Tag: Book Blog

Paris for One and Other Stories, by Jojo Moyes

“Actually, I’ve had a large white wine. Which means I’m saying what I think.”
“Don’t you usually, then? Say what you think?”
“Never. Safer that way.”

cover105449-mediumJojo Moyes is a name I across all too frequently these days, after the massive success of her books Me Before You and After You. I’ve not read either of the two because at first I wasn’t too sure if I would be into them, given my experience with and opinions of popular romances (such as The Fault in Our Stars or The Notebook). Later, when I thought I might take a look, I learned the ending of the first book, so I didn’t think there was a point to going back. And you can’t read the second book if you haven’t read the first.

I’ve been in a reading slump for a while. This time last year, I had read over 12 books. This year, I’ve read 2 (and now 3). I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Scribbles, and while Yiyun Li’s writing is nearly flawless, there’s only so much you can like a book while disagreeing vehemently with the writer’s views. The other books I picked up (for instance, The Stand and Lifting the Veil) were not what I needed at that point in time.

Paris for One and Other Stories came as a breath of fresh air during those times. I stay away from chick-lits, but this is one that surprised me. Like they say, it is all about feeding your needs.

Paris for One is the story of a girl who never took risks – she was always described as safe, stable, trustworthy etc., never bold. On a whim, she decides to take a trip to Paris with her boyfriend. She is stood up by the boyfriend, and ends up alone in Paris. She changes her mind about leaving, and decides to enjoy the city on her own.

There are eleven short stories in this collection, all with uplifting, positive endings. My favourite is the first and the longest story – the one I’ve talked about above. Two close contenders for the top position are Margot and The Christmas List.

Margot is the story of Em, who meets the titular character – a boisterous American lady – at an airport and learns something important. The Christmas List is about a harrowed housewife who is fed up of her demanding husband and mother in law. A conversation with a cab driver convinces her that she needs to turn her life around.

If you’re going through a dull time, and need something to lift you up, I think this book would just be perfect. It certainly helped me! I wanted this review to be posted on Valentine’s Day, but unfortunately, I couldn’t finish the book in time. Nevertheless, here it is. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

Amazon | Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from Penguin UK-Michael Joseph/Netgalley. My review is honest and unbiased.

 

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Sprinkling Some Book Love

For some time, I’d been thinking I should do something bookish, but non-reviewish, non-new-releaseish… maybe listish (or is it called listicleish these days? oh I don’t know!) here. I thought of listing down my favourite literary heroines. But that post is still a little ways away, since someone new got added to it recently, and sent the whole thing for a rearrangement.

Lucky for me, I found this on Lata’s blog. How perfect! So here’s me, listing out some favourites.

I don’t think for many of these I can list just one book. I’ll list whatever comes to mind.

  1. A book you’ve read more than once: All the Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Gone With The Wind, 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair, God of Small Things, Pygmalion, The Zahir, The Alchemist, LOTR, Great Expectations, and so many more.
  2. A book you would take on a desert island: A deserted island or a desert island? Why desert island? Who am I asking these questions to? Anyway, should be something long. Maybe I’ll finally finish Anna Karenina or Ulysses. Or Les Miserables.
  3. A book that made you cry: The Book Thief, Eleanor & Park, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Rage of Angels, Lessons in Forgetting, Girl on the Train, Unaccustomed Earth (Hema and Kaushik).
  4. A book that scared you: I am currently reading The Shining. Apart from that, in school, I read an RL Stine called The Secret Bedroom. Remember being truly scared after reading it!
  5. A book that made you laugh out loud: How To Be A Woman, Bossypants, Hyperbole and a Half
  6. A book that disgusted you: Dolores Claiborne. I would like to revisit it someday. I think I was too young to read it when I did. I have also been pretty disgusted by some Shaun Hutsons and Chuck Palahniuks that I never finished.
  7. A book you loved in preschool: Hehehe, it was Sleeping Beauty that turned me into a reader. But I liked Cinderella more later on. Was also a big fan of Tintin and The Black Island.
  8. A book you loved in elementary school: Tom Sawyer. Some Enid Blytons too, especially the Famous Five series.
  9. A book you loved in middle school: Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, SVUs, Gone With The Wind
  10. A book you loved in high school: The Outsiders, If Tomorrow Comes, Tell Me Your Dreams.
  11. A book you hated in high school: Doomsday Conspiracy
  12. A book you loved in college: The period in which that I discovered Dan Brown and Paulo Coelho. I’m sure there were others. Can’t seem to remember
  13. A book that challenged your identity: Not challenged, but more like reinforced, How To Be A Woman and Bossypants. Also, The Namesake.
  14. A series that you love: Harry Potter (duh), The Dark Tower
  15. Your favorite horror book: All of Stephen King’s short stories (his full length works, not so much, as you would know if you’re a regular reader of this blog). Can I also say Silence of the Lambs? That’s not really “horror” horror, but it’s still one of my favourites.
  16. Your favorite science fiction book: Not a fan of this genre. No favourite books. There was a short story I once read called They’re Made of Meat, by Terry Bisson. If it can be classified as sci-fi, then I’d highly recommend it in this category.
  17. Your favorite fantasy book: Same as #14. Also, The Hunger Games.
  18. Your favorite mystery: The Millennium Trilogy, Girl on the Train, Sherlock Holmes, A Pocketful of Rye, Evil Under the Sun.
  19. Your favorite biography: Haven’t read any. Have been meaning to read Che’s biography for a long long time now.
  20. Your favorite classic: Gone With The Wind
  21. Your favorite romance book: Is #20 a romance? How about Great Expectations?
  22. Your favorite book not on this list: The Fountainhead, The Book Thief, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Oh, so many! Goodreads me, okay?
  23. Your favorite translated book: Like Water for Chocolate.
  24. What book are you currently reading: The Shining and An Equal Music. (The latter may soon be the answer to #21)
  25. What book have you been meaning to read: Love in the Time of Cholera. Oh, when will I read it!

Care to take this forward? Make a chain out of it!

The Bestseller She Wrote, by Ravi Subramanian

ravi-subramanian-the-bestseller-she-wrote-rain-and-a-book-sreesha-divakaranI don’t read a lot of Indian authors. When I say “Indian authors” I mean the commercial, “masala” churners, not the serious crust, whom I simply refer to as authors. I had heard of ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ because of a Twitter promo campaign, but I did not look it up or anything. I had never read any of Ravi Subramanian’s works prior to this, so I did not know what to expect. So when I received the book for review, my mind was a blank slate.

Well, not entirely; from my first sentence you have probably gathered I do have some preconceived notions about commercial authors. I am especially wary of Indian banker-turned-authors. But I kept an open mind, so as to be able to give this book the fair review it deserves.

Summary: Aditya Kapoor, nicknamed “paperback king”, “rockstar author” and other embarrassing (but seemingly glitzy) things is a 40-something banker and India’s # 1 commercial author. He gives a presentation at IIM-B, his alma mater, where he encounters is insulted by Shreya Kaushik, a student miffed by the fact that Aditya keeps referring to his book as a “product” (I echo her sentiments, by the way). Aditya’s gigantic ego takes a hit and he tells her to read his books before commenting. She does, and becomes an overnight fan. Shreya considers herself to be a voracious reader (she’s not; she only reads bestsellers, and she reads John Green only cos he’s “cute”) She also wants to become an author, and she seduces Aditya to help her become one. It is unclear whether she seduces him for her gain alone or if she is actually in love with him. (Actually, several things are unclear, but I am getting ahead of myself) Aditya is completely smitten, forgetting totally about his wife, Maya and 6-year-old kid, Aryan (could these names be more Bollywoodesque?). No, wait, he does not, because on every other page he tells us he loves his wife. And also Shreya. And also his wife. But anyway. Later, Maya comes to know of the affair and contracts Ebola at the same time. Aditya ends things with Shreya, and begs Maya to take him back. Shreya goes crazy, because of course.

As I was reading The Bestseller She Wrote, the very first connection I made was to an interview of Robert Pattinson, where he says that when he first read Twilight, “it seemed like I was convinced Stephenie was convinced she was Bella.” That is the exact same thought I had. I mean no disrespect to Ravi Subramanian, but it seemed like Aditya Kapoor, the author in this book, and his star-studded life, was what the author aspired to reach some day. At least the first half of the book.

Let’s look at that statement again – when was the last time you read the words “star-studded life” and “author” in the same sentence. It is so far-fetched. There is nothing in this book that convinces me of this.

Next, the writing. The narrative is sparse, the language is rife with Indianisms, repeated stock phrases, slangs in content, and on the whole, it feels like a lazy attempt, like something written in a hurry. With respect to slangs, while they are accepted in dialogue, it’s just poor writing in narrative – unless the book is written in a first person narrative and the character in question needs to describe a certain sort of lifestyle, which isn’t the case here. Slangs when used incorrectly provide unintentional humour. For instance, there was a sentence “Aditya was chilled.” Aditya is not a beer! For crying out loud, what sort of a sentence is that! The dialogues did not sit well with me on any level, because it felt – I don’t know what exactly, but the word that comes closest to describing it disjointed. Also, in dialogue when you want to stress a word, you italicize it, not capitalize it. Come on, this is not Twitter and you’re not a troll.

There are also several inaccuracies in the book in terms of facts; right off the top of my head – there was a mention of a book and they mentioned its author to be Sydney Sheldon. Having read every book by Sheldon between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, I knew there was something wrong here. I looked it up, and yes, it was a Tilly Bagshawe book (the Sydney Sheldon fanfic writer)

This book has 84 chapters, and it’s 390 pages long. I have read books with over 1000 pages that have, like, 19 chapters, filled with substance. This, on the other hand, is well padded out and airy. The characters are not likeable. Actually, no, I have read books where characters are outright evil, and I have had more emotion for them than I have had anybody in this book. This book is just an ego balm to its (dislikeable) protagonist. Everyone is a huge fan of his. There are scenes, which otherwise contribute nothing to the story, written only to show the reader how big of a boot-licking audience this man has. I can’t find myself caring for any of these characters, they’re so pointless in the world of literature.

One of the funniest bits is, the author has briefly mentioned himself in the book. He has also mentioned several of his contemporaries, thrown a bit of shade at Chetan Bhagat (but then, who doesn’t?) and turned Bollywood bigwigs into characters. (Also, a lot of glaring endorsements for several brands, all of which will make this book terribly dated a few years down the line)

On the whole this book is boring, predictable and highly “putdownable.” I can’t think of a single redeeming quality, except that it doesn’t take up too much of your time, 84 chapters notwithstanding. It tries too hard, and that just made me sad. Like the kid whose answers are all wrong, but has a neat handwriting. Although I have never “pity-rated” a book before, I am going to rate it a 2, instead of a 1 for this reason alone.

If you still wanna read it, here are the links where you can buy it from (while I severely judge you):

Amazon

Flipkart

PS: I just noticed, it’s listed under Suspense & Thriller on Flipkart. Don’t let that fool you.

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!