Thursday, February 22, 2024

Book Review: Rossogolla Murders by Debeshi Gooptu




Book: Rossogolla Murders

Author: Debeshi Gooptu

Pages: 243

Genre: Murder Mystery

Price: ₹200 (Kindle copy. Also available as a paperback)


Rossogolla Murders by Debeshi Gooptu is the second book of the Dragon Aunty Series. I read 'The Mangar Mayhem’ ―the third book in the series (the books in the series can be read as standalone novels) and really liked it. So, I wanted to read The Rossogolla Murders, and before I could buy it, the author sent me a copy of this book. However, this (and the fact that Debeshi is a dear friend) does not affect my review; it's totally unbiased.


Mini (Mrinalini Sen) is in Calcutta, visiting her parents, when one day she suddenly finds someone she was least expecting to be there. The gorgeous Dolly Luthra ―Mini’s old friend and neighbour from Gurgaon. Dolly is staying at her brother-in-law's place ―Sanjay Kapoor, a successful businessman who owns a company called 'A Sweet Affair' that makes exotic fusion desserts, for example chilli flavoured rossogolla! 


Sanjay Kapoor is having a grand party to celebrate the opening of his 10th shop and Dolly invites Mini to the party.


So, it all starts in the party ―a retired judge, affluent and fashionable, Mallika drops dead at the party after eating a rossogolla. The suspicion points at Dolly Luthra because she was the one who brought the plate of rossogolla for Mallika. 


Now, Mini ―absolutely sure that her friend is innocent ―dons the hat of a detective to clear her name. 


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! It’s not your hardcore, gruesome thriller with gory details and all that; it's a cosy murder mystery with many well placed humorous moments that doesn't affect the seriousness of the story. 


I have read almost every book and short story by Debeshi. She is a very good storyteller who creates relatable characters and situations that help me connect with her stories immediately. She has a very easy, lucid and engaging style of writing. 


The Rossogolla Murders is gripping right from the beginning; very well executed and unpredictable till the last chapter. The revelation was actually a surprise, the motive convincing. 


And Mini and Dolly ―as different as chalk and cheese―are a fun pair of detectives. It's one of a kind; I don't think I have ever read a story with two female detectives. 


Here, investigating officer Satyajit Saha also plays an important role, who instantly catches Mini's detective, hyperactive mind, and strictly instructs her to stay away from the case, but of course Mini (and Dolly) won't listen to him. 


I loved Satyajit-Mrinalini's inexplicable bonding. (Too bad Mini is married) It felt like a breath of fresh air amidst the serious atmosphere of murders and investigation. I found myself smiling whenever they were together. It's actually cool how the author managed to evoke that feeling without really making it romantic. 


I am very fond of stories with a Bengali background. In this book, descriptions of the settings and food seemed rich and authentic. 


Overall, it was a mysterious, interesting, entertaining and very engrossing read! 



Monday, February 5, 2024

Saving Books for Later? (+TBR List)

 


Photo: Asal Lotfi, Unsplash

‘Have you ever looked forward to reading a book so much you can’t actually start it?’



This is a quote from ‘The Flatshare’ by Beth O'Leary. And when I read it, I was like ki 'arrey haan! This is what I do. And I am not the only one.’


That's the thing: no matter what we do, think, feel or go through, we are not the only ones. 


There are so many books on my bookshelf (including kindle shelf) that I bought because I really, really wanted to read them, but have been saving them for later, to read it 'aaram se'. I don't know why. Maybe because I fear I might not like it?


But then I realized that tomorrow is not promised, so I decided (I decide too many things every other day) that if I really want to do something like reading that particular book or watching that movie, I’ll always choose my first preference.


I finished reading 'Aapka Bunti’ by Mannu Bhandari. She's one of my favourite Hindi writers. And that was a poignant, well written and heartbreaking read. Currently, I'm reading 'Put Asunder' by Lynn Bishop (Madhulika Liddle). It's a period romance set in Spain. I love Madhulika Liddle's writing.








 


Books I am looking forward to reading in February/March (books that I've already bought; one of them is a gift):


I am planning to focus on Indian Writers (Hindi/English/Translation)


'It Ends With Us’ by Colleen Hoover. Okay, I purchased it on an impulse. :) Heard a lot about this book. I read somewhere that it's like Me Before You, so I really wanted to read. 


Kuntiby Koral Dasgupta (I loved Ahalya and Koral's lyrical writing style so I want to read other books in the Sati series) would be my first preference. 


I've never read any story or novel by Amrita Pritam, so I bought 'Ek Khali Jagah’. It's a very short Hindi novella. 


'Rossogolla Murders’ by Debeshi Gooptu. Debeshi is a dear friend, and she gifted this book to me. I read Mangar Mayhem, the third book in the series, in January and enjoyed it. I connect with Debeshi's characters and writing style immediately (And my views about her writing/stories are not biased). Plus, Rossogolla Murders is set in Kolkata, and I'm fond of stories set in Bengal.


Bombay Balchao by Jane Borges: I bought this book a long time back. I even tried reading once but left after first chapter. So, I'm going to read it, as it's a well loved book, plus I have this inexplicable fascination for Bombay even though I've never been to the city.


‘Songs of Lost Things’ (Sonata for the Sun) by Monica McCollough. It's a Netgalley review copy that sounds interesting. 


'In the City, a Mirror Wandering by Upendranath Ashk. Translated by Daisy Rockwell. I bought this book mainly because of its title and Daisy, of course.


(The Ruskin Bond book ―beautifully illustrated ―is especially for my 10 yo)


I hope every book I pick/buy turns out to be a wonderful, unputdownable read. 


Have you read any of these books?


This post is part of the Bookish League blog hop hosted by Bohemian Bibliophile


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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Book Review: Kashmir by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar




Book: Kashmir (the partition trilogy)

Author: Manreet Sodhi Someshwar

Genre: History/Politics (a blend of creative nonfiction and fiction)


Publisher: Harper Collins India

Pages: 294

Price: ₹ 324 (on Amazon. Kindle version available)



Kashmir by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is the conclusion to the Partition trilogy. The preceding titles are Hyderabad and Lahore, and although it has some references of Lahore, you can read it as a standalone novel. 


It captures the final parts of the period of partition and its aftereffects (From October 1947 to December 1948). The delay and dilemma of accession, the confusion and politics, the havoc it caused among common people. It is a smart blend of creative nonfiction and fiction. You will find real people like Maharaja Hari Singh (the ruler of Kashmir), Nehru, Sardar Patel, VP Menon, Lord Mountbatten, Jinnah, Liyaquat Ali, Indira Gandhi etc. And then there are some fictional characters (common people) like Zooni ―a Kashmiri young woman, her husband Masud Ahmed, Koko Jan ―Masud Ahmed's first wife, Jugnu ―a young boy, Margot Parr ―an American journalist etc.  


'The crisp autumnal air smells spicy sweet. The land is dressed in red, gold, mauve. The men in lorries, ancient trucks, juddering buses, lying on the roofs, sitting on the engines, hanging on to the mudguards, armed with rifles, daggers, axes widen their eyes and begin to sniff like hounds. They register the change…..


But this, this earth dressed as a bride and smelling like a houri, intimate, inviting, this is what they have been promised? The fertile valley of Kashmir, bounteous and beautiful?’


This is the opening paragraph of the book. And then it goes on to tell the story of Kashmir's ―a princely state like ― accession to India. From two angles: one, the political―military angle, the other is the social angle. Political angle, which is creative nonfiction, is obviously informative and straightforward, but the fictional (which might be real in many ways) angle is an imaginative take on history. I liked reading the latter section more (as I, as a reader, like fiction more than nonfiction, however creative). It tells about the common people who were subjected to heartbreaking atrocities and terrifying situations. 


‘The Chinar trees had turned russet, living up to their name (Chinar is a word of Persian origin, which means 'What a fire!’), setting the whole of Kashmir ablaze. This year though the metaphorical fire ―which had greeted invading Persians the autumn they entered India, duping them into thinking they were riding into a blaze ―was literally raging in the state.’


Zooni is an interesting character. Her relationship with Koko Jan ―her saut, her bonding with Jugnu, her overall personality catches your attention.  


It is my first book by the author and her writing is very neat and taut. The chapters are short which makes the book easy to read. The writing captures the beauty of the surroundings without being too descriptive, which creates lovely imagery. 


This book is informative, very well researched and interesting, and it could be enlightening for those who want to know more about the partition and the history of India. 


‘The invaders always arrived in Kashmir and never left. Some stayed as lambs, others as wolves. It is for a shepherd, however, to ensure that his sheep can graze safely.’


You should read this book if you like History, Politics, historical fiction and enjoy nonfiction. You'll like it.


This review is powered by Blogchatter's Book Review Program. You can buy the book HERE







Tuesday, December 26, 2023

My English Translation of Manjul Nigam's Beautiful Poem


Image: My Painting (acrylic on canvas)



Top post on Blogchatter


So I found this beautiful poem on Twitter, beautifully recited by Sanjeev Paliwal Ji, and felt like translating it. You can listen to the rendition HERE)
So, here it goes:



मंजुल निगम जी की कविता:

अलसुबह मुझे जगाते हैं
तुम्हारे ख़्वाब, 
मेरी उम्मीदें
मेरे ढेरों अरमां
और हौले से ले जाते हैं मुझे

तुम्हारी प्रतीक्षा के द्वार तक। 

मैं आँख बन्द कर 

हो जाता हूँ 

प्रतीक्षारत 

जैसे कोई भक्त 

करता हैं निर्जला व्रत 

और फिर आहिस्ता-आहिस्ता 

बजने लगती है 

तुम्हारी पायल

जैसे मंदिर की घण्टियां 

मैं अंतर्रात्मा से 

महसूस करने लगता हूँ

तुम्हारा अहसास,

तुम्हारी सुगंध, 

तुम्हारा सानिध्य

लेकिन डरता हूँ 

आँखे खोलते ही

कहीं तुम हो न जाओ 

अंतर्ध्यान 

इसलिए तुम्हें महसूसते हुए ही

हो जाता हूँ तृप्त 

तुम्हारे मिलने से

तुम्हारे पुन: मिलने तक....



My English translation:


Your dreams,

my hopes and myriad desires,

wake me at the break of dawn.

And usher me gently

towards the doorway

where I wait for you.

I close my eyes 

and stand waiting,

like a devotee

observing a stringent fast.

And then,

your anklets chime delicately

A melodic tune,

like bells tinkling in a temple.

My soul senses your presence,

your fragrance,

your closeness…

But I fear

what if I open my eyes

and you vanish?

That's why I let this feeling

linger and gratify my senses.

Until I meet you again…



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Friday, December 8, 2023

A Bookish Q & A Post 2023

 

Photo: Unsplash


I found this interesting bookish questions post (by Pratibha) on Twitter, and picked a few questions to answer. Here it goes...


Top 3 books read in 2023


Simsim by Geet Chaturvedi, translated by Anita Gopalan


Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar, translated by Jerry Pinto


Woman to Woman by Madhulika Liddle


I'd like to mention a horror novel, 'Let Him In’ by William Friend.


Favourite romance 2023


None, actually. And I'm surprised. Re-read my two favourite romance books (I'll mention later).


Best mystery/thriller 2023


The Boy from the Sea by HL Macfarlane


Rereads 2023


Aalampanah

Love Virtually and Every Seventh Wave (the sequel).


An adaptation done right


Jaane Jahan (The Devotion of Suspect X)


Favourite new author 2023


They're not new but I experienced their writing for the first time. 


Madhulika Liddle

Arunava Sinha

Jerry Pinto


Books that more people need to read


Simsim

Woman to Woman


Books you didn't finish in 2023


'Deewaar Mein Ek Khidki Rehti Thi' by Vinod Kumar Shukla. It's a Sahitya Academy winning book so I can't say much. I was so looking forward to it, but I couldn't wrap my mind around what was happening. A unique, well loved book that didn't work for me.


Most read genres 2023


Nothing specific. Literary fiction, maybe. Also, I re-explored horror this year, and I wasn't disappointed.


Books that was not worth the hype:


I am very impatient when it comes to reading. I have left many unanimously loved, immensely popular books unfinished, but I won't say they weren't worth the hype. To each their own. They didn't work for me.


Best translation read in 2023


Simsim

Translator: Anita Gopalan


Cobalt Blue

Translator: Jerry Pinto


Greatest Bengali Stories Ever Told Translator: Arunava Sinha


Last book you read in 2023


The last two books didn't work for me, so let it be. I'm reading two books ―Aapka Banti by Mannu Bhandari & Shake the Bottle by Ashapurna Debi (translated by Arunava Sinha). I'm unbelievably slow these days.


Now, your turn!


Written for Bookish League hosted by Ritu

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Friday, November 3, 2023

My Favourite Slow-Burn Love Stories


I'm very fond of delightful love stories. But, I believe, romance novels can be really boring if not handled well (involves many factors). One of the things that really pisses me off is 'insta love' or love at first sight. Maybe because I don't believe in the theory of love at first sight. I like to see the protagonists growing in a beautiful relationship; to see them falling in love. 


If you ask me about my favourite fictional characters falling in love, I'd say Leo and Emmi from Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer (and Every Seventh Wave, the sequel). They are epistolary novels (written in the form of emails). And Will and Lou from Me Before You.


But I have mentioned these books way too many times, so I am offering a fresh list. Four slow burn love stories that I read and loved in the last 2-3 years.


Twice in a Lifetime by Melissa Baron 




Isla unexpectedly receives a text from a stranger, Ewan, who claims to be her husband. Obviously a wrong number, she thinks, she's not even married. But then he shares some solid proofs that indicate he might be his future husband who has lost her and is now reaching out to her to save her.


So when she meets him for the first time, she knows he is the one, but Ewan doesn't know as yet.


It's speculative fiction, an endearing love story. Unique, imaginative and so engrossing. It deals with mental health in a very sensitive manner. I loved it, I wish I could re-read it like I was reading it for the first time.


My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde





It’s 1965, and life has taken a turn for eighteen-year-old Anton Addison-Rice. Nearly a year after his brother died in a tragic accident, Anton is still wounded—physically and emotionally. Alone for the holidays, he catches a glimpse of his neighbor Edith across the street one evening and realizes that she’s in danger.


Anton is determined to help Edith leave her abusive marriage. Frightened and fifteen years Anton’s senior, Edith is slow to trust. But when she needs a safe place to stay, she lets down her guard, and over the course of ten days an unlikely friendship grows. 


"'I love you so much it scares me sometimes. I’ll think how much I love you and for a minute it’s hard to breathe.'


'Welcome to my side of the fence,' he said."


A pure, poignant, unique and heartwarming love story. Too good to be true, maybe, but I absolutely don't mind! Beautiful writing. My full review.



Love at First by Kate Clayborn





Blurb: Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar…


'and he couldn’t just hear the grin in her voice; it was like he could feel it, like she had her mouth pressed right against his chest.'


It's so sweet and heartwarming. It's so funny and so sad, at times. And I loved Will and Nora (especially Will). And their endearing conversations.



The Meeting Point by Olivia Lara





What if the Lift driver who finds your cheating boyfriend's phone holds the directions to true love?


'Who are you and why do you have my boyfriend's phone?'

'He left it in my car. You must be the blonde in the red dress? I'm the Lift driver who dropped you two off earlier.'


And with these words, the life of the brunette and t-shirt wearing Maya Maas is turned upside down. Having planned to surprise her boyfriend, she finds herself single and stranded in an unknown city on her birthday.


We don't meet the male protagonist for a long time, but he is connected through texts and that's so entertaining, the chats. I love the protagonists and their conversation. Both as a reader and a writer, I felt deeply connected. So much that the book travelled with me to my kitchen, and it doesn't happen often. I love the settings: the lovely locations, the cafe, beach, cottages…


The ending was a bit rushed, as I was expecting a deeper conversation and moments. Nevertheless, it was lovely, lovely read. 


If you are reading this post, please leave a comment and share yoir favourites. Would love to know.


Written for Bookish League hosted by Ritu


Blogchatter Bloghop's prompt: 'Your two favourite fictional characters falling in love'