The Second Bride: A NetGalley Review

I made a promise to myself this year to stay true to my Galley reviews. I am still learning ins and outs of NetGalley, but I think I have finally understood a few of them them. So, this is my review of a NetGalley book named as “The Second Bride”.

 

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Very rarely one comes across such a bleak book as this, bleak not in terms of writing, but bleak in terms of the events it showcases. There is certain hopelessness in the storylines. There is no villain in the story as such, but there are only people, relationships and the life that is just difficult.

But before I start the review, a small summary of the book:

Summary in my words

The Second Bride is the book which works in two storylines. The first storyline is of Ellen who is living in “our” time. This is the second marriage for both Ellen and husband, and they both have a daughter from their previous marriages. They also have a daughter together named Sophie(It sounds confusing here, but it is not confusing in the book at all!)

Ellen feels that she is in a perfect marriage. Her attic has been newly fixed where she could work now, and she believes she will be able to give all the time to her work and family. But all her plans are unraveled when her Husband’s daughter from the previous marriage, Annabelle, comes home. She tries to make a home for her, but Annabelle is never able to adapt. Slowly, Ellen realizes what she thought was a perfectly happy family is slowly unraveling.

The second story starts when Ellen finds a death certificate at her home during renovation of attic. This death certificate belonged to our second character, Sarah. Sarah lived in time much before and had a lot of tragedy befall on her. This story covers how she takes care of her sister (Autistic in current times, but feeble mind in that time) and herself in her bleak circumstances. Sarah also end up becoming a second wife to a well-to-do clerk who already has a daughter.

Both the stories mirror themselves in terms of the family strife and yet they are quite different with each other. Both the step-mothers try to make adjustments with their husband’s daughter and have a kind of difficult relationship. Their personal life aggravates because of these difficulties.

What I liked

  • Suspense: The story has a bit of suspense about what is going to happen that made me turn the pages and kept me interested in the book.
  • Topics touched upon: The author touches upon topics like suicide, the workhouses of past etc. and weaves them into the story. I thought it was a brave attempt for the story.

What I disliked

  • Bleakness of the story: As I said above, the story is too bleak for my taste. There is nary a single ray of happiness. The small burst of happiness that comes at the end seem forced to me. Every person in the story is so burdened by the darkness that I felt hopeless after reading the whole story. Probably this is a personal issue, but that bothered me. A lot.
  • Ending: I did not like the way the story was ended. The about turn and the remorse that was showcased in the end did not resonate with me.
  • Characters: I think that was where the problem started for me with the characters. I just could not relate to them. Ellen is the main character, but she is forever in her own head. I mean she does not believe in the communication, but rather thinks a lot. This is quite natural, but I just could not get into the thought process.

Overall review

Being a second wife or second husband cannot be easy for anyone. The story tries to capture those difficulties in the mix of modern and Gothic settings. The book might serve beautifully for some other readers, but it failed to captivate me. I was indeed mildly interested in knowing what the author wanted to say, but beyond that the book did not appeal to me much.

Ratings

For this book only I feel like inventing half the star because then it could be two and half stars, but for now, I will rate it 2 stars.

Two Stars

 

 

 

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Against All Rules– A Book Club book review

Against All Rules
By 
Summerita Rhayne
There are times in life when after a tiring day one wants to sit back with  a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in other. At that time, I don’t want to delve in a different world or difficult character. I just want to enjoy the warmth of a simple romance with the hot coffee. That’s where I’ll place this book. It doesn’t have bells and whistles, but it’s a simple plain romance.
 The Blurb

 The efficient PA out of her depth… Samara knows getting attracted to Tahir is like asking for trouble. Not only is he her boss but he’s got divorced recently and has sworn off any commitment. Short term is not on her list but temptation has never been stronger. The man who doesn’t have faith in rainbows anymore… Tahir doesn’t believe in enforcing a code of conduct he cannot follow. But Samara might just make him make an exception! An affair at the office might seem a solution to his troubles but how can he avoid treading uncharted territory…? Against All Rules when fire is set, it’s hard to avoid the blaze

 
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What I liked
1) Romance: As I said above, it’s perfect for unwinding yourself. It’ll make you smile at some parts, make you feel frustrated at some parts. The romance is and attraction between both the characters is woven nicely.
2) Short length: It’s not a long story. I finished it in one sitting, but then my reading speed is quite fast. But I can promise you that it’s not more than four sitting book.
What I disliked
1) Absence of Plot: This might feel like contradicting myself, but it’s not so. See even a simple romance in my view should have a journey for its character. Here the story felt as if author missed the beginning and started the story from the middle. It captures the romance and growing attractions beautifully, but then it doesn’t elaborate on Samara’s growth as a character. She’s confused in the beginning and she’s confused till the end.
2) Repetition: There are many words and ideas which are repeated throughout the story. Even the name of the dessert “ras malai” is repeated twice and that made me laugh.
3) Unbelievable Reactions: The characters, after having unprotected sex, thinks about the baby first rather than STD. I mean I waited for either of them to raise this question, but they didn’t. They argued about marriage; they discussed the possibility of child, but medical reasons don’t even cross their minds.
Although I don’t think that is truly the fault of author. That is the fault of our culture. Here people check bank balance, education and caste before marriage (and sex too), but they never think about health or other disease.
Final Thoughts
I know my review is harsh, but the book was not that bad. In fact it was an average book for an average night after office. It’s just that I like to talk about every aspect of the book. So, in case you’re thinking of relaxing with tired mind, go for this book.
Meet the Author
Summerita Rhayne loves to write sensual and emotional romance. There’s no knowing when some quirky – or sometimes even not so quirky – happening in daily life might trigger her right brain and then she’s off craving a new story. She loves writing characters who learn and grow and find their way out of their troubles and emotional hang-ups. Hot, sensual heroes and sassy but sweet heroines mostly fit the bill in her stories. She also believes that a touch of humor never goes amiss in a book.She divides her time between family, job and writing – and loves winding down with music, movies and the internet!
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Done With Men- A non-A to Z Book review.

 

Done With Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra

This book comes as a part of the blog tour by The Book Club. As much as I enjoy the heavy tomes of books, I equally adore chick-lits. They don’t ask you to solve any of the universe’s mysteries, but rather focus on the daily problems. That was the promise this book delivered.

Synopsis
 
Travel journo, Kairavi Krishna (Kay) has had it with men. After a series of disasters (losers, philanderers, leeches, mama’s boys and possessive psychos), she is all too tempted to walk out on the prospect of ever finding love. Accompanied by her best friend and flat-mate Baani, she sets off for Goa, hoping to get away from her miserable love life and vowing to stay clear of the male species. 
 
Goa however, has a host of surprises in store for her. Ricky, her pesky ex-boyfriend, is busy painting the town red with his hot new girlfriend. Now what is poor Kay to do other than overdose on vodka, smoke pot, get an outrageous tattoo and fall off the hotel balcony? She wakes up in the hospital to the tender ministrations of Dr.Vivian D’Mello–young, suave and handsome as hell. Will Kay stick to her guns or will she fall for his ridiculously sexy charms? And what’s up with the mixed signals he’s giving out?
The book is a usual story of Kay finding Dr. Vivian when the life had reached an absolute low. The story moves on to show how she moves on from hating all men to trusting one of them.

What I Liked

1)   Easygoing and humorous story– From start to end, you will find this story simple and hilarious. Although there are smile till your mouth hurts scenes. They kept me engaged and gave me some wonderful time.

2)  Boring hero- Most of such books have heroes who are tattooed or are rock-banders. This hero is uncomfortable in clubs and don’t know how to dance. He is shown as being so embarrassed that I overlooked that he was rich. 😉

What Irked me

1)  Painless fracture– This was the only incredible point with me. The heroine gets a collarbone fracture and has to wear eight type bandage for few weeks. Yet, she is seen dancing away in the club.  I have had hairline fractures(toe and finger). Although not immobile, I couldn’t have danced when there was fracture. They do cause some pain. But I couldn’t see any pain in Kay’s case. Also with the bandage, shouldn’t it be difficult to wear the clothes, not much, but just a twinge of difficulty? That’s also not there. Since I have neither been a victim, nor a medical practitioner to have any idea about it, I am going to trust the author, but I still dislike the idea of painless fractures. Makes me feel that I suffered without any reason during those fractures.

Overall Opinion

It’s an interesting book, one you can finish in one reading. Don’t expect your life to be changed after reading the book, but you can surely expect enjoyment and fun.

 
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Meet the author
 
 
The Author’s Thoughts
 
Shuchi Singh Kalra is a writer, editor and blogger based in India. She has been writing since 2005, and has freelanced with popular magazines such as Femina.in, Good Housekeeping, Home Review, Parent & Child, Vista, Investors India, Dogs & Pups, Women’s Era and Time ‘N’ Style among many others. her short stories have found a place in anthologies such as Love Across Borders and New Asian Writing’s upcoming collection (to be published in 2014).
 
Shuchi is also the owner of Pixie Dust Writing Studio, a writing and editing firm that services a global clientele, and the Indian Freelance Writers Blog. She currently lives a nomadic life with a fauji husband and a livewire toddler. 
 
Done With Men is her first book.
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Daniel’s Diary- A Romance in Past and Present

 

Daniel’s Diary by Rajeshwari Chauhan

This book comes as a part of the blog tour by The Book Club. The first thing that attracted me to this book was the stunning book cover and the promise of an historical story set in Mughal era. After reading Susan Kearsley’s Firebird, I was intrigued to read a story which draws parallel with the past, and the novel does show the past in its complete glory.

The Synopsis

 When Mrinalini, an art restoration expert, ventures into the ruins of Rang-Mahal and the Palace of Sumangarh, an accidental discovery of a skeleton and a manuscript detailing the exploits of Daniel, a Portuguese artist, opens a window to the forgotten era of grace and grandeur. The blossoming of love between a Moghul Emperor and a Rajput princess, is seen through the eyes of a foreign traveller, who himself falls in love with Jodhabai.

 The plot revolves around Daniel’s quest for beauty and passion, the ecstasy and agony of love. He marries the famous courtesan Mahamaya only to lose her. It also draws a modern day parallel in the life of Mrinalini, a woman who seeks refuge in artistic pursuits and architectural ruins when relationships in life confuse her.

 Will she and Surajsinh be able to decode the clues left behind by Daniel? Will the curse of centuries-old unfulfilled love break into a happy ending for Mrinalini?

 

The book shows two stories—one happening in modern world, while the other already happened in the past. Mrinalini, an art restoration expert, goes to Sumangarh for her work, and fells for the charm of the ruins and history of the place. During one of her exploratory walks in the ruins, she discovers a skeleton and Daniel’s diary, the account of a Portugese artist who lived during the reign of Akbar. The story then moves through Mrinalini’s search for relationship, and Daniel’s search for passion penned in his diary.

What I Liked

1)   Mughal Era’s story– Let me confess you that I love that era. If you ever gave me a time machine, I’d like to go and see how those people lived. I think I have a love-hate relation with Jodha-Akbar’s story. I never could understand how an immortal love could thrive between them when he had so many wives.  But then, that’s what reels me in. I have devoured literature about them to understand this concept, and this book was no different. I’m not very sure about the history portrayed is correct or not; I read it like another story, like any other fiction.

2)  Diary entries– My second fascination in literature is diary entries and letters. This book was no exception to it. I absolutely loved Mahamaya and Chhimiya in it. Pity they appeared in the last and few pages! My favorite scene was the moth scene in which the romance rises to a crescendo.

What Irked me

1)  Head-hopping telling style of the story– I can see why this style was necessary to condense the story in 359 pages, but I didn’t enjoy the way Mrinalini’s present day story was told. I felt distanced as the sentences jumped from one character to another, without showing any dialogue. This style was once quite famous, but it robs all the joy of even a strong story for me.

2)  Diary Entries– I know I mentioned that I liked them above, but I can like and unlike the same thing, right? My love for diary entries means that my expectations with them are quite high. I loved the way author showed slow wooing and anguish of Jodha-Akbar in these entries, but missed seeing more of Daniel. Although it was a diary of Daniel, much of its beginning entries revolved only around the Mughal Emperor’s story.  I’d have loved them more if they’d been like the later entries which I read twice or thrice.

3)  Incredible Present story incidents– There were a few incredible story scenes with Mrinalini which actually made me laugh. I could see the reason why they were introduced, but they were so filmy that I couldn’t help myself but laugh.

Overall Opinion

I wonder if it was me, or the book really. I liked the story that was in the book, but not the present which was telling the book. As I said above, I felt distanced from the present story characters like Mrinalini and Surajsinh. It left me with an odd dissatisfaction that something more should have been shown in the story.

But, my views aside, Ketan Mehta, a veteran filmmaker, has actually appreciated the novel. It does show the glimpses of that bygone era. Probably it’s my taste for more active novels, or maybe my high expectations, which left me thirsting for something more.  Who knows maybe we’d see its narrative turned into a movie

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Meet the author
 
 
The Author’s Thoughts
A freelance writer, artist, and teacher, Rajeshwari Chauhan has contributed as a script and content writer for many creative and promotional literature, short movies, and plays. A passionate artist, she loves to create realistic paintings on canvas as well as doing wall paintings. For her, painting and creative writing are complementary to each other. Being from the Royal family of Chhota-Udepur, she has always had a fascination for history and conservation of heritage.
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Scandalous Again- A Book Review, and a Women’s Day Rant

Scandalous AgainAuthor’s Name: Christina Dodd

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An historical romance novel, I found it at one of the stores. I have always enjoyed Christina Dodd’s brand of romance. She usually mixes that fire of passion and soothing romance quite well. But this book was a bit of disappointment for me, not because it wasn’t well-written, but because I didn’t like the characters. Their qualities felt to me like their vices.

Synopsis

This book starts with the Madeline who just returned from Continent after four years. She comes to know that her father had wagered her and lost her in a gamble. So she, along with her cousin and companion, embarks on a journey to soothe her new  owner. But soon they come to know about The Game of Century, which Madeline thinks her father will attend. In order to save what is left of her fortune(A tiara!), she switches places with her cousin and go to the gambler’s house as a companion.

At the house-party, she meets Gabriel whom she had jilted because he had gambled for the fortune. They both realize that they still love each other, and Madeline sees her mistake.

What I liked

Romance: The chemistry between Gabriel and Madeline is quite good. There were places when I enjoyed reading them together.

What irked me

The Plot Highlights: The plot of the story tries to convince the readers that Madeline was responsible for Gabriel’s younger brother death. Since Gabriel was so lost and forlorn after Madeline left, he didn’t give enough attention to his brother, who lost in gambling and joined navy to avoid confrontation with Gabriel. He finally was buried at the sea. It’s quite a sad story, but as soon as I read this point, I wanted to tear away the pages. Not only Gabriel’s manservant believed it, but by the end, even Madeline was sorry for her actions, and I was like what?!

Gabriel: I might have forgiven him for the above misunderstanding, but he till the end didn’t accepted that he did wrong by gambling. He did realize that Madeline would be angry, but he decided to soothe her with his body. Another what?! point for me. Till the end, I was hoping that he’ll apologize and explain the necessity, but he remained heavy-handed and egoistic throughout. He kept on blaming heroine for being controlling, when he himself wasn’t ready to give up his control.

Overall Opinion

It is a good book. Though not the best of Dodd’s work,  it has everything a historical book should have, but I didn’t enjoy it because of its too heavy handed plot. It in fact made me feel melancholy and induced the rant below.

Ratings

Two Stars

 Thoughts Beyond the Book

This was not supposed to be a rant. But somehow, after reading the book, I couldn’t stop myself from writing this. As I finished this book, I was left wondering that how many times we unnecessarily blame women for every mishappening. This not only include males, but females too.

This is specifically true in Indian cases. Something wrong happens with a child, the first person who is blamed is the mother. A boy commits suicide in despair because his love got rejected, the girl becomes heartless. A man commits crime because to fulfill the material demands of his wife. The houses break due to the uncompromising nature of woman.  Oh, and let us not forget that whole Mahabharata happened because of a woman.

This is not a complaint to anyone—not to the author, neither to my readers. Nor this is a confession. Because I’m guilty of doing this, and I  am also guilty of accepting such blames without any fight. So, no, this is not a grudge as well. It’s just a thought, a consciousness that yes, I have been doing this. Acceptance is the first step towards change, right?

Mystery Man

Mystery ManBook’s Name: Mystery Man

Author’s Name: Kristen Ashley

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Sometimes when time gets heavy, I go into random book style. This is one such book I purchased on a random purchase spree. It makes me feel that I wasted my time. It’s not that I don’t love a chicklit, but as I read the book I wanted to go inside the pages of the book and shake some sense in heroine. How could a female be shown as so hairbrained? I’d have given the heroine a pass too, if the story had started making some sense at some point. But sadly, it didn’t.

Synopsis

Gwen, the heroine of the novel, meets a guy in a bar at some point and she hooks up with him for one night. Then the guy started coming to her house in the dead of the night, but she doesn’t even know his name. After one and a half year of such arrangements, her sister gets into trouble dragging Gwen into the world where murder and mayhems are quite common. That’s when she meets two other suitors(admirers?) for her. Then her mystery man shows to protect her.  The story goes on about showing how the three men save her and her sister’s life.

What I liked

This is quite a difficult question to answer.

Humor– I think this was the saving grace of the book. There is some good humor and dialogues in the book. Despite of absurd storyline, I couldn’t help but smile while reading the book.

What irked me

Gwen, the heroine– First of all, you carried on an affair with the man whose name you didn’t know for one and a half year. That I am ready to accept because we all do stupid things in throes of passion. But it must have taken exceptional courage(or heightened ignorance) as that man broke into your house every night to meet you. I understand, passion and all. You even had unprotected sex with that unknown man. I was actually hyperventilating about your health when I read that. But I wanted to beg you to be a bit mature when you refused to ask his actual profession till the end.

Obsession with hunks– I, like any sane woman, like reading about alpha men. But I get serious issues when all three great alpha males fell for the same stupid woman. It takes away my trust in the world. How on the earth are intelligent woman(like me) to snag man?

Baby me no more– I know this goes with the chicklit, but how many times can one call the other person baby. I rolled my eyes everytime I read a “Baby” and then stopped rolling it because my eyes were getting a tic.

The use of Then– There were just too many thens in the story. Then this happened. Then that happened. And then nothing happened.

Overall Opinion

There are many people who actually adore this book. They found the hero swoon worthy and heroine cute. So, probably this book was just not meant for me. Or maybe I wasn’t meant for the book. There are rare times when the books don’t absorb me, and sadly, this was one such time. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with the next book.

Rating

Two Stars