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Bridget Jones’s Diary- Helen Fielding : 26/52

Oh please. A book about a thirty something’s pathetic non- life. Enough already.

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No, I haven’t watched the movie. And yes, I’m a decade or so late reading this book and I’ve probably read a zillion blogposts and columns that have tried to sound just like this. So maybe I’ve exhausted my quota of laughter that was due to this book. But puhleese.

Thirtysomething, single, in lust with her boss, a bunch of supportive friends (mandatory gay man included), an airheaded mother, a bunch of random old couples and the Real Hero, an oh-so-aptly named Mark Darcy. The whole book is about how she tries to keep up her New Year’s resolutions of losing weight, drinking less, quitting smoking and finding a man. Makes me want to roll my eyes and say ‘Aren’t we all’.

This Mark Darcy makes just three or four appearances in the book and you don’t even feel anything for him. How  he ended up on the many lists of Lovable Fictional Men, I don’t know. Daniel, the smooth boss who indulges in Fuckwittage and cheats on Bridget seemed more lovable. Our very own Ganesha who drank milk gets a mention in the book and a terracotta oil burner tries to imitate him.  The airheaded mother was the best character in the whole book, she  even provided the necessary filmy drama at the end and helped tie up all loose ends for the Happily Ever After ending. And Bridget, well she frustrated me so much that I wanted to just grab her by her shoulders, shake her up and tell her to shut the eff up.

I wanted to write this post in the v.g style, but finishing the damn book was hard work enough. I don’t have anything left in me now.

Will I read The Edge of Reason? Yes I will. As I said earlier, I’ve got an OCD that makes me just have to read the sequels. And then, I’m kind-of masochistic too.

 

PS: Is it Jones’ or Jones’s ? Are both correct? It is bugging me.

 

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.

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.

Kaleidoscope- Danielle Steel :13/52

This was the first Danielle Steel I read, feeling all grown up at 17. I remember weeping throughout the book and this was one story that stayed with me even after I got over my Danielle Steel phase. So I revisited it after all these years. And not surprisingly, I wasn’t choking up as much this time.

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A love story that begins in the midst of the second world war ends in a tragedy with the man strangling his wife in a fit of anger and then committing suicide. Their three daughters get separated, two of them adopted and the eldest one ending up drifting from foster homes to juvenile hall. And hardened by the horrors of ill-treatment, rape and apathy, Hilary grows up seemingly cold and unfeeling. As with all Danielle Steel women, you have the rich , posh and titled Alexandra, married to a man decades older, dripping diamonds and designers. Megan who was a baby when separated is a doctor with not much of a back story.  Arthur Patterson comes across as the helpless henpecked wimp, but you don’t understand why Hilary hates him so much until she reveals a shocking secret towards the end, when he’s on his deathbed. John Chapman, the investigator hired to find and reunite the three sisters is again, the classic Danielle Steel hero, all sensitive and caring and gets conveniently coupled in the end.

Maybe because it was the second time reading it, or maybe because I’ve outgrown hardcore chicklit, this book didn’t do much for me this time.

(Another series  that I loved back then and feel like rereading are the books by Claire Lorrimer. The Chatelaine, The Wilderling and something else. Should try to get hold of them in some library. They’re too expensive here )

Hallways in the Night – R.C. O’Leary :12/52

Sometimes you stumble across a good book or a new author in the most unexpected way. I met Andaleeb Wajid through a Twitter conversation about kichda.  R C O’Leary somehow got to this blog and he was kind enough to send me his novel as a Kindle gift. And so I spent the weekend in a courtroom with Remo Centrella and Dave Mackno and I must say, it was a weekend well spent.

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An arrogant, steroid pushing baseball player gets killed by a cop. Self defense, he says. But when there’s 45 million dollars involved, a clean self defense claim doesn’t fully cut it. So what we have is an edge of the seat legal battle that makes you keep turning the pages till the very end. I love American legal dramas, be it reruns of The Practice or John Grisham novels. I don’t know if I am being fair to the author by saying that this was like a Grisham, but it was. And some more. The characters were well formed and I actually didn’t take sides till the end. I wavered back and forth throughout the trial. Did Dave Mackno overreact? Was he driven by his own ghosts from the past? At one point you want him to win, and a few pages later, you wonder if he should.

There are little backstories for all the characters, one of which becomes a vital twist towards the end. The book touches on some relevant and sensitive topics like the identity crisis that the African American lawyer goes through, how the internet broke a family and of course, the usage of steroids in sports ( Made me wonder why we never ever hear of steroid use in cricket. Could Slapgate have been ‘roid rage?) And then there was even a dumb witness who actually named his kid after Hulk Hogan!

A totally unputdownable book. Looking forward to the sequel.