Book Review: How to Become a Billionaire by Selling Nothing, by Aditya Magal

Most of us dreams of becoming a millionaire. Yes, becoming rich is something that interests most of us, if not all of us. So a book titled “How To Become A Billionaire By Selling Nothing” would make us curious to know what it is about. Some might take a peek hoping it’s a book with real knowledge on how to do that. Others might look at the blurb and read it for the humor aspect which the book seems to have.

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Imagine a guy with a big ego. Not something very hard to imagine, I’m sure, but the protagonist of this book will leave you bemused at the size of his ego. Now if such a guy were to be a billionaire, whose observation is that he is, in fact, the greatest person on earth, then such a character and his doings already gift you a smile. Get an eccentric, out-of-this-world entrepreneur to meet him, and things transpire. Like the entrepreneur assigning him a stake in his company that produces “nothing”. Can the egotistical billionaire deal with this predicament? Read the book to know.

I liked the cover design and the idea behind it. There is enough humor in it to make you laugh, or smile through the read. Sarcastic dialogues, puns and spoofs aplenty, this book is about our country, and the situations it faces. You tend to relate to the characters in some way, especially at what they do to get things done. I also liked the sketches in the book.

The character of the egotistical Jhunjhunwala is comical at the start; however his exaggerated “awesomeness” becomes very predictable and boring as the plot progresses. It slows down what starts out as a nice read.

The book would still appeal to some of the people who love to read humor genre I think, but not to all.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book Details:
Title: How To Become A Billionaire By Selling Nothing
Series: N/a
Author: Aditya Magal
Genre: Humor Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9788184004342
Publisher: Ebury Press/ RHI
Price: Rs. 299

Reviewed for Random House India for a copy of the book, but the views are my own, and unbiased.


(31st October 2014)

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Book Review: Subbu’s Code, created by Balasubramaniam Meghanathan & illustrated by Avisek Chowdhury

If there is a type of book that any kid would have read the most, I guess it would be comics. Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Batman, Archies and Peanuts are some that come immediately to mind. When a friend has an idea for a comic and it finds wings and becomes published, it’s a wonderful thing. To read it was wonderful too.

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The comic is about a superstitious man by the name of Subbu, and one day, one very eventful day in his life. He is on his way to meet a publisher, and unwittingly gets into a school bus which has been hijacked by terrorists. How does that eventful day pan out? Read the book to find out.

I don’t quite know how to review a comic. It’s not the same as reviewing a novel. Did the story keep me interested? Yes, for the most part. I could know what was going to happen, and predictability does hamper the flow of any story. Was it humorous? Yes, for the most part. Perhaps knowing the author’s style and his fondness for Wodehouse helped in that too. There are memorable characters, the best of the lot being Mrs. Subbu. I liked that Subbu and his wife are complete opposites in character, and that she stood by Subbu when others were turning against him. The book also put in light vein, the tendency of society to act on an initial impression taking it to be true, without waiting to see if what was said was absolutely true. The illustrations are done nicely, and the cover as well. To take a common man into a comic, when superheroes and fantasy creations rule the roost in that genre was a novel idea. The main flipside of the book is that it is a bit predictable, and the sequence of the panels sometimes confuses. Maybe it is because the comic happens in two places/timelines that leads to this confusion.

Is it worth reading? Yes. It’s a one-time read that is good for a short journey. It’ll keep you interested.


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

Book Details:
Title: Subbu’s Code
Series: N/a
Author: Balasubramaniam Meghanathan
Illustrator: Avisek Chowdhury
Genre: Comic
ISBN/ASIN: 9788192893754
Publisher: Fablery
Price: Rs. 99

I own a copy of the book. The views expressed here are mine, and unbiased.


(30th October 2014)

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Book Review: God is a Gamer, by Ravi Subramanian

There is an expectation when a novel comes with a tagline “India’s No.1 Thriller Writer”. Ravi Subramanian’s novels usually deliver on that expectation, and when I got the book from Blog Adda, I was quite delighted to note that it was a signed copy.

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“God is a Gamer” was the title, and it interested me more because this is the first time the novel had no banking aspect in the title itself. The ones I have seen/read before have had that. “Bankster”, “If God was a Banker”… yeah, most of his books do have that. But the blurb and the start of the novel ensure that banking does play a part, and a significant one at that.

Head honchos of Mastercard and Visa take the help of an American politician to prevent the loss of their revenues in the Russian market. Later, when the American government is under threat from an online company, the politician asks the head honchos to return the favor and block that company from receiving online payments. These events set off others, seemingly unconnected and end up in the use of “bitcoins” – virtual money. Years later, that same politician is assassinated. Is it related? Adrian Scott is assigned to investigate there.

From Washington, the action shifts to India. The prime minister is headed to the US for treatment. The head of New York International Bank, Swami comes to know of a phishing scam that’s compromising multiple accounts. His boss, Malvika, offers him no help at all, and instead pushes the blame on Swami in front of the Singapore chief. When he sees things going against him, he turns to Aditya, an ex-employee of the bank for solace. Aditya now runs a small-time gaming company. On another front, Tanya and Varun run into each other at Goa, the former in town for a NASSCOM event. They run into each other again later, under very different circumstances. How are all these threads connected?

The first thing I liked was the cover. It was nicely designed. The story, even with multiple characters, maintains a decent pace to keep the reader engaged. With an assassination to begin with, it doesn’t surprise that that happens. The curiosity to know who the killer is, it keeps that sub-story going well. However, the immediate shift of setting somewhat diffuses the enthusiasm of a whodunit at that point. There are very few technical jargons involved; none that pull you down anyways. The short chapters keep the read crisp, and help the pace.

The short chapters, while keeping the read crisp, end up confusing the reader. One moment you are reading about the assassination in Washington, the next you are in India, and then back again. With two settings, it’d have been good if both were given narration at a length, and then switched. The short chapters also end up leaving the characters uninteresting because there wasn’t enough in each chapter for the reader to “connect with”. The twists, other than at the start, feel unbelievable and like they were there because one had to happen, not that it needed to happen. It was said to be the first bitcoin thriller, but there were very few mentions of bitcoins, and it felt lost.

While it has the characteristics of a Ravi Subramanian thriller, it’s not as good as it could have been. A one-time read at best; recommended for 3 or 4 hour journey.


Rated 5/10
Rated 5/10

Book Details:
Title: God is a Gamer
Series: N/a
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Genre: Bitcoin Thriller/ Crime Thriller
ISBN/ASIN: 9780143421399
Publisher: Penguin Books
Price: Rs. 299

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books! The views expressed in the review are my own, and unbiased.


(24th October 2014)

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Book Review: The Murder Bag, by Tony Parsons

Crime fiction is my favorite genre. To follow the trail of clues and bodies with the detective is fun, and if the book has pace in it to hold the attention from start to finish, then it is really satisfying. It was the title that grabbed my attention. I hadn’t read the author before, and the “link” between the victims as on Goodreads made me choose “The Murder Bag” by Tony Parsons to read.

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Three aspects of the novel are, to me, important in a crime fiction.

Detective: Max Wolfe, the detective, is a character I liked. Impulsive, confident and going purely on instinct, he doesn’t give a damn about chain of command or seniority. At some points in the investigation, these qualities do seem necessary. Even if these are considered to be the bad points to his character, there are admirable qualities to even them out, like being the best father to a darling daughter. Hard-headed and hard-hearted in work and loving when a soft touch is needed, I felt Parsons has given this character a good sketching.

Victims and motive: Initially the victims feel unconnected. But then, it is found that they are related by the posh, private high school they went to. The link opens up possibilities of who the killer might be, and helps the read to progress. The motive is the oldest motive in the book: revenge. And it works. It takes a while for the characters to develop and for this motive to become a possibility, but once it develops, the book is a treat to read.

Pace: The prologue and initial chapters start the novel off with decent pace, but it doesn’t hold through the read. It dips at times and then peaks again. It might not be something that would appeal to every reader, but the peak points, especially the confrontation between Wolfe and the killer, are well written, and exciting to read.

In general: Easy narration and a plot worth reading makes any book a success. This book is no different. I would have loved to see some better character sketching for the secondary characters, but other than that, I liked reading this novel. And I would read it again soon.


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

Book Details:
Title: The Murder Bag
Series: Max Wolfe #1
Author: Tony Parsons
Genre: Crime Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9781780892344
Publisher: Century/RHI
Price: Rs. 599

Reviewed for Random House India for a copy of the book, but the views are my own, and unbiased.


(24th October 2014)

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