The Windfall – Book review

Author : Diksha Basu

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing India

Pub Date: June 2017

Source : Review copy provided by the Publishers (Thank you!)

Get the book from Amazon.in

Book Blurb

For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all.
The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters

Mr.Jha experiences a lucky windfall when his website brings him a huge sum of money and with it a quick turnaround in his life. Living in the shadows of his Uncle’s house his early days of life are unsuccessful and he manages to buy a small apartment in East Delhi. Mrs.Jha manages the household with her husband’s salary and works for a nonprofit organization helping artisans. Their only son Rupak is sent to one of the rich kids schools in Delhi where he always feels like an outsider.

Now in his fifties, Mr.Jha has his lucky breakthrough and a chance to start over in life. He begins by moving over to a posh neighborhood in Gurgaon, lavishly spending on the house and sending his son to the United States to pursue his MBA.

Rupak is a confused youngster who is still coming to terms with the sudden change in lifestyle and his parents decision to move to Gurgaon. He flunks in studies and has an American girlfriend, who he pictures to have the typical American sitcom character’s life and never pays attention to her in real life.

Mrs.Jha is forever in the middle, not knowing how to embrace the rich life and worries about every unwanted expense her husband makes but always proud of his hard work.

The book follows the life of the Jhas and those around them and how East Delhi meets Gurgaon in a funny way.

Mr.Chopra, the show-off neighbor of the Jhas in Gurgaon, does everything to impress people of his wealth and to prove his status. He takes pride in introducing his 28-year old son who he still supports financially because he simply can.

After the move to Gurgaon, there is a constant battle for status between the Chopras and Jhas to show off and Mr.Jha feels that it is totally necessary to keep up with his neighbors.

The book was so much fun to read and you can easily relate to the characters because we meet these kinda people in real life. The struggle to fit in and keeping up is a contant battle in all our lives and this book was very realistic. Its amusing to read how the rich struggle to spend money, the emphasis here, is on the spend and not on the money 😀 They really can’t figure out how to spend everything they have 😛

The book did put into light in a rather subtle way certain things in our society like the life of a widow, the scrutiny she has to undergo for every penny she spends or even just living her life. Widow remarriage especially a suggestion for online dating sites/matrimony sites for divorced & widows was good. Also, thrown in as a matter of fact was, how Rupak knows all about his father’s work but nothing about his mother’s. The understated sad truth about the majority of married women who give up career to concentrate on family.

Overall, this book was fulfilling and not once I thought it was a typical made for Bollywood kinda script. It was funny and without exaggerations.

My rating is 5/5 stars.

P.S. Hi !!

P.P.S  Sorry for disappearing for a while

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Who Me, Poor – Book review

Author : Gayatri Jayaraman

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing India

Pub Date: July 2017

Source : Review copy provided by the Publishers (Thank you!)

Get the book from Amazon.in

Book Blurb

The characteristics and reasons for urban poverty are manifold and seem to repeat across class structures: migration, culture shock, real estate costs and unrealistic expectations of city life, a lack of financial education, corporate cultures that perpetuate stereotypical workforces, a glamourised entrepreneurial culture that focuses on icons of spending instead of struggle, and economically and politically, the rise of the cashless credit economy and the demise of the thrift economy and its conservative icons.
Who me, Poor?: How India's youth are living in urban poverty to make it big
The book will use the case studies of young Indians, typically in their first or second jobs, migrants to major Indian metros, living in these conditions. The reasons for the poverty they experience are varied, and influenced by the industries they work for, their family backgrounds, other financial obligations, social stratas, and peer groups. There are so far, no studies available for this in India, and is a rising phenomenon in the US where it has been called ‘poverty with no name’. Gayatri’s short piece on the Urban Poor crossed 1.1 million views on Buzzfeed – the highest number for any Indian feature article to date

My Thoughts

Before heading to the review, I should point out that I’m not a big fan of Non-fiction and I have tried to give an honest review as much as possible.

The book is divided into four parts – Who are the Poor, Why do they spend, Brand I, Go for Broke. Each of these sections have several anecdotes and examples that are related to the titles. For example, the first section – ‘who me, poor’ has stories of people struggling to fit in, carve their niche, and in the process spend a lot of money to get attention and to build networks and survive. The story of the fashionista who skipped meals just because she needed money to live in the ‘happening’ place in the city and wear designer clothes shook me. The reason we spend is mostly attributed to the fact that a successful career depends on spending beyond our earnings. I’ve been working for the past 4 years, living away from home and I know what peer pressure, the easy money and the city life can turn you into.

The part about credit cards and EMI’s was like a wakeup call because I’m guilty of buying expensive stuff and paying excessive financial charges. And like me, there will be others, a huge mass of them. I felt like this book was meant for this crowd, (the ones who spend on something that to most parents would look unnecessary) to create an awareness, to make them understand that impressions can be made without the need for spending more than they can afford.

A must read, especially for youngsters who have just started out with their first jobs.

My rating is 3.5/5

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Windfall – Book Review

Author : Jennifer E Smith

Publisher : Pan Macmillan UK

Pub Date: 04 May 2017

Source : Own copy

Get the book from Amazon.in

Book Blurb :

Let luck find you.

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

My Thoughts

This book is about finding luck during the unlikeliest of times and how that turn of good fortune affects relationships.

Alice has always been in love with Teddy, but he remains oblivious  of this fact as she fears it will wreck their friendship. She mourns her parents death and has not mentally accepted Leo’s family as her own, especially Leo’s father, her uncle, who is also mourning his brother’s death. She is showered with enough love in her present living situation but she always feels like an outsider, an orphan. I did not like this side of her because she is wasting away her days (years!!) mourning for people who aren’t there and losing the ones who love her.

Coming to Teddy, when you’re a teen and all of a sudden you win millions in a lottery, you are bound to go overboard. That’s what Teddy does when his luck soars on his birthday, when his birthday gift from Alice makes him a millionaire. But his shopping spree and unwanted vacations annoy Alice as she expects him to spend it in a good way, like charity. *eyeroll*

I agree to a certain extent with Alice, but Teddy isn’t a 30-year old, he’s just had a twist in fortune and is allowed to go gaga over his riches. At least for some time. I couldn’t understand why Alice was such a goody-goody.

Some YA books, portray teens in a very intolerant way, and some like this one show characters like Alice as mature beyond their age. I liked Leo’s parents, they were sensible and knew their way around kids, especially the not-handling-Leo-like-a-glass-doll because he’s gay  was super cool.

The book was a tad disappointing with the main characters, and I felt that like this isn’t Jen E Smith’s BEST!.

My rating is 3/5.

Tell Me Three Things – Book Review

Author : Julie Buxbaum

Publisher : Delacorte Press

Pub Date: 05 April 2016

Source : Own copy

Get the book from Amazon.in

Book Blurb :

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Tell Me Three ThingsJust when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

My Thoughts

I love a good contemporary and this book just made it to my favorite list of contemporaries. A dead parent, a gay character, a love triangle – everything i usually get bore of in YA books. But this book was neatly written, nothing too much of all these things, just a little dash of them.

Moodboard

I loved the writing, the way Jessie n SN email/IM each other. The identity was really very obvious and that would have turned me off too usually but not this book.  What can i say, i'm seriously bitten by this one ❤

The one most important thing I loved was… how beautifully they portrayed the loss of a loved one, how each one was dealing with the grief. Not just concentrating on Jessie, but her step mom, her step brother Theo, here dad and finally Ethan (I love that name!!) And how they are trying to mend relationships with one another.

Fav quote:

There's nothing lonelier than a hand on a glass.. Maybe because it's so rarely reciprocated.

Tell me three things:

1)I love this book

2)I'm definitely reading all Julie Buxbaum books

3)My rating is 5/5 😀

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The Return of Damayanti – Book Review

On his second adventure, Bhrigu Mahesh is called to help by a hapless, retired clerk named Nataraj Bhakti, who thinks he is being haunted by the spirit of his dead wife. As he investigates, the mystery deepens and takes a sinister turn. A woman gets brutally murdered, and the great detective faces the challenge to either catch the killer or risk the destruction of many innocent lives.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Bhrigu Mahesh Phd series and I have not read the first book in the series. As i was provided a paperback copy for review, I was given an option to download the first book in the series using a book stub that was provided along with the review package. I was already in short of time, due to a mishap with the Postal 34630759services and I had only a day for reviewing this book so I couldn’t check the first one.

I believe this can be read as a standalone novel, but there is little background story offered for the two main characters of the book.

Bhrigu Mahesh and his friend Sutte are portrayed like Sherlock and Watson, and to a degree Bhrigu is more like Hercule Poirot. While reading the book, my mind went to these fictional heroes because of several similarities in character especially the one I most hate – belittling the companion. When Sutte doesn’t understand Bhrigu’s perception, he never clears it out for his friend and gets irritated at his superficial knowledge.

In this book, the duo are approached by a retired government clerk as he fears that his dead wife’s ghost has returned to haunt him. Bhrigu takes upon the offer of visiting Nataraj Bhakti’s ancestral home to investigate further on the case. Whilst Sutte isn’t happy with the arrangement, as the house in itself looks haunted and basic necessities are a big problem, he settles in after meeting Nataraj’s widowed sister, Savita. Bhrigu keeps observing thinks and when the paranormal activities subsides after his stay, he doesn’t immediately offer his client the cause of the problem but rather returns home. The detective and his friend are rushed back to the village of Krishna Dwar after hearing the news of Savita’s murder. They investigate the murder with the help of local police and identify the murderer by page 300 itself. The rest 140+ pages go on about the person behind the scenes and his influence on the murderer.

Personally I felt the book dragged at places. Instead of introducing the main characters and a little background story on them, there goes a chapter long discussion with Bhrigu’s friend Daisy. Big descriptions that were not needed or repeated could have been edited.

As it is a thriller, readers are bound to be intrigued on the happenings of the story and when a murder is involved, we need a lot of action. Be it the phantom part or the murder investigation, the detective kept most things to himself until the final reveal. So naturally, I started getting bored. After the murderer is revealed, I pretty much got an idea about why he/she was influenced and who had influenced.

The writing was okay but there were too many mistakes like “there parents/her wife/there profile pictures etc. The common mistake was there instead of there.

The book talks about the alpha-male, how women are mistreated still in some rural areas and asking them to fight for their rights, but playing around with the minds of the weaker sex isn’t what I expected.

My rating would be 3/5.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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A Court Of Wings and Ruin – Book Review

Author : Sarah J Maas

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing

Pub Date: 2 May 2017

Source : Own copy got through Story Trunk May box.

Get the book from Amazon.in, Infibeam

Book Blurb

A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare. A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

My Thoughts

Oh my GAWWDDDD!!!

That was my first reaction after finishing the book. I cried, I shuddered, I was at loss of words while reading and after finishing the book. This is PERFECTION!.  This could have been the final book of the series as it is very well written but SJM decides to keep her fans hooked and so is rewarding us with another in 2018. But its so faaarrrr away and is already on top of my anticipated books of 2018.

Where should i begin about this book.. whatever i write will never make justice. SJM has never left any character to be in the shadows. Everyone has their limelight moment and i liked that. The intensity between Cassian and Nesta was too much , ufff!!! I was waiting for this to happen and still that story is left hanging and all that build up kills me.

Tamlin the Tool!! what can i say, i hated him right from the first book.. but this book made him look a little bit bearable to me.

Do you remember the Grammy Awards ceremony where Adele keeps telling how much she loves Beyonce and Beyonce is mouthing the words I love you with tears in her eyes… Well, that’s me, during a particular chapter (i promise not to give away which one) crying all the way saying I love you Rhysand!!! My Night triumphant, how much do i adore thee, you will never know!!

I cannot stop thinking about Rhysand not even after days of finishing the book. He is the best-est!!  I can write an entire post about him.. I mean I should write one.. 🙂

Feyre’s character was already well established in book two, and that’s just maintained here as she grows out to be strong and independent, thanks to her wonderful High Lord.

I hate wars even if its in books and this war was pretty intense. I was fearing for each n every character’s life. SJM made me turn the pages like a mad person.

If you still haven’t read the book or started the series, please just do.

My rating is 4.5 stars. (I didn’t like the frequent sex scenes, i felt they were totally unnecessary given the intense build up in Book 2, hence the minus 0.5)

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Hold Back the Stars – ARC review

Author : Katie Khan

Publisher : Gallery Books ( a division of Simon and Schuster)

Pub Date: 23 May 2017

Source : I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!)

Get the book from Amazon, B & N

Book Blurb :

A startling and evocative novel, harkening to both One Day and Gravity, a man and a woman revisit memories of their love affair on a utopian Earth while they are trapped in the vast void of space with only ninety minutes of oxygen left. 

After the catastrophic destruction of the Middle East and the United States, Europe has become a utopia and, every three years, the European population must rotate into different multicultural communities, living as individuals responsible for their own actions. While living in this paradise, Max meets Carys and immediately feels a spark of attraction. He quickly realizes, however, that Carys is someone he might want to stay with long-term, which is impossible in this new world.

As their relationship plays out, the connections between their time on Earth and their present dilemma in space become clear. When their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it? An original and daring exploration of the impact of first love and how the choices we make can change the fate of everyone around us, this is an unforgettable read.

My thoughts

Woww this book was something! This is really a very good attempt at Utopian science fiction. And to think this is Katie Khan’s debut novel… !!

Max and Carys are floating in space with only ninety minutes of oxygen left in their tanks and with nothing around except for an asteroid belt that hit their spaceship leaving nothing useful behind. The chapters are alternatively told with how much time that is left with that of their past. The past was just a bit boring, cheesy romance of how they met and how they ended up in the spaceship with no other cosmonauts.

The story setting is based on fictional Utopian world that is formed after the destruction of the United States and the Middle East and the form of living the post-war world adapts to – The Rotation. For every three years, people who belong to the Europia and are in Rotation, will be moved to different regions of the world. There can be no relationships that are permanent until you are 35. Everyone is answerable to no one except their own and they take responsibility for their selves in this new world. No religion, race, ethnicity, caste etc.

Max is from the founding families of the Rotation and he lives by it. While Carys, is enrolled in it only after 18, has enough roots and commitments prior to Rotation so she hates the system. What happens when they meet is what follows and yes, eventually ending up in a spaceship.

Sci-fi wise the book was great and wonderful creative writing. Romance-wise it was nothing different.

“Science both advances and undermines itself over time. If we live long enough, most theories we currently accept as fact will be proved false. There is always better, more advanced science out there -we just have to advance our own knowledge first. “

As the minutes are ticking and there’s no miracle happening, i was intrigued and definitely wanting to finish the book to know its end. And boy was i surprised. I don’t want to give spoilers but those last few chapters were amazing!

My rating 4/5 stars 🙂

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