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Friday, November 11, 2011
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Plot-wise, I thought that the scope and the canvas of this book was much wider compared to the last Ravi Subramanian book that I read ( Devil In Pinstripes ). Though, I have heard of something similar happening in one of the banks a long time back(on a much smaller scale), the story that Ravi weaves is exhilarating and fresh. Character-wise, I don’t think I liked anyone (including the goody-goody Karan) as much of the story revolves around the exploits of the slimy Deepak . The writing isn’t spectacular, but is competent and does not act as a hindrance to the flow of the story. I did find the dialogues and conversations a tad trite and somewhat amateurish in a few places, but that doesn’t really affect the spirit of the book. I also remember feeling that the editing was somewhat tauter compared to the last book.
The story flits between incidents that span over several years and that helps keep up the “mystery” factor . Infact, initially I wondered what connection there was to some naxal leader to a tale about a banking scam. Well, this is the element that makes the book all the more un-putdownable. However, almost halfway into the book so many clues have been provided that it becomes easy for us to guess what really happened and that made me get a little impatient. In effect, you figure out things even before the person investigating the scam figures it out and this is definitely a damper. The plot should have been tweaked in such a way that the reader learns about “what really has happened” along with the person investigating in a book. Anyway, the best part of the book is the ending . When you think everything is over , Ravi brings in a new twist tying up a lot of things neatly in the end. I must confess that I didn’t expect the ending one bit and liked it a lot..
Overall , it’s a breezy, fun read that I’ll recommend to anyone who likes reading good contemporary workplace fiction revolving around a scam. I am giving it 3.5/5
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
The book is a beautifully crafted and Chimamanda has chosen to tell the story of the Biafran war through three charecters- Richard,an Englishman who prefers to be called a Biafran rather than English; Olanna, the beautiful and sensual Igbo who lives with her revolutionary boyfriend, Odenigbo and Ugwu, the houseboy. The choice of narrators,especially of Richard and Ugwu is such a master touch as their views helps us understand the war much better. The books begins somewhere in the early 60's and Chimamanda chronicles the life of a bunch of middle class intellectuals very well. Ugwu's narration is so full of innocence and belligerence.
Soon, something sinister happens that damages the fabric of trust in the household. We are however, not told what really happens ,before we get to read about the initial years of the war.Chimamanda,adroitly manages to make us wonder what really happened even while we are neck-deep into what happens during the war. Definitely, a masterful touch. The narrative switches back to early sixties again and she lets us in on the secret and expertly guides us back to the later part of the war.
Stories about war always invoke sadness and this powerful novel by Chimamanda is not an exception. The story-telling is brilliant and what really takes the cake is the ease with which she has managed to blend everything(love, lust, loss, deception , patriotism, ) so seamlessly into a heady concoction.I loved the character of Kainene, Olanna's twin sister,who is so different from Olanna and is so irreverent that it makes her adorable . Oh,She also forms an important part of the story. One's heart will just go limp with disbelief at description of the living conditions that prevailed during the war and the atrocities that were imposed on civilians. Very true that in war,everybody is a loser. Chimamanda lost both her grandfathers in the war and the tales of people around her acted as fodder for the book.
Overall, a poignant novel which is will come haunt you many hours after you have finished it. It will make you sigh of relief that you were lucky enough to have not gone through such inhuman conditions.
My rating 4/5
This week I have 2 books to finish - The tent by Margaret Atwood and Bone in the throat by Antony Bourdain. The Atwood book is supposed to be a collection of "Fictional- essays".What does that mean ,anyway? :-) I am excited to start that book because I read Oryx and Crake ,loved Atwood's writing and have been wanting to read another book by her.
Antony bourdain's book will probably be fun read for the week,as the blurb behind the cover made it sound like loads of fun..
"A superb tale of violence and backbiting set in the seething testosterone-heavy company of a crew of New york cooks." says a review.
I am not even going to mention Murakami's Kafka on the shore as I somehow keep postponing reading the book because I own it. Someday,when i am not inundated with library books,I'll probably get to it :-).
Have a super reading week.. What are you reading,btw?
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Publisher: SouthPac Publishers,New Zealand
Synopsis (from Goodreads; edited)
My take on the book
The coming of age of three young girls from different backgrounds in Mumbai, a city fraught with communal tensions.
When long time friends Binaifer and Louella meet Shalini at Gyan Shakti College, Gyan for knowledge and Shakti for strength, a true friendship that transcends cultural and religious backgrounds is born. Louella is a Christian and Binaifer, a Parsi. Shalini is...moreThe coming of age of three young girls from different backgrounds in Mumbai, a city fraught with communal tensions.
When long time friends Binaifer and Louella meet Shalini at Gyan Shakti College, , a true friendship that transcends cultural and religious backgrounds is born. Louella is a Christian and Binaifer, a Parsi. Shalini is from a traditional Hindu family. She's been brought up to believe her parents and autocratic grandma will choose her life partner for her. On the very first day at college her eyes accidentally look into those of a young fellow student's and her heart is lost forever. She knows she must resist as her family won't allow a match with a mere student. But she has two unlikely cupids to contend with. Binaifer (Binny) and Louella (Lou) think Bhagu, the young student, is perfect for Shali.
The girls go through four years of college together, facing many challenges on the one hand but also the comfort and reassurance on the other, of growing up in the cultural, political and bewildering mosaic that is Mumbai. The author admits there's a message - that of the curse of communalism (or racism). But first, the book is about the light hearted years of college and true friendship between the girls.
The writing is like a breath of fresh air and flows beautifully. The blurbs behind the book made me expect the book to base communal tension as backdrop to the story,but that really isn't the case. However, Khoty does address the issue of Mumbai being a melting pot of cultures and religions,thereby being a sitting duck for communal tensions. How secular really is the most cosmopolitan city in our country, it made me wonder. I liked way Khoty has provided detailed footnotes of not just Hindi words ,but also of customs, traditions and historical tidbits. I loved the note about the history of Parsis in Mumbai and also the stories Shalini's grandma,Mem shares. What was a little disconcerting was the use of paragraph titles that describe sections that follow.Though the titles were apt,i felt that they interrupted the flow and were fairly superfluous.
What also is highly relateable is Shalini's family's traditional view about marriage. That reminded me that such families are not just part of Bollywood movies ,but a reality. Even today, some families are specific about who their daughters and granddaughters can marry.Mem,the ultimate matriarch provides a lot of spice to the story. Strangely, I liked her character.The book not only makes you nostalgic,but also makes you think and want to make a difference.That is probably the best aspect of the book.
Overall, a lovely book that will flood your brain with fond memories of college , friends and first love.
My rating : 3.5/5
The book is available at Amazon,http://www.thebestlittlebookstore.co.nz in NZ and from the author's website.
A bit about the author: Born and brought up in Mumbai, Khoty Mathur currently lives in New Zealand with her husband and pets.She spends her time reading and over the net.This is her first book.
Disclosure: This is an author requested review.
Monday, August 8, 2011
This week, I have the 4 books lines up ( Adichie and Murakami) carryover from last week; a book for review called Never mind yaar and Milk and Honey by Faye Kellerman I started last week because I couldn't stomach any grisly or sad reads. The Faye Kellerman book has to be one of the most boring thrillers I've read in a long time. A true Yawn-Yawn affair.Any book that takes 180 pages to show mild signs of some action needs to come with a "Boring" statutory warning.Anyway, I have a new resolution to not leave books half-read and to woman up and finish them no matter how boring they are. So, Faye will be tolerated for a few more hours till I finish the book. And her writing different is so different from her husband's( Jonathan Kellerman happens to be one of my favourite crime/thriller authors).
Next review on this blog : Never mind Yaar by Khoty Mathur
Apparently,there are only 7 basic plots that one can base a story on. The thought that all the gazillion books in the world are permutation and combination of these 7 plots is simply mind boggling. The human race is such a wonderful faffing invention of God ,i must say. Now for the 7 plots..( source Gordon Wells's How to be a successful writer)
1. Cindrella: Where the underdog wins after many trials and tribulations
This must be the most used plot, apart from No. 4(Tristan) and No. 6 (Romeo and Juliet).But then I am getting ahead of myself by mentioning No.4 and No.6. before we've done No.2 and No.3.
2. Achilles : Hero goes down because of some fatal blow
I haven't seen this basic plot in many books.Have you?
3. Faust : In the end debt always have to be paid
Can't think of many books with a faustian theme either.
4. Tristan : The eternal love triangle
A plot done to death !.someone should invent a 8th different plot and take Tristan off this list. The eternal love triangle is such a cliche.
5. Circe : Eventually spider catches the fly
Sounds a bit similar to a Faustian plot ,if you ask me.
6. Romeo and Juliet : Boy meets girl,boy loses girl,boy friends girl again.
The Hollywood rom-com staple !.
7. Orpheus : Gift that is taken away
All sad books where the books end with the protagonist going mad/ dead/ broke/without love and so on. Come to think of it, the number of things that can go wrong with someone's life is infinite!. Literary fiction,maybe ;-)
Any recommendations for Achilles ,Faustian and Cicerian plotlines?.
Monday, August 1, 2011
So what am I reading this week?.I have three books panned out- already started Harry Potter Part III ( Prisoner of Azkaban). 80 Pages into the book, I am not enjoying it as much as the first or the second book. In fact, I loved Chamber of secrets to bits!. Maybe,this book is going to take longer to warm up. I am so sore that I didn't start reading HP earlier :-(.
Next in line is either Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the shore and Half of a yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie.I am leaning towards the latter.
Synopsis from Goodreads..
I have loved all the Murakami books I've read till now and picking this one up was a no brainer. After reading Blind Willow ,Sleeping woman I am not sure if he can surpass the brilliance of that book,I am hoping I'll be pleasantly surprised.Called "the 21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe" by The Washington Post, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie certainly lives up to the hype in her second novel, Half a Yellow Sun. She wowed us with this transcendent tale about war, loyalty, brutality, and love in modern Africa. While painting a searing portrait of the tragedy that took place in Biafra during the 1960s, her story finds its true heart in the intimacy of three ordinary lives buffeted by the winds of fate. Her tale is hauntingly evocative and impossible to forget.
Synopsis from Goodreads...
Kafka on the Shore, a tour de force of metaphysical reality, is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reas...moreKafka on the Shore, a tour de force of metaphysical reality, is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle - yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own
Looks like its an exciting week of book reading for me.. What are you reading?
Sunday, July 31, 2011
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in wardrobe, but when I wake up in bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before I was three, then two, then one, then zero.”Was I minus numbers?”
Jack and his Ma are held captors in a 12by 12 shed they call “The Room”. Ma’s been there for 7 years now and Jack has just turned five .The only company they have had over the years is a television set,not to mention the nightly visits of old Nick, their captor. Jack thinks Dora and other cartoon characters on TV are his friends. He doesn’t know yet that there is a whole world outside the Room. Though Ma secretly hopes that one day they’ll be rescued, Jack doesn’t know that they are captives. He’s perfectly happy in his 12 by 12 world. The love Jack and Ma share is so adorable. Soon, Jack structured life is about to change as Ma decides that they have had enough of the Room and wants them to get out. If I describe the plot more, I might have to give out a spoiler alert, so I am not going to go into the plot and talk about other aspects of the book.
I loved how Emma chose to tell the tale from Jack’s point of view and not stick to a more jaded adult view. Jack’s narration is innocent and strangely funny at the same time. There is no remorse associated with the narration because Jack simply doesn’t feel that he is being held a captive. Everything is just one big game for him. Through most of the book, Emma manages to stay faithful to Jack’s voice- Jack does sound like a normal, affectionate and an extremely inquisitive five year old. Briefly, a couple of times, I found Jack’s tone slightly more “Adult” and wondered if it was done deliberately to show that Jack had matured or whether it was a genuine slip.
Though the subject is rather depressing, the treatment is most refreshing that at any point of time I didn’t feel excessively sad or depressed. The tone is so matter-of-fact that it doesn’t give you much scope to brood too much. Another aspect that goes in favor of the books is its pace- the book doesn’t sag for a minute and keeps you on tenterhooks most of the time wondering what else is going to happen. That said, it’s not an overly action oriented book, just that Jack’s views on everything is so refreshing.
This book, however made me wonder about something that I’ve always wondered about- What really makes a book literary fiction? If it is long difficult words and sentences that make you want to reach out for a dictionary pronto, then Room doesn’t qualify as literary fiction. The words are simple (obvious choice because of the narrator being a five year old), sentences never too long and most of it as conversations between Ma and Jack or plainly stated as Jack’s thoughts.What probably makes it literary fiction is that its beautifully sculpted and extremely poignant. In fact, if not for Jack’s “voice”, the book would have been yet another story about abuse victims. I am so glad that I picked up Room. I recommend it highly to everyone. My rating : 4/5
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Thursday, July 28, 2011
Very Good Jeeves is a collection of short stories, all featuring Jeeves and his feeble-minded master,Betram Wooster.The 11 stories that appear in the book seemed very similar to each other,with just a few variations in the plots. On top of that the collection contained many stories I've already read, so I wasn't really impressed with the book. Which is a pity!. My favorite stories of the lot were the one about the blighted Sonny boy song and the one featuring the kid Clementia.The rest were quite a let down. Maybe, this had to do with the fact that most of my favourite Wodehouse books have been full-fledged novels and not short stories. Somehow, his style of writing is more suited to a novel ,where the bloopers pile one on top of each other ,until Jeeves makes an appearance finally and puts everyone out of their miseries.
The same happens here,but with not much momentum building up,the stories appeared rather weak like a cup of diluted tea ,rather than a pot of refreshing Earl Grey it is supposed to be like.
Also,the choice of stories could have been more prudent,with more diverse plots included in the collection. After all, nobody wants to read a Wodehouse book and be content with weak distracted chuckles.
Overall a downer. Its not a bad book,mind you. The Wodehouse brand of humor flows freely, but on some level it just fails to excite you as much as some of his other books have. I'll give it a 3/5. My heart bleeds to give a Wodehouse book less than a four,but I'll not be fair if Igave it more than a 3.
Friday, July 22, 2011
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I must be the last person on the face of this planet to have discovered the magic of Harry potter books.It all started a few months back when a pesky teen asked me if i liked Potter books .Having half-halfheartedly read a few pages almost a decade ago and seen the odd movie,I told her that i didn't. The kid's jaw dropped and she stared at me incredulously. "Dude,how boring.What kind of a person doesn't like Harry Potter?" She demanded, her nose high up in the air. I remember indignantly telling her something about choices and how all the five fingers on a hand weren't the same.Lame,I know. The result of all this was that there was a new resolve in me to somehow read a HP book.I started almost half-halfheartedly again ,wanting to hate the book. But,I just couldn't. This time around, I guess I've managed to see what millions of people like the kid that rebuked me see in the book. The book has managed to make me want to go to a school like Hogwarts so badly that I've been dreaming up my own versions of Harry's adventure. Oh,no..I am not joking here.
What a wonderful,fertile imagination JK Rowling must have to even have conceived such an adventure. And she doesn't compromise on development of any character by giving importance just to Harry. LOVE IT and am neck deep into the second part.. Highly recommended for Muggles like me who don't normally include Fantasy in their reading diet.
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Monday, July 18, 2011
I saw the movie before I read the book and really liked it.The movie is a faithful adaptation of book ,with some minor rearrangement in the flow of the events. Whereas the book focuses more on the genesis of Facebook and the trials and tribulations the founder went through, the movie focuses more on the law suits that plagued Mark Zuckerberg. I was putting off reading this book mainly because I always find that reading a book after seeing the screen adaptation takes away from the charm of the book.In a way this was true with this book as well ,as the words bought forth images from the movie only and left little to my imagination. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the book.
One does wonder whether all sides were represented properly in the book, what with Zuckerberg refusing to have anything to do with the book. To me, the book seemed fair ,with viewpoints of all the major players in the "drama" represented. What really happened is something only a few people know. At the end of the book, one is just overwhelmed at the sheer genius of people like Zuckerberg.I guess we need to take into account the fact that he ate, breathed and lived Facebook. Focus of that kind is just phenomenal and jaw-droppingly inspirational.
Though Zuckerberg is painted as someone who didn't really care much about things like friendship, honor and morals as long at his baby,Facebook surged ahead, I couldn't really see him as an opportunist. Great enterprises are sometimes born out of cold, calculated moves devoid of emotions and other baggage that often staggers the progress of that enterprise .Maybe, all the bad-blood that was shed and the law suits that happened were essential to the birth of a true monolith of Facebook's proportions.Overall, an awesome story of a maverick kid who chose to dream big and matched it with hard work and focus.My rating " 4/5