Nov 29, 2011

When authors loose their ways...

Have you ever picked up a new release from bookshelves with anticipation and confidence that the read is going to be great...because you've known the author and his style, know the characters that feature in the novel? How many times have the author lived up to your expectations? For me, it usually ends up in disappointment when I expect much from the author. Sadly, over the years the disappointment for anticipated novels have given way to bad expectations... most prominent of the examples was the Harry Potter series finale. Deathly Hollows literally felt like a rushed-to-meet-the-deadline novel. It was very disappointing. (though I have to admit, the movie was better than the novel)... something similar happened when I was reading The Death Relic by Chris Kuzneski.

I've read ALL of his novel, except his debut novel, The Plantation. There is a protagonist duo in his novel, Jonathan Payne and David Jones. Both ex-military men, one white other one black, both from different family background and posses a varied skillset....BEST of friends. I met them both in Kuzneski's second novel, The Sign of Cross. Interesting plot, riveting flow and an interesting writing style was what entered Kuzneski in one of my safe writers list. With the following novels to SoC, I was proved right for trusting his writing and storylines. So, when I saw his latest novel The Death Relic and the backcover claimed it was Payne and Jones novel, I picked it up without much thinking. I even remember saying to myself, "Its a Payne and Jones novel, its GOT to be good." yeah...right



Nov 18, 2011

Plans and change of plans...the godly way...

Decided to take a break from Indian Fiction. The original plan was to read Chris Kuzneski's lastest installment of Payne and Jones novel, The death relic... I even started to read that. But then I got a mail from Flipkart.com; saying "Look what's new" and I saw Sidin Vadukut's continuation of Dork, God Save the Dork. Thats been on the list of will-be-reading-when-it-comes-out since I read the first part; so I had to log on to Flipkart. And there it was... another entry on the list... next in series of Heros of Olympus by Rick Riordan.

Hey...I think I've told you about Rick Riordan and me being his fan earlier. I think you'll find my first review of his Kane Chronicles series here... as that post says, my intro to Rick came with Percy Jackson.

The Heros of Olympus is a continuation of Percy's story, only this time...Percy is not the ONLY protagonist. In the first novel of the series, Percy is nowhere to be seen. He's only mentioned in bits. The first novel, The Lost Hero, introduces the second camp for Heros. Though the second camp is only mentioned in the first novel with the action happening in the Camp Half-Blood. Second novel in the series, The Son of Neptune is set in the second camp...the Roman Camp.

Rick Riordan has a very interesting view of the whole Roman - Greek god scenario. He uses the adaption of Greek Gods into Roman way of living very cleverly. Anyone who has ever been curious towards Greek/ Roman Gods or anyone who had time to compare the similarities between these gods and Hindi deities like Indra and his Sabha...would be easily drawn to the whole Percy Jackson series. While staying true to original series Riordan manages to engage the readers back into the worl of Mystic and Godly Magic.

The Olympian, Heros of Olympus and The Kane Chronicles...all three series will be a perfect gift for any teenager who has even a slightest interest in magic, mysteries and teen heros. Rather my guess is anyone who has enjoyed Harry Potter Series will be a perfect audience for all of these series, be it teenager or not.

Now its time for me to head back to what I was originally reading...Chris Kuzneski's The Death Relic.

Nov 13, 2011

Tintin...a movie experience for all movie-goers

I'm not a Tintin fan. I've never read Tintin as a kid. When I was young, I was busy reading Chacha Choudhary, Billoo & Pinki. For adventures I read Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv and best of them all, Faster Fene. When it came to English comics (which were very limited since I couldnt really read being in vernacular medium)...my reach was limited to Sunday editions on TV like He-Man. So, when I first heard that Tintin is being made into movie, I wasn't really thrilled or something. For that matter we reached PVR to catch Tower Heist. Our second choice was Immortals...Tintin was "last" choice if all else failed. As luck owuld have it, we reached PVR at a time that the only advisable movie was for Tintin.

Following a  short visit to Crossword and lunch at Thai Chi, we took our seats in Audi 5. Sometimes the mood for a movie is set even before the movie starts...with Tintin, the commercial showcase started with an amazing trailer for Arthur Christmas...a movie which is "not" coming soon. :)

The mood continued once the movie started with Tintin getting his caricature done from an artist in market & Snowy wondering off to chase a pickpocket... The movie sets the scene and pace in initial minutes itself. Like any comic adaptation, the good guys and bad guys are visually separable in colors and physicality. Like I said earlier, I've never read Tintin in my life, so I'm not familiar with its characters but the way they are presented in the movie and the flow of story, it makes the job of a nvice like me very easy. The plot is simple yet exciting enough. Clear enough without being too "mature"... for that matter the way it flows, I'm compelled to compare it with Feluda series by Satyajit Ray. Where "crimes of passion" were consciously avoided. the movie stays true to its core comics ethics. Action for the sake of action with humor sprinkled around with great deal of courage and splendid action sequences.

Spielberg's Tintin is a visual treat. Technically its as good as it gets. But that's something you "expect" from Spielberg so nothing really noteworthy in that dept. If you go to theater expecting to watch a Spielberg special.. Tintin will do justice to  your expectations. I'm not sure how true to the original comics he is but I'm sure if you decide to watch it for what it is...you'll find a very exciting movie equally suitable for kids, youngsters and parents as well... 

Special mention:
Am waiting for the next one to come out....if not for anything else, then just to watch the amazing way in which Snowy is depicted. So lifelike and realistic.... I simply LOVED the way he is. He certainly has become my fav character in the movie...with his quizzical expression and curious face. Simply adorable. If I ever got myself another dog, I'd probably end up getting a wire fox terrier and name him Snowy... hee hee hee... 

Nov 11, 2011

Breaking the dry spell... FINALY

I’m not 24...I've been 19 for 5 years by Sachin Garg

What should I say? Or rather where should I start...!.!. Let me start by saying "Thank You!" to Sachin Garg, for breaking my BIF mode (Bad Indian Fiction read), and for reminding me of a few very nice books I've read in past.

I’m not 24 is NOT a typical love story. For that matter, even when it has ALL the elements of a typical B-school oriented book, it steers clear of all clich├ęs and delivers a rather pleasant experience. When I started reading I’m not 24, I assumed its going to be another disaster originated in one of those IIMs... but strangely, it wasn't so. The book is great on eyes, the cover design clever and eye-catching, the font readable and the size of the book, manageable during travels. The novel catches your fancy in the first introduction itself. And you don’t even realise when you are sucked into the narrative and tangled into the storyline. (I was on page 74 when I realised I had tea on the gas which by the time I reached had turned into brown liquidy mush).

When you read "I’m not 24"; you enter into the world of the protagonist, Soumya, who BTW is a girl, not a guy. Soumya has got a job with one of the most reputed Steel Company and has been asked to report to work on a certain date. But due to her unfortunate unisex name, is assigned to a man's profile in the steel PLANT in one corner of India rather than the plush corporate office more suited for a girl. The story is about Soumya's stay and survival in the steel plant. If anyone of you have ever visited an industrial plant, you'll realise how drastic the change would be for a city raised urban girl to move into a plant and township in middle of nowhere. She is facing challenges that she's not ready for. Unknown town, unknown language, unknown work profile, unknown culture and surrounded by people who are extremely unaccustomed to seeing a female amongst them. There are major adjustments for Soumya to do in this setup. No friends, no family...no one to really TALK to... no SHOPPING.

It’s in this uncertainty that she meets and make friends with unlikely of people. A hardcore engineer with experience and an attitude problem, a fellow college-mate who is only good till he actually opens his mouth, a boss who seems too nice to be true, and a Indian hippie who looks like Hugh Grant.

Nov 8, 2011

I've been 19 for past 5 years... under review


Currently under review... for book review program from Blogadda.com

On principle, I've decided NOT to read any other reviews before I actually finish reading this one... In past, reading rave reviews had raised my expectations so much that I ended up messing my reading experience royally.... so, no reviews prior to reading the novel.

Hope this breaks the disappointing novel read streak of the season....

There was a skeleton in the closet....

Ruskin Bond...is one of my most fav authors. Over the years, I've found myself absorbed, enamoured and intrigued with his words. I've tried to pinpoint the reasons why his words work on me, the way they pin magic. But I've never come up with any other reason than... Simplicity. Its really hard to explain to non-bond readers, the allure of Bond. There is something magical about his writing. Its possible that his narrations speak to the desire for "the Simple Life" lying deep within me. Kipling used to say (something to the effect of) "Once you breathe in Himalayan hills, you are drawn back to them, to visit, to live or at least to die..." Being bitten by the Himalayan bug, I'm a living testament of the calling. Bond's words make the wait easier to bear. That's possibly why, I find myself turning to Bond whenever I'm in emotional turmoil.

Secrets by Ruskin Bond is a collection of stories in the familial setting. Sleepy little towns by Himalayan foothills during his teen years, during n around WWII. The people, the times n events that are non-events...all in a town which will be lost in the flow of time, soon enough. The stories remind us that no matter how small n non-eventful the life in these towns is, there is ALWAYS something special, something hidden around the corners...something SECRETIVE.

True to his style, the stories in "Secrets" are simple, spoken in first person, through eyes of a teenage Bond. What's refreshing is that even though these have all Classic Bond flourish to them, they offer you a side of Bond that you probably hadn't seen before. The side that speaks to you of a young chap who fancies himself to be a sleuth. The one who wishes to solve mysteries, become famous n the one who makes friends with tiger-chasing shikaris and cold-blooded.murderers....

Oct 29, 2011

Gods of War...A confused tale that left me wanting to give up reading...

Seems like this is a season of disappointments. This is the third book in row which made me reconsider reading Indian Fiction. Where are the authors getting their ideas from? or possibly Why am I plagued with such confused authors?

When I picked up Gods of War by Mr. Banker....I actually was hoping something that will fall in the category of interesting sci-fi. Instead what I got was a confused tale interlaced with heavy duty language and unnecessary complications and an absolutely irritating narration style. The "idea" behind the novel is rather interesting...thought not original. I mean we all have grown up reading novels and watching movies that deal with end-of-the-world plots revolving around "the chosen one". In this case, its "the chosen five", an indian boy, a muslim from UK, a lesbian from US, and twin brothers from Japan, one of which is  hermaphrodite... First 100 or so pages of the novel are rather intriguing. With Earth seeing her first Alien spaceship, which eventually attacks with nano-bots. The Five miraculously being SAFE and confused at seeing the whole world in some sort of trance. And then a god appearing to all FIVE.

Has it ever happened to you???

I've the weakest resolve when it comes to books. No matter how many I already own, and no matter whether I'm running out of room to store them...When I see books, I buy them. Once every quarter, I promise myself that I will not buy anymore books untill I finish reading ALL the books in the shelf that I'm yet to read... and I try to stick to that promise...I avoid going to Crossword, I delibaretly take a different route while traveling around the bookstores near station, I dont browse shopping sites that sell books...and even after ALL these efforts, the resolve lasts....a month or so... no matter how hard I try, I end up being in Crossword or near the booklane and end up picking up books that I know will sit in my bookshelf for over a month before I can reach to them...

I mean look at these... When am I going to read these? I already have more than 10 books that I've not even touched yet...add the two Devdutt Pattnayak's latest releases that I had pre-ordered, soft-copies of Cesar Millan's Dog training guides, AND the books I get for the reviews from Blogadda and for the proof-reading I'm doing... WHEN am I going to read these? BUT...when it comes to books, I just can't control myself. Though, I have very good reasons to buy each one of these novels, its still not correct of my to break promises made to myself, isn't it???

What say you???

Oct 15, 2011

Currently reading....

23rd Oct:
am 200 pages down...another 80 odd to go... and its becoming an ordeal.... matter is confused between mythology, technology and modern sensibilities... Don't know if i'll complete the novel.

lets hope for the best.

15th Oct:
Currently reading Gods of War by Ashok Banker.

This is the first time I'm reading Mr. Banker...I've heard a lot of good reviews about his writing... I'm 80 pages down... and its going good. I hope to finish by EOD tomorrow... let's see how it goes.

Live from London by Parinda Joshi



Unimpressionable...that's one word that comes to my mind when talking about Live From London....

Let me confess, I'm self-professed chic-lit fan...Smita Jain, Advaita Kala, Sophie Kinsella, Rachel Gibson, Marian Keyes...these are the authors, I turn to when I'm down and feeling dirty. Over the years novels like Undomestic Goddess, Almost Single, Not Another Bad Date, The Girlfriend Curse, Krishna Konfessions, Remember Me have shaped what I expect from my female leads. Young, restless, sometimes utterly clueless but strong willed, someone who has been kicked by life...but someone who has a vision to change her life... that’s how I want to see the lead in a good chic-lit. Unfortunately, Nishi in Live from London is none of those...

She's 20 something girl with no future plans, no aims and absolutely no ambition. She represents the part of youth that is happy to lounge at home with parents, spending their money, enjoying life without a thought of their future of a sense of their responsibilities. She's a student of literary arts but all you see her doing, is organising parties with her three best friends Riya, Sarah and Zac. Who also seem equally aimless. Though there is no mention of anything else in her life...we do understand that there is one constant in her life... Music. Even though Nishi is trained in Classical Music AND guitar...she seems equally aimless to care about those too. Through her dazed partying days, she lands up on the stage for Briton's Got Talent. Where... Let me borrow from the back cover of the novel.... she experiences a humiliating ordeal...post which she decides to intern at a Record Label company. Where she meets a godfather like figure, Mr. Fredrick...and an international recording artist with funny name, Nick Navjot Chapman...with whom she has a steamy affair, and then life throws her back to India.

Now that I'm writing this, I realised what my problem with the book is...Its the back cover of the book. The back cover excerpt ends with "Then the unthinkable happens and she finds herself back in India trying to build a fresh life in a country she vaguely remembers. Will she be able to move on forgetting her past, or are there more surprises waiting for her?" In my opinion, the back cover is written and designed by someone who's very savvy with words. This person knows how to glamorise an otherwise mundane novel to something sales-worthy. After reading through this back cover, you expect a novel full of quirky little goofups and the triumphant victory of the heroin. At the end of the novel, all you get is disappointment.
The plot idea for LFL is good enough. And there are several places where one feels like it could have developed more. There are missed opportunities for humour, missed opportunities for character development; a few more for plot development. And as mentioned earlier, the back cover is misleading....
I hope that this is Parinda Joshi's first novel. Coz the language is naive and she needs to work extensively on plot development. She also needs to find a reviewer who'll be frank and honest rather than being supportive. There are a lot of threads in the story, which have the potential to develop some interesting sub-plots. But LFL leaves a lot of things hanging. There are literally no closures, no ends in the novel. When it finally finishes, you are left with a distinct feeling of incompleteness. It leaves you wishing for more...

So, my recommendations... it's a novel, which does nothing for you. There are some decent events, some not so funny humour attempts, some missed chances of quirky mishaps... If you have not read a decent chic-lit before, OR if you are looking for something to read instead of newspaper while you are in loo... Live from London, might suit your reading needs. But if u have ever laid your hands on any of Little Black Dress books... DON'T pick this one up, unless you WANT to be disappointed.

Rating: Ohh I'm tempted to say I'm in a real foul mood post reading LFL... but if I'm really honest... no matter how disappointing it was to read, it must have taken efforts from the writer and her team to get this novel out. So, the rating is for that effort... I'm gonna give it 1 and 1/2 out of 5. And hope that Parinda Joshi does a better job in her novel... All the best to her and the team.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Oct 8, 2011

The pending review...finally done

Myth = Mithya : A handbook of Hindu Mythology - by Devdutt Pattanaik


This is one review that was on hold for a long time, partly coz after I finished the book; I pimped it to every living soul I knew... thus the book was out of my possession for a long time. and then I got carried away with a lot of "other" stuff. But finally, I got the book back, so here I am with the review...

I'm really not sure what was the real reason I picked up this book. I guess the awesome front cover was a major reason...the colours, the image and obviously the title caught my attention. The back cover proved another anchor and my ship was marooned in the flowing words of Devdutt Pattanaik.

As I mentioned earlier...I'm not religious person. I've never been a part of devout ritual follower and still am not. But I am a Hindu. There's a dark side of being Hindu that is colluded by all politicians and their hidden agendas about what it means to be a Hindu. For me, on a personal note...being a Hindu is following a certain way of life. And somehow reading Myth=Mithya offers a very rational, logical explanation of what being a Hindu mean. I'm sure DP did not start the book with any such ambition, but he managed to put in words what most parents should know for teaching their kids about Hinduism.

The book does not have any religious propaganda. It simply offers the meanings behind various myths and legends that you and I being Indians are aware of. The illustrations in the book are rich and engaging. Simplistic yet full of meanings; the language as an easy flowing stream...the ideas grand as the universe, yet simple as truth. The three sections in which the book is divided is clearly defined, and well thought of, well researched and full of details.

Where are YA Novels heading to???


Emerald Atlas by John Stephens


I'm not ashamed to commit that I'm a fiction junkie. I live, breathe and enjoy fiction. Magic, curses, complicated spells, time travel, witches & wizards, dragons and knights in shining armor...these are my companions. I've been reading fantastic fiction since it was called "fairy-tales", rather than YA fiction, the  Young Adults Fiction. and over the years, I've developed what one might call a sort of periodical view...chronological if you may...historical almost. with my latest read in YA, the question that haunts me is "Where is this genre going?" I mean whatever happened to simple fight between good and evil? Why does the children's fantasy have to involve complicated hierarchy of command, politics between ranks, sibling cruelty, treachery and evil prophecies?


John Stephens delivers a wonderful plet, with lots of action, plathora of e motions and a promise of wonders of things to come. In first few pages of the Emerald Atlas introduces us with siblings Kate, Michael and Emma. Three children spirited away from the safety of their homes, left at an orphanage... all done with a cloak of mystery and suggestion of bad things following. The start is intriguing enough, full of promise. It would be unfair of my, if I say Emerald Atlas is downright disappointing. the tale is fast paced, it never dulls and rather crisp... it keeps moving, introduces a lot of new, unexpected twist and turns.

Sep 23, 2011

I fell in love... all over again

We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet: and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us. - Maurice Maeterlinck

How very true... isn't it?

I've always been told that if you need to feel unquestioned love and devotion, get yourself a pet dog. They are smartest creatures that will not only guard you but also love and adore you with their heart and soul. After months of deliberation and research... I finally got myself a puppy... a cute, adorable, unstoppable, lovely 2 month old Labrador puppy, whom we christened Pluto.

It was a hard decision to take. I had left my corporate life behind to find a more subtle and gentle way of life, of a home maker... there were a lot of issues to be solved...mostly financial in nature... we also are preparing for a new member in family... admist all that taking on an additional responsibility seemed like a very BIG risk, but we were so ready... no one thought it was a good idea, but we were adamant.

 
Me and hubby, both spent the entire night awake...when this 2 month old bundle of energy was bought into the house... partly coz we were not sure how to handle this unstoppable ball of yellow fur, partly coz we were too excited to shut our eyes on him. First 3 days went in a whirlwind of housebreaking, cleaning and running behind him... I hardly got any sleep in those days... Pluto being my first pet, I had to check everything about him... why is he sleeping so much? Is he supposed to breathe this fast? Why does he chew so much? Why is he not barking? When is this barking going to stop? How do I train him for potty? What do I feed? What is normal weight for Lab puppies... so many questions and so much research... :)

The research isn't over yet... and days are definitely not smooth... there are still hiccups and confusion... but its a part of daily life now. I dont feel tired anymore... I dont feel like I'm buried under the weight of the world. I dont feel sad anymore... dont feel stressed...

I always was told that dogs love their pet parents... and I always assumed that was evident when your dog jumps up on you or licks your face... I learnt the other day, that sometimes love is about being around when you dont even know you need someone to be aound you...

It was yesterday evening when I sat down to work on a personal project... Pluto sleeping at his usual place, around the wicker chair... I looked at him... sleeping peacefully... I was suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling of sadness. Felt like I took this kid away from his mother... he hardly knew his mother... mere 60 days and I took him away. I felt like it was my responsibility to make sure that this kid will get the best I can offer... I owed him that much...Never realised how much I began to love this bundle of fur...in mere 10 days... I didnt even realise that my eyes were tearing up... within seconds, I was crying my eyes out. I buried my face in a pillow, I didnt want to disturb Pluto's sleep...

Seconds later, I felt something touching the top of my head... I jerked my head up from the pillow, Pluto was standing in front of me... looking at me with those cute brown puppy eyes... almost like asking... "What's Wrong?" Without a sound, he simply climbed up into my lap, curled up and slept... Wave after wave of tears were crashing up in my heart, in my eyes... and with Pluto in my lap... I cried all those out...

After sometime, I stopped... couldnt really cry more... felt silly that I cried like a child... blamed all those on my harmones... my breathing came to normal and mind got back to the fact that I needed to get up and drink some water. As if he could actually hear my thoughts, Pluto woke up... looked at me (as if to make sure, everything was alright)... walked back to him fav place in the house and went back to sleep, as if nothing has happened. I stared at him for a couple of minutes, but he was fast asleep... without even realising that he made me fall in love with him... all over again...

Aug 21, 2011

Christmas Carol: An experience

Naah... I ain't talking about the book... not this time. No, this time its about the movie...the one with Jim Carrey in it.

On second thoughts, its not even about the movie...it's about the story, the message and the impact of that message. I won't talk about the visual excellence and technical advancement...a lot of others have done that. Others, who know & understand it better than me... I'm writing about 'my' personal experience. It's possible that my views are biased...dripping with all the harmones running around in my body or something; but I still wish to express them.


 
It's one of those movies, which I missed on big screen. Lack of company, lack of time and opportunity...excuses could be many, but I missed it. So, I grabbed my first chanceof watching it on TV today. Two whole hours of bliss. If you think about it; it has a rather regular storyline. An old man, grumpy and frail in this case, angry on the whole wide world; experiences a traumatic event and comes to realise the wrong in his ways... setting out to rectify them. Nothing really novel, or earth shattering & still...the movie moved me. Coz of the ghosts, coz of Jim Carrey or simply because of the simplicity ...it got to me. I've always been very close to my family and the movie kinda reaffirmed my belief that life is meaningless without the people you love, to share it with...

Aug 3, 2011

Gods Debris - Scott Adams

"I'm saying, we're the building blocks of God, in the early stages of reassembling"

Jul 27, 2011

Ruskin Bond - Small Beginnings

The typewriter is the repositary of a writer's loneliness. It stairs unsympathetically back at him everyday, doing its best to be discouraging. May be I'll go back to the old fashioned quill pan and marble ink-stand; then I can feel like a real writer, Balzac or Dickens, scratching away into endless reaches ofnight... Of course, the days and nights are seemingly shorter than they need to be! They must be, otherwise why do we hurry so much and achieve so little, by the standars of the past...

Jul 14, 2011

Sea swept by Nora Roberts

You know what I miss, Cam? The silliest of things. Watching the three of you argue over something. There were times when your mother and I thought you'd bicker us crazy, but I miss that now. And early morning fishing when the sun just starts to burn off the mist over the water. I miss teaching. I miss seeing that look on a student's face when something you say, just one thing, clicks and opens the mind. I miss pretty girls in summer dresses and lying in bed at three o'clock in the morning listening to rain on the roof.

Then he turned his head and smiled. His eyes were as bright and as brilliantly blue as the sweatshirt had once been. "you should appreciate those things while you have them, but you never do. Not all the way. Too busy living. Now and again, you dhould try to stop to appreciate the little things. They'll build up if you do"

Mar 26, 2011

Pregnant King By Devdutt Patnaik

Order is Dharma and Dharma is Vishnu.

Vishnu holds in his hands not only that conch-shell tumpet if war but also the lotus of diplomacy. Diplomacy might not bring glory, but it will brin Stability.... In a country, where Vishnu does not ride the hawk of war; he reclines in peace on the serpent of Time; at his feet, seated on the lotus of diplomacy, is Lakshmi, the godess of fortune....Blessing all...

If you want Lakshmi to follow you, be a Vishnu. Do your duty. Don't run after glory.