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  • THE LITTLE COFFEE SHOP OF KABUL

    Author: Deborah Rodriguez Total pages: 375 Total approximate words: 93700 SYNOPSIS The story is set in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. It starts in a village in the mountain where a goon abducts a young Afghani woman Yasmina, from her uncle who could not pay of his debt on time. Helpless, the uncle unable to do much about it, watches her niece being taken way forcefully, with frustration and a heavy heart. He had to pay off the debt before the next summer, or else, the younger niece would be taken away by these goons too, and sold as a slave to some wealthy Arab. Yasmina, who was newly pregnant, and lost her husband in the ongoing war, was shaking with fear as the goons put her in the back seat of the SUV. She knew that if they found out that she was pregnanat, she would be of no use to them and therefore might kill her. She was scared for her unborn child. When one of them made an advance on her, he immediately found the small bump on her belly. Raged with anger, the goons decide to throw her away from the vehicle in the streets. Physically hurt, but relieved that her life was spared. She manages to find out the Women's Ministry, and there she meets Sunny. Sunny is an American woman who came to Kabul with her boyfriend. She owns and runs a coffee shop with Halajan, another Afghani woman, much older than Sunny and Bashir Hadi, an afghani man. She invites Yasmina to stay with her and work in her coffee shop. Yasmina, who is still shaking from all that has happened, agrees but keeps her pregnanacy a secret. Isabel, an English journalist, and Candace, an American, ex wife of a consular are regular visitors of the café, so is Jack, another American, and loads of other expatriates, and mercenaries. Isabel wants to find out the truth behind the drug peddling among young Afghan women and their disappearance, while Candace wants to help her new enigmatic Afghani boyfriend to raise money for his school of homeless boys. Despite the women having reservations against each other in the beginning, eventually become great friends, and support each other in their respective endeavors. Through many twists and turns in the story, surprising truths unfolds for each of the central characters towards the end. The plot concludes with Sunny planning to move back to America, after breaking up with her boyfriend, handing over the coffee shop to Halajan, who apparently had a secret lover, Yasmina giving birth to a baby girl, and getting married to Halajan’s son, and Candace planning to stay back in Kabul. Isabel loses her life in a tragic bombing in the pursuit of truth. REVIEW The story has an energetic and vibrant vibe. From the description of Kabul, to the descriptions of the different characters, the whole mood of the plot is very engaging. Rodriquez is a great story teller, and it is apparent from the many surprises that unfolds through out the plot. The writing is easy to understand, and the pace is just perfect for a relaxed read. The characterization is done intricately keeping in mind the differences of each one of them. I have thoroughly enjoyed the book, and would definitely wont mind reading this book again, or getting my hands on another book by Rodriguez! I would most certainly give this book a 8.5/10 rating, and I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did! Happy Reading!

  • ELEVEN MINUTES

    Author: Paulo Coelho Total pages: 291 Total approximate words: 81400 Paulo Coelho is a story teller, probably one of the bests that the literary world has the pleasure of being associated with! He mixes all the different elements of storytelling together just in the right ratio, and the end product becomes a masterpiece like ‘ADULTERY’, or ‘THE SPY’, or ‘THE ELEVEN MINUTES’. SYNOPSIS Maria is a young girl from a small town in Brazil, who wanted to chase her dreams of living in a big city, meeting her prince charming and then marry him to live happily ever after. And so, she leaves her job in a local shop whose owner was madly in love with her, and sets off for Rio de Janeiro. While enjoying her new found freedom in Rio, she comes across a Swiss man who thought her to be very beautiful, and wanted to take her out for dinner in a fancy place, to which she agrees. During dinner the man offers her a job in Geneva with a very attractive salary. Not knowing what she was getting into, Maria agrees to the offer, thinking that all her dreams were finally going to come true. She lands into Geneva to find out that her new job role is that of a bar dancer in one of the most expensive clubs of Geneva. She also sees that she wasn’t the only Brazilian girl there who left her small town for the chase of the big cities. Her job role was to seduce the men in the club and then spend some more time in a hotel room after that with them. She was allowed to take 3 men per night and give part of her earnings to the bar owner, who facilitated the whole arrangement. Gradually Maria makes peace with her new role as a prostitute but she also promises herself that she will be in this like of work for only one year, just enough to save to buy a farm back home, and a one way ticket to brazil. During this one year, she meets many wealthy men who paid to be in her company for a few minutes, however there are two men in particular that she falls for. Ironically they both have very different definitions of love and Maria doesn’t seem to settle in her heart which one makes more sense than the other. At the end she chooses to leave both of them, but knowing which one of the two she really loved. She never confronts her love to him and rather as planned after the one year, she buys a ticket to get away from Switzerland once and for all. She gets a one night stop in Paris, and as fate would have it, the man that she really loved was waiting for her at the airport in Paris. Coelho leaves the story with Maria’s arrival in Paris without any final details about her actually getting into a flight to home in Brazil. REVIEW The plot is intricately detailed, so are the characters and the scenes. Each incident is patiently weaved into beautiful words, keeping in mind the characteristic details of not only the protagonist but also of the supporting characters. The pace is neither too fast nor too relaxed. Even though this book is a translated version of its original Portuguese form, the words used are fairly easy to understand and makes for an overall pleasant read. I am fan of Coelho’s work in general, except for The Alchemist (review here), and I would happily give this book a 8.5/10 rating! Happy reading!

  • THE ALCHEMIST

    Author: Paulo Coelho Total pages: 170 Total approximate words: 43000 The first time I read this book, I was younger. Perhaps in my mid twenties. Even though I was still an avid reader then, I could not really comprehend much of what the author wanted to communicate to the reader. Seven years later, I have a relatively different perspective about everything in general around me, which I think is the reason why I have comprehended ‘The Alchemist’ differently this time. To begin with, it is not a fiction, neither it is a full blown self help book. It is somewhere in between. If you have read ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ , you probably know what I am implying to here. The story has various characters, but no names. Each character meets the other for a purpose that they both have to fulfill in order to continue the journey of their ‘life’s purpose’, which Coelho calls as their ‘personal legend’. The central character is a young boy who is in search of a treasure in a far away land. Throughout his journey, he is met with beautiful people who liked, loved and encouraged him to continue his pursuit, but he also met with many others who were crooks, who stole from him, beat him, threatened him, and even laughed at his endeavor. At the end however, he did find out the treasure, which ironically wasn’t where he thought it was at the first place! But he also discovered that he wouldn’t have known the real place of the hidden treasure if he didn’t make that journey, so far away from his home, and so far away from the treasure itself! The Alchemist, is more of a fable than a story. It tries to teach certain principles of life, that perhaps gets sidetracked in the whole rush of fitting in. If you are into self help books, but you don’t really like reading the same old style ‘motivational’ books, then The Alchemist could be a breath of fresh air for you! I personally have grown out of reading non fictions, other than memoirs, however for a perspective change from time to time, I don’t mind reading this book again! May be in another seven years from now. Despite it being a best seller for decades, I would rate this book a 6.5 for its overall appeal, from a reader’s perspective.

  • NOT A REVIEW!

    THE CATCHER IN THE RYE Author: JD Salinger Total Pages: 214 Total approximate words: 75,000 Making a living is exhausting! Making a dream come true is equally or perhaps much more exhausting, but also exhilarating, liberating, empowering, and at the end of the day satisfying. I am no more in the pursuit of the later, for whatever reasons. Well to be honest, the reasons are, greed, impatience, lack of perseverance, and a huge fear of failure. Hence after a ‘sabbatical’ of almost eighteen months I am back in the game of what some might call the ‘rat race’. It might not be as satisfying as living the dream I am sure, but people do envy how far ahead you are from them in the race. Yea yea, one might say it is a toxic sense of accomplishment, but nevertheless it is still an accomplishment. In this whole pursuit of meaningless approval, it is important to keep some time aside for something that truly lights up your soul, makes you smile, and makes everything else obsolete, while you are at it. In simple English, it is called a hobby. From my amateur attempt in sounding lucid, you may have figured it out already what is it that I gain pleasure from. Writing, and of course reading. Since my return to this ‘rat race’, I have not written down anything that had to do anything with my love for fiction-writing, and the battle with the passing months to complete my goal of reading 12 books (one for each month of the year) is getting tougher and tougher with each passing day. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, is the 9th book I finally finished this year, shamefully in more than a hundred sittings probably. I kind of knew this, but experienced it upfront that the longer you take to finish reading a book, the less interesting it gets! The charm of storytelling is lost if the author is interrupted again and again! The opportunity to experience a whole new world is lost, because I had to keep going to work, to make a living, to get some sort of meaningless approval from some imaginary crowd, to stay ahead in the rat race! Honestly, I don’t like it. Some say adulting is a series of making a lot of hard decisions, decisions that might not even make us happy after making them, but apparently that’s what stupid life is! As impossible as it may seem, still, make sure you don’t get lost in this whirlpool of adulting, and take some time out every now and then from your stubborn ‘work-life’ and do the small/big things that makes every other thing in the world obsolete when you are doing it. What I am saying is, get a hobby, and if possible, stubbornly immerse yourself in it.

  • DAUGHTERS OF LIVERPOOL

    Author: Annie Groves Total Pages: 468 Total approximate words: 1,59,588 SYNOPSIS The story is set during the World War 2 in England. The plot revolves around three families who are directly/indirectly related to each other, and their everyday lives with the war going on. Katie is born in London to parents who were in the showbiz business, but seeing her parent’s bitter relationship towards each other, she decides never to fall in love or joining the same line of work. Fate however, has different plans for her. As she moves to Liverpool to start her new job, she inadvertently falls in love with Luke who is a soldier and has recently come back from Dunkirk. He also happened to be the son of Jean, whose house Katie was residing temporarily for her work. Jean, a loving mother and wife, is gleefully excited to see Katie and Luke together, however is worried for her twins, Lou and Sasha who wants to join the showbiz business as dancers. The twins inspired from their aunt Fran, who tours the world, performing as a lead dancer and singer for the most renowned theatrics of England, meets Kieran who works under his uncle Con who runs a theatre. Kieran promises the twins a big break to start their dancing career, and the twins unaware of the uncle and nephew’s dubious plans trust Kieran with his words. Con is married to Emily, however that doesn’t stop him from being a womaniser. Emily unable to bear her own child but is the inherent of substantial wealth from her father, puts up with Con despite knowing his disloyalty to her. Vi is Jean’s twin sister, however has the opposite personality. She is superficial, crass, and considered Jean’s family below hers. Her own son, also a soldier, is set to marry Daphne who hails from a wealthy family herself, on the pretext that he was to be honored with a war medal because of trying to save Daphne’s brother in the war. The truth however was far from it. Vi’s daughter Bella, recently widowed didn’t care about her brother or her mother, as much as she cared about her allowance from her father, and the house that she got from him as her wedding gift. The story ends, while the war still goes on, and the families continue living their lives while dealing with the shenanigans of their individual existence entangled with the common web of the war. Did I enjoy the read? To an extent I did enjoy how the story gradually unfolded into events of love and hate, and further how it developed the individual characters in terms of temperament. The pace of writing is relaxed, and the style is easy, making the whole reading a laid-back one. For someone in their mid to late teens might find the story more appealing, specifically because the portrayal of characters is not complex. For mature readers, this might be a quick weekend read if one is into ‘low key’ fiction books. This book is a step up from Enid Blyton books, if you know what I mean. A 5.5 star rating for this easy read! Happy Reading!

  • THE SINGLES GAME

    Author: Lauren Weisberger Total number of pages: 337 Total approximate words: 1,18,000 SYNOPSIS The protagonist is an underrated tennis player, and the plot is about her journey from being the world number 22 to the world number 2. The story unfolds cleverly not only into the physical hurdles of intense, long practice and fitness sessions, along with cut throat competitions, but also the many other aspects like rivalries with other top players, lack of a stable relationship, media frenzies, superficialities in the name of romance, and the non-stop self-sponsor travel all over the world for tournaments. The story also has homosexual characters which seamlessly fit into the main plot and add an extra oomph to its characterization. It is a straight forward story with unnecessary twists, and without excessive details. However, it justifiably takes the reader through the reasonable and not so boring details of the sport itself, which was integral to the entire story telling. Anymore details into the synopsis, I might as well tell you the story! Did I like reading it? Well of course, yes! The writing style is well paced. The character making is vivid to the point that I could actually hear the protagonist’s coach’s yelling as I read through the lines! I liked how the author portrayed the generally sensible human being and the selfish, vile and shallow ones through the different characters. I adored the story’s take on parenting, through the eyes of the protagonist’s father, and the mature relationship that a parent and a child are capable of forming between themselves. The Singles Game, was a quick read and between my flying schedule I finished the book in a week. Only because I enjoyed reading it! A 7.5 star rating out of 10 for this beautiful book. PS The author is also the writer of the book “The Devil Wears Prada”. That is ought to make you want to read this book. Happy Reading!

  • WUTHERING HEIGHTS

    Author: Emily Bronte Pages: 322 Total approximate words: 115900 To try and write the synopsis of a story that has survived two centuries is a bit of a dare. Its never-ending fame intrigued me, and that was the only reason that I picked it up from a book store in Dubai some four years ago. A regular job was standing on my way at that time for me to be able to read as much as I would like to. Thankfully, because of the pandemic, some of my wishes came true, and I finally picked up the book for the second time. SYNOPSIS Set in the nineteenth century, it’s an unconventional generational love story between two lovers who never get to be together, and die in anguish, spite and loneliness. There are many unexpected and disdainful circumstances that the story unfolds into. The plot revolves around its more than one protagonist, and takes the reader through a chain of distasteful events through the years that eventually ends into death, and a scandalous burial of the protagonists. The writing style is expectedly Victorian. It is not even remotely anything like the writings from the past 30-40 years. The pace is slow, narration is extremely detailed, and the characterization has more physical descriptions than psychological ones. A plethora of characters, weaving their lives and stories over two generations, makes it too extensive a read. A modern comparison of similar extensive storyline writing, could be Arundhati Roy’s Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Also, looking back, Rabindranath Tagore’s Gora. Did I like the Classic novel? Not as much. The pace of the story did not really keep me glued to the book. The plot was extremely unconventional, and so I enjoyed the idea that went into forming the entire characters, and storyline, and encouraged me as a writer to be bolder when imagining my own characters, but other than that, it was a slow ride! Would I read another Classic? I most certainly would! I would rate it a 6.5 out of 10. Happy Reading!

  • NOT A PENNY MORE, NOT A PENNY LESS

    Author: Jeffrey Archer Total pages: 336 Total approximate words: 1,00,800 SYNOPSIS Harvey Metcalf, one of the protagonists of the story is a man of ill-fortune. Despite his poverty-ridden childhood, Harvey manages to amass extreme wealth by the time he is a grown man, thanks to his shady deals with corporates and banks. In one of his latest duping strategies, four men fall victims and lose a combined value of one million dollars. When they find out the person behind all their losses, they come together and weave plans on how to get their money back, with a series of deceptions and tricks. How did I like the book? Well, a book that has survived decades and is still easily available in book stores everywhere, is kind of hard not to like. The novel, first published in 1976, has surely gone through all the testing that its readers and critics had to offer and has lasted through it all with flying colours! The plot is suspenseful, the words used are easy to understand and the portrayals are done aptly to the settings of the early and mid-twentieth century. The narration is not too fast or too slow. It maintains a consistency that keeps the reader in sync with each turn of events while still keeping the suspense alive till the end. With its fair share of drama involved in the plot and a bit in the protagonists, I wouldn’t be surprised if the novel is adapted into a Hollywood movie! A good 8.5 for this novel, and another Jeffrey Archer book for me, please! Disclaimer: This review is based on my personal reading and understanding of the book with my own limited experiences and knowledge. It doesn’t guarantee the same level of satisfaction/ dissatisfaction to other readers and the reviews could vary from individual to individual. Happy reading!

  • THE HOPE FACTORY

    Author: Lavanya Sankaran Total pages: 350 Total approximate words: 1,19,000 SYNOPSIS The plot has two protagonists, Anand, a family man and a factory owner, and one of his housemaids, Kamala. Both their stories are narrated simultaneously while bringing the other characters like a bridge between their stories. Anand, a hardworking man, at times gets caught up in the unnecessary complexities that his marriage of fifteen years brought with it. His efforts in expanding his factory were no cakewalk either, because of the local political goon and the corrupt bureaucracy. Kamala, the housemaid, is honest, and hardworking too whose life revolved around her twelve years old son who she raised all by herself right from his birth. Her initial days in the city as a construction site labor were the worst of all, and she was grateful to her fate for finally having a job as secured as a housemaid. Kamala’s son Narayan was an obedient mamma’s boy, and helped her in all possible ways. One of those times were when Narayan fixed a broken table lamp all by himself at Anand’s place, he is pleasantly impressed by the young boy’s intelligence and decides to sponsor his education in a good private school. The story ends, with Kamala being fired by Anand’s wife who was known to be temperamental with the housemaids. Kamala however finds a job just next door, and Anand continues to support her son’s education while he handles the political goon and succeeds in expanding his factory despite all the hurdles that came along. Did I like the book? Hell yeah! The characters seem so mundane, yet their individual stories were so vivid. The story weaved around two different sections of the society, while showcasing the good, and bad at the backdrop, is heart-warming to read. The narration is paced just right, in the perfect mid-point of fast and slow. The writing is mature and relaxed. The novel is a perfect example of how simple elements from ordinary lives could be put together to make an extraordinary piece of storytelling. The plot doesn’t incline towards one specific genre, but instead takes a handful of this and that, and makes it into one wholesome story filled with a bit of realism, a bit of fantasy, a pinch of romance, and a tinge of suspense. It is one of the best books that I have read so far! 10/10 for THE HOPE FACTORY.

  • Gagandeep Sapra

    Author of AVIATION WINGS Gagandeep is an aviation trainer, recruiter, and author of the book AVIATION WINGS. The book has information about the recruitment process, eligibility criteria, airline grooming, and frequently asked questions at an interview. It also mentions the recruiter's perspective during an interview and what kind of candidate do they usually look for in an airline interview. It is an excellent guide to know about the basics of the airline industry, especially the cabin crew and ground staff job profile. Currently, she is working on her second book, which is also a non-fiction, but not any career related. TBG had a great time engaging in some interesting conversations with Gagan. Click the video below to watch the full vodcast. Gagan can be contacted through THE BOOK GULLY for any aviation-related queries. Aviation Wings can be bought on https://www.amazon.in/Aviation-Wings-Arun-Sharma-Gagandeep/dp/9389024269/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2HKZZTYT5X139&keywords=aviation+wings+by+arun+sharma&qid=1646240288&s=books&sprefix=aviation+wings+by+arun+sharma%2Cstripbooks%2C456&sr=1-1 Follow TBG on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/THEBOOKGULLY Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/tbgthebookgully/?hl=en

  • SEX & THE IMMORTAL BAD BOY

    Author: Stephanie Rowe Total pages: 314 Total approximate words: 91000 Plot Satan’s former apprentice Paige Darlington, quits working for Satan and is now living a new life with her friends, who are also immortal like her and have otherworldly powers. While she was enjoying her time away from hell (literally), Satan secretly put an evil wraith in her who was in the process of slowly consuming her soul to turn her into the most destructive destroyer of all the worlds. On the other hand, when Satan Jr comes to know about the evil wraith in progress, he sends an assassin, Jed Buchannan, who is also a shadow warrior, to bring Paige to him. In return, Satan Jr promises to release Jed’s brother Raphael who was being mercilessly tortured by him for some other reason. Obviously, when Jed and Paige see each other, they fall in love. The rest of the story is about how Jed tries to save Paige from turning into an evil wraith while disobeying his boss’s direct orders, and also somehow ends up saving Raphael from being taken by him too. How do I like the book? If I was a nineteen-year-old, I might have actually enjoyed the characterization, and the occasional soft porn that the plot had while showing Paige’s and Jed’s romance. Too bad I am almost 32! The narration has some humor in it in how it describes Satan’s character, his broken heart, and his machoism in considering destroying the world as an act of revenge. Also, the relationship dynamics of Satan and his son Satan Jr are pretty amusing. At its best, the plot is a Juvenile imagination, without much depth. Gets monotonous with the repeated lovemaking scenes. (Hurray for people who like steamy scenes!) The characterization is comparable to Netflix’s LUCIFER. Part of me even considered the possibility that the creator of Lucifer might have got the idea from this book! Guess we will never know! I might never pick up this book ever again unless it’s the last book left in the world to read. On that note, I would rate this book a 5/10. Disclaimer: This review is based on my personal reading and understanding of the book with my own limited experiences and knowledge. It doesn’t guarantee the same level of satisfaction/ dissatisfaction to other readers and the reviews could vary from individual to individual. Nevertheless, happy reading!

  • TEMPTATION

    Author. Nora Roberts Total approximate words. 55000 Pages. 216 Temptation is the second book of 2022, that I have laid my hands upon. I have bought it so long ago, that I don’t even remember when. The previous book that I read before this one was To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. It was an intense reading, and Nora Robert’s Temptation was just the right book to pick after. SYNOPSIS The story revolves around Eden Carlbough, who lost all her family wealth after her father passed away leaving behind only bad debts for her. After losing almost everything and a fiancée who left her because of her situation, Eden decides to start afresh by starting a summer camp for girls along with her close friend Candy. It is here that she meets Chase Elliot, owner of an apple orchard, and the man with whom she eventually falls in love with. CONCLUSION It is an easy-going romance fiction without the complexities of a classic love story (Pride and Prejudice, or Wuthering Heights, for instance), both in terms of story and its narration. The writing is easy to understand, and the narration was not overly detailed, which was also why it wasn’t a boring book at any point of reading. I would have enjoyed it more ten years ago, when I still had delusional fantasies about falling in love (I am a much more practical person now 😊). All in all, a good pick, if you are looking for a read for a few lazy afternoons. I would give it a 6.5/10.