Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top 10 reads of 2016

Today my blog completes 5 years!

Source: The Gospel Coalition Blog
1300 posts - 366 book reviews- 180 author interviews - 150 guest posts and still counting. The journey has been enthralling for sure. This blog is one place where all that I have asked for has come true. From starting it as a hobby to being a reviewer for all leading publishing houses, from growing up reading their books like a fangirl to getting their books for review it is all still surreal. I still jump in air like a kid whenever I get a wonderful book for review. It is like being introduced to a friend for a lifetime, someone who is going to be there forever.

To mark this occasion I am sharing some of the best books I read in 2016 with snippets and links to my reviews in no particular order. They are simply put - THE BEST and the numbers next to them are serial numbers and not their ranks. If you have missed any of these please do read them, they are a treasure to dive into. If you have read them would love to hear your thoughts on them.
Source: India ETailer

1. The Dance of Durga by Kanika Dhillon

Source: HarperCollinsPublishers India
One morning I received an email from the author requesting for a review. As is my habit I would have Google searched about it, but her mail contained all that I need. From the cover page to the synopsis, she had sent it all along. The moment I opened the cover page, my reaction had gone from curiosity to bewilderment. I mouthed a huge WOW. Having heard a lot about Bhavi Mehta's work, I now knew what wonders she could create. The cover page captures the magic of the book very aptly enticing a reader to read it further. And then I proceeded to read the blurb.

I fell in love with Rajjo. She is fire, she is water, she is the sky and she is earth. She is everything and she is nothing.... She is every woman in this world and she is nobody. Her fierceness and her daintiness both are a deadly combo making it a thrill to read her story. And till the end I was in tenterhooks as I wanted to know what she did, why she did and how she did it.


2.Where the river parts by Radhika Swarup
Source: Amazon.co.uk

Partition is like a raw nerve for me always. I have read almost every book written on Partition and yet each one feels new, as good as reliving that pain and horror. This one was no different. I picked it up solely because of its blurb that talked about Partition, not to forget the beautiful cover and title this book. All in all it is a package that was too tempting to say no to.

This book lived up to every expectation it had built in my little brain in terms of story, narrative, dialogues, characters and most importantly the detailing. I love reading stories based on historical events and this one was a charm to breeze through.Starting with descriptions of the horrifying night of August 1947, a day that changed the lives of so many people this book gives you shudders within first few pages itself and from thereon there is no looking back. You simply don't want it to end or put it down. Simply put, you are glued from the first word itself.

3. What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

Source: Goodreads.com

I fell in love with this book and its cover. It has a mysterious feel to it, added to it the blurb which is devastatingly beautiful. I come from a dysfunctional family myself and hence everything that talks about those cracks is something that fascinates me the most. I grabbed the book because maybe I was expecting some answers. Like I do in such books most of the time. And did I find....? Yes I did.

The story begins with an unknown lady narrating the story of her life to us. As she slips back in time and takes us through her childhood and other important junctions you cannot help notice the pain she must have experienced but what you cannot even gauge remotely is the ending. Layering her story with many sub-plots which do perfect justice to the main story the author has done an impressive job at narration. Not once do you feel lost or in a position where you need to go back and forth in pages to recollect what happened that lead to this. Her narration is fluid and in a manner where you just flow with the story and ofcourse the character.


4. Korma, Kheer & Kismet: Five Seasons in Old Delhi by Pamela Timms 

Source: Amazon.in
When I received this book there are two things that caught my attention. One was ofcourse the beautiful cover - it almost made me Time Travel. The second thing was the bunch of post its inside the book.

Yes that is the beauty of receiving a book from a book club where before you there have been some people who have read this book and have also spared some time to pen down their thoughts at various pages on these post-its. It was an experience I cannot put to words.

I was overwhelmed, touched and most importantly moved. Imagine a single book evoking so many emotions in different people , that is the power of the written word.

A travelogue, a food guide , a memoir, a biography and a cook book is how well this book can be described.


5. Jehadi Jane by Tabish Khair

Source: Goodreads.com


Talking about this book at such a time when everyday the newspapers have headlines that speak only about some or the other terrorist attack, does make you give this book more than one glance.

And after reading the blurb you are surely hooked onto it, that is if the cover missed catching your attention.

Reading this book was more like an eye opening experience for me. There are a lot of facts that are presented in the media but then as we all know there are many more aspects to it than which are reported.

This book talks about those aspects. For me this book is much more than just about terrorism. It is about friendship, love, religion, belief, family and most importantly about humanity.




6. The Lamentations of the Sombre Sky by Manan Kapoor

Source: Goodreads
With a cover like this I knew the author had a winner on his hands atleast in the first category of judging a book by its cover. Once you pick up a book based its beautiful cover you turn it to look at the blurb and reading the first 2 words - Kashmir and the 90s was enough! I was sold. Kashmir is a place that makes me go numb and through this book I relived that pain in those pages.

There were two things which took me by surprise. One the author is only 22 and two this is his debut novel. What a marvelous piece of creation he has managed with this book! This book is immensely powerful as the author takes you to a Kashmir way before it became what it is today. I almost thought either he is born and brought up in Kashmir or is related to a Kashmiri Pandit to understand their chaos so well.

7. It's Not About You by Ratna Vira 

Source: Goodreads

I have loved and devoured the first book of the author (Daughter by Court Order). Hence it was obvious to choose this book for review when I read about it. I really admire the way she chooses such off beat topics and writes on them so beautifully. They are often things that we choose not to talk about for various reasons.

She brings out the beauty amidst their ugliness and that's what makes me love her books, every single time. This is one author who just keeps getting better and better with her writing.

She never fails to surprise me with the maturity in which she deals with sensitive topics, deftly enough to not hurt any sentiments and yet bring out them completely... in a way parading them naked for full inspection.



 
 8. The Tantric Curse by Anupama Garg 
Source: Amazon.in
 
What looks as a story of a young girl actually moves ahead to become a full fledged guide on Tantra! Having grown up in a society where black magic, tantra and worship have such thin line of demarcation that at times it is difficult to say which is what.

This story for me was very special and I will keep going back to it many times in future too. It not only was a thrilling read but it also answered a lot of things for me and helped me heal. The details backed with so much of research ensure there is not a single place in the book which you feel has been exaggerated or blown out of proportions. With a gripping story line, the author has managed to impart knowledge of tantra is a very simplistic manner. What makes it all the most interesting is the way it clears so many myths surrounding tantra and yet glamorizes its beauty to an extent that you cannot help but feel mesmerized by it.



9. The Conspiracy at Meru (Vikramaditya Veergatha, #2) by Shatrujeet Nath 


Ok... please don't judge me for this one - This is the first book I read of the author! *sheepish grin*

I don't know how I missed the previous part of this amazing series and now that I know what I have missed I am wasting no moment in grabbing the first part as well. What strikes you about this book is the detailing! Like I have always mentioned in my previous reviews as well, stories where there is a combination of mythology mixed with facts and fiction there needs to be a lot of detail for the reader to stay glued onto it. If the same things keep repeating it does tend to get boring. But here, the reader is in for a treat and not only through words but also visually because the detailing leads to some vivid descriptions which make all of it come alive. Reading this book was a thrilling experience. You just don't want it to end! [ Now I understood the wait of the readers of the previous part for this one because now even I cannot wait for the next one!]


Source: The New York Times


Getting this book for review was a sign from the Universe for me. That is what I choose to believe. 

There has been a strange longing in my heart since many days, a longing for something that neither can I put it in words nor point it out with my finger. This book describes that longing exactly the way I feel it. 

Many times in life we long for something only to get something else. And at times long for it to get it and yet feel unhappy. There is no way can we justify that or explain that dissatisfaction to anyone any how.