Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ebbs and Flows by Amitava Chaudury : A Review



BOOK TITLE: Ebbs and Flows
AUTHOR: Amitava Chaudury
GENRE: Fiction/ Short Stories.
NUMBER OF PAGES: 125
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: We thank Blackbuck publishers for this review copy!
SUMMARY:
          Imagine – a person you have wronged years ago suddenly returns to haunt your life or you are faced with a situation where fate challenges you to dare follow the lofty things you had so openly preached. Or a man who shamelessly boasts of his achievements suddenly finds his lie turning into a beautiful reality. Or you discover a rather sinister side of the person you had secretly worshipped.
          These situations can be faced by any of us, correction probably by none of us. That is because we are common people, destined to lead an ordinary life. However, no power in the world can stop even the most common of common men from imagining. The answer to these imaginations is a tide of emotions some joyful, some slightly depressing but then, that is life ebbs and flows of emotion.
REVIEW:
          The book contains a few short stories. Much like the title suggests, it deals with the ebbs and flows of human emotions. The calming book cover says it all. The emotions are subtle, like a mild melody playing just loud enough to be heard, but not too jarring.
          Each and every story deals with the flow of human emotions and memories. Some are sad, some are repenting, some are surprising, some are plain happy. All stories have both the commonalities and differences with day to day human life. Each tale is relatable; you have seen such characters in real life too. There is nothing new or unheard of.
          Instead of dissecting each story, we can say with a general assessment of the book. Read these stories with a clear mind, even if you feel like there is continuity between subsequent tales, there isn’t! Maybe this is the author’s quirk. Muted things like repeated character names that make you go, ‘oh, it might be the same person/ situation’ but end up differently make this book unique.
          The main drawback is, the stories are forgettable. Much like the emotions, they drain away too quickly, for you to grasp. None of the characters are etched deep enough to remain imprinted in our memory. Once the reader starts relating the ebbs and flows to their own emotions, the whole point of characters ceases to exist.
          Read the book if you are looking for something different, light and mostly on a travel (like I did!)
WHAT I LIKED:
          The short, easy to read stories. Minimum use of jargon.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
          Characters could have been deeply etched, and could be more memorable.
VERDICT: Go for it as a light read. If you like Indianised writing and simple stories. If you expect something big from the title, prepare to be slightly let down.
RATING: 3/5
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback.
PRICE: Rs. 100 for Paperback.
BOOK LINKS: 


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Crossover Year by Bhargavi Balachandran: A Review




BOOK TITLE: The Crossover Year
ISBN: 978-81-8046-088-3
AUTHOR: Bhargavi Balachandran
GENRE: Fiction
NUMBER OF PAGES: 288
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK:
          The author contacted me via goodreads and sent me a copy for review. I thank her for it.
SUMMARY:
Meet Sri Anuprabha, aka Anu, a twenty-nine year-old banker who is terrified of entering her thirties. She dreams of quitting her job at the bank, sporting yoga pants and traipsing around the world. Her world turns upside down when things go awry and she is faced with the prospect of spending her days watching Tamil serials. She comes up with a five-point plan for reclaiming her life back before she hits the big 30. But things are never as simple as drawing up a flowchart in real life, are they? Especially with a ghastly recession rearing its ugly head…. Anu bumbles through the corridors of domesticity and travels on a funfilled roller coaster ride in a bid to discover her passion in life.Along the way, she meets new people, experiences crazy new things and learns some hard lessons in marriage, friendship, parenting and life. The Crossover Year is a funny, yet heartwarming story of a woman in search of her identity, and a chronicle of her hilarious quest for discovering her inner mojo. Bring out a platter of cookies and a steaming mug of chai, and join Anu on the ride of her lifetime.
REVIEW:
          Some books promise to be great. You open them with an eager anticipation that it will somehow change your perspective on life and love. Then there are some books that are not widely publicised, and are not written by a popular author. These are the books that will surprise you out of your prejudice. Bhargavi Balachandran gave me a treat in this regard. The Crossover Year is one fun novel and it gives you life’s medicines in a sugar coated fashion.
          Anu is a banker in her late twenties, from a typical Tam-Brahm family, married and hating her job. But the self deprecating fashion in which she narrates her story is endearing. There are no larger than life characters and no unnecessary melodrama. (The author provides enough of this by her downright hilarious description of Tamil Serials. And yes, you read that right!) The journey of Anu over a year as she crosses over from stuck-in-a-cubicle-and-suffocated Anu to some woman who realises that life is not all about the rat race. (Yes, the cross over year – 29 to 30)
          What is endearing is not the fact that none of this written in a self-help book style or in a tone that evokes sympathy. It is a learning journey; a fun ride (read) that you don’t know the strain of travel at all. It is more about the writing style than the story itself. Being a Tam-brahm, the essence of the book is so relatable. And the way the scenes are written are simply awesome. You can relate to every moment of the book. From the regular Tamil practices to the tsu-maamis, (the females of the Tam-Brahm race aged above 50, who make it a point to wreak havoc in the lives of their children by maintaining the largest network of matrimonial databases) the book has it all to make you laugh out loud sometimes and nod your heads in agreement most of the time.
          Sample these two scenes:
          ONE:
          The author’s take on how to dance, a friend who teaches Anu the Daler Mehendi routine for most songs!
          Step 1: fly a kite for 20 seconds
          Step 2: drive a tractor for 20 seconds
          Step 3: plough the land for 20 seconds
          Step 4: alternate between the three for 30 seconds
          Step 5: (grand finale step) draw water up the well 5 seconds.
          TWO:
          Anu says about the ‘Three Point Check for a Nice Married Tam-Brahm girl’
o   Check thaali (mangal-sutra)
o   Check kumkum on forehead
o   Check toe-ring
          (The author of course fails the third step and gets attacked by the Mylapore Tsu-maamis for this!)
          If you are a Tam-Brahm, you will relate to every scene ever mentioned. You will understand what Anu feels while trying to fit in with the modern society and also please her parents and relatives. If you are not a Tam-Brahm, you will still relate to the difficulties a woman nearing 30 feels. If you are a man, still read it for the awesome humour and the brilliant writing. Miss the nativity of your region? Read it! Want to spend your time doing something that makes you feel light? Read this book.
          Bottom line: Read The Crossover Year, no matter what your preferences!
WHAT I LIKED: The story, the writing, the characterisation and the incredible visualisation.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: There is nothing to correct, except maybe a few parts of the story where you wish it had been crafted more perfectly. Don't expect a path breaking philosophical book. This is trying to make you think while you laugh.
VERDICT: Go for this. Definitely. (My shortest verdict so far!)
RATING: 4.5/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Find more about the author here!
You can also find links to her blog and website.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Kindle.
PRICE: Rs. 175 for kindle edition.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Just Kidding....Yours Destiny by Anirban Das : A Review

                                            Just Kidding... Yours, Destiny


BOOK TITLE: Just Kidding…..Yours Destiny

ISBN: 9383808039

AUTHOR: Anirban Das

GENRE: Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES:190

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone 

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani  

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The writer sent us a review copy. We thank him for it.

SUMMARY: Anirban Das is making his book debut with Just Kidding Yours, Destiny. The implied essence of the story is about making choices, their consequences and the role of destiny. The plot is a simple story, revolving around the complicated life of Kunal Roy. Ambitious Kunal is living the great Indian dream, having purchased a house in Mumbai, driving an expensive car and striving to earn pots of money. Having slogged for donkeys years in the same company, Kunal believes that he is a star employee in his company. He is determined to reach the top with a simple mantra - hard work and dedication. Kunals seemingly planned life and ambitions turn awry with the sudden acquisition of his company and an abrasive new boss who puts Kunal to the sword. Kunals life is further turned upside down with the entry of a company rookie, Shristi, compelling him to change his world view and his lifes priorities. Is Shristi for real or is she an illusion? And who is the real Kunal? Undergoing upheavals in both professional and personal life, Kunal looks to jettison his ambitions by embarking on a journey of self discovery in an attempt to regain his lost identity and a semblance of control. This book aspires to strike a chord with the readers, engage and entertain them. It has been written from the heart, in a manner, which is characteristic of the authors writing style. The story has been set in a typical Indian urban backdrop but the emotions enunciated, would transcend country barriers

REVIEW:

Whenever an Indian writer approaches us for reviews we never say no. It’s my country and I wish to encourage writing in my country!  Though there are a lot of wannabies inspired by a particular writer who according to me isn’t worth to be a literary inspiration, yet writing off young writers and being judgemental is not fair. Thus I decided to go ahead and pick this book.

The summary talks of making choices and destiny. Destiny has increasingly become every other writer’s choice of theme. Anirban’s book is no different.

So what really made the book stand out? Narration. That’s it. Just the narration with footnotes.

The ending was predictable after a certain part of the story, till that particular turning point I was expecting the typical Bollywood kind “All is well” climax. Then again, like every other writer who centres his/ her plot on destiny invariably go in for a “different” (read sad) ending unlike the B-Wood ending! This book is no different.

The characterisations were realistic to some extent! I loved Shristi’s characterisation. I’ve always sort of wanted to be that bold girl who could roam around in a Bullet (Someday I will for sure! Working on it tirelessly).

Thankfully the writing was at least clean; else I wouldn’t have been able to complete the book. The narration was good sans the overdose of drama that one normally finds in a typical “destiny” book. The one thing that certainly deserves a mention are the foot notes. They really made my day. They were point blank hilarious!

The other thing that certainly needs to be lauded is the cover art. It quite justifies that title of the book. Loved the vibrant Blue & Yellow colors.

Though the writer began well, he sort of messed up midway. It was almost like he was thoroughly lost and confused as to how to end the book.

Overall, for a neat attempt by a rookie who obviously needs to work on plotline cohesiveness though he sure is witty and humorous.

VERDICT: Just another book. Could be skipped or could be read. Go for it if you want to just laugh!

RATING: 3 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 Ignoring his childhood aspiration of becoming a sportsman, Anirban Das obtained a degree in mechanical engineering and followed it up with a post graduation in Advertising. He worked with an Indian automobile conglomerate, before quitting his job to pursue his MBA. Anirban loves to read, travel, listening to music. And forgot to mention, writing too! He flirted briefly with singing but decided against pursuing it, in larger public interest. What he does not enjoy is cooking, notwithstanding consistent prodding by family members. Anirban can be reached at    anir345@gmail.com

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback & Kindle.

PRICE:  Rs. 176 (Kindle)

BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.in/Just-Kidding-Yours-Destiny-Anirban/dp/9383808039/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398583345&sr=1-1

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Love and Lokpal by Pooja Wanpal : A Review

                                             18047434


BOOK TITLE: Love & Lokpal

ISBN: 9789332421332

AUTHOR: Pooja Wanpal

GENRE: Fiction - Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 223

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Giveaway by The Readaddicts

SUMMARY:
Shlok Kulkarni, an architect by day and an Assassin's creed junkie by night is being bombarded with eligible girls by his matchmaking mama. In a bid to escape her and maybe check out a few hot girls while he’s at it, Shlok flees to Delhi, where a massive protest for the Lokpal Bill has been building up.

Kaveri Gokhale has been searching for a cause her whole life. When the winds of the Lokpal blow through the country, she eagerly catches the next train to Delhi to witness history.

When Shlok runs into Kaveri at Jantar Mantar, the sparks are undeniable. As their relationship blossoms, Kaveri discovers a dark secret that leaves her devastated . . . and endangers the fate of billion others. Will Shlok and Kaveri’s love wither or will it withstand the uncertainties of the corrupt politics? Can love truly conquer all ideologies?

REVIEW:
The summary talks about love conquering ideologies and uncertainties of corrupt politics. Politics and love is always a powerful combination, a rather successful one when used correctly. Thus I was expecting a power packed storyline and ended up feeling a disappointed. May be my expectations were quite high. After all the writer is a rookie and is obviously taking baby steps.

I liked the characterisation of shlok but the character of Kaveri lacked that conviction of a political science student. A political science student just doesn’t go and join a protest without thinking how it actually might end. Moreover a political science student in my personal experience has that uncanny ability to understand and unmask the true face of a politician. Kaveri falling for that politician’s ruse annoyed me.

The “lokpal bill” has become a household term these days. Courtesy : Dissection of the bill by media. The writer obviously has based her story upon these dissection reports. Thus there is nothing special about this whole lokpal bill in the book. Or to be a bit blunt, weaving the story around Anna hazarae’s fast and the Lokpal didn't help in causing any ripples.

Thankfully the writing was clean and the language was simple. The writer I fell is capable of wonders but some has restricted herself.
Overall, I was disappointed. Hope Pooja does a better job in next book.

VERDICT: A light read not to be taken too seriously.

RATING: 3 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pooja Wanpal is an avid reader, writer and trekker. She is currently studying economics at Fergusson College, Pune. She is also the author of the book, 'Love and Lokpal' which was released in June 2013. Her blog can be found at http://thesilkenthreadofnescience.blogspot.in

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Kindle.

PRICE: Rs.95 (Paperback)


BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.in/Love-Lokpal-Pooja-Wanpal/dp/9332421331/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394370692&sr=1-1

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sherlock Holmes in Japan by Vasudev Murthy : A Review

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BOOK TITLE: Sherlock Holmes in Japan

ISBN: 9350296691

AUTHOR: Vasudev Murthy writing as Akira Yamashita

GENRE: Fiction – Mystery

NUMBER OF PAGES: 290

FORMAT: Paper Back

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Won it as a part of #RCHCGiveAway

SUMMARY :

Sherlock Holmes solves his biggest case yet in this seriocomic Missing Years novel 1893: King Kamehameha III of Hawaii declares Sovereignty Restoration Day ... Tension grows between China and Japan over Korea ... The Bengal Famine worsens ... The senior priest at Kinkaku-ji temple is found dead in mysterious circumstances Dr John H. Watson receives a strange letter from Yokohama. The quiet, distinguished Mr Hashimoto is murdered inside a closed room on a voyage from Liverpool to Bombay. In the opium dens of Shanghai and in the back alleys of Tokyo, sinister men hatch evil plots. Professor Moriarty stalks the world, drawing up a map for worldwide dominion. Only one man can outwit the diabolical Professor Moriarty. Only one man can save the world. And that man has survived Reichenbach Falls. In a seriocomic Missing Years novel that radically ups the ante, Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H. Watson find their match in more than one man (or indeed, woman). A thrilling chase that will leave you breathless


REVIEW:

Sherlock Holmes! What I can say more? It’s the “it” book for me, the timeless piece of classic that I have loved reading since I was a child. That one book apart from Harry Potter series that won’t bore me no matter how many times I re-read.

I was happily enjoying my vacation in Mysore when my co-blogger excitedly rang me up and told me I had won this book as a part of the #RCHCGiveAway. I couldn’t wait to get back home and start reading it. Though I was a bit unsure if this writer could create the same magic as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did.To my complete surprise I felt like I was reading Doyle’s work. Though, in my opinion if I were the writer I wouldn’t want my readers to feel that they are reading the original writer’s work for very obvious reasons. Nevertheless, the writer’s effort is thoroughly laudable.

The story picks off from “The Final Problem” where Holmes is believed to be dead after the tussle with Professor Moriarty. The writer has managed to give a really logical explaination for Holme’s survival. Having never read “His last Bow” ( I didn’t really want to read it that soon! Never managed to complete the entire set of stories. ) this book seemed perfectly chronological to me.

The writer really sounded like Sir Doyle in major parts of the book, though at times it sort of deviated. The writing was simply beautiful.

The plot line was cohesive without any logical blunders. The book managed to keep me totally hooked and left me wanting for more. One thing that was a wee bit amiss was that the writer made Moriarty sound a little less evil. Come on! Moriarty is “the” perfect and logical villain for me before Voldy came along!

The writer obviously knows (or has studied) Japanese culture. I loved the way Japanese characters were used in the beginning of each chapter.

The foreword certainly deserves a mention. The foreword has been written by Calvert Markham, treasurer, Sherlock Holmes Society of London. The foreword has been written with such a passion that it amazed me that such a society even exists. Wish I would complete reading Sir Doyle’s entire works soon and relocate to London.(For those who are struggling to pick me a gift, you might as well take a pointer from the previous line) 

Overall it’s a fabulous piece of work that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Thank you Mr.Murthy for writing such a brilliant book.

VERDICT: It’s Sherlock Holmes!  Come on! You have to read it!

RATING: 5 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 Vasudev Murthy is a writer, Indian classical violinist and management consultant. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, two children, five dogs and a collection of musical instruments.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paper back

PRICE: Rs.350


BOOK LINKS: http://www.harpercollins.co.in/BookDetail.asp?Book_Code=3884

P.S: The Review might be biased as I am die hard fan of Sherlock Holmes Series.

P.P.S: If you haven't realized it yet from this font, may god save you :P 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Aversion by Kenechi Udogu : A Review

NOTE:
Team Readers' Muse thanks Deepika for this splendid review! 


BOOK NAME: Aversion, Book One of The Mentalist Series
AUTHOR: Kenechi Udogu
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy Fiction, Romance
SERIES/STANDALONE: The Mentalist #1
          Gemma Green is a normal fifteen year old girl, but the secret in her life is that she is an Averter: one who could just move your thoughts around a bit so that you don’t end up doing something life-spoiling (I hope that is a word!). She is all the more special than the other Averters because she is a girl, which is a virtually non-existent thing in Averter history. Or so she thinks until she meets Russ Tanner, the first person whose memory she is supposed to alter in order to avoid his major life turning crisis. Almost everything after meeting him goes out of her control and she learns that not everything around her is true. I say ‘almost everything’ because she there is sweet Russ to cushion the blows dealt out to her...sometimes. So does it really mean that Russ has fallen for our plain Jane or does it only mean she has somehow botched up her first Aversion and Russ is going to wake up to the truth soon? Hop on to the boat of “Aversion” for a happy reading of Udogu’s smooth writing to satisfy your curiosity!
          Let me start out by saying that, I am a number one fan of girl power fiction and am all in support of girls who keep their heads together when it comes to dealing with mess. That said, I have read SO many over-hyped books about strong female leads who are hailed to be strong and level-headed but whom I actually find so whiny (I am not naming any names now). I started out this book by hoping fervently that Gemma (the protagonist) would not turn out to be one of ‘those’ girls. And lo and behold, my prayers were answered! An added joy is that just when you think things are going to get predictable, it doesn’t and just like that we are in a reader’s heaven!
           I don’t know what I have against romance, but I actually cringed a bit when a romantic angle was around the corner (read extremely dreamy guy). I had no need to do that, since it was a pleasantly romantic twist and it actually does help move the story forward rather than proving to be just a vent for raging teenage hormones. Though the usual good versus evil is imminent, the author succeeds in leaving you hanging with a lot of curiosity towards the end (read the title! There are more to come. Yay!). And an honestly unexpected ending!!
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: The creative concept in a beaten-to-death theme of high school romance with teenagers trying to find out more about themselves, the character development of the protagonist and the easy, crisp narrative style of the author which comes out in even such a short read.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: We realize that love is indeed the answer to everything. But c’mon, why can it not for just once be something different: like maybe just for the thrill of it or for self-betterment (without getting too philosophical)?

RATING: 4/5

The Return by Carter Vance : A Review

NOTE:
We thank our guest reviewer Deepika Anandakrishnan for this honest review. Read along for her take on The Return! 
-Team Readers' Muse


BOOK TITLE: The Return

AUTHOR: Carter Vance

REVIEW:
          Geoff Allen is a banker possessed by curiosity, when he comes across a book on the Templars, inside a secret library while vacationing at his friend’s place. It leads him on a wild chase through different countries, helping him to piece together several historic puzzles but also invites trouble in several forms. The story is developed on the idea that Jesus does have a family and many descendants, all of whom survived under the protection of the mysterious Templar Knights and the Founders and are living with the surname ‘Davidson’. It has a lot of information about how they all managed to survive because, history will soon repeat itself and Satan will most certainly try to take control again. This might call for Him to be born on earth again and hence the Christos couple Sarah Davidson Christos, a philanthropic socialite, and Peter Christos, a business tycoon, meet, fall in love and have the honour to be His birth parents. Satan has minions all over the world, especially in The Vatican and spreads fear mainly through one nun called Sister Regina also known as (the super-hot Italian attorney) Regina Vergen ( who she is depends on the dress she wears!) The entire book is about the events leading to His birth and how the evil forces try their best to stop His birth. Do they succeed at it? Read the book to find out. Or at least try to!
          Personally though, Geoff Allen is my idol. He is an extremely successful and stressed out investment banker who could afford to take many days out of his work to tour around the world trying to satisfy his itch and still manage to have a passionate affair with a totally hot attorney, and probably looking ruggedly handsome all the while too. I find it difficult enough to look presentable for a night-out with friends! No wonder the man dies so young. If this is the level of naivety that a successful banker is imagined to have, no wonder the author is so paranoid about every organization in the world.
          But credit must be given to His 20th century parents, who never bat an eyelid to even one part of the humongous load of information thrown at them(so we shouldn’t either I guess!). They must also be obviously super naturally equipped to respond with “Sounds good!”, “ Great, more information!” to almost everything  and to be skipping along cheerfully when their parents are terminally ill or have just given them the stunning piece of information that they are actually descendants of Jesus Christ! So the entire world is conspiring against Him, nothing is as it looks and you are actually fooled into believing that you are working for some greater good when actually you are working hard to satisfy the needs of majorly sex and money deprived Holy priests in the Vatican Church.  Imagine that you wrote a 500 page book borrowing from everything under the sun and somebody asked you to cut it down to 100-odd pages. What would you strike out? Obviously you strike out the emotions from the characters, because who needs to feel connected to the characters when you have so much backstory to catch up to?  The author had taken the time to describe what type of meat the Christos had during Christmas and the type of cutlery they used (excuse the exaggeration), but not about how the mother feels about bearing Him or even having a normal baby? Just writing “Thrilled” doesn’t cut it! I hope the Templars also tell these parents that it is important for a child to be held as much as possible when it is growing up so that Jesus does not have any emotional issues when He is fighting Satan soon.  

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: It taught me how patient I could be.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK:  Under developed characters, too much backstory which never really comes together, typos and silly grammatical errors, stale dialogues, the hard to ignore resemblance of a borrowed plot and finally trying too hard to put it all together.

RATING: 2/5

BUY THE BOOK AT:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
BOOK’S PRESS RELEASE: