Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Seven Conversations by Nistha Tripathi

There's always been questions and there's always answers. But then there are some questions for which there are no answers because it's all the figment of human imagination. But when in a mess a human mind turns to all possible solutions. Author Nistha Tripathi in her book "Seven Conversations" tries to leap out of the comfort zone and give more insight to what's life and what's existence. So has she done it to perfection? Let's find out.

Seven Conversations is a thought experiment on life and existence. The characters might be fictitious but their questions are not. What happens when we choose happiness over convenience? For Meera Sachdev, choosing a divorce at an early age of thirty over a comfortable and convenient life was a leap of faith. Leaving her successful career and friends behind in the United States, she returns to India where she is now reduced to a failed woman who could not save her marriage. As self-doubts and the realization of the suffering she has caused her loved ones overwhelm her, she begins to crumble. Her call for help is answered by none other than Krishna - The Lord who is all-attractive. Her odyssey will take her through the temples of Vrindavan, the mythical City of Justice, a deserted barn and the Himalayas as she unearths her deep spiritual roots and the divine truth. In seven pivotal conversations with Krishna, friends, father, teacher and herself, she rediscovers life, love and her own identity. Beware, after reading the book, you might dare to choose happiness yourself. Are you prepared?

First look at the title and the cover and one can feel calm. The title is an intriguing one and hints at something deeply spiritual and to make truce with the human mind. The cover image is a mix of a lost and pleading soul yet could have been done in a more tasteful manner. The blurb talks about life and existence of a soul on earth. Some questions which are best left unanswered because no amount of explanation can put an end to the dilemma. It's a good blurb giving out the summation of the story. 

The story is set off in India where Meera Sachdev has just returned from U.S after leaving her plush job, a bitter divorce and a lot of agony and a dark future. She is marred by the society and feels unwanted as pressure mounts from different sides. The undecided mind runs into an overdrive and her parents try their best to get the burden off her mind. But a journey to the sprawling Vrindavan and a meet with her saviour Krishna through various mediums gives her a new direction. But is there a new direction? Will she accept the past and move on? Is there something to salvage out of her life? Will she be able to find god and peace and a purpose for her existence? That's what the story is all about. 

The spiritual and deep connect of the human mind with god and it's holy secrets hidden across many mediums of life forms is a thing to cherish in the story. The connect with Krishna and the innocent monologue of a lost soul is a revered touch to the miserable existence. The book imparts happiness, spirituality and other religious teachings through it's own eyes. It never forces you to undertake something to which you don't feel connected. The book keeps a calm and fluid perspective to what a human can do when they are completely down and out in life. There's a midas touch and meaningful rendition as to what one searches for and plausible explanations regarding it. 

The downside of the book is it feels rushed at times and the initial narration doesn't gives a greater insight about the connect. The conversations feels little incomplete and there's a craving for more deeper insight which doesn't quite gets satiated through simple and brief learnings. The book could have more content covering a few more aspects and more in a question and answer form rather than casual conversation at times. 

All in all the book keeps the sanctity of religion, spirituality and a fickle human mind alive. It tries to make truce between the three through various connects and succeeds up to a certain level. The book gives you an idea of how to approach life and how every existence is important on earth. The book could have been given a more elaborate touch but whatever it manages in this entire narration is no less than serene. The conversation be it seven or one is there to enlighten the mind. A hopeful book. 


3 OUT OF 5 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

There have been thriller sagas which continue to mesmerise and enchant the readers. Be it a legal one or a banking drama it all takes that one hard hitting idea which makes the readers dance to its tunes. Author Ravi Subramanian in his latest offering 'God is a Gamer" sheds light on the untouched aspect of modern times i.e bitcoins. So has he done justice enough to the idea? Let's find out. 

Aditya is an entrepreneur, running his own gaming company. The arrival of a part-time drug dealer and full-time genius named Varun turns Aditya’s struggling company’s fortunes around. However, things are not as they seem. A banker slips from the rooftop of a high-rise building and falls to his death. A finance minister with his heart on his sleeve discovers that he has made some promises which will cost him far too much. An explosion in Washington D.C. leads the FBI to a chase in Mumbai. The investigators begin to plummet down a world where bitcoins are the only meaningful form of currency. Here, everything is governed by the Dark Net, a group of nefarious websites dealing with illegal transactions. In this world, God is a Gamer, martyrs are villains, the hunters become the hunted and the ancient Greeks teach the secrets of assassination. In this new novel, nothing is what it seems.

First look at the title and the cover and a reader feels confident of delving deep into another banking thrillers by the author. The enhanced image with a lone man and bitcoin in the backdrop adds to the curiosity of the reader. The blurb talks about a man and his struggle to keep his fortune and company alive through unexpected quarters. The blurb talks about an aspect of the story but manages well to conceal the main motive of the entire narration. 

The story is set off in Mumbai and U.S.A, where couple of incidents together discharge a calamity and creates furore in the lives of few people in NYIB, one of the largest banks of India and in the President office where they go on to lose one of their own. But the scattered dots look vague and it all it set into motion when agents from USA and the local police of Mumbai gets involved to discover the mystery behind the entire fiasco. So who takes the fall and who ends up rich? Who is innocent and who's the liar? Who will survive the whirlwind world of banking and bitcoins and who will live to tell the tale? That's what the story is all about. 

The story gets a new kick by setting in motion smaller chapters for the readers. It doesn't puts extra pressure to decipher the entire drama as it unfolds. The quirky and chirpy narration keeps the readers engaged. The banking and bitcoin fiasco work in tandem to provide readers the thriller which they love to experience. The book goes in circles and keeps a tentative check to make life difficult as to who and what is amiss. The story grips with time and the momentum makes it cruise along on a long journey. The traversing nature of the story is another remarkable way to handle the story. The events plucked out from reality is another feather in the cap. 

The downside of the book is it's bitcoin saga, which fails to weave the magic in entirety. The parallel plots does provides a lengthy support to the story but it takes bitcoin into the backdrop and let other ideas flourish among all. The uncountable number of characters is also a huge turn off as it looks clumsier once it garners reader's attention. The book dulls in the middle as the parallelism doesn't makes it move and the ride turns out to be bumpy and uncomfortable. The story towards the end doesn't gets the similar treatment as it does in the initial phase. The gaming industry idea too proves to be a bitcoin nemesis in the story. 

All in all the bitcoin proves to be a bitter-sweet affair. The scandalized nature of the story works in favour of it . Enough leverage was needed to keep bitcoin at the helm of the storyline but it fails time and again. The gaming industry and other fiasco's meticulously charted out with plenty of experience from the author's pen beforehand. The book is an altogether different offering but comes at a cost of dullness at times and expectations hitting out of the rooftop. The painstaking efforts of the author does count. As a thriller it weaves its charm but as a bitcoin thriller it's not of the magnitude to generate a collateral effect which could have captured the heart and the mind completely. It's a reader's dream with a brandishing new idea but not with cleanest of executions. 


3 OUT OF 5  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Rab Rakha by Karnika Gupta

Romance has the power to reclaim a dull soul. It lightens up your life if you find the right ways to hold on to it. There's much written about it for generations now. Author Karnika Gupta in her debut offering "Rab Rakha" tries to mesmerise the readers with her enchanted and honey coated words reeking love and spreading the message all around. So does this coating of sugar and spice work it's charm on the readers? Let's find out.  

He is charming, so very charming-Rab. He is a magician like Pied Piper; nobody knows where he lives, for he has his own world. His feelings are pure; his tears are like pearls in the sea. He is never alone yet he's lonely. He has a heart of gold, but he speaks the truth. He wanders alone on the road; his shadow is his best friend. He's searching for something and he's not aware of it!
She is beautiful, so very beautiful-Rakha. She lives in her dreams; she is a queen of hearts. She is a storyteller; she lives in a castle of her own. Her words are magnetic; her world is imaginary. She's a selfless bird who wishes to fly. Her heart is as delicate as the petals of a daisy; she is her God's child. She's waiting for someone and she's aware of it
He is a fish of his ocean; she is a bird of her sky.
Can a fish and a bird fall in love?
They did and they are in love, but how do they meet? 
Rab Rakha is a soul-to-soul conversation between the bird and the fish. Are you ready to explore the world of love unknown to both of them?

First look at the title and the cover and it looks all desi and divine. The hope through birds, the tree as a lone person and the empty lands portraying plethora of emotions just makes it a picture perfect cover for the book. The title is a salutation from the holy book of Sikhs and nowhere it drops a hint about how it is going to be used in the book which is an added charm for the readers. The blurb talks about two people and their journey and how it ends up being with each other for long. The blurb gives you a little hint of a blossoming love story but it still conceals the apt facts which lie ahead for the readers to decipher. 

The story starts off with two people Rab & Rakha who end up falling in love with each other. The first hand account of each and every day of their love story has been penned down and how they traverse through a garden of thorns through to the mountains of water and then come back to earth to finish off what started as a game of their destiny. But is it all for real or it's superfluous? Will their love last for eternity or will it wither away like a flower? Is it joy in abundance or sorrow forever? Join them and see it unfold in front of your eyes. 

The first time you pick up the book it picks you up out of your current state of mind and travels through land of love and despair. Every time an incident is narrated in the book it is done with complete command and the execution is pitch perfect. Every word is heartfelt and every emotion so strong that it makes your heart jump up and down. The book out of the blues with it's uncanny style of narration constantly engages the reader with it's next to perfect conversation and those lovely little nothings when two people are in love. There is minimal characterization which is a big plus and the story churns out the best of romance with realistic effects and makes you comprehend each and every word. Sharpness in the deliverance of emotions attached to live is another feature of the story and the swirling tempo is catchy yet mystic.Simplicity of the book is engaging along with vividness of capturing despair and joy. There is emotion to be felt between lines and there is emotion to be felt with words. The word play is enchanting and optimistic. Even pessimism has been optimized to a certain level of optimism in the story. 

The only downside of the book are couple of places where repetition of sentences has happened. Apart from that there's nothing else that can be counted as a downside. 

All in all the book manages to beat the odds and stand tall. In an age where every second book is a romantic saga, this one holds true to it's promise and live up to the expectations. Dull moments are none and the king size modest approach to the story makes it a living experience of a lifetime. Die hard romantics can live and breathe each and every moment in the book as it unfurls. It has the power to strengthen the belief's of love leaving the readers in a state of trance. It makes you crave for more even after it ends. The book is a seamless interpretation of love. A riveting tale of romance. 


4 OUT OF 5  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: 61 Hours by Lee Child (Jack Reacher, #14)

Thriller for major part of the writing world have done a world of good to many writers. For some it has become bread and butter and for others it's a way of enthralling readers while offering newest means to connect to thrill. Author Lee Child with his numero uno character "Jack Reacher" tries to trudge on both the lanes and capture the eager minds of the readers with his mind bender. So has he done it to perfection? Let's find out. 

Jack Reacher is an ex-military official and a wanderer. A man without any baggage or belongings, he takes up strange jobs on a part-time basis and keeps roaming around, exploring his country. In 61 Hours, Jack is on a bus that veers and crashes in a snowstorm near a small town in South Dakota. The town of Bolton happens to be one of the biggest prisons in the country, and for this very reason, it places a full demand on law enforcement resources. Forced to stay on for a few days in Bolton, Jack soon gets drawn into various affairs of the little town, the biggest being a forthcoming drugs trial. The trial involves a leader of a biker gang, who has been detained on a drug transaction charge. The chief witness, a woman, is in severe jeopardy, as the drug mafia does not want her to appear in court against them. Inexperienced and desperately in need of help, the local police hand over the task of protecting the woman to Jack. Will he be able to save her or run into more danger? Find out what happens to both Jack and the lady in this unputdownable page-turner.

First look at the title and the cover and a reader can smell Jack Reacher coming from far beyond some mystified lands. All alone and travelling light as usual is his trademark style and the cover image is a living proof of the same. The blurb talks about his latest escapades in Bolton a small town where he gets holed up for some unknown reasons. The blurb manages to catch the attention, thus keeping the spirit of a thriller alive. 

The story starts off in Bolton where heavy snowfall results in problems for Jack Reacher and an army of oldies who are on a tour. His immediate job becomes to help people to get out of the bus and then defeat the winter chill of Bolton. Once they reach Bolton Reacher finds himself amidst action as a lot is on the plate of the P.D and they ask Reacher for help. Soon Reacher's expertise turns into a struggle against an unknown entity hidden in plain sights operating from distant lands as he finds himself at crossroads. Will Reacher be able to do his duty? Will he walk away from it? For once, will he let his guard down and repent it? Or will he be up to the task and make the mafia pay for their sins? That's what the story is all about. 

A handful of people, a sharp and weary Jack Reacher and his good old mind as a personal aide brings forth the intensity and tenacity in the story. The small town set up with lack of resources gives leverage to the entire scenario created by the author. The book moves at a sluggish pace and manages to keep the sanctity of Reacher alive throughout the story. The bits and pieces of action and drama and some suspense acts as a glory for the story. 

The book lacks candidness and up front action and primary face in terms of an antagonist. The effectiveness of the antagonist undermined completely and left too much in dark. There's no extraordinary skill and plot to keep the story moving forward and eventuality dawns with the plot fizzling out completely towards the end. A pale end and the parallel plots too not leaving an impact which one expects from the series. The book lacks momentum and is found to be over exaggerated. Cutting down on vivid descriptions could have done a world of good too. 

All in all the story is a sorry affair and turns out to be a dud in terms of high performance deliverance. The sluggish starts promises a lot but fails to enlighten up the charm of Reacher. Characters not fully optimized and story a half baked and over stretched affair. In entirety it fails to capture the thrill part and falters and tumbles down to the darkest pits. The only point from which readers can take heart that Reacher survives the fall in the end. A very tame book in the series. 


2 OUT OF 5

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: Never Go Back by Lee Child (Jack Reacher, #18)

Some characters in books never age. They live as long as the pen of their respective authors keep filling up pages to give them a larger than life story. Author Lee Child continuing with the tradition takes his most bankable character Jack Reacher through motions in the latest story "Never Go Back". So how this latest offering from him turn out to be? Let's find out. 

Lee Child brings to yet again an intriguing story about Jack Reacher, a former American military policeman. He travels from South Dakota to Washington D. C. to meet his new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. On reaching the destination Reacher discovers that Turner is missing and what more, he is accused of murdering a sixteen year old.

Will Reacher regret his decision of going back or get a clean chit after finding his commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. Time is running and Reacher has to make quick moves and decisions to clear his name off the criminal charge.Never Go Back, is apt for those who like to turn pages after pages to know what’s going to happen next. 

First look at the title and the cover and one can get the fresh and lonely feel of a figure standing in the midst of nowhere. It's a trademark Lee Child style and the colour contrast manages to catch the attention of the readers. The blurb as usual is full of intrigue and suspense and holds back the plot pushing the readers towards a candid journey of Jack Reacher. 

The story has been set off in Washington D.C where Jack Reacher has returned back to his old command i.e 110 M.P to meet Susan Turner. But what awaits him is a bag full of surprises when instinctively he finds himself embroiled in two cases and few more undue controversies. He quickly reacts to the situation and tries to get hold of his only known source Turner but finds that she is amiss from the scene. So what will happen to Reacher this time? Will this homecoming a celebration or turn out to be another party pooper? What's there from the past that will come back to haunt him and how will he stand up against an entire invisible force to serve justice to him and the others? That's what the story is all about. 

The story is set off in a slow motion pretty much on the lines of what one expects from Reacher series. You need to get soaked in the atmosphere and then look out for spin-offs and surprises best served cold to the readers. It's the hidden entities behind the whole saga that sets tone for the novel and this one goes through a similar motion. A sluggish yet steady inclusions of numerous problems in the book and lengthy suspense and drama sequences make it a candid affair. The book running the course without turning back once and getting the readers sucked in it's entire length and breadth. The story maintains the sanctity of a thriller and drama and chugs along on a dangerous territory with lot of impetus on the past and bits of present. 

The downside of the book is it's sheer slowness at times eats away the excitement. The entire sequence of events never adding up to a perfect finish to the book. The revelations pretty dull and the antagonist not as forceful and active as one expects to be. The sidekicks pretty much hogging the limelight from the main antagonist. The story becomes a dull affair and the two parallel lines doesn't quite offers a spectacular or a jaw dropping finish to the book. It softens up bit too much for the liking of the readers. 

All in all it's a mixed affair. The book manages to remain sane for most of the part but insanity sets in towards the end. The story gets battered and scarred but still holds off through the motions of Jack Reacher. It's not entirely convincing as a story but enough to keep the interest alive for the future books featuring Reacher. A sharper deliverance is what was required while filling up the gaps of a weak homecoming. A bitter sweet experience for the readers. 


3 OUT OF 5

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan by Anand Neelakantan

When history is written or narrated the name Mahabharata does strikes a bell. It's much grander than any living legend on earth. The epic continues to enthral the masses with the same flavour and fervour from ancient times. Author Anand Neelakantan in his new book "Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan" tries to lend a new perspective to the epic with a style of his own. So does it works? Let's find out. 

The book is set in the backdrop of India’s most powerful empire. A revolution is about to happen and Bhishma, finds himself struggling to maintain the unity of his empire. Dhritarashtra, is the reigning King with his foreign-born Queen, Gandhari. Kunti, the Dowager-Queen, meanwhile waits in the background to see her firstborn son become the rightful ruler of the kingdom. The other key characters in the book are Eklavya, Karna, Parashurama, Balarama, Jara, and Takshaka. Amidst, all the confusion and power struggle, Prince Suyodhana, the rightful heir to the throne stands tall, determined to claim the throne. Meanwhile, in the corridors of Hastinapur a plot to overthrow the present King and conquer India is brewing. Who ultimately gets to sit on the throne and be the most deserving King?

First look at the title and the cover and the tagline suits the cover image. The title bearing the mark of history all over it. The cover image with a flag and a rising sun is a benchmark as to what one can expect from the book. The blurb talks about one of the most revered epics of all times and it's bearing on mankind. The blurb manages to keep away the all important facts of the book and thus, keeping the curiosity alive. 

The story is set in the times of Mahabharata when two clans clashed for power and survival. Kauravas and Pandavas were at helm of the prosperity of Bharat and their kingdom but not all was in their control. The outside interference and the inner frictions gave birth to a rivalry so dark that it affected one man looked at another in the years to come. The story is of brother in arms falling apart and becoming sworn enemies of each other. So who will survive the test of time and who will rise to the glory? What awaits both the clans and who will it by force or by con? That's what the story is all about. 

The story set in the epic times refreshes your memories and reminds of the good old days when it was all about power and brotherhood and enemies. The story unfurls in a different style keeping Kauravas at the helm and Pandavas in the backdrop. It has been manoeuvred with craft and skill and there's a clear mandate to make it not obvious for the readers. The introduction of new characters infuses new life to the story as the newbies play a pivotal role in shaping up the core of the book and its context to the history. The narration is a mix of lucid and some deep diggings of those times. 

The downside of the book is it's failure to capture the exact emotions of Kauravas and the role reversal is only effective for a short period of time. The new characters look good but then there's no fixed part to play after a certain period of time in the story. The Kauravas v/s Pandavas still remains the same as there is not much to savour when it comes to newness and freshness in the storyline. The book should have been cut down a bit to keep the sanctity alive as it tends to over exaggerate at times. 

All in all it's not the perfect served book to the readers. There are times of hurrah and times of sigh too. It's a travel down to the memory lane reliving the epic in a grand style. But then the book doesn't sheds limelight as to what exact purpose it wants to solve by retelling the tale. There are good and bad moments but more stress could have been given in creating the perfect atmosphere for historical fiction buffs. The book is a mixed affair.  


3 OUT OF 5