20 Apr

Mandate: Will of The People by Vir Sanghvi

Mandate: Will of the People by Vir Sanghvi

Mandate : Will of the People by Vir Sanghvi is 156 pages long and that is both the best and worst thing about this book.

I may never agreed to read and review this book if it was a big book, especially considering that most of non-fiction acts like sleeping pills for me. The small size is the USP of this book, that prompts even non-bookish people who wants a concise version of recent Indian political history to pick this one up. But when I started reading this one and wanted to know more about the incidents described in this book, I realized that it is a major drawback too.

Mandate talks about India between 1971 to 2014 and there is no credible explanation why he choose not to tell about Indian politics before 1971. I assume he wanted to stick mostly to the events that happened during his journalistic career. Vir Sanghvi talks about the major turning points or events in the Indian political scenario – the  rise of Indira Gandhi, the Emergency, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the emergence of Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, the Babri Masjid demolition, the Godhra riots etc until the ascension of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mandate delivers what it promised. A take on the Indian political scenario in the past 40 years written concisely in 150 pages. I did feel the craving for more information while reading certain sections, but then that is beyond the scope of what Vir Sanghvi intended to do.

This book might be as unbiased as it ever can be, and this is very important in the times when mainstream media houses are accused of being biased to a certain political party. But then you never know. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading every page of this book and the knowledge that I gained about Indian political history is just great.

I recommend this book to all the people who are interested in Indian history and don’t want to read long books.

Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 9789384030391
Release: February 2015
Publisher: Westland Publishers

Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Writers Melon, but the opinions are my own.

19 Apr

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Family life by akhil sharma

Literary Awards

Folio Prize for Fiction (2015)

Family Life found a place in my reading list when I read a few raving reviews about it on few of my favorite book blogs . I was determined to track down a copy and read it when I get a chance. There were innumerable occasions when I almost bought a copy, but then restrained myself from buying it at the last moment.

Family Life reminded me of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake about Indian immigrants in America but the similarity between them ends there. Family Life is about two brothers Birju and Ajay who emigrated to America in their childhood with their Indian parents. I read it assuming it to be a work of fiction, but I learned later that this story is actually inspired by the author’s own life.

3 minutes is a time that passes away so fast that we don’t even bother to keep a check on it in our daily existence, but that time became crucial for the Sharmas. 3 minutes is what it takes to overturn the Sharmas’ happy existence in America to a nightmare, when Birju laid in the bottom of a swimming pool unconscious after he hit his head in a diving accident. That incident left Birju brain damaged leaving his family to deal with the situation along with its financial and emotional repercussions.

Family Life is a tough novel to read and it would have been tougher to write. I am not surprised that it took Akhil almost 12 years to put this in shape considering the depth of the subject. This is a well written novel, but I did have some initial issues with the writing style. I was surprised by this experience because I had read that this book is engrossing from Page 1.

Family life is Ajay’s narration about the life before and after Birju’s accident, the whole book is written from his perspective – his honest thoughts about life before and after Birju’s accident. There are no heavily emotion laden words in this narration, Ajay mostly sticks to plain facts and leaves the rest to the reader.The character feels more realistic because Ajay is far from the innocent brother ignored by parents due to the invalid brother.

I wanted to love this book, but it never happened. But then when you start thinking of the story and the writing, I can clearly understand why this book was such a popular one. The premise of the story is too raw and disturbing and there is a stream of unending sorrows. Akhil Sharma handles all of them beautifully and makes this book a good read.

Family Life is depressing and I will give it 3.75/5,but I highly recommend that you read before you ignore it.

Rating: 3.75/5
First published April 7th 2014

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18 Apr

The House That BJ Built – Cover Selection

The next book to create a buzz in the book reading community of India is the much awaited sequel to  Anuja Chauhan’s Those Pricey Thakur Girls, and it definitely deserves all that hype.

Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan – Book Review

I just loved ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ (TPTG) and has been waiting for the sequel ever since I finished reading it. Last week I received a mail from Westland Publishers saying that they want us to help them choose the book cover for the sequel titled ‘The House That BJ Built’.

They gave two options to choose and I liked the second cover (B) and so does most of the people who voted. I can see more than 600 likes for the second cover and around 200 likes for the first cover (A) on Facebook. So it is going to be cover B. Yay!

The House that BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan Cover Selection A option The-House-That-BJ-Built-Anuja-Chauhan-Cover-Selection-B

So what do you guys think? Which cover did you like better?

I know this cover choosing is another promotional thing by the Westland Publishers, but I liked this simple promotional method which got everyone involved without much expense.

Gone are the days when publishers used to just send ARCs to book reviewers and wait for them to publish reviews in blogs/newspapers to get some publicity. Now they need to come up with new methods to reach more readers and social media allows them to do so efficiently.

28 Mar

Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Japan

Sherlock Holmes, The Missing YEars Japan by Vasudev Murthy

It’s 1893. King Kamehameha III of Hawaii declares Sovereignty Restoration Day … Tension grows between China and Japan over Korea … The Bengal Famine worsens … A brilliant scientist in Calcutta challenges the system … The senior priest at Kyoto’s Kinkaku-ji temple is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Dr John H. Watson receives a strange letter from Yokohama. Then the quiet, distinguished Mr. Hashimoto is murdered inside a closed room on a voyage from Liverpool to Bombay. In the opium dens of Shanghai and in the back alleys of Tokyo, sinister men hatch evil plots. Professor Moriarty stalks the world, drawing up a map for worldwide dominion. Only one man can outwit the diabolical Professor Moriarty. Only one man can save the world. Has Sherlock Holmes survived the Reichenbach Falls? In a seriocomic novel that radically ups the ante, Sherlock Holmes and Watson find their match in more than one man (or indeed, woman) as a clock inexorably ticks. History, mystery, romance, conspiracies, knife-edge tension; a train in Russia, roadside crime in Alexandria, an upset stomach in Bombay, careening through Cambodia, nasty people in China, monks in Japan–here’s a thrilling global chase that will leave you breathless (occasionally with laughter) as the Sherlock Holmes: The Missing Years series begins.

Sherlock Holmes – The Missing Years in Japan is a fan fiction and Vasudev Murthy is a great fan and it is pretty evident when you read this book. This is my first experience with fan fiction and I read this book out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to see how someone can develop a character which is loved by so many people around the world. I should say that the experience was quite pleasant.

This book is all about how Sherlock and Watson manages to travel from London to Japan in the midst of very dangerous situations. Professor Moriarty who is responsible for Sherlock’s alleged death in the Reichenbach falls have become quite powerful and will do anything to see that Sherlock and Watson does not reach their destinations.

I think writing fan fiction is tough because the author has a tough job to keep up with the original writing style, characters etc.Vasudev Murthy has done a good job in imitating the style by Arthur Conan Doyle, but the lack of any particular mystery robs the reader to see the problem solving and analytical skill of Sherlock that is usually exhibited in the original works. I found this to be a negative point because I got bit bored reading about the long and dangerous journey they made. Too many characters and that too with Japanese names made my reading difficult. It was quite tough to remember and recollect who each character was.

Overall this was a pleasant read, but I will recommend this to you only if you are a die-hard Sherlock Holmes fan and likes fan fiction. Otherwise you should just go back and read the original. Nothing can beat them!

What do you think of fan fiction?

Rating: 3.5/5
Source: eARC from Netgallety
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Release: Mar 10 2015

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration.

11 Mar

Wordless Wednesday #5

Us by David Nicholls book cover

I don’t have much time at hand to write any lengthy posts or book reviews right now. So I thought I will keep some activity going here by posting this book cover for this week’s Wordless Wednesday.

Have anyone read this one? Did you like it?

I read just 50 pages of this book, so here is the goodreads link if you want further info about this book.

Us by David Nicholls

28 Feb

Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester

Chasing The Sun by Natalia Sylvester

Andres suspects his wife has left him—again. Then he learns that the unthinkable has happened: she’s been kidnapped. Set in Lima, Peru, in a time of civil and political unrest, this evocative page-turner is a perfect marriage of domestic drama and suspense. Too much time and too many secrets have come between Andres and Marabela, but now that she’s gone, he’d do anything to get her back.

Or will he?

As Marabela slips farther away, Andres must decide whether they still have something worth fighting for, and exactly what he’ll give up to bring her home. And unfortunately, the decision isn’t entirely up to him, or to the private mediator who moves into the family home to negotiate with the terrorists who are holding Marabela. Andres struggles to maintain the illusion of control while simultaneously scrambling to collect his wife’s ransom, tending to the needs of his two young children, and reconnecting with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future.

This is a quick read with an interesting premise of a deteriorating marriage being tested to its core when the wife disappears. Andres suspects that his wife Marabela has left him and later he realizes that she got kidnapped by the mafia for ransom which was very common in Peru in late 90s.

I was hooked to the story when I read about Andres struggle in coming terms with his wife’s absence, managing to get hold of the ransom, managing the kids and managing the overall running of the house in his wife’s absence. The book has a great deal of suspense in the first half due to the uncertainty which Andres faces about the safe return of his wife. There was something captivating about the book that made you want to know what happened, though I would not say that I enjoyed it very much.

Chasing the Sun had all the ingredients for a great story set against an uncommon theme and place but not so well-developed characters and a highly unconvincing ending makes Natalia Sylvester’s work an average read.

Affiliate Links:

Amazon.in: Chasing the Sun: A Novel
Amazon.com: Chasing the Sun: A Novel

25 Feb

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey


How do you solve a crime when you can’t remember the clues?

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Back home she finds the place horribly unrecognizable – just like she sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is a total stranger.

But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it.

Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about.

Everyone, except Maud . . .

I read this book during the first few weeks after my son was born, which meant that I was in no mood to write a review. My son is 7 months old and I thought it is time I write about this book before I forget what it was about.

Elizabeth is Missing will come in the genre of literary fiction with good amount of mystery thrown in. Though the theme of an elderly lady suffering from dementia is depressing, there is an element of mystery in the story which keeps it interesting, and of course the characters of Maud and Helen.

Dementia is pulling Maud down, but that doesn’t mean that she has lost her spirit. She is as stubborn and single minded about what she wants to do. This gives an interesting side to Maud’s character and that keeps the whole story fun to read in-spite of the depressing theme, which cannot be possibly present when your central character is fast succumbing to dementia and old age.

Helen – Maud’s daughter who has the prime responsibility of take care of Maud is another well developed character by Emma Healey. Helen has all rights to be frustrated, feeling lost in-spite of all the love she has for her mother. Isn’t that what happens in real life to caretakers of Alzheimer and Dementia patients? There are no end to the number of times Maud had unintentionally put her in difficult situations.

I loved the mystery part of this story. When  Maud is concerned about her friend Elizabeth, she is actually looking for her sister Sukey who went missing when Maud was very young.  Her memories take her back in time when Sukey was there and then to the days after Sukey went missing. Slowly, very slowly indeed Maud understands what had happened and the mystery unravels by itself.

I loved this book for Maud, the perspective of an aging person dependent on others is tough to write and Emma Healey has done a wonderful job. Please do read this book if you get a  chance and do let me know if you liked it as much as I did.

Affiliate Links:

Buy Elizabeth Is Missing from Amazon India
Buy Elizabeth Is Missing from Amazon US
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18 Feb

Wordless Wednesday #3

Wall Painting Idea. In Bangalore

I saw this wall painting many times during the last few weeks, but it never felt anything extra-ordinary until one evening. The sun rays in the late evening were highlighting the colors so beautifully.

Now the question – who did this? I don’t know. Few of the residents in the umpteen apartments in the neighborhood decided to spruce up this wall by some paintings. This is just one of such efforts.

15 Feb

Recent Books on My Shelf #17

Recent Books on my Shelf by The Bookish Reviews

It has been some time since I wrote about the recent books on my shelf that I have read or is to planning to read.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky was first published in 1879 and I am planning to read this for The Classic Club. This is a chunkster with 1045 pages and I don’t expect that I can read this one so fast. I did read a few pages and the language surprised me a bit. I was expecting something with Shakespeare kind of language, but I encounter a better writing. The translator has done a great job and I am enjoying reading this one.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma had its days of glory in the blogosphere and I was actually able to get a copy from the library recently. This book surrounding two brothers (again) is supposed to be a great read. This book also happen to be a nominee for Folio Prize 2015.

Solar by Ian McEwan is another book that I started reading recently. This book did get sidelined when I saw few other books, but I will get to this book. I have only read few pages and cannot say much about what the book is about. ( I don’t read book blurbs )

There are quite a lot of books that I have not talked about in this post. I will talk about them in my upcoming posts.