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.

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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 One – Book review

Author : John Marrs

Publisher : Random House UK

Pub Date: 25 May 2017

Source : Own copy

Get your copy from Amazon.in

Book Blurb

How far would you go to find THE ONE?
One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.The One
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…
A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Thoughts

I will try hard not to include spoilers in my review.

I really liked this book and to my surprise I was not able to guess many things like i usually do while reading a thriller. Actually there’s a killer in this book, but it is revealed in the beginning so that’s not what I meant about guessing. The story actually follows five different people who in some way or the other have registered with the ‘Match Your DNA’ service that promises to find the person’s soulmate by genetic match.

So there are these 5 different narrations all of them told in third person and almost all the chapter gives you a surprise or shock. And in no way I could outguess them. I did , a very few but those were really obvious ones. Just when you think that like you are able to follow the story and predict how its gonna end, there will come another twist 😛

Out of all the five, I liked the serial killer’s story. I was able to guess that one’s ending 😀

There were some typos here and there but the writing was good. I’m not much into descriptive explanations and this book was crisp and didn’t go much into the details unnecessarily. I don’t want to reveal much about the characters but you will enjoy reading about them.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for one with so many twists and turns.

My rating 5 stars 🙂

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Ministry of Magic – Books n Beyond Box unboxing

Hola ! I’m so sorry for taking my blog for granted. I got slammed with too much work and I couldn’t read even a single book in May. I have pending e-galley reviews and book box unboxing posts. This one in particular is the Harry Potter special edition – Ministry of Magic box from BooksnBeyond Box. You might have come across their name in my list of Indian subscription boxes.

So the bookings for this box was opened in February and I jumped right in after seeing the words ‘Harry Potter’. There was so much suspense and sneak peaks given for this amazing box that it drove everyone CRAZY!!

So first things first was the Sorting Hat email that was sent out to all subscribers. We were at a liberty to choose the House we wanted and i chose Gryffindor.

The box promptly arrived in Mid May as promised and in came a world of magic n surprises.

The first thing that bowled me over was the – Acceptance Letter from Hogwarts… signed by Prof. Minerva McGonagall. It was a detailed letter printed on beautiful vintage paper giving it even more rustic look. The next thing that surprised my husband was the magic wand from Blithering Cannon. I was equally stunned after seeing the Gryffindor fact sheet and the customized House Notebook in addition to my first mini FUNKO POP!!!!!. There was a time turner pendant as well which was the most difficult thing for me to capture in a pic 😛

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Hermione’s Time Turner 

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Acceptance letter

The entire box contents are as follows :

  1. Customized Hogwarts acceptance letter detailing the things that we need to get before school starts.
  2. Hermione’s Time turner pendant
  3. Magic wand (pencil) from Blithering Cannon
  4. Mini Harry Potter FUNKO POP keychain
  5. Customized Harry Potter quote mugIMG_4212
  6. Gryffindor House facts card and customized House notebook
  7. Customized Map of Marauder/HP quote (double sided) bookmark
  8. Customized Daily Prophet bookmark
  9. One way ticket from Platform 9 3/4
  10. Diary Milk Lickables
  11. BOTM – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

 

Suffice to say, Books n Beyond Box did justice to the theme and the cost of the box. I totally recommend this book subscription service for Indian bibliophiles.

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Waiting on Wednesdays

I cant stop waiting !! One part of the world has already got its hands on their copy of ACOWAR!. Mine is coming in this month’s Story Trunk book subscription box and since its India, there is always delay from books being released by publishers :/

ACOWAR – Book Blurb

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series. 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.
In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

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Also I had pre-ordered a copy of Windfall by Jennifer E.Smith in March !!! I tracked the order today in Amazon only to find that the release (here) has been postponed to May 17th .

Windfall Book blurb

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.

Hopefully, these two beauties will be in my hands by next Wednesday ! What books are you waiting for this week?

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The Boy is Back – Book Review

Author : Meg Cabot

Publishers : William Morrow Paperbacks (HarperCollins)

Pub Date : 18 Oct 2016

Source: Purchased online from Amazon.in

Get the book from Amazon.in, Amazon.com.

Book blurb:

Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small-town troubles—including a broken heartThe Boy Is Back (Boy, #4)—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance.
Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior-relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night. And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back.

My thoughts:

This book is the last of the Boy series by Meg Cabot although you can read it as a standalone. This is about Becky Flowers and Reed Stewart who dated during high school but after a small ‘incident’ involving his father’s golf truck on his prom night and cops , Reed leaves Bloomville without another word to his girlfriend and never returns. Fate however has a different plan now that after ten years he is ‘forced’ to revisit the place. Becky is now a strong independent woman leading her father’s business to success and is somewhat grateful for a boyfriend who has a ‘cheese and wine’ boutique in town!

Things get interesting when Reed and Becky’s lives are intersecting again. This isn’t a new story line but what is new and makes the book sooo interesting is the fact that it is told entirely through text messages, emails and newspaper articles. Yes, the plot is pretty much predictable but try telling a story through texts, at the same time introducing many characters, but still keeping the readers engaged.

Its the return of the Meg Cabot that i loved and worshipped !! 😛 I was so taken aback after reading the finale of Princess Diaries – Royal Wedding. But this book !! Its everything i love about Meg Cabot’s writing style, the funny narration and lovable characters.

I so loved Marshal and Carly Stewart, Reed’s brother and sis-in-law. These people are couple goals, really! Not the dying for each other love, but typical tom-and-jerry bickering but all the same loving and being funny couple.

I’ve always wondered how difficult it is to write a novel in epistolary format and this book just does it with texts and emails and you get the complete picture without big descriptions and paragraphs.

And there’s one too many Jane Austen references and quotes 😉

Fans of chick-lit, Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella.. this book will not disappoint you!

I give 4/5 stars 🙂

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Court of Lions – Book Review

Author : Jane Johnson

Publishers : Head of Zeus

Pub Date : May 2017/July 2017

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

Get the book from Amazon

Book Blurb

Sometimes at the lowest points in your life, fate will gift you chance. A golden thread of love links the fifteenth and twenty-first centuries.

Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, the ancient capital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping by with an unfulfilling job in a busy bar. One day in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra, once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, also known as Boabdil, Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbols, has been inscribed a message from another age. It has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever.

An epic saga of romance and redemption, Court of Lions brings one of the great turning-points in history to life, telling the stories of a modern woman and the last Moorish sultan of Granada, as they both move towards their cataclysmic destinies.

My thoughts:

This is almost 500 pages and was a very long read for me as I had to shuffle between reading time and work. I finally finished it after a week 🙂

The story is about Kate Fordham, who has a disastrous past and flies away from it to the Province of Granada. She is broken, thanks to her past, and she just manages to survive in a foreign country living each day in guilt and fear. She finds solace in the gardens of Alhambra and one day when she takes a stroll, she finds this note hidden in the walls. She is intrigued by it and in an attempt to find what the note actually means, she meets new people and finds friendship and finally the courage to let someone else in her life.

There is also a parallel narration, from the point of view of Blessings, the (fictional) royal companion of Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, the last Nasrid ruler of Granada (Also called as Momo by Blessings) . This narration explains the unrequited love that Blessings had for Momo, the war that led to the fall of the Nasrid dynasty and the Spanish Inquisition. This was quite tough to follow, because of various historical references and me not being very good at World history.

Kate’s part was easy to follow and I was expecting something more along the lines of the ‘note’ she finds. Blessings’ narration was little difficult and I was confused from the beginning whether its a girl or a boy. So this was explained towards the end of the book and that made sense. I liked the way the chapters were set, one suspense from Kate and the next chapter begins with Blessings narration or the vice versa.

There was so much love in the eyes of Blessings for Momo, even though the Sultan loved his royal companion, it was clearly a ‘Friend Zoned’ relationship.

All those religious wars.. 😦 I hate to think about it and this suppression/oppression makes me stand with Momo who loves nothing but peace for his people and decides to give up everything for them. And this is still happening!! One day everything is peaceful and next day they are gassing or bombing people. 😦

Moors and Hews and Castilians mingling in souks and markets to buy and sell and exchange news and gossip. Until, of course, the ambitions of the powerful set one against the other.

The author’s note explained why she had written this book around the Sultan. History has it that the Sultan wept after giving away the keys of his Kingdom to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. But this is debated as a story made up, and so the author decided to give the story from his closest ally’s point of view recounting the events that led to the fall of his kingdom. A chance to celebrate him, for what he truly is.

It was beautifully detailed and leaves you with so much pain. I wasn’t that much hooked to Kate’s life and how the story progresses there.

And hey, Christopher Columbus makes guest appearance 😉

I give 4/5 stars. A tragic historical fiction with a little suspense.

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