Thursday, October 30, 2014

#BookReview : Can you teach a Zebra some Algebra by Debashish Chatterjee

In Can You Teach a Zebra Some Algebra? Debashis writes about the age-old system of education in India. In the current education system, teachers mainly focus on providing knowledge to students instead of focusing on the real subject in hand – the student. Our present day schools churn out students who have minimum working knowledge of everything with no deep knowledge of anything. The author writes about the need for achieving mastery in what we like and are passionate about.

Nimue Says : I got this book about 3 weeks back and looking at the size , I was sure I can finish this book in 5-7 days but it actually took me more than 15 days to finish this. And the reason is that book is not something you can read in few sittings and be done with it. the various chapters , though small have a lot of lesson and inspiration for everyone - teachers , students , managers and any leader. 

One story that I have passed to almost everyone around me is about two teachers who are asked to teach some impossible to teach kids. The better of the two is one who returns without teaching but he learns something from each of the three students. 

This one story has impacted me that I feel the learner in me has been revived after ages. Going through the routines of life , we forget to be curious or aware of things around. And we forget that we are always in the position of being teacher and a student at any moment. This book in all its subtlety is a powerful medium to remind the reader how to mend our ways with students , our children or any one we are responsible to teach. 

I reccomend this book to everyone. The book has its own weak areas but the mrssage it has passed is more important. During the recent discussions with a few of my juniors I found new perspective and lessons to pass on as I was reading this book. And that really is the worth of this book.

My rating : 3.5/5

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fraudster By R.V.Raman

There are people who will do anything to silence those who come in their way, who will stop at nothing, including murder.

A young banker is found dead a day after she deposes before a commission investigating large-scale financial fraud...
A doyen of corporate India falls to his death from his South Bombay flat...
A high-security server room of a multinational accounting firm is hacked, and the hackers aren't looking for just company secrets...

Illicit finance, high-stakes crime and vicious manipulation come together in this story of corruption, greed and treachery among corporate India's black sheep. Arresting, fast-paced and written by an insider from the corporate world, Fraudster will keep you on your toes till the very end.

Nimue Says :  I have read quite a few books based on banking sector but this is the first I read about the scams and frauds that happen or may be possible in Banks. And then , none of it is possible without the contribution of some people at the right places - businessmen , politicians ,goons and a few naive ones who bear the burnt of such crimes. 

The book begins with death of one such victim - Shruti who is murdered soon after she is found guilty of negligence at work that caused the bank she worked , a loss of about 200 crores. ( I actually found it amusing that most of the money transactions happen to be in crores - 100+ crore !! Are all banks so damn rich ? ) Only one person in the commission, Mr Visht  knew for sure that shruti was a victim actually and her death makes him look into the matter more closely.

Visht has troubles in his own bank too and he takes help from his friend and auditor Subbu to highlight these risks to management at his bank.No one knows the extent of such investigations but the peace of few people has been compromised. When such huge finances are involved , the measures one take to save himself are as extreme. 

One death follows another and while the incidents seem random at the beginning , Inspector Ranade and Subbu's god-daughter Varsha soon realize they are all connected to the investigation Visht started. In this web of money , frauds and nexus between various parties , the actual fraud runs layers deep. It takes Varsha , Ranade and Kamini ( Visht's daughter) a long time and some daring actions to catch the Fraudster red handed.

The book has a set pace throughout - neither too fast , nor does it lags . There are few probable culprits all along the book but one can not guess the real kingpin behind the crimes easily. What I liked about the book is the fact that the action scenes are not exaggerated and it is mostly a brain game to both manage the fraud and to uncover it.

The author, being from the same world , has added a lot of authenticity to the plot and it was not much difficult to follow the threads of money and scams. RV Raman has done his homework well and created some very real and likeable characters. I would like to read another adventure by Inspector Ranade. 

The end is satisfying though on a personal level , I feel sad about such state of affairs in our society. Greed is one thing but when it makes people kill the people they know well , it is just infinitely upsetting. 

My Rating : 4/5

"This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours.  To get free books log on to"

Nikhimenon says :

Publisher:Hachette India
Price:250 INR/-
Source:Review copy via Writer's Melon

                 I'm a huge fan of Ravi Subramanian.Frankly speaking,he is one of the most genuine thriller writers(English) India has ever produced.I have had the opportunity to read and review quite a number of desi thrillers by first time authors in the recent past and surprisingly found most of them to be pretty mediocre.So, when this new corporate thriller by R.V.Raman came up for review, I was not very excited initially .The book not only sounded but also looked pretty much similar to a 'Ravi Subramanian' thriller(for a fleeting moment,I even thought this new book was a knock-off of Subramanian's highly successful 'Bankster'!). But now,after reading this 280+ pages long thriller,I can confidently say that 'Fraudster' is no run-of-the-mill stuff and R.V.Raman is here to stay. 

              The book opens with the mysterious death of a young banker(Shruti),soon after she is  terminated from her job for no fault of hers.Somewhere in South Bombay another death happens,this time the victim is a high profile doyen (Mr Visht) of Corporate India.What makes the death significant is that Mr Visht was a member of the committe (which was investigating a high profile financial fraud) before which Shruti had deposed just before her demise.Enter Inspector Ranade,the maverick Police Officer who is in-charge of the case and joining him in his mission to find the truth are Kamini(Visht's daughter),Varsha-an energetic executive of a global auditing firm and her friends,Kunal and co.What ensues is a fast paced ride with twists and turns happening at the most unexpected plot points.   

              The writing style is reminiscent of Ravi Subramanian but I must confess that R.V.Raman has tried his best not to copy the former consciously at any point of time.The English is pretty simple with the technical facts explained in a simple and lucid manner without weighing down the reader with heavy duty jargons.Raman's writing is devoid of the the faintest trace of literary pretentions; at the same time the suspense is well maintained throughout.The pace doesn't slacken a bit and the moment you feel the tempo is going a bit downhill,comes a totally unexpected twist! Raman is undoubtedly an author who knows the pulse of his reader.

What I liked the most about this book-
  • The writing style
  • The unexpected twists and turns
  • The racy narrative
What I didn't like-
  • The Title and the Cover design (The reason,I think I have already mentioned in the first part of this post)

Verdict:On the whole,Fraudster is a paisavasool thriller.Buy it,you won't regret your decision! Rating-4/5


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

Title-God is a Gamer
Author-Ravi Subramanian
Published by-Penguin India
Price-299 INR
Source-Blogadda Book Review Program 

               I am a big fan of Ravi Subramanian.(I think my love for anything written by him is well known among the regular readers of this blog).I have the copies of all his published works (till date) and it's not very long ago that we had reviewed his last work 'Bankerupt' here in RT.Touted as World's first bit-coin thriller,'God is a Gamer' is the master story teller's latest work and comes with a rather catchy tag line- 'Is revenge a Crime'?
               If you are a regular reader of Subramanian's thrillers,I'm quite confident that you are familiar with his template.There will be multiple,seemingly unrelated incidents/narratives(atleast one of them involving a murder),a wronged protagonist with his own share of flaws,frequent twists and turns and a couple of unexpected revelations in the fag end of the story.Well,the formula is almost the same here too.But what makes this new novel different from his previous works is it's setting and the concept of bit-coins.Besides,the book also touches upon the gaming industry,politician-underworld nexus,phishing and corporate fraud,to name a few.
               The story starts off with a Corporate fraud happening in the U.S which culminates in the murder of a powerful politician.Enter Adrian Scott,the officer in charge of the investigation.Meanwhile there is a phishing scam happening in the Newyork International Bank and no one has any clue about who is actually behind it.There is another track involving Varun-Tanya duo.Everything is not as they seem to be and by the end of the story,we get to know that all are inter-related.
              For the majority of us who are quite new to the concept of bit-coins,'God is a Gamer' will come across as an informative book.It not only describes the business of them but also explains the transaction process in a simple and lucid manner.This is a slightly lengthier work ,but the good thing is that Subramanian has managed to maintain a fairly decent pace throughout.The reader will never get bored and with twists and turns happening at regular intervals,the book is definitely an engaging read,to a certain extend.It seems he has taken a lesser or two from the James Patterson syndicate for the chapters are really short and hardly more than a couple of pages(there are a total of 89 chapters in this 300 odd page novel!).It's obvious that he has done his homework well and the end product is a well researched,no-nonsense inter-continental thriller.
               The book isn't entirely flawless though.In the initial chapters,there are multiple characters getting introduced to the reader in quick succession.Though the author can't be blamed for adopting such a writing style,I'm not sure how well it will go down with the 'average,casual' reader.There are twists galore but I must say that atleast on a couple of occassions they are forced and totally unconvincing.There are too many things happening in the plot and the reader can't be blamed for losing track of the proceedings mid-way.The middle portions of the novel drags big time and one gets the feeling that editor could have done a better job by trimming these over-long portions.   

Verdict: On the whole,'God is a Gamer' is a fairly engaging thriller and makes for a decent one time read.My rating-3/5

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


Monday, October 27, 2014

God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

Aditya runs a gaming company that is struggling to break even. A banker slips off a
highrise building, plunging to her death. The finance minister has made some promises
that he is finding hard to keep. The LTTE has unleashed terror in America that sends
the FBI on a wild goose chase, bringing them to Mumbai.

Enter Varun, part-time drug dealer and full time genius. He turns around the gaming
company before disaster strikes. Meanwhile, the investigators plunge headlong into
the shady world of bitcoins and the Dark Net, websites that only exist for illegal
transactions—drugs, sex and money. God Is a Gamer culminates in a stunning climax
where money means nothing, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing
is as it seems.

God is a gamer is the first book of the author that I read. And I was very cautious of the book since the author has been already branded as India's No 1 thriller writer. What attracted me to the book was this being based on bitcoins. Although I have read a bit about them,a well researched novel usually offers more perspective and a wider reach into the implications of any technology - both good and bad of it , whether real or fictionalized.

The opening chapter reveals why bitcoins would have been thought of - to prevent government or corporate control over flow over money. It also introduces us to a central character Gillian Tan who is though murdered soon as the book jumps to current times, but is also pivotal till the book's end. Only after I had finished the book , did I realize that the tagline on the book cover , "Is revenge a crime" refers to him in more ways than one.  The world is much more connected than we ever admit, thanks to technology and so the book now jumps from USA to India immediately and also between multiple characters all powerful and dangerous. 

From introducing ( or say informing ) the readers about the phising scams, the loses and the security breaches we can be subjected to any day, the illegal trading ways and network , the book has linked many of economy's key events in the book is a way that reading about them is so much fun. The amount of research and the synchronization of all plot twists show that the author has put in a lot of thought and hard work in writing. The events in the book appear to be loosely inspired or based on some recent events and technology advancements we hear of.This is a really good way to connect to the young readers who also judge any book on its relatability. 

The same though is the weak point of the book since some of the events seem too easy or imaginative. One can not totally ignore the impossibility or the low probability of such attacks ( malware , hacking , stealing account information ) in today's world when everyone is so hyper aware of the security measures.  

The language of the book mostly conversational and without frills which doesn't take the attention away from the fast paced flow. The chapters switch between places and people which keeps your mind alert but sometimes that becomes too fast and disorienting. Also, the end disappointed me a bit. The false end was more convincing to me. The epilogue appeared too much of a stretch to me. And it not just created a lot of questions in my mind but also the image I created for a character I liked were hurt big time. Some characters were there for not much significant development and I wished either they were covered more or not at all. 

All in all, a one time but engrossing read. 

My Rating : 3.5/5

I will definitely pick up Ravi's previous books though.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Friday, October 17, 2014

'Half- thoughts' on Chetan Bhagat's Half Girl Friend

(This is not a full fledged review of Half-girlfriend.If you want a detailed review of the same,please read it here and here)

                          I was just about 18 when I read Chetan Bhagat's first work as a writer,'Five Point Someone'.Though it was not a great literary piece of work by any stretch of imagination,I loved it for it's genuinely funny/likeable characters and it's inherent honesty.A decade and half a dozen (rather disappointing) books later (not before finishing Bhagat's latest, a couple of hours back),I can only say that it's high time that the 'Sallu bhai of Indian mass market paperback' segment stopped rehashing old Bollywood scripts and passing it off as his 'brand new novel'.

                I have nothing against books written in simple,conversational English with mundane plots as long as they are humorous or atleast manage to entertain me.Half-Girlfriend is not only a rehash of rehashes (of atleast a dozen Indian movies and even CB's own previous works) but is also a largely boring work with plastic and fake characters and situations.There is nothing original or remotely humorous about the book and even the issues addressed topically in the book (the rich-poor divide,corruption among netas,sexual abuse....) have been discussed in a much better and more efficient manner by many others before.As Pulkit rightly says,'HG' reads more like a third rate screenplay with the first Act set in Delhi(the 'half-girl friend' bullshit) and the subsequent ones in Bihar (the speech,the English classes,Bill Gates Foundation grant)  and Newyork(the search for the lost love).Though the Delhi portion was a total let down,I really thought that the things were going to brighten up once the action shifted to Bihar (to be honest,the Bihar sequences were the best thing about about the book).With an uninspiring third act and an unpredictable and cliched climax set in New York,Half Girl Friend ended up as yet another boring saga of puppy love and it's aftermath!

I think these movies and books were Bhagat's references while penning down this tale.

The First Act-Vinnai Thaandi Varuvayaa(Tamil),Bhagat's earlier novels (Two States,Five Point..)
The Second Act- Swades,Vinnai Thaandi Varuvayaa(Tamil- Madhav's depression phase) ,Raja-Rani(Tamil-Telugu/ Jai-Nayantara Cancer Track),
The Third Act-Queen, JabWe Met,First Love (Thai,the climax sequences) 

So,the million dollar question is- Well,is the book a good enough material for a 'Super-hit' Bollywood romantic Comedy? 
                                  To an extend,Yes (considering that a romantic comedy doesn't actually need a brilliant plot for it to succeed and provided someone genuinely talented writes a really humorous and imaginative screenplay for it)


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Half Girlfriend - Chetan Bhagat

Self - clicked image.

MSM Speaks: With the success of stories in both readership and film viewership, Chetan Bhagat's titles have come a long way. But he was never my first choice in picking up books to read. I must admit, I never respected the fact that he wrote in simple English. I stand corrected, because writing simply is one of the toughest things that a writer has to do, if he wants to connect to his readers (especially if the readers are the masses, who would rarely pick a book). With due respect to Mr. Bhagat and his writing prowess, I believe Half Girlfriend is written keeping in mind that it will be adopted as a movie. Anywayyyyyy, so I received this book as a gift and I decided to give it a go right away. The story is of Madhav Jha (A Bihari, so am I, but I will get to that later), who is an ace basketball player, and accordingly, is six feet tall and handsome prince of Dumraon, which is a sleepy hamlet in Bihar. He gets through St. Stephens College, New Delhi, even though, as Madhav says, his english at that time was bound to give us headaches. Nonetheless, stereotyping aside (since Mr. Bhagat has rightly addressed all the stereotypes of Bihar and Bihari people - and I mean it in a real, non offensive manner) he unexpectedly makes through the college entrance interview on the basis of his star basketball playing skills. Not to forget, the cheeky answers he gives to the panelists (Score one for Madhav!!)

Fraught with fear and the anxiety to fit in, Madhav Jha gets the biggest and unexpected twist of fate at Stephens, he falls in love, with Riya Somani, who is portrayed as the beautiful, rich and sophisticated Delhi girl, who co - incidentally is also a basket ball player. The plot becomes drab with Madhav trying to get her attention, but afraid to open up, while Riya eventually gives him attention - much like the basket ball that passes from hand to hand and you get BASKET!! But Riya is complicated. Very much so. I could not figure out her exact character, nor to be honest, I understood Madhav well. She toys with Madhav, who apparently is constantly horny. 

The story becomes insightful at places where Madhav reminisces about his mother, the Rani Sahiba, the gap between the rich class and the low class, the impossibility of striving in this nation without good English. Good pointers, Mr. Bhagat. However, Riya Somani, after spending ALL of her time with Madhav, decides that she cannot be Madhav's girlfriend (friend-zones him) and offers a compromise - to be his Half Girlfriend: Meaning I-will-hang-out-with-you-but-we-will-not-do-any-of-those-things. It gets whacky when Riya Somani suddenly disappears and Madhav makes his way back to his village - to turn the fate of his mother's school. At this point the story becomes very engaging, though I must tell you that we Biharis don't eat Litti Chokha all the time! What comes in for Madhav next is an opportunity to meet Bill Gates, learn English (courtesy Riya Somani) and find his life upside down, when he thinks that finally things were on track. The chase for love begins and the character of Madhav grows but I feel, certain things were rushed which could have made great impression if they were given a time to develop. 

For me  Half Girlfriend was more like Forrest Gump meets Queen meets Jab We Met plus a flurry of movies that came to my mind while reading.  BUT! You can finish the book quick and it will leave you with light heart (and head) and an impression, that even Chetan Bhagat has matured somewhat as a writer that the masses love. 

My Rating: 2.5/5

Friday, October 10, 2014

Half Girl Friend by Chetan Bhagat

Half girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat is the story of Madhav Jha. He is the fateful prince from Dumraon, Bihar and is passionate about Basketball. He makes his way into the most prestigious English graduation course of the country, when he gets selected into St. Stephens College in Delhi University by using his eligibility from the sports quota. There he meets Riya, an uptown high class girl from Delhi, who comes from a family of means. They have drastic difference if you see the section of the society they come from, the basic thought process that they carry, the value system that they possess and the way in which they take decisions. However they click with each other for a lot of reasons, and ultimately the boy-girl saga that these protagonists engages into, forms almost eighty five percent of what this two sixty page book has to offer.

With the MRP of 176 (highest priced book by Chetan Bhagat), a break of almost four years from fiction novel writing (longest ever taken by the bestselling author), and much buzz about the exclusive distribution of this book using the e-commerce partnership of Flipkart, the book was sold in huge numbers right from the day of its release.

Apart from the story of Madhav and Riya, this book boldly makes an effort to touch upon larger themes like contrast of urban and rural mindset, class conflict, shallowness of the rich lifestyle, and most importantly the lingual slavery that our Hindi and regional language speaking masses have to be under English language. There are commentaries on a range of other social topics too, like always and author has made sincere efforts to be inclusive in touching upon various themes of contextual relevance to the youth of this country. Yes, there is sincerity in the choice of themes that are forming the background of the love story, but because of poor choices in execution, the book touches everything too dramatically and very much on the surface.

While quality of the Literature is something that is always criticized upon for Chetan’s books I nevertheless always refrain from talking about it because I understand the fact that Author has consciously always tried too hard to be the writer for the most ordinary Hinglish generation. This is a fact already much known to everyone, and perhaps also to Chetan who self mocks his works in a portion of the story where Riya when teaching Madhav, most basic English, asks her to read books of “that author who writes simplistic English”. I believe that the treatment of the story telling, even if it is trying to be common, should not be clich├ęd, repetitive, mundane because of the reason that it is trying to be “non literary”.

There are already movie rights, casting rumors for the same getting viral on the internet for this book, and it is not surprising but equally disappointing that Chetan has again over burdened his characters by cheesy dialogues, pushed over scenes, third grade movie screenplay around them.  Riya somani, who is mysterious, unapologetic for long, self enclosed in her complications could have been a much more vivid character if she was not trapped into the most repetitive descriptions that ever leading lady of Chetan’s books have to go through – the baby pink suits, the perfect eye brows, shiny lips, idiotic girl-boy replies in middle of complicated life traumas.  Madhav Jha is sincere, has a setting around him that he displays in splashes within the story, especially in the under confident moments, where he battles out fear of failures to emerge on top of situations, especially when he conquers the English Speech in front of Bill Gates. However he too is a Chetan Bhagat front man – and is forced upon to crack jokes at silliest of places, appear cute when he should have been better left alone to behave more realistically, use catchy heroic phrases when talking to himself, beat his own trumpet, describe girls in the most stereotypical ways – repeating a lot of what has already been said and heard by the readers, from the mouth of male protagonists of Chetan’s books.

The book is filmy to an extent that you can literally visualize a Swades, a wake up Sid, a Hum Tum and what not from popular Bollywood similar settings in between as its sub plots unfold.  There are online social networks, filled with popular praises yet for the book, because I think different target group and their own personal exposure would perhaps generate a much different response from them. There is a copy of this book around me, in every one’s hand and a lot of people who have started reading it are finding it entertaining so I guess the mass appeal that this phenomenally bankable author promises to deliver has been achieved again, but I feel he needs to regain the sincerity he once possessed in his story telling, and characterization of the simple people his books talk of. The book is predictable, repetitive and I am sure the next book that he would write, would bring better out of him. He is a writer who speaks for the generation he represents, and I certainly hope he does a better job out of it and remembers the roots of his own ideologies and not focus on numbers, and collections.

I rate it a generous 2 on 5.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Beyond School by Chitra Anand

There are lot of books being written today and thankfully , some of them are about teenage issues and parenting. "Beyond School" is one such wonderful book that has Shail , his parents , his teacher Gladys under spotlight and through their interactions with other people ,the book weaves an almost accurate account of any child in the last years of school.

We all go through the stage where we swing between extreme love and anger at our parents. Some times we irrationally and intentionally have done things to irritate them ;perhaps our way to show them hoe we felt under their constant nagging. Its portrayed so well here with Shail and his father Sushil and then there is Sushil thinking how he was a rebel in his family. There are similarities as well as differences in the intentions ; which is what the younger generation fails to understand when we throw tantrums and accusations meaninglessly.

Shail's parents are very understanding and cooperative folks which he realizes only when he happens to be in trouble and his parents alone support him. By focusing on other's behavior and way of dealing problems , the author clearly makes the reader realizes which is the best way and how to avoid the mistakes of others.

My favorite part was when shail's mother reads his messages to his girlfriend and is shocked by the frank references to their sexuality. The way the author sorts her thoughts is brilliant.

Glady's past , her experiences and her lessons shape her present and future. She represents the set of students who are different and hence a little confused about their identity. Her father is her mentor and his patience alone helps her move on from the childhood scars. I loved her father's character the most. In so many ways, he reminded me of my mother.

All in all , this is one of the best reads for me from Indian fiction this year. I will love all teenagers and parents to read this and find a mirror to their life.

My Rating : 5/5

This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours, to get free books log on to"

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ten Days by Leena Nandan

Title:Ten Days
Author:Leena Nandan
Publisher:Wisdom Tree/Chlorophyll
Price:295 INR
Source:Review Copy (Publisher) via alop
Genre:Crime Fiction

           IAS officer- turned- author Leena Nandan's Ten Days is a (wannabe) crime thriller which narrates the strange incidents happening in the life of it's protagonist,Tina-a young,beautiful executive working in a call centre(24*365).Set in the innovative backdrop a BPO,this desi thriller tries to expose the 'grey' side of the 'new-age' professionals!  

       Tina is a bright call centre executive who is assisting Inspector Vikram in a cyber fraud case which had happened in their office not so long ago.Thanks to her smart,uber cool attitude and occassionally blunt demenaour,she has made enough of admirers and enemies in her workplace itself.Certain unpleasant incidents happen in her office(rape of a female colleague,arrest and suicide of a young executive and the death of the much senior scientist,Dr Maken) and pretty soon she finds herself stalked by a mysterious intruder.Parallely,Inspector Vikram gets  to know that his ex(Leila,the daughter of Dr Maken) is also in danger.Though the death of her father(Dr Maken) seems to be attributed more to a natural cause,he realises that there is more to it than what is apparently visible. 

        Coming to the good things about the book-Well,'Ten Days' has got a rather fresh theme.The English is pretty simple and conversational and for those of you who are looking for a book which won't weigh you down with it's literary pretensions ,this one might be the ideal choice.The investigation part(even with it's ample share of loop holes) is quite decently written and the suspense is well maintained till the end of the book.The final revelation(though not out of the world or anything) is also quite unexpected.The Cover design is also pretty well done and suits the overall mood of the work.

        The book has it's own share of flaws though.For an aspiring crime thriller,’Ten days’ is too slow to thrill.Apart from a couple of seemingly unrelated(crimes) incidents,nothing much really happens in the first hundred pages or so and too many pages are spent on describing Tina's childhood friends and the office politics at 24*365.Also,there are a lot of poorly developed,un-interesting characters(Deepthi,Rita,Jeet et al) and a lot of unnecessary detailing(the portions describing Tina's childhood might have been retained for it's inherent charm,but I honestly feel that those portions only served to slacken the pace of the narrative)which could have been easily done away with(the school girl club/password thing scenes looked straight out of an Enid Blyton/Secret Seven adventure and adds nothing to the narrative).Though the basic plot is somewhat innovative,the way it has been handled leaves much to be desired.The author seems to be confused on what to focus and what not to.As a result,she ends up confusing the reader.The stalker track(which reminds one of atleast a couple of American thriller novels -Sheldon's 'Tell Me Your Dreams' and Nicci French's 'Killing Me softly',to name a few)lacks fizz and fails to leave the desired impact .It'll neither horrify you nor scare you,thanks to the lack of focus on the principal track from the part of the author. All the genre cliches are also there in place-be it the investigator with a troubled past or the damsel in distress for which he slowly develops a liking for(in this case,for the second time!).C'mmon,we have read all this before!There are a couple of cringe worthy dialogues too.Sample this-“We’re a dynamic bunch of people here,sorry we’re dynamite actually”(!!!!!!).Though the book is a little over 200 pages long,I took almost two weeks to complete reading it.I think that sort of explains what is wrong with the book.

Bottomline-On the whole,'Ten Days' is an okay read.With a rather innovative premise and an interesting theme,it had the potential to be a real page turner.Sad that it's not,in the present form.I'm giving it a 2.5 out of 5.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Squeezed in the middle by Saptarshi Bhattacharyya

The life in a city is far from easy for Amit and Jaya. The couple and their little boy Rohan bump into one trouble after another, while labouring through the modern Indian urban grind. From the distress while trying to buy an apartment, to the miseries that accompany the furniture purchased from the local mall, they seem to court calamity in almost everything they do. The book threads fifteen such beads of funny stories to form a garland that can easily show some shades of similarities with the experiences of many who happen to live in an Indian metropolis―however, resemblance to any actual characters or incidents is entirely coincidental.

Life is full of smiles if only you have the appropriate sense of humor or the art of laughing at yourself. "Squeezed in middle" is a collection of many such moments from life of a middle class couple Amit & Jaya. With their son Rohan , this couple who lives in a rented flat in a city represents any number of families who go through the grind of daily life pursuing their dreams.

The author has picked a few such situations that turn amusing for either the couple or for the reader who would relate to the turn of events. Ranging from fighting with each other to fighting together for their son's admission or to get things done , the characters manage to seem relatable and believable right from the beginning. It is not just their life that is brought to focus but with that, the author throws light on some of the society's thoughts and biases too. There are things we have become so accustomed to seeing around that we have forgotten how unfair it is for so many people.

While some chapters are much engaging and made me chuckle , most of the chapters evoke enough smiles but not enough laughs. Blame it on my expectations perhaps though there are two stories I loved a lot. The one that involves deciding whether to go to Jaya's parents for vacation is my favorite. quite innovative way Amit chose for that. Another one I liked was when Jaya has to buy a wedding anniversary present for herself.

Overall an enjoyable collection.

My rating : 3/5

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