Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bonded by Nicky Charles

Reno’s a tough Enforcer for Lycan Link who finds himself drawn to Brandi but duty rules his life. Brandi, just on the edge of starting her career as a Disaster Control officer, falls for Reno at first sight, but are they really meant to be? Is it love or lust and does it really even matter? Enforcers and DCs don't get along...unless fate forces them to.

Nicky Charles started the "Law of Lycan" Series with the book - The Mating( Book#1). Bonded , though was written after book#1 , is set in a time line before that of Mating. Hence this is called book#0.5.

I always like to read of societies that describe non-human creatures and their ways. I am glad I got to read this series in the correct order, 'cause this is probably lot better than book#1.

The book describes the set up of packs , the rules , the members and their stature in each pack ,the tensions hovering over the werewolf community and the regulating bodies.

I really like the roles of both enforcers and DC ( Disaster control) and once you read about them , you know they are going to be always  on opposite ways of getting things done. That makes an interesting love plot between Reno and Brandi , but also it gets a little irritating at times.

Still , the story has a good pace , a lot of good action scenes and the character development is good. The book is all about two strong personalities coming to term with their own inhibitions and how every one working for good is neither always right , nor always wrong. 

The sex is a bit too much for my taste and the editing could have gotten rid of some more details , per me. 

Overall a good fast read.

Rating : 2.75/5

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Shadow Throne by Aroon Raman

Title-The Shadow Throne
Author-Aroon Raman
Published by-Pan Macmillan India
Price-250 INR
Source-Review Copy (from the Author)
   The Indian writing in English is going through an interesting phase now.The ChetanBhagat-AmitTripathi-AswinSanghi effect in the Indian publishing industry has paved the way for an era where there are more writers than ‘actual readers’!Many techies and management professionals turned writers overnight and as a result the market got flooded with a lot of paperbacks written by first timers. Being a blogger,I have had the previlege to review quite a number of works by these new gen debutant writers and I must admit that atleast half of them(which I have reviewed) were nothing but junk.So when this book(again, by a debutant ) came for review my expectations were quite low.After having gone through this book,I should say that I’m really glad for having taken this book up for review for it turned out to be a brilliant page turner.

The Plot-A mysterious looking Asian is murdered at the Qutab Minar.The officer in charge(Inspector Syed Ali Hassan) of the investigation calls upon his close friend Chandrasekhar,an ace journalist to have a look at the crime scene.Joining them is Meenakshi,a history professor and scholar.With her help they come to the conclusion that the victim was a member of an extinct cult sect.What began as a murder enquiry soon becomes a game of hide- and- seek within the shadowy world of Pakisthan’s ISI and India’s RAW.Played out in India,Pakisthan and Afghanisthan -‘The Shadow Throne’ is a no-nonsense, edge- of the- seat thriller which is chillingly believable.

The writing-The language is pretty simple and the narrative quite smooth.Though the writer’s efforts in evoking patriotic feelings in the reader remains mostly un successful he should be lauded for not making those attempts look silly or jingoistic.The book is fast paced and there are ample twists and turns which ensures that the reader is never bored.The climax suspence is nothing but terrific and I’ll be lying if I say that I had seen it coming.The Tom-Clancy/Dan Brown influence is particularly evident at times but you can’t really consider it a negative because the story which Aroon Raman wants to tell us is very much genuine and most importantly-distinctly desi.

The Characters-Chandra/Chandrasekhar,the big boned,baby faced journo(who resembles Rishi Kapoor in the film Bobby) who is still to recover from the loss of his beloved wife Yamini is the principal character of ‘Shadow Throne’.MeenakshiPirzada(a history professor and Chandrasekhar’s friend),Inspector Syed Hassan are the other integral characters in the story.One thing which I particularly liked about Raman’s characters is that they are never too Bollywoodish andthey behave like ‘normal’ human beings
for the most part.For example,at some point in the book Chandra says he was half expecting a James Bond like figure but was surprised when he realised that the ISI agent was actually a pot bellied man who could have been easily passed off as an ordinary Government servant!It’s instances like these which makes Aroon’s characters believable and tangible. On the downside,some of the peripheral characters seemed not well etched out.

1.Plot-Thrillers dealing with terrorism and Jihad have always been the bread and butter of commercial fiction writers .Even In India we have had quite a number of books belonging to the genre(ShashiWarrier’s ‘Sniper’,Mukul Deva’s ‘Lashkar’ being the first ones to come to my mind).But the basic problemwith most of the Indian works is their predictability.‘The Shadow throne’ was quite a heavy subject for a first time author.What makes it different from the other assembly line thrillers is that it deals with an hitherto un explored angle also(read RAW/ISI/Nuclear War).The central theme of the book called for a good amount of research and tremendous patience from the part of the author.I’m happy that Aroon Raman could do full justice to it.Though the reader is bombarded with a lot of facts and historical details in quick succession, Raman tries his best not to overburden him with too much of them.For instance,the portions related to the ‘Hazaras’ are written extremely well.
2.Execution-One of the biggest positives of this book is Aroon Raman’s writing style.As I had said earlier there are a lot of scientific facts/historical-political events mentioned in the book.The book also dabbles with themes like the Indo-Pak relations,conspiracytheories,ISI-RAW,the Kushas- to name a few. Basically there was every reason for the normal reader to get confused or irritated with  excess of these facts/details .But it’s the author’s writing style and his uncanny knack of explaining the most complicated of things in the simplest manner that saves the day.
3.The Cover Design-Well,it was pretty cool!
4.The Pricing-Modestly priced at 250 INR,this book has got the potential to become a very big commercial success(the cover tells me that it has already become a National Best seller!).It’s racy,interesting and most importantly affordable for the middle class Indian reader.
5.The length-Aroon Raman doesn’t drag things un-necessarily and it’s pretty evident that he is intelligent enough to know where to stop.’The Shadow Throne’ is not a very lengthy one and you can easily finish reading it in one sitting.The Font Size is also optimum(neither too small nor too large) which means you don’t have to strain your eyes much while reading the book.  

1.Unconvincing Situations-Some of the scenes and situations in the story looked half-baked and unconvincing.Especially the events leading to Chandrasekhar’s association with Gul Mohammed and the ISI looked rather amateurishly written.
 2.Cliches and abrupt ending-The book isn’t entirely devoid of clichés.Likewise,I felt that the ending was also a bit abrupt.
3.The action sequences-Well,this is strictly a personal opinion.I think the action sequences were strictly average.May be a little more detailing could have been done here.
Verdict-'The Shadow Throne' by Aroon Raman is a racy thriller.It has got a decent plot which is executed in a highly competent manner.I hope Raman’s next book will also be as good as his debut work.Rating-3.2/5

PS- Aroon Raman’s next work is getting released this December.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Baramulla Bomber by Clark Prasad

Book Cover
Title-Baramulla Bomber
Author-Suraj Prasad(Clark Prasad)
Published by-Niyogi Books
Price-395 INR
Source-Review Copy sent via Tales Pensieve

Tauted as a science fiction espionage thriller,Baramulla Bomber is Pharmacist- Turned-Author Suraj Prasad aka Clark Prasad’s first published Novel.It’s also the first book of the Svastik Trilogy.

The Plot-Frankly speaking,the story line of this book is pretty complicated.Moreover,the book also comes with a ‘warning’ and a ‘request’(believe me,it’s right there in the third page of the book!),urging the reviewers not to divulge the plot details of the book which can act as spoilers for potential readers.Anyways,I’ll try to make this as spoiler free as possible.The basic thread is something like this.Mansur Haider is an aspiring cricketer from Kashmir.Multiple intelligence agencies are tracking him.His girl friend is trying to locate her friends who went missing after an earthquake.There is the Sweedish Intelligence officer,Adolf who is investigating both these cases.Meanwhile there is also a powerful ancient weapon which is going to be unleashed on to the world.There are numerous sub plots also which are intended to spice up the proceedings.

The writing-The English is pretty basic which is now a norm for the ‘desi-thrillers’.There aren't many bland,purposeless,over long descriptions in the book which is a welcome relief.The narrative flows smoothly for most part.There aren’t many typos or grammatical errors in the book which itself is a great thing considering that this book is brought out by a relatively small/independent Indian publishing house.(I’m sorry to say this but I must admit that of late, I have been reviewing quite a number of desi English books which are ridden with innumerable typos and grammatically incorrect sentences,majority of them released by small time publishers )

The Characters- The protagonists are not only well etched out but their deeds are also more believable and convincing.Though the book has got quite a number of characters,the author has made sure that none of them go un- noticed .Be it Haider,the Kashmiri cricketer who has got big dreams or Abhimanyu Kashyap,the man with the big ‘secret’ or the Home Minister(Agasthya Rathore) with Sinister plans,all are three dimensional characters who are integral parts of the story.

1.Originality-Full marks to the author for trying something that is daringly distinct and strikingly original.I don’t think many science fiction spy thrillers set in India have come out till date.Baramulla Bomber is just that and is quite a decent one at that!  
2.Well Researched,decently executed-The author has put in a lot of effort in getting his facts right.Since the book has references to real life incidents,history and sects,even a small inaccuracy/goof up from the part of the author might have resulted in the whole effort ending up as an amateurish,laughable attempt.Hats off to the author for his hard work.Besides, Prasad has also put across some really nice thoughts which is relevant in modern times.
3.The Cover design-It’s said that you should never judge a book by it’s cover.But nothing can do more good to a book than an awesomely designed cover page.I absolutely loved the cover design of this book and believe it’s really cool!What do you think?
 4.Informative!-Reading this book was also a learning experience for me.I could get to know about a lot of scientific facts/historical events through the book.But again,too much of anything is not a good thing, na?

1.The Writing style-Clark Prasad’s writing style may not be liked by many.Though the author tries his best to keep the author hooked to the proceedings,his self  indulgence and over- detailing plays the spoilsport at times.The pacing,I feel is also a bit uneven.
2.It’s Confusing!-The initial portions of the book is confusing,to say the least.The reader is bombarded with a lot of information/historical facts at one go which may irritate even the most patient reader.As far as I am concerned,the most important part of any novel/work of fiction is it’s first half (i.e,the first 75-100 pages or so)If the book doesn’t engage or interest me even during the start,there is a high chance of me putting it down.I fear the confusing first half of the book will have the same effect on atleast a few readers.
3.Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth!-The main problem with this book is the writer’s over enthusiasm to pack in a lot of things in the same story.Suraj has tried to link too many true events/historical incidents ,mix it with ancient weapons,Vedas,Bible,QuantumPhysics,Politics,China,Pakisthan,Cricket,Kashmir,aliens(!) and as a result is unable to do full justice to any.Agreed,he has got a really creative mind which is pretty evident in his work.But why burden the reader with too much of information?
4.It’s not an easy read!-Okay,I don’t know whether that can really be termed a ‘negative’ but one thing is sure- if you are looking for a light/breezy read,this work is definitely not your cup of tea.Well,the problem is-‘Baramulla Bomber’ is no literary marvel either!
5.It’s lengthy!-The book is a bit lengthy.It’s not that I have any issues with lengthy or ‘big’ books.What is the point in stretching a story un- necessarily if it’s boring the reader in between?
6.Loose Ends-The plot has a good number of loose ends.Many things remain unexplained even at the end.I hope the author will clarify those things in the second instalment!
7.The Climax-Agreed,the book is a suspense thriller which has got interesting twists and an unexpected ending.But the big question is,does the suspense satisfy you?To be honest,I must say it’s underwhelming-especially the part related to Mansur Haider.

Verdict-Baramulla Bomber by Clark Prasad is a decent thriller.You may either enjoy it thoroughly or put it down mid way because of it’s ‘confusing plot’.I am giving it a 2.9 out of 5.A little bit of editing would have made it a brilliant page turner. Rating-2.9/5

PS-Meanwhile,You can check out this post!

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on">The Tales Pensieve

Thursday, December 12, 2013

kabuko the djinn by Hamraz Ahsan

This was quite an unusual story for me to begin with. i have read another short story on a djinn long back and had a vague idea what they can do or why they interact with human world. But frankly , this was like a portal to the world that exists and yet you never even get a glimpse of it in your life time. 

The story follows the life of kabuko djinn who has an unusual desire to learn about humans and all their mysterious ways not just by observation or by posession but by actually dwelling inside a human body, next to the soul and all spirits that exist within us.

The book follows his journey from the moment he decides to embark on his journey , his preparations , his persistence , the failures and finally his moment of joy when he finds for himself the perfect family and the boy to be associated with.

In many ways , it reminded me of of a stubborn person who doesnt know what his decision will lead him to but is still so sure to go to any length to see his idea take a shape.
Kabuko is both naive and wise at the same time.

He learns from ajee's life not just about human life but also enriches it with many experiencesjust by his curiosity. 

The people they come across , the experiences , the tales , the mystical events and the changes it brings to oth their life makes an amusing read.  Though a few things may sound unclear or too much of an imagination , but it doesn't need one to be too critical of the book 'cause i beleive that the whole notion of djinns is quite a fanciful one.

overall , this is a fast engaging read ; with some very interesting chapters and a little sad end for kabuko. 

Yes , i felt sad for him and hoped his journey was rewarding for him.

Rating 4/5

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bala Takes The Plunge by Melvin Durai

Title-Bala takes the Plunge
Author-Melvin Durai
Price- 195 INR
source-Review Copy sent by the Author

             The Chetan Bhagat effect in the Indian publishing industry is undeniable.He inspired quite a number of men and women to write on ‘the young urban educated Indian’ in simple(often plain) language. Even the international publishing giant,Penguin started a new line of low prized books,aimed solely at the masses(or the ‘new readers’). Most of the popular bloggers(Amit Verma,Sidin Vadukut,Arnab Ray,Meenakshy Reddy Madhavan et al) turned authors overnight evoking mixed responses.As Mr Surender Mohan Pathak, the grandmaster of Hindi crime fiction rightly said in an interview ‘there is a Chetan Bhagat kind of book releasing every fifteen days,these days’.

             ‘Bala takes the plunge’ is humour columnist ‘Melvin Durai’s debut novel published by ‘Hachette india’.Prized at a modest 195 INR,this book has the potential to become the next ‘big thing’ in the so called ‘commercial fiction’ market provided it’s marketed well.

             Melvin’s prose is more like an ‘Anurag Mathur’ than a Chetan Bhagat.’Bala takes the plunge’ is the story of Balasubramanium,a middle class tamil boy who dreams of making tamil films and directing his favourite actor,Rajnikanth.After completing B.E. from Tiru Harischandran Institute of Technology(THIT),he ends up in the U.S. as the director of design at FlexIt Inc which makes exercise machines.Bala’s life in the U.S and his attempts to find a suitable match forms the rest of the (?)story.The plot and it’s treatment is quite similar to Anurag Mathur’s ‘The Inscrutable Americans’ which came out almost two decades ago.But still,’Bala takes the Plunge’ manages to raise a few laughs and that’s where Melvin Durai scores.Traces of black humour can also be seen in the flexerciser episode.

            The two scenes in the book which I liked the most were the one in which Bala joins the Sociable fun ride group(Melvin also manages to make a few statements here) and the one in which Bala names his dog America.

        On the downside,the book has cheesy lines in plenty,right from the very first page(‘’ ..the IIT where brainstorms were common than rainstorms..’’,’’I haven’t tried any cream in my life except ofcourse ice cream-,…’but if you asked me to name my favourite dish,I would have to say satellite dish’-*wtf!*).The chapter about the Matrimonial ads (chapter 10) was not that funny and something similar had been done in a funnier and much more effective manner by Arnab Ray in his book-‘May I hebb your Attention Pliss’(Harper Collins,2010)

        On the whole ,’Bala takes the Plunge’ is the kind of book which you can make use of on a boring Sunday afternoon.If you are not looking for a light read,please stay away from this one.

Verdict: Decent debut.Rating-3/5


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bankerupt By Ravi Subramanian

Author-Ravi Subramanian
Published by-Penguin India
Price-299 INR
Source-Review Copy sent by the author via Think Why Not

Hailed as the John Grisham of Banking by the Wall Strret Journal,Ravi Subramanian is the best selling author(and also one of the few Indian authors who write taut thrillers) of ‘The Incredible Banker’,’If God was a Banker’ and the ‘Bankster’,with all of them set in the backdrop of the banking industry.’Bankerupt’ is his latest book and I would like to thank the author for sending me a review copy of the book.

The Plot-Aditya Raisinghania is a high-flying Mumbai based investment banker who sets up a scam with the help of his friend-turned-Client,Shivinder which eventually results in his downfall.Meanwhile,Aditya’s wife(Cirisha Narayan), who is an academician at MIT(Boston) stumbles upon a secret which has something to do with the gun lobbies in the United States.True to it’s tag line,Bankerupt is a tale of desire,greed and murder which is played out in Boston,Coimbatore and Mumbai.

The Characters-Bankerupt’s characters are believable,yet tangible.Thankfully, none of them are portrayed as epitomes of all virtues.Be it the Protagonist,Aditya- the banker who measures everything in terms of money or his wife,the ambitious academician who has a soft corner towards her assistant professor colleague(Richard),each one of them have their own weaknesses.But more than the Raisinghanias,it’s Richard-the frustrated assistant professor who evokes the reader’s sympathy.

The Language and Writing-English is pretty basic.There are neither long passages describing the scenic beauty of Charles River esplanade nor long monologues about the pits of moral turpitude that the banking industry has fallen into . The pace is a bit sluggish in the beginning,but picks up pretty soon.Twists and turns come at regular intervals while some of them are really good,a few are nothing but mundane.

What I liked the most about the book-
1.Being a person working in the research field,I could easily relate to the ‘MIT sequences’ in the book.At one point,the author says-‘ In the field of faculty research,it was not about the pay packages:they never got that much to fret over.It was all about egos’.Can’t agree more!
2.The portions related to Dharavi were well written.Frankly speaking,it reminded me of a couple of the real life stories which i read in Rashmi Bansal’s book-‘Poor Little Rich Little Slum’.
3.The climactic twist was terrific.I must admit that I never expected it!
4.The novel has references to many real-life incidents like the June 2013,Santa Monica shooting,the anti-corruption crusade in India to name a few.
5.The book throws light into the strong arms lobby in the United States and the sinister games which they play to save their turf.
6.Ravi Subramanian never confuses the reader.Even the least trivial of the bank transactions/scams mentioned in the book have been explained in simple terms which makes them easy to understand for even the average reader.
What I didn’t like-
1.The tale isn’t entirely devoid of clichés either.For instance,the scene in which Aditya gets a fake call which prompts him to escape from his house looks straight out of a regular Bollywood potboiler.Similarly some of the events happening in the pre-climactic portion of the novel is also run- of- the- mill stuff.
2.The book has it’s predictable moments too.Even before they start working on the NRA project,the reader can easily anticipate what the ‘actual results’ are going to be!
3.The character of Richard had immense potential.It’s a pity that ‘he’ has been grossly under written.Of course,the 'e-mails' are there,but it would have been better if atleast some portions of the story were told in his point of view too!

Verdict-On the whole,Bankerupt is a gripping thriller.I’m giving 4/5 for this brilliant page turner.Highly recommended!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

HOP: Scrotum Scrolls by Kartik Iyengar

Since with this book and because of A Lot of Pages, I become a bona fide reviewer, I will be reviewing this novel a little differently than the ones I have already did for website.

About the Author: This is Kartik Iyengar’s second book in the series of HOP (HORN OK PLEASE) and he is an avid traveler which can be seen through the book he has written and the places he has written about. He doesn’t write books but Blooks.

About The Book: This is the sequel to his first book of HOP series and describes the adventures or misadventures of Chief Redbull, Derek, Goose, Hound and their SUV, Motor mouth. The book is about two alien races, one the Scrotum Heads who want to save the earth and evil Helga who wants to wipe the humanity from the face of the earth. It is upto these four and their SUV to save the world. In doing so, they will find their destinies, which is entwined with their ability to save humanity before 21st December 2012. Will they save the world? Will they find their destiny? These are the questions which will be answered either in the epilogue or so Chief Redbull says.

My Review:
I have not read the first book but most of the characters and the back stories were explained. There are essentially four main characters and the story revolves around them, so you don’t find too much of confusion with the story. It is the run of mill, save the earth story from aliens but the only difference is that only Indians and that too “MORONS” can save the world. This become was a welcome break from all the sappy romances that we read today.

HOP is one novel that takes some time to build a rapport with the readers but once you are into it, there is no escaping. I liked the fact that there was no romance or female presence in the novel. It is about friendship and it stayed there. The narration is done in first person and in the voice of Chief Redbull and it hinder sometimes to understand why a certain character behaves other than the Chief but other than that the book or the blook is a fun ride.

There are secret codes, objects to find and places to travel. There is so much going in the book but it is all explained and told in a way that I never once felt that it was a mess or had trouble understanding what is going on. Although I might have gone without all the slang but then the title in itself is well, a word that is not for polite company or said out loud, regardless the book charmed me in finishing it and waiting for the next book. Read the book for its innovative writing, Indians saving the world and a lesson in astrology. Kartik Iyengar gives you a taste for the extra-terrestrial with the Indian Masala.

P.S. Both about the author and about the book have been written by me. It’s my perception of both the author and the book.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Himalayan Revelation by Pankaj Misra

Title-The Himalayan Revelation
Author-Pankaj Misra
Publisher-Power Publishers,Kolkatta
Price-425 INR
Source-Review copy via Tales Pensieve

To be very frank,I had neither heard about this book nor it’s author until I chanced upon the Tales Pensieve page, which said that this book was up for review.Without a second thought,I grabbed the opportunity to review this latest novel.The Himalayan Revelation is PankajMisra’s debut work and is an attempt at historical fiction by this first time author.

The Plot-VijayaNagaraempire,one of the most prosperous Hindu kingdoms in South India is attacked by Sultanates.But before conceding defeat,it’s ruler manages to hideit’s vast treasures,somewhere.Centurieslater,Gaurav-a happy go lucky guy who is on a holiday to Leh stumbles upon something which changes his course of life from then on.

The Characters-The protagonist,Gaurav is a fun loving guy who has a passion for history.Then there is Natasha,his colleague turned lover (who has a doctorate in history and is also the consultant of Genesis 3D,the firm which employs Gaurav).There is also KunchenLama,the most revered-multifaceted spiritual healer and Tibetan doctor.There are quite a number of othercharacters like Tony Chacko,the C.E.O of Genesis 3D and Meesha,the C.E.O of Heritage Consultants to name a few, but none of them are well etched out and as a result,the reader doesn’t feel for any of them.

The Language and writing-This is the weakest part of the book.The English is pretty basic(even painfully bland at times)not to mention the numerous grammatical errors which make their appearance at regular intervals.What is more jarring is the author’s attempt to sound ‘cool’ by the throwing in the names of the many gadgets,motorcycles,cars(and what not!)at disturbingly regular intervals throughout.If you are able to overlook all these,you might be able to enjoy this novel to a certain extent.

What I liked the most about the book:
1)The concept and the story line-At a time when most of the ‘desi’ first time authors are resorting to safer subjects like ‘campus romance and similar stories catering to the  young urban readers’,Pankaj Mishra deserves a pat on his back for choosing the much more difficult historical fiction genre for his debut novel.Author definitely has a unique story to tell and the way he linked the present with the past was actually quite interesting.I particularly liked the way the story ended.
2. The book design:Thebook design was quite decent .The font (size) is also o.k.
3.The book throws light into a largely forgotten chapter in the Indian history.

What I didn’t like:
1.The language and the writing-A good dish tastes best when it is served well!Though there is an engaging story over here,it is presented in a pretty mediocre manner.TheEnglish is really bad(with plenty of grammatical errors and weird looking sentences!) which makes the book quite a difficult read.It’s the kind of book which you feel like putting down multiple times but you simply can’t as you badly want to know what is going to happen next to the protagonists!
2.The length of the book-I honestly feel that the book could have been a good 50 pages shorter.The sex scenes between Natasha and Gaurav were cringe worthy and could have been easily done away with!
3.The tone of the book-The author seems to be confused about his  target readers.The writing is pretty mediocre and the book reads like children’s literature most of the time.Some of the incidents in the book are too childish and hardly convincing.
4.The Pricing-At 425 INR,I definitely believe that the book is over priced(but I simply can’t complain as I got a review copy for free via Tales Pensieve!)

Verdict-On the whole,’The Himalayan Revelation’ was a passable one.It had a decent story to tell but was let down by bland writing.Rating-2.5/5


The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on">The Tales Pensieve

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Way Corporate Works: Review of Chapter 11 by Amit Shankar

This is always better to read books by the same author must be chronological order. I did the other way round. The first book I read was Love is Vodka and then Chapter 11. His first impression was that of a person who writes chick-lit and can write a girl’s character with such élan that you would doubt that the writer might be a female.

Chapter 11 is his second book and he has already famous for his debut book, Flight to the Hilsa, about a woman artist. He has indeed learned to portray his woman characters. In his book, Chapter 11, the protagonist is a male and he is looking to broaden his horizons.
He is done with his old job and his home town where everyone seems to know him. He joins a Fortune 500 Company which is in Gurgaon. From the time when he has stayed in Delhi during his college days to now, it is all different.

Disaster happens when his company files for bankruptcy or Chapter 11. He has no idea what to do and how to behave. He is idealistic in nature but his bosses and his mentor isn’t. He has to choose between the two.  The novel revolves around the concept of molarity and also how much the world has changed over the time.

Coming back to the novel, it is a narrated well. The prologue makes for an interesting read and piques the interest of the reader. The questions of faithfulness, loyalty and above all greed are answered and how important they are in a corporate culture. Does the fast life means that we skip past our morality and live a life of a person who has no values.

The clash between the old system and the new one is written in such a way that you understand bot point of views. Amit Shankar has tried to capture the essence of how in a corporate there is more than just good salary. It is not 9-6 but 24x7. The book is
relatable and the way the protagonist deals in his life is very close to reality. We all want big houses, cars and dreams also very big.

The quandary is if we can do anything for those dreams or humanity is much more important than that. Amit Shankar asks some hard hitting questions with his book. Whether it is his introspection or ours, one thing is for sure, Chapter 11 is swift, racy and a total package. 

Let's Kidnap The President - Lalit Bhatt

I got a review request from the author of this book recently, and reading the small blurb on Goodreads, it felt like just the ticket for a fun, small read. Lalit Bhatt's "Let's Kidnap the President" follows the premise that monkeys become intelligent and decide to kidnap the President of the United States of America. From life in the jungle, to their evolution, the book covers a lot of time in few pages. The author delves into a lot of things through this story. Religious beliefs, power games in a small group, the will to learn something when you feel it'll help in the long run or even in the short term... all this and little more has been covered.

A group of four Indian monkeys (literally) kidnapping the President of the United States of America... the thought in itself is funny, and the actions of the monkeys are sometimes hilarious too. I even laughed at the parts where humans reacted to the monkeys talking (yes, they become so intelligent that they talk). I liked the initial description of the jungle too. It felt like what jungle life would be. However, I wouldn't say the book in its entirety is very humorous. The total lack of editing brings it down in a big way, so much so that I kind of struggled through that. It's quite funny to read the errors, but I don't feel that's the humor the author intended to have in the book. There is a dialogue in the book itself, where one of the monkeys tell the President that they know it would be difficult for humans to acknowledge the fact that a monkey can read and write (and talk, let's not forget that part). I have no qualms in acknowledging that in a fiction, or if science should reach a stage when that can happen, I'd not mind that either. But to show that evolution so quickly in a few pages, the science that is discussed in this book... Bernoulli Principal, E=mc squared. and all such discussions between the monkeys, or delivered as a lecture by professors in a college (this was a nice way to get this part of the book done) makes it seem like a text book as well.

The book's plot is kind of fun to imagine, but reading the book, I can only say it wasn't the book for me. Some humor is definitely there, that much I can say.

My rating: 1.5 / 5

Book Details:
Title: Let's Kidnap The President
Author: Lalit Bhatt
Genre: Fiction/Humor
Type: Kindle e-Book

Reviewed by Leo

Shared with

  1. First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws Blog
  2. Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve

I thank the author for the Kindle review copy.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Five Point Someone, by Chetan Bhagat

About the author:
Chetan Bhagat is one of India’s most known authors. He’s the author of five novels and a collection of essays. All five novels have either already been, or expected to be, made into movies.

Cover and blurb:
The cover is somewhat like a college notebook, and the book is subtitled what not to do at IIT. The cover talks of a college story, of three friends and the darker side of IIT.

My thoughts on the book:
Chetan Bhagat is one of those authors I’ve loved and hated. I guess not every book can be a super hit, but I’ve read four of his five novels, felt two was average, and two was way below par. I’ve this habit of not reading books in order. So when one of my friends saw that I’ve not read CB’s debut book, Five Point Someone, she gave me her copy and told me I have to read that. I decided to complete the set of CB novels and took it eagerly. I’d heard rave reviews of the book from most of my friends, and with the movie 3 Idiots being adapted from this one (loosely adapted, I might add), I thought it possibly couldn’t be worse than the two novels I’ve felt way below par.

Five Point Someone brings to us, the story of three friends and their life in IIT. These three friends are linked, not by common points, but how they don’t have much in common at all. It tells us of their studies, their friendship, their obstacles (including the teachers), the ragging and the revolt and many other aspects of college life that many of us might be able to relate to.

Is the book memorable? No. Not very. It’s a simply written simple story with not a lot of twists and turns etc. It’s a fast paced book which you might pick up on a journey and the plot keeps you occupied for a few hours, save you from boredom on that. There are various characters that you can step into the shoes of and possibly understand their life. You feel intrigued by the depth of friendship between the main trio, and you do wish for a happy ending to the novel, which does happen. This book however is not for those who are really in love with English (like me), and you wish it was narrated better. Looking at the plot more critically, the actions of the characters may not make sense at all, and you start banging your head as to why you took it up in the first place. (It’s something that has happened to me when I’ve read his other novels).

Want a book that’s a definite one-time read and has only enough to keep the imagination occupied for a few hours? Then perhaps this is a book you can try. Not one of my favorites, but not CB’s worst either.

My rating: 2.5/5

Book Details:
Title: Five Point Someone
Author: Chetan Bhagat
ISBN: 9788129104595
Genre: Contemporary
Publishers: Rupa and Company
Price: INR. 95

Reviewed by Leo

Shared with

  1. Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Review of Love is Vodka, One Shot Ain’t Enough By Amit Shankar

Alcohol has never been my cup of tea or a glass or even a shot.  So I lose the analogy of why one shot ain’t enough. But then as I started reading the book and the characters were introduced, I realised that most of the book is like Vodka, there is the high you get and the hangover that follows.

The book is about a young teenage girl, Moon (I loved the name as it was different and stuck with me even after I have finished reading the book). She is a daughter of an Indian mother and French father. Her father soon left as he already had a family in France and his wife was ill. Moon has his presence only through Facebook and the gifts her sends.

Her mother is the one she wants the love of but Moon’s mother is too busy to notice. There are string of boys and men coming in her life and giving her a taste of love. From being an intern in an Ad-agency to being a model and then face of a mass protest, she does it all but love is the only thing she wants. 
Amit Shankar has chosen a female protagonist to tell his story of teenage romances and how much love is wanted in our lives but is it that easy or it is always enough. Moon’s boyfriends and her choices in boy friends always leave you with a sense of why? Why she chooses them apart from the character of Devil, her boss in the Ad-agency and her mother’s boyfriends, most of her boyfriends have the typical teenager written all over. Her romance with the guys she meet and the stories they create, get convoluted as Moon jumps from one romance to other.  

Coming back to the review, the book is a travel read. If you are looking for just something to pass your time as you go on your journey. It may not leave you with a high but it will be no hangover either. The portrayal of the main character Moon is praise worthy and the story of romance between the devil and her are the highlights of the book. It is a good effort by a serious writer to enter the world of click-lit but it could have been more.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Love, Life and a Beer Can, by Prashant Sharma

I'm beginning to wonder why love is the "pet genre" for most Indian authors. No disrespect to Amish, Ashwin Sanghi and others who aren't authors of that genre, but love stories are dime-a-dozen in the Indian publishing industry nowadays. And the odd thing is, most of them read similar. Even the cover that says "National Bestseller" is similar. But I still pick up the novels expecting something different, something wow. I guess that's part of the intrigue that love has.

The story revolves around Raj (who manner of introduction is funny), and his journey in a society that has a soft-spot for education (the degrees and stuff). He is brought up by his aunt and uncle after the death of his parents. It starts with the Raj's early life and goes on to his marriage and life after that. 

The story somehow doesn't take off. I don't know if it is just the language or the narration (like reading a tacky Bollywood script or SMSey lingo), but it makes you want to keep it down, yet you don't want to, hoping there's something good ahead. The author has, to an extent, kept a story in the book, with some good characterization of college kids and portrayal of college life, some decent dialogues. But it gets boring after a while, almost as if the author himself got bored of writing the story. I didn't quite know whether to laugh or cry at the ending. Very Bollywood-ish, and unexpected.

Pick it up for reading on a short journey. And maybe, just maybe then it won't feel as difficult reading it. One time read.

My rating: 2 / 5

Book Details:
Title: Love, Life and a Beer Can
Author: Prashant Sharma
ISBN: 9789380349053
Genre: Fiction
Publishers: Srishti Publishers
Price: INR. 100

Reviewed by Leo

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  2. Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Burn It by Jennifer Cie

A Tested Life Lesson:
Your heart can survive being broken, if you let it.

This is just one of the lessons or if you do not like a lesson book , treat it as one of Jennifer's thoughts that will make you smile , make you think , make you sad and even cry.
Every page is a memory of her life for her. But for me , it was a journey too. I learned with her , I grew up with her and I added my own memories to this experience , this book.
"Burn It" is a 60+ pages novella but when you are done , it makes an imapact like many 300 pages book could not.
The book opens with a poem "give it to them" :

Show yourself who you are when there is nothing left for them to take.
Go on.
Give it to them.

And trust me , it is an inspiring verse to read any time. 
what she labeled as Lectures on youth , love and death ; I wish she calls them letters ! 'Cause that's the feeling I get when I read those pages.

At the end , I leave you with her lines -

I am not an expert.
I am not pretending that I have any morals that merit calling me a good person.
I am not here to offer you a dream.
I don’t know what the world has to offer next, but I can tell you what has happened.
The truth is, this, is a collection of notes that I have known to be true. This is what was once going to
happen next. This is what I wish someone would have told me.

Am glad Jennifer told (wrote) some of these things and I am more glad I read them.

buy the book here :

Bombay Rains, Bombay Girls by Anirban Bose

About the author:
A doctor by profession, Anirban Bose is the author of the book Bombay Rains Bombay Girls and the short story collection Mice in Men. Other than writing, he is passionate about guitars, cricket and music. He is currently Assistant Professor of Medicine and Nephrology at the University of Rochester.

Cover and blurb:
The cover shows nuances of a city and college life. The back cover suggests such a theme, a small-town boy’s venture to the big bad city to study medicine, and the college life that follows.

My thoughts on the book:
Do you remember the first day of your college life? I remember mine. It was difficult for me to talk to other classmates, except for the ones sitting on the same bench as I was. I was from the city, and my college had more number of small town students, who probably knew each other too. But I could feel the same difficulty for them to start a conversation with me as well. That way, it was easy for me to understand this awkwardness, the one the protagonist Adi feels when he goes to Mumbai for studying medicine. This book is about his experiences, starting from how their taxi driver gets beaten up when they (Adi and his father) first visit Mumbai to get him settled in to the new life. His life goes through the mostly expected nuances in college life like getting caught not paying attention in class, solving that dilemma and thereby finding himself more popular, the popularity increasing etc. It has heartbreak and new love, new friendships. It also has a lot of decisions, and some that he takes that defines who he is. It has politics and helplessness, even a murder. So…a lot of little things.

The pace of the book is quite quick. The font is easily readable, and quite nice to read as well in this size. I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint what makes this book good. It has a good mix of emotions, and a plot that a medical student may understand more than me perhaps. It engages the reader for sure, so the narration is quite good. The viewpoints in narration were something that confused me to a little extent. And yes, a little predictable. I guess the part that felt the most natural was the nervousness that Adi feels in the initial chapters.

Overall, an ordinary book. Nothing too good, nothing too bad. Quite decent.

My rating: 2.5 / 5

Book Details:
Title: Bombay Rains, Bombay Girls
Author: Anirban Bose
ISBN: 9788172236830
Genre: Fiction
Publishers: Harper Collins India
Price: INR. 195

Reviewed by Leo

Shared with

  1. Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve

Monday, November 11, 2013

Love & Death in the Middle Kingdom, by Nalini Rajan

There is something quite refreshing about a historical fiction that doesn't quite read like a historical fiction. I mean it does, but it feels like it is more than that. When there is drama, life, a little admiration and some nice humor thrown into the mix, the history part of the historical fiction doesn't quite overwhelm. As such, it becomes quite interesting and easy to read it.

Nalini Rajan's latest offering, her third fiction, is such a novel. Her language, quite fluid flow of events and background work have made this story quite a lovely one. The story of research student Nitya, sent by her professor (who is a renowned person in the field and quite a character), to one of his prodigees Sharat (who's built up quite a reputation himself), to find out the story of a courtier in the Vijayanagar empire, whose diary has surfaced and landed in the hands of Sharat by chance.

The story is engaging, not only from the historical perspective, but also in the lives of Nitya and Sharat as they share the story with us, and enter into its depths themselves. The cover is intricately designed, and very alluring. I quite enjoyed this book, and will read it again soon.

My rating: 4 / 5

Book Details:
Title: Love & Death in the Middle Kingdom
Author: Nalini Rajan
ISBN: 9788180460906
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishers: Alchemy Publishers
Price: INR. 195

Reviewed by Leo

Shared with

  1. Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve
  2. First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ajaya by Anand Neelakantan

                                  Releasing On 1st December 2013


The Title caught my attention. Jaya had put Mahabharata in a new light for me but that was still Pandava side of the story. Ajaya narrates Mahabharata in from the much ignored Kaurava perspective. 

At the heart of India's most powerful empire, a revolution is brewing. Bhishma, the noble patriarch of Hastinapura, is struggling to maintain the unity of his empire. On the throne sits Dhritarashtra, the blind King and his foreign born Queen Gandhari. In the shadow of the throne stands Kunti, the Dowager-Queen, burning with ambition to see her firstborn become the ruler, acknowledged by all. And in the wings:

  • Parashurama, the enigmatic Guru of the powerful Southern Confederate, bides his time to take over and impose his will from mountains to ocean.

    • Ekalavya, a young Nishada, yearns to break free of caste restrictions and become a warrior.
    • Karna, son of a humble charioteer, travels to the South to study under the foremost Guru of the day and become the greatest archer in the land.
    • Balarama, the charismatic leader of the Yadavas, dreams of building the perfect city by the sea and seeing his people prosperous and proud once more.
    • Takshaka, guerilla leader of the Nagas, foments a revolution by the downtrodden as he lies in wait in the jungles of India, where survival is the only dharma.
    • Jara, the beggar and his blind dog Dharma, walk the dusty streets of India, witness to people and events far greater than they, as the Pandavas and the Kauravas confront their searing destinies.

    Amidst the chaos, Prince Suyodhana, heir of Hastinapura, stands tall, determined to claim his birthright and act according to his conscience. He is the maker of his own destiny or so he believes. While in the corridors of the Hastinapura palace, a foreign Prince plots to destroy India. And the dice falls.

         Did you know that Duryodhana is worshipped in some part of the country? I was in for a surprise when I read the author's note and the book engaged me from that page itself. Moving on to the few chapters available as prelude, I was on the edge reading this book. The story for once shows Bheeshma in a human light! The gripping narrative of Bheeshma's emotions left me in awe. I can't wait for the book to release now! 

                          Click here to read the Sample Chapters

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