Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, MSM!

Here's wishing you a fantabulous, book filled and joyful year ahead! Hope your special day was as awesome as you are! We love you, MSM!

Hugs from

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Illicit Happiness of Other People and The Newsroom Mafia- Very short reviews

I had thoroughly enjoyed Manu Joseph's Award winning first novel,Serious Men.He didn't disappoint me this time either.His second work,'The Illicit Happiness of Other People',is also a satirical take on the Indian society.Set in the Madras of the 90's,the book traces the life and death of seventeen year old Unni Chacko,the son of Ouseph Chacko,a failed writer and Mariamma chacko,a Malayalee christian woman with a troubled past.The book is also  the story of Unni's younger brother, Thoma and his love for his neighbour Maithili Subramaniam.Witty,satirical and even philosophical at times,this book is really a good read and defintely has the potential to grab a couple of awards.
My Rating- 4/5

Oswald Periera's debut novel,'The Newsroom Mafia' has an interesting premise. It tells the story of the dark underbelly of Bombay and the unholy nexus which exists between the criminals,the fourth estate and the Government.But the book which could have been a taut thriller is terribly let down by mediocre writing.With too many underdeveloped characters(even the don,Narayana Swamy and the narrator,Oscar turning out to be poorly etched out ones!) ,illogical situations and a pretty bad climax,the book despite it's potential ends up being pretty average. 


R.I.P by Mukul Deva

The Resurgent Indian Patriots (R.I.P.)
Author:Mukul Deva
Price:INR 200
Source:Review Copy via blogadda.com
First Published: 2012

In the late ninetees South Indian film directors S.Shankar and Shaji Kailas used to make good vigilante movies.From Gentleman to Shivaji there were innumerable films in the genre which had it’s protagonists taking on the ‘corrupt and the mighty’ almost singlehandedly using their intelligence and will power.Most of these movies were super duper hits too at the box office .The second half of the next decade witnessed less talented film makers trying to cash in on the same formula with limited success(Susi Ganeshan’s Vikram starrer Kandasamy being a case in point).Bollywood also had a good vigilante movie in ‘Rang de Basanthi’ directed by Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra which got released in the year 2009.You may be wondering why I am writing all this while reviewing Mukul Deva’s latest work ‘Resurgent Indian Patriots’.R.I.P is the kind of work that will surely remind you of the S.Shankar brand of good vigilante films.The book is a fast paced, socio political thriller which packs in a lot of twists and turns at regular intervals.

The Plot-The K team comprises of a group of retired Army officers led by Colonel Krishna Athawale who are fed up with the rampant corruption,nepotism and scandals rocking the very own foundation of the country.They start knocking off the trusted aides of the most corrupt and influential politicians one by one which they believe will provide momentum to the ongoing anti-corruption movement led by activist and Gandhian,’Hazarika’ and thus ensure the passing of a strong anti corruption ‘Lokpal’ bill in the parliament at the earliest.Meanwhile there is a rogue para commando Raghav Bhagat who is hell bent on stopping the K team.Caught in the cross fire are Vinod Bedi,a special director of CBI,Reena Bhagat,a news anchor and two boys,Sachin and Azaan.

The writing-Like his earlier work Lashkar(2008,the only other work of Deva I have read so far),R.I.P is also a page turner.The narration is pretty lucid and interesting which helped me finish reading the book in just about 2 hours.Though the English is pretty simple, the repetition of a couple of words and phrases again and again is a bit of a dampener.(For instance,the six foot tall Captain Bhagat gives ‘sardonic grins and smirks’ n number of times in the story!).A couple of grammatical errors also have crept in which may adversely affect the overall prospects of the book.Considering the target audience of the book and the kind of commercial success which it aspires to attain, the usage of simple,conversational type of language is justifiable though.

The characters-As I have mentioned before the protagonists of the novel ,the K team(Krishna,Karan,Kashif et al) are a group of ex-army men who are on a mission to cleanse the corrupt system.The characters The book is more or less like a recap of the major political events of the country in the last couple of years.The thriller has references to almost all the major scams and scandals which shook the country in the recent years and has even got a character,Hazarika modelled on the anti graft crusader ‘Anna Hazare’.Most of the other characters in the book too are ‘inspired’ by real life politicians.So we have Prime Minister,Nirmal Khanna with a spine as infirm as his name,Sheila Kaul,the National Democratic Congress party president and the widow of India’s previous PM ,her son Ranvijay,the PM-in-waiting to name a few.The backstory of  Krishna’s brother-in-law reminded me of the R.Madhavan’s track in ‘Rang de Basanthi’.Since the story is more focused on the ‘missions’(or well planned assassinations) which the A team carries out,the writer hasn’t bothered much to create three dimensional characters.Except for the lead character,Colonel Krishna Athawale the characters aren’t well etched out and at the same time the character of the pretty news anchor Reena gets undeserved importance in the book.

What I liked the most about the book
1.It’s genre- As I had mentioned earlier,I am a great fan of the ‘vigilante’ genre.R.I.P is a well written,gripping work which remains true to it’s genre.
2.The cat and mouse game between Krishna’s A team on one side and Raghav Bhagat’s parallel ex-commando team and the team of cops on the other side was pretty interesting.
3.Mukul Deva’s military background,technical know how and research ensures that no goof ups creep in the descriptions of the ‘missions of the K team’.
What I didn’t like-
1.The romantic track between Krishna and Reena seemed forced and could have been done away with it.It doesn’t quite gel with the mood of the whole book.
2.The proceedings feel a bit jingoistic and too bollywoodish(the high jack scene and the personal loss which Col.Krishna faces after the ‘mission’,for example) atleast in a couple of instances.Perhaps the writer was catering to a young adult audience!
3. Similarly,the book reads like a newspaper at times.The 2 G scam,fodder scam,housing society scam,Common wealth games scam all find a place in the book.Even the ‘fictional’ politicians linked to those have striking resemblance to their real-life counterparts.Honestly wish the author had applied more imagination and skill while writing those portions.

Verdict-On the whole,R.I.P is no literary marvel and it neither pretends to be one but the 286 pages long book is undoubtedly pure unadulterated fun.If you love reading fast paced vigilante thrillers,don’t hesitate to grab a copy at the earliest.Rating-3.25/5
            The tail end- In this era of growing intolerance,it’s a miracle that a book like R.I.P which exposes the corrupt real life politicians mercilessly hasn’t faced any serious objections from the ruling party or it’s politicians so far!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com . Participate now to get free books!

reviewed by nikhimenon 2013
(please don't copy)

F?@K Knows by Shailendra Singh

Author:Shailendra Singh
Price:INR 195
Source:Review Copy via blogadda.com
First Published: 2013

   (Shailendra Singh,the author of ‘F?@K knows’ is the Managing Trustee of United Welfare Trust and Joint Managing Director of Percept Ltd.This is his first book)                    
                     Don’t get deceived by it’s title,’F?@k knows’ by first time author Shailendra Singh, is not your typical ‘boy meets girl-in I.I.T’ stuff.This book is a self-help manual for better living.If you are a regular reader of this blog,you might have figured out by now that I am not a great fan of these ‘Self-Help’ guides.I find them boring, unrealistic,highly impractical and simply not worth my time and money! But,after reading this humorous new book by Shailendra singh, I think my aversion towards this genre has got reduced considerably.
In about 74 chapters,Singh discusses
*the necessity of self-realisation for a better life
*Why one should listen to his heart and live life to the fullest
*the importance of getting rid of negative,unwanted thoughts
*the vitality of choosing a job which one loves
*why he thinks,’greed is good’!
*the importance of humility in life
*destiny,God,relationships,gut feelings,sex,unpredictability of life,career et al
                   F?@K Knows might not be a literary marvel or something,but still i believe it's a book which is worth reading.One sad thing which is quite common with books of this genre is the excessive usage of metaphors which only serves the purpose of creating confusion among it's readers.In 'F?@k Knows',the author(thankfully) hasn't resorted to too many of them which makes the book more appealing to the average reader.
What I liked the most about the book
1.Singh’s writing style and the length of the book- the book is written in a light hearted tone which makes it an interesting read.Even the most distressing/traumatic incidents are written with a pinch of humour. is written in a light manner .(Sample this-"Yeah,he's only got four months left.He's in the fourth stage of lung cancer"."Uh...fourth stage?What happened to stages one,two and three?").'F?@k knows' is basically old wine in a newer,super cool bottle.There is pretty much nothing in this book which we haven't heard or read before.But I am pretty sure that this is the most humorous take on some of the hard hitting facts about life!
2.As Singh himself has said in the book,this book is free from the usual cliches' associated with the self-help guides.You won't see small quotes by famous personalities followed by painfully long blocks of prose in this book. 
3.Shailendra Singh’s 'Chi f?@K' breathing exercise(believe me,it works!
4.The author has intelligently linked each and every message he wants to tell to one of his personal experiences.The episode about ‘Pyar mein Kabhi Kabhi,Phir Milenge' (two mainstream Indian feature films which delt with the theme of AIDS/HIV awareness) is worth mentioning.I’m sure that even the most depressed minds will relish his/her ‘breath’ for atleast a second,after reading this.
What I didn’t like-
1.Repetition of themes-The book definitely deserved a better editor.Some of the ‘thoughts’ get repeated multiple times.Okay,we understand the importance of celebrating our lives.But,why tell the same thing again and again? After a point,it is boring.
2.Singh seems to contradict himself at times.
3.At places,the book feels a bit fake and some of the chapters didn’t even make any sense to me either(or may be, I am too old to understand the subtle message the writer was trying to convey!)

          I must also confess that the title and the cover design of this book had also left me a bit confused.As i had mentioned before,I was expecting a desi campus love story, targeted at the Young Urban Indian when I picked up this book and was pleasantly surprised when I was proved wrong.
Verdict-Inshort,F?@K knows is a thought-provoking read which is never dull or preachy.You wan’t regret buying this book.Rating-3/5

This review is a part of the biggest Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com . Participate now to get free books!

-reviewed by nikhimenon 2013
(please don't copy)

The Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

Author:Keigo Higashino
Originally published in Japanese(2006)
Translated by: Alexander O Smith & Elye J Alexander(2012)
Published by: Abacus for Hachette India
Price:INR 350/-
Source:Blogadda book review program

Nikhimenon says:

                Keigo Higashino's 'The Devotion of Suspect X' was a special book for me for more than one reasons.It was not only a fascinating read but also one of the first books I had received from blogadda as a part of their book review program. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and exactly a year later,I am here,reviewing Higashino's 'The salvation of a saint',again sent for review by the same wonderful people at blogadda.Before proceeding to the review,let me admit that this book,I believe is one of the best works to have ever featured in their review program.
The story-Ayane,a well known patchwork quilter is married to Yoshitaka,who is the CEO of an I.T. firm.Their marriage is on the verge of a divorce ,the reason for which he tells, is her inability to conceive.But Ayane is no idiot as she very well knows that her husband is having an illicit affair with her own apprentice, the beautiful Hiromi Wakayama. So,when he is found dead in his house, quite naturally,Ayane becomes the prime suspect.But how could have she pulled it off when she herself was hundreds of miles away,when the murder happened?Enter detective Kusanagi(whom we had earlier seen in ‘Suspect X’) and his new recruit ,the young,intelligent and enthusiastic female assistant Kaoru Utsumi.But when Kusanagi finds falling for Ayane's elusive charms,Utsumi secretly seeks the assistance of Yukawa,the physics professor at Imperial university(the same ‘Inspector Galileo’ from ‘The Suspect X’)to solve the mystery.
The characters-One of the major highlights of Higashino’s previous work was the believability of it’s characters.The same can be said about this book too.All the characters are tangible and believable and the reader can easily relate to the emotional turmoil which each of one of them is going through.As i had mentioned before ,a couple of the major characters from the earlier book (Kusanagi,Yukawa) make their appearances here also.Higashino has the uncanny knack of writing strong female characters and things aren’t different here either.Neither of them,be it the enthusiastic female detective(Kaoru Utsumi),nor the wife(Ayane)-mistress(Hiromi)duo are mere props in the narrative.But for me,the  pick of the lot is definitely Mrs Mashiba,who appears intelligent,cool,calm and calculative through out the proceedings.On the flip side,i found the behaviour of kusanagi a bit weird at times(not going on to the details as I don’t wish to spoil the fun for those who haven’t read the book yet).
The writing-Quite like Higashino’s previous one,this book is also a page turner.But what makes it different from 'Suspect X' is that the identity of the killer isn’t revealed in the beginning itself here.Infact except for a minor clue which the reader gets to know towards the end of the first chapter(“guess,I’ll be using that soon”...,she thought),the true identity of the killer,his/her motive,modus operandi et al are kept concealed till the end.Higashino manages to keep the reader guessing for a pretty long time without breaking the suspence.The climax is a killer twist and i don’t think even the hardcore fans of the genre will be able to foresee what is in store for them!Last but not the least,I must say that both Alexander O Smith and Elye J have done a brilliant job in translating this masterpiece from Japanese.
 What I liked the most about the book
1.The scenes between Ayane and Hiromi.
2.The scene in which Yukawa gives Kusanagi the example of the dinosaur fossils to point out the potential error of judgement in the course of their investigation.
What I didn’t like-
1.It took me some time to get acquainted with the principal characters.To be frank,I definitely believe that the average Indian reader will find it a bit tough to recall their names initially(especially while reading the first two chapters when too many characters with pretty ‘unusual names’ are introduced in quick succession).
2.Towards the second half of the book,the pace slackens a bit and after a point it becomes slightly tedious.
3.The characters(especially the investigators) converse and speculate a lot in the story.I wish there were more plot twists and thrilling sequences instead.
Verdict-On the whole,’The Salvation Of Saint’ is a decent thriller.It may not be as racy as ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’,but still it’s a pretty good one. Rating-3.9/5

Swarnali Speaks :

After having read, loved and reviewed the previous Yukawa and Kusanagi book by Higashino, Devotion of Suspect X, I was dying to read this one. When Blogadda.com put it up for the review program, I just jumped and applied. And I can happily say that everybody who liked the previous one will like this one as much. The book manages to capture your interest and hold on to it till the very last word as you cannot help but keep flipping pages without a break. The book is so complex (and yet so simple) that not in a million years can the readers conclude what could have possibly been the manner of death even though the author gives sufficient clues about the possible motive. Therein, lies the genius of Higashino.

The book starts with the suspicious death by poisoning of Yoshitaka Mashiba in his own house in the absence of anybody. What starts with the assumption of a suicide turns out to be a very carefully planned cold blooded murder committed by somebody with an immense patience and eye for detail. Like the previous book, Higashino almost declares the crime and the murderer. The only difference with the last would be the fact that here, the murderer is not so explicitly pointed at. A few lines in the opening chapter ("That's why you have to die, too") and the blurb in the back cover can give one a hint about the same but the reader is kept guessing as to how the crime could be possibly done by the character who is the prime suspect.

The book is very similar to the last one in the sense that this too is a whodunit / howdunit where unraveling the mystery behind the murderer or manner of the crime is given more importance than the crime in itself. Even though it does manages to thrill and keep the readers on the edge with the twists surprise, the structure resembles a whodunit (derivative from who dunn it) more than a traditional thriller. I loved the fact that this book has a deeper character analysis in terms of the pasts of both Kusanagi and Yukawa. More attention has been paid to their personal and working relationship and a romantic angle to Detective Kusanagi's character has also been dealt with. As in the previous book, the reader cannot help but sympathize with the murderer even after knowing the horrific deed they committed.

The only few problems with the book would be the Japanese names which I found very hard to remember (like the last time). Even though the book has a great plot and fluid progression, the pace is somewhat slow in the beginning (first 100 pages approximately) where the author builds up the ideas. But, however, the story moves at breakneck speed towards the end as we are told how exactly the crime took place. The readers are awed as the perfect murder has been committed with the murderer having done nothing  literally. The theoretically possible yet practically impossible (almost) to achieve feat by the murderer is simply mind-blowing. Recommended to all mystery and crime fiction lovers.

Rating : 4.5 / 5 (The 0.5 marks less for the slow pace in the beginning)

 This review is a part of the biggest Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com . Participate now to get free books!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sudha Murty - Mahashweta

Author:Sudha Murty
Price: 150 INR
ISBN: 978-0-143-10329-5

Synopsis(As given at the back of the book) :

"Anupama looked into the mirror and shivered with shock.
A small white patch had now appeared on her arm."

Anupama's fairy tale marriage to Anand falls apart when she discovers a white patch on her foot and learns she has leukoderma.
Abandoned by her uncaring in laws and insensitive husband, she is forced to return home to her fathers village.  The social stigma of a married woman living with her parents, her stepmothers continual barbs and ostracism that accompanies her skin condition forces her to contemplate suicide.  Determined to rebuild her life against all odds, Anupama goes to Bombay where she finds success,respect and the promise of an enduring friendship. 

Mahashweta is an inspiring story of courage and resilience in a world marred by illusions and betrayals. This poignant tale offers hope and solace to victims of the prejudices that govern society even today.


Mahashweta is a book which depicts how unpredictable life can be. Its shows us the hard side of life and inspires us to be a little bit more like the protagonist who strives to make her life better and happier even in her darkest hour.

The story starts by introducing a man who is a doctor, busy in the hospital saving lives and helping people. He is shown to be honest, caring, thoughtful and obviously handsome. The perfect prince charming.

Then the focus shifts to Anupama, a girl in her mid twenties who is selling tickets at her uncles (who is mutual friend between the two) house. Seeing the doctor well dressed, she assumes him to be rich enough afford more than one ticket. With her jolly attitude and charm she convinces the doctor to buy two tickets.

The next day, when she sees him in the audience, she is swayed in love. He is also carried away by her beauty. Its the perfect love story and they get married lavishly.

Two months later, Anupama's in a blissful state. In her wildest dreams she never thought that she, a poor village teachers daughter would get settled into such a wealthy family. She had the perfect husband who pampered her and treated her like a queen. Anand goes to England for a fellowship and Anupama is to join him in two months. It was too good to be true. 

That is the end of her happiness. She first finds a white patch on her ankle. Knowing her mother-in-law would disapprove she sneaks off to the doctor who confirms its leukoderma, a skin disease that is not contagious and nothing much to worry about. But Anupama knows its more than enough to create a ruse in her perfect life plan.

She hides it at first, thinking she would go to England and then tell Anand. But her mother in law finds out and sends her back to her fathers house in the village.She feels Anand would understand as he is a doctor but he never replies to the multiple messages she sends him. Being back in the village is  no consolation to her as her stepmother's taunts trouble her. After her stepsisters marriage is broken due to the family finding out about Anupama's condition, She feels guilty and decides to come to Bombay.

At first,she stays with her best friend and slowly she starts to feel depressed as  Anand has still not replied to her letters and her best friend's husband makes a move on her when they are alone. Nothing is going her way and that's when she contemplates suicide. Then she realizes she shouldn't end her life just because someone else's mentality is wrong. She gets a job and recovers from the pain she has unnecessarily been put through to come out as an independent woman who is proud and able to support herself.

Very few fiction novels cause us to look within ourselves and question our attitude toward a social issue. This is one of those books. It makes us wonder whether love is worth it or if it is just a cognitive illusion. Would you rather be independent alone than repressed together? Its a story that leaves you thinking long after you close the covers. 

The best past of the book in my opinion is the post script which explains how this simple story changed the life of one of the readers. After all don't all authors aspire for their stories to make an impact on someone and change their lives? That is exactly what Sudha Murty has accomplished with this book. Simple and well defined, a must read.

Rating : 5/5 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Kardamom Kisses - Shinie Antony

The Description:
In Kardamom Kisses, members of a dysfunctunal family flail along life's sunny path, hoping for salvation, or at least a piece of some action. The North and South of India clash in a celebration of contrasts as secrets come tumbling out, familial ties are refurbished and love is not quite what it seems.There's Punjab and there's Kerala, brought startlingly alive, and when Kedar weds Mangala, little does he bargain for whole cities and families to disdain each other. Pressured and soon celibate by compulsion, Kedar turns to other pursuits, notably a second wife, while Mangala copes with the results of hasty breeding. The children born to them travel into the future that alarmingly begins to resemble their roots and realise that in life magic is at a premium.Sparkling wit savages societal snapshots as Shinie Antony takes the nice and nasty to transform her debut novel into a merry carousel of touching moments. Here is a novel that clicks its tounge, asking the Great Indian Family to get moving.

My thoughts:
I think some imagery and mood setting type writing is agreeable in writing. It pulls the reader into the novel. When it is overdone, it seems to push the reader out just as easily. That's what happened with this book, esp. at the beginning parts itself. That, and the usage of so many local Malayalam terms that might not be understood by every reader. It would've been good to see a meaning coming just after the word, or a superscript number that leads to a meaning in the footer. Not recommended for those who might like a little fast paced narrative. You can read if you know Malayalam language more, and like a little descriptive mood setting.

I rate this: 2 stars!

Book Title: Kardamom Kisses
Author: Shine Antony
Genre: Love/Fiction/Saga
ISBN: 9788129107435
Publishers: Rupa Publishers

Reviewed by: Leo
Shared with: First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws and IQRC at Tales Pensieve

The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

The Description:
Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is fully of children. The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

My thoughts:
After reading this book, I can understand why so many would be able to relate to it. Granted, the pace of the narration is very slow, you can even say it as boring to a large extent, but I think this book is something I’ll treasure because I can picture myself in the protagonist’s shoes to a large extent, and it leaves me wondering at times if I would have had the will to do what he does, take life as it comes. I admire Holden for his attitude, where he knows he might be, and probably is wrong, and takes the scolding that the teacher he most respects gives to him. What Salzinger does is bring out every thought vividly, and you can imagine yourself as Holden. Witty, tongue-in-cheek, resentful, sometimes blatantly honest, demanding attention and respect, yet acting like a child… mischievous and uncaring. I’m blown away by this book, for it remains true to the emotions of a person who’s in that grey area between childhood and adulthood, and something I realize and understand that even I had been stuck there. A classic, and one I shall re-read again very soon.

I rate this: 4.5 stars!

Book Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J. D. Salinger
Genre: Young Adult/Classics
ISBN: 9780241950425
Publishers: Penguin Books Ltd.
Price: INR. 350

Reviewed by: Leo
Shared with: First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws

Friday, April 19, 2013

House Rules - Jodi Picoult


ISBN - 978-0-240-97908-2
PAGES - 630
GENRE - Fiction
BINDING - Paperback

AUTHOR - Jodi Picoult

SYNOPSIS - When your son can't look you in the eye . . . does that mean he's guilty? 

Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject—forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he’s always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he’s usually right.
But when Jacob’s small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.
And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?


“Sometimes I think the human heart is just a simple shelf. There is only so much you can pile onto it before something falls off an edge and you are left to pick up the pieces.”  
“when you [lose someone], it feels like the hole in your gum when a tooth falls out. You can chew, you can eat, you have plenty of other teeth, but your tongue keeps going back to that empty place, where all nerves are still a little raw”  
“It's never the differences between people that suprise us. It's the things that, against all odds, we have in common.”

FL Speak - Do you have a favourite brand of chocolate? The brand that's readily available at the nearest shop? The one that you constantly find nibbling? The chocolate that you're addicted to? You know the feeling? Jodi Picoult is my heroin. I'm addicted to her. I'm addicted to her words, her tale, her writing. Even though I know, reading her books would break my fragile lil heart into a million pieces, I can't stop myself.

Meet Jacob. Socially awkward, mentally awesome. Jacob is a walking, breathing CSI Encyclopaedia. He also has Aspergers. People with Aspergers are people, but with a little different view of things than others. Jacob has a routine. You mess with the routine and the day is gone to hell. Jacob hates change and his family has to adjust to it. Food in the house are colour-coded. You can't eat a yellow food on a day that is meant for green or red. You can't change the timing of his classes or appointments in the last moment without bringing hell forth. 

And Jacob is special. He solves CSI mysteries on television before the actors do. He creates fake crime scenes in his house, much to the bewilderment of his mother and anguish of his older brother. He's a genius in solving crimes. And the local police department's thorn in their feet. 

So when his tutor goes missing one day, Jacob decides to find her and solve the case. When her body is discovered covered in a quilt Jacob's mother made for him, the missing person's case turns to homicide. As Emma hunt takes her son, Jacob to the police station to find answers, little did she realises that she's setting her son up for murder. 

Emma Hunt is a gem. She's every bit the mother we wished we had. You can't help but feel for her as she sacrifices everything for the younger son with special needs. Her life is set up, she doesn't complain. Moms seldom do. And then there is Theo. Jacob's older brother and complete normal in contemporary sense. How long can you stay with someone whose mood swings are more frequent than the advertisements between tv shows? How much can you cope when your mom is always at your younger brother's side leaving you to fend for yourself? The emotions coming out of Theo are raw and everything you might expect from an outsider who has no clue what Aspergers is. Theo loves his younger brother and is more confused. He knows his childhood is almost over and he worries that he might have to take care of his younger brother for life and yet he simply cannot walk away as their father did when he realised Jacob's condition.

With the local police set to make Jacob the scapegoat, Emma and Jacob must fight it out to prove his innocence. But will it be enough? Specially when Jacob is not saying everything he knows.

A sterling piece of writing. To write a 600+ novel and yet making sure that you never feel like skipping one paragraph, that's Picoult for you. You'll love Jacob. You'll laugh at his reactions, you'll cry at his sufferings, you'll be the shoulder he needs, the silent hope he requires. Reading Jodi Picoult is like watching a movie. You're God. You look down and see them in the living room. You follow them around without them knowing you're watching them. Reading Jodi Picoult is a blessing.

My Rating - 5/5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Devil in the Detail, by Ed James

About the author:
Ed James writes crime fiction, predominantly the Scott Cullen series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians. Ed also writes science fiction and mainstream fiction, but with a crime bent.

My thoughts on the book:
Firstly, thanks to Ed for his generosity in giving a review copy of the book. This is the second book in the Scott Cullen series. You can click on the author's name in the labels to read my review of the previous one.

When I picked up the first book on Kindle, it was because of the name, which caught my interest. This one doesn't as easily, and I feel it could have been something else. He's kept the design of his cover simple again as well.

Whereas in his first book, we're taken right to the heart of the crime, in this one we are first taken through a part of Cullen's counselling after the ending of Ghost in the Machine, where he meets with his former partner's family. I find this to be a good touch because it addresses the grief in the aftermath of that book, but I felt at times that it spills over a lot into this book at the beginning, making it seem more like investigating Cullen's mindset rather than a new crime.

Coming to this book, the investigation is of the death of Mandy Gibson, who is first shown missing and then found by a dogwalker. Though far from their area, Cullen and Bain are called in to investigate and they form their teams. The investigation goes to the parents, and the close friends of the family as well as the victim. The prime suspect is caught upon and the local bad-boy of the area, Jamie Cook is brought into the scenario. Then after some more work from Cullen's part and some interest on Bain's, we arrive at a second suspect in Seamus Mulgrew, the head of a somewhat interesting "church". The book and the investigation seem a little slow paced till the second murder catches us unawares.

In the first book, the pace is quick and keeps the interest right from the get go. This book is a little more even paced... starts off slow and then picks up toward the middle and ending. Unless you have a fair knowledge of football teams and grounds in Scotland, some parts of the novel might be lost on you. And speaking of lost, I wish the character of Eva Law had got a better ending rather than a lost one. Profanity from Bain in frustration or sarcasm felt a little more than necessary as well. The good parts of this book are the pace and the characters. In my opinion, It holds the reader as a mystery. 

Rating: 3.75 Stars

Book details:
Title: Devil in the Detal
Author: Ed James
Genre: Crime Fiction
Type: Kindle e-Book
Price: INR. 210

Reviewed by Leo

Sunday, April 14, 2013

One Night @ A Call Center - Chetan Bhagat

Gist: Chetan Bhagat’s second novel, One Night @ the Call Center, is based on a group of people working at a call center who have a chance encounter with God. The book describes a bunch of completely different characters with differing aims and ambitions, and how they pull themselves together and resolve these issues finally.

Thoughts: When a book is interesting in its story idea, and written in simple language that appeals to the common public, the book is bound to be a good one. But not all the time. What Chetan Bhagat, who I applaud for giving the country a push to read more stories,  does with this book, One Night at a Call Center, is the same. The story, one where the guy tries to woo the girl back, where both of them are working at the same call center, and where another guy is all ready to swoop in and get the girl, it works in a way because it's a storyline we're so used to seeing in movies. The hero, the heroine and the villain. And their characters are quite interesting, even if simple. What makes it go from interesting to hilarious and way unrealistic is the quite exaggerated scenes toward the end. Is the book a bad read? I'd say it can be a one-time read for a short journey, but not something that I'd keep on my bookshelf. 

Rating: 2 stars

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tantra by Adi

Fantasy fiction , supernatural , mythological .. you name it and I love this genre. since I good hooked to reading such books, I always been on lookout for Indian authors writing similar books. After Ishaan Lalit’s “the bracelet” and Kalika ( english translation of a famous Malyalam novel) , the wait has been too long.
Then I came across Tantra. Though the cover was decent , one look at the plot and my heart was on this book. I badly wanted this to be another good read and thankfully I was not disappointed.

Anu is a leather wearing, no-nonsense professional guardian with a reputation for killing the most dangerous vampires in New York City. But when her enemies murder the one person she truly cared about, all she wants is vengeance. The only clue points to New Delhi, so Anu puts in for a job transfer.
In India, she finds more than she expected. For one thing, her fellow operatives have made a truce with the vampires. For another, it’s way too hot to wear leather.
At first, it seems Anu’s biggest challenge will be evading the nice boys her aunt wants her to marry. But when children start disappearing, she discovers forces older and darker than anything she’s faced before. All of Delhi is in danger, especially the sexy stranger who sets Anu’s pulse racing.
To prepare for the coming battle, Anu must overcome her personal demons and put aside years of training. This time, her most powerful weapon will come from her mind, not her weapons belt.
After a long time I have come across an Indian female character who is in control of her head and heart ( mostly) . No giggles , no guy issues , no drama. Anu is a true professional vampire hunter [ Sigh! And I love vampires] , one of the best in her generation. But even she finds herself clueless and lost at first in capital city Delhi. The settlement , the relations made , unexpected friendships and unusual foes do make her life interesting and difficult at the same time.
Adi’s writing is  simple , clear and with lot of humor, which I must say is done with a class. The setting is realistic and relatable ,except maybe her night Auto travels. I actually envy her the liberty to sit on rooftops and enjoy the beauty of night. I liked her boss in Delhi , suresh but sadly not much light is thrown on his character. An obvious love for Chandra , the old and charming [ with looks of 25 yr old ] Chandra and total win for Amit , the vampire hunter and anu’s friend. We all love and need and should be such awesome friends and company for all times !
The dark forces in the book arise from use of Tantra and I enjoyed the way Adi sets its plot and unravels the extent of Tantra. Also the description of Maya and its power or hold on the world is a treat to read and imagine [ I will not say more in case I spoil the beauty of these scenes ]. On that note , Adi gets full score.
what I missed in the book was a proper background of Anu , of the vampire hunters , how and what made them different from rest , Chandra’s story and bit more of larger picture of the forces at work in the book. I know there is a sequel coming and I hope all these questions are answered in that.
Overall, I enjoyed the book.
My rating : 4/5

Malgudi Schooldays - RK Narayan

About the author:
RK Narayan was an Indian author whose works of fiction include a series of books about people and their interactions in an imagined town in India called Malgudi. He is one of three leading figures of early Indian literature in English. He is credited with bringing Indian literature in English to the rest of the world, and is regarded as one of India's greatest English language novelists.

From the description:
Swami’s days are full of action. When he’s not creating a ruckus in school, or preparing for his exams in his own inimitable way, he’s trying to acquire a hoop from the coachman’s son to run down the streets of Malgudi, playing tricks on his grandmother or stoning the school windows.

My thoughts on the book:
This book is a collection of short stories, the childhood chronicles of Swami, and his friends Rajam and Mani in the imaginary town of Malgudi. Written in direct, and simple language, this book is a pleasure to read, and one that can be read end to end even at a stretch. This book is something that I feel any child would enjoy, as the recurring criteria in the book is the adventure and school life of children. That being said, I think the opening lines of the first story in this book would bring a smile to any adult, especially people who find Monday to be the most boring day of the week! Lively in the plots, filled with the innocence and fun of those days from childhood, and one that quite a few of us might have seen and enjoyed as a series in TV, this book is something that can be reread any number of times.

Rating: 4 on 5

Book details:
Title: Malgudi Schooldays
Author: RK Narayan
ISBN: 9780143335412
Genre: Fiction
Publishers: Puffin
Price: INR. 199

Reviewed by Leo
Shared with IQRC 2013 and First Reads Challenge

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The God of Small Things- Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things
Author: Arundhati Roy
ISBN: 9780143028574
Price: Rs. 395
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publishers: Random House

On the next bed, his niece and nephew slept with their arms around each other. A hot twin and a cold one. He and she. We and Us. Somehow, not wholly unaware of the hint of doom and all that waited in the wings for them.

They dreamed of their river. Of the coconut trees that bent into it and watched, with coconut eyes, the boats slide by. Upstream in the mornings. Downstream in the evenings. And the dull, sullen sound of the boatmen’s bamboo poles as they thudded against the dark, oiled boatwood.

Maithili Speaks (Feb 9, 2012):
The book is about two twins, two egged twins as they are called, Esthappen and Rahel. The story is written in pieces and alternates between the present and the past. Estha and Rahel are about 31 now. Estha doesn’t speak at all and Rahel is lost. An emptiness seeped into their lives ever since they were separated years ago following the death of their cousin- Sophie Mol.

Years back, Rahel and Estha lived with their Ammu (mother) in their ancestral house along with their uncle Chacko and grand aunt Baby Kochamma. Ammu was divorced and worked in the Pickle factory which was started by her mother. The little arguments, jealousy and prejudice is a part of life for the twins and their mother. Only when Chacko’s ex-wife- Margaret and their daughter Sophie come down to live with them, the twins feel unloved and worry about their standing. What follows next changes their life forever. Sophie is dead and everyone feels it best to send Estha away to his father. Ammu is broken and Rahel has to live without a part of her.

It is a sad story narrated in a heart wrenching way. It will make you smile at the innocence and bonding of the twins, it will make you disgusted with the ways of society and it will make you wince in pain at the injustice done. The writer has a poetic way of writing and sometimes you start predicting the next lines. Some lines repeat but in a pleasant way.

Rating: 4.9/5

Review: Kingdom Above the Cloud by Maggie Platt

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