Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just You, Me and a Secret, by Ganga Bharani Vasudevan

Mysteries intrigue me, and I end up playing the sleuth to find out what happened. This book is a mystery, but not one to sleuth. Just You, Me and a Secret is a book where the protagonist Meera is a mystery, not only to me, the reader, but to herself as well. And as she finds out more about herself, so do we. When we first meet Meera, she has woken up in a hospital. She doesn't know who are the people around her, and she doesn't remember anything, not even her own name. She is in the care of Ashruth, a man who says that they were going to marry soon when fate brought that unexpected obstacle in their way. Can she believe him? And will her memory ever return?

This book is a very easy read. It's not light, but the mystery of Meera's life had enough in it to keep me engaged for some time. The author has done justice to her character, and I felt the pathos for her predicament, which is essential. The twists that come with parts of her life coming to light are good, and help in no small amount to keep it interesting. Writing down moments in a journal or diary is useful should one need to revisit them, and I thought introducing "Clara" - Meera's diary/journal was a nice touch.

At times though, Meera's actions to unravel the mystery of herself feel a little unbelievable. And though we see Meera's character come to life with the story, the sub-characters, some of whom are quite important, don't seem that important. The story, which develops nicely in the first part feels hurried towards the end, and perhaps diluted the read a little for me as well. I thought the presentation was a little odd, but I don't know if it was because I read it on the Kindle. Some of these points aren't deal breakers, but the book would definitely improve more with these in mind, I feel.

The language is easy to read, and quite simple, and for this book, I think that worked quite well. All in all, if you're looking for an interesting book to keep you occupied for a few hours, this book might be worth considering. I'll rate it between 3 and 3.5 stars.

3 Stars < Rating < 3.5 Stars
Genre: Love/Mystery

Reviewed by: Vinay Leo R.

This is not a paid review. The opinions expressed are my own and unbiased.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Milan: A Wedding Story, by Simi K Rao

A simple story can still be interesting if the plot is executed nicely, and the story of the characters engages the reader. Love stories even more so. In India, though love marriages do happen, arranged marriages still rule the roost.

I'll start by applauding the cover design, which is quite grand, like a wedding. This story is of a marriage, where the characters Mili and Ahaan meet after years, slowly fall in love with each other and then get married. The story doesn't have any big twists and turns and flows well. The descriptions are appealing, and does its part to make it easy to imagine the setting.

There is something to like about each character, but that seems to be balanced by some things that don't quite feel enjoyable. Mili's character is fun. She's portrayed as a bubbly girl, with ambitions in a field that's not quite usual. She's a loving daughter as well. Somehow, there's a mystery to her too, and one that could have been a good platform to make the story much more interesting. Instead, the character doesn't get a complete makeover, and feels incomplete. While her dialogues and insecurities feel realistic, they also go beyond a level where the character begins to irk me, and tempts me to skip in between. Ahaan remembers Mili and falls in love with her at first sight, even before meeting her in person. His character feels sweet and determined too, and even at the end, the prince charming who comes gallantly to the rescue. But other than his love, true as it seems, for Mili, not much is revealed of him.

Plot lines that begin for the other smaller characters also feel like they are left open, which is a shame as their characters were interesting too. The parents who want the best for their child, but aren't that forceful when it comes to their vision of her future. The friends who support her, and the story that runs in that small town. The plans the couple have for after marriage.

I didn't finish the story in one sitting, as I thought I would, but it did keep me engaged. Milan is a wedding story. I can't help but wonder if we might see a sequel that reveals more of Mili's life post marriage, and closes those threads that are still open and make me curious to know about them.

I rate it 3 stars.

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed by: Vinay Leo R.
Genre: Love Story
Book Source: b00k r3vi3ws blog tour

This is not a paid review. The opinions expressed are my own and unbiased.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Judas Gate, by Jack Higgins

When you read a lot of a particular author, there are favorite characters who begin to appeal to you, and make you want to read more of. In this category is Jack Higgins' hero Sean Dillon. I have read quite a few Sean Dillon thrillers, and felt them to be quite good. When I picked up The Judas Gate, I expected it to be quite good too.

Plot-wise, I think this one's not the best of Higgins, because it starts out with just a recording of the villain expressing something, and the chase based on that. It didn't seem very interesting at all, more like a wild goose chase that puts emphasis on the talents of the wheelchair bound genius Major Giles Roper. The pace seems very slow, unlike many other Sean Dillon based novels I've read, and over time, the characters don't seem very different. Yes, Dillon is brash, and Ferguson is uncaring, but it doesn't come out as easily as before. Even the US President seems to have gone nameless, and Clancy Smith seems more a stranger to the set of characters than usual. Another aspect that is repetitive is the Irish villain. Most of the novels have one Irish bad guy in them, and this is no different. I haven't read the novel where Hannah Bernstein is killed, but the novel misses her character badly. And the action scenes lack punch.

I don't know what to make of this novel, from the perspective of a Sean Dillon fan. I can only hope it's a one-off glitch. I rate it 2 stars.

Rating: 2 Stars

Reviewed by: Vinay Leo R. 
Genre: Fiction/Thriller 
Book Source: Library Copy 

 This is not a paid review. The opinions expressed are my own and unbiased.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

It Doesn't Hurt to be Nice, by Amisha Sethi

Compassion is a virtue that's slowly disappearing from the world, I think, but one that is quite important. Only if you give kindness, will you get it back in return. Perhaps that's the notion that makes the title of this book by Amisha Sethi, "It Doesn't Hurt to be Nice" more appealing. The cover is colorful at best, but doesn't do a lot to make the reader curious.

The book is part fiction - the story of Kiara Seth, and the lessons she learns from her life - and part self-help - for it gives you these lessons to imbue. From the time Kiara is born, to the time she's in college, falls in love, gets married, has kids... and takes a big step in her life. Each chapter focuses on one lesson, and how she came by it. These are quite interesting lessons, but ones that I think, we already know to some extent. What makes it different from other books perhaps is that this story makes it easier to relate to, so we don't stray too far from our lives. It's Kiara's story that keeps the lessons interesting. Another thing I liked were the quotes at the start of the chapters. The illustrations also manage to add a touch of humor in what might tend to be a lesson oriented approach.

Given that it is Kiara's story that keeps it interesting, the lessons that are at the beginning of each chapter don't make as big an impact. They are interesting in the first few chapters, but lose their intensity toward the conclusion. I think the haphazard chronology might be a reason for that. When you see a chapter that has only the lesson, and none of Kiara's story, it shows the hurry, I feel. How the story ends, I feel, doesn't go with what was put across a page ago. It adds to the confusion as well.

The story comes across to the reader well, and the language is not difficult to follow. I cannot say it changed my life, but it has interesting lessons. I'd say it rates somewhere between 3.5 stars and 4 stars, but not quite a 4 star book in my opinion.

3.5 Stars < Rating < 4 stars

Reviewed by: Vinay Leo R.
Genre: Fiction/Self-Help
Publishers: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Book Source: Publisher

This is not a paid review. The opinions expressed are my own and unbiased.

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