Posted in Books

Book Review: Pittho’s World, by Murtaza Razvi

About the author:
Murtaza Razvi (1964-2012) was a journalist with Dawn Media Group. His first book, Musharraf: The Years in Power, was published by HarperCollins India in 2009.

Cover and blurb:
The cover and blurb together makes me expect a collection of short stories that are from life, and has death, but still is narrated with zeal and emotion, to get the magic that storytelling, particularly Arabian Nights, possesses. It is something I look forward to with interest.

My thoughts:
There’s a magic that comes in reading books. But the prospect of choosing a book heavily depends on the cover and the blurb of a book. If that intrigues the muse, the reader’s curiousity to find out more, take the path the author has traveled while penning the book, then the book gets chosen. If the journey satisfies the curiousity, then the book is good. If it makes the reader question himself as to why was he curious to know more, then somewhere down the line, the book has had a glitch. And that question usually arises only when the book has dipped to such a level that there’s no compromises.

I, as a reader first, feel this book had that interest to the premise, but unfortunately, the story was a lot different from the premise. What I expected was a magical narration of stories, similar to Scherezade and the King in Arabian Nights, not fairy tales or such but something that was, as the blurb puts it, “the magical domain of storytelling”. As a poet, I’m not particularly agreeable to the notion that life is magical. Sometimes, my writing is dependent on the very fact that it is not. It has hassles, and drama, which make it sometimes very drab. However, if one were to put life in fiction, I believe that it can be made more interesting than it actually is. Razvi’s narration, through the eyes of the protagonist Sheku, doesn’t make us believe there is magic in life, rather we are just taken to the lives of his (unnamed) family members in an almost soap opera kind of effect. The starting is interesting, the dialogues are decent and progressive, the language tries to hook the reader into the scene, but then I can’t wait to see when it ends. The love for storytelling, which the blurb says the protagonist and the listener Rani has, is not brought out effectively. Yes, life and death are heavy choices for any book to bring out, but an association with The Arabian Nights, one of the world’s most loved collection of stories brings an expectation in itself, and one that has to be partially, if not fully met. The title choice, and the book cover, make little sense and it felt odd, and quite difficult to finish the read.

Not one of my favorite reads, and one that I feel will need a lot of patience to complete. A call out to Harper Collins regarding the author bio in the book. The mistake in the year of death is quite a serious one.


Rated 4/10
Rated 4/10

Book Details:
Title: Pittho’s World
Author: Murtaza Razvi
ISBN: 9788172239343
Genre: Fiction/ Short Stories
Publishers: Harper Collins India
Price: INR 299

 


This book was given to me for review by Indiblogger and Harper Collins. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws.


(Sept 30th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Never Mind Yaar, by K. Mathur

About the author:
K. Mathur is an Indian author based in New Zealand. This is her first novel.

Cover and blurb:
Frankly, the cover does very little to invoke interest in the book. The colors are quite soothing, but otherwise, it just feels like a nature scene, rather than a fiction book with friendship and college, young love etc. that the blurb indicates.

My thoughts on the book:
“Never Mind Yaar”… I think that’s one of the more familiar catchphrases to my tongue. I remember college days when we used to shirk off things with those three words. We almost ended making it very vernacular in our gang of friends from different parts of the country. So when this catchphrase came up as the title for a book up for review, I took it up, and the blurb pushed my expectations up as well. It was a college story, and I felt it would be fun.

The story of a lifelong friendship between three girls, two of whom knew each other before, and their college life has been put across well by K. Mathur in this book. You can almost picture that opening part of the story, when the professor is standing at the entrance to a classroom, and the long-time friends greet each other very enthusiastically. You can picture the excitement that Louella is feeling, those moments of joy when she gets a new moped. You can feel that the trio, Louella Binaifer and Shalini will be great friends through the story. Throw in love at first sight for the third of the trio, and the story has the needed masala as well.

So what makes the book interesting? First, the friendship between the three girls. It’s not a plain friendship. It’s multicultural too. Louella is a Christian, Binaifer a Parsee and Shalini from a very orthodox Hindu family. Their friendship has been described nicely through the book. Another part is the character of the young boy Bhagu, who Shalini falls in love with. Young and aware of the state the country is in, he wants to do his bit to bring about a change. He’s a student activist, and adamant of certain things. You also like Shalini’s grandmother’s character. From the time Shalini describes her to the other two girls, you feel the character of Mem would be a fantastic one to explore. It also looks at the thoughts of the characters in a multicultural setting.

The not so interesting parts? The cover would be the place to begin, as I said initially. And the title, which has little to no relevance to the story. The characters do not feel solid, they don’t appeal to me as much as I wanted them to, expected them to. And there is not much details of college life either. I struggled to get through the initial parts of the book, and even overall, the pace is quite slow. The book feels like the author has tried to do a lot in little, and so doesn’t hold my interest much.

A one-time read, and a slow one at that. You can pick it up for a good friendship story, but don’t expect too much from it.


Rated 5/10
Rated 5/10

Book details:
Title: Never Mind Yaar
Author: K. Mathur
ISBN: 978-0-473-17480-4
Genre: Fiction
Publishers: Southpac Publishers
Price: INR. 350 (via Pothi.com)

 


This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced, and is not a paid review.


Also for the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(Sept. 25th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Glimpses of an Indian Soul, by Betty Paul Thottam

My thoughts on the book:
Sometimes, I wonder if I should be reviewing poetry books. Being a poet myself, I know it’s not easy to express thoughts in verse, keep the flow and the emotions.

It was only recently that I chanced upon this book, being a freebie on Amazon for a day. I snapped it up immediately, the appeal being the title of the book, “Glimpses of an Indian Soul”.

Looking further into the book on Goodreads, I came across the excerpt as below…

Here in the West, whenever India is mentioned, we tend to associate it with either call centers or yoga. Without a doubt this is a monochromatic view of a very diverse nation with a billion people. ‘Glimpses of an Indian Soul’ is a collection of poems that snapshots different facets of India and Indian society. It boldly speaks out against social evils like untouchability, corruption, terrorism, religious intolerance, poverty and female infanticide. It celebrates the Indian spirit and captures some very humanistic traditions with an Indian flavour. It captures in a very poetic way, mundane everyday scenes in India.

I do hear of that stereotype, but I guess I cannot understand it, since I’m yet to go abroad and hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

The poems in the collection are expressive. Starting from the first, where the poet expresses his sorrow at the various things corrupting our nation, and calls for us to wake up and stop the atrocity, each poem speaks of India from his eyes, an aspect of our nation.

For me, my favorite poem in the collection was Gitanjali. It spoke as I would have spoken too. Expressing respect to the great work of Tagore, wonder if the poet could ever write like that, if what he wrote could be that way or even if he should write more when such great works were there. Then we see humility that like only a candle could lead in darkness, similarly when the greatness of the poet Tagore has set, it is the poet who should keep the light alive.

Another poem is the one of mother and child, which the poet says symbolizes hope and the future.

One of the more heartfelt ones is the plea of a Harijan, to not let caste come in the way of his son’s dreams, in the same way that it came between him and his dreams.

The collection has a few gems, and I’d definitely go back to read it.


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

Book Details:
Title: Glimpses of an Indian Soul
Author: Betty Paul Thottam
ISBN: B006NOC6UY
Genre: Poetry
Publishers: Thought Sanctuary via Amazon
Price: INR. 55

 


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.


(Sept 9th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Paperback Badshah, by Abhay Nagarajan

About the author:
Abhay Nagarajan worked as a financial advisor for more than two years. He enjoys writing and reading statistics of cricket, which has been his first love since class five. This is his first novel.

Cover and blurb:
A humorous cartoon predicting a king, and matching the title… the blurb made me expect a humorous rendition of an author’s journey.

My thoughts on the book:
When you read an author’s debut work, you have no expectations in terms of what you want to see, or don’t want to see. That’s not quite true when it comes to the author’s works after reading the debut. If you absolutely loved the debut, then you’d want to see the same standards met, if not exceeded. If you despised the book to the core, you would be praying for better from the author. If you ask me why take that author’s book in the first place, I’d say it’s because writers usually grow with each book, or atleast should. So you always expect better and praying for the best, take up that book to read.

I didn’t like Abhay’s first book very much. The tagline there was also having the phrase “humorous journey” in it. So this book, I was expecting some fun. It did have fun, but not in loads. Not enough to classify as “humorous journey” anyways. I think humor is a matter of perspective, so for me it didn’t work out. Doesn’t mean that for you it shouldn’t. From the onset, the chapter about Raghu, the protagonist meeting his favorite author, it was evident that it might not be my cup of tea. I for one don’t find it humorous to read the titles of books like that. I can understand some subtitles being long, and such, but this didn’t work out. Even more unbelievable was that an actress would promote the “bestseller” book. What is good about the book is that it looks at life of a full-time author, one who has quit his job to pursue his passion. That journey is certainly worth reading the book for.

Not the best book that I’ve read, but most certainly not a bore. I’d rate this higher if, if the exploration of humor was something better than references to comical incidents that were controversial, or acronyms from names etc. The characters themselves appear sad and lost, so the conversational humor at best brings a chuckle out of me. Better book compared to his first book though.


Rated 5/10
Rated 5/10

Book Details:
Title: The Paperback Badshah
Author: Abhay Nagarajan
ISBN: 9789380349961
Genre: Humor/Fiction
Publishers: Srishti
Price: INR. 150

 


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 Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(Sept 9th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Never Go Back (Jack Reacher #18), by Lee Child

About the author:
Lee Child is the nom-de-plume of British thriller writer Jim Grant. Child’s novels follow the adventures of an American military cop Jack Reacher who is a wanderer.

Cover and blurb:
A guy, possibly Reacher, at a checkpost, entering some high security area, that’s what the cover impression was. When I find that that indeed is the case, and he’s actually back in his old department, and he’s accused of a sixteen year old homicide, the tone is set for Lee Child to make his thriller.

My thoughts on the book:
If you have read Jack Reacher, and know his character, then you’d know he is a wanderer and usually has a fling with one woman in his books. You’d also know that he doesn’t go back to the same place. So when the premise of one Jack Reacher thriller is set with him going back to the headquarters of his old unit, you know something is up. Sure enough, he’s there to meet the current commanding officer Susan Turner. Unfortunately, he finds that she’s not there. Instead, it’s a burly looking Colonel who tells him that he’s being accused of a sixteen year old murder, and there is another case also. To add to the thrill factor, Reacher is pulled back into the army, made a Major again. Susan Turner meanwhile has been arrested for some other case, and is being held in high security.

Reacher, being Reacher, feels the injustice meted out and wants to right the wrong (as always). He finds an ally in a nice sergeant, and puts his thinking cap on. He breaks out of prison, breaks Turner out too, and from there on, it’s the good guys (Turner and Reacher) against the villains (commanded by voices known only as Romeo and Juliet).

I don’t know if this is the best Jack Reacher thriller yet, but it most certainly ranks right up there with his best. You want to turn the pages, want to know what lies ahead, and want to know what the unpredictable Reacher will get up to next. The book is a large one compared to his other books, but the size doesn’t affect the pace or the curiosity. His character is as interesting with him in the army, as it is when he is out of it. His arrogant and confident character is shown brilliantly, and yes, there’s that romancer part as well. Even the emotional angle shown to Reacher felt nice. I think only the ending felt oddly out of place. It felt uncharacteristic. I wish it had ended in some other way, and kept the pace it had before.

I wait for the next instalment of the series now, and go back and read the ones I’ve missed.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book Details:
Title: Never Go Back
Author: Lee Child
Series: Jack Reacher #18
ISBN: 978-0-593-06575-4
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publishers: Bantam Press
Price: INR. 599

 


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.


(Sept 9th, 2013)