Posted in Books

Book Review: The Homing Pigeons, by Sid Bahri

About the author:
Sid Bahri is a hotelier by education, an ex-banker and a senior executive in the outsourcing industry, the third of which he sacrificed to follow his passions. He is a struggling entrepreneur and a happy writer, blogger and an avid reader as well. This book marks his debut in the writing world.

My thoughts on the book:
Firstly, I thank the author who was generous to give a copy of the book to me for review through another blog. It’s always exciting to read debut novels because you never know what the author has to offer.

Though there is a blurb at the back, I think it’s difficult to summarize the book. The two characters seem as different from each other, and in different worlds so it is very tough to imagine them together in one love story. That being said, this book can’t really be classified as just a love story either.

This is the story of two people, both said separately in alternating viewpoint chapters. The guy, Aditya, is someone who has just lost his job due to a recession in the industry and we find him in a bar, spending the last of his money on a drink. At the bar, he meets a woman, and from then his life changes dramatically. The girl, Radhika, is thirty one and has just lost her husband and we find her at the start, marrying off her stepdaughter and getting her claim to riches. Desperate guy, plotting girl… first impressions seem to form.

The story however doesn’t go straight. It goes more like a zig-zag pattern, sometimes coming to the present and then a flashback into the past. The story of the two, gripping at times and drab at others, then cross to a conclusion, just like homing pigeons (as the author so nicely puts it on the blurb).

What I liked:
Firstly, I loved the cover page and the title choice. Moving to the story, it’s never easy to do alternating points of view, and it becomes even more difficult when you are having a guy and a girl as the two main characters. You need to keep both of their emotions in mind, and do justice to them both. In my opinion, Sid has definitely succeeded in that. The characters have depth, and the narration was quite well done.

What I felt could be better:
The timeframes at time felt confusing. Suddenly you are taken to a different time, flashback and then back ot the present. Though the intent was justifiable, that part didn’t work for me. Some actions of the characters felt odd. One point I was left wondering was if the girl wanted to spite her former lover, why couldn’t she have married a young entrepreneur instead of an aging one, and what difference the age made? At times, the story felt very slow and boring, and I was definitely confused in the part about the adoption.

Closing thoughts:
The story was good. It was much more than just a love story and it was conveyed subtly yet effectively too. A wonderful debut, which I applaud.


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

Book details:
Title: The Homing Pigeons
Author: Sid Bahri
ISBN: 978-93-80349-91-6
Genre: Fiction
Publishers: Srishti Publishers
Price: INR. 150

 


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 12th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Life Is What You Make It, 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 second published work.

My thoughts on the book:
So we have the protagonist, Ankita. She’s a 20 something girl who seems to have issues from the past that haunts her present. In the prologue, we start with her sitting on a chair outside the doctor’s office, mulling over how they’ve come a long way to get her treated. Now that start is perfect. It’s that conflict that pushes the story toward an ending, and makes the reader wonder why she’s at a doctor’s office in the first place. But then, in the next paragraph, it appears as if the protagonist is still traveling to the doctor’s office. And we’re taken through a drive. Major confusion here and that doesn’t do the story good.

The story begins as a flashback. We’re shown letters that Ankita sends to Vaibhav and Vaibhav’s reply. As the story moves, we come to know that Ankita’s parents are very old-school (for the lack of a better term) and don’t approve of her being with other guys, even if in a group, or allow her friends who are boys to call her at home. So they begin to sneak around, doing what they can to stay in touch. Guess love is like that.

The story moves to Ankita’s life at college. This part of the story goes well. It’s kind of like settling in, finding new friends, etc. She gets elected into the school’s office bearers group. The campaign part is fun too. The story goes smoothly till the second guy comes into the picture. Abhi, the guy who she meets at an inter-collegiate event, begins to woo her. Now, good for her part that she tries to tell Abhi about Vaibhav and stuff, but if she is really in love, then it feels really strange that she’d start feeling for Abhi so suddenly. Especially with her talking to Vaibhav and pretending all is well all along. Fast forward and Abhi proposes that Ankita stay in the same city and college so their relationship continues, but Ankita refuses because her parents would not understand, and more so because she’s got into the best college in another city. She even refuses to guarantee that she’ll stay in touch with him because she felt it silly. (If she could stay in touch with, and sneak calls with Vaibhav earlier, this casual brush off for someone who was right near to her and who she “loved” felt very out of character.) The events that follow leave a big mark on her, and she leaves the city on a sad note.

From this point, and her new college life for her Masters degree, the turnaround in her character is quite stunning. She becomes very, maybe even too competitive, and starts seeking perfection. She has affections for one of her new classmates, and kisses him. When her academics seem to be going well, her parents find her “love letters” and turn on her. In front of her, they burn the letters. From here, her mind cracks and she begins to lose it. The problems arise and she leaves going to college. Her parents take her to psychiatrists to try and solve her problem, even trying to force her to return to college. She’s taken to NMHI where she finds someone who’s willing to listen to her, understand her problems and help her get past them. And we move to the ending which culminates it all.

What I liked in the story is the simple language and narration. It’s a quick read if you have some time on your hands. It’s inspiring to the extent that it tells you problems are temporary and you can get past them if you believe. Yes, the story does have elements of a love story, but it isn’t completely one.

What I didn’t like in the story is that you are left much confused. The prologue is conflicting, and the characters very shallow. It’s difficult to think that when your daughter is excelling in the field she’s chosen, any parent would react in that cut-throat way to finding a love letter that HAS a date and is known that it’s long back and target their daughter’s mind health, no matter how strict they are. You don’t get to know why Ankita begins to lose her mind suddenly, if it’s one thing or a combination of different things. The title is only justified with an epilogue that happens fifteen years later. You start to think the plot somewhat quarter or half way into it, so knowing what might happen leaves you disappointed, and also makes our feeling of sadness or sympathy with the protagonist less.

Overall, I think this is a one-time read. I can’t for the life of me figure out why the book is as popular as it is. I don’t think it is a bad book, but it’s confusing why it is titled so. It’s a really nice message, I agree, but the story doesn’t bring it out like it needs to.


Rated 5/10
Rated 5/10

Book details:
Title: Life Is What You Make It
Author: Preeti Shenoy
ISBN: 9789380349305
Genre: Romance
Publishers: Srishti Publishers
Price: Rs. 100

 


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.


(April 12th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Seeds of War (Mahabharata Series #2), 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:
It was only recently that I got introduced to the Mahabharata series, and the talented author Ashok Banker. Having seen the Mahabharata as a television serial, I was quite keen to read it as a story. I was wowed by the first book, The Forest of Stories. The second didn’t let me down in any way either.

When it is a series, and the second book has to keep the flow between its beginning and the first one’s end, that to me needs to be done well, and it has been. I liked the chapter “Prarambha” which introduces the Forest of Stories, and since Mahabharata is one continuous book, I think it’s a chapter that might not have been there. This chapter sets the tone, it says that the epic is eternal even without Vyasa, its recited even without Vaisampayana and retold even without Sauti.

This book brings out the scond parva, wherein we hear of the rivalry between the two maharshis Brihaspati, teacher and guide of the Devas, and Shukracharya who is the teacher and guide of the Asuras. The first has the divine knowledge to guide the Devas to victory each time, and the second has knowledge to the secret of immortality – the Sanjivani. The first part is the love story of Devyani, daughter of Shukra and Kacha, son of Brihaspati who’s been sent to retrieve the secret of the Sanjivani. This is a true love story, one whose power even overwhelms Shukra so much that he trusts his disciple and his daughter’s lover with the secret when the Asuras kill Kacha and trick him into consuming Kacha’s ashes.

Then Devyani, who is rejected by Kacha for an interesting reason, falls in love with a king, Yayati. We’re taken through their quite different love story, and which leads to Yayati’s immortality. I quite love the philosophy that Yayati shares to the righteous. After that, we’re taken through another unusual love story, that between Shantanu, who was a rajarshi cursed by Brahma into the mortal world, and Ganga, the goddess in mortal form. This leads to the birth of Devavrata, who we later come to know as the great Bhishmacharya.

For me, this story leaves us wanting more and very soon. It’s left at a very crucial position. I heard the third book is going to be out sometime this year. I’m praying it is very soon. Just like the first book, this holds your interest through the read and brings the characters and the epic story to life. This also goes into my library and it’s going to be there for good. This is a tale I shall be rereading soon, and one that any fan of mythology would enjoy.


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

Book-details:
Title: The Seeds of War
Series: Mahabharata Series (Book 02)
Author: Ashok K Banker
Genre: Mythological Fiction
ISBN: 978-93-81626-86-3
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 Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(April 11th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: A Dose of Laughter, by RK Laxman

About the author:
Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman is an Indian cartoonist, illustrator, and humorist. He is best known for his creation “The Common Man”, for his daily cartoon strip, “You Said It” in The Times of India, which started in 1951.

My thoughts on the book:
When a heavy on the mind book comes along, you can’t usually finish that read in one stretch. When you start to feel that heaviness, a break becomes essential. If you’re an avid reader, that break probably might involve reading a fast read, maybe a humorous one. This book falls under that category.

RK Laxman is known for his common man cartoon, the frazzled guy with a little moustache who stays silent even though he sees the atrocity around him. This book however is a mixture of both jokes as well as cartoons, and the common man does make an appearance in some of them. One of the cartoons in this book shows the mom beginning to worry that her baby isn’t being normal after seeing her baby reading a Shakespeare novel. It made me wonder, aren’t there some moms who start to celebrate seeing their kid take up a book so early. I’m thankful that moms these days are mostly sensible and give equal importance to reading and playing as well.

This book really lives up to the title. It gifts the reader with loads of laughs. Some cartoons are particularly memorable. There’s one where the guy has fainted, and the other person explains to the doctor that he fainted whilst bravely telling of changes he’s going to do to his life. That felt so familiar. How often do we think of changing and then fear the change and withdraw?

Other than cartoons, this book has a lot of jokes. It alternates actually. Odd numbered pages are cartoons, and even numbered pages are jokes. Together, they make a good pairing. A refreshing read to get your mind clear.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: A Dose of Laughter
Author: RK Laxman
ISBN: 9780143028932
Genre: Cartoons & Humor
Publishers: Penguin Books India
Price: INR. 200

 


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 at Tales Pensieve.


(April 4th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Common Man Watches Cricket, by RK Laxman

About the author:
Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman is an Indian cartoonist, illustrator, and humorist. He is best known for his creation “The Common Man”, for his daily cartoon strip, “You Said It” in The Times of India, which started in 1951.

My thoughts on the book:
Can a book be light and heavy at the same time? Possibly not, but that’s what I feel this book is.

RK Laxman brings forth various issues in India through his thought-provoking, yet humorous cartoons. While making us smile or even chuckle in delight at the intent, it also makes us question, “Is this India?” No, it makes us question, “Isn’t this India?”

His character “The Common Man” is someone who sees the country in various situations, but doesn’t talk at all, or raise a voice against it. Much like you or I, a common man in this vast populous.

In this book, the first cartoon left me wondering about the state of cricket in our country. As an ardent cricket fan, I had started to wonder the same long before I set eyes on that cartoon, with that caption. At times, it does seem like the country, and the cricket team, act that way. Looking for fans rather than wins, acting as if the cricket pitch is a boxing ring, and losing their wits in tough matches… yes, even chatting about the matches and corruption in the sport etc. like they were the most important part of our lives… yes, in India, it seems to be true, sadly.

Title aside, the book is much more than just about cricket. It shows the contrast in politics. It shows the state of India might be so low that even the neediest person might think twice before accepting something, or consuming what they find. It shows the politician’s mindset where he’s prepared to leave a public gathering for a private meeting, leaving the people who elect him half way. It shows the other side of the picture. One of my favorites from the book shows the beggar asking the rich person, “The price of everything else has gone up, how come I still get the same old 50 paisa coin?” and another that shows how we punish the innocent by misinterpreting what actually is to be something else.

Want a dose of humor, with cartoons that make you smile and yet think as well? This book does that. Other than a couple of typos in the captions, I enjoyed this book thoroughly.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: The Common Man Watches Cricket
Author: RK Laxman
ISBN: 9780140299328
Genre: Cartoons & Illustrations
Publishers: Penguin Books India
Price: INR. 200

 


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.


(April 4th, 2013)