Saturday, April 25, 2015

Just One of The Guys

Just One of the Guys
by Kristan Higgins

Paperback, 376 pages
Published: August 01, 2008
Publisher:  Harlequin Books
ISBN:  9780373772995

Blurb: Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be...So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1--she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2--she's cursed with four alpha male older brothers.

While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten over--although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.

Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys...

This was recommended to me by a bibliophile friend and she said that it was amazing after I told her that I quite love reading chick-lit. It had been on my to-read list for about two years when I finally picked it up a couple of weeks ago. It was my first Kristan Higgins book and my expectations were real high with this one. Ah, read on…

The book starts out quite nice, in a way. With our protagonist – Chastity- being dumped by a guy at a restaurant is a starting scene written brilliantly by Kristan Higgins. Just perfect to grab the reader’s attention when the guy admits that he is dumping Chastity because she is too manly- in looks as well as actions. We’re told many a time through the book that she is broad-shouldered, athletic, five feet eleven inches and three-quarters. The monologues, the descriptions, the details are just perfect for the reader to connect to Chastity.

Chastity has come down to Eaton Falls giving up her amazing job in a big city to work at the local newspaper, Eaton Falls Gazette, and to be near her family in the town she has grown up. Moreover, Chastity is thirty and plans to settle down, and of course, she seems to have no great luck.

One of the strong points in this book is the grand character formation. Higgins might seem to have created a village of characters, but you won’t feel lost in them. She makes them alive, you see them living right before your eyes. Creating and successfully sustaining the huge family of Chastity in the reader’s hear right up to the end from the very beginning is a commendable job done by the author. It won’t have been as easy as it seems.

Rest, I don’t think there was much great to the book. It was supposed to be a laugh out loud kind of a read, but it failed miserably at that. I found it droning and droning and droning on and on and on. Even if the character formation is great, there is at times too much of the ‘family thing’ going on. An overdose, as you may call it. There are troubles in marriage and relationships all over this book which gives it a tinge of hopelessness. Higgins has also tried to as a spicy mystery to the plot by adding a fine number of twists, but she has failed at them too. Chasity seems to struggle too much with trivialities. Much more than she or the readers can handle. And that is what drove me to edge.

If I am to compare this with a Sophie Kinsella read, the act itself would be extremely absurd. I have read much better in chick-lit than Just One of the Guys and it doesn’t even remotely match their standards. It would be appropriate to say that if you want to see how a chick-lit can torture a lover of the genre, read this one. Otherwise, you know what to do, right? Yes, do yourself a favour and spare yourself the headache it could give you. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

J : A Novel

J: A Novel
by Howard Jacobson

Paperback, 327 pages
Published: 2014
Publisher:  Random House India
ISBN:  9780224102056

Blurb: Set in the future - a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited - J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.

Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn't know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn't then, and isn't now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn't ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren't sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they've been pushed into each other's arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?

Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe - a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.

J is a novel to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty-Fourand Brave New World, thought-provoking and life-changing. It is like no other novel that Howard Jacobson has written.

I am not much of a high-brow reader. Sophie Kinsella and Jodi Picoult are enough to make me get titillated when I am to pick up a new book. But this time, I wanted to read something really ‘good.’ My senses were instantly perked up when they said I could read J.
All I knew about it was that Howard Jacobson had won the Man Booker Prize for one of his books in 2010 and that J was long listed for the Booker this year too. It had to be awesome. Another thing I knew about it was that it was a dystopian novel, so I was really very interested.
J is basically a book on the holocaust survivors and is set somewhere in the post-apocalyptic era. The setting is something that resembles England. It could be England, but you never know. Jacobson has put in a lot of references to German words in between, which gives a good deal of ambiguity to the reader for the setting. The book says that the place is Port Reuben. It is one of many renamed towns where many rechristened people live.
Jacobson’s novel tells us of a generation that you found find hard to identify with in this present of yours. He tells of their terror and past that is unbelievably ghastly.  The time of which Jacobson talks, nostalgia is a taboo and even a bigger one is to seek knowledge. The world is again under the claws of the powers like the ones we can never imagine could exist ever again. Media is totally controlled, some events and incidents are never talked about, and some are totally nullified by the official reports. All people are left with the liberty of saying ‘WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED’ – the phrase repeated multitude of times in the book.

I believe, the one who has written the blurb was slightly mistaken. You can’t compare J to Brave New World and 1984.  In a lot of places while reading J, I found it bland. Almost a torment to continue. And things didn’t seem to fall into place until after more than half the book is done. I was like, ‘I do not understand a damn thing that’s going on!’

I don’t want to sound prejudiced, but J seems to be a book typically written for the Booker-types. Tailor made for accolades and nominations at the awards. For an average light-reader like me, it is like climbing a rocky hill. The prose is too pompous for me, the characters didn’t make sense, a really vague plot until half the book- there doesn’t have to be a longer list why I didn’t quite like J. I might even have given it up just in the first fifty pages had it not been a review copy.
For the ones who think they would like this real ‘high brow’ thing, go for it. For the light readers, I would give you a red sign. Stay away.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hair Yoga

Hair Yoga
by Jawed Habib


Paperback, 150 pages
Published: 2014
Publisher:  Random House India
ISBN:  9788184004618

Blurb: Everyone today, whether man or woman, has some or the other concern about their hair. We all want beautiful hair and have different definitions of what beautiful hair is:shiny, thick, lustrous, soft or flowy. 

Everybody wants beautiful hair and all of us have at least one hair problem. Hair Yoga is a book by Jawed Habib who is a professional whom one can trust with their hair. He has his own salon in India and is responsible for the gorgeous hair of many celebrities. He is also the one to come up with the Xpreso cut which costs only Rupees 99. In this book he gives you the styling and hair care tips that every individual requires so they can have a good hair day every day. 

Who in today’s world doesn’t know Jawed Habib? I remember being just a little child when I first heard there was this fellow called Jawed Habib who was the hairstylist of many a celebrities and had a chain of salons of his own. I was quite smitten back then.

Now, when we had a book by him and with a person as me who has hair issues as one of the biggest of her life, I didn’t want to miss this one. After all sorts of information one would gather on the internet, there was something to actually rely on and which came from a real expert. Who would have wanted to miss the chance?

Like the book says, everyone wants great hair. Everyone has tried something or the other to make their hair better and almost everyone has a theory about how it should be done. Now that the expert himself is guiding the way through, I wanted to go by real tried and tested remedies than just the theories. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book.

The book tries to touch every aspect of hair care that concerns an average person. Telling us of different types of hair, Jawed Habib first of all helps us to figure out our hair type. Then he enlightens us busting all the myths of haircare. Mind you, many of them pretty much left me absolutely appalled realising that we hold so, so many myths about tending our hair. The best of it was when it reduces to dust the most popular Indian concept that oiling hair helps hair grow fast. ‘Oil feeds hair. It never helps it to grow. Oil conditions hair… It is just an external hair care process and has no relation with hair growth,’ it says.

Oil being so important as a part of the Indian culture, a separate part of the book is dedicated to facts about oil and what kind of oil would suit what type of hair. Further, after oiling, washing it off is important. With separate chapters each on shampoos and conditioners which suit particular hair types, Jawed Habib repeatedly tells us that ‘everyday shampooing ruins hair’ is all a huge hoax. He tells us how shampooing is the best thing one can do for their hair.
Even though the book has many further chapters on myriad of things including brushing, styling, colouring, hair protection, seasonal care, hair care for children, the book still seemed somewhat incomplete to me. However, it convinced me well enough to have my waist length hair cut down to a bob, which is a proof enough that it is very convincing and informative. Yet, a lot of my questions remain unanswered in hair yoga, the questions I actually hoped to have my answers to when I bought the book.

I wouldn’t say it is the hair bible that you would ever want, yet it tells you a lot of things which you might not come across anywhere else. I would say, it is a 50-50 go. You’re definitely going to add to your knowledge if you read it, however there isn’t something great to miss on if you don’t.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to Keep Your Man Happy

How to Keep Your Man Happy
by Seema Hingorrany

Paperback, 188 pages
Published: 2014
Publisher:  Random House India
ISBN:  9788184003550

Blurb: Is your man losing interest in you?
Do you wish to bring the spark back into your love life?

All relationships come with their fair set of challenges—communication gaps, sexual problems, conflict, commitment issues—the list is endless!

From the bestselling author of Beating the Blues: a complete guide to overcoming depression comes a book that will help women combat these challenges and help them learn the secret to attain relationship nirvana. From spotting signs of an unhappy relationship to long-term solutions that make a difference, How to Keep Your Man Happy will help make your man stay put, forever.

After having read Seema Hingorrany’s Beating the Blues around the same time last year, I had become her huge, huge fan. Beating the Blues was my first encounter with a book in the backdrop of clinical psychology and I was glad that I picked it up. After a year, when I was given yet another Seema Hingorrany book to review I couldn’t ever say no.

While Beating the Blues was about the problem of depression, How to Keep Your Man Happy takes a new direction to apply psychology in. It talks about relationships and primarily suggests women’s approach to make them better.

No wonder we’ve heard of the gender differences about perspective of things, which the popular phrase (and book) sums up as Men are From Mars, and Women are From Venus, but How to Keep Your Man happy takes us a level deeper. Dr Seema Hingorrany has touched several aspects of a relationship and has tried her level best that it should help her readers. And I am sure she is pretty successful at the attempt.

The book starts with Dr Hingorrany’s very interesting prologue followed by a chapter on dysfunctional relationships, how to detect them and what the possible causes of a dysfunctional relationship can be. I, personally didn’t know many facts about dysfunctional relationships until I came to read HTKYMH. The book is a flawless guide for understanding the nature of relationships.

The book is a perfect fit for married as well as unhitched couples alike. The book talks of the discords between couples which their minds, subconsciously, refuse to admit and deal with. From playing the blame game with the boyfriend to getting out all the frustration on a husband because of a mother-in-law, the book introduces us to all the things that women do to sabotage their relationships and fail to recognise.

It separately makes us realise the things that women do which irk the men, and also gives us suggestion on how to keep off from that kind of a behaviour. Another topic covers the common mistakes that women make in a relationship, how men are affected by it, figuring out if we are doing the same and the alternatives to keep these mistakes at bay and making our relationships healthy ones.

The second part of the book introduces us to different personality types of men. This part of the book seemed the most interesting to me. We have different personality types explained as Mr Adventurer, Mr Fun, Mr Meticulous, Mr Geek, Mr Romantic, Mr Mood Swings, Mr Sulker, Mr Commitment Phobic, Mr High Tempered, Mr Serious, Mr Protector, Mr Stingy, Mr Arguer and Mr Clingy. I don’t think there would be any girl/woman who can’t label her boyfriend/husband with at least one of these. Next, the author tells us the modus operandi of men’s thinking and how it is different from that of women, rather, how men and women look at the same thing with different perspectives. It also tells us what are the traits in women which men, generally, find attractive in women.

The third part of the book can be called the practical part of it. It tells us how we can deal with different types of men. In other words, it is a guide to making adjustments according to the personality type of your partner. Be it an angry man, a shy partner, a guy with low sex drive or a blatant liar- Ms Hingorrany gives you a perfect mantra to dealing with all kinds of men. The last chapter has full fledged tips for a healthy relationship which includes topics on getting the spark back into the relationship, creating a trusting bond, communicating better etc.

Over all, the book is very well written and very informative. I didn’t get bored reading it at any point. It might not be the best of all books on relationships out there, but it won’t be a waste if you read it because it just has so much to teach you. I is a book primarily for the fairer sex, so I would recommend it to women, naturally. Apart from a chunk of editing glitches, which at times makes the sentences incomprehensible, I didn’t find any major flaws with the book.

If you have time on your hands and want to learn about relationships and make your own relationship better, I’d say, give this book a try. You will certainly learn a good deal from it.


Sunday, November 17, 2013


By Dan Brown

Hardcover, 462 pages
Series: Robert Langdon #4
Published on:  May 14th, 2013
Publisher:  Bantam Press/ Random House
ISBN:  0385537859

Blurb:  In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

In Inferno, the plot starts with our very dear Robert Langdon finding himself in a hospital with a bump on his head and unable to recall where he is or why he’s in Italy- a situation of total amnesia.

I’ve previously read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol but this is a bit different than that. In Inferno, Dan Brown has made grand references to history,  art, symbols and Dante’s Divine Comedy. It is from  Dante’s work that the book has got its name as Inferno.

For a person who has read previous Robert Langdon books is sure to find this one a peach. Although Dan Brown does not get to make many experiments with his characterizations or plot constructions in his books in this series, the beautiful thing about them is that they sound so different and not monotonous at all. (Btw, the Harris Tweed and the Mickey Mouse watch are to stay.)

You can’t call Dan Brown a writer of classics, so you won’t call Inferno a classic either.   But it does not mean that it makes you lose even a bit on the enjoyment of the book. If you read a Dan Brown book, it is more for a gripping plot and the engaging storyline and maybe to learn something that you’ve never known before. And you pretty much get it in every book of his just as this one. Inferno is yet another one of Brown's page-turners. Being a sucker for short chapters, I loved it. 

A little disappointment for me in the book was a more than lavish description of Italy as a place.

On the whole, the story set in Florence, Istanbul and Venice is superbly constructed. The ending of the book proves that Inferno has enough food for thought. The chief element that makes me love Inferno, as well as The Lost Symbol is the Adrenaline rush that Brown keeps giving his readers. Such fine twists and actions, oh my gosh! You just cannot predict what will happen next.

And Brown, (I want to laugh at it), in Inferno is raising philosophical questions. Can you imagine! No, it is not a turn off, but still, it is too much out of the ordinary.

 This book is a perfect read for the lovers of previous Dan Brown books, lovers of history, particularly that of Europe and the ones who are looking for a full time action filled titillating piece of fiction.

 I am badly looking forward to Tom Hanks carrying out the adventures of Langdon in Europe this time. 
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