Posted in Books

Book Review: Two Fates, by Judy Balan

About the author:
Judy Balan quit her job in advertising to become a full-time writer and stay-at-home parent. She writes romantic comedy, with more of the latter. She is currently a freelance writer who is also involved in theatre, and an avid blogger as well. This is her debut book.

Impressions from the cover:
The cover is quite humorous, with the cartoons indicating of the unhappy couple and the families trying to tie them together. Also puts in a touch with regards to the family backgrounds.

Impressions from the blurb:
The title and the blurb together puts this like a parody of Chetan Bhagat’s novel, Two States which is a story of marriage between North Indian guy and a South Indian girl. It’s going to be interesting to see how this unfolds.

My review:
To give a gist of the story, it begins at the office of a psychologist and we see that she’s having a patient, from IIT and he’s the fifth one from there that she’s had in that week. He’s going through marriage problems and wants to separate from his wife, but his parents have sent him to her, so that she can analyze his mind and convince him otherwise. In a role-reversal, the doctor becomes the speaker and she tells the patient the story of her divorce. We are taken back in time, and introduced to Deepika (our psychologist narrator) and her husband Rish. She’s Tamilian and he’s a Punjabi. Having fallen in love and got married with pomp and fervor four years back, the tides have changed and they are on the brink of a separation. However, after so many years of adjustment, their families have now bonded to the extent that they are inseparable, and feel Deepika and Rish are the perfect couple and role models to others. The tale after is their story, and I’ll leave you to read it.

So what do I like about it? I like the concept. You take a nice novel and touch the opposite of that; which is pretty much what Judy has done. The idea needed humor, not so much that you be in stitches reading it but enough to give you a smile and make you enjoy reading it. And the story had that much humor in it for sure. The characters of the protagonists are nice. They’re casual people, not serious minded, and have this tendency to pull each other’s leg and be sarcastic. The language isn’t hi-fi at all, it’s easily understandable and it helps the story move along at a good pace, not dreary or anything like that. But first things first, I liked the cover design which portrays that humor very aptly.

So what did I feel could have helped it be that tad better? The divorce needed a reason; or rather it needed it a little more prominently mentioned. With Deepika and Rish being shown as sensible people and a couple who are respected by their younger relatives at that, the separation without a prominent reason felt unrealistic. The trip to Britain to finalize how to tell their parents about the separation, and that too being pushed there on a second honeymoon by their families felt unrealistic as well. I know this is fiction, but even extreme fiction needs a little believability. I could skip a few pages in between and still keep the flow of the novel.

Overall, I feel this is a good read, best suited for reading while traveling.


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

Book Details:
Title: Two Fates – The Story of My Divorce
Author: Judy Balan
ISBN: 978-93-81626-00-9
Genre: Humor / Romance
Publishers: Westland Books
Price: INR. 150

 


This book is a personal copy. No payment was taken for this review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills and 3) Debut Indian Authors Month at Tales Pensieve.


(May 31st, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Arjuna, by Anuja Chandramouli

About the author:
Anuja Chandramouli is a full-time mother of two lovely girls and a part-time writer. She currently works as an e-Reporter and a columnist. She is an ardent admirer of the Mahabharata, and drawing inspiration from the great epic, she decided to make her debut as a writer with the tale of Arjuna.

Impressions from the cover:
I don’t know what it is meant to be, but it gives a calming feel. My first impression was perhaps it is the battlefield at sunset.

Impressions from the blurb:
I think the title and blurb together make it simple and clear. This is the tale of Arjuna, third of the Pandava brothers, and it hopes to capture his heroism, love, ambition, talent and his life in a gripping narration.

My review:
Though the title gives the book’s idea immediately, I first give a gist of what you can expect. This is Arjuna’s tale, and it starts with who he is. Arjuna is the third son of Pandu and Kunti, and the middle Pandava brother. We begin with how he is born. When Pandu is cursed by a deer-sage that he will die if/when he has sex, his wife Kunti invokes a blessing given to her by another sage, and calls on the gods Dharma, Vayu and Indra and bid them to bless her with a son. From Dharma, was born Yudishtira, the eldest Pandava, from Vayu was Bheema the strong, and the third, born of Indra, was Arjuna. The tale then goes on to their youth, training of archery and fighting skills under Dronacharya, the winning of Draupadi as a bride etc.

What I like in the book is Anuja’s understanding and passion for the story, as she tells every detail and the reader can’t help but turn the page to find out what more is there for them to read. Be it the childhood games of the Pandavas, or the rivalry between Karna and Arjuna, she tells it with a charm.

However, I felt the charm goes away in some places and it feels like an essay. The title makes the reader imagine a book that’s almost always focused on Arjuna, but the book felt more like the narration of events most of us know, with the parts on Arjuna standing out a little more than others. What might have made it more interesting was if it was done in first person, then the title would have been very much justified.

I like this book, but I don’t love it. It was a good effort but it could have been a lot better. Thank you for the review copy, Anuja.


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

Book Details:
Title: Arjuna – Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince
Author: Anuja Chandramouli
ISBN: 9789381576397
Genre: Mythological/Epic
Publishers: Platinum Press/Leadstart
Price: INR. 250

 


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
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills and 3) Debut Indian Authors Month at Tales Pensieve.


(May 30th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Karachi Deception, by Shatrujeet Nath

About the author:
Shatrujeet Nath went through a few professions before finding his calling in business journalism. He worked as Assistant Director at The Economic Times before quitting journalism to write fiction. This is his debut work. He is also working on his second book which will be this first part of a trilogy.

Impressions from the cover:
It gives nothing away, other than the possibility of action and gunfights involved. The barbed wire is indicative of a border.

Impressions from the blurb:
Action seems promised and with it being a thriller, I think that is expected. It also gives a possibility of inside interference and treachery involved which makes it more interesting to see how the protagonist battles those odds.

My review:
I’ll give you a gist of what to expect first. We begin with an assassination attempt on a man who is wanted by a lot of intelligence agencies and governments across the world. However, Irshad Dilawar escapes that attempt by the skin of his teeth. Then we’re taken to a secret meeting between the heads of the Indian Army intelligence and RAW. We are taken to details of an ambitious plan to assassinate Dilawar in his own backyard in Pakistan. Imtiaz Ahmed, the leader of a special unit in the Indian marines, Unit Kilo, is chosen to lead that mission. At the same time, Musa Zawawi, Loya Pathan and Zeb Kirkland, the men behind the foiled assassination attempt launch a second attempt, determined not to fail. After putting much effort into his mission, Imtiaz begins to realize someone has compromised the mission and begins to take steps to ensure the mission’s success, opening another Pandora’s Box. Indeed, nothing is as it seems.

The quintessential characteristic of a thriller is its ability to keep the reader from putting the book down. It is my frank opinion that Shatrujeet’s debut does that. Having begun the book late last night, it took me just a few hours to finish it. To be descriptive and yet create a pace that keeps me interested in knowing what the next page has to offer is pure brilliance. The characters are placed strategically and their actions mostly accounted for. I quite like the character of the protagonist Imtiaz, for his character feels just like the person to recruit for a mission… brave, obstinate and focused, as well as commanding the loyalty of his fellow soldiers. Even the locations seem to have been well thought of. The twist in the tale is unexpected and till the part where it is justified, it seems improbable if not impossible. The smart thinking of Imtiaz’s rivals to foil the mission is also well thought of by the author. The ending of the book also made me smile for its wit and seamless incorporation.

What I wish it had was a little more insight into the target’s frame of mind. You have Dilawar being ferreted from Quetta to Karachi, then to some other remote village safe house etc. with the threat being known to him. I’d have loved to know Dilawar’s thoughts – Was he afraid? Was he calm? Did he feel safe under the people who were protecting him? It’s hard to really fault this book actually. In thrillers, one does find a thread to be incomplete at times, and though I thought there was one, on re-examination I realized that it wasn’t so. If I were to point something out, it would be a small mistake where Pathan identifies Hossam al-Kamil as the mercenary for the second attempt but Zawawi hadn’t mentioned him by name in their conversation at all. But it was a minor miss and didn’t affect the story in any way though. There were a couple of typos but that’s not something big. The thing that needed to be big however was the font size of the novel. It was a size too small for my liking.

In a time where chick-lits and romance novels seem to be thriving in the Indian publishing scene, this spy thriller offers a refreshing change and something I enjoyed reading. I offer my thanks to Shatrujeet who was kind enough to send me a signed copy for review. This goes into my favorites shelf.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book Details:
Title: The Karachi Deception
Author: Shatrujeet Nath
ISBN: 978-93-82618-35-5
Genre: Thriller
Publishers: Westland/Grey Oak
Price: INR. 225


The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills and 3) Debut Indian Authors Month at Tales Pensieve.


(May 26th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Chained … Can You Escape Fate?, by Mehek Bassi

About the author:
Nineteen year old Mehek Bassi is a Computer Science & Engineering student from Ludhiana. Cut off from possible work-spheres like the kitchen and her father’s office, her creative mind took to novel writing and the result was this book, her debut. She is also an ardent blogger.

Impressions from the cover:
Honestly, I can’t tell what genre it is, or what the story might be about from the cover, which is a simple design. I can tell there might be a death by seeing the title font, like the writing on the wall is from blood dripping down etc.

Expectations from the blurb:
A lot of stories that somehow must come together to blend into one cohesive tale. One is a tale of guilt, another of fame and fortune, and a third of a very long wait. Or maybe it is just one with all three. Just to note, the top of the back blurb, with a chain and dripping blood makes for a better cover than the lady sitting in the chair with a glass of rose colored drink.

My review:
So, just to give you a gist of the story, we begin in the year 2015 and are taken to the life of Arjun, someone who is in mourning after the loss of his wife Shiya. We are shown that two years prior to that date, Shiya entered a comatose state, and even with family and friends pressuring him remarry, he’s still devoted to Shiya and is feeling guilty that he got her into that state. I like this starting, as it makes us eager to know what had happened two years prior that he feels guilty about. It basically sets the tone for the plot. From 2015, we travel back in time to 2006, the year when Shiya enters a reputed college to study music. Though she is from a rich family, she wishes to be simple and dresses like that. We see Shiya meet Arjun for the first time, and then fight with him for the first time. A friendship begins to form, and slowly, the friendship turns to love after their first kiss, right after Shiya shoots to college fame after winning a singing contest. We are taken through the journey of their love story, from the details of their first time together to some times of insecurity and jealousy, then a return to understanding each other etc. We are shown Shiya’s rise to stardom, and the dirty side to publicizing, a hunger for money and focus on career as well. The other characters slowly begin to come to life as the story progresses. From a romance story, it becomes a killer thriller of sorts and then a tragedy. I’ll leave the details of why and how out, that you can read the book and find out!

What I like in the book is the plot. There are these different stories that come together to create a thread. The book is not heavy on the mind and it would make a good companion for a long travel… took me about 4 to 5 hours to finish it. That quite shows Mehek’s storytelling is strong enough to hold the reader’s attention. Though the story is essentially a love story, it’s not mushy or sickly sweet in its details. If Mehek’s intent was to show that true love is not bound by time, then she succeeds, because another character realizes his true love after waiting for decades. Though there are quite a few characters, the main character is Shiya and most of the attention to detail has been paid to her character. It was very interesting that Shiya, first an introvert and one desiring a simple life becomes so outgoing and career-focused later on. Very contrasting choice. The language is simple and easily understandable.

Well, what I wished was better is the proofreading. There aren’t many typo errors but I still feel this needed editing. The opening is one very long sentence, whereas it should have been one paragraph with three or four sentences. There are places where the typo makes the sentence seem odd or take on a different meaning. The language is such that you can get what Mehek wants to say, but the sentence is framed in such a way that it means something else. For e.g. from the prologue, where she says the protagonist Arjun takes out a briefcase with photographs and memories of his wife Shiya. However, the way it is expressed makes it oddly sound like his wife is buried in it. There are errors like this I find in a few places. Another thing I’d suggest to Mehek for her future novels is to try to keep the suspense till the end. You’ve X was killed and it’s in the papers. Keep the reader hooked to that mystery, rather than showing Y is the killer in the same chapter itself. Another thing I noticed, and I wonder if it’s because of her age, is that though Shiya’s sexy side after fame is portrayed nicely with the attire choice and seduction of Arjun, there is a lack of detail in the passion that follows. Like Arjun, seeing his sexy wife in all that hotness, is ready to pounce. Then the pounce is missing. I like the ending, it’s unusual, but the epilogue needed better handling. Perhaps if it was done in first person, from Arjun’s point of view, the pathos generated would have been much more effective. Since this effectively was Shiya’s life’s story, from her humble beginnings to her rise to fame and then death, a suggestion I feel Mehek could have done perhaps is a first person take. It might have got a wonderful personal touch if Shiya’s story was said by Shiya herself than a third person narrator. The story has promise, but how it is put across, and how the emotions were handled, is direct in description whereas the genre and the situation might call for a little mood-setting.

To conclude, I’ll first thank Mehek for her generosity in sending me a personally autographed copy. She hoped I’d enjoy reading the book, and I did. It was a good plot and it kept me interested in it. Just judging by plot and narration, I’d rate this book high. However, the lack of editing for me is quite a big setback, as is the predictability in the thrill part put across. For a debut, a nice effort. Honestly, I find her to be a good storyteller, because she commands the attention of a reader with the flow in her novel.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book details:
Title: Chained – Can You Escape Fate?
Author: Mehek Bassi
ISBN: 978-93-82447-88-7
Publishers: Notion Press
Genre: Romance
Price: INR. 200

 


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
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills and 3) Debut Indian Authors Month at Tales Pensieve.


(May 24th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Arty Facts, by Ankita Kapoor

About the author:
Ankita Kapoor is an Indian author who currently resides in the United States. She used to work for a popular art gallery as an Arts coordinator, and then as a journalist in New Delhi, both of which introduced her to the social milieu of the twenty first century. Apart from writing, she is also an artist.

Thoughts on the cover:
An artwork made by the author herself sits proudly on the cover. I’m not a connoisseur of art but I could see silhouettes of people in that painting, and one of them perhaps holding a camera or something like that. Considering the backdrop of the story is an art gallery, I found it to be a lovely choice.

Impressions from the blurb:
A story about the power struggles in an office, and something anyone with a bad boss could relate to easily.

My review:
Narrated in first person, and written like diary entries this book is the story of a 20-something girl just out of college and unemployed. She’s quite happy to be on a “well-deserved break” before finding a job, and finds her mother’s concerned call and the “bitching” of the thieving, careless maids to be her alarm clock that wakes her from her long, unconcerned slumbers. By chance, and by the recommendation of her friend, she gets a job at a famous art gallery in New Delhi. The book thereafter is the narration of events that mattered to the protagonist, i.e. made her want to bitch about her bosses, or her roommates etc.

What I like in Ankita’s narration is directness. It feels like we are reading the pages right out of the diary. Some of the events are laced with humor, and thanks to the directness of the tone, we can imagine it happening. The emotions explored are well done, and you get to know that too… like when the protagonist is too embarrassed by another’s action and slinks away giving some excuse, or kindly offers a chocolate to her boss when something bad befalls him. Thankfully, I have a good boss who I don’t have to crib about a lot, but I can understand the necessity and the book is believable in that aspect. The book is not heavy, a light-read that I could finish within half a day. It manages to bring out the attitude of bosses who do the mistake and pass it off on others, workers who take the attitude of the boss and use it to their advantage and a general office culture. It also brings out some issues that are common in society, like parents judging their children because of the jobs, overprotectiveness, live-in relationships, homosexuality etc. It also shows the murky side of being a celebrity. After all, even small worlds have their own big names. It also shows every job has a different face, though we may see only one.

What stands out however is the editing, or lack thereof. I could see one name spelt one way, and typos for that name in the next page, the same name with a different typo later on. I don’t know if the usage of some phrases is right. The dates of the diary entries seem quite fast at times. One of the characters suffers a ruptured tendon and within ten days is completely healed that he can run around with work again. Or after months of working at the gallery, the protagonist says “it was my third day on the job”. Also, it feels like I need to refer the dictionary often at times as there are some big words used. I think sometimes the directness should be kept for the sake of simplicity. Greed, stingy and hateful sound much more right in context than avarice, parsimonious and malaise.

In my opinion this is a book that might appeal to someone with a bad boss, but though it can be read at a stretch and done with quickly, the entire story having a lot of “bitching” and such makes it a tough pill to swallow in one go. The narration is humorous with the different types of characters and their not-so-uncommon actions that end up bringing their downfall somehow. Though I feel her debut was average, Ankita’s skill in telling a story is something that makes me look forward to reading more from her in the future.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book details:
Title: Arty Facts
Author: Ankita Kapoor
ASIN: B00B0323P6 (Kindle Edition)
Publishers: Pegasus Books (via Amazon)
Genre: Life/Humor/Fiction
Price: INR. 270

 


The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills and 3) Debut Indian Authors Month at Tales Pensieve.


(May 22nd, 2013)