Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Bend In The Road - Nicholas Sparks (Book)

A Bend In The Road - Nicholas Sparks.
Nicholas Sparks and Jojo Moyes were two of my favorite writers when it comes to reading "fillers", before I discovered magical "P G WOdehouse" but now it will be a different story altogether. As every-time I pick up a book from the likes of Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez or say Mr. King as I recently did, I need a filler to create a kind of gap. And their books have always worked like a charm with me. One of my very close (and very kind) friend happens to be a huge huge fan of both of them and she has sort of given me their entire collection in eBook form. Hence I keep picking up a book from them in order of their publication and keep reading them to create gaps, to refresh my mind so I can put it to work again as I plan to pick some heavy read next (God of small things and Ministry of Utmost Happiness coming up next). I even used Chetan Bhagat books like that not so long ago, alas! they are over and he has taken a premature retirement from writing (thank god for that?). So, this was a pretty easy read as well, a typical Nicholas Sparks story. So far I have read half a dozen of his books and realized there is a pattern in his book, like they will always start with some kind of loss in life, gradually move forward with something nice to look up to for characters, following with a twist in the tale, will keep the reader in tenterhooks for a while and they will finally end with a happy note (mostly) but will leave a lump in your throat, tears in your eyes but will still make you grin from ear to ear. Although, I haven't forgiven him for that mind-numbing ending he gave to "Message in A Bottle", No ways that books calls for that ending. But what to do, so is life with Nicholas Sparks stories I guess.
A beautiful story of Deputy Sherrif Miles, who is happily married to his high school sweetheart with a terrific cute son Jonah. A bend in the road changes their life for good when his wife is killed in a hit and run case. With no clue who killed her or was it an accident? Miles spends all his time looking for clues, overlooking his son's school and stuff. Till the charming Sarah comes along as Jonah's school teacher, who not only helps him in school, they gradually develop a good repo. She too has her own past and a story to tell. How they fall in love and as life starts looking good for them, comes the twist in the tale to finish it all in one terrible swoop. Story is very smartly told from two different angle's, the first one is narrated by a third person who is following Miles and Jonah all the way from accident and thereafter and the second is how the story opens up for the reader. Nichoals Sparks is able to very well keep the reader in suspense throughout (Although it was easily predictable for me) still works. But the way and the timing how it opens up all is one terrific twist. Again, even in this one too, the entire story, cast and everything revolves around the sleeping town of New Bern, North Carolina (USA) as it always happens with all his books. It is very charming to go through their easy going slow country life, actually thats what always works in the favor of all his books I guess as he gives us what we do not have in our real life (peace and tranquility). Fortunately this one doesn't have an ending that I always dread for, of-course anything can happen with him but it isn't as hunky dory as well.
If you have read this one, do let me know how you like it or if it didn't work for you. Also, which one is your favorite Nicholas Sparks book of-course other than the fantastic "Message in a Bottle" and "The Notebook". I would love to read them breaking the sequence :).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Man Jeeves - P G Wodehouse (Book)

My Man Jeeves - P G Wodehouse.

I read and finished my first Stephen King book last week (The Shining) and I am sure you did read my review of how I lived through the terror :). P G Wodehouse had to come in picture as a saving grace for my fragile heart which wasn't performing well as I went through Mr. King's terrific book. Although, I consider myself an ignorant fool as about a month back I had no idea as who this Mr. P G Wodehouse was :) can you believe that. But then my great friends in our every growing book club on Facebook kept talking about PGW and I was shocked to see that, not one person ever disliked any of his works. let alone criticizing it. And with all those lovely reviews, I gather that his books are a laugh riot (a warning coming up on that). What "The Shining" did to me can only be undone by a book and a writer like that. Hence I had to start this lovely "my first PG Wodehouse book" at the dead of the night on one fateful Friday. Around 3 AM as I finished King's book, of-course I couldn't hit the bed as I happen to have a bed which has no covered box and its more like a bloody cot with so much space below it. I just couldn't gather all my guts to climb up on it where my lovely wife and kiddo were peacefully snoring. I thought better of it all and picked "My Man Jeeves" right then and there and started. Around 20 pages down the line, (Trust me when I say this) I was actually laughing out loud, so loud that my mom got up and asked me "Have you bloody gone nuts? what the Deuce you've been smoking and drinking all night?". And that is what Mr. P G Wodehouse is all about. DO NOT start or read any of his books in the night or beware - THAT could happen to you too my friend.

Jeeves as the title goes is the right hand man of Bertie Wooster, a hardcore English (Johnny English and Mr Bean came to my mind). These short stories are some of the actions Bertie has and is always saved by the ever efficient Jeeves, who has solution to all his worldly problems. The problems could be as big as what to wear for an evening party to a formal meeting, to what to eat and what to have with tea. How to take care of uninvited guests, solutions to even Bertie's friends problems are a left hand job for the charming man Jeeves. Now Jeeves is definitely not from the same planet that we inhabit as he doesn't walk, talk or do other humanely stuff, he floats on the floor, seriously you've got to read in PGW's words, how he enters a room, roams around doing his chores, how he talks and advises them, gets their attention (I love his coughing). But beware of what he hates, his mood swings are to die for. Imagine when his master decides to grow a mustache, the world must come to an end for Jeeves. He is totally a damn good lovable character that you just cant get enough of. This book and these characters of Bertie and Jeeves got me thinking that aren't they bloody English's response to our own "Akbar and Birbal"?. If you have read PGW and these stories, I am sure you will agree with me here, would love to know your thoughts on that. Also, there is a mention of Bertie's Aunt Agatha who lives in London, I guess comically they are referring to Agatha Christie? may be. Since this was my first PGW, I am yet to explore it fully but any light thrown on these characters from the experience and well read crowd will be highly appreciated.

Do let me know if you have read this one or his other works, how did you like them? As I am definitely inclined to go further poor by getting his all other works too. Which one you recommend that I jump to after my next King book which I am about to start soon ;). And if you are an ignorant fool and an unread person like me, who hasn't heard of PGW, go rob a book store, hide behind it and read some of his works before showing your face to your well read friends. I am ready for the brick bat anyways as just cant lie about books that I haven't read or writers that I haven't heard of :(. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Karna's Wife (The Outcast's Queen) - Kavita Kane (Book)

Karna's Wife (The Outcast's Queen) - Kavita Kane.

I simply love Mythological books and as the latest trend there is a plethora of Mythological Fiction available, which is even great for someone like me. I keep taking breaks from the heavier stuff and I need these books to go back to normal life especially when I am done with one of scariest thrillers or horrors. They work wonders for me, although I am hardcore Non-believer but love the story aspect of the same. I don't know how and when it all started but joining my hands in front of a statue is not my thing, I do not deny the presence of a supreme power but thats that. Now, when it comes to books specially (mytho) fiction, I have read a lot of  them and mostly liked them, some I loved, some I hated too thats life for a book-lover. It all started with Amish Tripathi's "Shiva Trilogy" which I totally loved and finished back to back, had never imagined Shiva like that, I always loved him as God of death, the destroyer and was always in awe with his character, might, life and story behind it. Next I moved to Ashwin Sanghi's works and they were even better researched barring his latest which wasn't a mytho but didnt work for me at all. While I kept reading whatever I could lay my hands on but I was looking for something based on one of my favorite character (Karn) from the Epic Mahabharat till I got hold of Chitra Divakaruni Bannerjee's "Palace of Illusions" WHOA! that was a mind blowing book and I must say this that works of Amish and Ashwin Sanghi and company just paled in front of her imagination (mean fiction), totally awesome and I thought my search ended there, till I got Kavita Kane's "Karna's Wife - The Outcast's Queen".

If I go back in time to my school days, I vaguely remember our 5th or 6th standard CBSE curriculum, we had "Sankshipt Mahabharat" and "Sankshipt Ramayan" as a part of Hindi Literature. I was never a "Ram guy" but I was more of someone totally in awe with either "Karn or Krishna" both were my type of guys who never got their due. Even while the Doordarshan days, I am sure you will agree that these two TV serials were totally fantastic and sent us closer to our mythological epics and were unbelievably terrific (then). But if you watch them today, you will find them hilarious to say the least but the character of Karn was so well played by Pankaj Dhir, I can still not forget his name I guess and the one of Bhishm Pitamah were carved out totally beautifully. While reading Palace of Illusions as well as Karna's Wife - their faces kept coming to my mind and believe me when I say this, so many dialogues that they had in the book I actually ended up reading the way these two would have said those lines, with pauses, laughter, anger and all other emotions. The Book, the story, the characters and the way it is told is totally mind-blowing and outstanding work of fiction I must say. Kudos to Kavita Kane's imagination and story telling, it was totally hooking stuff and one that I will never forget in my life, also will look forward to read it again sometime soon. Although Palace of Illusions didnt had much scope for mighty Karna's character but with Karna's Wife, its a different story as in its entirety it is dedicated to the misread, misjudged man who was right, righteous and just but at the wrong side of the things.

Before I read this book, I had no idea whether Karn was married or not. Oh Yes! who can forget the scene at Draupadi's swayamwar where she turns down Karn for being a Sutputra and not a Kshatriya, actually that is where the rivalry between her and him starts and what turn it takes, we all know so well. Of-course since its a work of fiction, the writer takes her own liberty with the story but the characters are all real. Reading a mythological epic that too which is told to death in our part of world by word of mouth through parents, books, stories and what not. I always wondered what new these writers could come out with but let me tell you offhand, if you plan to read this one, be ready for shocks, surprises and breathtaking moments too, even after knowing what is coming next, what works in favor of fantastic story telling is, how it happens and comes out in the book. I always imagined it will be a "been there done that" experience but no, I was so wrong, this book was very well able to invoke so many emotions in me, it made me smile, laugh, cherish, it even made me hold my breath so many times in anticipation of things to come and shock me. There was this moment when I knew that the war between the right and wrong is inevitable still just for a while it was so convincingly that it felt like they will be able to stop it, Unbelievable?? you've got to read the book to know that. So is the power of words and Kavita Kane's imagination yet a very convincing story telling with so many emotions.

If you have read this, do let me know how you like it and if you have not, I guess you need to read it big time. I will move to her next "Sita's Sister" and see what impact that has on me. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Shining - Stephen King (Book)

The Shining - Stephen King.

I am one of those (read very few) guys who gets frightened very easily, I still haven't forgotten the memory of "Evil Dead", "Exorcist" and unforgettable movies like "Psycho" which had given me sleepless weeks. I haven't yet seen one Horror movie on big screen except Psycho which I will not call Horror but at best a damn good thriller :). I believe I have a very fragile heart and I don't want to die of a heart attack anyways. Plus to top it off - I bloody work in a graveyard shift and it is indeed a task for me to go to office basement parking (at times level 3 or 4 too) to get my car at times like 3 - 3.30 AM. So you see, I indeed deserve a sort of bravery award to not only read this brilliant book by Mr. King but I ended up seeing the movie again too today :). It all started with people talking about terrific books written by Mr. King in so many Facebook groups (I am unfortunately a member of at least three) and then as a cherry on cake, last week I came across a teenager on a train reading a King book :(. I actually asked him as he was almost half the way, "Hows it?" and he said with shining eyes "too good, have you read it?" and I shamefully couldn't confess to him that I had no guts to read one of his works but that was that. Came home, gathered all my guts, asked my colleague if she isn't going on leave for a week at a stretch, checked with home security guard on night duty that I will see him everyday for the whole week in our building lobby. And as they all promised to keep up with me, I picked this up last week and finished it and as you are reading this, I am still alive :).

I guess I had seen the movie "The Shining" by Stanley Kubrick half a dozen years back but I still remember the terrific background score, those bloody blood thirsty eyes of Jack Nicholson, cute kid Danny and not so beautiful wife Wendy (at least in movie) rather she looked hideous ;) and superb Halloran, the man with a little shine. As I set up to read the book, though the story and handling is a bit different in Book and Movie but both hold up pretty good on their own. Loved the book totally as the characters of not only Jack (the crazy) his beautiful wife Wendy and Danny the kid plus his imaginary friend Tony are simply superbly carved out. This is one of those very few books wherein reader feels so helpless that I actually kept asking, why was Jack doing what he was doing and I so much wished I could actually help them in some way :). Story of Jack, who loses his job as a school teacher after an incident, they have no option but to move to a secluded hotel "Overlook" as caretaker in Colorado (no mans land for six months of winter). He gets it easily as referred by one of his very close friends (you've got to read his story too) who happens to be a big shot. But right from the very start, we know that there is something very wrong not only with Jack but even his cute Kid Danny too has some special power or say vision. How and what he does with it is simply mind-blowing, chilling and almost nerve wracking (at least for me it was). Why he gets the job so easily and what happened to the previous caretaker and his family adds up to the suspense and drama as it unfolds. Unfortunately the pace is so damn good as I guess all Mr. King books, no doubts on that, that its just unputdownable. I for so many reasons kept taking a break now and then to digest what was going on and had to take care of myself too.

While I was going through their story in secluded hotel with 100s of empty rooms with one room having a bloody weird story of itself. It was too tough for me to walk the corridors I have to take every night without feeling Jack's presence in it, opening the washroom door and being their alone, waiting for someone to barge in the room with a huge wooden Hammer and turn me to pulp is what kept coming to my mind all the time. Also, of-course every-time I took the elevator ride to our third floor office I was scared to come across someone in the dead of the night and lets not even talk about how I walked up to my own apartment after getting dropped by my cabbies every night for last one week or so. Stephen King has left no stone unturned in making me an Atheist a firm believer :). Fortunately no one came with a wooden hammer to kill me and just as I thought that corridors and elevators was the only connection I had with Jack and his story when a day prior to my finishing the book I was reminded by my own colleague when I told her that the story revolves around a Room #217, she asked me "Do you know what is our office address?" and I actually freaked out that we bloody have been working in an office numbered 217 for last decade or so :D. But one thing I must mention that this book and the movie has finally made me a little brave I guess. And I am seriously considering reading some good Horrors in very near future. For now, I have picked up a PG Wodehouse book for a change so I can get over the memory of Jack Torrance :). If you have read this book and seen the movie - do let me know how you like it and is there a more horrifying book than this one? that you would like to recommend especially if it happens to be from a someone called Mr. Stephen King? be my guest :) I would love to give it a try too. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

My Gita - Devdutt Pattanaik (Book)

My Gita - Devdutt Pattanaik. 

Imagine my excitement to read this as my very first Bhagwat Gita experience, I was all delighted to lay my hands on Devdutt Pattanaik's version thinking that it will be an easier version for a layman (the uninformed) like me and what a disaster it turns out to be. Like my friend mentioned last week in his review that he couldn't finish it - tried as hard as he could, unfortunately I have a track record of finishing the lousiest of the books - so found this to be not that bad that I couldn't finish and trash it without reading full. Fortunately my Devdutt Pattanaik journey started with his "Illustrated Ramayana" which I totally loved, followed by "Illustrated Mahabharata" which was still OK - nothing great I will say rather I found it pretty underwhelming, going back to that time I was expecting a terrific story telling with something new to look forward to (Like Palace of Illusions - I totally loved) but that wasn't the case to be. But this one "My Gita" was an Epic bore if I can sum it up in short. I guess its high time that I asked some DP fan's - which one as per them is his best book other then of-course these three so I can get it and give him another opportunity before not going ahead with rest of his books - although to tell you the truth - I have all of his books already in my collection. Imagine what kind of impact the "Illustrated Ramayana" had on me :).

Even "Gita" for that matter has such a wide scope - I haven't unfortunately read any other versions yet. My dad being a huge huge Bhagwat Gita fan, will certainly recommend me a better simpler version that I will read again to get over the memory this one has given me. Looks like DP tried a little too hard to make this work and he anyways calls it "My Gita" as understood by him and he kept picking up stuff from both the epics to make it up a little more understanding. I guess I should have rather picked up a straight translation then anybody else version of the Original. This was an epic fail for me. Do let me know if you have read this one and how did you like it. Or if there is any other better version that you think I should go for? Feel free to recommend and would love to know your thoughts on this one. I will not recommend this to anyone anyways. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Inherit the Wind - Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee (Book)

Inherit the Wind - Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee.
This is one of those books that I accidentally stumbled upon and more than the content or the story - how I got it and what edition I read is more of a story in itself. Last month made a new friend and she had reviewed this book earlier on Facebook where she mentioned to have a 1969 edition (guess even she didn't know it then) - Now imagine my excitement when she actually put the book in my hands and let me have it as well to read :). The book actually is in a fragile state yet very much readable - who doesn't love those yellow old pages with very small lettering :) but after reading a couple of pages I actually realized that I may tear it apart while reading so immediately picked up a kindle version just to keep the book safe. Also. to make sure that I was not losing anything in the newer version - I did a page to page comparison for couple of pages and realized they haven't changed it in as many years. Also the size of letters was in control in Kindle :). The pace, story, handling, characters and even the size is so reader friendly with only 65 odd pages (Kindle version) it was finished in a jiffy. I did stretch it to two days - couldn't stretch it any further as the ending was not only shocking but very gripping. Especially if you love courtroom dramas that too the one which is fought between the faithful (Bible followers) and the ones who believe in Darwinian theory of evolution (when it was banned to be taught in schools). Terrific read.
It is actually in a play format - a first of its own kinds that I ever read. Unfortunately try as hard as I could - I haven't read one work of Shakespeare yet - guess he has written plays only and so far I thought "Plays" are not my cup of tea. But this short book or Play has changed my opinion of the same altogether and now I am so looking forward to Uncle Shakespeare's works that I cant tell you. And guess what? this is based on a true story (a real trial). The two lawyers fighting the case are actually old close friends and one of them could have been the President of United States thrice - just imagine. How they interact off the court and we the audience are subtly told about their background is too good. You've got the read the book to know what was the crime, how it gets defended in the court of law and the final outcome. Its very hard to review it and not to give any spoilers. But with the size of the book and the way it is narrated - it works beautifully. As it keeps the reader totally engrossed from the stage on left to the stage on right, from the front to the back - it is so well written and explained that I found it pretty engrossing as well as visually delighting. I believe there is a movie adaptation too that I guess I need to check out at the earliest.
Every-time I read a book which mentions Darwin's book on Evolution - I make a pact to read it as my next. This is high time that I picked up the original and read - how come it inspires so many debates, books and theories yet I haven't read it. How about you? Have you? Do let me know if you have read this one (and Darwin's) and how you like it and if you haven't yet - go ahead, get it and read it fast as it shouldn't be missed.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman.

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman. 

Last week I read "Kafka On the Shore" and  totally totally fell in love with Mr. Nakata and thought that he is going to be one of my favorite fictional character for a long long time to come and then I read "A Man Called Ove" this week and now I am in a dilemma to who to chose as my favorite between Mr. Nakata and totally awesome "Ove". This book and the story is simply "Wow"stuff, I will run out of adjectives if I start praising it - its indeed that good. I have seen the movie a couple of months back as a part of my "Academy Fever" and saw this one in "Foreign Language Film" even that was too good but the book of-course takes the whole thing couple of notches ahead as has been the case always with adaptations. But the casting of the movie is too good and totally apt - I can say this now with no doubt as I just finished the book against my wishes :(. This became one of those very few books which I never wanted to end, unfortunately (or say fortunately) its just unputdownable and I tried stretching it as much as I could but finally finished in a weeks time - last part I read on my way from Mumbai to Pune this weekend. Terrific book and an amazing story.

I just cant not quote the blurb on the back of the book which describes it perfectly without any spoilers: "Ove is a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” However, behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations." What Ove likes, dislikes, loves, hates and does plus his antics make up for a lovably hilarious story - it made me grin from ear to ear with people around me wondering what I was reading which was so amusing - I wish they knew "Ove". He hates people driving Audi's and BMW's and lets not even talk about people who drive a Hyundai :D - if you have read the book and know Ove - I am sure you will agree. Every-time I will step now into my car - Ove will come to my mind and I will think - what he would say about my car - I am glad there is no mention of Suzuki in his story - he doesn't even spare Toyota either but I guess was a bit fine with that. Also, I wonder how to get a "Saab" in India - the car that the "Real Men" drive as per Ove :).

There is no way that one wont fall in love with Ove. His life situations at times are hilarious but at other times makes one emotional - there is so much happening with him. It has an amazing start - totally loved the way he visits his wife, talks to her, have his own understanding as how she will react to different situations and he exactly does what she would have asked him to do :) - I guess Ove is such a hardcore romantic. How his life was before Sonja's arrival and how it all changes and becomes colorful is simply too good. Also the tragedy, life ahead and how he takes it. Arrival of new neighbors, his relations with older one's, differences with his best friend and how they work it out is such a nice read. Also, I realized this is one that can be re-read a couple of times without any issues - even if one knows how it ends it still will make up for a perfect book to be read again and again. I am definitely up for a second read soon, no doubts on that. And guess I will watch the movie again too now that I have read the book and will see how good it holds.

Fredrik Backman has written the whole book in such a terrific way especially from the point of view of the man in title that it is indeed hilarious. I totally loved those sentences, big ones, smaller ones and even one worded ones :) simply too good. They actually draw the reader too close to the character and work big time. If you have read the book and loved it the way I did - I am sure you will agree and guess I will be on the lookout for his other work - I believe he wrote one on a Woman similar to Ove :) - I need to get it ASAP now and read it. Do let me know how you liked this one and if you haven't read - you have no idea what you have missed - go grab it today and enjoy. Fall in love with Ove. Do not miss it at any cost. 

Friday, June 02, 2017

Kafka on The Shore - Haruki Murakami (Book)

Kafka on The Shore - Haruki Murakami.

Haruki Murakami (thats a tuff name) became the second author whose name I hadn't heard a month ago but now after reading one of his books - I totally am a huge fan of his writing(s). The other one of-course is the fantastic "Gabriel Garcia Marquez" my all time favorite - again both of them came highly recommended by friends, had seen a lot of their works on various book stores. As I read a few of Marquez's novels last year and fell in love with his surreal writings, I actually slowed down after reading a couple of them realizing that he hasn't written much (in numbers), so I need to stretch it as long as I can to enjoy it more. But after reading (my) very first Murakami book - I guess time has come that I finish Marquez's books quickly and move on to Murakami :D. He is simply superb and I am sure if you read both of them - you will definitely agree that both their works transport you to an entirely different world altogether and its unbelievably unreal, fascinating yet so convincing. Totally loved this book and will never forget the fantastic characters - so many of them. Of-course Japanese as well as Koreans have some kind of specialization on Blood, Gore and Sex too - so not so shocking for me, neither predictable but nor gut wrenching like the way Marquez does. If someone has read and loved him - this one is a piece of cake. There is another point that I so much want to talk about but unfortunately that works like a spoiler for those who haven't read it, if you have read I guess you know what I wanted to say :).

Kafka on the shore came very highly recommended by various book readers groups and I was shocked that I hadn't heard the name of the writer ever so I had to pick it up and give it a read. Initially it had a very slow start but as I kept plowing through as per my Kindle after 20% - there was no looking back. Story of a 15 year old kid who calls himself "Kafka Tamura", runs away from his home in search of his mother and elder sister who had abandoned them (him and his dad) long ago. Parallely we have another fantastic story of Mr. Nakata (a totally totally lovable character) who has no memory of his past, cant read or write, is on state subsidy aged around 60 years. I mean it was such an interesting read to have one chapter on Kafka and his adventure of running away, finding a place to live by (even that is a terrific story in itself), finding friends, trying to find his mother and than on the other hand we have second chapter on Mr. Nakata and his adventure, in search of something, he has no clue where to find and what exactly he is looking for? why is he the way he is, how he finds help and the thing and what it leads - is simply unbelievably gorgeous story that you've got to read.

Once I completed like 20% - the story became so engrossing that I just couldn't put it down - unfortunately due to my travel I had to do that so many times but I picked it up again as soon as I could, have actually spent some sleepless nights reading the story of Mr. Nakata and the kid Kafka. Flashback of Nakata's past as a kid, the accident and its repercussions, the way he talks, his cat connections were hilarious. For me Mr. Nakata was the real hero of the book with a terrific ending (I will call that, that). Another thing which works big time in favor of the book is its parallel tracks - I kept imagining that sooner or later they have to cross their paths, there has to be a connection between the kid and the gramps. Does it? and what was the connection and how it all ends is what this book should be read for. Now that I know - I was thinking - would I ever pick this book again? I certainly will. Another thing that I love about Russian and Japanese books is their character names. They are totally too good and I find them pretty interesting when it takes some time for me to get used to the names and how they should be pronounced - here too there are a loads of them, like Kafka Tamura, Mr. Nakata, his help Hoshino the lovable truck driver, Oshima, Ms Saeki, Sakura, Johnie Walker (cat killer) and the KFC's Colonel Sanders - terrific.

Do let me if you have read the book how you like it. And what would you make out of the ending. The ending leaves so many questions unanswered but the philosophical turn it takes - it actually doesn't matter by that time. Overall a terrific read and I will be totally looking forward to his other works now. And I am sure you must have seen my last post - a friend just gifted me two books - one from Marquez and one from Murakami :). Happy reading. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jaya An Illustrated Retelling of Mahabharata - Devdutt Pattanaik (Book)

Jaya An Illustrated Retelling of Mahabharata - Devdutt Pattanaik.
After reading (and loving) "Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of Ramayana" by Devdutt Pattanaik - I just couldn't resist this one and had to pick up that too immediately. Anyways both of them were or I can say still are the most loved "Epics" from our part of the world and who won't remember their Television adaptations some two decades ago, which paused our worlds throughout their run-time. My granny actually got the actress's picture framed - who played Sita on TV (Deepika someone) and touched the feet of guy who played Krishna in Mahabharat. What all memories these epics invoked inside each one of us is totally amazing. I wanted to actually see if it will still make the same impact on me the way it did then and am not even surprised that it indeed does. Unfortunately comparisons are inevitable and if I have to judge between the two - I will always say I love "Mahabharat" more than "Ramayan" - this had too many of my favorite characters like "Karn", "Bhishm" and of-course the world favorite "Krishna" in no particular order and how can I not love "Arjun" or even "Yudhishthir" and that hunk "Bhim", the list is going to get longer. But if I compare Devdutt's versions (Illustrated one's are awesome) I found "Jaya" to be too underwhelming, he started pretty well but loses the steam somewhere mid ways followed by a haphazard abrupt ending, I kept asking for more but it wasn't to be, still it works on more counts than it fails and I still found it unputdownable and kudos to his research, references, stories and the knowledge behind plethora of unheard (unsung) characters. Totally wonderful read.
This is my and his I guess second book with Illustrations and I will call it a collector's item especially for our upcoming generations. As they have no idea of these stories that we all have grown up with, they are no more on TV (the newer versions are lousy I heard) and even if their are any good ones - kids have no interest in mythological serials and stories now a days. It is a terrific attempt and I totally loved the way he has carved out each and every character - giving them all what is their proper due that too with those amazing illustrations - loved those drawings, I had no idea until I read these two that illustrated versions would be this much fun. Of-course reading them back to back is double the fun as story actually continues in this one from where they left at the end of "Ramayan" and goes from here to the current "Kaliyug" - I now need to find out what he has written after this one in continuation. Of course his "Gita" is one that I am picking up next right after I finish posting this :) as I said earlier - its just irresistible to not to (is that correct grammatically?). Never-mind. Incredible is the word which comes to my mind to sum it up in one word. I never imagined that the stories that we have heard so many times, yet the way it is retold even when I knew whats next? it keeps getting better and made me smile, laugh, cherish, think, go emotional, made me think of a different way out and so much more. Timeless classic is what these are and will remain at least for our generation as many times we pick them in different versions, still having the same impact.
If you have read Sita and Jaya and also Gita - do let me know if it made the same impact on you too? Did you like (or love) them the same way we used to back then or have you found any other better versions by some other writers. As I would love to lay my hands on them too and read em all. But if you haven't read these - I will highly recommend that you better do it now and do it soon. They are a must must read for all.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Life of Pi - Yann Martel (Book)

Life of Pi - Yann Martel.

Normally when it comes to books adapted into movies - my policy is to read the book first (I try to keep it very close to the movie release) and then watch the movie. But at times it happens the other way round too when I have no idea if they are actually based on a book. Same happened with much acclaimed and loved "Life of Pi" as soon as I saw the movie and came out of theater - I so much wanted to read the book as we were too mesmerized by Priscine Molitor Patel's heart touching and heart warming story of tragedy as well as superb survival. The movie is so beautifully shot and well made - I am sure you will agree if you have seen it that it was totally a out of this world experience and with one of my all time favorite "Irfan Khan" as adult Pi narrating the story - it was simply too good. Unfortunately I just couldn't get the book immediately then till I saw it last month in a book sale at a mouthwatering and wallet shattering price of 89/- - just grabbed it and gorged on the beauty of it. I was warned by my friends who had their own stories to tell about the book that they finished it in flat one sitting to some in 24 hrs to some in 36 hours. I fortunately was able to stretch it to two weeks, thanks to my unplanned travels and some important books which kept coming in between - but I totally loved it. Also the longer I was able to stretch it the longer it made me smile and cheer Pi to fight for his life and come out unscathed. It is a beautiful story barring the ending which is a little over the top as well as over stretched but it doesn't take anything away from it.

The book is the terrific account of Piscine Molitor Patel, a (hilarious) teenager who is confused about his religion and follows Hinduism, Islam and even Christianity simultaneously whereas his father owns a zoo in Pondicherry. His life from his point of view is too good, hilarious at times and questioning too, totally loved the way Yann Martel has written it. His opinion on middle aged Pi, his life in Canada after the tragedy, their connection and the flash back of when and how it all happened. Pi has a story to tell and a damn good at that about almost everything, how is he named "Pi", to his schooling, his parents, about his brother Ravi, upbringing with a zoo at home and finally the journey that they take from India to Canada on a Japanese Cargo ship which sinks to the bottom of Pacific Ocean - how he survives with a Royal Bengal Tiger, a Hyena and a Orang-utan in a life boat for seven months is the book all about. Its a very touching account from the perspective of a kid and I was all emotional by the way it ends - what a heart break for the poor kid. Such a great inspiring story which at no points make you feel that its a work of fiction - totally convincing that you actually start believing that it must have happened.

If you have read the book and seen the movie - do let me know which one you liked more. I will personally say they are a great compliment to each other - which in today's time is nothing short of a miracle. I am so much looking forward to the movie again - a total visual delight. The book is a must must read for all - do not miss it at any cost, if you haven't read so far.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of Ramayana - Devdutt Pattanaik (Book)

Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of Ramayana - Devdutt Pattanaik.

I'd been thinking of reading a Devdutt Pattanaik book for a quite a long time now especially after finishing all from "Amish Tripathi" and "Ashwin Sanghi" two of his major competitors from this part of the world. What beter book to pick than the retelling of Epic Ramayan. I am sure almost all of us must have read "Ramayan" in one form or other and some of us (like me) would have read multiple versions of the same story but as much or I can say as many writers version we read - it just keeps getting better. But the one that Devdutt Pattanaik has written (not exactly) from the point of view of Sita is simply outstanding and mind-blowing to say the least. The kind of research which is very much visible from the book and the kind of pains he must have taken to gather the data is pretty much visible in the way he has narrated the done to dust story. I would say the best of to describe this work of mythological fiction is to say that this one book is way way better than all the books put together from Amish and Ashwin. Also, another reason for my picking this one up now is that "Amish's" second book from Ramayan trilogy is about to come out this month end and that happens to be another version of "Sita's" story, I just couldn't time it any better. Today only I pre-ordered it and hopefully will be a part of my collection as soon as it releases and I will get back right here to tell you how good it is - if it is any good.

As I said earlier that the story of Lord Ram and Sita "The Ramayan" keeps getting better with every new version hence this one too is no exception. Unfortunately I had no idea as what he meant by "Illustrated Retelling" hence I just picked up the book and was shocked to read the very first few pages that it was indeed a page of story followed by the "Illustrations" (Drawings of the happenings and characters) further followed by the references that he has put in as what all other authentic versions of Ramayan say about the happenings. I thought it will be one of few examples he is going to quote and found it sheer disturbance of sorts and diversions from the story. But as I kept going forward - I kindda started liking the idea and after initial 50 odd pages I actually started loving it as it was like the proper analysis of the story, its origin, references and even how it all was debatable then and now too. WOW!! Kudos to his efforts and the way he has done it all in 400 pages is seriously applaud worthy. I have no doubts in saying that I found this version to be one of the very best and I plan to gift a "Paperback" version to my parents to gauge their reaction on the research, analysis and story too.

Indian Epics especially when we talk about "Ramayan" and "Mahabharat", words likes exaggeration and fictionalized accounts etc shouldn't be minded at all. I mean in this one too there were so many instances that I found completely hilarious and overshot that I just can't mention them here spoiling the fun for those who plan to read this. But some I've got to mention like we all know that "Ravan" had ten heads - but having 20 arms is beyond me. Imagine Lord Ram's dilemma when he fought with the Rakshas King "The Triloki" Ravan with ten heads and twenty arms with each one of them having a different instrument to beat him. Unbelievably hilarious, I had a roaring good time visualizing the scene. Also the much debatable reference of Sita being related to Ravan in the first place that he discards and later pays the price of his karma. I didn't expect anything new from this "Retelling" but it turned out to be an eye opener for me as I was shocked to realize that my own knowledge of the epic is nowhere close to the one that I had in my hands. Simply Superb. Also it was very well able to invoke all those emotions in (the Atheist) me that I seriously couldn't not bow to the supreme "Maryada Purushottam Ram" and his deeds. Incredible is the story of Lord Ram and his beloved Sita who had to face so much in those fourteen years of struggle in jungle followed by another fourteen after they meet and separate followed by the tragic finale.

To my expectations as well as surprise he actually took the story to the proper end and was able to satisfy my soul with all the answers that I was looking for in the book as how it all ends and what is the new beginning. As I said earlier that this is one epic which we all have loved so much right from the day we are born and we've been told so many stories from the epic that I can just go on and on with this review. All I would say in the end is that - it is indeed a terrific attempt and a must must read for all Indian Mythological fans. If you have read it - do let me know how you like it and if you haven't - I will say its high time that you get your copy and give it a quick read.

Also, the end of this book very well guides me as to what to pick as my next read :). 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari (Book)

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari. 

This book can very well be reviewed and summed up in one sentence: We (Home Sapiens) have screwed this planet big time and unfortunately there is no going back hence it all is coming to an end - very soon. I do not like reading horror at all and this unfortunately is one of the scariest books I have ever read in my life - it scared the shit out of me big time the way Yuval has covered the History, where and how it all started to the present and a glimpse on the future too as in which direction we are heading. I am sure if you have read this book - you will totally agree with me here. Totally loved the clarity of his thoughts and how subtly he has put his point forward - kudos to him. For some reason I have postponed my reading of Darwin's "Origin of Species", got it like two years back, still has it on my Kindle, have read couple of books inspired by his theory yet I am yet to read the one which started it all I guess. I have even read Matt Ridley's "The Red Queen" which talks about the similar subject but isn't scary like this one. And let me finish this by saying that I am NOT AT ALL looking forward to Yuval's next "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" that title itself is telling the whole story and imagine how scary it will be :).

As I picked up this one which came highly recommended from loads of people, found it a little boring and a kind of a slow starter. I always thought Yuval must be a Japanese, Chinese or a Korean may be but to my shock and surprise he turned out to be an Israeli. Wow! I guess this is my first from someone from that part of the world and its incredible. The kind of research he must have done to come out with this perfect book which should be kept in a indestructible titanium box  (should be Nuclear resistant too), so once the Homo Sapiens disappear from the face of this planet like the Dinosaurs did and a lot of animals and birds are getting extinct by the day do too - whoever finds this planet later should get an idea who we were and what we did to this planet. He hasn't left anything that needs a mention and has covered so much in those little over 400 pages that I found it incredible. The book after a boring and slow start just keeps getting better and by the time it ends - I actually wanted it to go on and on and I believe thats what he did with the sequel which I vow not to read as I have such a fragile heart and just cant take chances. This book should be made a mandatory read in school and colleges right before the next generation comes out and does exactly the same thing what we did and joins our hands in further destroying this planet. Although he doesn't offer any kind of solution in this one but at least we know what we are doing wrong now. But the $ million question remains unanswered - Are we listening to him and the likes? Is there a way all this can be stopped?

Terrific book and a must must read for all.
A definite 5/5 from me with a double thumbs up recommendation.
If you have read it already - do let me know how you liked it and are you planning to read the sequel? :) 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Demons in my mind - Aashish Gupta (Book)

Demons in my mind - Aashish Gupta.

How frequently does it happens with you that you pick up a book with super confidence because you have read something by the writer earlier which you presumably loved but it takes a kind of toll on your mind that you actually need to take a break before even you could think of reviewing it. Initially I was skeptical but then I thought - what the heck! let me read it and see what exactly it is as the title is pretty tempting. What I was expecting and what it turns out is poles apart. After what I had read of him (his second unpublished book soon to be out) was a terrific joy ride and such a refreshing read. Also, I am not comparing him or his work with anyone but I had this same dilemma in last few months with only two books that I read - "The Rebel - Albert Camus" and "Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacsson" - Loved them both but found myself incapable of reviewing them the way they should be.

I will call this a proper MindF#$& (not for the faint hearted) and it was actually as good as watching a Korean movie, or the American sort of "Wrong Turn", or one of the "Saw" series with a typical Indian "Amar Akhar Anthony" ending. Although its very smartly written and as the story progresses, it keeps the reader on tenterhooks as what to expect next. Story of the old man on the deathbed goes to the three monks for miracle healing that they offer and in place they take him on a flash back journey of their own (gruesome) story(s). Initially as the story progresses of little Ayeda and Rizwan it was too good but it comes to an abrupt end. Followed by two more stories equally intriguing of Neeru who wants to work with prisoners to give them a better life and Murli the artist - again they come to an uncalled unexpected unpredictable endings. Followed by the Finale which unfortunately is too gruesome and didnt work for me at all, Although I loved the way it all happens as thats a first for me from Indian standards as I haven't read anything like this earlier by any of our writers. The pace and story telling is such that I kept making faces yet couldnt just put it down as my mind kept asking for a closure and he does gives it a mind-blowing clsoure in the end. As I call it a "Amar Akbar Anthony" closing - I am sure if you have read the book you may agree with me - found it too filmy and indigestible. I guess its a work of fiction and should be taken with a pinch of salt but like I said - I am not sure if I am praising it or shooting it down.

One more thing that I really liked about the book other than its superb pace is the use of poetry. A good 20% if not more is written in that ways and as I was reading it, I was tapping my foot on the floor with my upper half going back and forward with the rhythm of "Demons in her mind, she has demons in her mind", so on so forth - too good. I will definitely be looking forward to his upcoming works for sure as this one plays with your mind and who knows what's he going to come out with next :). If you have read it - do let me know how you like it and if you haven't I would say - go ahead give it a try. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rain: A Survivor's Tale - Sriram Subramanian (Book)

Rain: A Survivor's Tale - Sriram Subramanian.

I believe a book or a movie works for me big time when I have zero expectations from it or mostly when I have no idea what to expect or the last thing that I have no background either as what they are based on. Also, after reading close to 200 books in last two years or a little more - I exactly know (at times) what to expect from an Author's Debut :). And let me say this with a pinch of salt - this book proved me so wrong. Thanks to Sriram himself that I finally got to lay my hands on a copy of his book as unfortunately it wasn't available in any book stores near my place and I had to get a paperback as had a golden opportunity to get it signed by him in person. As we met briefly last week and I was glad that he was carrying a couple of copies with himself. Although I wanted to read it before meeting him so I could talk to him on the book, story and its effects but I guess all that will have to wait for couple of weeks more till he is available to us again for a meet to answer my questions. I picked it up casually last night thinking that I will be able to stretch it up to the weekend (200 pages) but the pace was such that it had to end in bloody flat 24 hours as Jai's story is so intriguing that I had to know how it ended before I could hit my bed (I actually read it last night after my night shift too - just imagine) Finished it today.

We all read a lot of books now and then which give us all kinds of pleasures, some cheap thrills, some guilty pleasures but there are a very few books or stories which sort of show you a mirror or give you quite a good quantity of food for thought, this was one of those. Its written in such a simple yet intriguing way that it actually connected with me on a lot of counts. For example the way Jai the protagonist turns on a switch by pressing the protruding end of a switch by the tip of his finger making the "Click" sound and not by sliding down his finger on the switch :) that's a very small instance but thats exactly we were taught by our Dad and I would never be able to forget this ever. Special mention of case of sibling rivalry where the elder one has to make all the sacrifices. And there are so many instances like that in the story especially between the husband and wife, dealing with in-laws and all that it feels as if our own life is what we are reading in Jai's story. Moreover the challenges that he faces, the targets that he has, how he goes about trying his level best to fulfill them, the way his wife goes through her own job, challenges, household duties and all that. We all have the "Ravi's" in our lives like Jai has - the best friend :) - if you have read the book, you would know what I mean. Society troubles especially for tenants, I was like shocked to see so much reality and found it hilarious too at times on the mention of pesky neighbors who do come for the rescue too when needed. On top of that the story is actually taking place in a city that I live in so the geographical details too worked for me.

As I started reading and as the title suggests "Rain A Survivor's Tale" I initially thought I will be able to predict (may be certain things) but barring the Rain it is simply unpredictable. Moreover at times I wish I could actually help Jai in someway or may be that my thoughts connected with his or the Author's so he would do as I wanted him to do..... but to no avail. He does what he thinks is right, how he fights with his own dark past or the haunting memories refreshed by his dad's diaries is something kept me glued to the very end. I would say this is a perfect book for someone going on a long overnight train journey of sorts and needs to be finished in one shot. Totally good story and I will definitely look forward to his next whenever that is due now. And again my brain will start working on what to expect from him :) and would love to be proven wrong yet again.

Do read it guys and do let me know how you like it if you have already read it.
I will look forward now (eagerly) to meet Sriram again to answer some of the questions his book left unanswered. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Khoka - Moupia Basu (Book)

Khoka - Moupia Basu.

How many times has that happened with you that you actually meet someone in person casually and are told by some else that this first someone too has written a book :) and guess what - you end up getting a copy from them, read it, love it, cherish and never want to return it back :). This is exactly what happened with me when I met our own "Moupia Basu" at her own place as she invited quite a few of us over tea and snacks to talk about books and what not. Till then I had no idea and as I was told while meeting by one of her own friends who found a copy in her book rack and gave it to me I was shocked. Literally I finished what I was reading (A Jodi Picoult book) and grabbed this one as fast as I could and let me sum it up here - I totally totally loved it. She herself wasn't that happy with the publisher who has made some mistakes in the book and it isn't at par from her standards that I too noticed during the course of reading but let me tell you - that takes nothing away from the heart warming story which took me back in time almost six decades or more and was totally fantastic. As I met Moupia, I was delighted as she is one person with whom you can talk about Books, Literature, Bengal and of-course my favorite personality Satyajit Ray - all day non stop without break and her book actually reminded me so much of Ray's simplicity as depicted by his books, movies and whatever he touched and did. Now my wife and kiddo too are reading it plus I am going to impress my mother tomorrow as she arrives first thing in the morning by giving her a copy :) she always made us read those books related to India's struggle of Independence. Oh and I ordered a copy from National Book Trust too which should be coming shortly so I can get it signed by the Author in person as I meet her again soon.

Khoka as the name suggests is a young kid and these are his adventure stories told by a mother to her own teenage son in flashback mode. I had another great connection with the story as the name of this kids father is actually "Rohit" you see what a coincidence :). They live in Hyderabad around the year 2006 and that gives us a perspective of present situation as well as the past. Khoka's story is of-course pre-independence giving us a glimpse of that time and a brief but damn good mention of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Indian National Army as well as the mention of Jagdish Bose was such a refreshing story, it indeed took me back in time as I am sure we all have forgotten those great people. Simple stories with great meaning - I mean who doesn't have a memory of childhood climbing up far fetched hills to climb up and reach a  temple up there :) or cross a gushing river with friends making a human chain of sorts. Also, spending some time in a jungle full of wild animals - current generation may not have experienced but people born before 70's or 60's will definitely know what I am talking about. Khoka does all that too with his cousins and friends and that too in style - how Prahlad the kid who is reading his stories learns important lessons of life is the book all about. Although its written in short story format but doesn't feels like that with a single protagonist it actually feels like one big story. The book cover says its for 12-14 year old but worked big time for me too as its no less then a perfect story and I was hooked like anything and end up finishing it in one shot (150 pages). Even the illustrations are too good and very beautifully done, I am glad that the maker too is credited right on the cover of the book.

I had a great time reading it and I will highly recommend it to all to read it. The only way to get the book is the National Book Trust website. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult (Book)

Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult.

Third book from Jodi Picoult and I must say as the name suggests - it was indeed a perfect book and the best of three that I have so far read (and of course last from my collection). Terrific story, too good narrative, superb lovable characters, engrossing, unputdownable and a working ending (subjective). It worked for me big time and I loved the twists and turns as wasn't expecting that many in her book though. And the ending actually shocked me, I was happy the way it ended and I am sure most of you who have read it will agree with me that she didn't go overboard in this one to give a different ending which didn't work for me in her earlier books. After reading three books back to back - I do realize that she has a way with words as well as a knack to pick up some real interesting subjects and wove around a convincing story to put her point forward and it has to be always a court drama in the front :). Guess she always wanted to be a lawyer by default but may be was destined to become an Author and a good one at that.

Surprisingly she has written all these books in one heck of a tricky way that if you write more than a line about the book - you feel like you are actually giving away the whole plot. As it happens in this one too - protagonist is a Public Prosecutor and someone hurts her five year old son in such a way that she is convinced that there was no way she could have gone the legal system way about it. She has to take the law in her own hands to avenge, what and how she does it and the following twists and turns when she realizes what she has done wrong, what she is actually going to get by the time it all ends and what is she going to lose - is a little too much then either she expected or we as readers foresee, if you know what I mean :). Confused? Yes, I too was as it progresses - it is actually too good a read as she reveals everything with perfect timing. One just cant not fall in love with the characters. Nina as the mother and Public Prosecutor, all she has done her life is to send the deserving people to serve in prisons. Her caring and lovable husband Caleb who is a contractor or their cute son Nathaniel around whom the story is revolving around or the police detective Patrick (who I loved more than her husband:)) is their childhood friend whose still in love with Nina. Jodi has to have a love triangle in most of her books I believe as this is second time in a row in her books for me but I am not complaining.

And I can't even talk about the title of the book :) as that's what you've got to read the book for as disclosing that will be a spoiler of sorts. I wasn't expecting a kind of thriller it turns out to be and it was fantastic as she discloses everything in very first page and you actually have to race hard to get the point where the "why's" are answered. Too good. I am going to read her other couple of works shortly after a break as have got quite a few more commendations left :). If you haven't read this - I will recommend it big time and if you have - do let me know how you like it and if there is a better book than this that she has written - I would love to read that too.

This is a first that I actually noticed some mistakes (may be printing) in the end and found the dates to be wrongly mentioned plus it all was happening around October 2001 and no mention of nine eleven? that was a little indigestible even in work of fiction I was expecting some mention or relative effect. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Vanishing Acts - Jodi Picoult (Book)

Vanishing Acts - Jodi Picoult.
This is my second Jodi Picoult book that gave me a sort of underwhelming feeling after what I have heard from people on her. The first one was superb - I totally loved it barring of-course the ending like I said in my review earlier which left me shocked and totally unhappy with the way things turned out (in the ending). Now this one has a perfect thrilling start, with so much to look forward to, unfortunately becomes a huge drag mid ways and goes almost nowhere but the saving grace is perfect ending. Not at all predictable, kept me hooked to most part barring the mid 100 odd pages I guess which were totally not required. The book could have been shorter and precise talking about the kidnapped girls dilemma, confusion on finding the lost past of three decades, love triangle and the final outcome. But as the fate had it - Author takes a dive (unnecessary) in the life of a Vodoo neighbor and very unfortunate accounts of blacks in Phoenix jail which not at all helps in taking the story forward. Although no doubt - this is one of those very few books that I have read on father daughter relationship, it was too good to see their chemistry. Being a father of a daughter I could imagine what her dad must have gone through in past to do what he does in the story.
The very first chapter after a lacklustre start blew my mind off the way it ended as I missed the very punchline on top of the book saying "Your Father is arrested for kidnapping. You were the child he stole. What would you do?". And I realized what's in store for me in it. As I usually do not read the front as well as back of a book ever especially the ones I consider reading. Delia was kidnapped by her own father when she was four years old, she lives her entire life being told that her mother died in an accident. But the things take a terrific turn when she is told the truth, as she goes in search of her past and dead mother with her own young kid and fiance' who happens to be a lawyer in New Hampshire, leaves a job of "Search and Rescue" to know the truth and get her father released from a Phoenix prison where he has to serve time till the court decides if he was innocent. On top of all this - we have a perfect love triangle with Delia, her to be married husband Eric (the lawyer) and Fitz the ever available friend who works for a New Hampshire daily, always at her rescue. And she has a superb Dog too and a loving dad. Imagine with all that right in the initial 50 odd pages - I was looking forward to a terrific book but as I said, somehow it becomes a drag with her Dad's jail account and her neighbours story and local customs of Arizona thrown in good measure which takes or help the story in no ways. Fortunately it had a great ending and a damn good courtroom drama (although not too long but good it was).
I have one more book from Jodi Picoult to go before I decide whether I should continue reading her books or not :) as this one has left me with a dilemma. I would really love to know if you have read this one, did it work for you? And if you have read any or all of her works - do tell me - which one as per you is her best work, I would love to pick that up and see if that works for me.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Matter of Honour - Jeffrey Archer (Book)

A Matter of Honour - Jeffrey Archer.

I seriously love the people in my life who precisely know what I want as a gift and I feel all the more delighted when they ask me a right question like my darling Sister in law asked me last week while coming over for a little summer break as she called me I guess from a book store. She knew that I had wrapped up seven Jeffrey Archer books back to back hence it will be perfect to pick up one more and called to ask whether I had read it or not :) - this is how I got this superb thriller and another Archer book got checked out from my ever long TBR. Also, I needed a break after finishing the last emotional ride with a Jodi Picoult book before going ahead with two more of her works which I presume will be no less than the previous one. This was a perfect thriller unfortunately I wanted it to last long as this was the last Archer book from my collection but as the fate had it - its just an unstoppable thriller that end up ending in flat 48 hours.

If you have read this one I am sure you will agree with me that Archer actually tried writing one in Dan Brown's style. I just couldn't not compare it with usual Dan Brown thriller, where there is always some classic old painting in the background, the whole story revolves around it. There may be some codes or hints hidden behind or inside the Art work and will always require a professional decoding, it even takes us briefly to Dan Brown's favorite Louvre in Paris too. With couple of groups (Countries in here) are chasing after the same stuff. One good guy who owns or it belongs to him with one equally good (read fantastic) enemy behind him throughout on killing spree left right and center. A total free hand to go to any extent to extract the Art work that too in a limited time frame as a lot depends on it. This time its none other but America against its arch enemy Russia in picture with Germans, Brits, French and Swiss thrown in between for a good measure. Imagine the travel, running around, KGB, CIA, Swiss police and it all starts with opening a simple "Will" of an almost unknown army man who leaves his son a mere 500 pounds and a letter directing him to something he himself doesn't know the real value off. The cat and mouse game between the protagonist an Ex Army Captain and a Russian KGB operative is so damn nice that they almost get neck to neck before the fantastic finale which makes the reader breathless by the way they keep coming close to each other again and again.

Jeffrey Archer is a class story teller - no doubts on that as not only the main track, even the parallel tracks and characters do make a lasting impression on the reader. I was totally impressed by the way he carved out so many of them in this 400 page book which again felt too short to me as it finished itself so fast, wanted to keep going for more but as all good things come to an end this one had too.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult (Book)

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult.

Before I finished the book: I always wonder(ed) can there be a book where you actually end up falling in love with almost all the characters, writer included. This became one of those very few books, where not one or two or three but almost all the characters leave a damn good mark on the reader - at least they did that to me. I hadn't read any of her works before this and fortunately this one just happened to be loved by so many people and I kept pushing it up on my "to be read" list - this weekend a very dear friend dropped by carrying three of Jodi Picoult books including this one (Yes! I have friends like that :)). The book was a breeze and is no less than a perfect thriller as I just couldn't put it down till the very end (more on that later) as my heart and mind both kept asking for more. She has written it very smartly giving the reader all the angles from almost all the character's sides, totally loved that idea and it works wonders, making it more clear for the reader. As I said I had no idea of what this book was all about hence found the story to be too touchy as we have lost quite a few people fighting with one or the other form of Cancer. One of my own Aunt passed away last year and we saw everything up close and personal, how its depicted in the book.

I was so much in love with the characters and the way story develops, the dark secrets revealed, agenda's disclosed and what not - But unfortunately the way it ends - it actually made me feel cheated - I mean C'mon - she could have ended it the way reader predicts it - would have worked wonders, why that filmy ending? If you have read the book - I would really like to know your views on the ending rest everything works perfectly well. Anna as the teenage girl ever helping her sister (knowingly and unknowingly), brother, parents and even strangers who gradually become her friends is a character that you just can't not fall in love with. Kate as her sister who is suffering from Cancer is another strong character and so is their destructive brother Jesse - I totally loved his histrionics and the way he lives, behaves, goes on rampage, so much like every other kid does in real life at that age. Their parents Brian (a fire fighter) and Sara (an x attorney) are an ever loving caring parents. But as the reality hits the reader on face behind this happy go lucky family it actually made me think hard - if it was really wrong or right on the parents part to do it, going for a daughter just because she will be a perfect donor for their elder daughter who is suffering from a rare form of Cancer, to what extent and gravity it goes - you've got to read the book for. I was shocked, surprised, sad, judgmental, at times happy too and what not as I kept going further.

The pace of the book is so damn good as its a story which is told to us in the course of only ten days, going back and forth in the past and coming back to present from so many angles that it keeps the reader in toes totally hanging by the edge of the chair not letting go off the book so as not to lose anything. Also even the supporting characters are written in such a nice way that I even loved them totally. Like the way Anna's Lawyer Campbell is carved out plus his ex girl friend who too comes back in the picture as story taking place in a very small town of Rhode Island, where everyone knows everyone. I even liked both the Judges :) and the way they go about the case. All in all - its an amazing unputdownable book with a ending which sucks otherwise it works very well on most counts. The way story of Anna and Kate goes back and forth in time - it actually made me think a lot of my own brother who I haven't met or spoken in couple of months - as we really used to have those times what these sisters do it. I have smiled, laughed, cried, got lumps in my throat, closed the book and thought about our own past and what not during the course of the book. I even brought it to my office and kept reading during breaks as well as here n there to not to lose the momentum. Its a fantastic read - I will definitely rate it at least a good 4/5 if not more. Barring the ending. But I am definitely going to read a couple of more books from her as I already got two more :) and see if they work for me or not.

This is my second book in a row which  talks about flawed or say "Selfish Parents", although both are works of fiction but still it did shake me to believe it as in the story. Can there really be people like that? Like in Danielle Steele's "The Long Road Home" where they never wanted the daughter, dump her in a Convent and conveniently move on with their lives, get married have more kids that they wanted and still be at peace with themselves. And now here, in this one where they "Conceive" that too artificially to have the perfect genetically balanced "Girl" who could be used as a donor to save their other daughter - how heartless one could get? In reality if that happened to me - I would have rather sacrificed my own first child then have another one who will be used to save the first. How and what is the kid going to feel once he or she realizes why he or she was conceived? Wow. This left so many questions unanswered by the abrupt ending and I was so turned off by all that - that I didn't even read the answers Jodi Picoult gave to the questions asked by some followers, reviewers and critics I guess in the last few pages of the book. I was so angry - may be I will pick it up again and see what she has to say but no ways I believe she can justify it.

Do let me know if you have read it, how did you feel overall and how about the ending? Did it work for you? or there are people like me who didn't like the ending one bit, could there be a better end? like the way it ends in the movie? 

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Long Road Home - Danielle Steel (Book)


The Long Road Home - Danielle Steel.

Fortunately this is my first Danielle Steel book and I was forewarned by quite a few friends that they are a tear fest, I am unfortunately anyways a very emotional personal so it doesn't even matter as my eyes do well up at the drop of a hat. But this one was something else - WOW - it just made me think so much about the whole thing. And a question kept hanging on top of my head throughout - Can there really be parents like that? Who actually hate their children and go on to an extent of actually beating them up black and blue or may be kill them in reality as the child in question - Gabriella in this story is almost killed by her own mother and her father abandons her just like that. Unfortunately he couldn't take it anymore what all his wife was doing to the little girl and just walks out on both of them - gets married again to someone else and keeps no contact with them - how insensitive one can be. What happens next is the story of our little Angel Gabriella full of courage, hope and love. But the book made me think a lot and I shuddered with the thought of  raising my hands ever on my own child - I still haven't forgiven myself for shaking her holding both of her arms long long back in utter frustration one day. Just can never forget those cute eyes, shocked with my behavior and the way tears rolled down her eyes - although she was too young to understand or even remember what happened but that hasn't helped me even today to get over the moment.

Unfortunately we were beaten black and blue just like Gabriella by not only our own parents, uncles or even teachers back then made me think - did they never loved us the way we love our kids now a days? Or we were one too many for them so they had choices as to who to love and who to ignore or hate may be. Like Gabriella again because her mother never wanted her in the first place and she was an unwanted child. Although her dad loved her like anything making her mother jealous of her. But as he abandons her and her mother dumps her in a convent right like the way we were dumped in a hostel to make our careers or to straighten us as we were spoilt brats, I know I am never going to get the answers to these questions as they will be never asked - unfortunately its too late and too futile to ask. But hasn't that fact crossed your mind ever exactly like the way it crosses Gabbie's mind all the time that she was "Unwanted", "No One cares about me", "Even God doesn't exist for people like me", "Why am I not dead yet?", "Would life be any better on the other side If I get killed?". It just sent me back in time and I realized unfortunately that's exactly what the reason was that I and my brother walked out of our homes never to go back but a parent may have a reason to do what they do, they may have a rationale justification to give to themselves but a kid will always be a kid - so we did forgive / forgot and what not and its all dusted and trashed below the carpet to be never opened again. I could actually get into the skin of little "Gabriella" in this story like the way she thinks that she is so bad that its all happening because of her as if she deserved it all in the first place rather she made it all happen to herself by being so bad. But as life is I am still looking forward not to her homecoming....... I don't even know what I expect (yet) as I am yet to finish the book but anyways I will do it - how bad it can get from the way it has come this far.

The book surprisingly invoked so many emotions in me as it progresses and Gabbie's struggles come to no end. Almost every-time she hits another hurdle or shock or pain she blames herself for it as she did it to herself or deserved it one way or other. My heart cried out so many times that I lost count - I was shocked, touched, hurt and what not to know it wasn't coming to an end at all. Also, I kept my hopes high one way or the other - she was bound to get what she deserved. How it all ends and whether she gets answers to all her questions as what happens to her parents after they abandon her and resume their own lives, is heartening, unbelievable and on your face truth so direct that it indeed hit me like a freight train. Wow - I thought this is going to be a romantic read but it turns to be a totally different story. Of-course need I mention that I am now in love with Danielle Steel and her books will now onward work like "Fillers" when I need to shake off the memory of heavy hard-hitting books :) - I am glad this one has helped me big time in getting over the gloomy "The Handmaid's Tale" Finally.

So if you haven't read this one or any of her works - now you precisely know what to expect but do read - I am sure they are good and this one may have a silver lining in the end not only for Gabriella but for us fools too. 

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Kill List - Frederick Forsyth (Book)

The Kill List - Frederick Forsyth.

When you start a book with huge expectations knowing that the Author behind it is a name to fall back on with full trust that he is going to transport you to a thrilling world with a chase you are never going to forget. Unfortunately by the time you reach mid-ways - you know it isn't working the way it was expected and by the time it ends - you totally feel that this isn't his best work and you have definitely read way better than this one for sure in the past - Does that happens with you too? This book came highly recommended by two of my friends who I can trust with my eyes closed when it comes to books and Frederick Forsyth right from my college days has been a personal favorite too. I wanted to start again with his books starting from his latest (guess this one is the last he wrote) unfortunately felt not that impressed - it works but fails on more counts to keep me engaged looking forward to more, also was a bit predictable at times. Anyways I am going to go ahead with some of his earlier works yet again as I know he had thrilled me big time back then.

Fortunately the story is way too relevant in today's time and was very well able to transport me back in time to get the facts refreshed in my mind and straight comes to the point - You see no hanky panky stuff in a Forsyth book. "The Tracker" is chasing a Hate "Preacher" who is killing people by dozen all over the world especially in US of A and in Britain with his speeches to his Jihadi followers. "Ariel" is a hacker who can get into a system with the drop of a hat although he doesn't go out of his cocoon ever. Tracker totally my favorite character of the book has a personal score too to set with the Preacher and how he does it all with the help of so many other good guys all across the globe makes up for a good Cat and Mouse chase story but not a great one as I said, something was seriously amiss. Although I was able to finish it in flat 3 days and almost lost the book while travelling fortunately the too good cab driver found me to give it back (altogether a different story) and I was able to finish it.

Now after reading a "Steel(y)" thriller I need a mushy old school romantic book to change the mood. Unfortunately the gloomy memory of my earlier read "The Handmaid's Tale" still refuses to go off my mind - so picking up a hardcore romantic tear feast I believe.

Do let me know if any of Frederick Forsyth book that DIDN'T work for you So I will stay away from it as well and which is your favorite (my all time favorite will of-course be "The Day of The Jackal").