Friday, August 11, 2017

Half Pants Full Pants by Anand Suspi : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Half Pants, Full Pants: Real-Life Tales from Shimoga

AUTHOR: Anand Suspi

ISBN/ASIN: 978-8193262016

GENRE: Biographical stories

NUMBER OF PAGES: 221

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank The Book Club and the author for this review copy

SUMMARY:

Half Pants Full Pants is a sort of childhood autobiography set in Shimoga of the 70s and 80s. Given the era and milieu that he grew up in, it carries a flavor similar to that of Malgudi Days. All the characters in the book are real and most of them are still in Shimoga, of course now in their mid-40s. Quite a few are from prominent families and are now active and important members of Shimoga. The book vividly captures the real childhood adventures of this generation of people in Shimoga. It’s a glorious reminiscence as well as a tribute to this wonderful town.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

When this book came up as a review copy, the title was the first thing that intrigued me. With a deeper significance, the title that suggested a shift from childhood to adulthood via adoloscence made me want to pick the book up and read the summary. And the summary actually cinched it for me. Basically a lover of nostalgic tales that my father brought me up with, anything about the 70s and 80s interests me immediately. Half Pants Full Pants promised stories of a childhood in that era, making sure I read it as soon as I got my hands on it. Malgudi Days is one of my most favorite works of Narayan, and I began reading this book with the hope that Shimoga would be the next Malgudi.

REVIEW:

Half Pants Full Pants is a very refreshing tale. It stood out in my mind because it was different from the usual trope of stories that flood the market these days. The nostalgic feeling that accompanied the stories this book ensured that I did not put the book down once I began reading. The tales are split into two parts, the Half Pant tales, and the Full Pant tales, each dealing with a different period of the author's life in Shimoga. This book brought smiles, and in some place, happy grins at the innocence of youth in a place that was far removed from the pollution of urban culture, making the experiences endearing in many 'stories'.

The thing that attracted me the most about the independent stories was the unique titles that showed the world from the perspective of a kid wearing a half pant. There was a raw, direct feel to the stories that is usually missing in the doctored tales that undergo heavy altering for publishing. The stories definitely won in the nostalgia department, bringing to the minds of the reader the life in a random Indian village in the 70s and 80s. The small introduction to Shimoga made the stories more relatable, already bringing in a Malgudi like feeling. The names' significance extend to the splitting of the tales into two sets, the age where kids wear half pants and then the age of full pants (from teenage onwards) which is technically a huge shift that made the boys into men. It is in little things like these that the book held my attention, bringing a sure smile.

The narration was on point, gently mixing humour with a raw bluntness. But since this was not the set of tales actually written during adoloscence, the language could have been a bit more refined. There were no major errors in the language and the simple language did make the reading easy. The words fit the tone of the stories well. There is no 'plot' but there are a lot of factors including the relevance to the time period (that the book is set in) that worked in its favour. As far as biographical tales go, this book was the perfect amalgamantion of interesting stories, easy language and unpretentious tone that made it a delight to read.

Half Pants Full Pants scores in the areas of narration, relevance and taking us back to the time it is set in. It would make all the readers relate to the stories, and bring out happy memories of being kids in those days before the distractions of internet, television and mobile phones that take up most of our time these days. The book was a breezy, heartwarming read, making sure it brought the nods, smiles and the laughs at the right places. Even the vernacular bits in between that included the dialogues between the parents and the child did not look forced and helped in the nativity factor. The half pant tales were my most favorite part. The tone was set in the 5 paise chappathi and from there the book told me what to expect. And I was not disappointed with what it delivered.

The book can be read more than once, surely with favorites that can be read over and over again, never failing to bring a smile on our faces. The simplicity and the nativity are what worked in its favour. While it cannot be denied that the book is best enjoyed by someone who has actually lived in that time period, or has heard tales of it while growing up, the book still is an amazing read for anyone who would enjoy reading about life in small town India in the 70s and 80s before globalisation took over and made every village a similar fascimile of the same mould. The author has cleverly crafted the book to appeal to anyone who reads it, no matter their favorite genre. Having such an interesting childhood probably made this an amazing collection. Overall, a book I would remember for some time to come, not only for its brilliace, but for the escape it provided into the uncomplicated era and the nostalgia it brought to me. 

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The book achieved what it set out to do.
  • The titles (both of the stories and the book itself) were apt and fitting.
  • Scored well in the areas of nostalgia and unassuming humour.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The language could have been a bit more refined. It was simple, probably aimed at suiting the mood of the stories.
  • The cover picture could have had a bit more interesting, the stories had that potential.
  • Often, I forgot that the stories were biographical, with the Malgudi like tinge to them. Not a complaint, just an observation.
VERDICT:

Surely a book to read, remember and take back from. More than once.

RATING: 4/5

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE Free on Kindle Unlimited, Rs. 177 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Monday, July 10, 2017

Appointment with ISIL by Joe Giordano : A Review




Book Details:

Book Title: Appointment with ISIL: An Anthony Provati Thriller
Authors: Joe Giordano
Category: Adult Fiction, 299 pages
Genre: Literary Thriller
Publisher: Harvard Square Editions
Release date: June 2017


Book Description:

This time, Anthony's libido threatens his life. He flirts with Russian mob boss, Gorgon Malakhov's mistress. The Russian deals in death. ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant, wants the product. Russian Intelligence supplies the means, and an art theft funds the scheme. ISIL's targets are chilling. The chase across the Mediterranean is on. Can Anthony thwart ISIL? Will he survive?

Review

Only very few books have the power to capture the readers' attention in the first few pages. Either the story or the narration or the events described would hook the reader to the book, making it impossible to put down. Appointments with ISIL is one such book. I did not have much of an opinion on it when I read the summary which was short and to the point. But the moment I read the first chapter (which was riveting) I realised this was one book to reckon.


In the current slew of 'heroes' who are not adorned with larger than life personas, Anthony is flawed, trying to escape the quagmire he had unwittingly got into and ends up breaking bad people's plots to pieces by his chance, wit and will. The first thing I noticed about the protagonist was - he was not the do gooder who wanted to save the world at any cost. This made him relatable and likeable 'despite' his faults. The second thing I noticed was the Bond-esque flirtation, something that knocked off points in my mind and also got him into trouble.


Appointments with ISIL was a book with a tight plot, all the stories and branches fitting together seamlessly. I loved many characters, even those who appeared minimally. The characters stood in my memory, and did not seem forced or fitted in unnecessarily. The story was fast paced, and I did not want to put the book down. The pages were turned effortlessly. I felt the narration reaching out to bridge the story perfectly. The language was never sugar coated and this was a special feature of the book which made sure the horror of the events described stayed in my mind.


The quickly changing scenes, starting from the US to Iraq and then on to the involvement of Russian mob elements, only increased my interest to keep reading. Even the protagonist who let his libido dictate his sense of reasoning (and usually) got into trouble became an interesting character that I would want to read about in more books. Overall, Appointments with ISIL was a book I loved reading for its quick pace and interesting story line.

Praise for Appointment with ISIL:

"A roller-coaster ride to the finish, this book confirms Giordano as a writer to eagerly watch."

"A sexy, all-in-one-breath read, this is a story for those eager to strap on their boots and immerse themselves in a whirlwind adventure that will take them from espresso in New York with the Italian Mafia to walking the Old City of Jerusalem with the chief of Israel’s security service."

If you like gritty intriguing thrillers involving the FBI, Russian/Italian mobs or Islamic Terrorists you will absolutely love this book…. The characters, the plot and prose come together for an outstanding work of contemporary Americana. PRIMO highly recommends Appointment with ISIL."


Buy the Book: 




Meet the Author:



Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas.

Joe's stories have appeared in more than ninety magazines including The Monarch Review, The Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and Shenandoah. His novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story, was published by Harvard Square Editions October 2015. His second novel, Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller will be published by HSE in June 2017.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest


BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

June 19 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 19 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
June 20 - Essentially Italian - review / giveaway
June 21 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
June 21 - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview / giveaway
June 22 - Books, Dreams, Life - review / giveaway
June 23 - Readers' Muse - review / giveaway
June 26 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
June 26 - Cassidy's Bookshelves - review
June 26 - SimpliRead - review / giveaway
June 27 - Il Mio Tesoro - review
June 28 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / giveaway
June 29 - My Reading Journeys - review / giveaway
June 29 - Writer with Wanderlust - on Goodreads - review
June 30 - Leels Loves Books - review


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Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Inimitable Chaos of Life by Maliny Mohan : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Inimitable Chaos Of Life

AUTHOR: Maliny Mohan

ISBN/ASIN: 9789386305466

GENRE: Fiction / Short Stories

NUMBER OF PAGES: 192

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: This was a gift from a friend.

SUMMARY:

A naive girl of eighteen is trapped in a dungeon, which changes her and her capturer’s life forever. Afar, tucked away in the sleepy terrains of a town in Kerala, a married woman is determined to revisit a forbidden part of her past. A model-turned-MBA aspirant is scourged mentally for a decision she almost made three years back. Back in the less happening village of Kanyapuram, an aspiring author loses a copy of her very first manuscript.

True to its title, ‘The Inimitable Chaos of life’ is an amalgamation of enthralling stories borrowed from the chaotic pages of life, which allure you to relive the multitude of unique emotions humans are made of.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

A short story collection is both easy and difficult to put together. It has to convey a lot in a few pages, and must have a theme or at least a common thread. When this book came to me, highly recommended, I first noticed the summary. It piqued my interest immediately. There was something about the title that drew me in. Life, by itself, is chaos. And if this book's summary is anything to go by, it dealt with all the different facets of chaos found in everyday life. The cover was simple and belied the content within. There was nothing chaotic about the minimalist design of the cover except inside the one letter.

I was eager to delve into the 'chaotic pages of life', because the summary told me it will make the stories relatable.

REVIEW:

The Inimitable Chaos of Life is easily one of the most well written anthologies I have seen in recent times. True to its summary, each of the 14 stories was focusing on the chaos that is life. One of the main reasons why this book worked is that it delivered what it promised in the summary. Each of the stories individually managed to hold my interest, and they drew out of the chaotic emotions each and every one of us must have faced at one point. People from different walks of life face different types of situations, and how they move or change our lives is what constitutes each story in this collection. No two are alike but they are all similar and have a common theme. There is a simple thread that binds all these stories together, and chaos is just that one word for the beautiful emotions captured as part of these stories.

The human mind is ruled with emotions, and often all of our decisions are in some way influenced by our emotions. What might sound rational at one point will seem completely bonkers at hindsight. The same workload will seem less while the mind is happy, while it will seem heavy and dragging when the mind is otherwise occupied. The theory of relativity works best with emotions that influence a huge part of our lives. The Inimitable Chaos of Life focuses on (thankfully) many different types of emotions and does not limit itself to the common ones. There is also a tangent that runs along each story, neatly ending with a simple but powerful message that is conveyed.

All the stories have a pleasing structure. There is the beginning, the concept. There is clarity, and the characters are very relatable and clearly defined. There is closure, even in the short space provided. The stories are not left hanging or abrupt. The concepts are not overdone, nor is there room for unnecessary speculation or confusion that might arise out of an ambiguous narrative. The strength of the book is its language, and the subtle art of putting the message across in the limited space given. Good language is always a pleasure to read and definitely a bonus for any book. The inimitable chaos of life scores in that area, and outshines its peers by a large margin.

The beauty of the book is in the subtlety of the emotions. The characters are impressive, some of them leaving a lasting impression on the readers' minds. The language is lucid, with some words adding to the readers' vocabulary. The writing style is straightforward, not resorting to anything more complex. The underlying concepts are brought forward with clarity and that is the USP of this book. The Inimitable Chaos of life is definitely a book that merits multiple readings, at least back to the favorite gems of the collection. 

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The smooth language, that deserves special credit.
  • The emotions portrayed were realistic and relatable.
  • The author's reason for choosing this title is amazing
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • For such an awesome collection, the cover seemed way too simple
  • The book's typeset was slightly difficult to read, with the font giving the eyes some strain during prolonged reading
  • It'd be helpful to have a dictionary handy. Though this isn't a negative in my opinion.
VERDICT:

A brilliant collection, definitely worth another read.

RATING: 4.5 /5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maliny Mohan is a doctor who resorts to appeasing her passion to write during her leisure times. She was born and brought up in Kerala, where she spent her summer days in the exhilirating company of her friends and luscious greenery. She has contributed to a short story anthology, titled 'Love and other enchantments', brought out by a group of five authors - The Fictitious Five and another titled ' Colors- Different shades of love'. An avid blogger and an ardent admirer of subtleties,her dream of becoming an author sprouted wings in the pages of her blog. A piscean by birth, she is passionate and strives hard to listen to her heart, every time it beats out of sync. Her tales mirror her eye for beauty in its varied forms, sometimes resplendent with the most vibrant of hues and at other times poignant, enriched with subdued shades of grey and black. Apart from being passionate about writing, she is also a trained dancer, lover of solitude, bibliophile, tea-lover and an amateur poet.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback

PRICERs. 190 for Paperback



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Thicker Than Water by Lexie Conyngham


BOOK TITLE: Thicker than Water

AUTHOR: Lexie Conyngham

ISBN/ASIN: B071XPGRZC

GENRE: Thriller / Period fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 288

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Murray of Letho, #10

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Debdatta Sahay of b00kr3vi3ws for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

When young Walter finds a dead body along with the dead fish in his tutor’s fishpond, he knows he should tell his old master, Charles Murray of Letho. The dead man leaves a pretty wife and child and a broken string quartet, but someone must have profited by his death – could it be the avenger from his past as his widow fears, or is it someone from closer at hand? St. Andrews is once again the setting for a murder mystery, and a puzzle that Murray must solve before the murderer strikes again.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

There are only two words in the summary that gave me a clue about this being a sequel or part of a series. Other than that 'once again', the summary is by itself interesting and has good detailing in a few short words. It was intriguing enough to make me want to pick the book up, especially since it belongs to my favorite genre. The cover was simple, and had nothing that jumped out. But it fit the mood well. I had no previous idea about the author or her writing style, this being the first book of hers that I would be reading. 

REVIEW:

It helps to have information beforehand about whether or not a book is part of a series. The rising confusion about the characters and their familiarity would remain unresolved if this detail is not known. The series books do not spend much time reintroducing the familiar characters, but for someone who tries to pick up the threads from the middle, this might create confusion that will hamper the reading speed. This is perhaps why this book looked like it began slowly, for me at least. The characters seemed to be quickly 'introduced' in the first few pages, with too many of them crowding the little space. I had to keep rereading to know who was who. A careful analysis was required to understand that they had all been introduced in some of the previous books and were as much a part of the series as the main character was. After that realisation, the reading speed picked up. The glossary and the characters list helped much in this regard. Special thanks for that.

The book can be read as a standalone and is a good thriller set in previous century. Be it in the language or the setting, once we grasp them the story flows smoothly. The story is pretty simple. A dead body is found in a pond by one of Murray's servants. The mystery has to be solved before further mishaps happen. Once I could keep the characters and their associations straight, the book flowed smoothly. The twists and turns kept coming at an even pace and I was able to enjoy the read though I had not read any books in this series previously. The twists weren't too surprising or too predictable. And the plot was tight and created enough interest to keep me going.

Murray as a 'detective' did not impress me much, but I am sure I would read a few more books of this series to follow his style in other cases. The language was not exactly what I'd call lucid or easy, mainly because the cross century references (which maybe authentic at that setting) but the plot was good. The supporting characters did not stand in my mind but the descriptions and development were on point. Overall this is a story I enjoyed reading. I only wish I'd known about this being the tenth book in a series before - that would have made my experience much better and reduced the 'complaints' I have with this. 

WHAT I LIKED:
  • Enjoyed the story despite the slow beginning and the unconventional language
  • The decent twists and even pace made this an enjoyable read.
  • The summary was intriguing and the cover simplistic and to the point.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • If you are reading this as a standalone, it would be well to remember that this happens in a different era and has characters who've appeared before
  • The beginning is slow and might discourage a few readers
  • The language is confusing (but thanks to the glossary)
VERDICT:

Good read, overall. Began slowly but once the pace picked up, a decent thriller.

RATING: 3.75/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author of the Murray of Letho and Hippolyta Napier series of historical crime novels, Lexie lives in North-East Scotland and after some years of trying the traditional methods (with absolute and complete lack of success) she was persuaded to test her limited technical skills with e-books. When she isn't writing (that would be Sundays) she teaches, knits, gardens, drinks wine or whisky, and sits looking thoughtful while random facts wander around her head.

She can be followed, should such a thing appeal, 
on Pinterest (https://uk.pinterest.com/lexieconyngham/) 
or even Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Lexie-Conyng...).


EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle

PRICE $2.49 for Kindle

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Thursday, May 4, 2017

His Christmas Surprise by Summerita Rhayne : A Review


BOOK TITLE: His Christmas Surprise

AUTHOR: Summerita Rhayne

ISBN/ASIN: B06XS6XZ7J

GENRE: Fiction / Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 193

FORMAT: Digital

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Got the book from Amazon Kindle. Thanks to the author for the link on a timely note!

SUMMARY:

Christmas brought an unexpected sparkle.in his life 

Dan Tollinger is having a bad Christmas. He lost his wife to terminal illness and his boys are behaving badly. He's at his shopping center all day, how can he manage them when he can't find the time? Tonya needs premises to run her business after her bakery got damaged in a fire. With a son to bring up on her own, the sensible option is to accept Dan’s job offer to housekeep while putting her business back on the track. But will this job be so easy? Dan is brusque and to the point, while his boys don't listen at all! 

Then unexpectedly, she finds herself succumbing to her attraction to Dan. And it seems he's not immune either! 

Would it be wise to give in to desire and hope something more kindles between them?

Especially when his sons are not ready to accept her in his life. 

 Heart warming, family oriented romance with a bit of sensuality on the side.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

When the author pinged me for a review of this book, I was intrigued by the title. The cover picture looked generic and contributed to the mood of the story. The summary was short and to the point. It put forth all the major plot points that would need to be focused on. There was more promise in the phrase 'family oriented'. Romance has never been my favorite genre despite the fact that I enjoy well written romances occasionally. This book was a welcome break from a string of thrillers I was reading. 

REVIEW:

First things first. The book is surely an engaging read - I nearly finished it in one sitting. It was not a heavy read by any means but had its fair share of emotions. The story of Dan Tollinger, a recent widower who is having an altogether bad christmas after losing a wife and not being able to get emotionally closer to his kids, collides with that of Tonya Sanders, a widowed single mother of a son. A close friend gives her a business option - to work in her brother-in-law's house and for exchange get her bakery business on track. That is two birds in one stone and Tonya agrees reluctantly on her friend Myra's insistence. 

When she meets Dan, who is brusque to the point of being rude, she is unable to keep her relationship completely professional because of the surge of love she feels for him. He looks willing to reciprocate but neither of them want to complicate what they share professionally. But attraction holds primary, with the promise of a 'forever and after' being impossible because of Dan's emotional unavailability. What follows next forms the story. 

The book stays true to its genre. It is a romance book, and the overdose of intimacy was understandable. The sensual parts were a bit on the excessive side for my taste but they did not feel unnecessary or forced. The lead characters both failed to evoke any sort of sympathy from me because of different reasons. The story progressed quickly, with the emotions and the romance interwoven with various threads. The mind vs heart conflicts were brought out well. Even though Dan Tollinger was not one of my favorite protagonists (his treatment of every other character seemed unfair at a point before some sort of redemption happened), I could understand how the emotional distances are never because of one loss but a series of heavy hits since childhood. The book won brownie points by dealing with a serious issue and unraveling the underlying psychology of human behaviour. 

Tonya as a lead worked well for me in the way she faced her confused attraction and apprehensions. Even when she frustrated readers by being unable to refuse Dan's requests despite not breaking through the emotional wall he had erected, there was a poise in the way she carried herself in the later part of the book. The supporting characters including Jay and Myra did their roles perfectly. The character shift of the kids, though hurried, worked in bringing the book to a packaged climax. 

The book had enough twists to keep the readers engaged and the author has managed to tie up all the loose ends perfectly. The correlation between different events was beautifully done. There were a few glaring typos and subsequent grammar errors (not mentioning the parts where the characters are actually slurring - that was good) but they did not affect the reading experience much. Overall, a romance novel with a sensual overdose that could have done more with the various tangents it started off on. But the final product was an interesting read. 

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The story stayed true to the summary
  • No unnecessary drags or delays or drama.
  • Good supporting characters, no major character shift
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • Though the genre was romance, the book could have dealt with the issue of coping children a bit better
  • The climax seemed rushed and packaged
  • The protagonist Dan Tollinger did not evoke any sympathy despite being a bereaved man
VERDICT:

A well written romance novel bordering on the sensual, but with a family twist. Definitely an engaging read.

RATING: 3.5/5

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle

PRICE Rs. 110 for Kindle

BOOK LINKS: Amazon