Book Review – The Firm by John Grisham

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“𝘐𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩, 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦.”

John Grisham

What if the company you worked for was a front for the mafia?

What if your dream organization was shady and incriminated you after certain years working there?

That is exactly what this amazing book is all about!

One of the most intriguing stories ever written by the brilliant writer Grisham!

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A Harvard Law Graduate with a poor background, looking for climbing the ladder of the corporate world is recruited by THE FIRM. A house, a BMW, over 70K+ salary a year (in the 90s) and so many perks that it was baffling and too good to be true.

Soon, the story follows the protagonist and his family getting stuck between the safety of their lives and the constant pressure from the FBI to stand as a witness. The Firm is shady and a front for the Italian Mafia. The Firm has everything, every ounce of information about you to incriminate you in case of contingency.

What do you do when your life is thrown apart, just like that?

You will experience the journey from the protagonist’s eyes. The surge of emotions, the high stakes, and a life and death situation. You can actually feel it as you continue reading this masterpiece of a book.

The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat as it keeps getting better with each chapter. Every time a new twist, a new turn to keep you wanting for more and more. The ending is bitter-sweet and very realistic compared to what is expected by the readers.

Read this thriller novel for an exciting adventure in the world of Law Firms through the life of a man who has everything one could ask for in this world and yet nothing at the same time!

10/10 will recommend this book!

Note : If you want to reach out to the author of this post, click here.

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Book Review : The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

Those are the first words I want everyone to read. This book is simply amazing. I loved it. I absolutely loved it!!

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Summary :

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Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. They are executive assistants to co-CEO’s of a publishing company resulting from a merger, for survival. It is an unlikely merger between two companies with vastly opposite approaches to book publishing.

Lucy and Joshua are no different and have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive manoeuvres as they sit across from each other. Lucy loves the art of book publishing and understands the emotions behind each book while Joshua is uptight, meticulous and focuses on analytics and profits.

Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s approach to his job and simultaneously, Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and happy-go-lucky chirpy attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

My Thoughts :

I have been on a spree of reading romance novels off late and they’re all different in their own way, but one thing always tends to stand out. This book has a backdrop similar to the movie ‘The Proposal’ starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Two stark opposite personalities, coming together through unlikely circumstances and tolerating each other.

The back and forth between Lucy and Joshua, their constant taunts and smart quips aimed at each other, constant banter and passive-aggressive behaviour will have you hooked immediately. These tiny details add a lot of richness to the plot and the characters. 

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Sally Thorne does such a wonderful and brilliant job of penning down raw these tiny details, that you can feel the tension building between the characters. She does a brilliant job at capturing passionate hatred and raw carnal human behaviour (Imagine the heat between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the movie ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith). You know there’s going to be an explosion from that buildup and you’re just waiting for it to happen. And then it does. 

First, a tiny explosion followed by what ends up being a nuclear reaction. 

Honestly, the story is not unpredictable, the characters are lovely but not extraordinary (they resemble very other Rom-Com Movies out there), BUT THE WRITING…..  the writing is simply amazing. I know for a fact that I am going to read this book again in the future, which is a HUGE deal for me (also a first because I have severe FOMO and usually find it a waste of time to re-read a book).

So yes, please PLEASE read this book if you’re into this genre. You’ll love it.

“The trick is to find that one person who can give it back as good as they can take it.”

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Roomies by Christina Lauren

Summary :

Note : If you read about my last post on The Joshua Bell Experiment, you’ll find the theme to be very similar or almost the same.

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Roomies by Christina Lauren introduces us to Holland, a young woman living in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City and working with her Uncle Robert (who is her uncle by marriage to her Uncle Jeff) at a Broadway theatre where he’s the musical director for the hottest show in town. Holland has had a thing for this subway busker for close to 6 months now. Not only is he hot and Irish, but also a great musician. 

Over the last 6 months, she’s memorised his schedule and his movements and she tries to justify it by telling her uncles and he bestfriend (Lulu) that it’s all about his music. They are finally formally introduced when he saves her from an attack on the subway, but disappears when she files an official report.

She laters learns more about him and his problems and tries to help him out by introducing him to her Uncle Robert. However, she must do something practically illegal and reckless in order to help them out. 

Read the book to find out how it unfolds, because I don’t want to give out any more spoilers.

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My Thoughts :

So after a couple of months of reading some serious books and work journals, I felt the need to mix it up and do some light/happy reading and what’s better than a nice romance novel eh?

To me, most of these are fairy tales with their co-incidental love and happy endings. It may or may not be real (depending on whether you’re a believer or sceptic) but they certainly make you feel good. I think I have figured out what makes a romance novel work. 

It’s the way the characters fall in love. How they come close. How they connect. How they have their own inside jokes and little couple things. I think it is the process of love and how well it is portrayed that really makes the readers swoon. If you ask me, any story that makes the readers root for it’s protagonists is a story worth reading.

If so, this books ticks all boxes, because it does make you swoon.

It has 2 adorable central leads (which you probably will get slightly envious of), a dreamy supporting cast of a bestfriend and the most loving uncles; all stitched into reality with a scenic New York City, the broadway and some interesting drama. The book scratches the surface of the reality of immigration and illegal immigrants just enough to make it believable but not too technical. 

What is also unique is that this is not one but a writing duo, Christina Lauren. Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings are long-time writing partners and best friends according to their bio on christinalaurenbooks.com. I simply love that idea!

Writing a book with your bestfriend. It is something intangible that you’ll share for life, along with bouncing ideas off each other and having the best of both worlds. 

Is this book a must read? Probably not (especially if Romance isn’t your genre).

But is it a good and fun read and nicely written? For sure!!

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Life’s Amazing Secrets by Gaur Gopal Das

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Summary

While navigating their way through Mumbai’s horrendous traffic, Gaur Gopal Das and his wealthy young friend Harry get talking, delving into concepts ranging from the human condition to finding one’s purpose in life and the key to lasting happiness.

Whether you are looking at strengthening your relationships, discovering your true potential, understanding how to do well at work or even how you can give back to the world, Gaur Gopal Das takes us on an unforgettable journey with his precious insights on these areas of life.

Dasji is one of the most popular and sought-after monks and life coaches in the world, having shared his wisdom with millions. His debut book, Life’s Amazing Secrets, distills his experiences and lessons about life into a light-hearted, thought-provoking book that will help you align yourself with the life you want to live.

Review

One of the first things I have concluded since reading this book is that Gaur Gopal Das is a very learned man with decades of wisdom, to be able to share his knowledge in such an easy and relatable way. It is quite clear that he chooses his words wisely and is not impatient or judgemental. In some ways, he seems like a therapist or a very wise confidant every person needs, except he is a life coach who has chosen the monk way of living.

It begins with Gaur Gopal Das having a conversation with his troubled friend and explaining to him further how every life is like a car that needs to be balanced on four wheels. These 4 wheels are as follows:

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  • Wheel 1 : Personal Life
  • Wheel 2 : Relationships
  • Wheel 3 : Work Life
  • Wheel 4 : Social Contributions

He then goes on to explain each of these wheels with very simple and extremely relatable examples. GGD seems like nothing but a very simple close friend who’s mastered the art of living life happily. He imparts knowledge and messages through the simplest of experiences in life and at no point do you feel the messages get preachy or unrealistic.

Quite honestly, a lot of what is being said is something you’ve heard at some point in your life but just not put together so sophisticatedly and in this context. Every chapter starts with a beautiful quote by legendary people and ends with a summary of the chapter.

The book imparts knowledge through a network of tiny stories or experiences and connects them through a simple central story, which is nothing more than an earnest conversation between two people. It is like a movie which has many tiny independent subplots which are slowly stitched together into the main plot.

It is so simple in the way it conveys it’s message and yet so refreshing. It is neither a heavy read, nor a lengthy one. It’ll take 5-6 hours to finish this book and yet, come out of it fresh and enlightened. 

A part of me simply wants to summarise this book, like how we make notes, so that it’s easier for people to read. But apart from copyright infringement and it being ethically wrong, I think I would never be able to capture it’s essence and just make it as significant (not really) as some educatory notes. I’d definitely recommend this book to every person I know!

Some quotes that resonated with me :

“When we treat inanimate objects, like buckets or our possessions, with disrespect or insensitivity, we will end up treating people the same. At one point in my life, I seemed to be losing a lot of my friends and I heard this advice from one of my guides. Insensitivity becomes part of our general attitude, and our instinct does not discriminate between things and people.”

“‘Watch your thoughts, they turn into words. Watch your words, they turn into actions. Watch your actions, they turn into habits. Watch your habits, they turn into character. Watch your character, it turns into your destiny.’ It all begins with a thought.”

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Book Review : Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

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This book had been on my shelf of unread books since over a year now. I’d bought it over amazon when it was available at a throwaway price of simply 89 rupees (approx $1.125). Although I did not know what the book was about when I ordered it, I knew there was a critically acclaimed and widely successful movie based on it, which basically told me that it couldn’t be a bad one. After reading it, here’s what I thought : 

The title of this book has a deeper meaning to it than just 3 words that have now become synonymous when tied with each other, mainly due to the success of this book. It is a short journal from the time when its writer went travelling to three different countries in pursuit of three different things – Italy (Pleasure), India (Spirituality), Bali (Balance) and this is what corresponds to the book’s name – EAT (in Italy), PRAY (in India) and LOVE (in Bali, Indonesia).

These are also the three Is – ITALY, INDIA, INDONESIA.

The book starts off with the beginning of a midlife crisis for the author, crying in her bathroom and praying to God, something she’s never done before. Although she’d never prayed before, she found a great sense of calm and relief through it and that’s how her search for happiness through devotion and spirituality begun.

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The author had almost everything any middle aged person could aspire for – Money, career, friends, etc. However, a terrible divorce and a breakup later, with no clue of what to do ahead, she decided to take a year off and spend it across 3 countries over a period of 4 months each.

It is important here to note that Elizabeth Gilbert had been a successful author before this bestseller and had some money saved up and took an advance on a promise to write another book about her experiences. (On a personal note, as important as it is to take time off to discover yourself; taking a year off and living in 3 countries needs a lot of financial planning, especially if you have someone dependent on you. Debt can never be a solution in these cases and it is important to have a concrete plan!)

Moving on, the book is equally divided into 36 chapters each, for all the 3 countries she visits. The writing is nice and at times appears so dreamy, that you’ll find yourself falling in love with the country and the idea of it. Although, while it appears dreamy, this is also one of the most candid books I’ve ever read.

The author does not shy away from talking about her weak moments, her troubles and challenges, her hardships and about everything else which is very real that not many people talk or like to share about. The candidness along with the author’s humour make it a fun read almost through the whole book.

There were a few parts in the middle that seemed dull or filled with too much ‘philosophy/spirituality’, which I personally couldn’t relate to. But that’s truly subjective and one who’s ever been through heartbreak or wanted to take a sabbatical should be able to relate to this book quite well.

In conclusion, I’d not say it’s a ‘must-read’ because it’s not for everyone, however it is definitely a good book and a good read!

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The Forty Rules Of Love by Elif Shafak

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As a historical fiction zealot, I simply loved this book and it is said to have been Elif’s most read book, so to speak.

On one hand, this book sheds light upon the life of a 40-ish American woman stuck with her bigamous and treacherous husband, and on the other hand, it elucidates the miraculous life lived by one of the greatest mystics and dervishes to ever walk upon earth – Shah Shams Tabriz. 

Sham of Tabriz was born an unusual person; he always did something or the other that depicted his presence on earth a colossally complex mystery. He left his home and became a wanderer exploring fors and againsts of this largely polarized world. There is a wide array of characters in this novel whose life changed 360 degree after they met Shams.

This book also lifts the curtain on how Rumi, one of the greatest poets in the history of humankind, began his voyage towards Sufism. Rumi wasn’t the Rumi we know in this day and age; he once had a mania for mainstream Islam which isn’t even in close proximity with sufi Islam. He was one of those many clerics who didn’t know a thing about connection with God and yet gave lengthsome sermons after cramming thick religious books. When Rumi came across Shams, that was his moment in the sun and that’s exactly when he ran into his actual self and ascended the pinnacle of his journey towards the divine. 

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She knew that her husband of 20 years had slept with several women without making it look like one heck of a deal, and that she’d been pretending to be perfectly naive of his extramarital affairs all these years. The Jewish-American woman despite everything tried her best to make this nauseating relationship linger until she bumped into ‘sweet blasphemy’ – a book based on sagas of Shams Of Tabriz which ultimately took her to where she was destined to be. She broke her toxic marriage and went ahead to be with her newly found love; and that’s the serene climax of this novel.

This book is sure to give you goosebumps plenty of times, devour it if you haven’t devoured it until now.

This review was written by our guest author Annie Zehra. She’s an educator, writer and an avid reader of historical fiction and fantasy fiction. Connect with her via @annieewrites.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Summary : A grumpy yet loveable man who finds his world turned on its head when a young family moves in next door.

Synopsis : This book, as the title suggests, circles around every little detail that happens around Ove and his daily way of living.

This is a man who is very tightly bound between his principles and routines and doubts everything and everyone that don’t have a set of rules to live by. He is particularly opinionated about a person based on the car they drive and nothing is good enough unless it’s a ‘Saab’. In his opinion, everything happening outside his rules, is an agenda or a conspiracy against humanity. As the book progresses into more detail, it gives out an explanation for each one of Ove’s peculiar behaviours and enlightens the fact that this grumpy old man has a big heart (literally) and underneath this hardened exterior is a soul that’s purer than most people on this planet.

Review : In the beginning, this book seems like nothing more than about a grumpy old man who’s set in his way with no room for adaptation or change. To be honest, when I first began reading this it was difficult for me to hang on to it because I am not used to this kind of writing.

This book is divided into a total of 39 chapters and an epilogue, each chapter not more than a few pages and each chapter talking about something different initially and slowly picking up and continuing the story and pushing it forward a little.

It feels somewhat like a game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’. With each chapter you go a little further into the story and towards the end, but the next chapter pulls you all the way back to the past giving elaborate reasoning for Ove’s behaviour in the present.

What initially seems like a compilation of random chapters slowly pans into an elaborate love story of a man who simply existed but never lived until he met a woman and then goes back to just existing after she’s gone. It sends out a strong message of how powerful love is and how it could influence a person’s actions and  behaviour. Ove, a stubborn man without her by his side, is heavily influenced by his father’s teachings and strives for perfection because he believes that’s the only way to do things.

To conclude, this story will take you on a journey from just knowing about Ove to rooting for him in the end. Simply be patient cause it will give you every kind of closure that you need, tie each loose end and not leave you hanging in any way. It is a nice, elegant, simple and beautiful read!

-The Travellothoner

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Becoming By Michelle Obama

I was really looking forward to reading this book because I thought I’d get an insight of what it was like living in the White House and what it was like to be the First Lady. But this book is so much more than that.

Celebrity memoirs are often like fondant-covered cakes, laboured to blemish-free visual perfection, but dry and claggy on the inside. In Becoming, ‘Michelle Obama’ can sometimes be accused of the same, but where she is ‘Michelle Robinson’, the young black girl growing up in the rough and tumble of Southside Chicago, she serves up an account so honest and raw, that the book can only be compared to a Christmas pudding — rich, deep and authentic. While the latter part of her life is fairly well known, the first third of the book honestly explains who she is, anchoring her to the role she will eventually play.

This book is Michelle Obama talking about her life right from when she was born in the South Side, Chicago all the way upto the end of President Obama’s second term. To begin with, this book talks heavily about how family, friends, her job, etc. have had an influence on the kind of values the author possesses. It is easy to notice how having loving, respectful and open minded parents contributed into her being the woman that she is.

She talks extensively about being a black woman being born in a black community and locality, the cultural changes she faced as she changed schools or jobs, her experience with racism, etc.

A woman who was driven by her thirst for knowledge and excellence and who wanted nothing from her folks except a hot meal and money to travel to school. Her grounded upbringing and responsible attitude are further highlighted when she sails through her career or takes up projects as the First Lady.

Further, the book talks about her first meeting with Barack Obama, her first impressions of him and how he was a human being. She talks (almost boasts) about his extraordinary wit, how he is as a partner and lawyer, and how he handled his way through political campaigns and presidency.

This book is nothing but an example of what happens when hard work, grit, determination and talent are channeled in the right direction. I personally cannot help but feel inspired and learn from the author, of how every big or small incident in her life encouraged her to learn and grow.

-The Travellothoner

Raavan : Enemy Of Aryavarta By Amish Tripathi

The third instalment in the Ram Chandra series, Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta, follows Raavan’s life, set in 3400 BC. A fierce warrior, brilliant scholar, ruthless businessman, powerful king, artist, musician and statesman all rolled into one, Raavan is known in mythology as the villain who kidnapped Sita, wife of mythical god Ram, in the epic Ramayana.

Instead of a unidimensional villain as in Ramayana, Raavan is human  flawed, a genius and a strong personality capable of extreme devotion on one hand and horrifying cruelty on the other.

The series based on the 3 most important participants of the Ramayana,’Ram’, Sita’ and ‘Ravan’ run in parallel. It talks about their story from birth upto a certain event where they’re lined together. The fourth books takes the series forward. However, each is an independent story and does not necessarily require reading the previous books first.

It does seem like a daunting task, especially since the author has to make sure the 3 stories are factually aligned and don’t deviate from one another. Another aspect that I really like is that every books enriches the story of the previous books by providing a different perspective of the same plot.

Secondly, I don’t know if this is the author’s brilliance or lack thereof, but the book is written in a very nice, simple and straightforward way. There isn’t a use of heavy literature, and personally, that made the book more enjoyable for me to read.

One thing that is a little unsettling is the lack of explanation of a few terms. For anyone who has read the writer’s first Trilogy, “The Shiva Trilogy”, some of these terms are nothing but a part of vocabulary because of their lengthy explanation and repeated use. However, it is not the same case with this series. It seems as if the author expects the reader to know these terms, and proceeds with a one line explanation.

For example, “Somras” is an elixir that prolongs life, which is explained in detail in the first trilogy and not in the current one. Another example is “Nagas”, which also originates and is lengthily explained in the first trilogy. Personally, I am someone who tries to visualise and imagine Fiction, and hence reading the first trilogy beforehand helped me with this book. Having said that, it is still satisfactorily explanatory and not something the reader wouldn’t understand.

But at its heart, Raavan: The Enemy of Aryavarta is a love story. It’s moving in its simplicity and there are parts that are overwhelmingly grief-stricken, albeit the narrative isn’t nuanced nor layered and the emotional thread that runs through the book is straightforward, touching on cliches of love and loss. But it is in this plainness that readers will probably find the greatest resonance.

It is also about choices; the ones we make on a moment-­by-moment basis, which weave together the tangible and intangible webs of our lives, practical and spiritual. At every step, Raavan is presented with two options, and his choices determine the course of his life and shape the man he becomes – ruthless and a pawn in the hands of the gods.

All in all, I enjoy reading fiction every once in a while after reading a few biographies or some self-help book or philosophy. And this book was every bit as entertaining and fun.

-The Travellothoner

Gone Girl

To begin with, I made it a point to read the book first before I saw the movie, cause I personally prefer all the very minute details and emotions a book can cover, that a movie never could. It is impossible to cover a 400 page book into a 2 hour movie and not skip details. However, a picture does speak a thousand words and that makes me wonder if the movie does justice to the book.

I know what you’re thinking. It was a brilliant movie, critically acclaimed and surely did the book justice. And I wouldn’t question it if someone came up to me and said the exact same words. But what makes the difference for me is the effort that a writer takes. To use nothing but words, to paint a word picture of the characters, the scenes, the surroundings, the emotions is so much more difficult to do. Especially when it stems from nothing but the writers imagination.

Do that successfully and you’re a bestseller, fail at it or simply getting close to doing that and its a bust. Having said that, here is an opinion on how I find the book to be (bear in mind, that I haven’t seen the movie yet):

Published in 2012, the book takes you to the lead characters Amy and Nick’s college days of how they meet at a party, have an instant connection but cannot initiate a romantic affair for a long time, thanks to some unfortunate circumstances. And like in any story, it’s simply all sunshine and rainbows, with instant spark between the two, when they do end up together, until it all slowly goes downhill.

I am going to refrain from saying anything further, so as to avoid any spoilers (although most people have an idea of it by now) and because I am not sure where to draw the line.

The first half of the book is pretty slow (and at times boring), and I really feel like skipping a chapter or two to get to the good part. The first 200 pages are all about character development, setting up the plot, the relationship amongst the characters and about the events that eventually lead to the crux of the book, making it the thriller that its supposed to be. Honestly, had I not known about the critical acclaim for the book (and al the hype), I would’ve lost all interest, and read it simply to satisfy my OCD.

And believe me, I would’ve missed out on an amazing story (in parts). Manage to get through the first half of the book, and the second half will literally have all your attention. The once boring characters and plot will manage to grip on to you, in a way you’ll be so dissatisfied if you don’t finish it. All it takes is one tiny 10 page chapter for the book to shift gears from slow to overdrive.

And what a lovely way its written!

What I love the most about this book, is the role reversal from the supposed hero who becomes the villain and vice versa. And I have always had a thing for when I find myself rooting for the bad guy (Like Leonardo Dicaprio in “Catch Me If You Can” or “The Wolf Of Wall Street”).

I am living the entire book again as I write this, wanting to share my excitement with you, thanks to the way everything unfolds (although it’s only a small part of the second half of the book). It almost surprised me at how easily the author managed to get me on the edge of my seat, and I often found myself chewing my nails in nervous disbelief as I read one page after another. But I don’t know. For some reason, I am not the happiest guy when it comes to the ending. Call me a cliche, but I would’ve preferred it to end differently. This book doesn’t have an ending, but just an end.

Although an ardent reader, I always have a tough time getting hooked to a book for the first 50 pages or so. There have rarely been books that manage to get my undivided attention from the first page. And although this book takes significantly longer to get my attention, I march on like a gritty soldier and seem to understand the hype later on.

Would I recommend this book?

Yes. It is good writing and definitely better than a lot of books I’ve read.

Will it blow your mind?

Probably not. Especially if you’re a Sydney Sheldon or Agatha Christie fan and know your way around a thriller.

Tell me how you find this review, and please do share your views in the comments below. Thank you.

-The Travellothoner.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

The story revolves around a guy (our lead) who goes by a few names ranging from Lindsay/Lin who later gets his Indian name ‘Shantaram’ while on one of his adventures in a village in India.

Shantaram is about a man who in one life was a robber/thief and who escapes a maximum security prison in Australia, somehow finds his way to New Zealand, forges his passport and flies to Bombay (now Mumbai), India. Leaving his past life behind, he starts afresh and somehow immediately falls in love with everything the city and its people have to offer.

As a man who is keen to start a new life and thanks to his unique sense of belongingness in the city and due to his limitations on travelling further, he starts living in the city more like a local than a foreigner. He finds a bestfriend/little brother in Prabakar who shows him the way through the city.

From entering the city as a fugitive to spending months in a village with Prabakar, moving from a cheap hotel to the slums due to financial constraints, falling in love with a woman who’s conflicted about it within herself, getting beaten to near death in jail to finding his way into the mafia, learning about their trades, making paternal and brotherly ties with people and finding himself in Afghanistan to keep his word, this man will do everything you ask him to.

One of the things that makes this book very different for me from others, is the number of characters it has and their presence. Normally, a book may have 2-3 lead characters and the rest supporting characters that occupy not more than a chapter at max barring a few. Shantaram differentiates itself from the rest in this aspect, thanks to the occurrence and reoccurrence of a varied number of characters with a strong presence and with their own stories.

Gregory David Roberts does an excellent job of pacing this book all through its 1000 pages. The book becomes extremely interesting and fast in a few chapters, whereas takes a turn when the characters talk about life and philosophy which makes a reader think and ponder about their own life and living. But this isn’t even what makes the book so interesting.

It isn’t about the journey of Lin’s life, neither about the philosophy that it discusses nor about love or family or any one particular aspect. The entire writing in itself is so simple and yet so extraordinary that it just manages to catch you. There is just something so special about the author using simple words to touch your heart. The way the book manages to take you on its journey and create a word picture is extraordinary.

Shantaram is for everyone. Whether you like fiction or non-fiction, whether you prefer a thriller or a mystery, whether you like self-learning books or whether you like books that make you think; Shantaram has it all. Amongst the 100 books I’ve read, I haven’t come across something like this and I am here to tell you, this is the best book I’ve read in 23 years of my existence, and a book I cannot recommend enough.

-The Travellothoner

Still Me By Jojo Moyes

The third Lou Clark novel by Jojo Moyes, following the number one international bestsellers Me Before You and After You. You can read their review here:

Me Before You : Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

After You : After You By Jojo Moyes

About the Book:

Lou Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is hurled into the world of the super-rich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past.

In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets – not all her own – that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

My Thoughts:

I wonder, when Jojo Moyes first created Louisa Clark in Me Before You, if she had any idea just how larger than life this character would become. Even after three books, I still feel as though Louisa has plenty to offer and at this point I’d happily pick up a fourth book about her (you know that wouldn’t have been the case earlier if you’ve read my previous reviews). I enjoyed Still Me slightly more than After You. In After You, Louisa was very much still finding her feet after the loss of Will and now, since reading Still Me, I feel as though After You was a bit of a bridge connecting the Lou from Me Before You with the Lou in Still Me. They really are a lovely set of books, so heartfelt and entertaining.

Starting exactly where the previous book left off, this is a nice and simple read. It highlights the perils and excitement of living in NYC, the hardships and opportunities. This was a wonderful story, filled with all of the things we love about Lou, combined with a New York atmosphere that was so richly detailed, I could envisage it perfectly.

Going from a stable job to being unemployed, to finding a niche for herself to finding her way through the journey, while making relationships and warming people up to her with her kindness, this book just shows how things pan out for happy-go-lucky people.In the end, it has a nice ending, a typical one, one might say. But it is a love story after all. Some lines that had an impression on me personally:

“There are so many versions of ourselves we can choose to be. Once, my life was destined to be measured out in the most ordinary of steps. I learnt differently from a man who refused to accept the version of himself he’d been left with, and an old lady who saw, conversely, that she could transform herself, right up to a point when many people would have said there was nothing left to be done.

I had a choice. I was Louisa Clark from New York or Louisa Clark from Stortfold. Or there might be a whole other Louisa I hadn’t yet met. The key was making sure that anyone you allowed to walk beside you didn’t get to decide which you you were, and pin you down like a butterfly in a case. The key was to know that you could always somehow find a way to reinvent yourself again.”

-The Travellothoner