Posted in Books

Book Review: Romi and Gang, by Tushar Raheja

About the author:
Tushar is an engineering graduate from IIT Delhi who found his calling in storytelling. His association with IIT provided him with a cultural background to deploy his story telling skills. He enjoys telling stories through music as well.

Impressions from the cover:
Simple design, with a group of four students running toward a rick, possibly waiting to take them to home (or school). Suits the genre actually, and very attractive colors!

Impressions from the blurb:
A story from childhood, when we had these gangs of friends who we always hung out with, played with etc. and we had dreams to become the next Tendulkar, or Cantona or Sampras etc. It might also be a bit of a growing-up novel as well.

My review:
Sometimes you need to travel back in time. You need to go to that stage of life when we had nothing to fear, no responsibilities and the world was ours to be ourselves. Yeah, childhood was all that. Sometimes we travel back through our old photo albums. Sometimes through the stories we tell children. And sometimes, like today, it happens through reading a story.

Romi and Gang is a story right out of childhood. It revolves around a gang of four students, all passionate about cricket, and who enjoy to the maximum. It has all the innocence of childhood as well, with the four liking to play pranks, run races and believe in ghosts etc. They are like brothers by sport. The language, simple and easy to understand, is just right for the context and suited for children as well. Though the book does not delve into details of life’s mysteries, it does enough to convey a lot, like the guidance of teachers and parents in that phase of life. The story is just fun to read, and the illustrations inside are nice as well. A child could enjoy coloring in to make the inside as vibrant as the cover page.

I think the character of Kim threw the flow off track a little. It got an expectation that something big will come from that character, and that didn’t materialize. Similarly with the tension between Romi and Nikita. I did find a couple of grammatical and typo mistakes, but it didn’t distract me from the story. To point out a couple of things to the publisher, two pages weren’t printed completely. The last word of each line in those pages were a little cut. The second thing is that nothing about the author is mentioned. Praise for his first novel and this novel is there, but a paragraph about the author is needed.

An enjoyable tale, filled with the innocence of childhood, and something even an adult would enjoy reading.


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

Book details:
Title: Romi and Gang
Author: Tushar Raheja
Genre: Illustrated / Children’s Fiction
ISBN: 978-81-926810-0-9
Publishers: Pirates
Price: INR. 149

 


This book was given to me for review by Pirates Creative House. 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 at Tales Pensieve.


(June 27th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Complete/Convenient, by Ketan Bhagat

About the author:
Ketan Bhagat is an Indian author. He’s a creative person at heart and has done stints in television and print fields during his college days. This book is his debut novel.

Impressions from the cover:
Puts across the point the author is trying to make quite easily, with the Indian part shown near “Complete” and the Sydney part shown near “Convenient”. A lovely cover design, but the tagline wasn’t necessary.

Impressions from the blurb:
A narration of the thoughts of an NRI, newly married and arrived in Sydney. The story might invoke feelings of homesickness and love toward family etc.

My review:
Home is where the heart is. Yeah, the line’s a told and retold one, but I know it’s true. I haven’t gone far away from home, but I know people who have, and who have returned back as well. That’s the story of Kabir, the once reckless, carefree bachelor who finds out he’s been offered a posting in Sydney and goes over-the-moon on hearing it. Following that is a very short period in India, and for his single status, as his parents are convinced of his relationship with his girlfriend, he gets engaged and married quickly and reaches Sydney with his wife Myra. We’re taken on a tour of the city through the eyes of the couple, shown both the good things and the bad, love and confusion, an appeal for luxury and then the comforts of that unknown city. As expected, with the protagonist loving Sydney, we also see a lot of comparisons and such as to why Sydney life is better than Indian life. Our hardworking protagonist does what he needs to get his company from a little-known status to a well-known one, even if it meant missing out on important functions and getting his wife angry at him. With time he begins to realize where he belongs, and a sequence of events makes him decide to return.

This is a book you know the ending before you even read the preface. The cover just puts it there for you. Unless you are one who is hungry for money and wanting to get away from family maybe. What I liked in the story is the central idea, the one that wants to show the importance of family. There are some nice nuggets of wisdom thrown into the narration as well. The language is simple and to the point. There is light humor as well. It also showed the emotional side of a guy (but I still maintain that the tagline on the cover isn’t needed). To be honest, the first half of the book goes very tediously and I was tempted to put the book down after a hundred pages or so. Then it gets better and little quicker during the middle, and then super rushed toward the end with one thing on top of another leading to a dilemma and a solution almost instantaneously. Some details thrown in just at the end feel unwanted, feel the situation is overcooked before thrown out of the pan. Editing could have been better in a few places as well.

All in all, a decent read, and a one-time read at that.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book Details:
Title: Complete/Convenient
Author: Ketan Bhagat
ISBN: 978-93-80349-92-3
Genre: Humor / Romance / Family Drama
Publishers: Srishti Publishers
Price: INR. 195

 


This book was given to me for review by Srishti Publications. 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 at Tales Pensieve.


(June 25th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

About the author:
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, but is now a resident of California, USA. He is the author of international bestsellers, “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, both of which are set in Afghanistan.

Impressions from the cover:
A family story, with a father and his two children as the focus. And a lot of feathers involved in some way as well.

Impressions from the blurb:
The family angle is definitely implied, and more of the brother sister relationship as well. As with his novels, the words will touch our heart, for that’s his style.

My review:
Khaled Hosseini has this somewhat unique capability to touch a chord in the reader’s heart, bring out images from his words and it is that what capability that to me, has set him apart from other authors. Those who have read Kite Runner would understand what I mean, for though he doesn’t go directly to the heart of the matter, he sets his pace up slowly, making the reader suffer with pleasure for knowing what the next scene would be and eagerly turning the pages, absorbing the emotions that are hard to understand at times. To me, the novel The Kite Runner is possibly his best, and this novel is not as good, maybe a couple of notches lacking.

This novel is an explorative journey of the emotions of sibling love; of how the affection of a brother for his sister transcends time, and the memories of many heartfelt moments can never be thrown out of our heart completely, even if they are replaced by some others as the transition happens from childhood to adulthood. It was touching to read the story of Pari and Abdullah. A brother who loves his younger sister beyond anything else, who’d go to any lengths to keep her happy, even if it meant sacrificing his good shoes for a feather for her collection, who kept adding to that collection even when fate conspired to separate them in life and keeping hope that God would bring them back together again. The novel told of human tendency to do something that they do not want to do, because they feel they have to do it. In a secondary story, we are also told of the story of a young girl who is at a hospital because of family strife. That story focused on the ability of love to help in the healing of a broken heart, and also that one moment wherein one lacks courage to go through with a final step.

I think what puts this a rung less on the Hosseini ladder is that toward the end, the pace of the novel just seems to zoom. New characters just come in suddenly, the point of view changes suddenly and you get confused who is narrating. Like the time Nabi’s narration of his actions comes. There’s no clue that it’s Nabi who’s doing it, and it’s not until three pages after that we finally understand it is Nabi. Miracles seem to just happen very quickly and it loses that contemplative style that was there to that point. And another thing perhaps is the quick sub-story of the little girl, Roshi. I’d have liked to know more of her. You can tell the zoom effect toward the end when years pass by in just a few pages.

Is this as good as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns? No. It’s nearly there, but a couple of notches less I feel. You don’t feel as emotionally connected to the characters after a while. The innocent Pari, and her relationship with Abdullah, her brother is the focus of the novel at the start, and that changes. We’re taken through the rest of Pari’s life in the novel, but it doesn’t resonate like the brother-sister relationship and that narration. Abdullah’s life is completely obscured, and a few characters, like the commander and his family, just don’t make sense in the pace it has been done in. But in the mood setting, and appealing narration, Hosseini does weave his magic, and touches our heart.


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

Book Details:
Title: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-9-3829-5100-1
Publishers: Bloomsbury India
Price: INR 600

 


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.


(June 19th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Hope Factory, by Lavanya Sankaran

About the author:
Lavanya Sankaran is an Indian writer who is the author of The Red Carpet, a collection of short stories that were at the top of Hachette’s bestseller charts for over two years. She supports the Indian Foundation for the Arts, and the New York Council for Humanities. She studied political science and philosophy at Bryn Mawr College and lives in Bangalore. This book is her debut novel.

Impressions from the cover:
I don’t get any, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
 

Thoughts on the blurb:
A story of two families, a middle-class one with an aura of riches around and a poor family who works for the first. So a common story between the two would be interesting, especially in the contrasting conditions.

My review:
So to give a gist, the story revolves around the family of Anand, who is a small businessman, the owner of a motor works factory. He is looking to expand his small factory and starts to look for land that he needs for the new factory. He is married, and has two kids. His wife, Vidya is a very whimsical person who must have what she wants, and is very prominent and actively involved in the social scene. Her father, Harry is a very influential person with well-known and much respected contacts in various fields, and Harry tries to help his son-in-law with his problem as well. On the other hand, we have Kamala, one of the three maids working for Vidya. Her problems are money-based as well. She wants to save money so her son can attend a good school and get a proper education, secure his (and their) future. Her son Narayan however skips school and hangs out with the neighborhood rowdy gang, but takes good influences too and works hard to earn some money for his mother and himself. Lavanya takes us on a journey through these two stories with this novel.

The Hope Factory, in my opinion, is a wonderful novel of character examination. We have these various people with whose characters we might identify. Anand, the boss who wants his company to progress and is quite well-off, but doesn’t want to show-off that wealth or be too active in social circles. However, he is street smart, kind and generous too. Vidya, who is as easily flattered as she is hurt, who has these sudden whims and fancies that she wishes others to understand, but when the fancies get her to trouble, passes them off on others. She is quick to talk and judge, and doesn’t admit she is wrong. Kamala, the hard-working single mother who saves all her money for the son’s future, and though she was born into wealth, her life had a wrong turn awaiting her. Shanta, who is arrogant and bossy, and though kind when shown kindness, she reverts back to her old character like a leopard that can’t change its spots. These are but small facets of few characters in the novel. If we examine them as we read, we see many similarities to people around us. Lavanya’s language is simple, and there’s no beating about the bush. This directness is beautiful and makes it easy for me to imagine it. It’s not an extremely moving tale, but it touches our heart. It’s a touch heavy, but just a whisker, nothing that we will take an eternity to finish.

Coming to what I feel might have made it a little better, I think firstly the blurb could have been on the back cover, since as a reader, that’s the first place I usually look. In the story, Kavika’s character becomes as good as a main character, though she is a small one. So I feel a proper ending could have been got there, especially as at the starting and towards the middle parts, there is an interesting buildup that involves her character. And I felt the ending stages was sort of rushed through as events began to zoom by. Editing wise, it’s quite well done. I could find maybe one misprint throughout but that fell away in the reading.

Overall, a really enjoyable read, though most of the events are expected than unpredictable. I definitely look forward to reading more of her work.


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

Book details:
Title: The Hope Factory
Author: Lavanya Sankaran
Genre: Fiction/Drama
ISBN: 978-0-7553-2787-4
Publishers: Hachette India
Price: INR. 550

 


This book was given to me for review by Hachette India. 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 at Tales Pensieve.


(June 5th, 2013)