Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Legend of Yuck-Man, by Smarak Swain


Not many years ago, the city was shaken by heinous crimes of all sorts. The mysterious attacker scarred the survivors, and scared the commoners and government alike with his blatant and outrageous acts. He killed at random, committed sexual violence, and kidnapped young women, mostly in crowded public places like restaurants, discotheques, and shopping malls Yet this person remains a mystery. All that the eyewitnesses can say is that this monster looked ugly, smelt repugnant, and was generally loathsome. They swear that this individual had superhuman powers. The Legend of Yuckman narrates the incredible story of this monster. It is a story of conflicts: between greed and hunger, pollution and purity, belief and science, morality and indulgence, and above all, between a man and his demons.


I honestly have to start trusting my instincts more often. I had a feeling this book might not be one that I could give a proper review on, but the idea seemed incredible, and I was intrigued by that. Turns out, the story wasn't much to my liking. I couldn't really get past the notion itself, that even though the outrageous acts are committed in public, with eyewitnesses, the yuck-man remains a mystery. And though I did muster on, I think the story got a bit too jargon-ed for me to retain complete interest in it. The idea was, I guess, to portray humans in a monstrous skin, but the idea got exaggerated beyond the limits of my liking. It felt like the author was trying to incorporate a lot of things in a single fiction, and got muddled instead with unnecessary details of research work and fights, which diluted the main character itself, unappealing as the name might be. I'd say this book is definitely not to my liking, but the genre being sci-fi with a societal link, it might still find its admirers.

2 stars


Review copy from author

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

There's something about you by Yashodhara Lal

This is not your typical boy-meets-girl story. Okay, they do meet, but there are some complications. 
Trish is twenty-eight. She’s unemployed, overweight, single and snarky. She knows all that. And if one more person – just one more person – tries to fix her, she might explode. Sahil is thirty-five. He has superpowers. Well, kind of. He seems to think so, anyway. He’s also hot (okay, in a geeky kind of way, but still). And he plays the guitar, helps the underprivileged and talks about his feelings. Aren’t guys like that supposed to exist only in fantasies? 
When Trish and Sahil meet, magic happens. Real magic, you know, like fireworks, electricity, that sort of thing. But here’s the problem. Trish doesn’t want anyone in her life.
I picked this book after some deliberate efforts to have least expectations. As much as I like romantic stories and most indian fiction tales , i still feel most of them are tad bit unrealistic. Or atleast they make me wish they used some bit of logic into the plot. Fortunately I had no such complaint from this book. Even though i relate more to Sahil in terms of being perceptive , expressive and persistent in his belief, I know many people who are more like Trish - sceptic , practical , sarcastic or some combination of these. I understand these people too but there is a limit to pushing people away and keeping boundaries intact.
The characters in this story cover a large set of people we meet or know and reading about them makes you laugh at the hollowness we display so freely. The writing is honest and lucid. It is funny and insightful too. The book had something wise interwoven into the plot that is subtle and effective too.
I enjoyed this one book a lot for it affirms my confidence in conversations , family bonding and lot of compassion for each other.
My rating : 4/5

Thursday, August 20, 2015

After the crash by Michel bussi

On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?
Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl's hands. But, as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything - then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone.

Two families , different in all aspects and yet tied by one baby , one case to decide her fate , one desire to win that and of doubts wether the verdict was right or not. How does it feel to live 18 years trying to find the truth , guessing it every day with a new light and keep this all a big secret.  Lyse-Rose or Emilie or LyLie  ? This is not just a story of the sole survivor of a plane crash but also how the simplest  desires and expectations are capable of extracting huge price. How seemingly kind people can be ruthless and so focused on winning that they leave no person or event come in their way. Of changing loyalties , faith and characters so full of life and worries, perhaps  of their own making.

Michel Bussi has written a brilliantly woven story and exceptional characters here. The writing style is impersonal and yet the descriptions are opposite. The emotions are portrayed more in actions than words that help one connect to the story visually.
From the voice of the coffee owner in the beginning  to that of the grandmother in the end , every person is sketched perfectly.  The thoughts , the intentions and the words are as honest as direct. The story somehow fits the phrase -  miracle , co-incidence , irony and so on. You can call the end anything you feel like , but nothing can take away the thrill of the story ; the story that is a wonderful account of  years of hard work and fighting against fate to find the truth. But truth has a set time to be revealed. Sometimes it takes 18 years !

You will not be disappointed with the book. Or with the cover , that is so perfectly set on the theme of the book.
Must read !

My rating : 4/5

Monday, August 17, 2015

Stairway to Nowhere and other stories, edited by Ruskin Bond

I think it's wonderful that you have a story to tell, a few stairs to climb and aspire to reach somewhere. It's in school days that I came to know of my love for poetry writing, and it's wonderful to see there were contests for school kids that helped get their story put to print. Stairs to Nowhere, named so, I guess because quite a few stories in the book are titled thus (or maybe it was the theme given to them) brings out stories from young writers from different schools and from all across India. The stories in the book, reading now, feel average and could use a lot of editing or a bit of complexity, but I think looking at the bigger picture, and who wrote them, the effoert is commendable. Perhaps the presentation could have been nicer too, because it felt like I was reading a school textbook. Not a very memorable book, but one that I did like reading.

Reviewed by: Vinay Leo R.
Genre: Short Stories
Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Interview: Kate Langdon, Author of 'Making Lemonade'

                Kate Langdon,is the author of the recently released novel,'Making Lemonade',which is already making waves. She is a writer of contemporary, intelligent, and humorous chick-lit.Her characters are loveable and real characters.Prior to becoming an author, Kate has been a journalism student, a tennis coach, a writer for television commercials, a burger bar owner, and an event manager. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her partner and young son.In this short e-mail interview,she tells us about her future plans,her inspiration and a lot of other interesting stuff.

  • On her Journey as an author- I began writing a short story about a loveable yet haphazard female character and things snowballed from there, before I knew what was happening it was longer than a short story and I was writing my first novel, That Slippery Slope…not something I had intentionally set out to do. When it was finished I took a chance and sent the manuscript off to major NZ publishing houses, it was subsequently published by HarperCollins and things progressed from there.

  •  On her inspirations- I’ve enjoyed various forms of writing since I was a child, poems and short stories, and I was an avid reader as a kid, always with my head stuck inside a book. I had an amazing English teacher all through high school who really inspired me and made me fall in love with many of the great authors. (English was the only subject I was any good at at school!) However, novel writing was something I stumbled across by chance, when I was 24 and desperately waiting for the next Marian Keyes novel to be released.

  • On 'Making Lemonade'- Making Lemonade is my third novel and my inspiration really came from being in my mid-thirties and wanting to write about relatable female characters of a similar age who are, for various reasons, at a low point or tumultuous crossroads in their lives. They’re forced to pick themselves back up off the floor and think about what it is they really want for themselves, and their lives going forward. They’re also forced to reflect on the dreams of their youth, discovering that although things may not have turned out as they had planned, being happy within themselves is all that really matters.
'Making Lemonade' is published by Harper Collins and is available in amazon.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Rigveda Code by Rashmi Chendvankar

A female central character , mahabharat references and the tale about political changes in Ancient India .. inspired or purely fictional , one can not ever stop wondering or assuming the origins of change in society or the laws as we see it today.

The Rigveda Code is a tale of characters so well defined and developed throughout that none shadows the other. The story inspired from a true news clipping does not steer away from its plot anytime. It describes the references and the implications weaving the story into them.

Rikshavi , the princess of Vrij is given archery lessons by her mother and renowned gurus , each expecting and believing in her extraordinary destiny to shape the political structure of India while avoiding another war which benefits none. It is not just her strength as a warrior that makes her unique but also her wisdom and the heart that is at always curious to find ways to be just and kind to all. She knows her place in the society and the kingdom and yet she does not acceot that changes can not be made within limited resources. Krishna's Chakra as a weapon to kill or to guide , that lart of the story was much intriguing too.

I loved the writing and the flow of the book. Not a single misplaced emotion or incident ; no easy way out of the situations we see Rikshavi and her family go through and always keeping a sensible eye on details and loopholes. Rashmi made me break my one month spell of not reading with this quick yet worthy read.

My rating 4/5

Monday, August 10, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe - The Raven (Review)

To write poetry in itself is no easy task, but to tell a story in verse is, I feel, more difficult. And to tell a horror story in verse, I doff my cap to Edgar Allen Poe. I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. What the book The Raven manages to do is bring a feel of horror to the story. I’ve told before too, when it’s the genre of horror, the reader must be able to get into the skin of the character and feel the chills, and with this poem, Poe manages to successfully do that. He even manages to bring a bit of lightness to the experience, which is remarkable. To step into the man’s shoes, wondering where the knock was, who the visitor might be, and then throwing the door open only to see the empty night outside was brilliant, and then the winged visitor at the window too. The Raven, with just one word, felt a little disinteresting, but it still worked for me. This book was the illustrated version, and the artwork was quite fascinating too, though I think only the verse would still work well to bring the art to the imagination of the reader. If this book is labeled a poetry classic, I have no doubts now why it is so, and why it is so evergreen. An enjoyable read this was, for sure.

Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Poetry
Source: Own Copy

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R.

The Old Man and his God, by Sudha Murty — a review

Travel brings us experiences. Experiences bring observations on life. And we realize that life may not be as simple as we thought, or maybe it is. Sudha Murty, on her travels, records what people say to her. Their accounts on life and its meaning are put in this book for us to savor.

What she does so wonderfully well as usual is that she narrates without making things complicated. It’s simple in language and style, and very direct. It feels even like they are diary entries, and in a way, they are. The title story, The Old Man and his God looks to bring out the simple needs of an old, blind priest who Sudha Murty finds at a small temple. It brings out that money might not be everything to everyone. The Way You Look at It, the story brings about a look at perspectives. What one person found useful, the other didn’t. The Tale of Two Brothers touched a chord. It showed being related by blood isn’t important as long as you are intrigued by the heart, by love. These were some of my favorites from the book.

Do I agree with how she interprets the observations? Not always, no. But then again, she looks at it one way, and the way I look at the incident would be different after all.

The book is not just enjoyable to read, but also, inspiring with some of the stories in it. I rate it 3.5 or 4 stars.

Rated: 4 stars
Source: Library Copy
Reviewed by: Vinay Leo R.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fireplay, by Steve P. Vincent

Novellas make for quick easy reads, and this one is no different. This book, Fireplay, is a really short (36 pages) book that is written as a prequel to the first book in the Jack Emery series. It focuses on the Australian journalist Jack Emery, who’s in Afghanistan, in the company of Marines as he works on a cover story. It seems to be going well when they’re attacked by a single soldier. The whys take them to a camp, Camp Navitas, but Emery feels there’s more to the Camp than meets the eye.

The novella is quite thrilling and works well in the short length to keep the flow. Short action scenes, and the characters of Emery and the marine leader Ortiz were interesting. I feel those who have read The Foundation, first book of the series, might find it easier knowing the main character and also the author’s writing style. I, knowing neither, felt like there was something missing. Wasn’t much of a fan of the cover page either.

I’d say this makes for a good fast read to enjoy on a journey of say half hour or less. I’d rate it 3 or 3.5 stars at most.

Rated: 3 stars
Genre: Thriller
Source: Author/PR

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R.

Book Review: Beastly Tales from Here and There - Vikram Seth

Books are fantastic when they help to take you down memory lane. Reading is something that has been inculcated in me since childhood, and there are some fables that stay in my mind even today. Vikram Seth, through this book, Beastly Tales From Here and There brings back those stories, but giving his own spin on it. He puts them, not as they were, but in verse, with simple rhyme and wonderful flow.

He begins with a favorite, the tale of the monkey and the crocodile, one that my sister and I heard and asked for many times. Then there’s the tale of the louse and the mosquito, the cat and the cock, the mouse and the snake etc. Each one of them is an animal fable in verse. And they, as far as I’m concerned, bring with them morals as well.

Reading these beautiful stories in verse, I can’t help but fall in love with poetry again, and with those fables as well. It brings magic with it. No matter what the mood, I feel these tales in verse will leave you with a smile. No. I don’t think they’ll leave you that easily either.

Rated: 4 stars.
Genre: Poetry
Source: Library Copy

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R.

Review: The Blossom Twins (Detective Natalie Ward #5) by Carol Wyer

The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars I have always liked the stories about serial killer and more so w...