Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wise Enough to be Foolish

If you havent read a good book for some time, this one is for you.

Its a light read; but written in a stylish manner.

The introduction tells you that this is an autobiography, and you'll love the journey right from her childhood.

I felt its a bit bold and requires guts if all of it is true - telling the world that includes your relatives and friends about how you felt about your parents, siblings, friends, crushes and more. But on second thoughts, why not?

You will identify with Gauri or her friends as she narrates her life, and how they see the world. Its not a hilarious book, but it'll bring a smile to your face.

I'll give this book a 3.99 out of 5... not exactly a 4. Somewhere I felt there are too many men - there is a portion where she meets a person named 'Kamal' - I closed the book after that sentence, for I needed a break. But Kamal turned out to be a woman, and although her role is small, it is critical. 

The ending is nice, albeit a bit sudden.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

AmreekanDesi: Masters of America

Atulya Mahajan, in his debut book, has written quite a hilarious account of experiences of two boys: Akhil Arora from Delhi and Jaspreet (Jassi or Jazz) from Punjab. The two protagonists are diametrically opposite of each other, and as fate would have it, they end up as room mates. There's little bit of romance and fun, to add spice to this chronicle of Akhil and Jassi's lives. 
Mahajan himself had studied in the same university and this appears to be a first hand account of his experiences, the people he interacted with, accommodation, food, studies, recreation and more. The book also portrays human tendencies and cultures of the races very well - the Punjabi mother sobbing over her son's decision to go to Amreeka (America), the Bengali father of Akhil's girl friend being obsessed about fish and literature, the showing off by parents who think their son is doing well abroad. You may be either Punjabi or Bengali, or seen one from close distance - you would be able to relate immediately!

Amidst all the fun, Mahajan also clarifies some of the impressions we tend to have about life in America.
Overall, its a good and light read. 3 out of 5 stars from me. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks : Book Review

Here is a book you shall absolutely love. Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks is about a young doctor, freshly out of medical school, who joins the prestigious institution, St. Ivanhoe Hospital as an intern. And this book revolves around him, it narrates the adventures (and misadventures) of him and his six colleagues.
When I first read the back of the book, I was a bit confused whether the central character was male or female. See, his name is Manjula, fondly called as Manju by his relatives and friends. Now, I know people with both those names, and all of them are female. But that apart, once I started reading the book, I just fell in love.

It is written in the form of a diary – which means that there are dates instead of chapter numbers. It’s a narration that takes you round the year of internship of Dr. Manjula Mendis and his friends, with occasional insights into his personal life. What is more, there are notes from the Editors (written by the author himself, of course) wherever there is a need to explain something.  

The author, Sanjaya Senanayake, is a doctor himself. And he is a Sri Lankan, as his name suggests. It is hardly surprising because unless you are a doctor yourself and have gone through the grind first hand, you would not know the various ups and downs one has to face during internship. Plus, there is a lot of medical knowledge that has been shared with the readers –so effortlessly have they been used that they seem normal – it comes so easily because Sanjaya is in the profession himself. But Sanjaya is a great story teller. This book is his first novel – and nowhere does it appear to be written by a novice. The English is simple and lucid – you can read it anytime Actually, you’ll get so hooked to it that you would devour it as soon as possible! And its simply hilarious - I read most of the book giggling!!!

The characterization is very good, and subtle details have been portrayed as if it’s a real life story.

Young Manjula comes across as a simple individual, full of South Asian values, who lives with his parents. He matures as various challenges come his way during his life as an intern in the hospital. Well, not all is fine with the noble profession we all look up to – and Manju comes face to face with number of incidents that take him, and the readers by surprise. The story is set in Australia, and the poor Mendis has to go through racism as well. Top specialists seem to be complete frauds, a colleague wishes to shun off her roots – can it get any worse?

It can. When his parents want to set up an arranged marriage for Manjula with a “nice Sri Lankan girl from a nice family”.  Or when he almost married his own sister in a messy situation!

The book highlights number of social issues that we must ponder about and rise above: Racism, Unethical practices, Prostitution, difficult admission procedures in schools, etc.

So, Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks gets a 4/5 from me straightaway!
This review is has been cross posted from Volatile Spirits

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Once upon the Tracks of Mumbai : Book Review

This book narrates the story of Balwant Srivastav, better known as Babloo. His father is an employee of the Indian Railways, and they stay in a railway colony in Mumbai.

Babloo is a bit different from the most of us - he is little slow in grasping things, but has few strong traits as well. He feels, but is  terrible when it comes to emoting. He speaks half sentences, and has little control over his anger. He has shadows of us in him, and you identify with him while he narrates the story.

Needless to say, his poor performance in academics, his weird conduct and likewise have distanced him from everyone - his parents, brother, neighbours; he has no friends, except Vandana, who speaks to him caringly. She stays in the same colony as Babloo, only her father is at a much higher designation than Babloo's.

The story is ideal for a Bollywood film - it is a tale of love, friendship, misuse of simplicity, chain of events going on without the protagonist knowing an inkling about them and the reader is completely involved. As a reader you know who is cheating whom, who is the bad guy and you would almost curse out aloud when Babloo comes on the verge of truth, but floats very far away from it.

Babloo has his heart in the right place - he cannot tolerate something if he deems it wrong. He finds a new identity as Rail Man when he fearlessly helps a channel reporter; and stops another crime after that. He also agrees to take up a lowly job to earn himself respect from Vandana. There's drama and then, slowly things fall into place. And the story ends on a positive note.

It writing style is lucid, and you can read it easily, even while commuting. Babloo will keep you hooked to the book and you would not be able to let go off the book until you have found out what happens next. Rishi Vohra's portrayal of Babloo is amazing - its very difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone with problems, not exactly dyslexic or autistic. The friendless boy seeks refuge in his inner soul - it is something we all do. Rishi has also captured the mindsets of middle class families and all the other characters of the story very well.

To find out more about the book, what others said about it and the author himself, do visit

This book review is special. The author had written to me to find out if I would like to review his first book, making me feel equally special. 

This post has been cross posted from Volatile Spirits

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Krishna Key : Book Review

I had been hearing about Ashwin Sanghi's "Chanakya's Chant" ever since its launch, got my hands on it, but couldn't manage to read it, because my Dad wanted to read it first.

So, when I was selected to review Sanghi's latest book, "The Krishna Key", I was very excited. My interest was boosted when I was going through the Author's Note, wherein he has acknowledges the people behind this book. I knew someone in that list - Kunal Kundu, who has designed this cover that invokes curiosity in the minds of the reader, even before he has turned the first page.

The opening page of the story begins in italics, and tells you briefly about the lineage of Pandavas and Kauravas of Mahabharata. You turn the page, and the font straightens, and the first sentence that you read does not seem related to what you had just read. You would actually turn back to see if you have turned two pages at a time by mistake, but find that's how it has been written. And that opening line is a sixer - you cannot look anywhere else. A new story, equally interesting, starts unfolding!

This book is written in two parallel stories - one narrated by Lord Krishna himself, and the other that flows like a movie plot. Characters are defined, the mystery builds, the mythological connections are integrated smoothly and then the truth emerges. Krishna tells you the story of his life, while a tale of cold blooded murder in the name of religion and conspiracy, intelligent riddles and perseverence continues alongside.

Its an excellent book with an eye towards each detail. I liked the end - it makes you stop and take a look at yourself. The writing style is gripping (rather clinging), making it an "unputdownable" creation - so much so that I devoured it in two days! Never have I completed a 460-odd page book so fast!

A popular saying states that it's all pre-decided, and incidents that happen in our lives are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle - It seemed to come to life when I was wondering that I was lucky to have been an Architect - Town planner, with a passion for our history, ancient civilizations and more. It seemed to me that I was destined to read this book; and my piecemeal knowledge of mythology and history, experiences of places I have travelled to and read about would get drawn up from the depths of my memory, get jumbled up, and be sorted out in a pattern once again. The book will make you feel proud of India for its rich heritage.

Immense research has gone in writing this book. It is not the work of Sanghi alone, but a team of talented people who have drawn such lovely sketches (Rupesh Talaskar) and drawn so much reference from Sanskrit (Vishwajeet Sapan) shlokas (verses). Another thing you are bound to notice is that Sanghi has extremely detailed knowledge of gadgets and mobile phone models - very casually, he uses statements such as "flipped his Samsung ZX03", highlighting the unique things you can do with it. The chapter numbers are encircled in an image of a (locked) lock, signifying the mystery to be unlocked by the "Krishna Key". It would have been very interesting if the image for the last chapter had been an open lock or a key.

I would give this book a 8 out of 10, half a mark deducted for the last round of proof reading it seems to have missed. Somewhere in between the names of the leading female characters have got interchanged; except which this book is a great work.

This review is has been cross posted from Volatile Spirits

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Stopover - A Book to look out for

Ram Prakash and Deepa Rachel Pinto have put together a stunning book that narrates their travel experiences through photographs and fiction. So, they call it "A Photo Fiction".

I received a personal request from Deepa to read the first few pages of the book and share my impressions. Being a bookworm, I was thrilled by the introduction she had given.

This book narrates four stories, each set in settings less travelled and unknown - at least, never perceived thus. Ram, with his amazing talent for photography, has included photographs that create an everlasting impact.

The style of writing is simple, lucid and gripping. Also it presents to you how there are little details to be perceived everywhere, how history relates to the present, how pain strengthens your determination.... you will relate to the protagonists, and see the world through their eyes. The portrayal of emotions is perfect.

An excerpt from the official page of the book says it all:
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." And that's the voyage the authors undertook as they travelled around India. At every stopover they made and with every group of people they met, a treasure trove of experiences was unearthed, that touched and enriched their lives. To reveal to those who are unable to seek, to see, to experience and to understand, they present THE STOPOVER"

The book is due for release in October, so that's round the corner! Be sure to grab a copy for a book that proceeds through photographs and a few words! Do check out their Facebook page too.

Photocredits: Ram Prakash, although I have cropped it and watermarked it.

This review has been cross posted from Volatile Spirits

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Land of the Wilted Rose

Having enrolled in the Book Reviews Programme by, this is the first time I have been selected to review a book. The book is titled "The Land of the Wilted Rose", by Anand Ranganathan. The cover, as you can see from the image on the left, has only an almost-dry rose on a yellow-ochre background. I felt very excited when I received the book... and when I opened it, I was in for more surprises.
There was a handwritten note from the author (Anand Ranganathan) which added a personal touch. And a welcome note from the website, personally signed by Founder and CEO, made me feel very good.

Now the book.

The Land of the Wilted Rose is the first of a quartet - a four book series. And whatever is written as a synopsis of the book on the back cover does not really tell you what the series of books, or this book in particular, is all about. Just a vague idea is all you will get.

And the surprise element is right at the start. It gives you such a jolt that you are hooked on to the book right away. So long, in school and elsewhere, we have heard about how tyrannic the British were during their rule in India. The plot of the book is set at a time when the English have conceded ground, and Indians are gaining power. So much so that the tables are reversed completely: the Indians abuse the English and oppress them. 

A prominent character is the Maharaja, who is all but seventeen years old. Yet, he is the ruler of 73 provinces, as good as ruler of the World. So much power, wealth and luxury at this young age has indeed spoilt him to the core. What is more, the subjects and officers of this Indian maharaja are all English.

The book excels in its detailing and tongue-in-cheek humour. The characterization is just mind blowing. The author has brought forward the finer traits of each human being, be it the king or the common man.

This book, being a part of a series of books, only creates the prelude for the rise of the White Mahatma, who would eventually rise to fight for the right of Englishmen. But I felt that all four parts of the story should have been published together, in a big fat novel instead of part books. The reason is that one may lose track if he picks up a book that is intermediate in the series... and moreover, lot of text has to be devoted to refer to past incidents if separate volumes are used. You know what I mean? For example, the Harry Potter books also form a series... the characters grow and the plot thickens in each book, but even if you pick one up randomly, you would enjoy it as an independent novel. This was what I found missing in this book.

The overview of the following books in this series has been provided to ensure that your eyes remain on your bookstore till you get hold of the final novel.
This review has been cross posted from Volatile Spirits 

The Devotion of Suspect X

"2 million people can't be wrong", flaunts the book cover on your left, immediately attracting your attention. The actual cover of the paperback isn't this bold, although it informs that 2 million copies of the Japanese Version has been sold. The count of fascinated readers has just gone up to 2 million plus 1. Myself.

Well, I am glad that this book was ever translated to English, because of which I had the opportunity to read it. I am a person who forms ideas, and get shocked when things do not comply as per them. For example, I always looked upon the Japanese as the race of short people, who were good in gymnastics. I never thought they could be such talented authors as well.

Keigo Higashino has come up with an extraordinary book, and credit must also be given to Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander, the translators, who have kept the grip of the story intact. The original book has been made into a movie too. Needless to say, with such a strong storyline, the movie must have been a blockbuster.

The book is a very direct book. Murder is committed in the very first chapter, and you know all along who has done it as you progress through the book. Rest of the story is about how the police put together facts, test each theory against the other, and finally close in. On the other hand, the suspect offers a fairly strong alibi. Events keep swinging, and rapid developments compel you to wonder that everything is over. And then comes the bombshell: Things that appear sorted out, aren't that straightjacket either. 

Perhaps, creating a difficult problem is tougher than solving it. And the murderer has set such a problem: it is not as simple as it appears, and it may be an algebra problem although it appears like a geometry one. As the police sort their thought processes, the reader, who is a quiet witness of the true course of events, hopes that the true murderer should not be punished. Everytime the noose tightens, the author brings forward an independent line of thought which stalls inevitable doom.

In the story, Keigo has brought forward how human beings react in different situations, how relationships prosper, how emotions swing, how deep can passion for a subject or person be.. its amazing. The truth finally is brought out, but it takes all by surprise. The end is too deep to expect, and one gets moved by it.

Written in absolutely lucid English, it is bound to get you hooked.
This review has been cross posted from Volatile Spirits

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Book Lovers, Welcome!

After ages of contemplating, I've launched this blog. A book blog-Very niche!!

For me anything in print suffices, but I prefer Fiction and Travel.

I may have been compensated for the reviews, but the opinion is all mine!!