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A Thousand Unspoken words

downloadA Thousand Unspoken Words is Paulami Dutta Gupta’s 4th novel. Published by Readomania, this 2015 novel, though essentially a love story, is also a poignant tale of courage, idealism, failure and redemption.  Though I read the book a couple of months back this year, this is one review which I kept pushing, afraid that I might not be able to do full justice to its brilliance

The book cover is a beautiful mustard with the half hidden face of the hero and the Hoogly Bridge in the background.  I have a thing for beautiful covers, on many occasions I have picked up a book only because of the cover.  The title is almost poetic but what drew me to the book was the blurb ‘journey of a hero who falls’. The story begins with a miserable Tilotamma wondering where Musafir was. Musafir, a writer, a hero, her hero, who dared to write against the establishment. Nobody knows who Musafir is, nor does Tilotamma, but that does not stop her for being in love with him.

A chance encounter brings her face to face with her Musafir, but she fails to recognise him. Their paths cross again after a couple of years but as Ridhhimaan, the one who despises Musafir as much as she still loves him.

The writer pens a soulful love story taking us deep into the minds of Tilotamma and Ridhhimaan. Just as the idealist Tilotamma is not able to let go of Musafir, Riddhimaan struggles to come to terms with the new he. It becomes not just a story of finding love but also about discovering oneself. Though both Tilotamma and Ridhimaan are flawed and relatable, they are also larger than life. The writer succeeds in creating characters that will stay with you long after the book is over. But do not mistake it to be simply a love story, it is also a scathing take on the convenient communism we see in on display today.

As the story progressed I found myself completely engaged, I felt rage and despair as I saw Ridhimaan moving away from Musafir, I, like Tilotamma hoped that he would sooner or later make his peace with Musafir. As Tilotamma pined away for Musafir, not realising how much she was distancing herself from Ridhimaan, I like Ridhimaan, wondered if she was ever in love with him.  So much so that when the story ends I cannot decide whose side I am on,  Ridhimaan or Tilotamma.

12670274_770122263119715_5437675306764414861_nNot only is it a great story, it is a great read as well. The writing is evocative and engaging, the scenes pan out in front of you as if you are watching a film. The language is lucid and beautiful, the pace just perfect.

This definitely is one of the best books I have read this year and as a little birdie tells me that a sequel is in the making I cannot but wonder if Tilotamma will ever go ‘knocking at Ridhhimaan’s door’

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The Girl Who Loved a Pirate

the-girlThe Girl who loved a Pirate is a 2015 thriller by Kulpreet Yadav. The book is the 2nd in the Andy Karan series, the first being Catching the Departed. The book revolves around Andy Karan, our very own desi Action Hero.  An ex serviceman, the suave and  sharp Andy is the star investigator of New Delhi Today magazine by the day and an undercover agent working for the Government of India at other times.

I had totally loved the first Andy Karan book and so was really looking forward to this one and I must say the author does not disappoint.  What excites me about the series is that we finally have a home grown Jack Reacher a la Andy Karan. If the first one had him investigating a dirty bomb, the 2nd one has him fighting a pirate, yes you heard me right, a pirate!

The story starts with a high voltage pirate attack, the last such adventure for Ba-at, the ‘Pirate of the World’ before he settles down with the ‘only woman he had ever loved’ the beautiful and serene Dao Ming, but fate has other plans in store for him. While Ba-Qat prepares for attack in the Malacca Strait, Andy Karan is summoned by his boss to investigate the Drug Mafia in Goa, which has cost the life of one the reporters of the magazine Andy works for. As Andy heads to Goa little does he know that he would soon cross paths with the “Pirate of the World’ and fall in love with the beautiful Dao Ming.

The novel however takes a little time to warm up. The beginning where Andy is investigating the drug mafia in Goa is a little simplistic, with things falling in place all too quickly. Even Andy does not seem to be in his element and the story moves at a slow pace. But things pick up speed with the introduction of Rupa, the badass, sharp thinking, meticulous planner from NTRO. As she relates to Andy about their secret mission of attacking a North Korean ship off the coast of Goa you know you are in for some adrenalin pumping action and henceforth the author does not disappoint at all. The pace picks up, there is action galore both on land and the high seas and some well put together twists and surprises with just the right dosage of a love story.

kulpreetThe author has written some great action sequences; especially the one where Ba-Qat captures the North Korean ship is nail bitting. The author’s detailing of the entire mission, makes it an extremely interesting read, must say the book is very well researched.

If compared to the last book of the series, this book surely scores high. While in the first one, I found Andy and Monica’s love story forced into the storyline, here the author weaves in the love story beautifully.  ‘Silence is a beautiful story’ and so is his treatment of the love angle. If in the first book the ending seemed a little too simplistic and quick, the climax here is very well put together. He also gives us a glimpse of Andy Karan, the person, through his Prologue and the Manmohan Desai-ish back story of Ba-Qat’s birth gives it that Bollywood touch which makes it a total paisa vasool read

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A Place of No Importance

a-placeA Place of no Importance is a collection of 13 short stories written by Veena Muthuraman, an Indian writer based in Edinburgh.  The stories are set in the nondescript village of Ayyanarpatti. The village at the cusp of the great Indian urbanisation forms the perfect backdrop for her stories which are an attempt to bring forth the rocky journey of its people towards embracing the modern, while still heavily entrenched in their old superstitions, rituals and social dogmas.

As always I will begin with the cover, which has a couple of young boys running through a field against a setting sun. Quite apt I must say. I loved reading the Author’s note, where she reminisces about her visit to Ayyanarpatti during Deepavali which inspired this collection

It was the first time in the almost three decades I had known this place that I realized that it changed with seasons and it was not always dry and parched like summer….

‘….I wanted to catch this way of life before it completely vanished, before all we have left are festivals which become meaningless and mindless…’ And I must say the author does a great job of it.

Each of the thirteen stories though distinctly different from one another have a few common characters, just like it is in small cities and villages where most people know each other and there is probably just one big shop owner or the tea stall owner at the bus stop whom everyone knows or that one person who is the right hand man of the MLA who throws his weight around or that curios, gossip mongering young girl.

Simply told, her stories bring a smile to your lips and if you have lived in a small town or visited your grandparents in idyllic villages you are sure to relate to them. Her strength of course is her characters. Her attention to how her characters speak, behave, react make them come alive. In all her stories she touches upon social evils, superstitions, mindless rituals, at times subtly , like in ‘A festive Suicide’Prelude to a wedding’ or the ‘The Amman of Saris’ and at times they form the very crux of the story like in ‘God’s own Country’ and a ‘House on Upper Street’

A common theme that runs through her stories are the silent but strong women she builds her stories around, be it Rukkamma of ‘A New Beginning’ or  Kalai of ‘A New Release’ or Kanaka Achi of ‘Scenes from a Scandal’ they will definitely find a place in your thoughts and heart.

She also tries to captures the mad rush of people to move to distant countries as unskilled labourers as they try to give their families a better life and the resulting frustration when they are tired of a life of toil and wish to come back to their villages ‘Five years of breaking and lifting stones in Singapore and all that is left is a colour TV and a wife with saris and jewellery from the latest Nalli Silks billboards…’ Natesan reminisces in ‘The Demon wind of Adi’

veenaMy favourite story however happens to be ‘God’s own country’ where Nithya spoils the local councillor’s bid to usurp land for a fake International School. How you ask? Well, using the one weapon which never fails ‘The crowd went wild. The Remover of Obstacles, the God of beginnings, found on this land? They started running towards where Kuppan was digging’ [By the way, I loved Nithya, the feisty, forever snooping, young girl of Ayyanarpatti]

The writer has based all of these stories on the months of the Tamil Calendar starting with Aipasi, the month of Deepavali. While in some stories the significance of the particular month is beautifully woven in, in most of them I could not see a relation, but I am not complaining, given the beautiful sojourn that the authors gives us of her native village. So go give it a read.

The book is available on Juggernaut books

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An Ode to the Extraordinaire Director/Writer Ray

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I have been a Satyajit Ray fangirl for the longest time. I have read and re-read his books. Watched and re-watched his movies umpteen times and yet I would never leave the opportunity to watch or read his works again. The Sonar Kella DVD and the Feluda Samagra are the most treasured of my possessions.

Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen, Hirok Rajar Deshe, Jai baba Felunath, Sonar Kella, Teen Kanya, Ghore Baire, Apur Sansar, Aguntuk, Shakha Proshakha are some my all time favourite films.  He handled difficult subjects with simplicity and subtlety. Who can forget Charulata sitting on her swing and looking at Amal?  Or in Shakha Proshakha, when an ailing Ananda Majumdar’s grandson asks him what is black money? Or the Magoj Dholai (brain washing) machine from Hirok Rajar Deshe Or the last scene from the same movie where the now enlightened villagers pull down the huge statue of the King? Or Jatayu’s introduction in Sonar Kelladur moshai ami gorparer lok Hindi ki keu shadhe mare naki?’  [Which translates simply to I speak Hindi by compulsion, but when combined with Jatayu’s delivery and the extraordinary Hindi that he speaks, etches it in your memory]

And the most amazing thing about his movies are that every time you watch it, it will have a different meaning for you, a classic example is the Gupi Bagha series about these two good for nothing, buffoons with a golden heart, who end up teaching you so much.

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Zeal and Zen

I started this blog about a year back because I wanted to share my journey of reading a book. What I liked about the book, what I didn’t, how did it affect me? Did it disappoint me? I felt I needed to put all of these emotions on paper to find closure. Oh yes, I am of the type who keeps thinking about a book long after I have read it. So there was a lot time spent in looking for name. Why bookhippo you ask? Well because I am voracious reader, so I devour books like a hippo and the fact that I am quite the glutton, bookhippo just fit in perfectly.

It all started with a lot of zeal and zest. I would diligently write reviews every week after I finished reading a book and in case I hadn’t read anything or was still reading the book at the end of the week, I would post something or the other. The weeks then however stretched to a fortnight, then a month and at the end of 6 months when I had a huge pile of books to be written about, I stopped.  Of course I had my reasons and valid ones, I have a full time job which I carry home most of the time and I have a 3 year old to manage. I however wondered how had I managed it for the couple of months in the beginning, but that’s all I did, kept wondering.

When I saw the A to Z Challenge, I entered it without a thought really. When the theme reveal happened, I had not yet given this a thought and I almost did not do this, but then on April 1st, I simply sat down and wrote my very first review ‘All the Light We Cannot See’, just like that . Yay!! I was super excited. The next few days went by smoothly but then it started becoming difficult. My son started school and I was given an additional assignment at work. I almost gave it up, because every management book will tell you to prioritize and of course my son and work were priority. So I almost gave up, well almost.

But here I am writing my last post and am happy that I completed this challenge because quitting isn’t done…Not done at all…Now that’s what I call a Zen moment;-)

P.S: Vasudha Chandana Gulati and Anupama Jain, if you are reading this, a big thank you, you both know why 🙂

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You’ve got the wrong girl- strikes all the right chords

WrongPublished in 2015, You’ve got the Wrong Girl is Sreemoyee Piu Kundu’s 3rd Novel. I am sure you must have guessed from the name that it is a Love Story and No, not a sad one because he got the wrong girl, so take heartJ

I really liked the name of the book, it is interesting isn’t it? A love story about the wrong girl or wait is it about the ‘you’ whose got the girl wrong, makes you curious. And then when you see the cover you know you have hit upon the right book for sure. It is nice and colourful with the Taj Mahal and a boat in the Ganges.

The story starts with Dushyant Singh Rathore at a Book Reading. So our Hero is a 30 something bestselling author of ‘Kinda Cliched’, his unfinished love story which starts and ends in a lawn in a Agra hotel hosting a wedding that he gate crashed into. Now he has to write the sequel, on one hand he has his publishers breathing down his neck and on the other is his journalist friend who insists he must find the one with ‘kohl-rimmed eyes’  ‘really tall stilettos’ and ‘bony shoulders’ who left him ‘butt-naked’. So Dushyant Singh Rathore starts on a journey to find his girl with abundant help from his faithful and lovable agent and friend Bhaskar.

SreemoyeeI loved the author’s writing style. There are plentiful dialogues and very believable ones at that. The conversation and emotions she brings forth will find a resonance with you. Her characterizations are bang on. Be it the bestselling-author-by-the-day-and-confused-sulking-romeo-by-the-night ‘Jaanoo’ or the street smart and loyal Bhaskar with a penchant for cheap Bengali porn or the ouch-my-polish-just-chipped kind of an attention seeker Anjali or the I-have-your-back-but-I-think-you-are-a-fool elder sister, her characters are beautifully etched. The only normal people in the book are Dushyant’s parents and of course the right girl.

It’s the kind of book where you’d literally say a silent prayer as Dushyant comes close to marrying the… well….you have got to read to find that out.

The climax is just so adorable, ‘kinda clichéd’, yes and very bollywoodish but adorable nonetheless. It is a very commercial book but well edited and well written. It kept me completely hooked and I enjoyed the book a lot. If this were a Hindi Movie you could say it was full paisa wasool

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X-Men and their tribe

IMG_20160430_182612This post really is dedicated to my husband. This is my attempt to get him to read at least one real novel. Oh no, not that he does not love reading, he is a voracious reader but I just cannot inspire him enough to read anything beyond Luis L’amour, Graphic Novels and Comics [He was a Literature student, but that does not count anymore does it?]. He has an enviable collection of them, some them much sought after first editions or original editions. Maybe he will see the magnanimous me, who is making an attempt to understand his literary world, and come around to reading a couple of books I like.

So here’s an ode to the X-men and the others in his tribe 😉 in pictures