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)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken, by Tarquin Hall

About the author:
Writer and journalist Tarquin Hall has lived and worked in much of South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the US. He is married to journalist Anu Anand and lives in Delhi. This is the third in his Vish Puri series.

Cover and blurb:
I guess it’s a generic cover for the series, featuring the silhouette of the potbellied, bespectactled detective. The blurb brings an impression of known yet unknown. I feel I’ve read the story somewhere, yet this is the first time I’m reading Tarquin’s writing.

My thoughts on the book:
A crime fiction with an Indian detective written by a foreign author… how different! That’s what intrigued me about the book the most. The cover didn’t appeal, the blurb sounded more humorous than deadly as did the title, so the author’s background added to the little appeal of the humorous plot. I feel crime fiction needs four main things: pace in narration, a good detective, likely suspects and the motive.

Well, there is pace in narration when the case makes a head start, but till then it’s a little slow, and depending on the omnipresent humor to take it along. The sub-case, The Case of the Missing Moustache does make you chuckle, if not laugh out loud, and the introduction to the portly detective and his battle against the weighing scales was also fun.

Vish Puri, the portly unorthodox detective, witty and battling his wife (who calls him Chubby) to avoid a diet, taking on small cases to keep his brain active (reminded me a little of Holmes and his cocaine solution) is a treat to read. He has amusing nicknames for his staff, and very different ways to meet his clients. He has a passion for cricket, and this story has a cricket case in the making for him. Oh yes, he also has a moustache that he grooms to perfection, and is a member of the Moustache Organization of Punjab (MOP).

Suspects… well, this is a long case, and has a sub case, so we are taken on a ride at times by Tarquin, especially across the border. With the recent controversies that brewed in cricket, in the subcontinent, it felt right the way it ended. It felt predictable, but right. I guess you will enjoy this crime a little, though it might make you a little uneasy about butter chicken.

Motive… not sure about the main case, but the moustache case I felt had a seriously funny motive! So partly there yes.

I liked Puri’s character, and his Mummy ji’s character as well. The information on India and Pakistan is also well done. Overall, the book holds you in its humor. I liked it.


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

Book Details:
Title: The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken
Author: Tarquin Hall
Series: Vish Puri #3
ISBN: 978-0-09-956187-3
Genre: Crime Fiction / Humor
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR. 399
 


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.


(Sept 9th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Because I am a Girl – Seven Girls Seven Lives, by Plan India

My thoughts on the book:
Growing up in India, there are quite a few things about the country you hear, and later on, through newspapers and articles, know that it is probably true. It would be saddening, yes, but true. Perhaps the state of the nation isn’t as bad now as it was before, or maybe it is, I do not know. That’s not the point I’m trying to make anyways. One of the more spoken about points in newspapers and forums, or sometimes even between my friends and me, is the life of the girl child in India. There was a time when I heard of female foeticide so much that it made me sick. The preference to a boy to be the next-in-line, or not giving enough attention to the daughter’s needs… that was something that was up for debate each time.

I have been recommended this book by multiple friends. I’m thankful for that, for this is a non-fiction that inspires in a way that others cannot. This are seven life stories, of seven girls in different parts of the country, who have broken these beliefs and survived obstacles life has thrown in front of them. They have chased down dreams, and found happiness when at one time in their lives; those might have been a choice they couldn’t have made. Each story strikes a chord with the reader, and you can’t help but admire their tenacity and will to learn from life, something that cannot be learnt from books.

I have two reasons why I chose this book to read and review, even though non-fiction may not admittedly be my favorite genre to read. One is that the book was about girls in India, and their story narrated by other girls. The more appealing reason, in tandem with the first, was the cover. Innocence and happiness was reflected in the essence of childhood, and the rains make one nostalgic for those days. The book felt right to read, and it was. I think reading reality, if not experiencing it, can make at least some difference to our life. Read this book for stories of hope and strength, dreams and reality, love and life. Read it like life, and not a story. Then you might, just might, feel the effect.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book Details:
Title: Seven Girls Seven Lives
Author: Multiple Authors
Compiled by: Plan India
ISBN: 978-8-184-00156-3
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR. 299

 


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
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(Sept 9th, 2013)