Monday, 26 August 2013

Some Stand alone Bookshops in India

The Times Crest had published an article on Stand Alone Book Shops in India and I just wanted to post the links to them here, for my own reference and in case you haven't had a chance to read the article.

Mumbai : Lotus Books
Mumbai : Ideal Book Store
Pune : International Book House
Delhi : Bahri Sons
Chennai : Giggles
Lucknow : Ram Advani's
Bangalore : Blossom

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Kim's Review : Amreekan Desi - Masters of America

Obviously with a title like "Amreekan desi" and a glance through the contents, the comparison with "the Inscrutable Americans" would be inevitable. However, Atulya Mahajan's - Amreekan Desi, does manage to hold its own, quite easily.

Atulya is next in the line of well followed bloggers and twitterers to be able to get his book published by a large house and out in circulation. So it isn't a complete surprise to learn from credits that Sidin and Arnab helped him with the publishing process.

The Readers Cosmos along with Good Reads, sent me this book to be reviewed. I wasn't expecting to love the book, I thought it would be a good distraction, a light humorous book after the heavy reading about the War of the Roses.

The Amreekan Desi - Masters of America did tick these boxes for me, but it was also a very well researched, nuanced book with a keen understanding of people and their perspectives formed through experiences. Atulya Mahajan has delved behind personalities and given a depth to his characters through these insights.

Having lived in the US for awhile, I did come across plenty of Akhil Aroras and Jassis in various degrees. So I know that these characters aren't caricatures, nor are they figments of the authors imagination. A large percentage of Indians, visiting the US for further studies (mostly MS) fall somewhere on the scale between Akhil Arora and Jassi.

Its not just these 2 characters, but also the rest of the cast who are quite well fleshed out for a short novel. Mr Arora, Priyank, Goyal Uncle, Dilpreet, Nandita, Kedar, Anil, Priya, Sundar, Suresh and the others. Not all of them have backstories attached, but with just a few lines of presence, its quite easy to identify the character behind the person.

The language is simple and easy to comprehend and the story is a human story. Its not high brow literature but its not bus station book stall fodder either.

Amreekan Desi is in essence a tale of discovery and an adventure. Akhil and Jassi start at 2 different ends of the spectrum in their attitude towards going to America and what they want to accomplish by this move. Yet situations and perspectives change and while Akhils life seems all sorted out by the end of the book, the reader can believe that Jassi's life will also have a happy ending of its own.

The part of the book I loved best was Akhils interation with the janitor and his conversation with his mother over Diwali rituals. I almost snorted out the coffee I was drinking when I read that bit.

Its a well written book and anyone who has been to the US or plans to visit the US for studies will absolutely love the book and the characters. Even if you do not even have a passport of your own, you can still enjoy the book, because at the end of the day its an interesting story inhabited by characters that any Indian can identify with. Americans who wonder why Indians in America behave the way they do could also glean a glimmer of insight by reading American Desi.

Rating : 3.75 / 5

This Review is a part of "The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program". To get free books visit

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Brajesh's Review : The Accidental Apprentice

Read over 2 flights, this book felt like a good Hindi mainstream masala movie. Incredulous, Fantastic, Over the Top, Full of Twists, Turns, Flashbacks and Reunions.... But something about the story line held me through. I won't recommend that you go running to find this book, but if you get your hands on it, it surely has the potential to entertain you for about 4 hours.

Well I did feel similarly about Q&A but Danny Boyle created the Slumdog phenomenon out of it. I won't be surprised if this one also gets picked up for a movie makeover. It surely has all the elements, including a powerful female protagonist.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Brajesh's Review: A Mentor, A Novice & A Cup of Cappucino


A dear colleague and a friend Subrat Padhi has done what many of us are still just considering or planning - He Wrote A Book. For those who don't know, Subrat heads one of the largest business units of a leading telecom firm with over 1,600 employees. He is an extremely successful and passionate professional at work. He still manages to find time , space and energy to write a book which I am sure will inspire many a working professionals.

While autographing our copy of the book, Subrat humbly mentioned to me that the book might not excite me as it was intended for "young" professionals. I must say I have to totally disagree with him on this. The simplicity of language and universality of lessons could be put to good use by any human being with a desire to improve (irrespective of age, seniority or profession)

The book is a 100 minute read and could be a wonderful starting point to many a young professionals who find silly excuses like lack of time towards building a reading habit (SPARSH 9 & 12). Since I don't rate books of friends I would only humbly nudge you to the Amazon page : A Mentor, A Novice And A Cup Of Cappucino and Subrat, if I ever succeed in writing my book, the words on page 135 would have been a major motivator.

Friends are you still waiting to click on the purchase link !!!!

Rating : Not Rated (written by a friend)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Brajesh's Review: Bad Luck & Trouble

 Finally I broke my rule. The first Lee Child which disappointed me - to give a sub 4 score. While the plot unites Jack Reacher with his 7 MIs from the army days and has an explosive start with a lot of potential, the story just never takes-off.

The number sequence suspense promised lots but fizzled halfway through. The action built-up well but never boiled over. The romance teased but never blossomed..... In the end the book felt like a half cooked delicacy. Since I have read a lot of Jack Reacher (7 before this) I am now picking ones which have got acclaim of some kind (source Wiki) , since this one failed that test , I am going back to trusting my intuition and awaiting the arrival of "Enemy"

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Monday, 12 August 2013

Kim's Review : The Kingmaker's Daughter

Another brilliant book from Philippa Gregory.

And reading this book I completely understood why a lot of people say that George Martins "Song of Ice & Fire" Series (popularly known by the TV name - Game of Thrones) is inspired in parts by the Wars of the Roses / Wars of the Cousins  - a series of dynastic wars fought by supporters of the 2 branches of the House of Plantagenet - the House of York (White Rose as Herald) & the House of Lancaster (Red Rose as Herald) for the throne of England between 1455 and 1485.

The Kingmakers Daughter is actually 4th in chronological sequence  of the books Philippa Gregory has written about the Wars of the Roses. However, the beauty of her books is that each novel is a stand alone and will only inspire the reader to read the rest of the series.

Since I had been gifted this book, this is what I started reading forst, but even before I was halfway through I had already ordered the rest in the series. Lady of the Rivers, White Queen, Red Queen, and White Princess.

The Kingmakers Daughter is told from the perspective of Anne Neville, daughter of Warwick "the Kingmaker" and wife of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and later of Richard III of England, and the second perspective narrative of Anne's elder sister Isabel Neville, wife of George Duke of Clarence.

Truly, this book made me realise that women born into Royal families were just pawns in a larger game played mostly by the men. In this book, you see how Anne & Isabel Neville & Elizabeth of York are used by the men to further their own plans.

Anne & Isabels father - Richard Neville - the Earl of Warwick first supported King Henry VI (Lancaster) claim to the throne. But later, he sided with Richard - Duke of York to oppose the King. As foster to Richard's children - Edward, George & Richard, he placed Edward of York (now King Edward IV) on the throne after deposing Henry VI and since Richard, Duke of York was killed in battle.

However Edward IV soon fell out with the Kingmaker over his own secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville (a widow of mid ranked aristocracy with 2 sons from her first marriage) while Richard Neville was in France, negotiating Edward IV marriage with a Princess of France.

With the increasing influence of Elizabeth Woodville and her extremely large extended  family over the functioning of the Court, Richard Neville soon plotted to put George (the 2nd son of Richard of York) on the throne. So before doing that, he married George to his daughter Isabel in a secret ceremony and got George to rebel against his brother.

However, this plan never took off completely. so Richard Neville contrived with Margaret Anjou (wife of deposed King Henry VI) to marry off their son Edward of Westminister to his younger daughter Anne, with the promise of putting Henry VI back on the throne. This was inspite of Margaret Anjou being personally responsible for the death of his own father and brother.

However, in a battle on behalf of the House of Lancaster (Henry VI &  Edward of Westminister), against Edward IV, both he and Edward of Westminister are killed after a brief period during which he brought back Henry VI to the throne. Partly because George of York (married to Isabel) defected back in favour of his brother Edward IV and betrayed Richard Neville.

For his role in bringing him victory, Edward IV gifted the lands of Richard Neville's wife to George and Isabel as Isabels inheritance. However, technically Anne as the other daughter also had a right to an equal share of those lands. So George and Isabel practically force the 14 year old widow Anne into a form of house arrest to keep her from marrying anyone else and claiming her share.

Into this scene of despair for Anne, in waltzes Richard of York (younger brother of King Edward IV & George of York) who may have been in love with Anne (or her inheritance) and he rescues/kidnaps her and marries her. Fiercely loyal to Edward IV, he refuses to do or say anything against him and he sets up his seat in the far North trying to manage his subjects the way his mentor Richard Neville taught him.

In due time, Isabel, George and their youngest son are killed (most probably due to the behest and machinations of Elizabethe Woodville) and this makes Anne fear for her own life and that of her husband and son.

But it is the death of his brother Edward IV, that prompts Richard of York into action when he realises that although Edward IV's son - Edward V - will succeed the throne, he will be completely controlled by Elizabeth Woodville and her family - none of whom are of Royal blood. So he imprisons Elizabeth Woodville and her brood of children within a few months of his brothers death.

So thus Anne finally becomes Queen of England, fulfilling her fathers wish of making his heirs rulers of England.

As you can see the history is extremely complicated and made even more so with similar names and changing titles, but Philippa makes everything seem simple and straightforward and easy to follow.

I loved the book, but I really wish that I had started reading it chronologically. It however will be interesting to read the other books from other perspectives - Elizabeth Woodville, her mother and her daughter and Margaret Beaufort (who later tried to put her son Henry Tudor on the throne.

The Kingmakers Daughter had me rooting for Anne throughout, but I wonder if that will continue once I read the other perspectives. Philippa does not write her Historical series chronologically, so she may write a book with a heroine set in a time between these other ladies. You can never tell.

However, if British History interests you and textbooks are too boring, I'd unhesitatingly recommend this series. Sure it had a fair amount of fiction thrown in, but thats what makes it so human and interesting than just facts.

Rating : 4 / 5

Also Read Kim's Reviews of the other books in Philippa Gregory's - "Cousins War" Series:
The Lady of The Rivers
The White Queen
The Red Queen

The White Princess

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Kim & Brajesh's Actual Bookshelves

Given the number of books we review, we've been asked what our actual bookshelves look like, do we give our books away once we have read them, can we lend them a book etc.

Our books are our babies. We never give them away unless we both actually hated the book in question. Those books go in our library donation pile.

Also our library functions like a reading library only, its not a lending library. You are welcome to read books at our house. Coffee, Tea & Snacks will be served if approppriate, but you can't take our books away with you, sorry. We have had too many bad experiences of not having books returned or being damaged before return, that we just don't do it anymore.

So below is a glimpse into what some of our actual bookshelves and reading spaces look like.

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