Posted in Books

Book Review: My Stroke of Luck, by Vijay Santhanam

About the author:
Vijay Santhanam was born in Madras, India. Having planned for, and happily taken, early retirement after 21 years of corporate life, he now pursues his passions fully, which include writing, teaching, following sports and other interests.

My thoughts on the book:
Reviewing someone’s life story is not my cup of tea. It’s their experience, and only they can put it in a way that does that experience justice. That’s my belief, and it’ll always be. The plus side to reading a non-fiction is that it can inspire us to really live our own life, inspire in a way that is different from fiction. Fiction takes you to a world you can imagine just as easily through the author’s words as he did when he plotted it. Non-fiction is harder, it takes you to the person’s life and the hardships that he faced.

Vijay suffered a stroke at the age of 41, one that paralyzed the right side of his body. He starts off recollecting the day, and what symptoms were seen, ones he didn’t recognize, and even when he did recognize, was adamant not to accept. It is human nature after all to not accept we are ill. He goes into the details, but not so much that I’ve to imagine the actions, just understand them and feel what he felt at that time. I also feel like giving him a standing ovation for his reaction after finding out. Once he gets to know he’s not going to die, he immediately says he will fight.

And fight he does. He accepts his wife’s decisions, accepts that he’ll need help in doing mundane, daily things and start from the first. He uses a light tone, which makes it easier for us to read. He puts in details of his effort to overcome his condition, and how he conditions his brain. That puts the cover design into perspective as well. He loses his grasp over languages and has to re-learn them, and he sticks with his effort rather than giving up. That’s why the subtitle. He also brings his passions and hobbies with the read as well, and I liked the cricket part.

It’s wonderful to realize that even in our most troubled times, there is hope, and there are people who’ll stand by us and give us support. It’s also nice to see the author has not missed to thank each of those persons, and dedicated the book to his wife as well.

This doesn’t read like a medical history of the author, rather an inspiring journey that tells us not to give up on life even when it feels like life has given up on us.


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

Book details:
Title: My Stroke of Luck
Author: Vijay Santhanam
Genre: Non-Fiction/Inspirational
ISBN: 978-93-81431-95-5
Publishers: Hay House India
Price: INR. 299

 


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 Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(July 31st, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse

About the author:
Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962) was a German author who later became a Swiss national. As a Western man profoundly affected by the mysticism of Eastern thought, he wrote many novels, stories, and essays that bear a vital spiritual force that has captured the imagination and loyalty of many generations of readers. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946.

My thoughts on the book:
Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha is a good book! It takes us on a journey through philosophy, through the eyes of the protagonist Siddhartha, a Brahmin boy. He is the traveler, the person curious to find answers to the questions only he seems to have, and loved equally by all around him. For finding those answers, he decides to go on a journey and become a traveling ascetic, a Samana. He travels with the Samanas along with his friend Govinda, living in and with the pain that is part of a Samana’s life. When he realizes that even being a Samana doesn’t have all the answers, and that he’s learnt his fill from the Samana group he is traveling with, he moves to find a new teacher, the Illustrious one, Gautam. There he realizes what he needs, that can’t be taught. After a talk with the Buddha, he realizes he’s lost a friend but found himself. He leaves there and finds a teacher in Kamala, the well known courtesan. He binds himself to riches for her, but still can’t get out of the restless state of his mind. He leaves there soon as well.

The beauty of this story lies not just in its narration but in its philosophy as well. Through Siddhartha, we find our own lives at times. The restlessness to learn more, to get some unanswerable questions answered, and still not be satisfied. We may not always travel physically, but we let our minds travel through thoughts. We want to find ourselves, our dreams and our goals, and not just in our learning. I saw all this. The narration doesn’t get visualized, but the effect of the narration in my mnd stayed longer. Even nature can teach us things, that is also a wisdom from this book.

Enjoyed the story, and I would read it again as well.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: Siddhartha
Author: Herman Hesse
Translated by: Joachim Neugroschel
Genre: Fiction/Philosophy
ISBN: 9780142437186
Publishers: Penguin
Price: INR. 250

 


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


Shared with First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws.


(July 28th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Two Brothers, by Ben Elton

About the author:
Ben Elton is an English author. His career as both performer and writer encompasses some of the most memorable and incisive comedy of the past twenty years.

Thoughts from cover and blurb:
Good match between the two, and for a novel that is spoken about as his most personal novel to date, the cover speaks volumes, and I feel that is good!

My thoughts on the book:
Let me not digress here! Historical fiction and I don’t usually go hand in hand. I think when I took on this book, which I’ve been told is small by historical fiction length in general, I didn’t know what I was trying! The plot sounded very different, and the cover, which I checked out before deciding to read it, was very appealing.

I’ve taken a lot of time to read this book, and still not quite sure if it has sunk in. I’d need another read to see if it has. Long fiction novels have that effect on me. The story of two Jewish brothers at the time of the Nazi Armageddon… yeah, that kind of speaks for itself, and the narration is captivating. It carries the reader through the novel. It’s not something unexplored in previous novels by other authors, but maybe it is this quality of narration that sets this novel apart.

A flood of emotions and it does beautiful justice to the backdrop of the novel as well, in both time and place. It has been a good read, and one that is hard to criticize or write a big fat review for. If only the book wasn’t as long as it was, but that’d not help, because it wouldn’t be as good as it was then.

Oh well, que sera sera!


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

Book details:
Title: Two Brothers
Author: Ben Elton
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-593-06206-7
Publishers: Bantam Press
Price: INR. 650

 


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 First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws.


(July 24th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Here Sat a Key Maker, by Dr. Makarand Lohire

About the author:
Dr. Makarand Lohire is currently undergoing his rural stint, working toward bringing affordable healthcare and fulfilling his dream of making a difference to the lives of people. He writes what he observes during his travels to Mumbai, the villages and back.

Thoughts from cover and blurb:
I actually don’t get a relation between the tale told by the blurb, and the cover. Though the cover alone speaks of maybe luck and murder, the blurb speaks of a romantic version with many characters intertwined. It’s an interesting cover design, but not one that I understand very well.

My thoughts on the book:
I think what attracted to me in this book was the plot. It was different. It had three different scenarios, all of which ended with a plan to get out of the scenario. The book was about the three plots coming together, all the lives coming together. It made me interested to know how these three different subplots would intertwine in the novel.

The story begins with the author, a doctor meeting Javed, a key maker, and realizing that he was the same keymaker who was very poor not-so-long ago. On inquiring, Javed tells his story to the author, who in turn tells the same story to us. The story is about Javed, an honest hardworking key maker, has a crush on a rich girl who he sees every day at a traffic signal. When he and his dog are beaten up by a bespectacled guy, four guys come to his rescue, and later that very night, one of the four kill the bespectacled guy. After which the four start taking the help of Javed to get duplicate keys to rich houses done, and realize their dream of getting rich. On a visit to a rich man’s house, Javed sees his traffic signal girl there, and thus his life and the rich guy’s (Sashank) life intertwine. The story is a mixed narration of the lives of Javed and Sashank.

Okay. Let’s get the good stuff first. The characters are quite wonderful. Javed, Sashank and Preity all come across to the reader as they are meant to. Their emotions come across well. They are sketched for who they are, and even have depth. The intertwining of the plot is good. And it tells a lot of things about trust, taking advantage of things, thoughts under pressure etc. There is a good bit of philosophy thrown in subtly. The twists in the plot were admirably delivered, and the connection between Sashank and Javed, as seen in the end, that was unexpectedly delightful.

Coming to what I feel didn’t work, one was the flashback. It didn’t work because firstly, if Javed recollected the story to the doctor, then Sashank’s point of view would never come into the picture. Javed wouldn’t know about Sashank’s college life, or his daily activity. The second reason, assuming that somehow Javed got to know of it, would be because the story doesn’t end with a flashback. Though the character of Toya comes across as wittily delivered, when his slip of tongue dialogues are delivered without a translation, the reader is confused as to what he is saying. The same goes for the Marathi dialogues, which the author or anyone who knows Marathi might understand, but one not knowing Marathi wouldn’t. Editing needs a lot of work, as there are typo errors here and there and dialogue presentation too.

The story, overlooking these things, flows very nicely and is pretty engaging. It is a light read, and can be completed in a few hours. Looking at plotting alone, I would definitely look forward to reading more of his work.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book details:
Title: Here Sat A Key Maker
Author: Dr. Makarand Lohire
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-93-80349-86-2
Publishers: Srishti Publishers
Price: INR. 100

 


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 Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(July 21st, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Flute in the Forest, by Leela Gour Broome

About the author:
Leela Gour Broome an Indian author who lives near Pune. She enjoys playing with words – painting her puns into cartoons or cooking up real and imaginary yarns for children or anyone else who is willing to listen.

Thoughts from cover and blurb:
A light read about a young girl’s life as she discovers her dreams, her passions and her life itself.

My thoughts on the book:
It was pure luck that this book came into my possession. I saw the title staring at me from the shelves at Landmark and I just knew that I wanted it. And the book did not disappoint.

Flute in the Forest is a simple tale, about a young girl who stays in a sanctuary with her father, who is the forest ranger there. Her mother left them for a career on the stage, after Atiya, the girl, was afflicted by polio. After that happened, her father became even more protective of her, and stopped music from her life so she didn’t get attracted to the stage.
She loves her father very much, and knows the forest like the back of her hand. When her classmates tease her endlessly because of her limp, she goes off on adventures in other parts of the forest. Once, she hears a flute and is mesmerized by its magic. The story, titled on this instance, follows young Atiya’s life.

The story does justice to the thoughts and actions of a young child who has been brought up almost as an adult itself. She’s responsible, thoughtful and wise, as well as innocent and cheeky. The language is simple, as is needed in a children’s fiction. The flow is nice. There are morals and good character values explored through the tale. It shows a power that is there in music. Lots of things to enjoy, that’s for sure. I like Atiya and the Ogre Uncle’s characters.

If at all, something is there to feel let down, maybe it is a hint of predictability to certain events. And maybe a premature end to a growing friendship. Just when that part is getting enjoyable, it ends, though not in an abrupt way. I wanted to know more about Atiya and Gopal etc. So a little more lengthier novel would have been even better!

Otherwise, overall, this is a tale as enchanting and magical as the title. It’s a light read, refreshing, with some nice illustrations along with the chapter names. I’d recommend it as worth reading, and it goes into my favorite books.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: Flute in the Forest
Author: Leela Gour Broome
Genre: Children’s Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-143-33160-5
Publishers: Puffin Publications
Price: INR. 199

 


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 Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(July 20th, 2013)