Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Pink or Black 2

Tishaa Khosla
Title: Pink or Black 2: High Drama at High School
Author: Tishaa Khosla (click to see the website!)
Published: 2012 by Rupa Publications
Pages: 166
Price: Rs. 140
My Rating: 4/5


Blurb from the book's cover!
Tiana's school year has just started and looks bleak already. Her boyfriend is concerned they 'don't connect anymore', her best friends are being super nasty, her lunch group has been taken over by new comers, and the final nail in the coffin: a blast from the past, whom she believed she had left behind forever, has moved to Hill View High.

Will anything go right for Tiana as she juggles friends old and new, tries to stay in her teachers' good books and most importantly, attempts to keep all the boys at bay while she figures out her own feelings?

My Thoughts!
This book is a sequel to Pink or Black, which introduced the little world of Tiana and her friends when they're Class X students at Hill View High boarding school. Pink or Black 2 takes off from when they're beginning a new year in school, with the baggage of the past on their shoulders, teachers' and parents' heavy expectations in front of them, and some new (unpleasant) surprises for Tiana! Tiana's life seems like it's on a roller coaster, Karam, her boyfriend thinks they should break up, her friends are acting weird, especially Bella, who seems to hold a grudge against Tiana for just about everything. Then there's Tea, Tiana's cousin who joins her school this year (yep. That's her name, after the beverage). This is not all, there's one more person, a new character, whom Tiana had hoped never to see again, but there he is, a 'hot new guy' at Hill View High, bent on making her life as hellish as possible. Okay, not really, but he was a lot of trouble. 

All through the book, it's all about how Tiana's friends gradually start acting like enemies, beginning with Bella. There are a lot of misunderstandings, fights, wrong-place-wrong-time kind of situations, horrible back-biting and whatnot. Tiana definitely has a lot of boy trouble. As if two boys were not enough, a third crops up in the middle of the book. What I liked about this book was the introduction of 'new' characters. Tiana is sort of 'banished-by-chance' from her usual lunch table and she finds it easy to make friends with the other girls, who're not as snooty as her 'friends' are. Even though the new characters added a lot to the book by making it interesting and showing the school as something much more than just Tiana's group of friends, I sometimes felt that it may have been a bit too much. I mean, all those new characters added a whole lot of drama to her life, more than it already is. Though I have to say her new friends, Sara and gang, seemed quite pleasant (or maybe the only ones who are).


Coming to characters, Tiana's a strong willed and smart girl, someone who knows her boundaries and is not afraid to speak her mind as and when the situation demands it. I really admire her for these qualities, but I wish she wouldn't be such a magnet for weird guys! (But who am I to say? :P) Maybe I feel this way because I understand how frustrating it can be and I wanted some comfort in knowing that she'd be able to get away with such silly stuff, but that's not the case, unfortunately. Apart from Tiana, the only other character I admire is Karam, a sensible guy who likes Tiana for who she is. I've been wanting to write this one thing ever since I got into the first few pages of the book: I do not like Bella, at all! As a character, she represents the snooty girl who's aggressively jealous, mean and cares more for herself rather than thinking about her friends. I guess she could have been made likable if she did anything positive or realized the error of her ways anywhere in the book, but that's what was slightly disappointing. Tiana's friends are so obsessed with themselves that she doesn't seem to fit with them anymore, which I guess was simply a reflection of what happens in real life. Haven't most of us gone through a similar situation? I was getting kind of restless seeing Tiana still staying on good terms from her side with them, though I was immensely relieved to see her finally reacting to all the non-sense by lashing out at them and coming to terms with her situation with a few realizations and good decisions. 

Tishaa's writing style is quite simple, and engrossing. She doesn't use heavy set words and phrases, which makes the whole reading experience quite 'easy' and 'light' and I'm sure, readers are able to easily connect with the characters and the sequence of events. Another good thing about it is that it has a wonderful 'flow' to it, with no breaks or hurdles. Thanks to it, you'll be able to finish the book in a day, if you just sit/lie down in a comfortable place and have all day to read, because really, once started, it's hard to put down! ^_^ The message is quite similar to the first book- that of individual choices and 'growing' as a person, shown as Tiana dealing with her innermost feelings and preferences as opposed to those of her friends. Compared to the first book, this one definitely shows the maturity in the characters (or maybe just in Tiana), but it's definitely visible. Even then, I'm not sure which book I like better. The shortcomings of the first are covered in this one and where this one lacks ("too" much drama, I think), the first book was perfectly balanced. Anyway, it's a well-thought attempt, with better writing style and the kind of teenage fiction you'd love to read if you're into high school drama kind of books! This is the first book (except for the first in the series) of this kind that I've read by an Indian author and it does not disappoint! :) 

Recommended for: Teenagers, YA readers, chick-lit lovers and generally, anyone looking for a light high school drama story! 

PS- How can I miss mentioning: the cover! *cuteness* :D

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


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Eternity is Temporary

Bill Broady
Title: Eternity is Temporary
Author: Bill Broady
Published: 2007 by Portobello Books
Pages: 304
Find it at: Flipkart
My Rating: 3/5!







Blurb from the book's cover!
It's the blazing hot summer of 1976 and Adrea and Evan have just started working in a north London care home. Their days are spent nursing an eclectic group of residents and dodging Matron and her twisted entourage, and their evenings reverberate to the loud, shouty sounds of the new punk rock- and to the shock of first love. As the heat rises on the streets, so does the intensity of their feelings, with inexorable, incendiary consequences...

My thoughts!
Set in the city of London, in the alleys and corners less talked about, Eternity is Temporary is, what I would call, a deep reflection of human psychology, bringing openly the thoughts and activities one usually doesn't put down in a book. It's totally descriptive, discussing at length the feelings, thoughts, insecurities, delving deep into the mind, about every character for every thing that's relevant to them. There isn't, as such, a long plot or a story. There is one base story, a guy called Evan is acquainted with a weird couple in a bar in London (which happens to be run by a midget), and he agrees on a job at Heron Close, a care home for old people who're either afflicted with physical or mental problems. There he meets Adrea and they fall in love. The story goes on how all residents at Heron Close and everyone else: the Matron, caretakers, cooks, cleaners and helpers, etc are living, going in details about most of them and their stories, their past and their troubles. It shows how Evan and Adrea, with renewed enthusiasm, try to bring in pleasant changes in the home, for the benefit of the residents and how it goes on great for a while before settling back and going off after a while. 

The best thing about this book is the descriptive aspect and the frank way with which it brings out everything about the characters and their lives. It's not biased towards anyone, just sort of gives a factual description of everything. It's not too factual, though. When it talks about the conflicting emotions of a character, it is able to invoke a feeling of connected-ness. It's like you've just been to that place and lived there, with all those people and seen everything that happened, first hand. Not many books give you that feeling. I guess that's the way it was meant to be: describing a whole small world to the readers, in a totally complete sense. You can picture the characters, the care home, the bars, the railway tracks, the punk rock concerts and everything. There's a lot of music and rock band-talks in the book, considering a lot of characters like music. That was something that maybe, added a little bit of 'color' to the book. For me, the writing style was flawless and there were numerous lines and phrases where it became humorous!

This is the kind of book that's not really "my" type and so I definitely had a bit to struggle with. For starters, I wasn't into the book until at least a 100 pages went by. It was then that it started looking a bit promising. As the story involves bars, a care home managed by really weird people with their own set of problems, the residents and some mean people who're nothing short of depressed and leading a lonely life, there wasn't much that was "bright and light" in this book. So it might seem depressing, just talking about troubles and vivid details of desires, wants and imagination. It definitely became interesting in between but I was slightly disappointed by the way certain characters simply vanished from the story. And no, I did not like the end. Which personally means a lot to me.

Nevertheless, I liked the meaning behind all of this. There's a painting in the care home where there's an inscription that says, 'Eternity is Temporary'. That's the whole idea of the book, according to what I inferred. When Evan and Adrea are so much in love, enjoying the close moments, looking and admiring beautiful things and memories together, and when things are going breezy at Heron Close, it seems like it should go on forever, it seems like eternity. However, gradually and due to certain situations, things go back to the way they were and what happens to Evan and Adrea is something I'm not spilling. Let's just say it simply lives up to the title and shows it's true: Eternity IS Temporary. Some lines from the book I liked:

'We're like those people in your picture'- Adrea gestured towards Eternity is Temporary- 'They know they're in the right place but they don't know what to do next. They've discovered that eternity is temporary but they don't know what difference that makes. All they can do is sit and wait. Like us. We're ready to go and we're just one step away from something remarkable'.

Recommended for: Adults, experimental readers and those who love a lot of descriptions!

Thank you Random House publishers for this book! 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday readings!

*Drumroll* It's winter break! Like, fin-freaking-ly! You know how much I'd been missing out on reading because of super-annoying the hectic college and I'm kind of bowed down in a serene prayer position right now. Okay, not really, because there's no way I could have been typing this, but still. Metaphorically. I don't think I've ever appreciated holidays this much before.

Anyway, with these holidays, there's an associated list of books I have to read! Have as in, no compulsion, but you know how it is, you just can't breathe without getting your eyes set on some great pages at least! Here's the list! (All these books are linked to their Goodreads page)

1. The Affair by Lee Child (read review here). 

2. Eternity is Temporary by Bill Broady : Reading now!

3. Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen.

4. The Fault in our Stars by John Green (Yess!!): Reading now! (super yess!! :D )

5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (I should just go die if I don't read this before 2012 ends!)

6. The Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead : For heaven's sake I have the whole set and I haven't even started! I so want to go ahead with the Bloodlines books too, which would be possible only when I finish this series! 

Kind of a messy collage :P

7. More of A Calmer You by Sonal Kalra: The second compilation of 'A Calmer You' columns in HT City on Sundays! (The first one: A Calmer You). It's a new release, haven't received my copy yet! 

8. Family Pictures by Sue Miller: From the library, seems interesting and I better read this before the due date!

9. Matched by Allie Condie: From the library too. I picked this one up purely on the basis of the words 'dystopian' printed at the back! ;)

10. "Chosen", Dark Passage by M.L. Woolley: An e-book I won in a giveaway! :D

11. Underworld, Dark Passage 2 by M.L. Woolley: Received as a gift from the author! Thank you! :)

I guess if I'm done with these, I'd get into some or the other e-book as well. I mean, e-books are such easy reads, somehow. I'd soon be doing a year end post with lots of books' names as well as the next year readings and challenges and stuff! ;) Keep reading! 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: The Affair by Lee Child

Lee Child
Title: The Affair (A Jack Reacher Thriller)
Author: Lee Child
Published: 2011 by Bantam Press (Random House publishers)
Pages: 526
Find it at: Flipkart / Amazon
Genre: Crime thriller
My Rating: 4.5/5!


Goodreads blurb!
Everything starts somewhere. . . .For elite military cop Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Carter Crossing, Mississippi, way back in 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A cover up. A young woman is dead, and solid evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. But that soldier has powerful friends in Washington. Reacher is ordered undercover—to find out everything he can, to control the local police, and then to vanish. Reacher is a good soldier. But when he gets to Carter Crossing, he finds layers no one saw coming, and the investigation spins out of control. Local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux has a thirst for justice—and an appetite for secrets. Uncertain they can trust one another, Reacher and Deveraux reluctantly join forces. Reacher works to uncover the truth, while others try to bury it forever. The conspiracy threatens to shatter his faith in his mission, and turn him into a man to be feared.

My thoughts!
If I had ever thought wished to read a thriller that would make my breaths short and force my eyes not to close till the very end, I must have been imagining the kind of feeling you get if you read The Affair. Just a perfect kind of a thriller, this book is based six months prior to the setting of Killing Floor where Jack Reacher finds himself posted in Mississippi, just to keep a 'lookout' and inform the base about any weird activity. Reacher is one solid man with numerous physical combat moves ready at the drop of a hat, with immense precision and guts, and a head full of knowledge, analytical skills and an uncanny ability to judge people and their actions. Just the right kind of an investigator you'd prefer. With a military background, Reacher is adequately experienced and equipped, which makes the book a whole lot fun and interesting, as the readers get to know experience total military/investigative action as close as real could get!

Unlike in Killing Floor, this time I could make out Reacher's personality much better, which made it easy to imagine him doing whatever he was doing. Elizabeth Deveraux, the sheriff is a very smart woman, the no-nonsense types, extremely pretty and stuck with three homicides, the investigation of which is going nowhere. I really liked the way Deveraux was presented: slightly unpredictable. As the seed of doubt is sown in the story, you're not sure which side the decision would go. Who's the real guilty party? Who's faking? As an eager reader, I usually anticipate in advance what the outcome would be and then it's up to the rest of the story to either tell me if I'm right or wrong (which, by the way, is more thrilling!). In this book however, you might have to make a hard choice, if you decide to predict the outcome like I do. You might be oscillating back and forth on your opinion, and not just once. That's what's great about thrillers and mysteries, no? Unpredictability! The Affair meets this criteria very well!

As far as the story/plot goes, cent per cent marks! Though initially when the setting changed it got a bit confusing, but it didn't go beyond more than 20-30 pages. When Reacher's in Mississippi and the story begins, it's a total 'oh-my-god-what's-happening-I-can't-stop-reading' kind of a thing. There are murders, there are suspects, new interesting and sometimes startling facts come up, most chapters end on a suspense-kind note, so that it's hard to 'just read another chapter'. I loved the plot twists, all of them! The ending seemed just right. Reacher's intuition and that secretive information and feeling that is revealed only at the end, is quite promising. I wasn't disappointed! The only thing I hoped was that the 'end' end would have covered a few more pages, as it seemed a little bit rushed up. The fact that people accepted their fates easily, as if either they knew all along it was coming, or they're just like that: they wouldn't put on a great emotional show. Whatever it was, it seemed good enough to me!

The writing style is great, full proper sentences ;) The best part is how the author is able to inculcate important general facts without making it seem like an information overload. I love such books, learning-the-fun-way types. The descriptive aspect is great. Much better than great, if I may say so. I think that's mostly because Reacher is that kind of a guy who has a complete mental clock and calculator inside of him, and all that is right on paper. Overall, a great suspense thriller that would keep you on edge most of the times, and so gripping that you're surely going to bite off all your nails! ;)

Some quotes from the book I loved and saved:

"Sometimes if you want to know for sure whether the stove is hot, the only way to find out is to touch it"

"Smart, conscientious people hate making mistakes. Not just because of ego. Because mistakes of a certain type have the kinds of consequences that people with conscience don't like to live with"

"Blood and brains are realities, and realities are unwelcome visitors in the world of make-believe"

"For years you've laughed off the small things, but they come so thick and fast that eventually you realize an avalanche is made up of small things. Snowflakes, right? Things don't get much smaller than that. Suddenly you realize that small things are big things"

Recommended for: Crime fiction/mystery/suspense lovers, Adults (it's got some gory descriptions of the murders and a couple of intimate scenes)

Thank you Random House publishers for this book! :)


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1)

Stacey Wallace
Title: Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1)
Published: May 2010, Self-published
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Pages: 262 
My Rating: 3.5/5!

Goodreads blurb!

Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams, the son of her mom’s high school sweetheart. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual. 

As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the makeshift dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death; shocking because not only are they both covered in his blood, but they’re old, like thirty-five, and she is pregnant.

Afraid to tell anyone about the vision, (she’d just be labeled a freaky black magic witch, right?) Zellie keeps the knowledge of Avery’s future to herself and tries to act like any other teenager in love. When they get caught on their way to a secret rendezvous by her mom and his dad, they are forbidden to see each other.

Convinced that their parents are freaking out unnecessarily, Avery and Zellie vow to be together no matter what. They continue their relationship in secret until Zellie learns that their parents are just trying to prevent her and Avery from suffering like they did. The visions are hereditary, they’re dangerous, and if they stay together the visions will come true. 

Now Zellie must choose between severing all ties with Avery, like her mom did to prevent his father’s death, and finding a way to change Avery’s future.


My Thoughts!
Glimpse is definitely a fairly nice fun read! Based on the life of sixteen year old Zellie and her 'abilities' of a seer that she inherits from her Mother (and grandmother), it takes off from Avery and her huge crush on him. I really enjoyed the author's writing style, the humor element made me laugh so much! It's pretty neat, if you ask me. Descriptions are okay, you can very well imagine all the characters, places and everything that's happening. I liked the clarity, though I wish there were more details, as the sequence sometimes seems to jump from one scene to the next very quickly. Still, if we categorize it as a 'light' read, it's good enough. :)


Coming to characters, I think I like Zellie best! I love her thoughts, the way she acts and handles all the mess and excitement thrown at her, the way she gets flustered and all lovey dovey whenever Avery is mentioned and most of all, her reactions are realistic, unlike in the case of some other characters. For instance, the adults! Zellie's mom and dad? Geez! I couldn't understand how they could simply ignore their kid and in the case of her dad, actually get scared of her abilities when things went wrong. That was weird. Also the sudden change in emotions. Avery, Zellie's mom and dad, disregarding Zellie one moment and when it turns out she wasn't at fault, they're suddenly by her side. Kind of makes it feel unreal. Otherwise I love Claire, Zellie's BFF and Melody, her sister too. 

I found the story intriguing, though. What started as a high school love story, very quickly turned into a fantasy tale with interesting twists and turns. What I liked the most was how Avery was still an important element in the story and it didn't turn into a completely different sphere like it seemed it might. The events in Portland where Zellie, Mel and Claire go to Aunt Hazel seemed interesting to me, they were different and introduced new characters who, I hope, would be in the sequels. The book would keep you hooked on to it till the end, I'm sure of it. The flow's such that you can easily read it all in a go (and Kindle books anyway are read faster, don't you think? ;) ). It's fun, a light book filled with teen love, fantasies and future-telling abilities!  And of course, the cover! *beautiful*

Recommended for: Teens, Young Adult readers, YA fantasy readers and those looking for a light read! :)

PS- I just saw, the Kindle book is free on Amazon (click here. Grab it fast! ;) 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bookish updates!

Hello people! Hello blog! Apologies for the long absence. Believe me, I was still stalking the blogosphere even if I wasn't writing anything. Long time no review, so I thought I'd make some updates on what I've been up to. Well first, I've been quite busy with college. Still am, but I was thinking, why make it as an excuse? True, it's been a bummer all along and it's making me read less than I'd like to, but it's my responsibility to stop it from being a spoilsport, right? ;) (Does this explain why I'm here, writing this, instead of going through those horrendous notes on what remotely resembles Greek as I think I have a test tomorrow? :P )

Anyway, I got some amay-zzing books recently. Some as birthday gifts, some borrowed from the library, some impulse purchases, and I won a book too! As I haven't really made my 'Recent Book Grabs' post for quite some months, I think I'll put the whole pile here (yeah, I'm going through some major craziness-hike situation). Don't freak out if it seems huge, it's the past few months' collection! 



Three of these are from the library (Spitfire, The Mermaid Chair and Fahrenheit 451). 
I got the Vampire Academy books, Life of Pi, Bartimaeus andddd INSURGENT on my birthday! (Thank you awesome family and friends!). 7 books have been the courtesy of Random House publishers, The Wildings from blogadda.com, some purchases that were recommended and well, you see the pile! ;)

Next, I totally loved Breaking Dawn part II movie! Eeeep! I have honestly, not been much of a Twilight fan and I loved the last book the most, just because it had new characters, suspense, twists, action and a happy ending. I love books with these elements! The movie definitely stood out from the rest, it was beautiful, the characters were awesome (Renesmee!! OMG *cuteness*) and Bella as a vampire is great. It's when this series ends that you realize how it's all wrapped up nicely, how things happened and why they happened. Pretty. :) 

And oh that song 'A Thousand Years' by Christina Perri! *drooling!* It's so "awwwww" :D See if you still haven't! 


I also happened to be totally excited to watch the movie, Life of Pi, considering I'm reading the book. I wanted to first finish the book and then watch the movie, but I really wasn't getting the time to read more than 10 pages a day and with adequate background of the story, I went and saw it! I don't know what others feel about it, but I loved it. I'm generally a sickler for books-turned-movies and always find them awesome, but this one story is really 'profound'. I just don't have any other word for it. Makes you appreciate your life all the more and makes you believe in things you never thought could happen! I'd recommend this movie. :) 


And oh! A Jack Reacher movie is coming out in December! Based on Lee Child's crime mysteries, it's a movie featuring Jack Reacher (portrayed by Tom Cruise!), the fictional hero. Do watch it! 

Finally, a couple of people (or more) have, at some point written to me as to how they've been reading this blog and getting to know about a lot of books and that I'm 'influencing them to read books based on these reviews'. Well, let me begin by saying that this is what makes me truly happy! I know how bad it is when you like reading and you have that yearning for more but none around you feel that way. Or how they call you a 'dreamer' and laugh at your fantasies. But what I think is, one shouldn't just let them get the better of you. Read even more, do what you say you'd like to do, create things, laugh with them. You'll be happy because you wouldn't have any regret and honestly, you wouldn't care if they don't understand. Some people just don't get it. ;) So if you feel bummed about how your friends don't read, you do. Start a blog and interact with people online who do read. I've read loads more than I did earlier, just because I started this blog. It's amazing, really how such a small wonder can change the course of things. Just try it once, no? :)

Hope to get back soon with another review!

Happy reading! :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Killing Floor by Lee Child

Title: Killing Floor 
Author: Lee Child
Published: 1997 by Bantam Books (Random House Group)
Pages: 524
Price: Rs. 350
My Rating: 4/5!

Killing Floor is the first book based on the life of a mysterious fictional man, Jack Reacher. It's a thriller, a crime fiction of the kind I hadn't read in a long time. I'm so glad I got to read this one. It was a welcome break from my usual fantasy stories, I learned a lot and I now know that I can handle gruesome descriptions of killings and murders, contrary to what I believed, that I'll get all 'Oh-my-God!' reading those gory scenes! ;)

Blurb from Goodreads
(a very nice summary! :D )

Welcome to Margrave, Georgia—but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both.


There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personal against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive.


Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust—a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed— he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of-towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage or at least direct it in more positive ways. Though the testosterone flows as freely as printer's ink, Reacher is an unobtrusively sharp detective in his quieter moments—not that there are many of them to judge by.

Despite the crude, tough-naïf narration, debut novelist Child serves up a big, rangy plot, menace as palpable as a ticking bomb, and enough battered corpses to make an undertaker grin.


My Thoughts!

Okay, by now I guess you must have had a little idea of the story. There's a man called Jack Reacher, who got tired of his military life and since the past six months since he retired (kind of, as he's in his thirties) he's been simply travelling to different places, wherever his heart takes him. Until he randomly picks up a dot on the map and reaches Margrave. It was as he was having his first breakfast at the place that he was arrested. What follows is a mysterious follow up of an already mysterious scene! 

When the book started, all we knew was that the protagonist of the story has been arrested for a murder. In a town he's been for less than 8 hours. And he's totally innocent. The story is narrated in first person, from Jack's viewpoint, which makes it interesting and 'different' in a way. How? Because Jack is a person who lives alone (no family, a brother near Margrave with whom he hasn't been much in contact with) and he hasn't spoken much for a long time either. That's why his sentences are short. Very short. It sometimes got disruptive. Short ones break the flow. I wasn't used to it. See? Sentences like these, all through the book! Personally for a reader like me, who's in the habit of reading (and writing) stuff in very long sentences, it was disruptive in the beginning. Like you have to stop after every short breath. Not much my type.

The main idea of the plot gets clear only after you move ahead gradually (it's a long book!) and there are new characters, most of whom you can't distinguish as either innocent or guilty. I'm happy with the other characters though, who've been properly defined and that makes it easier to imagine everything. That wasn't the case with Jack, though. I found it hard to imagine the guy (and I found mid-way that his bio is on the first page, before the story starts :P) as there was always an air of mystery behind him. The point is, we don't think of such people as 'normal', right? But he is. So what if he chooses to travel and has no home or family? Point taken, but sometimes we need an image in mind. I might have missed something, I guess, but I still wanted a picture. So I went with the author's picture only ;)

Alright, those were things that bugged me a little. (I know I should mention the good parts first, everyone does. I usually do, too. But I can get weird sometimes :| ) Now over to why this book is worth a sure shot read! One, the story and the mystery. The main reason why the murders were happening and the scam was interesting. This book gives you the feel that you're learning about something very important from a person's perspective. There's a lot of interesting information based on the prime scam, which added a lot of positive points for this review. I totally love books that do make us learn stuff on new, interesting topics. Also, the way the events were sequenced was quite logical and there were definitely some surprising surprises along the way, which made me hooked to the book especially after half of it was over. I mean, it was 'unputdownable' in the later half. Really. 

Talking about the later half, that's where the real action actually began. Reacher's involved now as he knows his brother was killed by those controlling a secret scam in Margrave and he's bent on revenge. Paired with Roscoe, the female police officer (who's also his love interest) and Finlay, a smart 'chief of detectives', Jack's doing a lot of thinking and making use of his military background and work to solve the crime. It's thrilling! (And the sentences do get longer!)

There aren't many 'quotable quotes' in the book, but I found some thoughts quite interesting.

'Evaluate. When the unexpected gets dumped on you, don't waste time. Don't figure out how or why it happened. Don't recriminate. Don't figure out whose fault it is. All of that you do later. If you survive. First of all you evaluate. Analyse the situation. Identify the downside. Assess the upside. Plan accordingly. Do all that and you give yourself a better chance of getting through to other stuff later.'

The ending was good. I like good endings. Though now it makes me want to read more of Jack Reacher, this was only the first book. And there are a lot of books on Jack! (Yay!) I would recommend this book to fans of crime fiction and thrillers, though according to me, you have to be an adult for this kind of a reading. There are details, gory details of the murders (again, I'm glad I know I can read this stuff!) and some unpleasant thoughts from the point of view of killers and from those who want revenge. But hey, the mystery is really good and lovers of mysteries would stick to Jack Reacher, I guess! ^-^

PS- I got to know from the author's website that 'Jack Reacher the movie' comes out in December, 2012! Eeeeppp!! I'm so going to watch it!! :D

Thank you Random House publishers for this book! :)


Thursday, November 15, 2012

KOMF Prompt # 3: 'The Chase'


Knights of Micro Fiction is a bloghop hosted by Kathy (Imagine Today) and Jessica (Write. Skate. Dream) on the 15th of every month. They came up with it as a way to meet new friends, help build the blogosphere and (hopefully) spark some creativity. So, here's the prompt:


In 300 words or less write a scene where the main character realizes he/she is thankful for something.  Include the words "turkey" and "Mayflower" (this could be May flowers too or other creative variations).






                               *** 
                            The Chase

I squinted into the bright glare of the sun, the weather sending comfortable warmth all over me after the torrential cold rain of the South. Adjusting my black non-shiny leather jacket, cross checking all papers and ID, I flagged down a cab from right out of the airport.

“Where to, ma’am?” the cabbie questioned through his interior rear-view mirror.

“Minion Street, the Blake Fair entrance”

“Straight away? No hotel?”

Quite hospitable, these Northerners. “No. Straight away.”

An hour to pass. I used the time to pore over the papers the big baboon had stupidly handed over. Best (or worst?) thing about keeping important documents with partners-in-crime who’re natural boasters, they give the secret away soon. Don’t need much effort. A bit of smart talk would do. There was just one nagging thought, a code he didn’t reveal, without which we might just lose the game. It was 18 hours to Monday.

My phone beeped a call from base. Frank.

“Hey Frank”

“Hey. A half hour to target? You remember what he described?”

I couldn’t help smiling, despite the nerves. He’s as smart as one could get. I remembered the baboon talking through a mouthful of turkey leg, “You gotta find ‘im at the fair. Big as a buck, wavy black hair, wheat-skin Asian.”

“Yes” I breathed into the receiver. “But there could be anyone who fits the description.”

Frank smiled. I knew it, because of the pause and his breathing.

“Tell me Frank, what is it?”

“I got the code.”

A gasp escaped me. “What!”

It filled me with happiness. Mostly as I could connect. It was going to be easy. Look for a big guy with a mayflower, easy to spot. Mayflowers don’t grow up here. I’ll find him, show the papers, police ID, my name: Mayflower. Pretty.

Busted.

                              ***

That was really fun! If you're interested in participating, follow the links to the hosts' blogs and join in the hop! :)


Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: The Wildings

Author Nilanjana Roy
Title: The Wildings
Author: Nilanjana Roy
The book's websitehttp://thewildings.net/
Published: 2012 by Aleph Book Company
Pages: 310
Price: Rs. 595
My Rating: 5/5! 

As perplexing as it may seem to be, this book is quite some surprise! I wasn't sure about it when it was up for review at blogadda.com, what with the scary cat on the cover and the premise of the book being cats and their lives in Nizamuddin, Delhi, from the perspective of cats themselves! Lion King types, just minus the lions. However, I'm so glad I asked for it. This book is totally worth your time. I loved every bit of it!

Goodreads blurb!
A small band of cats lives in the labyrinthine alleys and ruins of Nizamuddin, an old neighbourhood in Delhi. Miao, the clan elder, a wise, grave Siamese; Katar, a cat loved by his followers and feared by his enemies; Hulo, the great warrior tom; Beraal, the beautiful queen, swift and deadly when challenged; Southpaw, the kitten whose curiosity can always be counted on to get him into trouble… Unfettered and wild, these and the other members of the tribe fear no one, go where they will, and do as they please. Until, one day, a terrified orange-coloured kitten with monsoon green eyes and remarkable powers, lands in their midst—setting off a series of extraordinary events that will change their world forever.

My thoughts!
The Wildings is the kind of book I hadn't read in a long time. Based on the lives of a small band of cats living in Nizamuddin, among humans whom they call 'Bigfeet' (cute, no? ;) ), this is a tale spun around creatures, stray and otherwise, whom we mostly don't give a passing thought to. Really, what I could think about later, after reading this book was, 'Are we really so engrossed in our lives that we don't even notice these animals?'

It's quite a simple story. There are these wildings, stray cats who love their territory in Nizamuddin, then there are the dargah cats, the ones from the canal, and the most dangerous of all, the ferals in the Shuttered House! The wildings are living their routine lives, when they have a newcomer with the powers of a Sender. Beraal, the queen cat with amazing fighting ability, is sent to find and kill the intruder. But she finds a tiny orange kitten rescued by some Bigfeet, living in their home and unaware of its powers or how to use them! Beraal is charmed by Mara and she decides that she'd train her. Other cats reluctantly agree. I have to say, I loved all characters, they're so well defined! I mean, you'd think how one can define a cat, but here is an author who seems to know cats inside out! And she made them seem so interesting. I never noticed cats (or any animal, for that matter, being wary of them all) and now I don't think I'll ever be able to ignore them anymore. 

Nice cover! ;)

That's where the second best part comes in, the descriptions!!! As you read the book, you're thinking from a cat's perspective and it is quite fascinating. The way they wash themselves, focused on keeping themselves clean, the way they bring up their litter, the way they attack or make loving gestures, the way they hunt, the way they live, basically. It's fascinating. (Oh, I've said that already! Know what I mean?). As I read through, I loved the Nizamuddin cats more and more, especially young Southpaw, an orphan kitten being taken care of by Miao, Hulo and the older cats, with a tail for trouble. The way he's been described, his antics and the way he talks, I grew to love this fictional cat! Then there's the Sender, Mara, with an innocent heart of gold. I really liked the parts where the kitten goes and travels out through her powers, over to the zoo where she makes friends with a pair of tigers and their cub, Rudra. That was something cute, innocent and very child-like, a perspective into the story I really enjoyed. When Rudra gets a new playmate and realizes that he could be hurtful to Mara and his langur friend Tantara, there's a heart breaking moment when Mara realizes he's asking to bring their friendship to a pause. 

Which leads to the next best part about this book. It gives you a lot to think about and is related to the way humans think, too. Rudra is of a different species, and so is Tantara and Mara and she can't understand why it has to be a deterrent in their friendship. Just like humans, like we create classes and categories. There are a few lines and paras I jotted down, just because of their similarity to human life and the philosophical angle, if you look at it that way. 

'In her experience, it was never the bulk of the cat that counted or even the speed of the paw, the sharpness of the claw, as much as it was the ability to conquer one's fears.'

'Some animals are rogues. We don't know why that happens, but its'a bad thing when it does. Those creatures are born with something broken, inside them. If you ever link with their minds, you'll smell it; madness and evil have their own stench, like rotting flesh, and it's best to stay away from the stink'.

'You ought to be careful of the fascinating ones, young Southpaw, they're the most dangerous.'

(I realized all these are related to Southpaw. No wonder I adore that kitten! ;) )

There was a moment where Southpaw, when he meets Mara the first time, tries not to seem less-than-fascinating to this new friend of his. See how he tries to impress her? 

'He saw the adoration in Mara's eyes dim. His ears drooped. He thought fast, wanting to see those lovely green eyes light up again. (says a lot of things). He wondered whether he's overdone it, but Mara's eyes shone with ecstasy.'

Most of all, there's emotion. I loved this aspect of the book, it's totally realistic, takes into account the love and feelings of care among the cats. And not just the cats, there are other creatures too, the dogs, the cheels, the mice and rats and mongoose and bandicoots, the Babblers and the crows and the bulbuls. I can't help stating one cat characteristic I really admire (I'm not sure if it is for real too, having no cat-knowledge) but when Miao takes Southpaw on his first hunt, she tells him, 'Never kill for fun, Southpaw, only for food'. In other instances too, they respected other lives, killing only when they were hungry. Otherwise they lived in peace. Also, I did not like the Shuttered House ferals and their story, but that's how it is. The book is a great read, kind of cute too (in a very different way, not the sickly or cheesy kind of cute) and gives you a lot of perspective. It's very well written, totally engaging and makes you feel things you never thought you would. Mourning the loss of a cat? Yes, I did. Getting happy over a friendship with tigers? I did. The characters were all solid, even the ferals and the mongoose and the cheels. The best part is, humans weren't a part of the story, except for Mara, whose two 'Bigfeet' loved her, that's all. Oh, also the fakir at the dargah who loves cats! And the old Bigfeet in the Shuttered House. 

What made it even more interesting, if possible, is the fact that the book has so many illustrations (by Prabha Mallya)! Of the cats and rats and others, according to the story. They were absolutely wonderful! :)

This is an amazing book, I'm telling you. The cover says, 'The Wildings is bound to be hailed as the most imaginative and accomplished debut by an Indian novelist in years.' You know what? I have no doubts about it. I was never really a fan of Indian novelists, now I guess I can change that thought. :)

I've never before included book trailers! But see this one! 


PS- I wasn't sure where I could put it, but I was so interested with the description of how cats communicated, using the links. The Sending and those powers also perplexed me, though I guess that's fiction. Loved the telepathic idea, it's very innovative!

Recommended for: Everyone, really. Especially experimental readers who'd like to read something refreshing! :) No inappropriate content, so it's for everyone, across all ages! 

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where are the paper books going? :|

Books go a long way back in history, to the time when paper wasn’t even invented (or at least, reading and writing was). When it came around to paper books, it was a revolution. Knowledge spread, and so did books and reading. Publication houses opened up and bang! A whole new industry, all about books! I haven’t done any fact survey, but I’m pretty sure they did really well. I kind of love this industry, not just because it’s book-related (though that is a reason) but also because the whole process of creating a book seems magical and fascinating to me. (If anybody’s interested, I’d love to work in the publication industry! :P)

I’m a bit worried though, if the rate at which things are now going is any indication. I mean, the first thing I came to know when I returned home from a stupidly-useless day in college was that Penguin and Random House are merging to become one entity. Not that I’m against it, I am happy. I’ve always admired both these publishing houses, what with all those great books they come out with. But I have to admit my first reaction was slight disappointment. So instead of going, ‘Whoa! That’s great!’ as my parents expected (when they gave me the news), I went, ‘What? But why?’

They say it’s because there’s a decline in sales of books, thanks to the boom and increasing preference for e-books. That’s kind of sad, if I were to quote my personal opinion. I mean, removing all emotion aside, how do you dream of a world where there are no books? I can’t. I’d rather die. Seriously. If not, I’d die of boredom anyway! Even if people are not book maniacs like me, they’d still have at least some preference for paperbacks? How can you miss out on the thrill a reallyyy old book you find in the store room or attic gives you? Or the delight of seeing those volumes set on a shelf, gleaming and torn, old and new, paperbacks and hard-covers, tilting your head to read the spines, using your index finger to pull the book out? Just imagining a time where people will only have e-books gives me the shudders.

I cannot do this with an e-book, can I?
No, that’s not going to come true for some centuries at least, I think. (Am I hoping for too much?) But still, what’s with the decline? And it’s not just because of e-readers or reading apps on PCs/Laptops. It’s because of piracy, too. A book can easily be available on the internet, if you’re smart enough to find the right thing. Talking only about people in my city (and country) and I’m not generalizing, because I know all of us don’t do that, but it is a fact that many don’t like spending a lot on buying books. (Not that it increases libraries, or memberships there, in any case). Apart from the obsessed like me (and let me remind you, it’s not much appreciated either, being obsessed, I mean. But whatever), many go for cheap copies available with the redhi walas, for less than half the price, the only problem with them being the poor paper quality, which they don't seem to mind. Or for pirated books off the net.

Which is where I start feeling uneasy. I’d admit I tried finding a book too, when I couldn’t seem to find it at a reasonable rate, but I gave up after a few minutes of searching. It wasn’t right. But people do it, right? Apart from the obvious reason of saving money, I cannot find any other factor. And I don’t want to start about the differences in paperbacks and e-books and which is better and all that. It’s already been talked about a lot. I got a Kindle myself, but that’s not because I do not like paperbacks. I prefer them any day; in fact I haven’t been able to read more than two books on the Kindle anyway, thanks to its need for wifi, which I don’t have at home yet.  Besides, I got that only for the Amazon freebies that I’d been reading on the Kindle app on my laptop before. Those books are like ‘quick, fast and light’ reads for me. Somehow I’ve never been able to think of them as ‘books’.

Anyway, with the new Penguin Random House projected to be the biggest publisher (sounds mighty!), I’m also very happy to know that one out of every four books would be from this publishing unit, according to an article in www.guardian.co.uk. But even then, it’s not exactly comforting to know that two great publishing houses are now one. The numbers are dwindling and it’s kind of scary. I love you paperbacks, and I hope you’d be there forever! :)   

PS- This is probably the first ever post on this blog that isn’t a book review or a meme. I know that’s pretty sad and I think by now, those reviews-only posts ‘might’ just have made it monotonous. I blame my first blog, which pretty much carries my life’s weird stories and that's where I ramble when I’m either frustrated bored or emotionally charged up. Whatever pertained to books, I kept it here and now that I realize, I’ve never actually posted anything off the topic, or anything I’ve written randomly. This isn’t a post to deliberately break that norm either, but I did feel a lot about this issue and wanted to talk about it. 

Any views? What do you feel?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders...


Title: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
Published in 2009 by Random House India
Pages: 247
Find it at: Flipkart / Amazon
My Rating: 3.5/5



Goodreads Blurb!
Passing from the mannered drawing rooms of Pakistan s cities to the harsh mud villages beyond, Daniyal Mueenuddin s linked stories describe the interwoven lives of an aging feudal landowner, his servants and managers, and his extended family, industrialists who have lost touch with the land. In the spirit of Joyce s Dubliners and Turgenev s A Sportsman s Sketches, these stories comprehensively illuminate a world, describing members of parliament and farm workers, Islamabad society girls and desperate servant women. A hard-driven politician at the height of his powers falls critically ill and seeks to perpetuate his legacy; a girl from a declining Lahori family becomes a wealthy relative s mistress, thinking there will be no cost; an electrician confronts a violent assailant in order to protect his most valuable possession; a maidservant who advances herself through sexual favors unexpectedly falls in love. Together the stories in In Other Rooms, Other Wonders make up a vivid portrait of feudal Pakistan, describing the advantages and constraints of social station, the dissolution of old ways, and the shock of change. Refined, sensuous, by turn humorous, elegiac, and tragic, Mueenuddin evokes the complexities of the Pakistani feudal order as it is undermined and transformed.

My thoughts
When I began reading this book, I thought I understood the theme and definitely liked it. The first chapter, the story of an electrician in Lahore, at KK Harouni’s farm is a glimpse into the life of a very ordinary man working for a living, to give his family (his wife, 12 daugthers and a son!) a fairly comfortable life, at least as far as the low income families can go. It goes on to describe how he managed to get a motorcycle from Harouni, exploring new places for his work and earning a bit more. When he is confronted with a thief intent on stealing his bike, Nawabdin does all he can to save the thing that became an integral part of earning his livelihood. It was only when I reached the consequent chapters did I realize how the book’s been set up.

There’s a wealthy Pakistani family, with KK Harouni as the family elder. Each chapter is a story of different people associated with him, some his blood relations, some the servants serving him. It gives quite an interesting glimpse into the separate lives of connected people, displaying how we all can differ and how our separate lives are kind of a secret. Something our families really don’t know. Most of all, I liked the realism about the book (where I didn’t feel that way, is described further). It’s no fantasy story, the characters seem peculiarly real and the day-to-day instances and events have been described beautifully. You know how the Richie Rich guys are, how they behave, what all matters to them. You also know how servants live, having their own twisted lives, gossiping and chatting and loving. It’s all in the book, served as words, just as it actually is.

I will definitely say the book got a lot better towards the second half, probably because of introduction of new characters, getting out of Lahore for a while and learning about people’s lives outside the farms.

My favourite stories include:
About a Burning Girl’: Open display of how people play with words, even when both parties know the truth! I mean, it’s so ‘Indian’. I guess we’re not so different, after all. The shrewdness is in all of us.

Our Lady of Paris’: Primarily because it’s one glimpse into a fashionable and lavish lifestyle of the Harouni family in Karachi, as well as when the son, Sohail is in Paris with his lover, Helen. I think this Harouni is a cousin or something. I’m kind of confused with all those characters. Anyway, there’s the word play again, where Sohail’s mother indirectly shows Helen what she wants for her son and that Helen doesn’t seem to fit.

Lily’: A fashion-loving, partying girl loving Murad, a Harouni family member, living in his farm after their marriage, idling time. I don’t think it’s a complete story, just what happened and how they expect it to go forward. I nevertheless liked it for how easily it shows the confusions of our lives!

A Spoiled Man’: This is one story, the first half of which I can call ‘cute’. There’s an old man, Reazk who finds refuge with the Harouni’s weekend home above Islamabad. He had left his home years ago and was proud of his wooden cabin-like home with its easy-to-take-down windows, the red rug, his bed and drawers, the spittoon and everything. He carries this home where he lives, the latest one being the Ali Khan lands, four or five acres of land just up the road from the main house. Thanks to Sonya, Sohail’s wife from America, he gets a salary of 9000 rupees a month like other servants and thus gets more than he ever thought he would. I feel it’s kind of a satire on the way we live and the lives of servants. He’s called a ‘spoiled man’ because he gets little liberties he otherwise couldn’t afford.

I love the writing style, no doubt. It’s quite descriptive and is able to give readers a feel of the place and events. It’s too easy to imagine what all is going on, the images, the people. Full marks on that! There are a couple of things that personally didn’t seem too right to me, somehow. One, I can’t call it a novel, even though the stories are about people living together or at least belonging to one place, but it’s a bit difficult to interlink. I guess that’s mainly because there are just too many servants, considering the family’s size. I mean in terms of land and not just one home (there’s a different summer home in Islamabad, for instance. Plus some members are staying in the US and their stories are based in different countries, along with Pakistan).

That’s where the second thing comes. I felt there was a lot of cheating-on-your-spouse thing and what made me squirm inside the most was the old members of the family getting attached to the young maids. And not just emotionally. True, that happens, but when you see a lot of it in just one family (and also among the servants themselves), it becomes too weird to be true. While it does make a lot of sense: of different people having different backgrounds (sometimes disturbing stories), the need to be loved and respected, that it comes down to being a human after all, it seemed to be in a lot of stories, so much so that I kind of expected the same thing to happen in those stories towards the end, where thankfully, it didn’t.   

Overall, the book gives you a peek into Pakistan as you never knew it. It was a different kind of a book for me, a break from all those fantasy stories that cloud my head ;).

Thank you Random House Publishers for this book! 


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