Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: Police by Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole #10)

Some stories have a knack of leaving an everlasting impact on the mind of the readers. The genre irrelevant but the impact dead on target. Author Jo Nesbo in his latest offering "Police" has chalked out a story which promises an ever lasting effect on the readers. So does the book live up to the expectations? Let's find out. 

The victims are carefully chosen. The locations former crime scenes. The killings no accident. The target police. After recovering from a near fatal shooting, Harry Hole has finally retired from active duty. He hears about the case but keeps his distance, determined to protect those he loves from the danger that he can never seem to escape. But as the media pressure intensifies, Harry finds himself advising an unofficial task force investigating the murders. Drawn into a dangerous web of cold cases and precarious allegiances, Harry can't guarantee protection for anyone. Least of all himself.

First look at the cover and the title and readers are in for a treat as this one is a one word title with a lot of thoughts creating in the mind. The cover image is a mysterious one with a man in black walking towards a structure but it compels the readers thoughts. The blurb is very short and only talks about the lead character and his helplessness. The blurb gives out no clues whatsoever to the readers about the story which is perfect. 

The story has been set in Oslo where a killer is on loose and some police offers have been murdered on previous crime scenes. The murders are gruesome and the police itself is clueless. There are no signs of Harry Hole as he has taken up a job in PHS as a lecturer. It's up to Mikael Bellman and Gunner Hagen to clean up the mess on the streets of Oslo. But they are helpless and without any leads. So when some offices try to get Harry back to the fold it converts into chaos as a lot of events and incidents make life miserable for him and others present around. So will Harry return once again at the helm? So will Chief Inspector of Police Mikael Bellman be able to catch the murderer? Where does it all lead to? What dirty dark secrets are being hidden behind this shadowy game? That's what the story is all about. 

The ravaging effect the story leaves on the mind of the readers is a treat. It has to be absorbed slowly and carefully and cannot be hurried upon. The thrills and twists and turns which lead up to a lot of excitement are far too many and it's only about time that the readers get engrossed in this cat and mouse story. The involvement of Harry Hole after the initial half is a perfect setup. There are no holes and loose ends in the book whatsoever. It has been written with flair and panache and executed in style. The book promises action, gore and mystery to the fullest and makes the guessing game harder for the readers. There are no experiments and it gives the book a lot of meat in it. 

The downside of the book is its sluggish pace which slows down the story a lot as the events unfolds one by one. 

All in all the crime thriller fiction genre has been bestowed with one of the most complicated yet exciting works. It has all the elements which makes it a perfect but slow to be absorbed read. It won't give you time to breathe and absorb the action as it unravels time to time. It has a heavy impact on the mind of the readers and doesn't makes it simple for any bright mind. The book is perfect in every sense. 


4 OUT OF 5

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: The Bat by Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole #1)

Crime thrillers are all about passion, deep dark secrets, revenge and a lot of action. Most of the authors try to deliver a potential screamer to the readers and garner positive feedback. Author Jo Nesbo in his book "The Bat" tries to play mind games with the readers and take them for a ride. So does he really stump the readers? Let's find out. 

Detective Harry Hole is meant to keep out of trouble. A young Norwegian girl taking a gap year in Sydney has been murdered, and Harry has been sent to Australia to assist in any way he can. 
When the team unearths a string of unsolved murders and disappearances, nothing will stop Harry from finding out the truth. The hunt for a serial killer is on, but the murderer will talk only to Harry. 

First look at the title and the cover and the title looks bit out of sorts and it's hard to establish it's connection with the story. The cover image is promising and gives a sense of eerie to the readers. The blurb talks about a character and his endeavors on an assignment. The story has been concealed well and keeping the guess work again for the readers. 

The story is of Harry Hole who lands up in Sydney from Norway in order to help the police in solving the murder of a Norwegian citizen. Straight away he gets to work as the list of suspects rise and a lot of connections are established. But gradually it starts getting complicated as Harry and the team of police officers are led on a trail which takes them to another world of mystery and illusions and notions. So will Harry be able to lay hands on the killer? Will his methods work in this cut throat environment? What is more for him and the officers to uncover in this dark dirty game? That's what the story is all about. 

The book is a trademark crime thriller fiction with a lot of suspense and drama and a lot of action. It has tremendous amount of guess work and surprises and baffles the readers from time to time. The pace at which the  story changes track is also exemplary. Harry Hole as a character has been sketched with a lot of gut and uncanny emotions. He adds flavor to the story with his unusual methods. The intensity of the story matches up to the expectations of the readers. 

The downside of the book is dragged middle portion and a very simple and predictable ending. The end could have been polished more. The vivid thoughts of Harry Hole could have been toned down in the book. The edge is lost somewhat in the prolonged conversations in the second half. 

All in all it makes a great case for a compelling read for the readers. It takes you on a ride of a life. The book has elements of flair and delivers up to the expectations. It might give a feel of being stretched sometimes but has been executed with command. It plays with the mind of the readers. An entertainer for masses.  


3 OUT OF 5  

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Chennai Book Fair 2014 (10th January 2014-22nd January 2014)

A book fair is probably one of the biggest extravaganzas after fashion shows and international model hunts and award functions which brings together a fraternity i.e the people who are interested in literature and those who are trying to make a mark in literature and those who have just found their names on a paperback or a hardcover edition and feel elated after seeing it adorning the shelves of one the stalls. 

I have not been a regular book fair visitor for the past many years. Chennai Book Fair 2014 was the one that broke the jinx. My expectations were in control with my senses and the coverage in regional languages i.e Tamil made it all the more difficult to discover the main essence behind the whole fair. But curiosity always gets better of a book reader and hoarder. So I trudged along to uncover the whole book fair idea in India's one of the most known literate cities. 

The 777 stalls, a grand ground and a huge parking increased my nervousness and excitement as I tried to curb it down but it got the better of me. The entry tickets of Rs. 10/- was no deterrent. As I entered the grand make shift rooftop pavilion it only smelt books all around. The stalls lined up in six rows and it was one gigantic affair for the book lovers. The scenes were not that bustling on the first day but the crowd present was no less than an excited child in a toy store. 

As I started looking from stall number 1 I had company of a good friend Heena Ahuja. She and I had decided to tear down the shelves and bring the best back home. But our idea couldn't culminate into happiness as the first stalls only gave Tamil Literature a fair bit of coverage over their English & Hindi counterparts. It was difficult to spot English literature at first but gradually we heaved a sigh of relief as the some known authors and books could be spotted in the a stall. 

We moved on and tried to find the best bargains but there weren't any in the first 200 stalls. We were getting restless as we couldn't lay hands on anything. The discounts ranged from a meager 5% to 25% on new books which could have left a huge hole in our pockets. Interestingly Tamil literature didn't find quite a lot of takers but English & Hindi were scarce throughout. 

We found some second hand book stalls and that woke up our numb senses again. They came as a savior in an otherwise dull affair. We hoarded as much as we could and felt content. In all 21 books were procured over three visits to these stalls. There was severe lack of big publishing houses from New Delhi and other places. Only a handful made it to the 700+ stall extravaganza. It was a feel of snub by big names like Srishti,Rupa etc. whose stalls were not at all there. Only seasoned authors found their way to the shelves as new comer books were completely ignored in wake of popularity. 

Unlike Delhi book fair which got wrapped a few days back where loads of authors and publishers personally excited the readers, seminars were held, book launches, large gatherings, literature world together there was no such sight in Chennai as it looked like a completely ignorant phenomenon. None of the authors made it to the Chennai Book Fair which left a lot of people high and dry. 

Lack of knowledge of stall owners and books present in very few numbers was also another big issue. Most of the names were missing and only few old and new ones were being repeated at most of the stalls which again highlighted the dependency of stall people on known names and snatching away the limelight from the new and deserving ones.

The most surprising aspect of the whole affair was there was a literature festival being organized in the city for book lovers but none of authors from that eminent panel made it to the book fair in the end. Distances were hardly a priority there presence would have acted as a booster for the book fair but sadly it was not to be so in this case.  

All in all it was a sweet but more of a bitter experience as after reading about Delhi Book Fair Chennai standards were far away from satisfactory. Lack of known faces and poor promotions too should be accounted for. It deserved more than what we saw this time. Our own books were not there in any of the stalls as online dependency has killed the offline distribution to a very large extent. 

Nonetheless we expect to see a lot of publishers and authors coming down south next year to make it a grand affair. Out best wishes go to them for their future endeavors. I and Heena were left satisfied by our book hoarding experience but would have felt a lot better if we would have met and shared our experiences with a few renowned and newbie authors making buzz in the literary world. 

With hopes to see a lot more next time I end this article. 

Review: Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole #2)

Heightened crime thrillers have been perfected by many foreign writers. Nothing is toned down into. The details too many and suspense as long as it holds you tight and grips your mind. Author Jo Nesbo in his latest translated book "Cockroaches" has tried to create a rippling effect in the hearts and mind of the readers. So has he succeeded in it? Let's find out. 

Detective Harry Hole arrives in a steaming hot Bangkok. But it's work, not pleasure. The Norwegian ambassador has been found dead in a seedy motel room, and no witnesses have come forward. The ambassador had close ties to the Norwegian prime minister, and to avoid a scandal Harry is sent there to hush up the case. But he quickly discovers that there is much more going on behind the scenes and very few people willing to talk. When Harry lays hands on some CCTV footage that will help him unravel what happened that night, things only get more complicated. The man who gave him the tape goes missing, and Harry realizes that failing to solve a murder case is by no means the only danger in Bangkok.

First look at the title and the cover and it all reeks of a crime thriller. The title a little off sync from the plot but catchy and cover image speaks volumes of mystery in the making. The blurb has been kept short and sweet and only talks about a murder and Inspector Hole's role in it. 

The story has been set in Bangkok where Norwegian ambassador Atle Molnes has been found murdered ina dingy hotel and circumstances point to a lot of things. Norwegian embassy is in a mess and the govt. in order to put lid on the whole case appoints Harry Hole for a whirlwind investigation. Harry reaches Bangkok and immediately gets to work with Liz Chumley and her accomplices in order to catch the killer and sniff out the motive. But he finds himself entangled in a lot bigger mess than he anticipated. So will Harry be able to see the case through till the end? Is there any more twist in the tale? What's the ulterior motive of this whole case? That's what the story is all about. 

The book is a complete package when it comes to suspense and mystery. It keeps the guessing game on and makes heads spin with each and every page. There's no dearth of excitement as the readers find themselves absorbed and sucked in the story. The crude ways of Harry Hole also makes things a lot more quirky, chirpy and interesting. The book has a lot of surprises and the turns will baffle the readers mind for sure. It has intensity and stirs up quite a few nerves of the mind. 

The book lost tempo towards the end as the action and drama was overdone. It could have been kept shorter and ended up in a better manner. 

The book once again takes you to a journey which becomes eye catchy and sparkling with every page. It has loads of action and a lot of skill which will be put to test with time. The book cracks a solid punch and then sums up the whole story pretty well. A strong narrative and a long descriptive crime thriller for the readers to get enthralled. 


4 OUT OF 5

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: The Treasure of Kafur by Aroon Raman

History has been witness to a numerous happenings and misshapen over the time. Some have been accounted for while some have been lost with time. Author Aroon Raman in his latest book "The Treasure of Kafur" takes us back to the glory days of Mughal Empire and prime of Akbar. So what different he has to offer? Let's find out. 

The fate of an empire trembles in the balance ...' Hindustan, 1580 AD. The Mughal Emperor Akbar is at the height of his power, seemingly invincible. But twenty years of war have earned him many enemies, and rebellion is brewing, led by Asaf Baig, the tyrannical ruler of Khandesh. Baig has stumbled upon the knowledge that the whereabouts of the fabulous lost treasure of Malik Kafur, which will guarantee victory to Akbar's enemies, is known to an old woman called Ambu.Baig kidnaps Ambu to wrest the knowledge of the treasure from her, but her twenty-year-old grandson, Dattatreya, escapes and flees across Hindustan to enlist the help of the the one person who has the most reason to stop Baig - the Mughal Emperor himself. Staying one step ahead of capture and death, Datta is swept up in a world of kings and warrior princesses, of uncommon friendships and an implacable evil; and a desperate race against time to save his grandmother - and the Empire.

First look at the title and the cover and it speaks a lot about some large mysterious history and probably a wild goose chase. It also can be long forgotten chapter in the history. The cover image is beautifully done with a flag bearer and a mirror adorning the beauty and the glory of the empire. The blurb talks about the destiny of Mughal Empire in 1580 A.D and it's repercussions on the future generations. It's a good blurb not giving out anything to the readers and keeping the guessing game alive. 

The story is of Ambu and her grandson Datta who are keepers of a dreadful past and a long lost buried treasure of Malik Kafur. The ruler of their kingdom Khandesh "Asaf Baig" a ruthless soul is on the lookout for that treasure. He launches a manhunt for Ambu and her grandson and also join hands with Mughal armies enemies in order to siege and take control of Hindustan. But Ambu's willpower and meticulous planning leads to a frenzy as Datta finds himself running for life and protecting the secret and helping out Akbar to annexe Khandesh and other Deccan regions and repel the threat of his enemies. So will Ambu succeed in wavering off Asaf Baig and his dark methods? Will Datta be able to live up to the expectations of his grandmother? How will Akbar respond to the news and the threat? Will Mughal glory remain intact or will his enemies usurp his throne? What will happen to the treasure? Will anyone be able to find it out or will it remain hidden from the prying eyes of Asaf Baig and his allies? That's what the story is all about.

The methodical research, the pacy narration, the fantasy element and a gripping story line awaits the readers. The book hardly gives space to breath as the glory days of Mughal Empire especially Akbar can be relived through this book. The vivid details and the long drawn battles and the curiosity of the treasure keeps the readers enthralled all the time. The book has been mixed up with some exciting elements required in a historical fiction and eyes can't waver off even for a second when you read this book as a reader. The gut wrenching moments also makes the readers jump out of their seats at times. The characters have been given a lot of emphasis on and the blazing action also leaves many spellbound. 

The downside of the book is it's initial start which could have been done in a more comprehensive manner. Also the part of Asaf Baig was found wanting towards the end. His space was consumed by other characters. 

All in all the book has been rightly served as a historical fantasy fiction. Some elements very surprising and some picked up from the long forgotten history of India in those times. The book is a pool of knowledge and readers can tap and absorb a lot of it while remaining entertained throughout. The book is not a story but it's a time machine which takes readers on a journey never witnessed but only imagined. 


4 OUT OF 5

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Review: How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company by Varun Agarwal

There are lot of success stories and a lot of failure stories when it comes to entrepreneurship. For those who are bold enough to look beyond the limitations and boundaries of the society it has worked big time meanwhile who have restricted themselves have managed to fizzle out with time. Author Varun Agarwal in his book " How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company" narrates his own experiences in the form of a story and tries to leave an impact on the mind of the readers. So does this book hits at the right spot? Let's find out. 

How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company is the true story of its young author Varun. The protagonist dreams about becoming an entrepreneur without much support from people around him. Convention emerges as a potent problem in the form of Engineering and MBA degrees. Alongside, there is also Anu Aunty, his mother’s best friend who turns into his biggest threat.The character of Anu Aunty stands out in the book and she is presented as an interfering woman, poking her nose into the problems of others. She is the quintessential anxious Indian mother of an accomplished son. How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company presents Anu Aunty’s constant ridicule and mocking of Varun’s seemingly laidback and unaccomplished personality. Anu Aunty keeps appearing as an obstacle in the path of Varun and his friends at every juncture.However, Anu Aunty’s ridicule eventually spurs Varun onto greater heights and he comes up with a business idea in partnership with his friend Rohan Malhotra. He decides to follow his own dreams and establishes an organization called Alma Mater. Creating customized accessories and outfits for educational alumni in India, the venture is a roaring success.

First look at the title and the cover and humor can be tagged with both the image and the title. The title is quite lengthy but speaks volumes of what to expect in the book. A shimmery idea of what is going to happen inside. The blurb talks about the journey of a young boy and what happens around him. It's a pretty good blurb mainly targeted to excite the readers about the book.

The story is of a jobless engineer Varun and his few friends among them Mal a special friend. An idea strikes Varun's mind and he & Mal gradually decide to give it the shape of a company. But there are a lot roadblocks in his path. It all starts from his home and spreads to the neighborhood where Anu Aunty his biggest nemesis is hell bent on helping him and his mother Poonam. So it's up to Varun to fight the odds and live his dream? So will he able to sustain in this modern day society? Will he & Mal do something substantial in their lives? Will they become talk of the town? That's what the story is all about. 

A good hard look at the book and it comes out as a source of inspiration, knowledge and information scattered throughout. A good blend of fiction and reality in the form of struggle and helplessness and plus the society pressures adds to the story line. The humor, the fun filled exchanges, the failures, the desperation all of them have combined together to form a perfect story. It's not a book but an idea for many as to what they can do with themselves. Simplicity and ease with which many things have been explained are a highlight of the book. The pace is also maintained throughout and the crude language doesn't looks out of place anytime. 

There are no downsides in the book. 

All in all it's a great entertainment cum guide book for budding entrepreneurs. There are a lot of moments where a readers heart will go out but the message of the book puts a smile too at the end. It oozed boldness and confidence with each and every word. The book has been mixed and stirred well and served with a lot of care. It's a book for the masses and a journey for all walks of life. 


4 OUT OF 5

Review: Newton's Law Reversed by Howard Roark

Not many books teach you the importance of life and some virtues related it. Such books are few and very much enlighten us the humans. Author Howard Roark in his debut venture "Newton's Law Reversed" has penned down some life lessons and conveyed it through a medium. So is there indeed a lesson? Let's find out. 

On a trip to meet an ailing relative in Gangaikondacholapuram, Akash is introduced to conflict when a simple village girl, Ganga trespasses his thoughts. His mind fails to elude Ganga and being overwhelmed by the new found emotion, his attempts to free himself of his battles only grip him tighter. As his mind flits between Ganga and Ganesan, another tormented soul, Akashs only reprieve could have been a banter with his father, when unexpectedly he hears the news of his fathers expiry. Little did he know that his fathers demise and the ensuing trip to the village would alter his cynical view of the world? In this journey from boyhood to manhood, Akash derives profound meaning through his retrospective deliberations on his dead fathers words.

First look at the title and the cover and it might give a feel of science fiction. The title is very eye catchy but the cover image could have been done in a much better manner. The blurb talks about a person and a journey he undertakes and what all he learns there. It's a blurb which could have given out less and been more precise. 

The story is of Akash who happens to be in a conflict with life and is constantly distracted by some problems and heavily relies upon his father's advice. A trip down to his relative's place along with his mom after his father's death turns out to be an eye opener as he finds himself attracted to Ganga and playing the role of adviser for many. But will his love last long? What role Ganesan plays in his life? Will he finally get some clarity in his head? That's what the story is all about. 

The book is heavily tilted in favor of self help and life lessons. A unique and compelling narration along with some good vocabulary helps along the way. The story is more convincing in the second half and makes sense towards the end. The life's dilemmas have been answered in a decent manner. 

The downside of the book is it's too much drifting into the vivid thought process in the protagonist's mind. The real motive behind the story comes bit too late. The characters have not been given due space in the story. A more detailed story would have made it more easier to understand the basis of the book. The first half is too random and off beat. 

All in all the book holds up in parts and gives readers few moments to savor and enlighten about life. The purpose is lost somewhere and then clarity comes way too late. But the vocabulary holds the fort and it delivers few good punches to the readers. A decent book to go through. 


3 OUT OF 5

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Moonlit Matinee by Pulkit Gupta & Harshita Srivastava

Anthologies are the latest trending books this season. Many publishing houses and ventures have tried their hands on compiling books to suit the needs of all the readers. Author Pulkit Gupta & Harshita Srivastava in their latest venture "Moonlit Matinee" have brought together some experienced writers to put together an anthology for all types of readers. So have their efforts paid off? Let's find out.   

Welcome this ‘Season of Love’ with a never before effort by twelve resplendent writers to pen most fascinating love tales. Cheer the feeling of love with ‘Moonlit Matinee,’ coming up this Valentine. This is a unique concept which is a blend of Prose, Sonnet, Ballad and Poetry. It contains tales of Love, Emotions, Lust, Passion and Relationship. This is a perfect gift which you can give to your Valentine or you best friend 

First look at the title and the cover and it speaks volumes about love and romance. A dazzling cover image and a romantic title sets up the mood for the book. The blurb is a summary of what to expect in the book with few adjectives summing up the book completely.

Story No. 1:

It's a story of love, betrayal, hope and repentance where it takes a young man a lot to feel his love for the other person. The story is good with mix of emotions and a lot to ponder about when it comes to being committed to the person you love.

Story No. 2:

A story of a man on a vacation and a loner and when they meet what happens between them. It's a nice story with a touch of realism and hint of sadness but in the ends holds on to the factor of love beautifully.

Story No. 3:

A story of pain and the barriers of caste which create problems between two lovers. It's a nice story with pain, emotions and some realistic touch to it. The story could have been titled better. It just doesn't suits the entire setup.

Story No. 4:

A story of life and death which hampers the progress of love between two people and in the end whether it's a win-win situation for them or something else is planned is there to see for everyone. A good story with a tender and soulful touch and a lot of emotions flowing through the entire narration. It has been crafted in a serene manner.

Story No. 5:

This is a unique blend of poetic and rhythmic verses expressing love and desire for each other. It's a wonderful narrative and equally powerful descriptive. The sync is there and the rhythm makes you sway with every line. One of the best in the entire book.

Story No. 6:

An army captain and his chance meeting with a stranger and a kid to take care of leaves his senses baffled. What is it as both of them try to figure out till the end. It's a story which will make you feel content and some witty narration helps along the way. It's a chirpy and humor filled romantic story. It is enjoyable with a difference.

Story No. 7:

A story of an old rekindled romance at the behest of society and it's rules and regulations. It's an average story with a lot of things happening out of blue. It could have been done better and made it look a bit more realistic.

Story No. 8:

A joyous story of two people, their encounter and then friendship culminating into love. It's a story with surprises and the feel of undying love for each other. It's a beautiful narration along with a lot of hope and positivism.

Story No. 9:

Stardom comes with a lot of ifs and buts. It's glitzy, glamorous and also dark too. It's a story with some deep dark secrets of few people related to this industry. It's an average narration with nothing new to offer in terms of story line.

Story No. 10:

A story of two lovers who are torn apart because of fate and then get back together by fate. It's a positive story with lots of love and romance and enchanting tale of emotions. A good story to read. 

Story No. 11: 

This is a piece of sonnet which won't disappoint you by any means. It pulls and attracts you to read and feel the emotions attached to it. There's hardly any moment when you can take your eyes away from it. A free flowing narration with passion and feel. 

Story No. 12:

It's a story of passion, desire, lust and revenge where in some strings of the past are pulled and few lives are at stake. The story had a lot of guts and has been written with a unique perspective. But the end was a dry without any sparkling surprise in it. It had the right mix of emotions but the tempo was lost towards the end. 

Story No. 13: 

A story of an orphaned couple and their unique idea to complete their home and family which paves way for the future. It's a beautiful story which is an eye-opener and reminds many of us that people should be loved in life but not discarded. A story with a purpose and intent. 

Story No. 14: 

A lyrical narration which makes you feel a lot of things and rejuvenates your senses. It has been written in a flowing manner and the impact makes it all the more admirable. A beautiful form of conveying thoughts and emotions. 

The anthology has a lot of feel and passion in it. The thoughts have been expressed beautifully. The desire to hit the right chord can be seen from many narratives. The stand out stories in the book are story no. 5,6,11,13,14. The experimentation with adding sonnet adds to the beauty of the book. The narration tempo has been maintained in all the stories and editing has been done with a lot of care and taste. The stories towards the end leave more impact. 

The downside of the book is it's initial start. It's not able to stir up excitement in the initial stories. Past is common factor in many stories and this repetition takes away some excitement from the book. The ballad, sonnet and lyrical should have been labelled accordingly so as to give some clarity to the readers. There is lack of freshness in some stories.  

All in all it's a good mix of experience and youth and the effort to pull off a romantic book has payed off. Expectations have been fulfilled but that x-factor is found wanted in the book. It is a good book for the hopeless romantics and for seasoned readers few elements will certainly catch their eye. 


3 OUT OF 5

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: A Country for Men by RKSJ

Rape is a heinous crime and has taken quite a lot of toll in our country. No part of our country can be termed as safe when the height of atrocities cross all the borders. Author RKSJ in his non fiction book "A Country for Men" tries to highlight and give his perspective on this heinous crime? So can the book be a difference maker? Let's find out. 

This book tells the ugly truth about India. A girl born in India is considered to be a liability right from her birth, she has to suffer at difference stages of her life from the very people who are supposed to love her, cherish her.
The increasing number of incidents of rapes and other dreadful acts against women had made things worse for them. now they aren't safe even inside their homes. 
The book is the historical, geographical and social view of the hate culture that the women are forced upon. 

First look at the title and the cover and it drips of man's dominance on the world. The image is a standoff between heights of barbarism and resilience. The blurb talks about girls and women and their safety which has become a point to ponder in the country. There's not much to hide or conceal but there should have been few questions raised on the issue. 

It's a non fiction book where a lot of data and research has been done and multiple incidents of rape and their after effects and the justice surrounding it has been highlighted by the author. There are also reactions from people of different walks of life. 

The data and research has been done well. The flurry of events and their in depth information has been covered with accuracy. It is informative for those who are news deprived sometimes. 

The downside of the book is there is no author's perspective at all. Everything is a collected source of information but most of these things are there in newspapers and magazines. More in depth analysis was required in order to leave a strong message for the readers. 

All in all the data and information might jolt you but the lack of ideas from the author won't do any good to the book. More detailed descriptive was required to leave an impact on the mind of the readers. It could have been put up in a better manner. 


2 OUT OF 5

P.S: The book was received as part of the "Reviewers Programme" on "The Tales Pensieve". 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: The Other Side by Faraaz Kazi & Vivek Banerjee

Tales of horror have kept human company for ages. From forts to mountains and abandoned places they all have a tale to tell. Few believe in it and few rubbish it off as a human notion. Author Faraaz Kazi & Vivek Banerjee in their joint venture "The Other Side" take you for a ride which goes deep dark inside to explore the secrets of human fear and human mind. So has he been able shred some light on this unnerving genre? Let's find out. 

A slow rasping sound made me turn. I jumped back, the cell phone leaving my hands and smashing against the concrete floor. Someone was seated on the chair, rocking back and forth. Through the fallen light, I could see those hands placed on the arms of the chair, two gruesome wrinkled limbs with ugly boils plastered over the black skin. The red bangles on its wrists shone in my eyes, momentarily blinding me. That thing and I call it a thing because I could sense it wasnt human as no human could have such a hideous form, as vile an existence as the one seated opposite to my horrified self.
From a honeymoon in the hill that goes horribly wrong to an obsessed lover who wants his first love in life and in death; From a mentally deranged man who collects body parts of various women to stitch together his dream girl to a skeptic who enters a mansion of horrors to win a bet and much more, this book is filled with scenarios that are guaranteed to give you goosebumps and sleepless nights.
The Other Side is a collection of thirteen tales of the paranormal; a world that our eyes refuse to see, our ears deny hearing and our senses ignore the feel of. This is a book for someone who is brave enough to take up this invitation to journey through uncharted waters along with the authors, who were inspired by some bizarre experiences to pen down this work where the lines of reality have been blurred by the footsteps of imagination.
Each story takes you on a tour de force of unadulterated horror and draws upon the deepest fear in the human mind- the fear of the Unknown!

First look at the cover and title and the sense of scariness and creepiness gives you some jittery thoughts and probably second thoughts too about reading the book. It's an anthology that is what comes as a surprise but the red color of the cover along with scary eyes is a pre-dominant factor to make it more scarier for the readers. The blurb has some excerpts of the stories and the choices lines which hit it's mark with the readers. It arouses curiosity and gives you a sneak peek of what lies ahead.


It's a prelude which you won't expect to see in many books. It's a short story in itself. Some glimpses and a perfect setup for the readers it gives shivers and makes readers curious about the rest of the book. It comes from personal experiences and has been crafted very well.

Story No. 1:

A story of a doctor and his wife and their untimely help of two people which later on turns out to be a nightmare for them. It's a story which is a bit surprising but not much of an excitement as the predictability factor is there in it. It's a nice story to start with.

Story No. 2:

The story is of two people who after getting bored of their monotonous lives decide to go on a road trip but that trip brings them something which they never expect. It's a twisted and turned story and surprises a lot. It'll baffle towards the end. A very good story in the making.

Story No. 3:

A vague bet and over confidence of a young man to enter a dilapidated mansion on his friend's insistence might become a boon or his downfall. It's a story of pure horror and fear as it gives you goosebumps. But the expectations of something unexpected happening towards the end is washed out completely. It's a nice story.

Story No. 4:

The story is about an unusual night when two strangers meet strangely and their strange meeting converts into something totally unexpected. The story's USP is it's element of surprise and the guess work which will ultimately put you in a dizzy. It's a good story.

Story No. 5:

A writer's imagination and his chance encounter with someone who will change his life completely. A gruesome and a brutal tale and the sufferings of a man. It's revenge mixed with some crazy imagination of a human mind. It feels incomplete towards the end but the barbarism remains throughout.

Story No. 6:

A young man's encounter with a beautiful woman and then truth dawn upon him when that encounter leaves everlasting impact on his life. A story packed with surprises and crafted tastefully in order to fool the readers till the end and keep the guess work going. It's a good story.

Story No. 7:

A story of a woman and her loneliness and how it happens to generate curiosity and anxiety when she shifts to a new place. It's not exactly a very exciting story but for a small bit of time it holds your attentions as a reader.

Story No. 8:

A story of a passionate young man and his love for a classmate which with time converts into obsession and what happens in the end. It's an average story with nothing in it to excite your senses or feel the shivers down the spine. It's a weak story.

Story No. 9:

An old man's tale, a young couple who doesn't believes in this modern day voodoo and incidents post their honeymoon which arise a lot of questions. It's a story of faith and fear which have to be conquered and captured by our mind and heart. A decent narration in the end.

Story No. 10:

A reoccurring dream a boy holding the key to the lock of the past and a lot of unanswered questions in his mind. It's a story of curiosity and something quirky. It's one of the better stories of the book with a touch of disbelief and bewilderment in it. This story also leaves a scary impression on the mind of the readers.

Story No. 11:

A couple and their two kids and a stranger ready to meet them in person in their new house giving it a new turn altogether. There's hardly anytime to breathe when it comes to this story. The gory and dark side in unveiled along with some strong and powerful narration. It's the best story of the book. It's surely going to jolt the senses.

Story No. 12:

A story of a doctor and his transfer to a remote place in a city let him encounter something which he doesn't believes in. His curiosity takes over and he is out to find out the truth. It's a curious story mixed well with mystery and concealing the surprise. The story is another very good story for the readers.

Story No. 13:

An artist or no artist but his imagination is going to take the shape of life as he trudges on a path so powerful that there is no looking back. A gory and power packed story awaits the readers. It's a bit different as it takes shape and a befitting end to the book.


The entire setup in this part is far more scarier than some of the stories in the book. The whole ordeal is just the way anyone wants the book to be. It's a scary experience while reading the epilogue. 

The narration is the USP of the book. It's smooth, crispier and done up to create an uproar in the readers mind. Some of the stories are really mind boggling and the sense of creepiness just gives enough adrenaline to brace yourselves for what's coming next. The unexpected factor in a few stories is also a thing to watch out for and the entire descriptive and the whole spread out is wonderful. The stories which will steal away your heart are no. 2, 11,12,13. The research on the subject and the genre reflects in the book. The epilogue and prelude are the scarier portions which will leave you stunned for sometime. 

The downside of the book are some really weak and predictable stories which don't get the momentum shifting. They lack curiosity and depth and falls flat on expectations. Story no.1, 7, 8 are the primary examples of it. These stories could ave been dealt with a little more command. The stories in the start are not as exciting as the stories towards the end. 

All in all for the first time horror readers it's a grilling experience. You'll feel spiked after the end of it. Avid reader of this genre will find it interesting but lacking a bit sometimes. The purpose of the book is solved and the essence of horror lingers over the mind of the readers.  It's a great presentation and has a lot of meat in it to give shudders down the spine. Pick it up at your own risk and brace your heart and mind for long unslept nights. 


3 OUT OF 5 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Review: Sorry, You're Not My Type by Sudeep Nagarkar

True stories are always an inspiration in one way or the other. They have some incidents in it which make you realize the importance of a lot of things in life. Author Sudeep Nagarkar in his latest book "Sorry, You're Not My Type" has taken story writing to a new level. So has he been able to do complete justice to the story? Let's find out. 

All relationships should come with a precautionary warning: Handle with care. The final audition for Rajhans Colleges prestigious music band brings together three contrasting personalities. Vikrant, a perfectionist, who believes there is only one perfect someone for you. Anamika, a free spirit, who stands up for what she believes is right. Yuvi, a die-hard music lover, who can strum the guitar all night long and still wake up the next morning to drop off his girlfriend. The three become close friends and start hanging out regularly. So how does Aditya, a stranger, become a part of their lives? And what happens next? Sorry, You're Not My Type is a true story that will redefine friendship, affection and infatuation.

First look at the title and the cover and the readers will feel mesmerized with it. A perfect romantic set up with a beautiful cover image and a simple yet eye catching title makes it all the more curious for the readers. The blurb talks about a few virtues of a human life and how they matter to some people in the story. The shorter the sweeter goes well for the blurb. The facts concealed well and the hints again taunting the readers to go through the book in order to get the hang of it. 

The story is of VAYU a very famous band of Rajhans College and it's members Vikrant, Anamika & Yuvi. All of them share a similar passion i.e music which brings them together and a bond of friendship develops with time. Their personal lives take a hit too as Vikrant & Anamika get attracted to Anurag & Sanaya and its upto them to handle it from there. But things are not that rosy as a lot of incidents and unpleasant exchanges betweeen Yuvi & Anamika creates a rift. So will Vikrant be able to hold VAYU together? Will they be able to achieve their dream? What role will love and attraction play in the lives of the trio? That's what the story is all about. 

The beauty of the story lies in the fact that it's simple yet heart capturing. The poetic verses are in tune with the whole setup. The virtues and relationships and behavior of three people with different mindsets leaves you spellbound at the end of the story. The fluid narration with some mind boggling events in between the story will leave the readers dazed for sometime. The book is a lesson in itself and has a lot to offer when it comes to emotions, drama and love. The ease of making things look real in the book is another USP of the book. 

There is no downside in the book. 

The enthralling nature of the book will keep the readers busy till the end. There is no looking back once the story starts and moves forward. It'll make you travel with it and experience times which are truly part of everybody's life. There are highs and lows which will grip the readers and sometimes shudder them and sometimes give a lot of joy. There's no dull moment in the book. It's a book to be felt with complete heart and soul. A perfect stroke by the author.  


4 OUT OF 5

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: Soulmates, By Chance by Heenashree Khandelwal

Some stories are born out of vivid imagination, some out of though process and some out of curiosity. Most of them work but some of them don't. Author Heenashree Khandelwal in her debut book "Soulmates, By Chance" chances upon writing a love story with a difference. So is there any difference as such? Let's find out. 

She is romantically challenged.He is romantically experienced.She is the queen of the dawn.He is the bastard of the dusk.They are bonded by lawby seven promises.His vile manners frighten her.His dreadful past scares her.
What will he do to get her back? Will he follow the path of redemption? Will he be loved? Will he discover the reason behind his labyrinth?
This summer enjoy the passion of love uncover the secrets of marriage.dare to fall in love.

First look at the title and the cover and it bleeds love and romance. A catchy title and a beautiful cover image sets up the stage for another romantic saga in the making. The blurb talks in question and phrases and leaves the readers to do the guesswork about the story. It's a good cover up for the story. 

The story revolves around Rakshit a brash filthy rich lad who has gone on to settle in New York leaving behind India and working in a consultancy with his friend cum partner Varun. Life has become montonous for him but a sudden offer to go back to his motherland to negotiate a deal wide opens some wounds of the past. The dread of going back there and the reluctance eventually turns into a journey of a lifetime. So what awaits the young lad? Will he ever grow up? What role will his past play in the present and the future? What will Avani Desai do to him? That's what the story is all about. 

It's not mere magic to produce romance books with spice. There is spice in the story and the pace at which it runs is breath taking at times. The action never settling down leaves us wondering as to whether it's a romance novel or a romantic thriller. The mystery element has been inculcated in order to spice up things more for the readers. The guess work is on till the end to remove the lid from the suspense which is exciting. 
The end has been done tastefully and a joy for fiction fans and a bit unexpected. 

There are few mistakes in the book.  The events in the middle are a bit over imaginative and drags the book unnecessarily. The gripping factor could have been tightened up a bit more. 

Overall the book is a difference maker. It's not the narration but it's the fun element in the story line which makes it interesting. Though some part of it is lost but it covers up it's tracks well towards the end. The book is not a die hard romance novel but an entertainer of sorts with action, melodrama and nastiness and reluctance. 


3 OUT OF 5

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: The Caretaker by A.X Ahmad

Thrillers are written to thrill the readers all till the end of any book. Over the years a lot of thrillers have cropped up and entertained the readers with their edgy and alluring narration. Author A.X Ahmad in his debut novel "The Caretaker" narrates one such tale which promises to be a roller coaster ride for the readers. So is this ride worth taking? Let's find out. 

A compelling thriller that introduces a new hero for our times: Ranjit Singh, former captain in the Indian Army, illegal immigrant in the heart of white America and caretaker to the rich and famous.
One harsh winter, Ranjit illegally moves his family into an empty, luxurious vacation home belonging to an African-American Senator. Ensconced in the house, he tries to forget his brief affair with Anna, the Senators wife, and focuses on providing for his family. But one night, their idyll is shattered when mysterious armed men break into the house, searching for an antique porcelain doll. Forced to flee, Ranjit is hunted by unknown forces and gets drawn into the Senators shadowy world. To save his family and solve the mystery of the doll, he must join forces with Anna, who has her own dark secrets. As he battles to save his family, Ranjit's painful past resurfaces and he must finally confront the hidden event that destroyed his career in the Army and forced him to leave India.
Tightly plotted, action-packed, smart and surprisingly moving, The Caretaker takes us from the desperate world of migrant workers to the elite African-American community of Martha's Vineyard and a secret high-altitude war between India and Pakistan.

First look at the cover and the title and the boldness of the title drips of something mysterious coming up. There's no image to go with which is a tad odd. An image could have aroused more curiosity among the readers. The blurb talks about a man and his life going haywire completely in wake of some events. The blurb contains information but in bits and pieces and dots have to be connected by the readers when they go through the book.

The story is of ex army man Ranjit Singh. He has migrated to USA along with wife Preetam & daughter but things are not rosy for him there. He gets a job of a caretaker at Clayton Neals house and his whirlwind relationship with Anna also gets some wind but a lot happens once he settles down for a job. He finds himself on the run and his family torn apart as it becomes a scandalous affair. So will Ranjit Singh be able to save himself and his family? Will Anna Neals help him out? What role Clayon Neals is playing in this whole conspiracy? That's what the story is all about. 

Thrillers are meant to thrill and this one doesn't disappoints at first. A lot of suspense, cockiness and edginess prevails in the first half of the story line. The narration detailed and the events happening at a furious pace. The story takes a lot of turns while it happens to maintain the decent run of a thrilling finish. The narration is good with expectation soaring high with each page. 

The downside of the book is it's very weak second half where the suspense breaks and the entire plot becomes predictable. The sluggishness of the second half and the emotional quotient becomes too high killing other crucial aspects of a thriller. The parallel plot based on the past after one point of time looks completely out of place. The end also leaves a lot to be desired. 

All in all the book could have done better in terms of gripping, binding and then execution of the plot. It takes you to a high and then brings you down but it's not an appropriate landing. The book has it's moments but fails to rekindle the magic of a thriller. 


3 OUT OF 5