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Inspirational.

There are some books which attract you. For some reason, one gets pulled towards them and then there is no turning back. One knows that it is going to affect one is strange ways. Memories Of A Rolling Stone, did precisely that. It has been over a week since I completed the book and I am still mesmerized, influenced and inspired by the book.

This is the first autobiography that I have completed. The book not only gave me an insight into the women’s movement in India but also segments of our history. One of the toughest things to do is to accept that one is wrong- the author talks about the misconception which existed prior to the study conducted for the UN report(during the International Women’s decade) and how even after conclusive facts, politicians and governments were still resistant and apprehensive in accepting the study.

The author talks with humility and confidence which gave me the shudders. In times when exaggeration is the staple and limelight is what many seek, she maintains a poise and narrates her story with calm and unadulterated passion. There are many who dismiss the women’s movement as that of the elite- the author highlights the fact that indeed it was so and that rural and poor women, women who did the actual work in the fields where still riddled in the old narrow-minded society.

The book opened a new perspective for me. This is the first time, I have had the opportunity to listen someone who was part of the system. Vina Mazumdar talks about her journey from her home is Kolkatta, through independence, through Oxford, as a teacher and then as a part of the women’s movement. We learn from her life experiences and come to realize that a certain amount of tact and willpower is needed to tackle the problems in our society and country.

While our politicians and TV anchors harp away to glory, there are many who do the actual work. They are the ones who are responsible for our development, freedom and day-to-day existence. The author, inspires and at the end of the day, all I can do is thank her for the book. Well narrated and detailed, the book is like the author(as she says) a Rolling Stone- the pages keep turning. It would be delightful to have a teacher like her!

Rating:- 8/10

A Brief About The Vodafone Crossword Book Awards:
Exclusively Indian, inclusive in every other sense, the Vodafone Crossword Book


Award brings together the entire literary community – readers, authors, booksellers & publishers – like no other awards.

These are your awards – join us in celebrating Indian writing.

The Vodafone Crossword Book Award is one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in India that not only recognizes and rewards the best of Indian writing but also actively promotes the authors and their books.

The Vodafone Crossword Book Awards are given out in the following categories:

1. Vodafone Crossword Fiction Award.
2. Vodafone Crossword Non-Fiction Award.
3. Vodafone Crossword Translation Award.
4. Vodafone Crossword Children’s Award.
5. Vodafone Crossword Popular Award.

Click here to know more about the awards.
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Bombay Duck Is A Fish is an impressive first by scrip-writer Kanika Dhillon. Her protagonist, Neki Brar, a small towngirl from Amritsar moves to Mumbai to make it as a filmmaker in Bollywood. Shefinds a flat and her first job in Mumbai easily enough but trials follow soonafter. Life on a film set is chaotic and Neki discovers a knack for showing upat the wrong place at the wrong time. Gradually, the naive girl metamorphosesinto a shrewd Assistant Director and starts climbing the ladder of success. Littledoes she suspect that she will find herself, not many months later, standing onthe terrace of her building, a bottle of wine and her diary in hand, thinkingabout how best to jump off.

As Creative Head at Red Chillies Entertainment, the author is no stranger tobright arc lights, or to the dark shadows created in their wake. She tells anintelligent, engaging tale laced with dark humour by painting vivid picturesabout real life mayhem on a film set, which by implication, is a fleeting illusionat best. Just like all things Bollywood. Nothing is what it seems, quite likethe self-explanatory title; that’s the whole point that the author appears tobe making. But a variety of stereo-types speckle the pages: shallow actors,godfathers, affairs galore and petty politicking. Despairing professionalscontemplating suicide and ghostly figures in white, smiling mysteriously completethe picture!

The book is a must read for Bollywood hopefuls who will be given a rareglimpse into the supposed glamour associated with film-making without having tolive the grind. Unabashedly and unapologetically dedicated to Shah Rukh Khan, theauthor’s employer, Bombay Duck Is A Fishis a book about reality, struggle, ethics and hope. It is also a book aboutunfulfilled dreams, failures and weaknesses. Mostly it is the first draft of ascript waiting to grow up into a film. A sense of déjà vu constantly trail thereader throughout the book. Possibly because some of the characters, incidents,situations and scenarios may already have been translated into celluloid.

What really works for the book is Kanika’s simple style of writing and theobvious satire. The unexpected twist in the end, however, comes as a bit oflet-down. Especially since the author has acknowledged in an interview that sheis, “a die-hard happily ever after person, who believes in magic, miracles,heroes and superheroes. If you think too rationally, you will never be able totake the leap of faith.” Why, then, the leap off the ledge, Ms Dhillon?

Haven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It’s close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing. The streets are clean, people keep their yards really nicely. It’s fairly pet friendly, though barking dogs are not welcomed. The crime rate is
practically non-existent, unless you count the odd human sacrifice, dismemberment, animal attack, demon rape and blood atonement. When Paula Wittmore goes home to Haven Woods to care for a suddenly ailing mother, she brings her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She also brings the last chance for twelve of her mother’s closest frenemies, who like to keep their numbers at thirteen. And her daughter, young, innocent, is a worthy gift to the darkness. A circle of friends will support you through bad times. A circle of witches can drag you through hell. (From Amazon.ca)

Ohhhhh. I wanted to like this one. I really did. When I read what this book was about, I immediately went to take it out of the library and giggled with glee as I didn’t have to put it on hold or anything. It did have it’s great moments! I was all ready for a really nice dark gothy read! I loved the idea of a cat filled town (furbabies!!!) where things aren’t what they seem. The town had a nice dark theme to it, almost akin to Witches of Eastwick mixed with Stepford Wives theme. So that in itself was great. Audra’s curse was great! I thought that was really interesting and fun to read. It’s most certainly a well descriptive curse.

Each of the ‘witches’ and what they wished for was also interesting, but of course everything comes at a price. When things do get messy, the consequences are severe. This was also fun to read – especially when they all go into a panic. The panic gets contagious and they’re suddenly resembling frantic chickens.  

Then…the story itself just falls apart.

What is it with this dogs vs cats theme? that really bugged me. It really played on that a little too much and the old adage of cats being the ‘witches familiar’ is really really old. That bugged me because I knew in the long run in this book, that there was going to be a mass killing of cats somewhere along the line. Oh for crying out loud. Seriously? we’re still writing about how evil they are and that dogs are every body’s best friend and the champions against the dark witchcraft magic. Have we suddenly gone Middle Ages all over again? the animal cruelty (both for dogs and cats) was not necessary and this dogs vs cats thing was silly.

Let’s now talk about Rowan. She was all right. For a while. Until the story starts in her point of view. Then we get writing like this:

“No one answered it of course, until
(another weirdo)
the nurse Tula came down the hall”


WHY were her thoughts written this way??!!! WHY??? not only did this interrupt the flow of the story but it was very distracting and haphazard to read. It was so disruptive, it was almost as if these thoughts were interrupting the book itself. It made for very annoying reading.

Finally, we go to a chase scene, where it was going at least in a circle three times and it made the reading redundant and the last scene of the book felt so long to play out because of this. Although it was rather exciting to read, as the chase started getting longer, it started getting absurd.

This was certainly a book you can pass on. I expected so much more and it ended up falling short. It’s definitely not what I was hoping for.

REVIEW BY MITHILA IYER

The fantasy genre brings to mind swashbuckling heroes, epics sagas, and
possible Armageddon scenarios. And let’s face it, we love them all. Most
people agree that these are one of the most interesting types of books to
read. The Fang of Summoning, by Giti Chandra is one such book. Set in
both the 1st century AD in Iceland, and present day, in the bustling suburb
of Gurgaon, The Fang of Summoning tells us the story of a secret, a secret
that has been guarded jealously over time by those who possess it and
now in the hands of the six talented youngsters of the Chandra family. This
secret can destroy the world, or save it. And as always, there is someone or
rather something out there, that wants this source of power to itself and will
not rest until it gets it. But to do that, it first has to get through the talented
young guardians.

This book is very, very, good. Giti Chandra,  conjures to mind
such vibrant word pictures that one is transported from the bleak and icy
wilderness of Iceland to the hustle and bustle of Gurgaon in an instant. The
characters, from Grandpa Harish Chandra, to little Noor Ragnarsdottir are
all well formed, and feel like real people, that you could just know. There
is a certain underbite, a menace, to the whole tone of the book, which is not
out of place at all, considering the story. The narrative, however, may be
confusing for younger readers, especially in the beginning, as they may have
a little difficulty in keeping up with the story. But the rest of the book flows
smoothly.
This book does very much lives up to its expectations, and is intensely
gripping. My compliments to the author, and I do hope that a sequel to this
comes out soon!
A Brief About The Vodafone Crossword Book Awards:
Exclusively Indian, inclusive in every other sense, the Vodafone Crossword Book
Award brings together the entire literary community – readers, authors, booksellers & publishers – like no other awards.
These are your awards – join us in celebrating Indian writing.
The Vodafone Crossword Book Award is one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in India that not only recognizes and rewards the best of Indian writing but also actively promotes the authors and their books.
The Vodafone Crossword Book Awards are given out in the following categories:
1. Vodafone Crossword Fiction Award.
2. Vodafone Crossword Non-Fiction Award.
3. Vodafone Crossword Translation Award.
4. Vodafone Crossword Children’s Award.
5. Vodafone Crossword Popular Award.
Click here to know more about the awards.
An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It’s said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line. Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel’s dad died in the last war. It’s a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help. Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right? (From Amazon.ca)

It’s an interesting book within many in the current trend of dystopian fiction. What I really enjoyed is the clever idea of the background on how the setting came to be in form of a history lesson from Rachel’s mom. She poses it in a question and answer (Rachel gives the answers in good detail) format so the reader is informed on the background information needed to understand this novel.

It does take a while to get started, despite the length of this novel (about 219 pages) I’m not sure why the pace was unbelievably slow for such a thin book. You do feel a lengthy lull and you wonder where this is all going to end up. Also, I am not sure what to think about Rachel. One the one hand,  I liked her for her strength to do what was right, regardless of the consequences. Yet there was just something about her that I didn’t like. Perhaps it was her personality?

The book does take a turn for the more interesting as it progresses. Despite the fact that I am not really a fan of Rachel in the first place, she does develop into quite a character within the last third of the book. When she meets Pathik, things get even more interesting and you’re left with a tremendous cliffhanger at literally, the very last pages of the book. That got me pulling my hair out.

What irked me the most about the book is the name of other countries besides the US (Unified States). What was that all about? why were they named such strange names and how did it come to be? to be truthful, the names of these other countries sound like they should be different planets instead. Maybe they’re inhabited by aliens? I don’t know, it sure sounds like it though. Although the pace of the book was slower than usual, it changes towards the end and the pace suddenly becomes faster than the speed of light. It’s inconsistent and uneven.

I will look for the second book only because this one ended in such a huge cliffhanger I am curious to know what’s going to happen next. Not sure if I could recommend this one, take it or leave it as there are much better novels featuring dystopias out there.

Love On The Rocks by Ismita Tandon Dhanker (part of Penguin’s Metro Reads series), is a romantic thriller that tests the bonds of love and marriage against a backdrop of suspense and intrigue. Staged on the high seas, this whodunit refreshingly explores previously uncharted settings in Indian fiction by placing its characters on a ship. With twenty-four men and one woman cloistered in the vessel, things are bound to happen. That they would be easily and swiftly resolved is indicated by the lively cover on this slim volume. Add to that a believable happily-ever-after ending.

Newly-wed Sancha is excited about sailing with her husband, an officer in the merchant navy, on board the Sea Hyena. But Chief Officer Aaron Andrews is keeping a secret from his wife—a month before she arrived, the chief cook was found dead in the meat locker, his death ruled an accident. First Engineer Harsh Castillo is enamoured of his best friend Aaron’s bride, but that’s the least of his problems. The demons he’s battling have a stronger pull on him. When money is stolen from the captain’s safe, the inquisitive Sancha makes a game of finding the thief. What she finds, instead, is a homicide. With the evidence implicating her husband, Sancha is at a crossroads— should she tell Raghav Shridhar, the investigating officer, about the money or should she give her secretive husband the benefit of the doubt?

The plot consistently twists and turns along an emotional plane without once exploiting dramatic license; allowing instead for a quick and fast-paced narration. The language is good and the writer’s style is generously tinged with humourous inflections. The narrative is carried forward by finely etched characters, all of who assist in developing the story in great measure through their perspective. The author has even managed to wonderfully thread them together without losing the pace of the book. Amongst others, the reader makes the acquaintance of an expletive-spewing Captain, nicknamed Popeye; a meek, perpetually-hungry sailor Baldy and the mysterious Manna of the dark childhood, whose identify remains well-hidden till the end of the book. It is to the credit of Dhanker that Love On The Rocks retains the mystery and thrill that are supposed to be the crux of the novel.

A few factors keep the book from being an overwhelming first attempt. I am of the opinion that the author could have ferreted further into the thoughts of all her characters, giving each of them a distinct style of expression, both in thought, as well as, in deed. Since the story is narrated in different voices, it would have served to break the monotony that usually comes cloaked in homogeneity. An initial mounting interest in this story-telling technique gradually diminishes as layered characterization is somewhat lacking.
Also, while it is made abundantly evident that the author is well-versed with goings-on in a life as a ‘shippie’, the reader can be expected to trip over naval jargon without the benefit of reaching out to an explanation or glossary for assistance. Additional descriptions would have been very welcome and not left a whole lot to the reader’s imagination. At the same time, the book could have done with a whole lot less dialogue. Every character mouths many a clichés and witty repartee, an unlikely happening, given the setting and circumstance.

Love On The Rocks will make a wonderful travel companion; something to curl up with over a lazy weekend even. It is a short and enjoyable read with no pretense at discovering a profounder meaning to life. I would recommend this honestly written book to anyone looking for an entertaining way to spend some time away from terra firma.

Can also be read at Cutting Loose.

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.
Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened. Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else… (From Amazon.ca)

The sheer size of this book at first may seem daunting. However the story istelf is so well written and so interesting, you don’t realize how far into the novel you got until you stop and take a break. Then you realize, the book was certainly fast to go through because it was just that good.

The action starts right at the first page. It then keeps going. I loved the mystery behind it all. Little bits and clues are finally given through the later half of the book, but it’s well drawn out. Not to mention, there is also the survival issue that plays a very important part in this book. A lot of the emphasis is on survival and the breaking off of the teens in several groups or cliques. The plot does certainly become darker up to this point. Especially when the bullies come in to enforce their own style of rules. When Caine steps into the picture, the plot takes another twist. It was one thing after another, and I could not tear my eyes off of this book. I was so engrossed in it, I had to keep going back after taking a break because the plot was just that interesting. You could say it’s a version of Lord of the Flies on a grander scale. It also shows human nature and its brutality through Caine and his group. Some of the things his group does may seem shocking, especially as these characters are teenagers and not fully grown adults. (I could not get over the cement thing…just could not)

There is quite a number of characters to keep track of. However it’s not hard as each and every one of them are memorable – whether through their personality traits, or their own super skills, they’re easily identifiable. It’s also made simple. There’s good versus evil. Then you can even break it into smaller groups based on their ‘social status’. You can even go further and organize the characters by their skills or powers if they have any. It was a great way to identify the character and remember them throughout the book. More do get added as the story progresses, but their personality traits are different from one another so it’s not hard to remember them at all.

I can’t really decide who would be my favorite character. All of them have something I like. Except for Quinn. He’s the biggest coward on the block. I admire Sam for being so forgiving. I however, probably wouldn’t be so forgiving towards Quinn for his idiocies. He would be my least favorite character in the book. I like how some of the more important characters have their own story, and their own issues. It certainly does give them a more ‘three-dimensional’ feel to it.

I had already picked up the second book, Hunger, before finishing this one, and I have no regrets purchasing it. Gone is by far, one of the best books I’ve read this year (even though I’m a little late to join the bandwagon on this series!) I do recommend this to everyone, even if you’re not into YA but like books where things in the world just run amok. It’s a great book and well worth the time spent reading.