Glitter and Gloss – A Review

Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra

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It’s been a crazy month and my reading as well as writing have had to take a back seat. However I did manage to finish this sweet little book Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra. If you saw my Teaser Tuesday you’ll have a got a little bit of an idea about it.

But first, as always, here’s the story.

The book is about Misha (named after Misha the bear mascot at Moscow Olympics) a 20 something make-up artist. At a fashion event she rescues a hapless but very handsome man from the clutches of a rather predatory model and that’s the start of the Akshay-Misha love story. Enter Didi, Akshay’s elder sister, and it hits a roadblock. But then what’s a love story without a few roadblocks and some misunderstandings?

The review

I loved Misha right from the opening pages. That’s a great place to begin to like a book. She has an independent streak that I loved. Yet she’s a little scatterbrained and suffers from an acute foot-in-the-mouth syndrome and that made her even more loveable. Finally, her penchant for being a knight in shining armour won me over completely. Akshay is delectable – chiselled cheekbones, big muscles, flat abs and ton-loads of money. There are host of other delightful characters in the book too – Sammy – Misha’s house-husband flatmate, her friend Poulomi (This is how Misha describes her: “She may sound KKK—Khoonkhar, Khatarnak, Khadoos—but Poulomi does have my best interests at heart”) and her bohemian mother.

The writing is a mix of Hindi and English with the most witty one-liners thrown in. They jump at you suddenly, changing the mood, making you smile, even laugh out loud. Sample this:
“Our fingers touch and thousand volts of electricity course through me. The current of attraction is so strong, I half expect my hair to stand up in spikes.”
and another one after the first kiss:
My eyes fly open as I go from Sensuous Cinderella to Piddu Pumpkin.
At that final image the romance flies out of the window and one just ends up laughing. That was the most endearing thing about the writing. It reminded me a bit of Anuja Chauhan. However, this has a younger feel to it. Caution: If you’re a purist it might not quite work for you. In fact some bits stuck out uncomfortably for me too.

For instance ‘din din’ for dinner (pretty juvenile, I thought)
How much I heart Sam and Poul‘.  (Heart?)
‘It’s awesome and amaze’. (Do young people actually talk like this?)

However, I’m willing to forgive much for the laughs the book brought me. I just might be adopting some of the lingo myself like DDGGMM – that would be DullDepressedGlumGloomyMoroseMopey.

The combination of romance and humour never fails to charm me. And this one was just that.

My one real complaint would be that the story was overly simplistic as was the solution. It was way too predictable. I would have liked some more twists and turns, some more melodrama. Another fifty or hundred pages and I would have been happy.

Here’s a delightful quote from the book:

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My thoughts: If you’re looking for a simple, fast paced, uncomplicated love story that makes you laugh, this is your book.

A plain Jane #Teaser Tuesday 6

Over the last couple of days I’ve been busier and more stressed than anyone should rightfully be. My writing as well as reading have taken a far backseat. However one does need something to de-stress and that’s why I picked up Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra. I’m glad I did. I have only just begun and I’m already in love with the heroine, the hero is dishy enough and the humour has me laughing out loud – just the perfect recipe for a stress-buster.

I join in this week’s Teaser Tuesday, hosted by Should Be Reading with two lines for the book. I hope to have a review up as soon as time permits.

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I wave a dismissive hand. ‘Oh, please, I’m so not in his league.
He’s a Greek God,’ I slur. ‘I’m a Plain Janaki, no, Plain Janani— what the eff is the Indian equivalent of Plain Jane again?’

Got any suggestions to help the lady in the quote?

 

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If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Finding your muse on #WorldPoetryDay

On #WorldPoetryDay here’s a tale of a friend in desperate search of a muse.

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Writing a poem is no child’s play
some struggle with it every single day.
I had a friend who was one such
The poetry bug had him truly in its clutch.

Each morning at his table he would determinedly sit
and slog over a rhyme with perseverance and grit.
He struggled with his craft, he took each advice
he tried every technique, every single poetic device.

Come afternoon he’d be quite disgruntled
Sitting in a sea of paper all crumpled.

The best way to do it, someone once told him
is to set your thoughts free and watch them growin’.
Sit back and observe as your poem comes alive
Why just one, you can write twenty-five!

He did just that but his thoughts ran away.
He found them with the pretty girl he met last Monday.
Make her your muse, counselled another friend,
But she gave him a cold shoulder and that was the end.

That’s not the end, said the friend super excited,
heartache will get your poetry love ignited.
Back at his desk, our friend rolled up his sleeve,
he wallowed in his sorrow, and let his heart grieve.

He sat down to write collecting each lovesick thought
but his stomach gave a rumble and his love he quite forgot.

He pondered his dilemma munching on a muffin
blissfully savouring its chocolate blueberry stuffing.
He lay back on his chair, he quietly shut his eyes
he dreamt of soft cakes, of doughnuts, of pies.

The glorious silken chocolate wove its dark magic
And he forgot everything till the very last lick.
Then the words came rushing, words of inspiration
That muffin seemed to have been divine intervention.

He wrote and he wrote as one in a trance
He had after all found his true romance.
He’s all famous now, he’s one of a kind
He’s the only poet with dessert on his mind.

And now he’s mobbed by every budding poet
They ask him and beg him, ‘let us in on your secret’.
Says he with shrug, there are no hidden clues
in the end it’s just about finding your muse.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons dead or alive is purely accidental.

What’s the deal with Walliams, Allen and the like?

Some of my favourite childhood buddies lived up among the dense branches of a tree that went Wisha Wisha Wisha. Silky, Moonface, the Saucepanman and Dame Washalot. Eager to have the kids befriend them too I picked up this book at the Landmark store.

Blyton copy

Once I brought it home, however, I realised it wasn’t an Enid Blyton at all. It was written by Elise Allen.

I felt cheated.

I have to add here that I looked up Elise Allen and she’s done some pretty good work – she’s the lady behind shows like the Dinosaur Train and Sid the Science Kid (Strongly recommend the Dinosaur Train if you have a dino-loving kid) and many more works that the children have enjoyed. So why should she do an Enid Blyton take off and why oh why should the book be packaged like an original?

Then again I stumbled upon David Walliams. Not only are the covers of his books replicas of Roald Dahl’s, he also has the same illustrator, Quentin Blake. He is a self-confessed Dahl fan and his writing style is quite the same too. He has the same mean-adult-pitted-against-the-child formula and has perfected Dahl’s craziness to a tee.

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I have to admit I actually liked The Boy in the Dress (it beautifully challenged stereotypes and I recommend it for all 10-year-olds, specially boyish boys) but a lot of the others, Demon Dentist and Mr Stink for instance, are just too much like Dahl, minus his finesse, or so I thought. It might just be my bias speaking of course because each time I see his books my head screams ‘IMPERSONATOR’. The kids love him, though – the proof is in the fact that his books have made him into a gazillionire.

Sample this quote from one of his interviews:

“I had absolutely no hesitation in stealing this idea for my new children’s novel, Mr Stink, when introducing my characters. Nor was that the only thing I stole. I also stole Quentin Blake to illustrate my writing.”

He was nominated for the Dahl Funny Book Award and is hailed as the new Roald Dahl but the thing is why do we need a new one?

Then I chanced upon my niece reading a young adult fiction series by Kiera Cass – The Selection Series. Never one to be able to resist a book I picked it up only to find it was Hunger Games with a twist. A repressed majority, a strict caste system (like the districts in Hunger Games) and a bunch of girls drawn from the varied sections coming together at the King’s palace to vie for the Prince.

kiera

She loved it, though. She had the entire series on her bookshelf. And I’m not sure she’d like Hunger Games as much because this one pandered to her every adolescent girly instinct. Which just doesn’t seem fair to me. Not that it matters, since I am not exactly their target market.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Am I the only one stewing in annoyance? Is this set to be a trend that’s going to be loved and accepted just like remixed music or remade films?

Of Men and Women #Teaser Tuesday 5

It’s time for Teaser Tuesday, a meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Here are a few lines from my current read – Yajnaseni – the English translation of the Oriya novel of the same name by Pratibha Ray. The translation is by Pradip Bhattachrya.

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“When I saw or heard that in the king’s royal apartments many queens, bedecking themselves, kept waiting for him, the king might or might not visit one queen’s apartments, then I wondered how it would be if it were the other way about? One queen and a thousand kings! They would spend night after night waiting for her! He whom the queen loved best would be made the “Chief King” by her. Hearing my views the sakhis used to laugh, “Princess! Keep those thoughts to yourself….”

I’m more than half way through the book and I haven’t exactly warmed up to it but these lines said by the fiery princes Yajnaseni are a thoughtful commentary on how unequal men and women were, still are, in many ways.

 

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If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Wonder – A Review

Wonder by RJ Palacio

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Let me begin with a warning – this is going to be a rather long post (by my standards).The book more than deserves it. This one came highly recommended. It has won several awards too and I’d planned to read it with the kids. One chapter down the line I decided I couldn’t possibly read just a few pages a day and ended up finishing it on my own.

Meanwhile, our nightly read aloud sessions continued and we managed to complete it only recently.

Here’s the story

Wonder tells the tale of a ten-year-old boy August Pullman (Auggie) born with extreme facial abnormalities. He has been homeschooled till grade four due to the various surgeries that he has to go through. In grade five his parents decide to send him to a private school, Beecher Prep. Auggie considers himself a normal kid but his physical appearance sets him apart. He desperately wants to blend in but that cannot happen. He knows, dreads and hates the constant stares, the looks of revulsion, or worse, those of pity.

The book talks about his experiences in the school, his attempts to fit in and find friendship.

Now for the review

Wonder is not only a fantastic story, it is told ever so beautifully as well. The story unravels through multiple point of views. This makes it very interesting because it shows us glimpses of Auggie through the eyes of various characters and how they learn to love and accept him over time. The book is broken up into short two-three page chapters which makes it perfect if you’re taking turns reading it with your tween. Almost every bit of it is a veritable quotable quote, full of simple wisdom.

Auggie’s character is wonderfully etched – smart, funny, sweet and kind. He is well aware of the way he looks and even finds it in his heart to joke about it, to the unexpected delight of his new friends. In the end what stands out is his courage and kindness.  Palacio’s ten-year-old voice is very believable.

The supporting characters are delightful too. Each of them – Auggie’s sister Via, their parents, Via’s friend Miranda, her boyfriend, Justin  – all of them have a back-story which makes them real and relatable. That is perhaps why the book has spawned a number of ‘Companion Novels’ and turned almost into a series. (Auggie and Me, Pluto, Shingaling, 365 Days of Wonder)
Via was my absolute favourite. I would love to read a spin-off from her perspective. What would it be like to live with a brother who takes up almost all of your parents’ time,  energy and attention? – that would be interesting.
I loved the parents too. They taught me some valuable lessons through the book.

I wondered whether I (and the kids) would relate to an American school setting. Interestingly we weren’t distracted by it at all. Not for one moment did our focus shift from the core idea of the book – the challenges of a ten-year old kid, which are quite the same the world over. The children identified with Auggie, with his struggle to fit in, with the peer pressure, how cliques are formed to include some and exclude the others. Palacio got the middle-school friendship dynamic bang on. She talks about how cruel the kids can be and how very kind as well.

I was apprehensive that it would turn out to be a sad heavy read given the subject but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Of course it has those heart-breaking moments when you wish you could reach out and hug Auggie and Via and their parents, and to tell them that all would be well. But then there are also happy, fun moments when your heart swells and you cannot but smile. That’s the magic of Wonder – it makes you cry and laugh by turns. And in the end leaves you with a full heart, raising a cheer to Auggie and his warm circle of family and friends.

The Julian Chapter: The edition I read came with an additional Julian’s Chapter – the story told from the point of view of the lead antagonist. I do believe, strongly that children aren’t born cruel or mean and that their parents often are part of the reason they become that way. Yet to me that chapter seemed like Palacio was making excuses for Julian’s behaviour – his bullying and his meanness – in a forced attempt to justify him. I have to admit though that it worked for the kids. It helped them see where his bad-behaviour came from. And in the end it served to make them less judgemental even about the not-so-nice kids, so I cannot really complain.

Another flip side – if I have to find one – is that the book might seem simplistic, the characters too good, too sensible. But sometimes you need to read a feel-good book simply because it leaves you with a happy feeling. Even more importantly, you need to get your tween to read this one.

Last thought: Put aside all cynicism and pick up this ever so fabulous read.

A Wonderful Book #Teaser Tuesday 4

My current read is a truly wonderful book, quite aptly named Wonder by RJ Palacio. Here’s a line, or rather two lines, for this week’s Teaser Tuesday, which is hosted by Should Be Reading. Do make time to drop by at the end of week for the review. This one is an exceptional read.

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“There are always going to be jerks in the world, Auggie,” she said, looking at me. “But I really believe, and Daddy really believes, that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other.” 

 

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If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!