Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pamela Aidan - An Assembly Such as this

An Assembly Such as This  (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman #1)An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wonder if Jane Austen has the honor of having spawned more fan fiction than any other author. It seems to me. I have read several derivatives of her novels. I have liked some, not all.

I had read a lot of serious stuff lately, poetry and classical fiction and needed some light reading, hence I clicked on this book.

This novel is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. The events of the novel are gone over once again from his perspective. It is an interesting idea, and it makes for an interesting reading.

The problem with it was when the writer spent a lot of time describing the inner turmoil of Darcy every time he spots Elizabeth. According to Ms. Aiden, Darcy tries to impress Elizabeth, but he is brought up short by her wit. He is portrayed as a person who is not too good in female company and does not know how to negotiate himself around a self-assured person such as Elizabeth.

We are treated to page after page of poor Darcy trying to get up close and personal with Elizbeth with her rebuffing him unfailingly. The story adds events that Jane Austen forgot to record, for instance, Jane and Elizbeth going to church with the Bingleys and Darcy after Jane recovers from her illness.

After the Netherfield ball, Darcy and Bingley leave for London. The story takes and interesting turn there. But I found, to my dismay that the story ended rather abruptly. Ms. Aidan has chopped Mr. Darcy's tale into several parts.

The story is good, no doubt about that, but it does ramble on. There is too much focus on Darcy's clothes and how he dresses. His valet is a bit like Jeeves, manipulating his master into wearing certain clothes and getting into certain situations!

At the end of part I, I did not feel like going straight to amazon and ordering the part II. Simply because the tale is taking too long to finish, and I have run out of patience.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

P.G. Bhaskar - Mad in Heaven

Mad in HeavenMad in Heaven by P G Bhaskar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prakash and Pushpa live in a vast penthouse atop Rishwath Towers in Chennai. They have two lovely and smart daughters. It is high time they get their older daughter, Priyanka, married. The younger, Palak, is also in line. A match may be made in heaven, but the parents on earth are going mad.

They look for several good groom that Priyanka shoots down on flimsy grounds. If this goes on, will she ever get married?

Palak has a string of boyfriends standing in line for her favor. Will she go and give her heart to some utter fool?

All these questions are turning their mother, Pushpa Prakash frantic with worry.

This novel is a hilarious ride. There is one crazy character after another, one crazy situation after another.

On the flip side, there are some unnecessary characters who clutter the story. There are too many side plots that confuse the reader. Also, some of the chapters are very short and the story moves away to another side plot just when you are getting your teeth into one.

It is a well written novel and makes you chuckle in many places. It is no surprise that the author has dedicated the novel to P.G.Wodehouse, the author he admires and shares initials with.

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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Summerita Rhayne - Hidden Passion

Hidden PassionHidden Passion by Summerita Rhayne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked the book up for its attractive cover and the promise it had made of being an out and out romance of the Mills and Boon kind. I was NOT disappointed in my surmise.

The book jumps into the thick of the things from the word go. Right from the start, we see Princess Rukmini eyeing the handsome Samrat Deveshvarya. Rukmini is visiting Minali, the grand capital of Campavati, with her parents and family. They are the guests of Samrat Deveshvarya. Rukmini is instantly attracted to the rugged handsomeness of Devesh. She contrives to get close to him, but he treats her like a little girl who should be put back in her place.

As it happens, Devesh is not immune to the charms of Rukmini. He is quite taken by the hot headed, impulsive Princess. He is not really a king by lineage, and his low birth would never be accepted by the parents of Rukmini. Devesh wants no bad blood among the kings of his kingdoms. He is being sensible and trying to keep away from Rukmini.

He has a lot to learn about Rukmini, she is not just a spoilt princess. She is a determined young woman, and can take charge of her destiny. He finds he cannot ignore her, and she will find a way into his heart by hook or by crook.

The book is a romance, and it never strays from its path. There are all sorts of intrigues to keep the story interesting, but it never wanders far from the doings of Devesh and Rukmini. There is a lot of passion in the tale. I often find romance books by Indian authors a wee bit insipid. Not this book! The tale is told with a lot of zeal and gusto.

There is plenty of naughty stuff going on too. I had to fan myself frequently to cool off a bit. Whew!

The language could have been better here and there. Maybe a few simpler words in place of grand ones. The story focuses on just the two people and others seem to make guest appearances in their story.

It serves to keep the tale uncluttered, as it is a romance and the story keeps firmly on its track, the passionate tale of Devesh and Rukmini.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Hugh Laurie - The Gun Seller

The Gun SellerThe Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hugh Laurie is a successful actor. Following his twitter account, I came to know that he is a musician as well. He loves motorcycles. One chance post by his fan club introduced me to the book he had written.

Now this is quite an accomplishment. How does he find time from his acting/singing/motorcycling to write a book as well? Perhaps he was filling time between assignments.

I had to read this, I am a huge fan of Hugh. A quick visit to kindle, and he book was in my hands. I love the instantaneous delivery of a kindle purchase. No waiting for the courier to land up at my door in a week's time.

Thomas Lang is a sort of a secret agent. He seems to be highly undercover, or is out of work at the moment. He has received an offer of good amount money to kill a rich American businessman called Woolf. He turns the offer down and goes to warn Woolf of the danger to his life. This little visit triggers a series of events which land our Lang in a lot of hot soup.

This is not merely a thriller. This is a funny thriller which makes you conjure up someone like Rowan Atkinson playing Lang. The book makes you laugh out loud at times. It is fast paced enough to keep you pressing the page flip button. I managed to read it in two or three days time, which is quite a feat for me.

Every funny book is compared to P.G. Wodehouse, and despite the connection between Laurie and Wodehouse, I will not do it. No one can be like P.G. Wodehouse. Hugh Laurie is funny writer, and he has written an engaging book.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Paula Hawkins - The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel is climbing the best seller charts and is creating a lot of buzz. It is likely to be made into a movie as well. All this talk about the book made me order it right away.

The story is intriguing. Rachel is a mess. She got divorced two years ago when her husband, Tom, left her for another woman. She finds it hard to blame him for the divorce. She was a drunkard and out of control. Any man in his sane mind would be disgusted with her. Her drinking problem made her lose her job. She lives with a school friend, Cathy. She cannot afford to let Cathy know that she has lost her job, for the fear of being turned out of the room she rents in Cathy's flat.

So, she makes a daily trip to London on the train, keeping up a pretense of going to work. The problem is, the train stops at Witney station. This is where she used to live with Tom, and where Tom now lives with Anna, his new wife. She lives with the pain of passing by her old house every day. She finds herself fixating on another house close to hers, and often looking at a handsome young couple on their terrace.

Rachel makes up stories about this golden couple, and calls them Jess and Jason. She is convinced that they live an ideal life, full of love and laughter. Until one day when she discovers that the wife is missing. She catches the story in the papers and thinks she has a clue as to who killed her, from what she had seen on the terrace one day.

She goes to see the police, and tell them what she knows. She also falls back into obsessing about her ex-husband, and spirals more and more out of control, falling into an irreversible pattern of drinking.
She finds herself pursuing the mystery of the missing woman and getting more and more into a mess.

The story is told in the voices of three women, Rachel, Anna and Megan (the missing woman). The story draws you in immediately, and, despite its dark tone, you find it is hard to let it go.

The women dominate the novel, the voice and the opinion is all theirs. Even the police, who are investigating the mystery, seem to be rather subdued. If the women had not kept stirring the issue up with their actions, I am afraid, the mystery of missing Megan would have dwindled away in case files.

The book has been compared to Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl". Both books are full of dark, damaged characters. But there is hardly any other resemblance. The Girl on the Train is definitely not a copycat novel. In fact, I liked it much more than "Gone Girl".

The novel moves at a steady pace. Two or three suspects are insinuated at so we may keep wondering about the culprit. I am afraid I kind of 'saw' who the villain was. But even so, it was hard to imagine the 'why' of the action.

The end was a lot more dark than I anticipated, and I went away from the book feeling rather depressed.

It was a satisfying read, and one I would surely recommend to all.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vani - The Recession Groom

The Recession GroomThe Recession Groom by Vani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Parshuraman Joshi is a Punjabi Brahmin with roots in Chandigarh. He studies and works in the USA. He is rather under the thumb of his bossy aunt, Parvati, who has nurtured him. He is 27, earning well and ripe for marriage.

His sister Ragini and aunt Parvati try to outdo each other in looking for a perfect girl for Parshuraman. Poor Parshuraman starts feeling more like a commodity than a person as eager Mamas with young daughters pursue him.

However, the book is not all about funny situations. Parshuraman faces real tragedy when he faces problem at work. He has to find out where his heart really is before he can make crucial decisions about work and love.

The characters in the story, especially, Aunt Parvati, her daughters Tia and Ana, Ragini, Parshuraman, Bill, Jennifer, Tara, Uncle Ravi are all believable people with quirks and foibles that make them very human. However, the character I fell absolutely in love with, was Parshuraman's Grandmother, his Nani. She is an irascible woman with a loving heart. She is more modern than any of her granddaughters.

Vani keeps the language of the book simple and clear. There are no linguistic shenanigans here to annoy you. Yes, there was a bit or two where the dialogue felt a bit labored and stiff, but it did not rankle.

The story keeps moving on effortlessly. There is no situation in the book that seems contrived. It is as if you really are witnessing a part of someone's life.

This is Vani's debut novel. Hard to believe that, she writes like a Pro.

Welcome to the world of writing, Vani. May your lovely novel meet all the success it deserves.

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