Sunday, 18 February 2018

Review: Fate's Design

Fate's Design Fate's Design by Subhashish Dey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will start this review with the author’s introduction as given on Good reads.

Subhashish is a 14 year old student of Chinmaya Vidyalaya Anna Nagar. He has been regularly contributing short stories to his school magazine. An avid reader, Subhashish believes that books open the doors to some wonderful insights in life. An inquisitive boy, Subhashish loves to explore different places and spends time trying to understand the culture of the people there.

The reason is the age of the author. He is just 14. This book sure reads like it is written by a much older person.

The story starts in Moscow, Russia. Anastasaai is a alcoholic loser who cats as a hit man of a mysterious Mafiosi. He is given the job of kidnapping an infant girl and then kill her after getting ransom. He kidnaps Natalia and they get ransom as well. Her father Andrei Federoff is third wealthiest person in town. His wife Irina Federoff is devastated after the kidnapping. After they pay the ransom a corpse of a two year old girl is found floating in Moskva. Their marriage which was already shaky, could not stand this blow. She leaves him and goes to USA. Their son Felix remained back with his father. But there is a twist in the tale. Ansatasaai though a scum on earth could not kill Natalia. He develops cold feet. He grows her up with the help of her old mother. She considers him her father. When he dies Natalia gets a letter from him which tell her the truth. Meanwhile Felix also come to know about his sister. What happens next?

The language is first rate and there are no mistakes. Story flows smoothly and the descriptions and vivid. The plot is tight and doesn’t waver. It keeps you engrossed from beginning till end. Young author Dey has a long way to go.

4/ 5 stars.

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Review: I think I know you...Karunya, Do I?

I think I know you...Karunya, Do I? I think I know you...Karunya, Do I? by Ajit Panicker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Rebirth and terrorism can make a good story. Who cares if we are born again and again? However Geeta says that we have countless births till we attain freedom from cycle of birth and death. However there is no scientific proof of the same. But then again this is fiction and can have fantasy.

There are three tracks in the story:

1. Boy (Karunya) meets girl (Aasma) in Gurgaon DLF cyber city office. They fall in love as expected and make out. Aasma keeps seeing visions which troubles her. They set out on a journey to a small town of Rajasthan.

2. Vishal was studying in IIT but was thrown out because Dimpy complained against him of sexual harassment. He picks up his life again and goes to Mumbai to be a professional photographer.

3. Varunya is elder brother of Arunya. He is in Indian army. There a terrorist plot being hatched to hit India hard at many places at once. STF is formed and they try to neutralize the threat.

These tree tracks run in parallel and nothing wrong in that. but these should intersect somewhere in the second half. That happened (for track 1 and 2) but the link was tenuous at best and seemed forced. Love story of Karunya and Aasma had a ludicrous rebirth angle. Vishal was also forced into that who was clearly a misfit. Third track was totally independent of first two and added nothing to the story. this just slowed the pace down.

Language is just ok. There were many mistakes and Hinglish is used even at places where it is not required. At some places whole dialogues are written in Roman Hindi for no particular reason. Translation given at end is not helping the cause.

It seems the book is publicised directly from the author’s desk and there was no editor. It lacked coherence and has a haywire story as explained above. The ultimate revelation i.e. the identity of sleeper cell head was surprising but there were no clever hints in between.

2.5/ 5 stars.

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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Review: Three Minutes of Eternity

Three Minutes of Eternity Three Minutes of Eternity by Alon Amir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Israel is surrounded by hostile countries. Pop culture there is also affected by this. When their delegation goes to Azerbaijan they have remain under security whole the time.

Yarden is a young talented singer who is representing Israel in Eurovision. Yanni is the head of press who is her support. She is not liking all the restrictions on the movement. Then they are taken to Russia secretly and all the weird things happen. Will Yarden come out on top?

The book gives an inside peek into the lives of famous pop stars. This is not all hunky dory and it is a tough life out there. Everyone covers their own ass and blame others when they fail. The strategy of press handling is very cunning. They send out a press release and let the media talk about it and play the youtube clip of the interview.

The book is funny and witty. 3.5/ 5 starts.

A quick search on Google told me that Azerbaijan, the nation and former Soviet republic, is bounded by the Caspian Sea and Caucasus Mountains, which span Asia and Europe. Its capital, Baku, is famed for its medieval walled Inner City. Within the Inner City lies the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a royal retreat dating to the 15th century, and the centuries-old stone Maiden Tower, which dominates the city skyline.

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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Review: You Don't Know What Love Is

You Don't Know What Love Is You Don't Know What Love Is by P. David Hornik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The love after marriage is a taboo. It is called affair for a reason. Why do people do it? Maybe because of lust, boredom or adventure. Sometime we marry and then the flame of love and sex dies down after 4-5 years. Then someone like us enters into our life who is equally desperate and the game of lust and sex starts. It is like a forbidden fruit which tastes very sweet initially. Bit sooner or later things takes a nasty and sinister turn.

Lou and Hettie has their own affairs in past but somehow they did not undergo divorce. Their three wards Treenie, Ross and Alan has their own affirs/ pass time. Then Hattie goes for a wallk in the woods and tragedy strikes. What happens next?

The book has many characters and their affairs. The reasons are sometimes vague. But that is understandable because that the way extramarital affairs works. The crime of passions are common occurrence. The things described in the book are real and may touch many lives. 4/5 stars.

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Review: Money: Physics and Distributive Justice

Money: Physics and Distributive Justice Money: Physics and Distributive Justice by Oded Kafri
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has a very interesting premise. Physics is the study of laws of nature. Economics is the study of money and finance. Can it be explained through the laws of physics? More importantly distributive justice.

Oded Kafri says that the concept of money has not been defined and hence economics is centuries behind the hard sciences. Now he presents the concept of money as two of physics principles:

1. Money as Energy- the Gas Economy : This is similar to Maxwell-Boltzman bell curve. But this concept has many issues.
2. Money as Heat: This is a better system.

There are many interesting concepts like in near future there will be no cash transfers. The distribution of money of a nation is universal and independent of total wealth of a nation. The system of constraints weather by Governments or religion or moral principles tries to limit money’s movement.

The author claims that it is widely agreed nowadays that wealth should not be equally distributed.

The book is interesting but somewhat farfetched. There may be a parallel between energy or heat and money movement but it made the book very complex. It assumed that the reader is well versed with both Physics and economics. Though the author gives a disclaimed that this knowledge is not required, that is not correct. The book is more for an academic exercise and amusement and not for general readers.

Still the book gives some interesting points to ponder. 3/5 stars.

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Review: Ben O'reilly

Ben O'reilly Ben O'reilly by Adam Peled
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Social media is a dangerous place. At least it makes a good thriller.

Whatsapp has taken over Facebook. Mark Zukerberg was so terrified of it that he bought Whatsapp at exorbitant price.

Whatsapp group are funny things. Anybody can add you if they have you number. Ben O’ Reilley our protagonist (the book is named after him) is added to a mysterious Whatsapp group. Only known member is Eddie. Then she meets sexy and beautiful Sharon. Members of group starts getting murdered one by one. It is up to Ben to solve the mystery and save him and Sharon.

The book is fast paced and has short chapters (like James Patterson’s novels). This keeps the proceedings quick and moving. Language is simple and the suspense is nice. You keep guessing the next move of Ben and his opponents. 3/5 stars.

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Review: Three Voices

Three Voices Three Voices by Nora Sarel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I put the distance of time between us and I went, I thought that the distance of time would heal..”
-N. Israeli

This is an autobiographical fiction. This is divided into three parts called; first voice, second voice and third voice.

Lena is a Jew, caught in the world war. Mr Stefanik takes Lena to woods to partisans. They fight Nazis from the woods like guerrilla fighters. She is only 6 or 6.5. they don’t accept her and Mr Stefanik has to take her back. He gives her a new name: Elka Isdebska and declares her Christian. The war was never ending as seemed to her.

The description of passion of the priest for Tosha is superb. He is totally blind with passion and she is totally oblivious. He is consumed by carnal desires and when he grabs her, she resists with all her might. He becomes morose and vengeful. This episode reminded me of the deplorable behaviour of our so-called Hindu saints. Asharam bapu, Dixit of Ishwariya vidyalaya and Ram Rahim came to mind.

This is a story of grit and determination. I like the story. 4 /5 stars.

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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Wild Cat

The online world is very dangerous place because of the anonymity it provide to the persons. One should be very careful while being on internet,

Tanya is a happy go lucky gallery owner who is searching or love and some fun in her life. Her mom died at a very young age and her father brought her up. Her friend Dorothy takes her to a party in the opening scenes. Dorothy is dating online through an app which matches with a person of similar interest and lets them talk in a group or one on one. The account is created using voice so that a person can not create multiple accounts. Tanya also creates an account and meets a mysterious person named PHANTOM. Then the story takes sinister turn and rest you have to read for yourself.

Online dating can a good plot device especially if you use it for thrills. Throw in a rogue lover and you get a good thriller. There are a lot of steamy scenes also. This is part  1 of a trilogy and it finished on a cliffhanger. It was good initially but later on dragged. There was not much going on and I got bored after a while. 3/5 stars.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Review: Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata

Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I could not finish this book as this is a not a retelling of Mahabharat. This is an ego trip. The conclusion drawn are absurd, illogical and have no basis in the text of original Mahabharat. That is not the only defect. The story telling is for kids it seems. There is no story. This is just a description of series of events. That is not fiction. There are hardly any dialogues.

Some absurd conclusions:

1. Shiva is considered ardh narishwara, a god who is half woman. The children born through his grace possess both male and female qualities. He gives example of Shikhandi. But what about many other like Hanuman.

2. Kunti insists they marry the same woman because she fears if Draupadi marries only Arjuna, sexual jealousy will cause a rift between the brothers. (Later on he tells besides Draupadi, each pandva had other wives. )

3. The epic ends not with the victory of the Pandavas over the Kauravas but with Yudhishtira’s triumph over himself. This is spiritual victory or Jaya. This is the ultimate aim of the great epic.

4. Vyasa is well aware how the old are treated by many families especially when they do not have children of their own and when all their power is gone. Yudhishtira symbolizes how things should be, while Bhima personifies the grudges the youth bear towards the older generations for actions in the past that have left them scarred for life.

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Review: Letters in the Rain

Letters in the Rain Letters in the Rain by Anubhav Shrivastava
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aman Malhotra is a studious nerd who is social misfit. His parents are from North and South India. His only friend is his diary where he pours his thoughts. He lives in defence colony of Delhi and study in DPS RK Puram. He is taking coaching for IIT in FIITJEE. He scores 98.7% in boards but couldn’t crack
IIT, he crack ENAT Manipal and goes there. He meets Kiara Mehta there. She is a hazel eyed girl who needs only good food and good music to be happy. Her happy exterior conceals a dark past. They go the Agumbe “Cherapunji of South” where Malgudi days was shot. Aman feels that Kiara has romantic feelings for him. Kiara choose Girish as her boyfriend and angry argument takes place between them. What happens next is the story?

The story is fast paced and kept me hooked. The language is very good. One example is the letter he wrote to Kiara:

“I am in a state of shock because of the incident that unravelled between us this evening. I might have used wrong words for conveying my absolute dismay at your actions but I firmly hold my opinions.”

The book is a good read and highly recommended. This is a college romance and will appeal to teenagers more but adults can also enjoy. 4/ 5 stars.

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Review of Wedding Pickle

 What is love? Does true love exist or is it just the figment of imaginations of poets? When are we ready for marriage? Why today’s generation is commitment phobic? The book tries to answer these questions.

Avni is almost 24 year old girl who is not yet ready for marriage. She is an introvert and is happy in here small circle of family and friends. That’s why marriage seems a herculean task to her. She meets Siddharth and he ask her what ring she wants. Diamond of course, was her reply. But then Siddharth cheats of her and breaks her trust on himself and love. Enters Ansh and now she is not able to trust him.

The reluctance of Avni is of every girl. She is bit apprehensive of marriage. She has to leave her set life and adjust amongst strangers. Till now she is the master of her own destiny and lived her life on her own
Terms and conditions. Avni made a plan to go party with her friends on outskirts of Delhi. Ansh forbids him due to security reasons but she feels that he is curtailing her freedom. Is she right or wrong? Maybe both. Marriage is name of adjustments and both partners have to adjust them according to wishes of each other.

The book deals with issue of Ex lover also. If a girl made a mistake with one guy who is bad, what does it mean for her future? Sidharth was clearly a mistake and Ansh helps her to get over him.

The book is a breezy read. It is fast paced and used simple Hinglish. Though the story is predictable and have been told thousands of times in movies and novels, this book can be read as this is entertaining. A treat for lovers of romance. 3/ 5 stars.