Saturday, December 22, 2012

One Hundred Names


One Hundred Names
by Cecelia Ahern




Hardcover, 400 pages
Published on: October 11th 2012 by
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 
ISBN: 9780007350483

Blurb: Journalist Kitty Logan's career is being destroyed by scandal - and now she faces losing the woman who guided and taught her everything she knew. At her terminally ill friend's bedside, Kitty asks - what is the one story she always wanted to write? The answer lies in a file buried in Constance's office: a list of one hundred names. There is no synopsis, nothing to explain what the story is or who these people are. The list is simply a mystery. But before Kitty can talk to her friend, it is too late. With everything to prove, Kitty is assigned the most important task of her life: to write the story her mentor never had the opportunity to. Kitty not only has to track down and meet the people on the list, but find out what connects them. And, in the process of hearing ordinary people's stories, she starts to understand her own.

When I read Cecelia Ahern’s PS: I Love You, I was captivated. I still count that book as one of the best ones I have read. It had a wonderful story, many interesting and lively characters, wonderful monologues, and what not. I knew that Ahern was going to be one of my favourite writers.
Her epistolary novel, Love Rosie, also mesmerized me equally superbly.
With her latest release- One Hundred Names in my hand, I was super excited to explore the new story that Cecelia Ahern had to tell us. Coincidentally, this story too is about stories, as Ahern tells us that every person has their own story to tell.
Katherine Logan has been sued by a respectable man, Colin McGuire for the documentary she made on her TV show, Thirty Minutes, about him being a pervert and a pedophile. After having lost her job as one of the trendy TV hosts, she is back to her old friend Constance- the editor of Etcetera. Constance is fighting a battle between life and death at the hospital, sick with cancer. But before dying, Constance tells Kitty that she would take her back at Etcetera, and that she has always wanted to write a story. To know more about it Kitty would have to bring her the list that Constance has written and kept at her home. Before Kitty can get Constance the list, Constance leaves for her heavenly abode. Kitty is left with a list of one hundred names, and nothing else. She has a great challenge to understand what the story that Constance always wanted to write was.

You’d have seen in the image that the cover of the book is extremely attractive. But trust me, once you hold it in hand, I bet you’d say that you’ve never seen a cover as beautiful as that one. And by You I mean the guys and the girls alike. If I say that I’ve lost my heart to the cover, it will be an understatement.
The book has a lousy start to it. Too many facts are given to the reader in very less time. And hospitals are not my favorite places to read about.
The best thing about the book is that you have several plots in between. The different names of the list, although only a few of them are touched, give you insights into their own life. All of them have a specific magic to them.
Kitty must have been a very challenging character to like about. You feel so many things about her at the same time. One moment you are sympathizing with her and just the next moment you say that she deserved all the misery she went through. One moment you feel like hugging the poor girl, the next moment you want to call her a bitch. Kitty Logan has been one of the best characters I have come across.
Apart from Kitty, all the characters are wonderful. Although he was our protagonist’s love, I didn’t like Steve much.
The story is fantastic, really thought provoking and emotional. It keeps you even more gripped with every next page you turn to.
Ahern has been one of the cleverest and most talented writers I have come across, and she gives you yet another beautiful tale of love, striving and winning.
Trust me, you are not going to regret once you read it. I recommend it to every lover of Ahern and romance out there. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Betrayal

Betrayal
By Danielle Steel




Paperback, Large Print, 400 pages
Published on:  March 27th 2012
Publisher:  Random House Large Print 
ISBN: 9780593063118



BetrayalBlurb: At thirty-nine, Tallie Jones is a Hollywood legend. Her work as a film director is her passion and the center of her life; one after another, her award-winning productions achieve the rare combination of critical and commercial success. With no interest in the perks of her profession or the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, Tallie maintains close and loving relationships with her college-age daughter and her aging father, and has a happy collaboration with Hunter Lloyd, her respected producing partner, confidant, and live-in lover. Rounding out the circle and making it all work is Brigitte Parker, Tallie’s devoted personal assistant. Friends since film school, they are a study in contrasts, with Brigitte’s polished glamour balancing Tallie’s artless natural beauty, and her hard-driving, highly organized style a protective shield for Tallie’s casual, down-to-earth approach.
 
As Tallie is in the midst of directing the most ambitious film she has yet undertaken, small disturbances begin to ripple through her well-ordered world. An outside audit reveals troubling discrepancies in the financial records maintained by Victor Carson, Tallie’s longtime, trusted accountant. Mysterious receipts hint at activities of which she has no knowledge. Soon it becomes clear that someone close to Tallie has been steadily funneling away enormous amounts of her money. In the wake of an escalating series of shattering revelations, Tallie will find herself playing the most dangerous game of all—to trap a predator stalking her in plain sight.
 
In this riveting novel, Danielle Steel reveals the dark side of fame and fortune. At the same time, she brilliantly captures a woman’s will to navigate a minefield of hurt and loss—toward a new beginning

In Danielle Steel’s Betrayal, we come across our perfectionist protag- Tallie Jones. Having crossed several milestones in Hollywood, Tallie is one of the top most directors that Hollywood has. On her way of making yet another film, Tallie is completely engrossed in her work when an audit reveals a huge embezzlement done to her. One million dollars from her account have vanished- the account in which the money is purely for the business purpose. Who could it be? Hunter Lloyd- her boyfriend and producer for four years, or Bridgette- her sweetest chum and assistant for about two decades? Tallie has lost her trust in everybody when she hires a private investigating officer, Margaret, who reveals the ugliest of truths to Tallie with time.
The characters that Steel has created with Betrayal are lovable. Whether it is Tallie, her daughter Max, Hunter, Bridget, Victor, you have a perfect and specific image of them all in your eyes. They’re humans with their own rights and wrongs. And of course you sympathize and connect with Tallie the most. Lies, deceptions, death and heartaches are what make Tallie drop to the ground after soaring high, but we know Danielle Steel has to make her heroine survive. And she does!
We know that Danielle Steel is a wonderful and celebrated author out there who’s given us the best of books like Echoes, The Ring, The Gift and lately, Big Girl- which I absolutely loved, but sadly, this was the book that came with a lot of disappointment for me. Yes, the novel does have certain drawbacks.
The plot moved really very slow. This has been one of the most slowly progressing books that I have come across. In case you have read The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks and found that dawdling, then I would like to mention that this is even slower than that and would probably test your patience.
Also, there is an excess of repetition in the book. Steel kept repeating the same thing over and over again with different choice of words. The behavior of characters has been repeated so many times that I automatically by hearted them all by the time I finished the book.
The plot drags unreasonably. This was a three hundred thirty six paged book which could have easily been finished within a hundred pages had the writer had some mercy on the readers and avoided all the pointless repetition.
There is hardly any serious touch of romance to in the two thirds of the book; neither is there a nail biting mystery to it. There’s almost nothing in the plot that can keep you gripped to it.
Although I tried very hard to like the book, I couldn’t do it. This is certainly not Danielle Steel’s best.
It seems so wrong when I think of Danielle Steel’s name associated to the book, but yes, I won’t recommend Betrayal to anyone. Unless you’re a staunch lover of her and naturally fall in love with every word she writes, you may give it a try. If that is not so, you can grab a copy of Big Girl which is certainly a beautiful book. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I've Got Your Number


I've Got Your Number
by Sophie Kinsella






Paperback, 387 pages
Published on: February 1st 2012
Publisher: Random House Export
ISBN: 0593059824 


I've Got Your NumberBlurb: I've lost it.  : (  
The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It's been in Magnus's family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I've lost it. The very same day Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive.       : ) 

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her "happily ever after" begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect 
Well, perfect except that the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn't agree. He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life. 
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other's lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

Sophie Kinsella is the name that I loved right from my childhood. I admit that had it not been Sophie Kinsella, I won’t have been such a lover of books today.
When I read her “The Undomestic Goddess” in Sixth grade, I was mesmerised. Books were so lovely, so hilarious, so beautiful- the child in me thought after reading Kinsella. There’d be nothing surprising with it if I say that Kinsella is certainly my most favourite author.
Since then, I have been religiously reading all her books. But in I’ve Got Your Number, I must say, Sophie Kinsella is at her best.
If you want to put out of your mind all the stress and land into a world of giggles and gasps, Poppy Wyatt is your host.
Poppy has found the man of life! What’s more, she is getting married to him in just ten days! But Poppy’s life falls into the danger zone when, during a lunch at Hotel Berrow, she loses the only thing that matters the most – her Engagement Ring, which has been in Poppy’s fiancĂ©, Magnus’ family for generations. In all the panic that follows, she gets robbed of her phone too.
But Poppy gets lucky when she finds a discarded phone in a trash bin. Immediately she grabs it and distributes its number to the entire hotel staff and her friends asking them to call her up if they find her priceless Emerald Ring. When the phone owner’s boss, Sam Roxton, demands the phone of his PA back, Poppy denies giving it back taking in consideration the timeless "Finders, Keepers" rule. Because Poppy does Sam a favour, he agrees on the bargain that he’d let her “share” the phone until she finds her ring but she’d have to forward all his PA’s emails and texts to him regularly.
“I’ve never shared an in-box with anyone in my life. I didn’t expect it to feel so…intimate. It’s as if we’re suddenly sharing an underwear drawer or something.”
Before starting IGYN, I’d read a tormenting, godawful book and feared that I’d hate reading any other book for all my life. But I was a few pages past I’ve Got Your Number, and I was laughing like a drain. I don’t think I’ve laughed as much reading any other books as I have done reading IGYN. Kinsella had once again, made me fall in love with books.
Another thing that I absolutely loved about the book was that it was fiction with footnotes. You must’ve read a billion non-fiction titles will footnotes, but how many of you have seen a Chick Lit with footnotes. The first footnote of the book read:
1.      His specialism is Cultural Symbolism. I speed-read his book, The Philosophy of Symbolism, after our second date and then tried to pretend I’d read it ages ago, coincidentally, for pleasure. (Which, to be fair, he didn’t believe for a minute.) Anyway, the point is, I read it. And what impressed me most was: There were so many footnotes. I’ve totally got into them. Aren’t they handy? You just bung them in whenever you want and instantly look clever.
Magnus says footnotes are for things which aren’t your main concern but nevertheless hold some interest for you. So, this is my footnote about footnotes.

You’ll find them on almost half the book. And believe me, I’d be so hurt whenever a page didn’t have one.

The characters that Kinsella creates are so, so human. I loved every single character in this adorable novel. Poppy is just one girl like any of us who would always act on an impulse, without thinking of any of the consequences to her acts. She maintains that typical, quirky Kinsella voice that marks all her heroines. Although Sam’s not always just round the corner, it didn’t take me long to fall for him. Whenever he sent a text to Poppy, my heart would skip a beat.

Although, the “hotshot corporate guy- average girl” formula has been used by Kinsella bazillion times already, but somehow she still knows how to make it refreshing for her audience. And yes, we love it all the time.

Apart from tickling your bones, Kinsella is a pro at maintaining the mystery all through the novel. She keeps you guessing through the pages, wondering what Poppy messes up with next.

There’s  no doubt about it that Kinsella is the most genius humorists that we have today.  I would recommend it to everyone who has ever read any book by Kinsella. Whether you hated or loved her previous book that you read, you’ll fall in love with this one. I can guarantee that.

This is an absolute treat for the lovers of Chick Literature genre. Trust me, this is a must read. Totally worth your money, perfectly worth your time.

I’m eagerly waiting for Sophie Kinsella’s next.

Big Girl


Big Girl

by Danielle Steel




Paperback
Published on: March 1st  2011
Publisher: Corgi Books 
ISBN: 055215900X 



Big Girl
 Blurb:   'Watch out, world. Here I come!'
For Victoria Dawson, growing up isn't a happy experience. Born to picture-perfect parents, she never feels pretty enough to meet their expectations. But when her parents have a second child, Victoria is thrilled - she can't help but adore her new baby sister Gracie. And since Gracie is the image of them, her parents finally have the perfect daughter they always wanted. Meanwhile Victoria still never seems to get it quite right - she battles with her weight, she's told she'll never find a man if she's too clever, and the one career she feels passionate about her parents don't approve of.
And so Victoria decides to move to New York to fulfil her dreams and escape her family. Though her new life is exciting, the old temptations remain, and she continues to wage war with the scales.
Victoria struggles to find a life far from the hurt and neglect of her childhood, the damage created by her parents, the courage to find freedom, and become who she really is at last.

Danielle Steel is the big name in the world of romance writing. Producing numerous bestsellers over the years, she gives us yet another hilarious and at the same time a heart wrenching piece as Big Girl.
The cover of the book is going to attract your attention immediately. As you read the book, you understand the relevance of the gorgeous cover that it has.
Our protagonist is Victoria Dawson has sufficiently enough reasons to end her life. When both her parents wanted a boy, they were fairly disappointed after having a girl. They name her Victoria after Queen Victoria who had a big body to carry all through her life. Victoria is seen as a specimen of ugliness, obesity and uselessness.
When the Dawsons are blessed with yet another girl Grace, Victoria is sure to be neglected. Gracie, as Victoria calls her, is perfect in the eyes of her parents. Gracie is everything that Victoria is not. And our lovely protag is not at all jealous about it. Victoria grows up  loving her sister more and more,  being taunted by her parents for her weight, her job and for not having a boyfriend. There’s only one thing that takes her away from the miseries of life and that is food.
Danielle Steel has done a commendable job taking us on a journey starting right from Victoria’s birth to her thirties. Seeing her struggle with different things in different phases of life, Danielle Steel makes this character fantastically relatable.  I haven’t personally related to any character better than that of Victoria. And there’s no wonder about it when I am, in one way or the other, reminded a billion times a day about being obese. And I think every girl out there, whether lean or obese will relate to Victoria. We all have weight issues, don’t we?
I loved the way Steel has shown us the troubles that an average girl with a few extra pounds faces. The abuse one faces verbally and mentally because of it is far, far worse than any physical abuse you can come across. And as Steel writes it, it is all believable and true.
There have been many plus sized heroines that we have come across in many books, but there hasn’t been anyone as perfect as Victoria Dawson. This one is going to be my favourite book written by Danielle Steel.
 If they make a movie out of this book, I am going to cry buckets when I see it. And if you have a heart, probably you will do the same.
Not only does Steel deal laudably with the problems Victoria faces at her home with her family, she also shows us the miseries she faces as a teacher in New York after leaving her home. And finding love for a size fourteen woman in New York is not an easy job either.
I was the happiest person on earth when Victoria leaves her parents and flees to New York in search of her self-esteem, the perfect lover for herself and above all freedom from all the miseries. A woman needs to live her life for herself and not for pleasing others. Fulfilling the whims of others ought to be a secondary matter, always. That was the probable theme that Steel had in mind while penning the book down. 
The author shows us the best pictures of issues regarding self esteem, weight, family, sisterhood, teaching, decisions and above all love. Big Girl is a breezy read with a lot of lessons to teach you as you leaf through the book.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit and Romance. This one is surely worth your time.





The Affair


The Affair 

by Lee Child






Hardcover, 432 pages
Series: Jack Reacher #16
Published on:  September 1st 2011
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN: 0593065700


The Affair (Jack Reacher, #16) Blurb:  Everything starts somewhere. For elite military cop Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Carter Crossing, Mississippi, way back in 1997. 
 
A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A cover-up. A young woman is dead, and solid evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. But that soldier has powerful friends in Washington.  
Reacher is ordered undercover to find out everything he can and then to vanish. But when he gets to Carter Crossing, Reacher meets local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux, who has a thirst for justice and an appetite for secrets. Uncertain they can trust each other, they reluctantly join forces. Finding unexpected layers to the case, Reacher works to uncover the truth, while others try to bury it forever. The conspiracy threatens to shatter his faith in his mission—and turn him into a man to be feared.

I read Lee Child’s first novel as a Seventh grader. It was called The Hard Way. That was the time when Lee Child’s writing had mesmerised me. After five years today, I again bumped into another Lee Child novel- The Affair. After reading this latest piece from Random House, I’d say that there’s no denying that Lee Child is as phenomenal an author as he was when I got acquainted with his books as a child.
The Affair is the sixteenth novel in the Jack Reacher series, but it can be very well read as a standalone.
The story begins with Jack still being in the US Army and he’s deputed to investigate the series of murders taking place in Mississippi in the year 1997. Reacher, the undercover Military Police Officer, only appears on the scene after the third woman is killed. He later realises that there’s a connection between the killing of the women and the deaths taking place near the army base.
Just like the other Jack Reacher novels, which have been loved by the readers all over the world, The Affair is yet another action packed and adventure filled mystery by Child. With the name, The Affair, as you might have guessed, there’s this love interest in the book which is quite overpowering than the rest of the Reacher novels. There’s another investigator with Jack on the case. She is the very interesting Sheriff Deveraux, who forms a perfect pair with Reacher.
Lee Child has created a remarkable and matchless character in his creation of Jack Reacher. He is a big, tough man who doesn't take any bull from anyone. I’ve hardly seen a writer have such a grip on creating the characters who force you to live their life when you’re reading. And with the first person’s narrative point of view, you get into the character even better.
But Deveraux was a little too dumb to be a sheriff. Her motives seemed quite different than what was expected of her. She is a bit too interested in Reacher than she should be. But that, obviously is a deliberate attempt by the author. Also, the Sheriff is incredibly beautiful and it is a very important point in the plot. But what irritates you is that Reacher repeatedly keeps on commenting on the dichotomy of how impossibly thin she is while still eats like a linebacker. Come on! He is not a Mean Girls character!  He is an undercover Military Police Officer, for God’s sake.
 With some clever twists in between, complicated characters, a perplexing case, and wonderful humour between the tensions Child creates, he proves that is an author of great mettle. You’d find something interesting and eventful happening at each page. Child does keep you turning the pages!
But there are points where the book does disappoint you. Don’t lose your mind if the last thirty pages of the book test your patience. The end of the book is slightly abrupt. The loose ends of Jack and Elizabeth’s affair are left untied.  One is only left wishing if the few questions you had in your mind would have been answered before the book concludes so unexpectedly.
But it does answer a big question of the Reacher series. It will tell you why Jack, actually, left the army.
I’d recommend this to anyone who likes reading thrillers. And of course, the Reacher fans cannot miss it at all. If you haven’t read of Lee Child’s works before, I am sure this is going to be a wonderful introduction. The Affair is certainly worth your time.

Fifty Shades of Grey


Fifty Shades of Grey 

By E. L. James





Paperback, 514 pages
Series: Fifty Shades #1
Published on: April 3rd 2012 (first published 2011)
Publisher:  Vintage / Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 
ISBN: 0345803485 

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)
 Blurb:  When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time. 
The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.
Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?
Before I start the review, I’d like to clarify why on earth I even thought to read this one. A month ago I saw the name of the book in the Bestsellers’ list on Flipkart. As usual, I judged the book by its cover and didn’t read the blurb. I presumed that it was a self help book about being successful at business or something. E L James, I thought, was some top-notch businessman. After checking Barnes and Nobles a few days later, I saw all the three books of the Fifty Shades trilogy on the number one, two and three of the Bestsellers’ list. I thought the business man has penned down his entire life’s experiences in the three books. I downloaded a Kindle copy of the book.
I am a self-help lover. I wanted to read it as soon as my exams ended. When they ended, I was searching Goodreads lists of High School Romance and suddenly I saw, a list said ‘Best Erotic Romance Fiction’ and guess what? Fifty Shades trilogy again topped the list. The curiosity of what could make an Erotica a bestseller killed me and I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
The book starts when Anastasia Steele does her sick friend, Kate, a favour by going to interview a hotshot businessman Christian Grey for the college paper. He finds her intriguing and she in turn finds him very charming and handsome. Almost immediately, Ana falls in love with Christian Grey.
There’s nothing good about the book that is to be discussed. This book was a torture to go through. I didn’t read it all. I couldn’t. After I read about twenty percent of the book, I wanted to puke. Then and there, I deleted the file from my computer. And for two whole days after that, whenever I thought about the last page I read, I literally felt like gagging.
Just as I started the book, I found the dialogue formation awkward. I had never read dialogues so poorly written. Next, what I realised was that the author was very, very repetitive. The vocabulary of the author seemed too limited. But over a few pages, when the vocabulary had developed, repetition had taken other forms. I detested the author’s writing style. It’s juvenile and not even average.
The characters are poorly developed. Many scenes have directly been taken from the Twilight books. The author should be charged with serious plagiarism. I had my first WTF moment when I was reading about all those rules and a bit later on when Ana lost her virginity. This was so not at all romantic or sensual. It was dirty. Absolutely filthy!
The author has shown her filthy mind by promoting BDSM in the book. But what is worse is that she doesn’t even know how to write filth! When Ana tells Christian that she’s a virgin, he says that they need to “fix it up”. Fix it up? As if being a virgin was a disorder! There are many gross things shown in the book that no-one doing the BDSM can even imagine.
The contract thingy that James has done, is absolute shit! She’s shown as if it was not BDSM but some underworld activity.
Anastasia was a foolish, stupid, idiotic, dumb, nonsense and dung-headed girl. She has no sense of decision or anything at all. The only thing that she has is her maddening inner goddess that drives the reader crazy after every other paragraph. James is so damn repetitive!
Christian is an ass! He’s possessive, proud, arrogant.. ah, he is a psycho. I hated him like anything. He’s got brain damage apparently, that James has forgotten to mention in the book.
It torments me to even think about it. The last thing I’d want to say is that don’t, don’t even think of reading this. It is neither worth time, nor money. If you like Romance or even Erotica, go figure out something else. This is absolute waste of everything!

Review originally published on:  http://vaultofbooks.com/f/review-fifty-shades-of-grey
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