Archive | March 2014

The Carrie Diaries- Candace Bushnell : 23/52

Ok. I judge myself. This is not a book that a 30 something should be reading. Or even a 20 something. Or anysomething for that matter. This book shouldn’t even have been written. Or atleast shouldn’t have been hyped as Carrie before Sex and The City.

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But as I said, I read Summer in the City first  and so my OCD did not permit me to let part one of the series just go unread.

I really don’t know what the author was thinking. Almost everything is a total contradiction to the Carrie we know and love ( and sometimes hate). She took that horse-faced, curly haired, sexually liberated, funny, witty, independent, shoe crazy woman and turned her into an average teenager with  boy problems. Atleast in Summer and the City she was out of high school, in New York , sleeping with an old (thirty year old! gasp! ) man and partying with Samantha Jones. But for the whole thirty five chapters in this book she’s just smoking, drinking ,not losing her virginity, and feeling jealous of classmates (named Donna LaDonna and such) who are trying to steal her boyfriend. And then doing that some more. There’s no story, no plot, no twist, no turn, no direction. I won’t mind reading a good old Crosswinds or First Love from Silhouette now (Yup, that’s my vintage)  to get the bland taste of this one out of my mind.

Read this book if you want to un-Carrie Carrie Bradshaw.

 

 

The Reluctant Detective-Kiran Manral: 22/52

Chicken soup for the Masochist’s soul
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What is the longest it has taken for you to finish a book? A 180 page book?

Circa 2012
In which I buy the book: A Twitter celeb wrote a book and it was all over the place.I decided to buy said book out of curiosity, mildly combined with a twinge of jealousy since I feel jealous of all people who write and get published.

In which I start reading the book:  I read a couple of paragraphs, struggled through the first chapter and threw the book in disgust.
In which I attempt to read said book again:  I tried. Honestly tried.

Circa 2013
In which I consider throwing the book away:  Just like my fake Jimmy Choo handbag with the torn lining that I picked up on my trip to China, the trip just before I went on that trip to Bangkok where I wore my golden shift top and black trousers to the fancy nightclub where I saw a Man In Something Something make eyes at me inspite of my fat backside that refuses to shrink even when I wear my shapewear knickers, and my bottle of Insert Long and Fancy Brand Name of an Expensive and Fancy make up product that I cannot bring myself to throw away, I couldn’t bring myself to secretly slip in this book along with the newspaper pile to the raddiwalla.

Circa 2014
In which I succeed (Finishing it, not throwing it away) :
I saw a retweet of the tweet that the author twittered about said book being on some offer in Amazon. I checked said offer and it was Rs.128. I cursed myself for having purchased the book for Rs.One Sixty something when I could have bought myself a shade of Kill Me Now nailpolish from a footpath stall selling poisonous lead laden nail paint for the difference in price.

I woke up one Saturday morning in spring aka summer in Chennai and checked my schedule. I had no lunches or shopping trips or meetups with The Girls aka my BFFs planned. They have been my BFFs since we were in pigtails. Insert long winded extremely common incident that happens in school. So I put on my grey T shirt, the grey being the shade of a pigeon’s backside, and pyjamas in the colour of an awesomely cool colour that goes perfectly with said grey TShirt. I bristled around and made myself a cup of green tea and sat with said cup of green tea and willed myself to finish the book come what may. While said tea aka Weight Loss Tip number gazillion of trazillion that I follow sat on the Urban Ladder Fancy Name coffee table, I skimmed through the pages of the book with the determination of a one legged mosquito climbing Mount Everest on foot.

In which I cannot do this anymore:
Ok. I can’t write as badly as this book was written even if you hold this book to my head and make me write. But I finished it. It is about a woman’s life in a Mumbai apartment complex, her cliched husband aka The Spouse ( yeah, that’s still a thing) and her son aka The Brat ( as someone said, that’s the new Munna) who speaks in retarded SMSese ( shoot me for using the R word, but dat iz how she madd d kid tak thru oud d boog) and her entire wardrobe.
And some murder and something.

In which I challenge you to finish the book: Hah.

Disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for the Lobotomy/Extreme Aarghing/ Banging your Head on the Wall/ Project Write My Own Book Because If She Can So Can I venture/ Deathbeatings that you subject yourself to afterwards.

In which I ask you to read this first: If you enjoy the review, thank you. If you were not able to read the whole review, you’ll get what I’m trying to say.

The Second Lady- Irving Wallace : 21/52

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I read The Second Lady long long ago, but the book was missing the last few pages. However after that initial torment for a few days, I have managed to live all this while without knowing what happened the moment the two women stepped off the plane. And somehow after all these years, something made me want to find out.
Maybe it is not cool to say that you like Irving Wallace and such authors these days, you got to be snooty and read authors like <insert Cool Author name> to be with it. But hey, I like masala and I will not lie.
A classic USA-USSR thriller. The Soviets embark on an unbelievably bizzare plan to replace the American First Lady with a look alike, an actress with a strong resemblance  and been tweaked to perfection over the past three years. The replacement happens, the impersonator embarks on her role of a lifetime and the pages turn themselves. It is a USA-USSR game, so you already know who will win. But how they win is what makes it a page turner. The Soviets are ugly, potato nosed people. Their First Lady is fat and housewife-looking. Their food is vomituous, their alcohol is bitter. Americans on the other hand are handsome and glamourous. They are sexy and clever. Well ofcourse. And then there is a half-American KGB agent whose loyalties lie with the Soviets but heart lies with the Americans. So he is the  man who has a change of heart, the goodbad guy whom you root for.  A lot of twists, turns, mind games and sex later the book ends in a nailbiting climax. And this time, I know what happened in the end. Or do I?
It was written in 1980, so you can’t read it with an internet age mindset. But the plot unravels  smoothly and there aren’t too many laughable loopholes that will make you roll your eyes.

The sore point between the Russians and Americans in this book is a small uranium rich African country called Boende. And today, when Russia and America are at it again,unfriending each other over Crimea, this book makes it seem like nothing has actually changed in the world.

Fictional men I love

Books and movies have spoilt it for me. Too many expectations, too few men.

The bookmen came first, but the moviemen came along and made the bookmen even more desirable. Waiting for Velutha to get a face and Big to get some print someday.

Here’s my lust list

Velutha

rhett

A rippled chocolate body smelling of woodshavings. A white smile that lights up whiter for his forbidden love. A man who loves his lover’s children as much as he loves her. A quiet, controlled, confused communist. A man who silently carries his family’s crosses. A man torn between love and idealogy, reality and principles. A man who warms himself in that taboo fire and lets that fire finally consume him. What’s there not to love in Velutha.

Big

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Rich, connected, handsome. A commitment phobe who fights his true feelings, but also fights for his woman when he realises that she is The One. Someone who drives around her street like a madman hoping to get back what he let go of. A secret softie who leaks nose-water when emotional ( that last scene from episode in Paris. How cute was that). A big daddy type; the stronger, mature, older man who makes the world seem alright the moment he takes you into his arms (in a good way,no psychanalysis please). Someone who knows that the secret of a happy marriage is space. While I’m a big advocate of separate bedrooms and bathrooms, Big proposed an even more brilliant idea: Separate apartments two days a week. I’d absofuckinlutely fall for a man like Big.

Karna

aa

Cheated at birth, cheated at death, cheated in life that happens in between. Cheated by his mother, cheated by his guru, cheated by his love, cheated by his god. If there ever is a soul who is so wronged and tormented it is Karna. Someone who loves a woman so much that he publicly humiliates her. ( I somehow don’t judge him one bit for that and surprisingly, she too didn’t). Tormented till the very end by that unattainable love that should have been, that life that should have been.  He lives his life quiet and righteous till the very end, keeping that inner turmoil simmering inside him forever. Karna is a man who evokes every emotion from you. He is someone you want to pull up to your bosom, make him pour his heart out and then comfort him telling him that everything will be alright.

Rhett Butler

rhett
The ultimate man. Suave, sneaky, smirky, sexy. Unapologetic. He can see right through a woman, he can read right into her soul. And he waits until he finds himself in her heart. He isn’t sappy and whiny, he doesn’t pretend, he really doesn’t care. But he aches so much for the one he knows is his destiny. He knows when to forgive, when to forget and when to draw the line. Rhett Butler is one man whom I would  give a damn for. And someone I’d want to give a damn for me

Michael Corleone

rhett
The reluctant bad boy. Responsible enough to take on the family legacy he ran away from. Tough enough to wreak quiet revenge. Cold enough to kill a brother who betrays. Thoughtful enough to wait for his mother’s death to do it. Loving enough to beat the hell out of the man who hit his baby sister. Romantic enough to be hit by a thunderbolt. Determined enough to pursue that sudden strike. Sensitive enough to keep the past out of the future. Strong enough to move on to his past again. Human enough to be himself. What won’t I give to be the thunderbolt that hits someone like him.

Summer and the City- Candace Bushnell : 20/52

What better way to recover from Stephen King’s Carrie than a dose of good ole Carrie Bradshaw. Or that’s what I thought. Having loved the SATC TV series, I thought I’d give the books also a try

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Thinking that The Carrie Diaries would be too teeny bopper, I started off with Summer and the City assuming that it was about a more grown up Carrie. I was wrong. It is about a not-yet-eighteen Carrie experimenting in the big bad city. Experimenting with writing, fashion and older men. In no particular order. Set in the eighties, it takes some effort to deal with rubber, vinyl and plastic garments (loved the scrubs, though) , lack of hard disks and mobile phones and firebrand feminism. Oh, scratch the last one.

But what I absolutely couldn’t deal with was a Carrie who cooks and a Samantha who is engaged and wants to ‘settle down’. Very, very un-Samantha. Way to bring the characters we watched and loved come crashing down. Miranda is Miranda, on the right path to becoming Miranda. Charlotte too,making an entry at the very end, is very Charoltte. Carrie comes out as clingy and whiny at times, but that’s what she was with Big, so her clinginess with Bernard isn’t something new. And Bernard, though he sets a foundation for Carrie’s Big obsession, certainly is not Big. Not that it matters much, but I don’t know what genre this book comes under. Was it Young Adult fiction or Age-No-Bar Chicklit? If it was the former, I have problems with the unapologetic underage drinking and excessive smoking. If it is not, I don’t. (What does that make me?) Bleh and a half stars for the book, but I will certainly read The Carrie Diaries and Sex and The City only because my OCD won’t allow me not to.

Coonoor

I love the place, I really do. It is beautiful and I miss it a lot. But I also hate it sometimes. This line from Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects says it perfectly.

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Photo from: Coonoor’s Facebook Page.

Carrie- Stephen King : 19/52

Take a Mean Girls or a Vonnie and Monique or any high school story. Add a dash of darkness. Then add some more. And some more. Oh, empty the whole damn bottle of darkness into it. What do you get? A deliciously dark thriller that will keep you feeling deliciously dark.

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I started hating dogs when I read Cujo. Dogs hate me back. My cat Sajni still haunts me in my nightmares  with that Pet Sematary effect . Her last days were really sad and smelly. Now Carrie will make me Flex each time I see someone I hate. (o o I hate so many people)

The horror unfolds through a series of interviews, book excerpts, research studies and news articles. A sad little high school girl, a misfit with a freakishly religious nutcase mother. A gang of rich snob bullies with one of them growing a conscience. Boys. Root beer. Good gym teachers. A prom. Sounds all pink and frilly, doesn’t it? But then there’s also the colour of blood. Lots and lots of blood, different types of blood. There’s some eerie telekinetics that rains stones, turns on sprinklers and blows up gas stations.  Black Bibles. A dark closet where you repent for your sins. There’s sin and the punishment for sin. And when you close the book, kind of shaken up and feeling something in the pit of your stomach, you look at the chair in front of you and Flex.

I got this book as a similar to recommendation when I finished Dark Places. Stephen King’s first book, one he almost abandoned. It is kind of funny that the book was written in 1974 and set in the then future of 1979, but you don’t feel any time gap when you read it. It could have been set in 2014 and been as freakishly eerie as it was. I’ve rediscovered Stephen King now picked up Salem’s Lot and The Shining . Like Joey, maybe I should keep the books in the freezer until I start reading them.