Category Archives: Books

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


Urban Shots – Bright Lights

Editor: Paritosh Uttam 
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 199/-
Pages: 204
The Bright Lights Urban Shots collection is the compilation of twenty-nine short stories by twenty-one authors. In the editor’s words the idea behind Bright Lights was to illuminate the different aspects of urban life and he has been successful doing that. The assortment of stories in the book ensures that a wide Diaspora of the Urban Life is very well covered. There are stories about relationships, careers, ambition, deceit, passion and soul searching. The book is lighter as compared with the other two editions released alongside and makes for a quick fun read.

Double Mixed (Namit V. Nair): A beautiful story about infidel relationships and how people are trapped in one of the most awkward circumstances. A perfectly woven tale of human relationships that will leave you smiling.

Maami Menace (Pradeep D. Raj): A humorous story about an interfering old neighbour and a families’ effort to thwart her off. A story which has happened to almost all of us reminding of a neighbour whose visit we dreaded.

Jo Dikhta Hai Woh Bikta Hai (Sneh Thakur): A story about the ambitions of the youth and the ordeals of the FMCG industry. A story about how people start doing what it takes, a story about the eternal debate of end before means.

Mr. Periera (Ahmed Faiyaz): A warm and gooey story about two people between different generations with books as the bridge between them. This would remind you of the person who introduced you to your passion.

Some more enjoyable tales from the collection- Cats & Sponge (Meena Bhatnagar), Hot Masala (Jhangir Kerawala)

Summary: A fun collection of stories good to go for daily reading to liven up one’s mood.

Ratings: 7/10


The Newsroom Mafia

Author: Oswald Pereira
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 245/-
Pages: 266

The Indian fiction is picking up steam with people courting apart from the usual romance, college genres. It was enjoyable to see a book dealing with a new theme woven around the fourth estate. The book is set in the backdrop of Mumbai, plodding the nexus between the underworld, cops and the media.

The author himself plays the protagonist, the chief reporter of a major daily. The story unfolds itself amidst the tense moments where the commissioner of Mumbai police Donald gives him the prior information on the arrest of the local don Narayan Swamy. The idea being when the arrest is carried out the commissioner gets his share of publicity and the newspaper gets the breaking news. The things take a sudden twist when the don manages to trick the police, and the news goes into the print.

With such an unprecedented event, the story proceeds with a thrilling game of cat and mouse between the don and the police with various elements from the media divided on both sides. The story charters the history of the rise of the don, his nexus with the politicians and the significant contribution made by the media in his rise by brokering deals, sharing information and forging public perceptions.

The book is fast paced tale amidst a series of thrilling events from the eyes of world of newspapers. The tale is woven well with a fast pace which would keep the reader on the edge, the book looks like a sure recipe for a bollywood action thriller. The book manages to keep the attention of the reader, while distantly relating events to things which we might have read in the newspapers. There are multiple twists in the tale, in the background of the rags to riches story of the don Narayan Swamy.

The author has done a brilliant job with the characterization of the Don, but to bring in the multiple twists in the story the author has also introduced a significantly large set of characters because of that the characterization and their involvement in the plot becomes a bit complicated

Overall a decent quick read on a new topic with a fresh plot, which manages to capture the imagination of the readers.

Summary: A quick and interesting reads who like the thrillers, especially involving underworld and the workings of the media. A fresh perspective on Journalism and the mirth in its world might interest a casual reader too

Rating: 6.5/10


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The Litigators

Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: 350/-
Pages: 436

I have always loved John Grisham’s style of writing and the legal genre he writes, starting from “The Firm”, “The Pelican Brief”, “The Client” and many more. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading his works and when the latest in line “The Litigators” was released I had to read it. Litigators is the story based on the dirty world of the street lawyers and the high profile mass tort legal culture now an intricate part of the US legal system.

The protagonist David Zinc belongs to a respectable family of lawyers and judges, himself a lawyer from Harvard and working for one of the most respectable law firm of Chicago finds himself cracking under the pressure and boredom of his corporate life. From working in the backend offices of Rogan Rothberg; in a bizarre turn of events David lands up at Finely & Figg, a two partner street lawyer firm.

From the back offices David now finds himself in a new territory of street lawyers, where the partners carried gun. The partners were sleeping with clients, and chased ambulances, car wrecks and morgues for the new cases. The plot proceeds when their small law firm gets involved in the mass tort wave against one of the largest pharmaceutical giants Varrick labs over a drug called Kyaroxx. In a series of more bizarre incidents he is in the court with the two partners who have never appeared in the federal courts before.

The story continues when David needs to come on the forefront of all litigation, protecting and finding a new life for his firm and his two partners. The story is evenly paced and the author has ensured that characterizations of the protagonist and other important characters happen in great detail.  The story is weaved with multiple side plots which keep on progressing with the main plots keeping the reader engaged on multiple fronts.

Where the book leaves the reader high & dry is the lack of the punch which is usually a characteristic of John Grisham, the plots are relatively predictable and the highs during the climax are missing. Towards the second half of the book one can get a hint of how things would unfold is visible to the reader. Also the build-up done in the first half doesn’t carried across to the end. Overall the book is a good picture reflecting on the world of mass tort litigation and street lawyers, author has ensured the dark side of the street law the non glamorous side has been covered in detail.

Summary: An average read might disappoint readers expecting usual John Grisham type thrillers. Pick up if you like the legal thrillers genre.

Rating: 6/10

The Canyon of Souls

Author: Ronald Malfi
Publisher: Grey Oak/Westland
Price: 225/-
Pages: 303

I was reading the author for the first time, and the genre which seemed more like a mountaineering travelogue. The book actually turned out to be very different, it would actually fall into thriller more than the travelogue. The story is set in picturesque mountains of Himalaya, where the protagonist along with few other men tries to cross the Canyon of soul.  A mystical place where, according to the ancient legends, one world connects to the other a place where one can only be lead by the power of spirits they are lead by.

The story starts with Tim Overleigh the protagonist finding himself in a cave all alone facing death. The story depicts the protagonist heading to a path of self destruction while holding himself responsible for his wife’s death. Indulging in extreme sports and depression and his original talent for sculpting has suddenly vanished, the life of Tim seems to reach a dead end. That is when the plot unfolds and Tim runs into his friend Andrew, who is another extreme sports enthusiast. Who gives him an offer to join him on a mountaineering expedition with couple of other men to the canyon of souls. Tim, Andrew and his other friends set out to conquer the untouched canyon of souls, but it is not only the tough Himalayan terrain and conditions that post a challenge to these men. Their lives are threatened and the journey which looks plausible seems more dangerous, is it the sprits against them in the canyon of souls or there is something bigger waiting for them.

The book is relatively slower than the usual thrillers we read but the author has ensured that he has covered the picturesque Himalayas and the involved characters in appropriate detail. The book works specially because of the effort and attention to detail done by the author on the build up of the plot while leading the reader along with the details. The book manages to capture the readers imagination, and manages to use the brilliant storytelling to bring in the thrill moments. People looking for a quick and fast paced read might find the book a bit slow but nevertheless the story telling makes up for it.

Summary: A brilliant read, captures imagination well and manages to surprise the readers with a descript travelogue served alongside steaming plot.

Rating: 8.5/10

Scammed: Confessions of a Confused Accountant- Book Review

Author: Anonymous
Publisher: Grey Oak/Westland
Price: 175/-
Pages: 175

This book caught my attention especially due to the interesting title and a more interesting the anonymous author. The book is a story of a small but ambitious accountant, Hitesh Patel, in a large audit firm, who gets into the maze of political & corporate sleaze to rise to the stardom as the rising youth icon, and entrepreneur. The story takes dramatic turn with Hitesh where he is finding to firm his feet in the new founded success while trying to find a worthy life partner.

While rising to all the success, Hitesh’s world turns upside down, when he gets trapped in a political turmoil involving his company amidst a corporate scam, a murder and a falling government. A time where all his friends and his well wishers turned their back on him, leaving him to face this all alone. This is story of a boy with middle class values and ambition to fight and survive all this sleaze, his story of finding true friendship and love in life.

The simplicity of the book works very well for the reader and the characterizations are well done. The pace of the story is really fast and the author doesn’t take too much time get to ravel the plot, the events unfold at a pace that the author manages to retain the reader’s interest throughout the story.  The only downside with the book I felt was that it climaxed a bit early, the unravelling of the plot happened a bit too quickly. I was hoping some details and further characterization would be in place to show the strength of the character of the protagonist. Overall the book is a light hearted spicy page turner covering corporate and young middle class ambitions. A very good read for the someone looking to experience the new age Indian literature.

Summary: A good book with new look at the corporate world and the world of sleaze and political funding in corporate. A light and interesting read, must pick up for someone looking for a book to read during travel.

Rating: 7.5/10

PS: I have changed my rating scales from 5 to 10 to ensure I can have better reflection on books which are very close


God Save The Dork

Author: Sidin Vadukut 
Publisher: Penguin Books
Price: 199/-
Pages: 240

I had reviewed Sidin’s first book Dork some time back, if you haven’t read about it you can read it here. I have been following Sidin on his blog (which he hardly updated these days) and twitter (which is a frequently updated medium) since a long time. In his writing, Sidin has a very distinct sarcastic style humor which clearly, is his forte and he has succeeded to bring out some of the best of his humor in “God Save The Dork”.

This book is a sequel to Dork, which was the story of Robin Einstein Varghese, a dumb consultant who makes it huge on sheer luck and coincidence in a consulting firm. The sequel is based out of London where Robert is on secondment for a consulting assignment for a global bank. The story keeps taking interesting turns with every disaster Robin faces starting from exploring the British culture to presentations over wireless microphones, fraud executives and SEC investigation.

The book again takes a hard jibe on the management consulting industry and the practices it follows, the story is interesting filled with unpredictable events and disasters which keep our protagonist on his toes. The book is a light read with humor generously spread across the evenly paced story, there is no intense track which would force you to think but then the jokes and tragedies on Robin Einstein Varghese would ensure you never have a dull moment while reading the book.

Summary: A great light hearted humor book which one could enjoy laughing over those highly paid management consultant and their ways. A must read if you have been related to the management consulting industry.

Rating: 4/5

Zero Percentile 2.0 Missed IIT Kissed Gurgaon

Author: Neeraj Chhibba
Publisher: Rupa
Price: 140/-
Pages: 257

I had reviewed Neeraj’s first book Zero Percentile around two years back. I liked that book and thought it was a really good attempt at the story telling. When I saw his second book I knew that I had to read it and hence I got my hands on Zero Percentile 2.0 Missed IIT Kissed Gurgaon.  This is the sequel to his first book and takes off from where the first book got over. Pankaj is back from Russia and Motu, Priya, and Nitin are out of college, moving to the next phase of life.

The story is woven around entrepreneurship where all the friends come together to start a software consulting company. The story is woven across the professional conflicts and personal relationships where marriages and friendships are compromised on the altar of ambition and values. The story focuses on a multiple socially relevant issues like, ethics & values in corporate India, AIDS, treatment of special children in our society, and failing marriages due to over ambition; despite all the issues in picture the author maintains the track which is a delight for the reader.

The characterization in the book is good and since Neeraj has maintained the uniformity from the last books the characters are more realistic and create a direct connect with the reader. The pace of the story is something which works very well for the book, the continuous chain of events happening one after the other keeps the reader glued throughout the story. Corporate espionage, cyber attacks and a hostile takeover, if one likes corporate thrillers this would definitely be of interest. Compared to his earlier book this one has a lot of depth and improvisation not only in the plot but also in the method of storytelling. The skewed time frame he has used between the chapters keep the reader informed and aware despite being a bit confusing.

Though the book is an individual and there is no compulsion to read it as a sequel, but there are a few references of the story from the first book which the new readers might miss; given that the sequel is coming after two years it is a bit difficult to recollect the details.

Summary: Overall a great book set up in the emerging entrepreneurs’ corporate; a fast paced and entertaining read.

Rating:  3.5/5

Book Review: JS & The Times of My Life: A Worm's Eye View of Indian Journalism

Author: Jug Suraiya
Publisher: Tranquebar
Price: 495/-
Pages: 350

Anyone who has grown up in the 80s and 90s is not unfamiliar with the name of Jug Suraiya especially with his columns in The Times of India. His columns like Jugular Vein and Dubyaman have been a part and parcel of like of thousands of people like me who would consume and cherish his humorous writing with utmost delight. When he wrote an autobiography without a doubt it was supposed to raise a lot of curiosity. So I got my hands on the cleverly titled book “JS & The Times of My Life: A Worm’s Eye View of Indian Journalism.” Now where the title seems to be extremely heavy and serious in its tone and length the book is absolutely not. It is a delight for the minds which enjoy a light, riveting yet fun read.

The book starts with Jug as his fans call him narrating his dilemma on choosing a career after passing from the college and how life coincidentally turned him towards journalism. The book draws his times of hard work and struggle during The Junior Statesman (JS) days and how he developed as a writer, columnist. The book traverse through his personal and professional life while narrating the story of the change and evolution of Indian journalism in the backdrop. Jug Sauraiya maintains his usual brand of self deprecating humor and utilizes it fully well to take the readers to the times when the Junior Statesman was still alive; the times when The Times of India was transforming; the times when the journalism and the country itself were going through a metamorphoses. And he does it in brilliant literary style, avoiding exaggeration maintaining the matter of fact version of events but still weaving them as studded amulets in his own tale.

The best part is the narrative by Jug, which is appropriately detailed to give you the view of the Journalism world, his life at the same time brief enough to retain the interest. Over the length of the book the reader becomes a part of Jug’s life and celebrates small moments which were important and saddened by events which left him dry. The book not only brings out the humorous side of Jug Suraiya which the readers of TOI and the JS have known since ages but also the hidden story teller side of him which a lot of people including me were never aware of.

The pace of the books is pretty fast with evenly spluttered with small or large events capturing the imagination of the readers. Mentions and excerpts of his edits from the old days also help creating the nostalgic feeling of the bygone era with the book. The book might be a source of inspiration to a lot of aspiring journalists, editors and authors however it fails to highlight the details of becoming one as author maintains the Journalism happened to him by chance.

Summary: A nice autobiography quite realistic yet entertaining and funny to read. A must read for those who enjoy Jug’s columns in TOI or JS.

Rating:  4 / 5


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