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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

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When they Spoke – and How!!!

WhenWhen they Spoke is an interesting collection of 29 stories by various authors. Interesting because, it gives a voice to in-animates. Each of the carefully picked stories attempts to bring to life an inanimate object. Have you ever wondered what if all these objects around us, the ones we use, the ones we live in, the ones we drive could see, feel and express? The car door that you just slammed does it feel pain? The house that you sold off, does it miss you? The mirror in which you admire yourself is it as vain as you? These 29 authors [including me :-)] take you on a journey into the lives of these in-animates.

As you start reading the book what strikes you is how varied and different the objects are. There are stories about the sky, the mountain, a mirror, a flower, a photo frame, houses, surgical instruments, safety pins and even a hangman’s noose. And the emotions that these stories invoke are so varied that it feels like watching a feature film which has love, drama, action, revenge, longing, death, destruction and victory in equal measure. Generally anthologies or collections are a mixed bag, where you like some of the stories, love a few and don’t care about the rest, not this one though. I  LOVED EACH and EVERY story. Despite the fact that some the in-animates were repeated, the stories were completely different from one another.

GroupThe November Sky by Kirthi Jayakumar made we muse about the purpose of Life

The Protector by Janneker Lawrence was nothing less than a high-octane action film

I am Kalashnikov by Paulami DuttaGupta simply blew me away, one of the best and most powerful stories I have ever read

Peresphone by Preethi Venugopal was a heady cocktail of Love and betrayal

The Rusty Needle with a hat by Anirban Nanda had a nail-pricking climax 😉

Normal Is Bo ‘Ring’ by Neeti Banga made me go all ‘Aww’ and mushy

Automate by Sanghamitra Bose was nail biting. So evocative, I could see all the action unfolding before me.

The Gates of Heaven by Bhuvaneshwari Shankar was a wonderful story of hope and life

Reflection by Rhiti Bose made me realize that beyond the facade of wealth we all are the same. We have the same fears, same failures and same joys!

Purgatory by Dr. Kuheli Bhattacharya surprised me with the unusual inanimate she chose

Moving Mountains by Riti Kaunteya was an ode to the infallible human spirit ‘This time I smiled benevolently at my sister, and returned my gaze towards the path that Adrika would take to return to me. It might be a long wait, but then, I could wait forever.’

The Empty Vase by Deepti Menon’s twist of an ending left me pleasantly surprised

The Wind is Singing by Sutapa Basu has a spine chilling surprise in the end ‘Lazily, the lone figure swung to and fro. The night wind is singing. The peepal is grumbling…creeeaaak, creeeaaak…’

The Will to live by Radhika Maira Tabrez made me ‘will’ to read more of her writing

The Enchantress by Paromita Mukerjee Ojha was a story filled with wisdom. I couldn’t help but applaud Durba’s ingenuity

If only they Asked by Ayan Pal is a scathing story about regressive customs and caste differences. Why does he have to write so well? Looks like I am ‘leaf green with envy’

Framed Memories by Yashluv Virwani was one of the most touching stories in the book, did make me a bit teary eyed.

The Knot of Shame by Neil D’Silva had me shocked by his choice of object.

My Lady Love by Vibha Sharma is a story about obsessive love.  I definitely hadn’t expected the ending.

The Silent Wanderer by Sayujya Shankar gives an important message about conservation

Masterji’s Haveli by Avanti Sopory made me nostalgic

Light by Ashay Abbhi, I loved how he married his inanimate with the story

Earring by Lakshana Palat is a beautiful love story

When Siddhartha Moved the Mountain by Anupama Jain, well what can I say, the story moved me too

The Soul of a Hospital by Sheela Jaywant will make you look at hospitals in a different light

Under my branches by Nivedita Tuli is about a mango tree…well that in itself is so romantic

Thus Spoke the Earth by Ankita Chauhan is an appeal to pay heed to climate change

The Curse by Shweta Ravi, a saga of a curse which cuts across generations is a befitting closure to the collection.

While I am itching to write more about each of the stories, I will leave you to experience them for yourself. A unique concept, impeccably edited and elegantly written, these wonderful stories are a must read. Feels great that I can call it 1/29th my book [The book features my story ‘Front‘]

When they Spoke is Published by Readomania and deftly edited by Arpita Banerjee. You can buy the book here:

Amazon India 

Amazon.com

Flipkart