Posted in Books

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

About the author:
Jo Nesbø is a Norwegian author and musician best known for his detective fictions involving Detective Harry Hole. Other than this series, he has also released one children’s fiction novel titled Doktor Proktors Prompepulver.

My thoughts on the book:
It’s been a little while since I’ve wanted to read this series. I think one of my friends at ALOP published a review on this and it caught my attention primarily from the title, and then from the author’s name, which was new to me. I didn’t think that he’d be a Norwegian author though. This book, originally in Norwegian is translated by Don Bartlett into English.

When Inger Holter, a Norwegian mini-celebrity is found murdered in Australia, the Norwegian police send their man Harry Hole (pronounced as Har-ry Hoh-lay and not the hole meaning orifice) to aid in the investigation headed by their Australian counterparts. He’s teamed up with Andrew Kensington to do that. The investigation seems to have to be on the Aussie police’s terms, as put quite direct by their chief, McCormack.

What follows is a mixed bag. I don’t quite feel this can be classified as a “thriller”, more of a whodunnit. The first part is too slow, with lot of different angles, cultural background and such pushed in. I like that there is a little humor in it, like the scene were Kensington kicks a Tasmanian devil into the rose bushes and makes a humorous retort to the dog’s owner. But the leads and the way Kensington seems to take, based purely on a “sense” felt odd. (Though later it might not as much.)

The book picks up pace towards the end, thankfully. Pace aside, the narration has been good. Though informative of Australian culture, I think that background was a little too much. A decent read, with a somewhat predictable storyline and protagonist, and some humorous piecing together under the influence! I enjoyed especially the ending.

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

Book details:
Title: The Bat
Author: Jo Nesbø
Translator: Don Bartlett
Genre: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 9780099581871
Publisher: Vintage
Price: INR. 350


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.

(April 25th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Baumgartner’s Bombay, by Anita Desai

About the author:
Anita Desai is a popular Indian author in English literature. Her novels Clear Light of Day, In Custody and Fasting, Feasting had been nominated for the Man Booker Prize and The Village by the Sea won the Guardian’s award for Children’s Fiction. Many awards have been conferred on her in a distinguished writing career, and that includes the Padma Shri from the Government of India.

My thoughts on the book:
Some books are such that we can’t say what attracted to us in the first place. Maybe it was just the title or the blurb at the back cover, or maybe just curiosity as well. One such book that recently came into my possession was this book.

The narration of Desai is direct, yet not direct, poignant but in a thoughtful way, descriptive in shortness. The character of Baumgartner is not appealing immediately, but we are taken on his journey wherein the character moves from a seemingly boring individual to something deeper. Here’s a guy, a kind old man whose life revolves around his many cats, so much so that he’s conferred the nickname “Billewala Pagal” by the locals, “The Cat Madman”. He’s observant, yet his thoughts far from the world. He’s like a creature of habit. It strangely reminded me of myself, the life of a writer who is lost in his world of words. The character of Lotte is more different, but similar. She’s not habit oriented, but seems to go off into her own world at times, more opposite to that of Hugo’s.

I could understand the character of Farrokh also, for I have seen and heard a guy like that.

What Desai does with this novel is take us on a journey through relationships and on an exploration of emotions.

The New York Times puts it simply as, “A daring colorful novel almost impossible to absorb in one reading.” I agree with that. I haven’t yet had the time for a second read, but the first one urges me to read it again soon. There are characters I can immediately relate to, even put myself in their shoes in a different way and wonder if this is fiction. If it is so, why am I relating with it so much?

It’s a novel that one may feel as slow, but if willing to stick to it, can be very satisfying a read.

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

Book details:
Title: Baumgartner’s Bombay
Author: Anita Desai
Genre: Literary Fiction
ISBN: 9788184000146
Publisher: Random House India
Price: INR. 299


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 Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.

(April 24th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Ruskin Bond’s Book of Verse

About the author:
An Indian author of British descent, Ruskin Bond has written over a hundred short stories, essays, novels and more than thirty books for children. For his book of short stories, “Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra”, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1992. For his contributions to children’s literature, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999.

My thoughts on the book:
In the opinion of this little poet, the power that a verse of poetry holds is profound. We write to relieve ourselves of a little mind weight, the thoughts flowing from heart to paper (or document, as the case may be). However, there seems to be an idea going around that poetry must always be full of depth, going through many layers to present its case. I disagree with that idea. Poetry can be as simple and direct as the heart that writers it, thinks it and beats its words.

Ruskin Bond’s poetry is refreshing. It brings out what it wants to, and doesn’t pretend to have depth. It is simple, yet very soulful. It inspires, and provokes thought, and in its words, makes me escape from the tiredness of life, and from the feeling of being trapped without being able to write.

From the book, I take the example of the poem “Snail”. So often we give up on life’s journey halfway, knowing and seeing the obstacles that are in our way. The poet looks at the snail, its slow journey as it crosses a busy road full of vehicles, knowing and understanding that it might get squashed under a wheel. But the creature moves onward, one inch at a time, till it reaches the destination. The poet salutes the willpower of the snail, at the same time bringing out that we can take a lesson from that willpower as well.

There is a lovely poem about life on the back cover itself. This shows that life is dependent, part of another life no matter how independent it may seem. The leaf which is part of the tree, the tree which is part of a mountain side, and the mountain which comes out from the sea… and the sea like a raindrop in God’s hands! I think it’s one of the best poems I’ve read recently in print.

It always surprises me to see haiku in a poetry collection and a pleasant surprise at that. Here, the poet shares some haiku in the Kanshicho form of haiku, where it isn’t limited by syllables. From his set, I liked the one of the petunias the most.

To pull off humor in writing is never easy. To do it in verse is a little more difficult. The poet does it here with some moments of brilliance. I liked the one about believing in ghosts the most. It showed that what we can see is not always what is true.

What I liked in this collection of verse is the simplicity in presentation, which leaves the reader still mesmerized after the read. The cover page design is also appealing, as is the verse on the back cover. The poems inspire verse and to a poet, can be very valuable.

Though some poems did not appeal, most of the collection does. A delight to read, indeed.

Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: Ruskin Bond’s Book of Verse
Author: Ruskin Bond
ISBN: 9780143102403
Genre: Poetry
Publishers: Penguin Books India
Price: INR. 199


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

Shared with the Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.

(April 22nd, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Offside, by Kiran Vijayan

About the author:
Kiran Vijayan has a B.A (Honors) in Economics and a Masters in Human Resource Management. Besides reading and writing, he also enjoys sports and music, and is a member of the Baroda United Football Club. This is his debut offering in the book world.

My thoughts on the book:
When Kiran Vijayan contacted me and asked me if I was interested in reviewing the book, the first thing that caught my attention was the title, “Offside”. And the description where he said that the book was a mix of football and love further increased my curiosity. I thank Kiran for the review copy and congratulate him on his debut as well, a story that was humorous and quite different from any book I’ve read recently.

We see that the protagonist, Gaurav Kale is reminiscing, lying on a football pitch, not bothered with many who are staring at him. We’re taken back in time to when he first got into the game, and began playing for Vadodara United FC. The story revolves around his passion for the game, the first time he sees “his girl” Shreya and falls in love, only to realize she’s already spoken for, in the monstrous frame of the dominating captain of VUFC, Bali and his friendship with the other members of VUFC (Golu, John, Ringo, Amin etc.) that lands him in trouble and mischief. It also has pool and badminton a little as well.

What I liked:
Lovely cover design and the soccer player silhouette on the cover that also is at the start of each chapter. It resonates on the theme of this book. For me, this story is simple and enjoyable. It works. It’s not a serious write up, and the humor doused around the tale, with the nicknames and the mischief the group gets into at times, especially trying to get one of them laid; that brings smiles to me. I liked the different layers to few characters, and it worked. The football talk could resonate with the lovers of this wonderful game, and I feel that has been done well. Even those who might be new to soccer would get to know some aspect atleast, because the author goes to the trouble of describing things like formations and what an offside is etc. The love angle, though not profound, is done nicely.

What could’ve been better:
Though nothing out of the obvious in the flow of events, I liked most of the novel. But I felt with Bali getting a different layer to his character towards the end, his story in the story deserved a happier ending than what has been given. I think that to enjoy this story well, you must be a soccer fan, doesn’t matter which club you support. It’s not one that’ll appeal to a reader who is a reader of romance genre, but not a soccer fan. The last thing I’d point out is that it would be good if the price was a little lesser. I feel INR320 is a lot for a 136 page book that’s a little cross-genre.

Closing thoughts:
For me, soccer is my fourth passion, after reading, writing and music. From a lifetime supporter of the Red Devils, Manchester United FC, to another MUFC supporter, the author Kiran Vijayan… well written!

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

Book details:
Title: Offside
Author: Kiran Vijayan
ISBN: 978-93-81542-86-6
Genre: Fiction
Publishers: Cinnamon Teal Publishing
Price: INR. 320


This is an author-requested review, given for a review copy of the book but no other payment.
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.

(April 19th, 2013)

Posted in Interview

Author Interview: Rajrupa Gupta (Author of “The Crazy Algorithm of Love”)

Rajrupa Gupta is an avid blogger, writer of fiction and author of the book, “The Crazy Algorithm of Love”, which is a simple romance story that happens in a software company. The book is her debut publication and she was delighted to have me interview her. It was a delight to interview her as well. Continue reading “Author Interview: Rajrupa Gupta (Author of “The Crazy Algorithm of Love”)”