Posted in Books

Book Review: Tantra, by Adi

About the author:
Adi grew up reading fiction books by flashlight, hiding under the covers, pretending to be asleep. Somewhere along the line, a poetry book and a minor textbook were published. Deeply impressed by the vast religious history of India, he could not help but pick this topic for his first novel.

My thoughts on the book:
Thrillers and India don’t exactly go together always. I feel when it comes to books, the pet genre is romance. So when this book came into my possession, it was a welcome change. When you read the blurb on the back cover, you do find that thrill come into your heart, your reader’s sense of the book, and that is what’s needed. However, you also find yourself wondering if the book is clichéd as the reason for the protagonist being who she is seems to be very common. All in all, the first impression off the extract sets you into the tale.

The protagonist, Anu is a vampire hunter who swears by her pleather “work outfits” (though she does switch to something a little more comfortable later). When the novel begins, we find her looking over the city of Delhi, where she couldn’t find a single vampire after hunting for a week. She meets the local guardian of Delhi, Amit, who tells her that Delhi is different from New York where she worked as a guardian before. We’re introduced to Nina who’s Anu’s aunt and the typical aunty type woman who fusses over her niece and almost immediately gets to the point that Anu needs to get married soon. (I guess there’s no shortage of people wanting to be marriage brokers though. I wonder if we could have a broker hunter someday!) Anu also encounters a vampire Misra who she sees abducting a child in a duffel bag and who she kills. Till this point, the story is a little slow, more detail oriented and such.

Afterward, she meets the big boss of the vampire hunters’ union (I’m calling it that; it’s not official part of the book). She also encounters the most powerful vampire, the head vampire Chandra (translated to moon… lovely choice of name for a vampire, Adi). When Amit finds that another child has gone missing, Anu and Amit visit the family of the taken child and promise to do their best to find the child. Through another source, we’re introduced to the villain, Baba Senaka. From Anu’s impatient attitude to try and singlehandedly destroy the villain, to their further encounters, from this point, the story picks up pace. We see the villain’s army attack the heroine’s headquarters, we see further vampires in the fray and other sources to help our heroine in her worthy cause. Can’t give away all details now, can I? Well, for the authors’ help, I’ll tell you. My favorite part was the tea ceremony between Anu and the Pandit; and the part I felt could have been lessened or avoided was the show-and-be-shown ceremony which felt out of place.

Overall, what I liked in the novel was that it promises a thriller and it delivers one, though not end-to-end. Good cover design too. The religious parts are quite interesting and the authors’ imagination and narration make it easier to read and to feel like it’s happening like a movie in front of my eyes. I liked the ending too, which seems to promise (atleast to me) that a sequel is on hand and I think it merits one anyways! Now coming to what I felt can be better… I would’ve liked it if the story started out from the Anu’s past, so that it sets the stage. Rather than just putting, “when her enemies murder the one person she truly cares about”, let it play back in her mind at the start as she sits watching over New Delhi. As common as the reason is, the flashback in her mind might have set the tone for her thirst for vengeance. And the show-and-be-shown ceremony felt unnecessary. Glad to have read the book. I enjoyed it, and I look forward to the sequel.


Rated a 7 on 10!
Rated a 7 on 10!

Book details:
Title: Tantra
Author: Adi
ISBN: 978-81-908636-2-9
Genre: Fantasy Thriller
Publishers: Apeejay Stya
Price: INR. 195

 
 


This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced, and is not a paid review.


Also for the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(March 31st, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Secret Wish List, by Preeti Shenoy

About the author:
Preeti Shenoy is an author and artist. She believes life is the biggest teacher. She is an avid blogger, whose poetry has also been published. This book is her fourth published work.

My thoughts on the book:
There are some books which can be finished very quickly. They’re not heavy to read, and would keep your interest in the storyline because of that lightness. Preeti Shenoy’s fourth book is quite similar to her third book in that respect, for I found both to be easy-reading. In a time when love stories are coming out dime-a-dozen in the market, we find ourselves wishing for something to pull us in with a different outlook, rather than what has been put before. This book read more like the script of a TV serial than a novel.

Diksha, who looks back at what her life was like when she was 16, and an innocent crush (or was it love) turned into something more. She was not once allowed to speak when her parents admonished her. She was pulled out of the school, and then married when she was young. The story returns to the present, where she’s in a much clichéd “housewife” role, with a child and a husband who’s the quite “traditional” or “old-school” man, and has chained her to many rules while he himself is “career-focused” and not having time for her or her son or even his mother when it comes to that. Diksha begins to break out of her “shell” and encouraged by her cousin Vibha, she makes a wishlist and begins to do things she’s always wanted to do. She reconnects with her old friends, begins to break rules and become outgoing.

What I liked in the book is that the language and the narration are simple and hold you, which is what a good novel should do. The protagonist’s character is well explored and to an extent, we are moved by her sorrows. It’s a refreshing change to see the mother-in-law in a supportive role. The best thing about the book however is the cover page, which is very appealing.

What I didn’t like in the story is predictability. It’s very similar in an overall outlook compared to her previous novel. Once again, the husband of the protagonist is put as the career chasing guy and the woman is the helpless “damsel in distress”. Once again, the past returns to save the future. When a certain phrase comes into the picture, you know exactly where it’s going to end, and yes, it ends that way. I think believability matters a lot at times, and you can’t quite believe the person who encourages you to get out of the shell would then say that you shouldn’t have. What I would have liked is to see the protagonist manage the future on her own. After all, if Diksha can “almost singlehandedly raise her child” without the loving support of her husband for nearly fifteen years, you’d think she can continue to do so without depending on the past, especially with a supportive mother-in-law by her side. Also, I could notice grammatical and typo errors quite often, and definitely more than I find to be dismissive.

Closing thoughts: If you want a light-read to keep you company during a travel of 3 or 4 hours, go ahead. The book won’t let you down. Overall, for me, this is a one-time read.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book details:
Title: The Secret Wish List
Author: Preeti Shenoy
ISBN: 978-93-82618-18-8
Genre: Romance
Publishers: Westland
Price: Rs. 175

 


The book was borrowed for reading from the local library. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(March 27th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Forest of Stories (Mahabharata Series #1), by Ashok Banker

About the author:
Ashok K. Banker is an internationally acclaimed author of mixed-race and mixed-cultural parentage based in Mumbai, India. He aims to retell all of the major myths, legends and itihasa of the Indian sub-continent in a span that will cover over seventy volumes.

My thoughts on the book:
The power of a story is not just in the plot, but in the narration as well. The ability of the author to hold the attention of the reader through the book with just his words to me tells a lot of the book itself. I found this book to be that sort of end-to-end brilliance. I usually associate that phrase end-to-end with thrillers, but this mythology masterpiece definitely merits it.

The first book in the “Mahabharata (MBA)” series, this book sets the tone for what is to come. This is Ved Vyasa’s epic retold and the characters built as they are. The language is poetic, as befits the great epic, and the author shows that he is not just a writer, but a raconteur, as his voice takes one into a trance. Narrated by a raconteur Ugrasrava Romarsana, son of Suta and hence named Sauti, we are taken right to the heart of Naimisha-van, to the hermitage of Kulapati Shaunaka and his many disciples as he does so.

What I liked:
From the get-go, you are drawn into the tale and its interest is such that you don’t stop till the end, or you have to. For a magical tale, a magical narration is needed. The book has that. Right when you are lost in the book and may have missed a line of thought, the narrator brings it back to your attention by a wise interruption and question from the learned sage Shaunaka. The imagination of Sauti, where he sees not just the people at the hermitage but also the many souls of those who were lost in the epic battle, is well-drawn. I was especially drawn to the tale of Jamadagneya Rama. The pause in narration happens at exactly the right places, and split as the Mahabharata epic is.

What I didn’t like:
I couldn’t fault much at all. If any, I found a misprint somewhere, but that isn’t at a place where you can notice it.

Closing thoughts:
With the first book ending at a place where the birth of Ved Vyasa and his existence is shown, it sets the stage for the second book to continue. This is my favorite fiction of the year to date.


Rated a perfect 10/10
Rated a perfect 10/10

Book-details:
Title: The Forest of Stories
Series: Mahabharata Series (Book 01)
Author: Ashok K Banker
Genre: Mythological Fiction
ISBN: 978-93-81626-37-5
Publishers: Westland
Price: INR. 295

 


The book is a personal copy. The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(March 25th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Grandma’s Bag of Stories, by Sudha Murty

About the author:
Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written nine novels, four technical books, three travelogues, one collection of short stories, three collections of non-fiction pieces and two books for children. Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages and have sold over three lakh copies around the country. She was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan’s Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006.

My thoughts on the book:
I borrowed this book from the library just about the same time I was delving into a literary fiction, so after that, this came as a breath of fresh air, to refresh my mind. This brought back memories of visits to my native place, and of stories that my grandmother used to tell me too, sort of a bittersweet experience.

Childhood is the time when morals are imbibed, so the stories we hear then from our elders are those happy ending, wisdom filled tales so we understand that though the world isn’t a perfect place, there are good things, and good people. This book has those innocence filled stories that just sound in place. It might as well be you in the place of Raghu or Meenu, and your grandmother instead of Ajji, the stories might seem familiar in their wisdom.

My favorites from the book are “Doctor, doctor” which shows that kindness can bring wonderful rewards, but if the reward is misused, the kindness can be overlooked and the rewards stopped, “Kavery and the thief” which shows wit and wisdom can triumph in a hard situation and “How the seasons got their share” which brings importance to the need to share, and to work together.

The language is simple and enjoyable, just as the language for a child’s book should be. The morals are right, and the illustrations well done. It could double up as a coloring book for the kids, as well as a refreshing change of perspective and weight of reading for you.


A rating of 8/10
A rating of 8/10

Book details:
Title: Grandma’s Bag of Stories
Author: Sudha Murty
ISBN: 978-0-143-33202-2
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publishers: Puffin Publishers
Price: Rs. 199

 


The book was borrowed for reading from the local library. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(March 25th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie

About the author:
Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a novelist and essayist. Much of his early fiction is set at least partly on the Indian subcontinent. His style is often classified as magical realism, while a dominant theme of his work is the story of the many connections, disruptions and migrations between the Eastern and Western world.

My thoughts on the book:
I’m just venturing into historical, and I think Midnight’s Children is my first complete novel in that genre. I think after reading, I realize that English has a lot of power when written well, and yes, Rushdie does write well. The story of Saleem Sinai, born at the exact moment of India’s independence and bestowed with a power that each of the other 1000 children born at the same time have too. Saleem the protagonist has the powers of telepathy, and an extremely sensitive smell.

What I liked:
The book isn’t just about the protagonist but about the country as well. It’s about the story of three generations, and the about the dreams of a boy. Perhaps the timing of the birth is also a significance of hope for the nation as well. The story is an interesting concept for sure, and I do applaud the detailing and especially the opening paragraph where Saleem introduces himself.

What I didn’t like:
The story is slow at the start and it takes some time before you get to the essence. Whether it is like that in all of Rushdie’s books is something I don’t know as yet, this being my first book of his. But that early pace kind of threw me off

Closing thoughts:
I will one day read this again, and perhaps in that second read, I shall find it more appealing, but this time, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I might. It’s not a bad read, but little slow paced.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book details:
Title: Midnight’s Children
Author: Salman Rushdie
ISBN: 978-0-099-58207-6
Genre: Fiction
Publishers: Vintage Books
Price: Rs. 450

 


This book was given to me for review by Random House India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(March 24th, 2013)