt the people that I loved so much just so I could breathe again. I'm not proud of the person I am, but no matter how much I tried (and believe me, did I try) I couldn't and can't change who I am. I will always hold on to the memory of that night for as long as I live. I'm not sure if it did more good than harm, but to have had that time with them, that one last little bubble of love and safety, meant the world to me. I carry it with me always.

Somehow I do understand that there was a burning desire in you to be a 'free bird' as Charlie puts it. Did you achieve it?

Yes. Being a vagabond gypsy is one of the few things I am good at.

Are you happy?

As happy as a tortured, musical soul torn in two can be. Which is to say, when I'm playing, singing, performing, I can feel fully myself, fully in my element, transcended from reality and all its heartache. Miserable when I'm not. But the catch-22 is that you can't live in a constant state of playing. You need time to step away from the craft to inspire the music, to infuse the chords and lyrics with breath and life and truth.

Thanks a lot, Amy.
*  *  *

The protagonist in Running to Stand Still is Amy's daughter, Jaime and I had some questions for her too.

Hello, Jaime. In hindsight, do you think your wanting to leave was only about your mother having left?

We recreate that which we were taught. Or at least that's what 'they' say. And my mother taught me that there was nothing good to be found in staying. Because I believed her, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I created this line in my mind that I could only be happy and free if I left. All because of those words she spoke, they completely derailed me.

Did you ever make a list of what the 'perfect man' would be like? Is Colin like that? I have a feeling that the list would describe Brett more than Colin. Am I wrong?

No, you are not wrong. Not by a long shot. I never physically wrote out a list of attributes I wanted in a man, but there definitely was one in my head, that's for damn sure. And Brett was the epitome of that list: good-looking, put together, successful, thoughtful but not too needy, work-oriented, uncomplicated family life (preferably not much of one at all), and emotionally neat. I didn't want anything too messy.
The funny thing is, that list didn't start to form in my mind until all the shit hit the fan after my mom left and I started to pull my life back together. It was an aspirational list. But if I really think about it, the person I would've wanted if she had never left, the person I wanted before I went off the deep-end... that person is Colin to a T. Sincere, kind, affectionate, rough on the outside, but gentle on the inside. Colin is the kind of person you just want to run to when things are tough because you know that he won't baby you or patronize you (he'll tell you straight up what you need to know), but he will protect you with everything he's got. He's someone you can stand beside and behind when you need to. He's also the person who's not afraid to let you stand in front of him and do the protecting, when necessary.

Do you sing, or play guitar, or something else? Music does seem to run in your family after all :)

God, no. I wish I did. I'm kind of mad at my parents for not making me learn an instrument when I was young. I attempted the piano when I was in high school but it didn't stick. I was also in choir in the seventh grade. In another life, I would be in an all-ladies band, or lead guitarist/vocalist or drums with pink stripes in my hair. But alas, in this life, it has not come to pass (there may be hope yet!). Music is an integral process of my creative process, though. What I love about music, that the written word doesn't do quite as well, is capture the very essence of a moment in time, a feeling, a glimpse of life, with the interplay of melody and lyrics. It's unapologetic about being as emotional and honest as it can possibly be - it just lays it all out there in the open. And we need as much of that as we can get. Music feeds the soul, you know? Music is humanity in essence. We would be dead without it.

*  *  *

And finally, a question to the author, Lauren Rosolino.

I really want to know more about Jacob. He's such a sensitive person. I would really like to know more about his personal life. Or maybe we can look forward to another book where the focus is on Jacob.

I would love, love, love to write a book with Jacob as the protagonist. I should totally do that. (I'm going to do it.) But for now, this is what I can tell you: (this is taken pretty much verbatim from my post about him on my blog).
Jacob is still an enigma to me.

He was inspired by a bartender I encountered while out for my husband's 25th birthday in downtown Detroit before a Twenty One Pilots concert at the Fox Theatre. The second I saw him behind the bar, I knew he was going to be a character in my book. Here's what I do know about Jacob:

He's a vet. Former Green Beret. 7th Special Forces Group. Area of Responsibility: Mexico, Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean. Stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. He can speak Spanish and several Island dialects.
Plays on men's hockey league. Boxes at gym with Charlie. Does Cross-fit.
Quiet, reserved, a man of few words. Gruff.
Loyal, courteous, patient. Does what's right, what needs to be done. He endures. He is tough, observant. Judgement is one of his skills. He carries a weight from the past. See's the world as broken. And yet, he's a pragmatist. A realist. he accepts that sometimes peace necessitates violence.
Just wants to keep his nose to the ground and stay out of trouble. Wants to go to the gym, work at the bar. 
Greatly values the place he has in the Benson family. Loves them deeply. Would do anything for them. 
As for how he got there in the first place? I have no idea.
I have a sense that he's a Detroit boy. Raised in poverty, an indifferent/hostile environment.
And that's all I have for you for now :)

Thanks a lot, once again...
*  *  *

*  *  *

*  *  *

Collin was who he was: simple and easy.
                  Me? I was jagged and complex. I wanted everything.
                  And despite how he made me feel—safe—it was clear to me that we’d never work out in the end.
                  That divide between us would always be there.
                  Because I’d never ask him to give up on the things he wanted.
                  And, while I sometimes wished I could be that person, I wasn’t.

Just seven more months. Then Jamie Benson can leave this goodbye town behind her and start her new life in Chicago. She can leave this place of broken glass and cracked sidewalks and rusted fences. This place that holds nothing good. She can leave the ghosts and spinning rooms and shattered promises in her rearview mirror and never look back.
But all the stories she’s been telling herself are threatened when, one night, while tending bar at her father’s hole-in-the-wall dive, she meets Collin—a boy who is good and honest and sincere in a world where everything is harsh and cold and detached. A boy who makes her feel safe.  A boy worth staying for.
Will Jamie be able to untangle the truths from the lies? Or will the sins of the past swallow her whole?

*  *  *

*  *  *
About the Author - Lauren Rosolino

Author of The Charm Necklace and Running to Stand Still. Writer of stories about finding beauty in brokenness. 
She is a storyteller. Adventuer. Partner. Coffee drinker. Magic believer. Rebel with a gypsy soul. Lover of the woods and books, the woods and walks.
Born and bred in Detroit, Lauren grew up reading Harry Potter, watching Gilmore Girls, listening (and dancing) to a lot of music, and wondering why people do what they do. She graduated from Wayne State University with a BA in Psychology. Lauren lives with her husband, dog, cat, and bunny in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Varied thoughts, Different Perspective (Book Review: Thousand Unspoken Thoughts by Prerna Khatri)

Title: Thousand Unspoken Thoughts
Author: Prerna Khatri
Genre: Poetry

Prerna Khatri's collection of poems, Thousand Unspoken Thoughts are truly many thoughts entwined. 
These poems talk about varied topics, exploring introspection, love, silence, and more.

Prerna Khatri's poems are usually abstract, but there are others which almost tell a story.
Some are very short (5-6 lines), others run for a couple of pages.
Some poems talk of hope that lift your spirits, others have a lingering darkness that could haunt the reader.

The interesting thing about this is that you have no idea what you will encounter next. The poems go from sweet to passionate to introspective to spiritual to dark to self-congratulatory to inspiring, and even a soldier's voice.

The poems talk about love, finding self, looking within, spiritualism, and more.
There are hope and introspection and darkness.
The darkness was a surprise, I have to say. Surprising, and so well expressed too.

Love, passion, and silence are subjects that recur through this collection. But the perspective is very different from the usual...

"For even the hour and minute needle
Meet only twice a day,
Constant in conflict,
Constant in variation."

The sound of silence is loud in the words of Prerna Khatri. The voice of reason that tells you to enjoy the view, the ride...

"You might got numb, have chills,
At how much you've missed around you.
The silence in the wind,
The silence when you breathe,
The silence when you listen,
Everything's being lost,
In moments of unending speech.
Find that silence.
You'll find life.

It's waiting to be heard."

I enjoyed reading Prerna Khatri's poems. But what really left a mark were the many insights hidden in these verses.

"...the soul gives up faster,
Than its physical being."

There are some emotions I don't agree with, or maybe I should say I don't relate to. Whether I relate to the thoughts or not, I appreciate their expression.

Prerna Khatri's Thousand Unspoken Thoughts is an interesting ride. You journey into the many facets of feelings along the way. Some thoughts astonish you, others make you smile. 
I liked some more than others, but when I was done reading each one of the thoughts, I realised that they have left me in a reflective mood.

"How beautiful would it have been
If the world was blind,
And all that was left was human touch?"

*  *  *

The italicised text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

*  *  *

Thousand Unspoken Thoughts’ Brings Together The Collection Of Poetry Of An Amateur Poet Who Uses Words To See Through The World. Prerna, Though Being An Advocate By Profession Believes That Writing Is Where Her Heart Lies. The Collection Is A Passage Through Her Mind, Where Innumerable Dreams And Aspirations, Are Brought Down To Ink. Her Writing Is Not Confined To Any Age Group; Hence, No Censor Certificate Is Required. Keeping That Thought Aside, She Believes In The Power Of Ink, And Her Poems Stand As Witness. 

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Saturday, 17 September 2016

A touching story of struggle and hope (Book Review: Akash Verma's A Broken Man)

Title: A Broken Man
Author: Akash Verma

A Broken Man is the story of Krishna and Chhavi.

Krishna, the guileless, Dalit boy, who has dreams. He has experienced too many harsh realities of life to be openly ambitious. But he has dreams, and sensitivity, and talent.
"My dreams are like a fire burning inside my heart."

Chhavi, the daughter of a powerful politician, belongs to high caste. She has had a sheltered enough life to naively believe that she can change the world. (This perception of Chhavi is the realist/cynic in me talking.)

A Broken Man starts in the glittering world of Bollywood, soon to go back in time to Lucknow University.

Through the words of Krishna, the author has portrayed the convoluted issues of politics and caste and caste politics with a surprising simplicity.
"It's only here unlike any other place in the world that you are born with two identities - your religion and your caste. You may not have a name, but you will have this identity sticking to you like your shadow. Wherever you may go, it will walk with you, never leave you alone."

A Broken Man is about a world that I know exists, but thankfully not from personal experience. A world that I have had a glimpse of when a certain someone is served tea in a cup that is kept aside and is not to be used by the rest of the 'superior' lot.

I know I am lucky that it is not a world I know. Lucky because this world of discrimination is poison for the one who discriminates and hell for the one who is discriminated against.

Akash Verma writes little details very effectively. A meal at a restaurant, the first experience of holding hands - there is a raw, hesitant tone to the author's expression in such situations. 
His narration is such that I feel I have seen the world of Krishna and Chhavi.

Even a fleetingly mention incident leaves an impact.
"He could never forget what he last saw of his family as they unsuccessfully tried to defeat the mammoth force of the ravaging stream. The sleeve of his younger son's red-coloured check shirt, that he had got stitched for a cousin's wedding the previous year, and the pain in his wife's eyes as she looked at him for the last time before getting pulled down by the gushing water. Was it the fear of death, the pang of separation or the helplessness of being the chosen one to die so wastefully?"

You, as a reader, live them with the characters.

The Hindi poems, which according to the story are from Krishna's pen are brilliant.
Some verses are translated in English too, but I feel that reading them in Hindi gives you a special insight into the thoughts of the writer.
And there are the stories that Chhavi tells, treasures that her grandma has told her. Really good.

The cover of A Broken Man is poignant. The defeated stance of a man imprisoned and all alone, overwhelmed by the chaos all around.

Dirty politics, caste discrimination, impossible relationships, and hope against hope... sounds like a filmy story. It actually is and I mean it in the best way possible.

Akash Verma's A Broken Man is a story of struggle and injustice that moves you. But despite its' title and the heartrending path the story takes, it is also a story of innocent wisdom, beautiful poetry, love, hope, and dreams that come true. 
I am happy I read it.

*  *  *

The italicized text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

*  *  *


Take a deep breath before you are born here, my child! 

You take birth in a land where I struggled; gave it my sweat and blood. A land that I thought belonged to me..… unbridled, uncompromising. 

Krishna is a Dalit boy from Bihar who struggles to overthrow the chains that hold him back. Chhavi is a high caste Brahman girl fighting for the rights of others, propagating equality in a politically charged Lucknow University campus. After Krishna saves Chhavi from getting torched during a protest against reservation, love slowly blossoms, only to be ruthlessly crushed by a society that thrives on divisions of caste and religion. From student politics in Lucknow to the interiors of Bihar, from the corridors of power to the glitz of media and the film industry in Mumbai. 

A Broken Man is the quest of a deprived Krishna to redeem hope from despair, love from separation and success out of repeated failures. From the bestselling author of It Happened That Night and Three Times Loser, this is a story that reinforces our faith in what love can accomplish as it pushes us to achieve the impossible, making us tap our true inner potential.

*  *  *
About the Author - Akash Verma

Akash Verma is an entrepreneur. His work has taken him across the country, and he finds this experience very relevant while giving shape to his stories. He has published two bestsellers till now. Akash is currently based out of Gurgaon, India. He is fascinated by Cinema, Literature, History and Travel.

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Book Review: Wrong Means Right End by Varsha Dixit

Title: Wrong Means Right End
Author: Varsha Dixit
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The second story of love and friendship in the 'Right Wrong Series' by Varsha Dixit is Wrong Means Right End.

As I was reading the Right Fit Wrong Shoe, I was wondering what Wrong Means Right End would be about. I hadn't read the blurb.
I had thought that had Sneha not been married, it could have been about her finding love.
Well, Sneha was married. Now she is not.

Ok, back to the beginning...

Wrong Means Right End is the story of Sneha, a happily divorced single mother, and Nikhil, who made a fleeting appearance in the previous book. 
When the two meet for the first time in this book, it is not a good start for them. There are antagonism and awkwardness. The apparent dislike between the two, and the obvious attraction make for a perfect kick-off for a story of romance.

Nikhil is good looking and filthy rich, just as Aditya in Right Fit Wrong Shoe.

Sneha's best friend, Nandini had been united with the love of her life, Aditya in Right Fit Wrong Shoe.
She is here too, newly married, and battling her own share of problems.
The backdrop has shifted from Kanpur to Mumbai. 

Oh, and there is Gayathri, the rich, spoiled girl to whom Aditya had been engaged previously. The fact that Gayathri is like family to Nikhil doesn't help matters.

Usually in such series, the couples from the previous books get a passing mention a couple of times. Not so in this one. Aditya and Nandini play an important role in the polot of this book. I do think though that even if one has not read the previous book, this book will work well as a standalone story.

The banter between the two friends has escalated in this book.

One very interesting thread that runs through the book is the mixed-up abusive words that Sneha and Nandini use.
"Thanks to Advey's habit of picking up only cuss words from entire sentences, Sneha and Nandini's colourful lingo had down downgraded to age-appropriate but confusing material."
So there is hitch, loody bell, and a lot more.

Question to author: Why did Advey never pick up the word 'Kulta'?
I do think this word was used once too often.

Loved Mona's 'Trust me, I'm a psychologist', and then making statements that had me feeling *facepalm*.

Just as in Right Fit Wrong Shoe, the writing is informal and relaxed, with the slang-factor turned up a notch.
The titles of the chapters continue to charm - I googled you, Blow your horn, Earth to Mars...

With Nandini adjusting to a new lifestyle, Sneha finding her footing in a new city, Nikhil and Gayathri out for revenge for being jilted by Aditya, the story of Wrong Means Right End moves fast.

Sneha's hot-headed actions, her care-a-damn attitude towards consequences of her actions, Nikhil's understated yet potent reactions, all make for a good read.

Click for My Review of Right Fit Wrong Shoe

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Wrong Means Right End tells the tale of Sneha, a single mother who is working hard to earn a living to support herself and her young son. Her focus solely lies on making their ends meet and she has lost interest in love or dating. Sneha's best friend Nandini is now happily married to Aditya, an industrialist. Nandini's concern for Sneha makes her act as a matchmaker, who wants to fill her life with love and happiness. Sneha's regular pace of life is disturbed when Nikhil, a man with whom she shares an unpleasant past, enters in her life. He is haughty and Sneha will go to any extent to keep her distance from him. If these problems weren't enough, another troublemaker, Gayathri, enters the picture to create havoc. Gayathri is Aditya's ex girlfriend who still likes him and is trying her best to jeopardize Nandini and Aditya's relationship. The only person that could help Sneha in stopping Gayatri is Nikhil. Considering their hatred for each other, will Sneha approach Nikhil for saving Nandini and Aditya's marriage?

*  *  *

About the Author - Varsha Dixit

Varsha Dixit, the bestselling author of four successful contemporary romance books. Her debut book, Right Fit Wrong Shoe was a national bestseller for the year 2010. Varsha was a part of the Indian Television Industry and worked as an assistant director and online editor. She considers herself a dreamer who thinks deep but writes light. Even though creativity is gender free,Varsha feels blessed and enriched to be a woman. Currently, with her family, Varsha resides in CA, USA.

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Friday, 16 September 2016

A Fun Read (Book Review: Varsha Dixit's Right Fit Wrong Shoe)

Title: Right Fit Wrong Shoe
Author: Varsha Dixit
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Varsha Dixit's Right Fit Wrong Shoe is the story of Nandini Sharma and Aditya Sarin. The two share a history and are meeting again after over three years as the story begins.

Nandini's chemistry with her best friends, Sneha Verma is also an important and engaging aspect of this book.
The two friends work in an advertising agency.

Nandini seems to be content with her life.
"I just want to live my life the way it is happening. I do not want to expect, plan or steer it in any direction."

Based in the city of Kanpur, the author has given a truly Indian setting to this story.
Issues like sexual harrasment that affect us in our day-to-day life have been woven into the story.

Right Fit Wrong Shoe has been on my to-read list since I read Varsha Dixit's Only Wheat Not White
Once I had the third in the 'Right Wrong Series' - Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right in my hand, I just had to read the first two before reading the third one.
I knew they can be read as standalone stories, which I can also vouch for having read all three now. Still...

The Title
The title of Right Fit Wrong Shoe can be justified with the story if one really tries, but on face value, this title is not the right fit. But it is such a good title that I am not complaining.
And the titles that the author has given each chapter endorse her fondness and finesse for interesting, amusing titles.
Some of the unsuaual titles are - Aaj ki taaza khabar, Jab we met, Laaga chunari mein daag... almost, Gharwali Baharwali, and many more.

A funky cover, a Cinderella reminding title (am I the only one who thought of the fairy tale, I wonder), and both the figures (male and female) in a indifferent stance, is just the right cover for this romance of today.

Writing Style
With liberal use of slangs, and titles that are from our everyday lingo, Varsha Dixit has a very good and distinct writing style. 
Consider the phrase 'ignored him like expired cosmetics'. The narrative of Right Fit Wrong Shoe has many such 'never heard before' expressions.
If one does not know Hindi, and is not familiar with the common phrases or cultural reference, one would lose on the extra zing that these add to the narrative. One would not miss out on the story, but would miss out on a few smiles.

I found wrong
My one angst while reading this book... 
I can understand the reason behind Aditya's anger, and still I continue to insist that there is no situation in which physical assault can be justified. 
Aditya never hits Nandini, and as I said he is angry with good reason, but I would have liked Aditya more if his expression of this annoyance had been a little subdued.

The actual climax is not too convincing. On the other hand, in reality, don't we usually realise that most misunderstandings are becasue of insensible, unbelievable reasons once they get sorted out.

I love reading romances. I know how they are going to end - happily ever after. Maybe it is because of this certainty of 'everything will be fine' that one can relax while reading them.

Varsha Dixit's Right Fit Wrong Shoe is passionate, witty, and modish.
The light hearted banter, the uncontrollable passion, the respect for family, the mystery of past - all make this a fun read.

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Twenty-six year old Nandini Sharma is a girl who, likemost girls in India, has been taken over by Bollywood. She falls for her neighbour Adity Sarin. He is filthy rich and fairly intelligent. She mocks death and suffers for love. Right Fit Wrong Shoe may be Indian to the core, but contains urban language. The humorous book will have you laughing so hard that it will bring tears to your eyes. The book does not have graphic scenes or physical intimacy and the words used are delicate. The funny and romantic book is about a young woman's thoughts about the society she lives in.

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About the Author - Varsha Dixit

Varsha Dixit, the bestselling author of four successful contemporary romance books. Her debut book, Right Fit Wrong Shoe was a national bestseller for the year 2010. Varsha was a part of the Indian Television Industry and worked as an assistant director and online editor. She considers herself a dreamer who thinks deep but writes light. Even though creativity is gender free,Varsha feels blessed and enriched to be a woman. Currently, with her family, Varsha resides in CA, USA.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Murder Mysteries (Book Review: Vikram Rana Investigates by Sharmishtha Shenoy)

Title: Vikram Rana Investigates
Author: Sharmishtha Shenoy

Vikram Rana, an ex-cop is now a private detective. Through Sharmishtha Shenoy's Vikram Rana Investigates, as he solves his first case and then another, we get to know this principled man and get familiar with his life.
The two episodes, The Mysterious Affair at the Lohia Mansion and The Sonia Sinha Case are both murder mysteries.

Episode 1: The Mysterious Affair at the Lohia Mansion

Vikram Rana is finally working on his first case.

Vikram's childhood friend, Rohan Lohia's sister-in-law has died and foul play is suspected. 

The filthy rich Lohia family with its' many secrets make for interesting unraveling through the story and keeps you guessing about the real motives of each one of them. 
The family politics of Lohias does remind one of a famous, rich family of India.

Set in Hyderabad, Vikram Rana Investigates is a good mystery where you, as a reader, may suspect many, but can not really guess who is the culprit.

Episode 2: The Sonia Sinha Case

Another murder mystery, The Sonia Sinha Case has a different feel to it compared to the previous one.
There is no childhood friend around to pave the way, although the Inspector is still around.
Since it is not even known who Sonia Sinha is when the case starts, and to getting to unravel the confusion around many possible killers, this one is a moves swiftly.

In both the cases, Vikram is working alongside the police. His being an ex-cop, this does can sense from the story point of view, but when a private investigator works in competition with the authorities, it does add an edge. 

Food plays an important role. What is eaten and where is, after all, an integral part of Vikram Rana's life as he is clearly a foodie.

On the other hand, when a vegan talks about ordering a pizza, you do wonder what is going on. By the way, Vikram is not the vegan in this book.

His wife, Veena with a corporate job, is quite his opposite in many ways.
The relationship of these two does provide a jollity at times, but as you get more familiar you do end up wondering about the strength and honesty of the relationship.

I did not understand, or relate to, the flip-flops in their relationship.

One thought that I had after reading this book, that surprised even me, was that I would have liked this story more had it had some strong, positive female characters.
There are interesting female characters, but they are either manipulative, or negative, or just plain meek and insensible.
Did I think this because the author of this book is a female, is a question I have asked myself.
And it is not as if I go around searching for such female characters in the books I read, or that it is a criterion for how much I like a book.

I think I would love to read a sequel to this one with Vikram Rana investigating other cases, with some favorable female characters playing an important role in the story.

Vikram Rana Investigates (both episodes) make for a good read because the murder mysteries are interesting. The setting of the mysteries, Hyderabad is woven into the story with getting frequent mentions.

All in all, Vikram Rana Investigates is a good, easy read for lovers of Mystery. But I would have loved if a few details, including the relationships, had been more finely defined.

My Rating: 3/5

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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Vikram Rana Murder Mysteries set in Hyderabad…… 

The Mysterious Affair of the Lohia Mansion 

When the glamourous socialite Richa Lohia is poisoned in her mansion in Jubilee Hills, her brother-in-law hires his mate, ex-cop Vikram Rana, to solve this murder. This is Vikram’s first case and he, along with Inspector Gopi Reddy, must solve the case even if they face opposition from the richest and powerful family in Hyderabad, who would stop at nothing to defend themselves. 

The Sonia Sinha Case 

When property developer Krishna Dhavala is stabbed to death in Necklace Road, everyone suspects Mrs. Dhavala to be the murderer of her alcoholic and abusive husband. But is that really the case? Vikram Rana and Inspector Reddy have a tough time uncovering the murderer and Vikram himself almost dies trying to solve this case. Experience the mystery along with the duo as they fight their way through the maze of lies, deceit and greed. 

Grab your copy @

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Sharmishtha Shenoy loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she herself likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series. She was born in Calcutta and has done her post-graduation from University of Reading, Great Britain. She lives in Hyderabad.

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