Friday, May 31, 2013

It Can't Be You, by Prem Rao

About the author:
Prem Rao re-invents himself as an author by turning to his passion for writing after 36 years of professional work as a talent management specialist and executive coach. This is his debut work.

My review:
It was by chance that I met the author Prem Rao, an avid blogger, through a blogging contest. It was later that I came to know he was already a published author of a thriller novel. And it was only near the publication of his second novel that I finally purchased this book, his debut.

The book looks at Colonel Belliappa and his family, from the moment of his death to what transpired that day, then to his daughter Shefali and son Pritam, and his wife Elena. We are taken further back, to the war days of the Colonel, and to the childhood memories of Shefali, to the story of Elena, in different chapters.

I think the book is very decent for a debut, but it’s not an end-to-end thriller. What lets it down, in my opinion, is the time traveling. We begin with the words, “The man was dead. Of that there was no doubt.” And that opening immediately sets the ball rolling and we find ourselves asking, “How did he die?” Then there’s a touch of Sherlock Holmes with the writing of the words, “It can’t be you…” on a post-it. Remember the word “Rache” on the wall in “A Study in Scarlet”? So we’re all set to go into an investigative thriller mode, but almost immediately, the time travel begins with the story of what happened that morning, then who is Shefali, Pritam, Elena and what were their characters like. There is excellent detailing, but I lost interest in the murder after the detailing continued.

Not to judge a book by its cover, but this one was almost childish, confused. The only thing remotely chilling about it was the “chiller” font for the title. Definitely needs a better cover. And also, a better font inside, a little bigger as well. The presentation felt cramped.

I like the idea, but it left me a little bored. It’s not your usual crime thriller. It’s an investigation into the past, an effort to bring out details of the characters. A one-time read for me.

My Rating: 6.25 / 10

Book Details:
Title: It Can’t Be You – A Spiral of Vengeance
Author: Prem Rao
ISBN: 978-81-223-1157-0
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publishers: Cedar Books
Price: INR. 175

Reviewed by Leo
Also shared with:

  • First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws
  • Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve 
  • Debut Indian Writers Month at The Tales Pensieve

The Great Indian Novel, by Shashi Tharoor

The author:
Shashi Tharoor is the Indian Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Member of Parliament (MP) from Thiruvananthapuram of Kerala, an author and a columnist. Until 2007, he was a career official at the United Nations, rising to Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, but resigned after losing to Ban Ki-moon in the 2007 election for the Secretary-General.

My thoughts on the book:
In a time when the Indian publishing scene is welcoming the third book of Amish’s The Shiva Trilogy, we can’t help but look back at novel ideas for writing. It was by pure chance that I chanced upon this book written by Shashi Tharoor back in 1989 and I wondered if this may have inspired Amish in some way. Tharoor takes characters from the Mahabharata and puts a real world spin on it. Like the sage Ved Vyas becomes VV ji and Lord Ganesha, the scribe of the original Mahabharata, becomes Ganapati, a South Indian boy sent by VV ji’s friend Brahm. The book, like the original Mahabharata, also has eighteen “books” titled in allusion to other literary works, and flows similarly to the great epic.

What I like in this book is the effort to bring Mahabharata as a chapter in recent Indian history. Mr. Tharoor puts his thoughts directly, as is evident from the opening line of the book. The language is pure, the comparisons are apt and the humor quite refreshing.

However, the book does feel slow and painful to read in parts, because of the context itself. And that makes the humor feel repetitive. It’s a little more tougher to digest if one has little or no knowledge of the historical events that are being discussed.

Overall, I feel this to be an interesting read. However, it would appeal more to the reader who enjoys satire and also is really interested in politics.

My rating: 7/10:

Book details: :
Title: The Great Indian Novel
Author: Shashi Tharoor
ISBN: 9780140120493
Genre: Satire
Publishers: Penguin India
Price: INR. 450 (without discounts)

Reviewed by Leo
Also shared with:

  • First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws
  • Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve 
  • Debut Indian Writers Month at The Tales Pensieve

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Kind of Girl by Buddhadeva Bose

Some books grab you by the throat, some lie next to you under shady trees on summer afternoons in companionable silences, and some, you must coax and cajole into a friendship. My Kind of Girl by Buddhadeva Bose started out being the third kind, but by the time I finished, it had become the second. My relationship with this book was one of old school romance - just what the book is about.

In the 'literary' age where more people know of E L James than say, Jane Austen, where consummation comes before courtship, My Kind of Girl is a 'difficult' book. It is a book that forces you to slow down, a book that will take you back in time to an inhibited world, where the only way of loving was longing.

My Kind of Girl, a translation of the Bengali 'Moner Moto Maye' is really a collection of four short 'love' stories held together by a looser, larger plot. Four stranded travellers - a doctor, a writer, a bureaucrat and a contractor - find themselves in the waiting room of a railway station and must spend a night together. They seek the warmth of each other's love stories to fend off the cold in their air and their hardened hearts.

Stories of young, and mostly unrequited love are narrated, transporting the reader to a time of innocence, a time purity, a time where a brush of the beloved's hand was enough to last one a lifetime. There is the thick-headed Makhanlal's story of  love for his neighbour that never comes to pass; Gagan Baran, the bureaucrat's story of Pakhi, who loved him as a 16-year-old and forever after; Dr. Abani's story of how he met his wife through a friend who broke her heart; and the writer's story of 'Mona Lisa', who he and his two best friends loved and lost together.

Every story is told with a tenderness we, as a people, as readers, have forgotten. To those who've grown on the fodder of Mills & Boons and Sidney Sheldons, Buddhadeva Bose's book will seem painfully primitive in the beginning. But one must give it time; one must open their hearts to the kind of love that is not about easy, sweaty sex and porn-perfect characters. One must slowly dance to the plaintive flute that a lovelorn heart plays. One must partake of the pain of longing, a pain that has no recourse or end. There are no happy endings, just twinges of sorrow to take back from these elegiac love stories. These are stories about 'Your kind of person', but one you can never have. Through its stories and its style, My Kind of Girl harks back to the romantic in you, the romantic you thought was gone forever.

Kudos to Arunava Sinha for translating not just the words but the delicate sentiments bound within the pages of this book. But this book is only for those who know how to take it slow.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Toke, by Jugal Mody

About the author:
Jugal Mody believes in fiction. Before handling web and social media for Filmfare and Tehelka, he worked in gaming. As a rule, he only writes to feel like a dog sticking its head out the window of a moving car. This is his first book.

Thoughts on the cover:
Witty, humorous portrayal of Lord Vishnu, which sets the tone for the novel itself.

From the blurb:
I’d pinch myself if Lord Vishnu appeared in front of me, regardless of if I was high or not. The blurb promises a delightfully humorous plot, fresh and appealing.

My review:
It was very unexpectedly that I received this book as a review copy from Indi-blogger. I think that it had been so long between the date of receipt and my applying for the book that I thought I wasn’t selected for reviewing the book at all.

So coming to the novel, what I found in this book was partially what I expected. It was a fresh plot. The protagonist is an Indian dude, not famous or known, just an average chap with a run-of-the-mill job and a sort-of dominant family who are disappointed in him. He wakes up one day to see a guy in a funny outfit who he recognizes as being similar to a god. (No, he doesn’t realize the name) Stuck in a crappy job, he falls asleep at his desk only to be sent home with a half-day pay cut as punishment. Instead, he heads off to his old college-mates’ place where he decides to quit his job, becomes high for the first time and falls asleep. He wakes up to find a talking crow that likes to get high too, and one later he finds to be the same funny looking God he saw before, Vishnu. He is informed that the fate of the world is in his hands, along with his friends. And thus begins the adventure.

We can relate to the characters, crazy yet so familiar to our own at times. The narration is crisp though a bit predictable. The story moves quickly, sometimes too quickly for my liking. Humor is there, but I feel that it gets a little mundane as the story goes on. If I were to read it a second time, I might not find it just as humorous. His portrayal of Lord Vishnu challenges mythology and our beliefs and it is fun to imagine God being such a casual person, one who we can hi-five and call dude.

Overall, this is a fun read, and I feel it is one-time read. A confident debut offering.

My rating: 3 Stars

Book details:
Toke, by Jugal Mody
Harper Collins Publishing
ISBN 9789350293409
Rs. 160, 224 Pages

Reviewed by Leo
Also shared with:

  • First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws
  • Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve 
  • Debut Indian Writers Month at The Tales Pensieve

This review is for a review copy of the book given to me by Indiblogger and HarperCollins. Thank you.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pandora's Star - Peter F. Hamilton


Book 1 of the "Commonwealth Saga"

ISBN - 978-0-330-51891-8
PAGES - 1244
GENRE - Sci-Fi
BINDING - Paperback    


SYNOPSIS - [From the back cover]

It is AD 2380 and humanity has colonized over six hundred planets, all interlinked by wormholes. With Earth as its centre, the Intersolar Commonwealth has grown into a quiet, wealthy society, where rejuvenation allows its citizens to live for centuries.

When astronomer Dudley Bose observes a star over a thousand light years away vanish, imprisoned inside a force field of immense size, the Commonwealth is anxious to discover what actually happened. As conventional wormholes can't reach that far, they must build the first faster-than-light starship. Captained by Wilson Kime, an ex-NASA astronaut a little too eager to relieve his glory days, the Second Chance sets off on its historic voyage of discovery.

But someone or something out there must have had a very good reason for sealing off an entire star system. And if the Second Chance does manage to find a way in, what might then be let out?

FL SPEAK - This is a monster of a book and an epic space saga. And I mean it in the best way possible. There is a reason why I don't read Science Fiction a lot. Its much easier to watch Star Trek than to read it. Even though with a lot of trepidation I picked the up, my faith in miracles was restored. This is not just the standard run-of-the-mill space action flick, this is so much more.

The first para starts the funny part amidst all the technical jargon as Captain Wilson Kime is about to be the first man to land on Mars. The climax is hilarious. Fast forward to a couple of hundreds of years and humans now live in almost any planet they can find. But this book is so much more than your average sci fi drama. The Commonwealth is what you would call a governing body. And the sciences!! Frigging awesome. Although some words still goes zooom over my head [am not too much of a space geek even though I worship the show Firefly]

World building is fabulous and on a grand scale. Don't be put off by the 1244 pages long book, its worth it.

When two stars suddenly wink out in a matter of minutes, the Commonwealth think its time to explore outward again. The Second Chance is sent to investigate when they realize that there is a barrier covering the stars. We humans are curious by nature. We simply don't let things be as they are. The Second Chance was launched to figure out who out up the barrier and why! And that might be the fall of humankind as we knew it. The Commonwealth wanted to know if the barrier was put up to contain someone or annihilate a star system. And that proved one thing atleast. There are superior life forms out there somewhere.

But the crew of the Second Chance had no idea what they were in for. Days after reaching their target, the barrier came down. And the Second Chance had to defend themselves against waves of attacks before jumping into hyperspace.

This is a space odyssey! A marvelous tale. The characters are impossible to hate. What I loved most about the book was not the travel to investigate the stars. Its the situations in between. There is Paula Myo, investigative officer, hell bent on capturing a famous terrorist who vehemently believes there is an alien among humans corrupting them. Then there is the other sentient alien ship, whose motives are still unknown.

And before the final page is over, I've started to believe that the terrorsits might actually be right. Bloody gave me goosebumps all over.

Eager to get into the final book now.

My Rating - 4.5 stars

PRICE - INR 400/-      

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Succubus Dreams (Book Three): Georgina Kincaid Series by Richelle Mead

Original Picture from the Website
Best Selling version of the Cover.


SUCCUBUS DREAMS: Book Three, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Fiction, Supernatural. 

AUTHOR: Richelle Mead

SUMMARY (From the Richelle Mead Website):

Some days, a girl just can't catch a break...

…especially when the girl in question is Georgina Kincaid, a shape-shifting succubus who gets her energy from seducing men. First there’s her relationship with gorgeous bestselling writer Seth Mortensen, which is unsatisfying on a number of levels. It’s not just that they can’t have sex in case Georgina inadvertently kills him (generally a turn-off for most guys). Lately, even spending time together is a challenge. Seth's obsessed with finishing his latest novel, and Georgina's under demonic orders to mentor the new (and surprisingly inept) succubus on the block. 
Then there are the dreams. Someone, or something, is preying on Georgina at night, draining her energy, and supplying eerie visions of her future. Georgina seeks answers from Dante, a dream interpreter with ties to the underworld, but his flirtatious charm only leaves her more confused—especially as the situation with Seth reaches crisis point. Now Georgina faces a double challenge—rein in her out-of-control love life, and go toe-to-toe with an enemy capable of wreaking serious havoc among mankind. Otherwise, Georgina, and the entire mortal world, may never sleep easy again…

My words were cut off as a tall, Amazonian blonde nearly barrelled into me.

Oh! You must be Georgina! I’ve been dying to meet you.”

I raised my eyes past Spandex-clad double-D breasts and up into big blue eyes with impossibly long lashes. A huge set of beauty pageant teeth smiled down at me. My moments of speechlessness were few, but they did happen. This walking Barbie doll was a succubus. A really new one. So shiny and new, in fact, it was a wonder she didn’t squeak. I recognized her age both from her signature and her appearance. No succubus with any sense would have shape-shifted into that!!! She was trying too hard, haphazardly piling together an assortment of pseudo male-fantasy body parts. It left her with a Frankensteinian creation that was both jaw-dropping and probably anatomically impossible. 

MSM Speaks: When one makes a come back, they start with their best (or so they think!) performances and in my kitty, the best reviews (loaded with sarcasm and not-so-subtle double entendres) are of the Young Adult Urban Fantasy Fiction genre (Yes, I cannot avoid them. They are like unhealthy junk food, they stick to you and swear to take you down with them!). So, if you remember any of my previous reviews about my Succubus Georgie, you can forget them and start like Tawny (The New Seattle Succubus), all squeaky clean and new.

So the plot starts with Georgie and Seth in a romantic relationship (You can figure that part on your own anyway), when Georgina starts to have unrealistically real dreams of becoming a mother and doing dishes and waiting for her man, the father of her child, while Sweet home Alabama plays in the background. For a fact, Georgie cannot procreate since she is a demon and second, the dreams leave her incredibly drained of her acquired (from the other men) energies. She seeks help from her mortal guide and old human friend, Erik who sends her to this ludicrous con man Dante - very powerful and very Dark, but who doesn't believe that our Georgie is a succubus. Story spirals ahead with Georgina truly trapped in the shit-hit-the-fan scenario, when she is stood up by a whole bunch of people. I sometimes don't understand that why Georgie doesn't use her Awesome powers. She just mopes like a normal woman. I tell you, it gets annoying! 

Unlike the previous two books, I found myself skipping pages in this one to jump to when the mystery-solving-searching-clues start, because seriously, I know Y.As appeal the most, to the teens with raging hormones, they certainly at some point of time, make me want to gag, Y.As that is, and not the teens. Exactly like in this third instalment. Don't take me wrong, I love Georgie, but there's only this much that I can take of the whole mortal-immortal love story. SO, I skipped to the mystery solving, which is pretty crisp and fast paced! There is a new immortal love story that helps Georgina to get out of the freaky dream scenario - also, as Georgina witnesses, how an Angel falls and becomes a demon. I loved that part. Finally, towards the end, she is saved by a whole bunch of Angels, Demons and Nephilliams but at the daunting cost of her personal life. Tsk Tsk. Richelle herself got bored after solving the mystery in this book. 
Oh, and on a random note. I am in love with Carter. (Who you ask? He is an Angel and Literally, Georgina's guardian angel).

You can just read my reviews of the series and be happy. You don't necessarily have to pick up the book, but if you do, I will be happy! :D

My rating: 2.75/5 (I couldn't give more)

You will find e-book links in the previous reviews!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Website Development using HTML and CSS by Naveneet Mehra and Bunny Mehra

Website Development using HTML and CSS
A practical step-by-step guide to develop e-commerce store

Author: Navneet Mehra and Bunny Mehra
ISBN: 9788178063096
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Unicorn Books
Number of Pages: 172
Genre: Computer/Programming languages
Language: English
Price: Rs. 225

About the Book: 

Salient Features
  • Easy to use step-by-step guide to learn HTML & CSS for students, hobbyists and professionals
  • Selling online and using third-party techniques like tracking visitors with Google Analytic
  • Website usability concerns and security
  • Introduction to mobile website
  • CD containing guide to e-commerce store, Payment Gateway setup and Control Panel Introduction in addition to the actual HTML codes used in the book.

About the Authors:

Navneet Mehra is a computer professional and has authored books like Hackers Beware: A Guide to Protect Your PC, The Unrevealed Secrets of Hacking and Cracking: Hack Before You Get Cracked and Comprehensive Computer Learning: A Youngsters' Guide. Bunny Mehra is a hotel management graduate, a freelance web developer and an Admin professional.

Swarnali Speaks :

This is typically not a book I would generally pick up (because computers aren't really my thing). But when Navneet asked me to have a look at the book and tell him what I thought about it, I decided to give this one a shot. And I'm glad I did. This has been a really different read from usual stuff.

The book is written in a guide like (as mentioned in the subtitle itself) manner which is simple and very easy to follow. What I really liked is that this book has a class room like feel to it where your teacher is guiding through each and every step and explaining the nuances in the process. The "step-by-step" instructions combined with the occasional illustrations and pictures makes it really easy to understand to any layman (if I could, you'd too). the only downer would be the fact that the language is didactic which makes reading it a little boring but considering the subject, I suppose it cannot be helped. A few typographical errors here and there also act as hindrance to the reading.

The book is primarily devoted to those who are looking to learn to develop an e-commerce store but others who just like to tinker around with stuff would also find this one extremely useful. Sections like the use of HTML tags, picture tags, formatting web pages and using HTML forms are things which blog users would find extremely useful for formatting and personalizing their blog elements without having to go for professional help. The CD that comes along with the book makes it even easier to grasp things. I personally loved the section about online selling and site security involved in the process. Learnt a few knick knacks that I was completely ignorant of. A good book to start with to increase your tech and web knowledge.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sahyadris to Hindukush - A Historical Novel by Aneesh Gokhale

About the author:
Aneesh Gokhale works as a navigation officer in the Merchant Navy. This is his debut book based on one of his favorite subjects, Maratha history.

Thoughts on the cover page:
I’d have liked a better cover. The book, a novel of historical events with elements of fiction, is about the battle of the Marathas to keep their flag flying high. So that could’ve been reflected in the cover, rather than just a shot of the mountains.

Impressions from the blurb:
Historical events dramatized by fictional elements to give them a thrill and bring them to life. History has not been one of my favorite subjects in school, so reading offers a personal challenge as well.

My thoughts on the book:
Firstly, thanks to the author for a review copy of the book. As indicated on the blurb, the novel does try to bring alive the life and times of the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century, and it succeeds in that element. The novel begins with the demise of the Maratha Peshwa (commander) Bajirao, and the pensive mood of Chhatrapati Shahu as he mourns the loss and looks at who should be the next commander. He calls forth his chieftains to seek their opinion, though he knows who he wants to appoint. He also invites Chimaji Appa, brother of the former Peshwa. After a discussion, and turning down of a suggestion by one chieftain, Shahu appoints the teenage son of Bajirao as his Peshwa much to the surprise of the courtiers and others present.

The novel proceeds to other events like Bhosale’s incursion into Bengal and young Peshwa Balaji Bajirao’s battles to conquer Orchha and his rivalry with Bhosale who had not been happy with his appointment as Peshwa, and the Chhatrapati’s intervention between the two of them to demarcate their territories. On the other side, we are taken to the appointment of a new leader for the Pakhtuns in Ahmed Shah Abdali. Then we move on to about seven or eight years later when the Chhatrapati passes away and we’re introduced to a part of the dirty politics when the Queen Sakwarbai is tricked (not sure if that’s the word, since she partly wanted to do it too) into committing Sati (a former funeral practice that was considered as dharma, when a childless widow would immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre). The heir incumbent is later found to be worthless and imprisoned and further events follow. I’ll stop the summary at this point, so I don’t end up putting the whole book here.

What I’m impressed by in this book is the pace of the narration. When it’s a historical novel, and a war-oriented one at that, a quick pace is something I feel is essential, and the novel has that enough to hold my attention. Aneesh also has a decent command of the language and uses it most of the time to his advantage. His effort is obvious and he’s referenced over twenty books on the Maratha history to put into this novel. He’s also mentioned those references, given a chronology of events at the end and a glossary of few local terms to aid the readers.

I thought a couple of things were off in the opening chapter. Aneesh mentions that Raghuji Bhosale had cut short his Karnataka campaign to be at the meeting of the chieftains. But I think it should have been “his campaign in the Carnatic”, because the name Karnataka has only been in usage since 1973. Also, after earlier mentioning Shahu didn’t want to offend his chieftains like Holkar and Bhosale, only the latter’s opinion has been mentioned. Likewise, in the meeting of Pakhtun chieftains as well, many have assembled and a fight happens during meeting, but in the end, just the Pir’s opinion seems enforced. I am not arguing with history, but the proceedings seem very fast paced in the politics there (which feels odd considering it is India). Only when you look at the chronology at the end can you tell that years have passed between events. The pacy narration makes one seem it’s happening quickly.

What I’d suggest Aneesh for his future historical novels (and I feel with his passion for history, there will be some for sure) is to not include photographs in the narration, or quite a lot of the reference details at the end of the book. Since the aim is to dramatize and bring the scenes to life, a lot of it should be in the narration itself and let the imagination of the reader do the rest. Similarly, titles that are obvious can be avoided, just numbers are fine. Though he does command the attention of the reader through his English, I would also suggest that an indirect tone be used. For e.g. I quote from the book, “Just like the annexation of Indore and Ujjain by Holkar and Scindia respectively….” It seems more like a teacher telling to a student than a narration. Maybe something like “Holkar had given Indore to the Maratha empire, and Scindia Indore” might have done it better. If just a few characters are fictional, then that need not be mentioned, or if it must be, I think the author note can come at the end, rather than before the prologue itself. Lastly, more proofreading can be done, and please include the ISBN and price on the back-cover.

There’s a very thin line between a book being a historical novel with fictional elements and a history textbook. It is my opinion that Aneesh Gokhale’s debut offering “Sahyadris to Hindukush” travels that thin line throughout the book, at times stretching into the latter side. That being said, it is an accurate telling of events with that tinge of dramatization. Good pace and flow in keeping with the chronology and it does well as a historical novel.

Rating: 6.5/10

Book details:
Title: Sahyadris to Hindukush
Author: Aneesh Gokhale
ISBN: 978-81-7265-339-5
Publishers: Snehavardhan Publishing House
Genre: Historical
Price: INR. 200

Reviewed by Leo
Also shared with:

  • First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws
  • Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve 
  • Debut Indian Writers Month at The Tales Pensieve

This review is for a review copy of the book given to me by the author. Thank you, Aneesh.

Business Sutra by Devdutt Patnayik

 I signed up for reviewing this book only 'cause I love Devdutt Pattnaik books. At first when I began the book, I wondered if it was a good decision , since I am far far away from any sort of business / management profiles. But within a few pages , I fell into the flow of the author's direction of thought.
The introduction of the book covers his initiation into the topic , the basic definitions and ground rules for belief , the three beliefs , the culture , the links to management and before you know , you become comfortable with the stories & the morals that we can map to present times.CAM00048 The illustrations done by the author are as funny as simplistic to learn from. The attention is given to all details and presentation of the idea in most effective and understandable way. Each story that DP took from our scriptures & like wise , is so seamlessly transitioned into the modern story snippets. while I read the book , I paused and wondered if i had been in same situation or how do people usually react to these scenes. there are many ideas / learning that one can use in our personal lives too and not just business. After all , life too is a transactional sum of a lot of our actions of give and take like this : CAM00049 Even if you ignore the management part of things , the book has excellent tales and examples from mythology that would initiate you into this topic and make you read more and more. No one can make you impressed with mythology like DP does. The opening pages of the book were very easy as introductions of the topic felt like some one is talking just to you. The illustrations are awesome ! they are fun , clear and so on the mark. I almost got reminded of a teacher who taught us with similar stimulating visuals . No aspect of human or business lifeline is left untouched. Without much forceful reading , the author has made us so aware and curious about things around us and way we conciously or subconciously get affected by it. I will surely reccomend this book to all managers & entrepreneurs, if they ever plan to apply the indian way of dealing things.

 All in all , a good read. I would rate 3.5/5. 

You can buy the book here :


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fire in the Blood, 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:
This is book #3 in the Scott Cullen series of police procedurals, and is a kindle copy. The review is on the request of the author, and I thank Ed for giving me a review copy of the same. For the reviews of the first two, please click on the author name in the labels.

So we begin at a well known distillery, steeped in tradition of whisky making. When preparations for the centenary of the distillery are being made with a special blend being readied for it, one of the barrels supposedly shut for the previous fourteen years is opened and a body is found. Wonderful place to find a body eh? Or even hide it. Very tough to find it if the barrel is not going to be opened for a long time. And further difficulty to identify the victim or killer when the timeframe goes years back. So that sets up the plot well already.

Cullen and co. begin their investigation only to find that the victim might be one of two possible people, one of who is actually related to the distillery. So that puts a whole new spin on the case. The narration, with the Scottish accent dialogues, does well to hold the pace and the plot. I enjoyed the story. The dialogues seem more toward English than Scottish, or perhaps that was because I had read the previous two and have got somewhat used to that. I think dialogues of Bain can have less profanity. I think it's been done to show what a pompous person he is, having no regard for others but it feels overdone.

Rating: 4 Stars

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

Reviewed by Leo

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling

About the author:
Rudyard Kipling was an English author, storyteller and poet, chiefly remembered for his stories and poems on British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. He is best known for his fiction stories like The Jungle Book, Just So Stories and Kim. He is regarded as an innvator in the art of the short story.

Thoughts on the book:
Rikki Tikki Tavi is an evergreen children's book. It was published in 1894 as part of the acclaimed collection of stories, The Jungle Book, and recently published as a hardcover and digital edition.

C.S. Lewis tells that anyone should be able to enjoy reading a children's story, else it isn't a good children's story. Kipling's Jungle Book is an evergreen collection of stories. Rikki Tikki Tavi is the tale of a fearless mongoose, who ends up in a garden after a flood and then staying with the family there. He fights single-handedly against a couple of cobras who live there, protecting the family against their menace with the help of two friends from the garden, Darzee the tailorbird and Chuchundra the muskrat.

This is simple narration, a simple tale and a very enjoyable one at that. Fun for children, and for grown ups, it can be a much sought change from those heavy fictions we read.

My rating: 4/5

Book details:
Title: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
Author: Rudyard Kipling
Genre: Children's Fiction
Type: Kindle eBook
Price: Free

Reviewed by Leo
Shared with First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Soulkeepers (The Soulkeepers, #1) by G.P. Ching

I totally love series. More so , I love the madness it inspires in me when I come across a good one. The old readers here would have witnessed my love for House of Night series ( which reminds me I have to check when the next book is due) .

Before that there were a few more TV series but after a long time I am hooked to some book.

I came across "The Soulkeepers" as a free book on amazon Kindle [ They have a top 100 free ebooks list which I scan and get the books from almost weekly ]

10 days after the download , I started the book and was so much hooked to it that i finished it in 2 days. [ I immediately bought the second part and finished it in less than 24 hours :D ]

Synopsis :

When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother's car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can't find his mother's body. Made a ward of his uncle and thousands of miles from home, a beautiful and mysterious neighbor, Dr. Abigail Silva, offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom. In exchange, she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a gifted warrior charged with protecting human souls. He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother's disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions Dr. Silva's motives for helping him.

My verdict : The book's plot though quite simple , is written in a way that is engaging and fast paced. The characters are so much believable and mostly lovable. I liked the way the author has made the characters feel so real to em while I read about their life. Dr Silva's garden is so amazingly described as her adventures. you know she is not pure goodness yet you enjoy the way she has fun with people around her. Jacob is the angry teenage looking for answers about his mother in a city where no one likes him except the Indian girl at school. Things turn bad for both when they break up but Love always has a way to return to the deserving.

while I will not say , the book has much twist and turns or any complex characters , the scenes and the settings are neat and concise. The feelings are genuine and the conversations are very real.

Few pages in the end look like some scene from Supernatural show but they do fit in.

Overall, I enjoyed waking up for this one.

I rate this 4/5.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Pen In My Heart - Bobby Stevenson

About the author:
Bobby Stevenson was born in Scotland and schooled in Paris before he settled in the Catskills with his family. He traveled to various parts of the United States as a software designer before attending film school in London and getting a Masters in Screenwriting and Film Production.

My thoughts on the book:
It’s not easy to understand or review poetry. It’s nice to read. What is interesting to note is that sometimes, or most times, the same verse is interpreted in different ways. This review is my interpretation of this book, but I think most who read this set of verse might be inclined to think the same way that I have.

There is vividness in the verse here, but what I find in common is a quality to inspire not only more verse but also life and love as well.

One of the poems in this book is titled “Leaving Traces”. In its simplicity, it invites hope unto itself. It tells us to not think that we are alone, or that what we do might not be impactful in life. It tells us in a moment we pass another life; we leave a part of us with that life to take it with them wherever they go.

Another is titled “To All The Things”. This leaves me with mixed feelings. Though I can relate with the poem, this small eight line verse is also poignant for it ends on a sad note.

The poem titled “Be Who You Are” is quite inspiring. It ends on the note that says – “Be who you are, let happiness and joy break through, for the universe was wise enough to only make the one of you”. Though “happiness and joy” feels redundant, the thought behind it is something I appreciate.

There are 35 poems in total in this Kindle book which are simple and well written. However, there is one minor problem. The poet has accidentally printed the same poem twice. It’s a free book as of now, so I think it is well worth a read. Poets of ALOP, give it a go!

I rate this: 4/5

Title: A Pen In My Heart
Author: Bobby Stevenson
Type: Kindle eBook
Price: Free
Genre: Poetry

Reviewed by Leo
Also shared with First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws Blog

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Yet another SE (Story of an Indian Software Engineer), by Simon Saha

About the author:
Simon Saha is a software engineer from New Delhi, India. This is his first venture into publication.

Initial impressions:
The story is the life of an Indian Software Engineer (there’s apparently a marked difference between a Software Engineer, and an Indian software engineer) who has entered the field because he doesn’t want to but has to and in order to get a fat salary and a good wife, who spends time trying to make his bosses understand the work and at the same time, doing all that makes him drown in an ocean of software engineers.

My thoughts on the book:
The story is in first person narration. The protagonist is Rohit, a software engineer. The story begins with a dekhan-dekhai (the meeting ceremony before an arranged marriage) where he and his parents are on their way to see a prospective bride Trisha. As expected, there are treats like samosas and kachoris and sweets that the bride’s side arranges to welcome their prospective in-law. However, the twist here is that the brother of the bride is also a software engineer who immediately seizes upon the chance to try and get himself a job in the groom’s company. I understand that the talk may have been drab between the brother and Rohit, but I feel “I was working in ABC and DEF” doesn’t work. Put a company’s name. Make one up if need be, but ABC and DEF just doesn’t cut it. The story moves on to the first talk between the girl and Rohit, where he’s smitten enough to start telling things that aren’t as honest, like he likes reading books and such, which land him in a little trouble.

The next chapter onward, it is more of the office work dilemma of the software engineer. Handling clients who demand a lot of work to be done in less time, project leads who agree to do one thing and after the client hangs the call, do another. Office politics where the one who doesn’t deserve something gets it and Rohit has to do what it takes to turn things his way. In between, his obsession for Trisha somehow keeps growing and she does her bit to try and get her brother into Rohit’s firm. The brother seeing his love for his sister tries to blackmail Rohit emotionally by putting the marriage with his sister on the line. After rejecting the brother at first, he tries to make it up for the sake of love by forwarding his resume for some other work. We see the obsession for onsite work abroad and the troubles Rohit faces there, which he conquers. Realistically though, I can’t quite see anyone leaving India and reaching the United States in a “couple of hours”. If the author meant to say the time passed quickly because of Rohit’s eagerness, the emotion isn’t brought out with the choice of wording, and the same choice of wording when the return to India happens doesn’t make sense.

He returns with a new status of Foreign returned SE to see that his parents have seen even more prospective brides, all of whom he rejects for Trisha. Then a race for promotion happens, one which he wins by distracting his close competitor with another temptation of being married to a foreign Software Engineer. Then he becomes a team lead and ends up in a dilemma which he solves by thinking like how his old team lead did. In the end, he gets his happily ever after with Trisha and we see the family life of an Indian software engineer.

Closing thoughts:
I guess the description the author gives pretty much tells the reader what to expect from the story. Being a software engineer who is not in the IT field, I can’t quite say I disagree with the notion of a software engineer being that, but yes, I have seen people from that “nothing else to do, so I’m an engineer” category. The genre which Simon put in the contact form on my other blog told humor/satire, and yes, I do think there are a few things that do bring out the humor part. But what makes that humor become lost are the many proofreading errors that are present throughout the book. I can agree with one or two at places where they can go undetected in the narration but not so many, and that includes punctuation as well. The author chooses to highlight some terms in bold where the protagonist says one thing but means another completely, but that works only to a little extent. The software terminologies that are used manage to stump even a reader who is a software engineer, and I don’t quite think it is in a humorous manner. I don’t agree that every “Indian Software Engineer” is obsessed about marriage and doing whatever it takes to get that arranged marriage to go through either. The pace of the narration is not quick, but the book is a small one, so it won’t take long to read.

Perhaps the initial story idea, to show the life of one software engineer in the Indian IT industry, had merit. If taken upon a little more like fiction, and proofread properly, perhaps it’d have been better. As of now, this felt more like the rant of an Indian IT professional than a fiction of one such SE’s life.

Rating: 2.5 on 10

Book details:
Title: Yet another SE (Story of an Indian Software Engineer)
Author: Simon Saha
Genre: Humor
Type: Kindle e-Book
Price: INR. 95

Reviewed by Leo
Also shared with:

  • First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws
  • Indian Quills Review Challenge at The Tales Pensieve 
  • Debut Indian Writers Month at The Tales Pensieve

This review is for a review copy of the book given to me by the author. Thank you, Simon.

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