Tag Archives: Books

Urban Shots Yuva

Author: Lipi Mehta (Editor)

Publisher: Rupa

Price: 250/-

Pages: 177

Urban Shots: Yuva, is the fifth anthology of stories in the Urban Shots series. The thing which makes this collection different is the fact that it was compiled through a pan India competition bringing out the best of the stories from the country.

Urban Shots

The collection brings to you twenty seven different tales across themes like love, lust, addiction, poor, rich, culture and many more. This collection is far more aged and subtle than it’s predecessors wandering in the realms of abstract stories. Some of the stories hit it absolutely right reaching directly in the minds of the readers, while the others stretch the fabric of abstractness too far sometimes at the cost of losing the reader. Overall the tone and tenor of the stories of this collection borders being tragic and morose sometime leaving you with overwhelmed with emotions.

Some of the stories which I really liked (In no particular Order) –

Gifts from America by Kailash Srinivasan: A brilliantly told story of the rich but stingy relatives visiting from the land of opportunities and how the relatives change seeing their stinginess.

The Travelling Autowallah by Esha Vaish: The story of the struggle and dreams of an Autowallah. One of the best told stories in the book carefully touching the topic of dreams, death and success in a matter of few pages.

The Love Note by Tnashin Garg: A tale of a married couple trying to rediscover love and togetherness after two years of the marriage amidst conflicts and troubles.

Leap of Faith by Neha Joshi: A beautiful and emotional tale of a girl learning and managing to live her life amidst tragedies and immense personal losses.

From Mother to Son by Anant Tripathi: Written beautifully in a letter style from a mother to son, trying to justify and explain her decisions in life which separated the two. A beautifully told tale bound to leave the reader in conflict while wavering both sides of the judgment.

The Book Signing by Arka Basu: A story which portrays a very simple yet powerful emotion of being faced with your friends who have become immensely successful in one way or the other. The story beautifully brings out that emotion making the reader think that about times when they felt the same.

Summary: An interesting and good collection of short stories. A very mature and slightly heavy read, recommended for the readers looking at quick read emotional tales leaving them with powerful memories of the story.

Rating: 7/10

 

The Temple of Avinasi

Author: Ayush Pathak 

Publisher: Lead Start         

Price: 245/-

Pages: 389

The Temple of Avinasi: The Legend of Kalki is a book of historical fiction & fantasy woven around the mythological tale of the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu. When I picked up the book I was a little doubtful that how another book would treat the concept of Kalki avatar especially when one has read Krishna Key, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed at all. The book weaves a nice and interesting mythological tale around the characters of Hindu Mythology. The story traces of an extraordinary child in more than ordinary circumstances rising to the occasion leading him to the path of greatness. A story of friendship, a story of sacrifice, a story of self belief this book covers it all. The author has very carefully managed to have references to the Hindu mythological characters weaving them in the book. I believe the real charm of the book lies more in the way it’s storyline has been loosely intermingled with stories of Ramayana, Lord Krishna and Devta-Assur war.

 The characterizations in the book have been decently done for the lead characters however; the side characters seem to be out of focus. Possible to keep the thrill and mystery under the wrap but a more detail on the side characters would have possibly brought more reader affinity towards the tale. The pace of book is not of the thriller that it belongs to the genre but once you cross the hundred page mark it gets you hooked on. The book slowly and steadily builds up on the reader while dimming the boundaries of belief, fiction and fantasy. The twists and turns do manage to keep you interested till the end of the book for a big climax. Over all the book kept me hooked till the end.

 Summary:  A good book in the Hindu Mythological Fictional Fantasy; a book which will wrap you in the familiarity of the known mythical beings and an unknown intriguing fantasy tale.

 Rating: 7/10

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The Karachi Deception

Author: Shatrujeet Nath

Publisher: Grey Oak/Westland

Price: 225/-

Pages: 251

The Karachi Deception the debut novel from the author and apart from the author introduction on the first page the book nowhere reflects as a debutant work. Very well written and thoroughly researched, the book reflects the amount of work the author has put in to finish this as a product.

The plot is based on the modern day terrorism and espionage when the Indian Military & Indian intelligence who undertake a mission to eliminate one of the most wanted terrorist and underworld don Irshaad Dilawar who is under the asylum of Pakistan. Three commandos from a secret army unit are expected to accomplish the mission. The story gets complicated when they find their plans and movements are already known to their adversaries, and they realized that their mission Project Abhimanu has been compromised. The mission they were determined to complete now appears to suicidal. The story progresses when the commandos from the army learn the harsh truth about the world of intelligence and how they were just small pawns in the large scheme of things.

The pace of the book is fast keeping the reader engaged and engrossed with the storyline. The characters though superficially portrayed work well due to the action element and suspense which has been handled extremely well. The writer has worked the plots on hyperbole of action while still convincing the reader of the plausibility. The climax could have been more fitting in comparison to the overall tone of the book but overall the suspense and intrigue were well maintained and addressed by the author.

I always wondered while reading the espionage novels from Sidney Sheldon, Lord Jeffery Archer, John Grisham etc. when we will have an Indian novel matching them in the plot and storytelling and I feel that The Karachi Deception is almost there.

Summary: A great fast read book with lot of suspense, action and intrigue in the espionage plot. A must read if you like the mystery, suspense, action, thriller genres

Rating:  8.5/10

Ebooks: Books to Binary

I had told Smita and Shilpa two of my great blog buddies that I would do a post on e-readers because I was seriously convinced that I would buy one. Now that I have got a tablet for myself with primary objective of switching my reading digitally; I feel that I am ready to do a post as I have experienced the digital reading first hand.

It was a very tough decision to let go the habit of buying the physical books and switch to digital formats. As a matter of fact I remember in one of the posts I had written that I would never like to switch to digital reading but then people change over time. As any change you bring about there are both positive and negative aspects of switching your reading digital. To provide an objective perspective I will enlist the advantages and disadvantages of reading the books digitally.

Advantages-

1-      Space: The space crunch especially for people living in the apartments is a perennial problem. Just to highlight the economic impact, ideally a physical book takes around 0.25 SQFT of space and the rentals in Bangalore around Rs. 15/SQFT/month, keeping a book for a month costs Rs. 3.75. For a person like me who has a collection close to 500 books presently, I am paying close to 2000 bucks for keeping the books. This was the major motivation for me to make the switch, after exhausting almost all the space I had in my home for books I didn’t have place to keep the new ones.

2-      Convenience: A tablet or a reader can hold multiple books at the same time so you can carry all of them with ease while travelling. You save yourself from the task of selecting what books to carry when you are on the move; also it reduces the baggage weight which is of paramount importance in flights. There have been times that I actually had to discard books on the airport because airlines were expecting me to pay Rs 300/Kg for the excess baggage.

3-       Privacy: A lot of times while reading you would not want the world to know what you are reading. Online reading ensures that anybody passing by doesn’t know what you are reading. I got a lot of weird stares from people in general when I was reading 50 Shades of Grey, so digital reading might save me some unwanted attention.

4-      Maintenance: Keeping the books and shelves clean when you have so many books is a herculean tasks which is not required for the tablets. Also disposing books is also not an issue you can simply archive and retrieve when you want to read again.

5-      Multiple Devices: I have multiple devices like a smart phone, tablet and a laptop whatever I am reading is available and synced on all the devices. So no matter where I am I would have my reading material. There have been times when I have gone for a meeting and had to wait for the other person. I wasn’t carrying my tablet but I continued my reading on the phone and once I reach home I can continue the book from where I left on my phone.

6-      Reference & Sharing: You can easily bookmark pages, refer to dictionaries and share lines/quotes directly with just few clicks which make the reading a more fulfilling experience. In physical books to do all this you have to ear mark books, sit with a dictionary and a computer which is cumbersome.

Disadvantages-

1-      Look & Feel: It takes a bit of time and effort to get adjusted to reading on the digital formats. For me the Sepia mode on the tablet worked very well. However, if you still feel that you don’t like the backlit displays try Kindle Paperwhite (in India it is available for Demo in Croma) which is closest to the real paper.

2-      Handling: The tablets and e-readers are electronic devices and their handling has to be more delicate compared to books.

3-      Lending: I am not sure if this is a advantage or a disadvantage  but being digital you cannot share or lend your books J

4-      Lack of Books: This is a problem when it comes to Indian Authors, not all titles are available online. Sometimes the Indian books are ridiculously priced too, for example Sidin’s latest book “Who Let The Dork Out” was initially priced at 10.58$ while the physical on flipkart is Rs. 121. Though later the prices were rationalized at 2$ but this kind of discrepancies exist.

5-      Charging: The digital format requires charging of the devices at regular interval. Though there are some Kindle devices which last for a month with a single charge but overall most devices need constant charging. The devices I have used are fine if you charge them once in couple of days and I haven’t been left stranded without charge till now, so I guess it is not a deal breaker.

So this is my take on the E-readers and tablets for reading. For people interested I am using Amazon Kindle App on Nexus 7 for my reading.

Fifty Shades of Grey: A Review, A Rant and A Drinking Game

I have been reviewing books since a long time and I have a personal policy that I do not bash books and the authors. I believe that a book is a creative work and acknowledge the amount of effort the author has put to bring it to the readers. But then there are some books which command an exception and this includes some amount of rant, with otherwise an honest book review.

Author: E L James 
Publisher: Arrow Books 
Price: 399/-
Pages: 514

Fifty Shades of Grey is a book which is based on the life of a wealthy billionaire and a girl fleshly freshly completing the college. The story revolves around how the two accidently meet up and get attracted to each other. Anastasia, the female protagonists a normal girl in twenties gets awed as she becomes the target of the billionaires attraction and eventually finds herself falling in love with him. The story takes a twisted turn when she realizes that the person she loves is not a normal guy but a kinky sex maniac whose idea of relationship with her is superbly weird. The relationship governed with no disclosure agreements and a contractual obligation of what can sexually be done as a part of their relationship.

The book has a slow plot line but the writer manages capture the minds of the reader with either the clichéd romantic antics of a billionaire brat or the erotic descriptions of the lead pair. The fact that makes this book unique and probably intriguing is the way sexuality and sex are extensively used for the characterization of both the leads of the story.

Overall the book is average writing spiced up with sex. The story pace is slow and continues in two more books which are more difficult to read when the novelty of extensive use of sex in the story wears off. The book might be a good one for people who just want a spicy and breezy read without too much of literature and content.

Summary: An average book with lot of sexual spice, pick it up only if you have nothing better to do.

Rating:  5.5/10

Now I will come back to the ranting. I mean what is wrong with the world for such a lousy piece to make it to a best seller beating so many great books. After reading, it seems like the collective taste in literature across the world have gone down a few notches. There are glaring inconsistencies in the characterizations a girl who is indefinitely pricky about receiving expensive gifts from her boyfriend but in the entire 513 pages there are hardly any instances where she hasn’t wore her roommates’ dress. The best way of reading this book is to play a drinking game with it.

You have to take shot of your drink when any of the following words/phrases appear in the book-

1-      Fuck You Hard

2-      Audi

3-      Epitome of Male Beauty

4-      Mention of “The Contract”

5-      Playroom

6-      Kate’s Dress

7-      Dominant/Submissive

8-      You must eat

So by the time you will be finished with 100 pages you would be drunk enough to be unaffected by the book.

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SuperCooperators

Author: Martin Nowak, Roger Highfield
Publisher: Canongate
Price: 450/-
Pages: 288

The SuperCooperators is a book written by Martin Nowak who is the Professor of Biology and of Mathematics at Harvard University and Director of Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. The book is about his journey of research on what factors were responsible for the evolution of our species to a state/level we are right now. The book starts with an interesting premise of prisoner’s dilemma and dwells into the implications of same on our evolution, our development, and our behaviors.

The concept of cooperation in the backdrop of the evolutionary theory of “Survival of the fittest” not only raises a lot of interesting questions and arguments which would make one ponder but also gives valid arguments and justifications of the alternatives which are easily conceivable even by a layman. The book enters into a realm of how we evolved from chemicals to evolutionary single cell organisms. A question which almost everyone who has some exposure to the evolution always wondered.

The book will engross you in a fascinating journey of evolution, tickles your thought buds to question yourself on your existence. A book that makes you think about our behavior and why we do, what we do. The pace of the book is slow as the author gets into a lot of details on his theory and quoting and interpreting the research done by other scientists for the understanding of a layman reader. Overall the book leaves you spell bound thinking on the journey of our and many other species from a single cell organism. The book might be boring for people who lack interest in scientific (esp. biological and mathematical) aspects of our evolution and behavior.

Summary: A very interesting read for the non-fiction readers. Do pick up if you like the science genre.

Rating: 9/10

 

Wings of Silence

Author: Shriram Iyer
Publisher: Westland/Grey Oak
Price: 199/-
Pages: 242

The Wings of Silence is a fairy tale for any Indian sports lover. A tale of two brothers, one champion in tennis and the other an impeccable runner for marathons. The book has a perfect plot spawned across 2 countries and 5 lives. The story starts with the contrasting life of two brothers, Raj who was born deaf and Saurav who was born with loads of talent be it studies or sports.

The lives of two brothers are as different as they can possibly be, living under the shadow of a Veer Chakra Awarded father who is a winner by attitude and runs the family with an army like discipline. Constant admiration and appreciation for Saurav and a perennial frowning for Raj, led Raj to lapse into depression. The story charts the path for Raj how he with the help of his brother finds himself as a runner. He reinvents himself and finds his calling in life.

The story is a short, fast and nice read with the characters very carefully and efficiently planned by the author which makes it a likeable read. The story is intriguing and deals with the topic of an Indian competing in the marathon of 1980 Olympics makes it lovable for the patriot in me. The research on the plot has been extensive and the author has used the historical events of 1980s very well in the story. Despite being overly optimistic in the plot t makes a good book for a nice breezy read.

Summary: A refreshing plot in contemporary Indian fiction, this book makes for a good light time pass read.
Rating: 7/10

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The Clockwork Man

Author: William Jablonsky
Publisher: Westland/Silverfish
Price: 225/-
Pages: 231

The book is a strikingly different tale of love, righteousness and relationships. Unlike a lot of other books, the author in this charts a different territory when he explores the humans from the lens of a machine. The protagonist in the book is a machine, an invention of genius which allowed the machine to walk think and learn a bit like humans.
18th century iconic automated clockmaker, Karl Gruber makes a new machine which works on the principles of the clockwork. This invention called “Ernst” in the first half of life lives with the Gruber household and becomes incredibly attached to his inventor & his daughter. He is an important part of the household, A perfect gentleman with strongly imbibed morals and values. Life for Ernst takes unexpected turn when a tragedy strikes the family and Ernst finds himself all alone when he shuts himself down.
He only wakes up in 2005 and finds himself in an entirely new world and surroundings. The story deals how a machine lives and copes in the 21st century world with values, morals and principles practiced in 19th century. How the clockwork man finds his purpose in life and manages to move on from his past.
The book is written in the diary format where Ernst maintains spanning his entire life of over 150 years. The author has brilliantly brought the emotional aspects of the development of emotions, understanding and principles in the clockwork man. The relationship between Gruber daughter and Ernst is so well portrayed that even for a while reader is not faced with awkwardness of the romance between them. The pace of the story is a bit slow but the depth and the emotional portrayals more than make up for it. All in all book has a unique plot and a feel of a classic with all the 18th century plot.
Summary: A great contemporary classic; a good read for readers across genres.
Rating: 8.5/10

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Urban Shots- The Love Collection

Editor: Sneh Thakur
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 199/-
Pages: 226

The book is a collection of stories based on a common theme of love. The book is very different from the first impression one would get from the title. A book very far from a collection of usually told mushy love stories; the editor has ensured the collection to be inclined towards the new age complications in love and relationships.

Major reason the book works so well is because of variety of authors and genre. The stories pan across themes like love, marriages, break-ups, proposals, sex, misunderstanding and lot more. The editor has taken special and conscious efforts to move to a more serious writing as the book, the mushy light reads are almost missing from the book. Some of the stories and their treatment become repetitive in the entire effort; this however doesn’t affect the enjoyable read.

Some of the notable stories from the book-

Written in the Stars (R. Chandrasekar)- The story dances around the theme of falling in love and how sometimes fate is and unusual circumstances are responsible for the fait accompli called love. This one will leave you smiling at the games played by the stars above us in making our destiny.

High Time (Kailash Srinivasan) – The story brings out the generation shift in the ideas of love, marriage and life. A beautiful story which will leave you in the fits of laughter, while making you think of the times when you were (would be) in the protagonist’s situation.

Pause, Rewind, Play ( Shoma Narayana)- The story is bound to take you by surprise, a tale when one finds true love in the betrayal. Very crafty style of writing with going back and forth in time ensures the reader is hooked to the characters.

Coffee? (Ahmed Faiyaz)– A brilliant story on love at a tender age and the problems around the conservative family. The story is well written, and the characterization well done that it would leave a warm feeling about the relationship between the characters

Some more enjoyable tales from the collection-  A Good Day (Richa S. Chaterjee), Tall Order (Malathi Jaikumar) and The Jhalmuri Seller (Bhabani Shankar Kar)

Summary: A nice collection of stories, if you are interested in contemporary and serious themes of love.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Urban Shots – Crossroads

Editor: Ahmed Faiyaz 
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 199/-
Pages: 217

Urban Shots Crossroads, is a collection of short stories by multiple authors. The collection tries to capture the various facets or the crossroads of life using the short stories as a medium. The collection spins tales across demographics, regions, and themes weaving tales spanning across human emotions. The collection is a fair mix of light and serious reads; stories that would bring out emotions in you and the stories that would take you by surprise.

The editor, Ahmed Faiyaz has done a good work building the compilation, he has ensured the stories could be enjoyed by the widest possible audience, and has mixed well leaving the specific sponsored stories from the competition which in some cases do not fit too well the compilation.

Some of the notable stories from the book-

The Gap (Saritha Rao): A strained relationship between a single mother and her daughter. An emotional story about how they rejuvenate their connect and bridge the generation gap.

Mindgames (Manish Dhingra): A total twister that is going to take you by surprise. A very well executed story of a man trying to handle his delusional wife.

Baba Premanand’s Yoga Class (Paritosh Uttam): A satirical story on the mob culture and the effects it can have on the victims. A well narrated story with a balanced ending, which would leave the reader thinking.

Hunch (Karthik K): A twisted tale again; the brilliance of this story lies in the narrative and handling of situation where the author has dropped hints but still managed not to give the story away.

Some more enjoyable tales from the collection- The Pink Slip (Malcolm Carvalho) and Mervin (Ahmed Faiyaz)

Summary: A great collection of stories, if you like short bites of fiction definitely pick this up for a small journey or devour each story in the bus during the commute.

Ratings: 7.5/10