Monday, November 20, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : THE COLOURS OF PASSION



Murder suspenses are always a tricky genre. The writer has to have the ability to hold the readers till the end and then pull an ace up his sleeve in the form of a shocking suspense revelation. Sourabh Mukherjee’s latest novel “The Colours of Passion” is one such novel which just about manages to tick all these boxes.


PLOT

Hiya Sen was the current heart throb of the Tollywood film industry until one day when she was physically assaulted and then murdered, just few days after her marriage.
As ACP Agni Mitra starts investigating, we are taken into the lives of the usual suspects – Hiya’s husband Manav, Manav’s ex – fiancĂ©e, an ageing and fading actress, etc.


WRITING

I have previously read Mukherjee’s small book titled “Romance Shorts” and I had pretty much liked it. So naturally I was looking forward to this book.

The novel starts of in kickass thriller style. The way the story progresses is perfect material for an unputdownable book. It had me hooked in no time.
Sourabh’s writing is fluent and mature. He knows his readers well. He never lets the pace sag, nor does he veer into other useless subplots. He stays faithful to the genre and focuses on that.


POSITIVES

As I said, the writing makes all the difference here. It is never about the story but how you present it. I personally loved Agni Mitra’s character. He is good detective type material. You root for him, and that is a victory for the author.
Secondly, the addition of two more murders further adds to the intrigue level of the book. By the time the book reaches its last act, we are genuinely curious to know who the killer is.


NEGATIVES

As long as the final act is remaining, this is a superb book. However, things go bizarre in the climax and the suspense is a huge letdown. I would refrain from elaborating but I personally didn’t like the suspense even a bit. It was as if “Khoda pahaad, nikla chooha.”

However advanced and forward our society becomes, there are few things which well, will not be easy to digest. The climax in this book and the killer both seem unreal. Look, you are targeting an Indian audience here. You have to make sure you seem logical. The same story with the same setup and killer in USA would seem perfectly alright, but our country is different. These things aren’t that simple. I am not saying I am backward or regressive. All I am saying is that a majority of the readers, especially the slightly elder ones will dislike the climax of the book.



OVERALL, I liked almost all parts of this book. In other words, I liked the parts more than the whole. It is a decent one time read provided you brace yourself for an underwhelming climax.

P.S - I received this book from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Monday, October 23, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : HELL! NO SAINTS IN PARADISE



PLOT

The story begins on a night in the year 2050 in New York city where we are introduced to the central character of our story Ismael. Ismael is a Pakistani who was brought up in a rather rigid and conservative family and told stories about paradise (Jannat) and hell (Jahannum) during his childhood by his father.
He soon realizes that his father is so religiously blind that he will go to any limits to safeguard it. He thus runs away from home at the age of 18 and goes to New York.
In 2050, Ismael is 30 years old and he is currently writing his thesis on the topic of paradise and hell and he vehemently believes that whatever idea of paradise and hell was given to him by his father in his childhood is a farce, and that no such things exist.
On one night, Ismael meets Petra at a bar with whom he shares his thesis topic. Petra urges him to try a psychedelic drug called which transports a person to the spiritual world of the past as well as the future. In this trance – like state, Ismael meets a character called Chacha Khidr – an old man on a bicycle who tells him to go back to Pakistan as he has been chosen by destiny to save the world.

A flight ticket to Lahore in his room and a letter from a person called Pir Pul Sirat makes him finally go back.
Pakistan however has changed and seems unrecognizable. It has been converted to the Caliphate of Al – Bakistan. Cricket is no longer a gentleman’s game. It is a game of death and murders. suicide jackets are the latest fad among young kids. Any person suspected of being a non believer in Islam (Kafir) is punished and executed. In order to complete his mission, Ismael must pose as a true believer of Islam. But will he survive in order to penetrate the inner circle of the government and complete his mission?


WRITING

Debutante author A.K Asif’s writing is confident, highly imaginative and ambitious. His command over the language as well as grammar is solid. Also, when you have an imaginative and ambitious plot, one needs to write it such that the readers can create a picture of sorts in their mind. Asif does that vividly and wonderfully.


POSITIVES

For a hindu, this book was quite an enlightening and informative read. I came to know about various aspects of Islam which I never knew until now. As a satire, this book works pretty well. Asif imparts knowledge along with doses of humor.
Secondly, the father – son relationship is pretty well depicted. It shows how a strict father can affect the life of his son.
Also, the characterization of Ismael was the best thing for me. One can relate to him, his mannerisms, his train of thoughts.
Also, Asif succeeds in getting his readers to think how religion blinds us all, and what can happen if the control over power falls into the wrong hands.


NEGATIVES

Imagination is good, but over – imaginativeness often tends to get on your nerves, and that is what happens with this book. To create a world of 2050 definitely requires creativity, but here I felt the author goes overboard and over indulges his creative licence.
Also, there are parts of the book which are quite unreadable and cringeworthy. The love/lust/erotic portions were pretty much unnecessary. Few portions even left me confused. There could have been more clarity and less abstract writing.
Most importantly, the book wasn’t gripping throughout. There were portions which were highly dull and boring. The book again picks up towards the end, but to reach till there was an ordeal. An imaginative plot alone is not enough. You need crisp editing too. That is where this book majorly falters.


OVERALL, “HELL! NO SAINTS IN PARADISE” is definitely a different book from the usual novels we read routinely, both content wise and writing wise. However,it will not appeal to everyone. For me, it worked in some parts and didn’t at all work in some.

P.S – Special mention for the absolutely gorgeous cover design and feel.


Also, I received this book from Writersmelon in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : UNLAWFUL jUSTICE



Novels involving courtroom sequences need to be taut and gripping to create an impact. That is precisely why very few authors have succeeded in writing tense thrillers involving the court. That is precisely why John Grisham is so popular and that is also precisely why Vish Dhamija’s author note calls him the John Grisham of India.
After reading his latest novel “Unlawful Justice”, I can only say that calling him that isn’t a mistake.

PLOT

Vansh Diwan is a successful top notch lawyer who has a lovely family in the form of his lawyer wife who gave up her career for him, and their daughter. Things take a drastic turn when Baby, the teenage minor daughter of Diwans’ household maid gets brutally raped and assaulted. As the mother of Baby and the ladies of the Diwan family vow revenge and justice respectively, Vansh finds himself sandwiched between a powerful client and justice for Baby.
However, just when things were beginning to settle down, this case gets converted into a murder case. Will Baby get justice?

CONTENT & WRITING

I loved the plot of the book. It is gripping and makes this book a page turner. The way Dhamija writes is the best thing about the book. I loved the way he started his novel with the rapist’s remorse and whatever was going on in his mind. It is an aspect seldom portrayed in detail. Whatever be the outcome, the rapist should feel guilty – only then will things change.

Also, the writing is flawless, in fluent English and keeps you guessing what is in store for us next.

POSITIVES

Everything about this book was great. From the basic plot to the writing to the characterizations, everything added up to create a lovely thriller.

The characters were well done. I loved the camaraderie between Vansh and Akash, and between Priti and Akash. Also, I loved the fact that only the important characters are given importance. For example, the Diwans’ daughter always plays an important role and is yet never given too much weightage.

Also, the courtroom sequences are brilliant. They are so much better that all the shit we are served in bollywood films when it comes to courtroom drama.
I also loved the ASP’s character. It is particularly well done.

Lastly, though it was a negative character, Maheep’s characterization is perfect.


NEGATIVES

I couldn’t find any flaws as such. However I felt a slight tinge of disappointment during the ending. There are always 2 ways to reveal suspense in the plot – either do it dramatically or do it tactfully and smoothly. Dhamija choses the latter. Not that I disliked his way, but I wish he had added a little bit of theatrics to make a slightly more impact. In the end, it is the age old formula of “As you sow, so shall you reap” that wins. And you don’t mind!


OVERALL, “Unlawful Justice” is one of those books which is un-put-downable. I finished it in 1 night. I just couldn’t wait for the next day. Also, I came to know that this is Vish Dhamija’s 6th novel. Being an avid reader, I can only curse myself for not having read any of his previous 5 books till now.

Go for it if you love suspense thrillers. And definitely go for it if you are a Grisham fan!

P.S - I received this book from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : MESSED UP! BUT ALL FOR LOVE



This novel traces the story of Neil and Gauri. Then there is also another couple comprising of Drishti and Somesh. Then there are various other friends called Tom, Jerry, Antriksha, Mehr, James, etc.

There is something in the plot about Drishti being allegedly kidnapped, and Neil being framed for it. Get a hint? No right? Neither did I when I read this synopsis on the back cover of the novel. However, I was optimistic that the novel will provide a clearer picture compared to the vague synopsis.

WRITING

Aravind Parashar’s writing is good, though not extraordinarily brilliant. It is basic English language. One good thing is he doesn’t attempt to add fancy words and make his sentences sound like they have been framed using a thesaurus. His language is as simple as it can get. And so, the book is easy on the mind. It is neither too heavy nor too complex.
Writing style wise, Parashar tries to create an abstract pattern by using flashbacks and then coming back to the present. It works to an extent, but after a while, it appears too bollywood-ish.

POSITIVES

As I mentioned earlier, the language of the book is simple. It will thus appeal to a larger audience and will be liked by college going students.

Parashar also succeeds in portraying the urban relationships with finesse. There is a wife who is a journalist and a husband who is a cop. While both of them are successful in their respective fields, their marital life is a big failure.

Then there is the strained relationship between Neil and Gauri. In both these cases, Parashar manages to convey the tension with minimal use of dialogues.


NEGATIVES

Unfortunately, there are too many negatives in this novel. Firstly and most importantly, the plot of the novel is extremely childish, immature and stupid. I mean, what does this group really intend to do with their lives?

The entire kidnapping angle is a sore thumb. Also, what kind of friends does Neil have? Let me tell you, this is not a cool group. If the writer was aiming at creating a friends group like “Dil Chahta hai”, “ZNMD”, etc, he fails miserably. There is zero chemistry between the friends.
Thirdly, the various incidents shown in the book – the entire pub sequence, the appearance of neil on tv, the entire Cuba sequence – they are all shabbily sketched, childish and unreal. They just don’t look convincing.

What happens therefore is that we feel totally disconnected. Where do such things happen? Who on earth stages abductions? Also, what kind of occupation do these people have? They just seem to be free all the time. And yet, they seem to have all the riches in the world.

Also, if you want to use cuss words, use them either entirely or refrain from using them. What is the point of writing just “C”? What is the point of it?

The biggest flaw was the indirect speech. This book hardly has dialogues. So much of the plot is in indirect speech. Dear writer, it works against you big time. Give us more conversations between 2 people. That is the only was your readers will connect to your book.



OVERALL, the novel is a strict one time read if you have no other plans on a long boring weekend. In any case, the title itself summarizes how the book and its plot is – “Messed up!” But then, all is fair in love!  

P.S - I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dost Se Zyaada, Girlfriend Se Kam

“I am sharing a Half relationship story at BlogAdda in association with #HalfGirlfriend


There was this woman. I call her a “WOMAN” and not a girl, though she is still only 23 years old. This post is for her – that one single woman who I believe is someone who will be etched in my heart for years to come.

For the world, she was a random person, a typical girl, loaded with the usual tantrums, habits, styles and fusses usually associated with a girl of 18 years freshly arrived in college.

For me she was different. She wasn’t at all a random person. I loved her typicalities, experienced her tantrums, marveled at her styles, and got angry at times and smiled at times at her fusses. The first time I had met her, I had actually shook my head in disgust as she was unstoppingly and unhaltingly speaking – something a woman totally loves to do.

Let us leave the words “love”, “girlfriend”, “relationship”, etc aside. She was a friend. A friend who taught me how to actually trust, love, laugh, smile. You can call her my "HALF GIRLFRIEND". 

She was of medium height. She had the most gorgeous hair on this planet. I still remember gathering those loose strands lazily harassing her face, and tucking them behind her ear. Her ears were just like her – soft, delicate. I mention her ears because those were where she hung her earrings – a possession of hers which she absolutely adored. She had a cupboard full of them, ranging from miniscule ones to some as large as wall clocks. I remember mocking her at times that she would fall down by the weight of those earrings. I used to get quite stern looks for my remarks, but then, I said those things in the first place to see her reacting like that, didn’t I?

I loved to play with her hair. They were soft, long, smelled nice all the time (Even though she would say at times that they smelled pathetic as she hadn’t washed them). She did them curly at times, at times straight. At times she kept them loose, at times a pony. Then there was this "oily hair tied up in a chotla" which looked lovely on her. On early mornings, when she would be yet to take a bath, they would be tied up in a stern bunch. She looked smashing irrespective of any of these.

Her eyes reeked of innocence. She spoke volumes with those two big cute black entities. They would enlarge at times when I would occasionally surprise her with a gift. They would shrink when she would be angry on me. They would quiver when she would be furious on me. They would stare at me without blinking when she would be low and need me. They would blink rapidly when she very rarely lost control over herself and got weak. And I loved watching them. They were my entire world.

She took pride in her attire. Any woman would. She would dress neither too gaudy nor too plain. She kept it just perfect. White colour looked heavenly on her. I used to tell her to wear white often. She looked like a fairy. Literally.
She would have accessories for every colored clothing. From matching bangles to purses (Or clutches, as she insisted me to call them) to shoes, she took meticulous efforts to dress up. The outcome ofcourse would be mind bogglingly breathtaking.

She smelled heavenly. It was the kind of fragrance which put you at ease by merely filling up your nostrils. There were times when I would hug her just to inhale her within me. It was a kind of intoxication – a healthy one.

She was head strong, stubborn, very firm in whatever she decided. When she lost her cool, God help the person at the receiving end. Her wrath was deadly. If she thought someone was harassing her, she took no pains in sparing him/her. That way she was the most independent person I knew. She never would need someone by her side to deal with a situation. Not in person atleast. Mentally, she needed loads of help. It took so much of time and patience to make her understand not to get affected by peoples’ behavior.

You get the picture? No, right? Well,that was HER. Headstrong and independent, but yet always needing a shoulder to rest her head on and talk to. That was how she was, a typical woman.

She taught me so much. SO MUCH. She taught me things I can never forget. She taught me things which were stupidly irrelevant at times, and life changing at times.

She asserted her right on me, as if I meant the most to her. And I loved that. She would scold me for my bad habits. She said my temper was very bad. She took pains to change me, explain to me, step by step. I loved it. I watched all that in a daze, feeling so proud to have someone take so good care of me. No man can do all this. Only a woman can do it. In most cases, it is usually the mother. I was lucky to have her too.

A woman whom I could rely on in the glummest of my moods.
A woman whom I could easily tell the darkest of my thoughts.
A woman whom I could talk for months (Not hours, not days!).

There was not a shred of greed in her, nor malice or wrong intentions. She was pure, divine, simply godly. There wasn’t a moment of the day I didn’t think of her. She would automatically and inevitably be a part of every single thought emanating from my mind. When there would be happy things happening, I would smile, thinking about her reaction. When there would be bad or sad things happening, I would wait to meet her, so that she would make me alright in a jiffy.

The best thing about her – she did all of this with such grace, such devotion, such innocence and such purity that I myself don’t know when that fascination for her turned into respect. It was respect of the highest order. Here was someone who could handle me in any of my weird moods, colors and shades. 
Harboring a respect for her came naturally. Every morning when I prayed, I made it a point to devote few seconds praying for her well being. Such was that wonderful woman.

Frankly, no guy can take the place of a woman. I mean, let’s face it! We guys are dumb in the matters of the heart, emotions, etc. there HAS to be a woman around to make things bliss. Our mothers are always around, but someone of the same age makes a difference.

"Love" was always a part of this relationship. So was "Trust". But call it destiny or Karma or whatever you deem right, we did have our share of differences and priorities which ultimately led us apart. To put it briefly, we are not together anymore.  
Somewhere, she is leading her own life, as headstrong as she was, as stubborn as she was, as independent as she was, and maybe more mature than what she was earlier.

And I am, well, going on, trying to be strong, normal, adapt to an environment without her. It is tough, knowing that the woman who oozed magic is no longer there to wave her wand and heal my worries. But that doesn’t reduce my respect for her.


Some relations are never meant to be, maybe! God just sends people into our life to teach us few things. In my case, it was a woman – a woman who will always remain special; a woman who will always be loved, respected, honoured and devoted! And yes, I still pray for her.

Men will write all kinds of bullshit, crack all kinds of jokes on women, forward them to their male friends. But the harsh reality is that without you women, nothing will be ever right. And I doubt there is a man who doesn’t agree to it!
No I am not being jingoistic, nor am I taking sides. But the truth is this, face it.


And for you, THANK YOU. For being that woman.



Thursday, April 20, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : FINDING JULIET



Writing a story about college life and romance has become too commonplace in India since Chetan Bhagat became famous. Every other guy thinks he is a good author and dishes out mediocre or even disgusting stuff which is even gladly published by upcoming publishing houses.

This author prefers to write under the pseudonym “Toffee” (Cringes!) but thankfully, what he serves is definitely sweet and delicious.

As the title suggests, “Finding Juliet” is a coming-of-age story of Arjun, a guy who tastes the bitter taste of heartbreak not once or twice but thrice. Almost dejected and lost, he then meets Krish, who changes his life forever. Along with Krish and his childhood friend Anjali, he becomes a totally changed man. What happens next forms the crux of the book.

LANGUAGE & CONTENT


Toffee’s command over language is impressive. He is frank, to the point and conveys to readers whatever he intends to. It is indeed a pleasure to read a book written by someone whose English is very good.

As far as the content is concerned, I really liked the plot and its different aspects. As the synopsis of the book proclaims, this book is meant to cater to India’s generation Y. and I felt that the book very much does that.

The way Toffee shows Arjun dealing with new romances and then heartbreak, is done very well. Infact, all three romantic tracks are very convincing and fresh and easily relatable. They evoke a lot of nostalgia and some bitter – sweet memories of our own college life.


POSITIVES


As I mentioned above, a strong plus point of the novel is the three romantic tracks. Each one has its own charm and feel. Also, the way Toffee describes each track is good. The treatment isn’t at all superficial. He gets you involved in each track, and that is a really commendable thing.

Secondly, Arjun’s characterization is superb. His journey from the beginning of the book till the end is shown very nicely. One gets a chance to love him at times, despise him at times, sympathize with him at times and ultimately root for him at times. This is a victory on the author’s part for having created such a lovely and relatable character.

However, for me, the BEST thing about the entire book was Anjali. There are friends, there are crushes, there are girlfriends and then there is that one person who is above all of these. It didn’t take a genius mind to figure out what would happen in the end of the book. Right from page 1, I knew how the book would end. But I was interested in knowing how the author reaches that end. And believe me, I loved the end. It was filmy but I loved it. Maybe it reminded me of someone.


NEGATIVES


That said, the book isn’t without its share of minuses. I felt that in each track, the female characters are shown to behave in a very silly manner. Also, affairs take a centrestage, which I didn’t like too much.

Secondly and most importantly, the way Arjun becomes a womanizer in the second half of the book is too over the top. I mean, there is a limit to everything, however relevant it might be in today’s world. But five girls is a bit too much. Plus, the author describes each encounter in quite an elaborate manner. And that according to me was unnecessary. Subtleness is always more effective. But here, for a while I felt as if I was reading some erotic novel.

See, there is nothing wrong in that. Since decades, erotica has been a popular genre. But here, it confuses us as to what really is the genre of the book.


OVERALL, “Finding Juliet” is a good breezy read which can be easily finished in a single sitting. The author shows promise in his writing and gives us a very relatable book in today’s times. This one is a must for those who dig college romance. But a word of caution! Things do get spicy and erotic somewhere down the middle.
And dear author, please get a newer and better pseudonym. Remember O'Henry?



P.S – I received this book from writersmelon for an honest and unbiased review.     

Monday, February 27, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : THESE CIRCUSES THAT SWEEP THROUGH THE LANDSCAPE



Short story writing is a tricky genre, something where even the most accomplished writers falter at times. Tejaswini Apte – Rahm’s novel “These Circuses that Sweep Through the Landscapes” is one such collection of 10 short stories which explores various human tendencies, some real while some unbelievable.
PLOT
It is not possible to actually depict the plot of ten short stories. However, I’ll try summarizing each plot within a line or two, and also what I felt about each story.
11. HOMO COLEOPTERA tells us the story of a man whose passion in life is to collect beetles and win contests. Mr Ghosh’s story is definitely told and written well. The detailing is very good. I personally liked it. Also, this story sets the spooky tone which continues throughout the book.

22. THANK GOD FOR STAR TREK tells a story of a little girl whose childhood is anything but colorful. Not that it is bad, but I felt the overall tone of the story too dull, morose and dark. Also, “Star Trek” isn’t something with which too many Indian children would relate to.

33. THE MALL is perhaps the most detailed story out of all the 10 plots. It tells the story of a lady who visits a newly opened mall but is unable to find the exiting, remaining inside for a long long time.
What starts off as a really promising plot soon falters due to the excessive detailing. The description of the mall gets too tedious at times. And hence, when the lady finally exits, both she and the reader heave a sigh of relief.

44. THE GIRL WHO LOVED DEAN MARTIN is another story which failed to connect. Once again, the plot is good, but somehow a bit alien for the Indian readers.

  5. COTTON starts off well. The story of how a lady keeps on seeing cotton everywhere in her house is really novel. The story keeps you hooked. However, the end is disappointing, even a bit repulsive to some extent.

66. THE HOUSE ON THE HILL appears as a ray of hope. The story of a little girl who is a servant at a rich mansion and her experiences at a grand party is lovely. By the end, you are left with a smile on your face.

77. DRINKS AT SEVEN tells the story of 4 friends (2 couples) who meet for drinks and what happens then. The tension the author builds throughout the plot is commendable. The ending is a bit abrupt, but overall a fairly good and entertaining story.

88. SANDALWOOD is a brilliant tale of a female coming to terms with her eviction from the lives of her husband and kids. Everything about the plot clicks, especially the end.

99. MILI has to be the best story of the lot. A tale of two old lovers who meet after many years, the author weaves magic with the chemistry between   the two.
110. THESE CIRCUSES THAT SWEEP THROUGH THE LANDSCAPE is a story of a teacher who has lost his mind to senility and one of his students who well, isn’t in his right mind either. Once again, the author keeps you glued to the pages as she alternatively shifts the story telling point of view. The climax is brilliant.

WRITING & POSITIVES
Full marks to Tejaswini’s writing skills. She is excellent. Her eye for detailing is the USP of the book. It shows how minutely she observes life and its various aspects. As I said, writing short stories is a tricky genre, but she manages well.

NEGATIVES
As mentioned earlier, I found few stories lacking the necessary connection. Apart from that, I don’t really have too many issues. I would definitely have liked it more had few of the plots been real rather that supernatural and fictional.

OVERALL, this collection of short stories is a mixed bag of sorts. The first five stories are okayish. There was a time when I was seriously considering whether or not to continue reading. However, I am glad I continued because the other 5 stories changed my opinion. They were really brilliant.

This one is a decent one time read for people who love reading short stories and those who anticipate something unexpected in plots.

P.S - I received this book from WRITERSMELON in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.