Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Devil in the House? - Kalpana Takbhate (Book)

Devil in the House? - Kalpana Takbhate.

The best part about my love for reading is when a book comes to me on its own especially when it comes from an Author and the worst is when it doesn't work for me. Like in the above book's case, Author approached me to read her book as my hourly rate for book reading is pretty affordable and I always more than oblige when approached as that's what I love doing provided I am compensated by an amazing story and if not, it at least covers the book price and cost of putting the book that I am reading on hold till I finish the Author sent book and pass on my opinion of the same. Going by the title and the review available on Goodreads, this one sounded liked a murder mystery cum thriller and got me excited as soon as I received my Kindle copy. Unfortunately it is a case of trying too hard to make it a suspense story with almost an average premise of whodunnit but it falls flat on its face as it doesn't have its heart in the right place. It was a pretty challenging read where the murder takes place at the very start with story keeps going back in flashbacks and reader is left guessing who could have done that and the reason behind it. There was a huge scope to develop but where it falters is the timeline, where it is happening and character development. None of those points are explained or covered by the writer that reader in me could connect with any of them. On top of that it doesn't even work like a straight forward story (which I believe she didn't intend to keep it anyways) where by the time it ends, it should make a point at least.

A very straight forward plot of two sisters relationship with each other gone sour (reason?) where younger sisters husband is a suspect in killing the elder one as they were having an extra marital affair (again reason?). The only thing which worked for me or I could call it a saving grace which kept me going to finish the book (as I always standby my commitment) was the Cop guy "Jai Dixit", yeah! You are right, our own Dhoom super cop :) I could actually imagine Abhishek Bachchan moving around solving the case but again there is no detailing as what he was wearing, riding / driving, nothing about his own life or past but in one last scene he is seen getting off a police jeep. What shocked me was no effort from writer to show us anything about the victim too, it was such a disaster that he life meant nothing to no-one that I kept looking forward to read something about her immediate family which wasn't there at all. And it was laughable by the way Mr. Jai Dixit solves the case as its a super cake walk for him to not only locate the murder weapon but finding its origin too. In the end, it leaves quite a few questions unanswered but then I seriously do not have the energy to grill the Author anymore as this wasn't a pre-published manuscript but a published book so I will let them it go. A lot of blame should go to her Editors too as there were quite a few instances where the names were printed wrongly, instead of cop they have printed suspects names and vice versa too. It is very confusing and not explained properly which city they start with, where they live and where exactly the whole thing is taking place, yet the case gets solved (or remains a mystery is to be read by the readers).

I believe one good thing this book actually did that it woke me up from the slump that I was going through of not posting anything for quite some time. Anyways, with this my paid project comes to an end and I will go back to Mr. H H Munro to finish his short stories. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Uncle Pai - Rajesh M Iyer (Book)

Uncle Pai - Rajesh M Iyer.

I must have mentioned this umpteen times by now that when it comes to books, I am seriously born with amazing luck. A lot of Authors (some are now actually good friends now) are so kind that before even I order their books online, they approach me to read there books (as if they were already not in my wish list) and top of that I get the signed copies fresh out of oven :). It takes me a few hours before my allergy kicks in after I smell those fantastic brand new copies to actually start reading them. And this one was no different but there was a reason why I actually had to take a break from my office work and get up early before my household got up so I could read the Biography on an Uncle who we all loved back in the days. Somehow I totally forgot about him till this book happened and Rajesh was simply amazing to choose me as one of the early readers. Wow! First thing I did after finishing this amazing life story was to call my Mom and ask her if she could check our own library for as many "Amar Chitra Kathas" and "Tinkles" from back in the days that I was able to collect. They were definitely not cheap but my darling mother never said no to books and not at all to comics which should have been part of school's curiculum. I am going to seriously bill him now if I am not able to find my old collection in reading order as his book has totally intrigued me to get the whole lot, read it back to back and hand it over to my teenage kiddo who I am not sure but pray that she loves Uncle Pai's creations as much as my generation loved it. If I ever wanted to read Biography on any Comic writers life, this was definitely in contention with Mr. Pran's life as and when it comes out, eagerly waiting. Food for thought Mr. Rajesh :) you've gotta get that in your kitty now as I believe there is no such book available in the market. 

Right from the moment I jumped into "Uncle Pai" like literally, I've been thinking :) can there be a person especially in India who haven't heard of "Amar Chitra Katha" or its creator Mr. Anant Pai's name? Please raise your hand if you haven't (and let me get my gun to shoot you in the first place if you exist) :). I very well remember that I started reading my Mom's books when I was in 5th Standard as such was my appetite for books and reading. She will snatch them out of my hands and hand me over a few bucks to get my own books and direct me to the right book fair's which kept happening in our town during those days. There was a few small libraries too which will have us pick up books on rent as low as 10 paise in mid to late 80's. I very well remember having picked up the fastest fat bounded books so I could cover at least five comics in one shot :) if a Digest form was not available. If you were born in 70's you will precisely know what I am talking. And Uncle Pai's books were always on top of our priority list back then, although my memory doesn't serve me so well but it won't be an exaggeration to say I must have read if not more at least half of his comics and Tinkles as I am surprised to know through his life story that he indeed was not only a genius but a man with a mission to teach not only Indian values through his books but also so much about our own mythology and golden past. In between reading this book I asked my daughter if she knew who Lord Ram's mother was :) and that confused smile and rolling eyes told me that I've gotta get her own set of these books so next time she is able to answer my questions based on our own past. They do not teach that enough in school curriculum these days. I am assuming just like me a majority of my generation people will be huge fans of Uncle Pai and you will for sure lay your hands on this must have must read book. I am not going to disclose anything here but a few things Uncle Pai's fan following not only included a few of our own Prime Ministers or Presidents but also a Friendly nations President who would actually call him to understand the meaning of a Sanskrit shloka :) can anyone beat that. 

One question or shall I say one thing that I missed in this biography is that there is one part of his life which isn't explored much (again that is one thing that I would not like to disclose here to spoil it for those who would surely read this book), I will direct that query to Mr. Writer right after this post. And one thing that I totally disliked is the way he refers to Amar Chitra Katha as ACK in who narrative :) totally not done. It may have added another few pages but those three magic words are just incomparable. I have read almost all of his books and I must say, this is his best work so far and none of his earlier stories (that I loved much) comes any closer to this one and I am surprised by my own words that I have actually loved a Non fiction more than Fiction. If you have read "Amar Chitra Katha" and "Tinkle" back then, do let me know how you loved them and if you still have your collection with you? Unlike me who will have to use power of blackmail to get it out of my own mom :). 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover - Tejaswi Priyadarshi (Book)

The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover - Tejaswi Priyadarshi. 

Another addition to my collection of Author sent books which I finished last night which blew my mind off. To keep the record straight of (almost) never abandoning a book once I start, I kept chugging through and somehow finished this one. Going by the title and on top of that a debut book, I should have kept my expectations low from this one. But unfortunately the hopeless positive expecting person I am, I thought it will get better as the story progresses. Right from the very first murder which was gruesome (but not too bad as I have read and seen much worst earlier which have given me sleepless nights and refuse to go off my memories), the story keeps going downhill to a very predictable ending with a twist which gives hints of a sequel (I will probably stay away from). I was excited when Tejaswi approached me to read his book, looking at his background (an XLRI pass out) I was very hopeful of at least a heart touching story but he had something else in his mind for his characters. And on top of that his editors have let him down big time too, of-course the book is published online only so far hence the outcome. I will not get into details but repeatedly same mistakes and on top of that narrative shifting from first person to third too was confusing. And I really dislike the Chetan Bhagatesque idea of two people meeting and one telling the story to second person (who is supposed to write it). 

Going by the title I thought there will be a psycho lover who for sure will not get love of his life, in the end he will end up killing one and all to get her, only to eat her in the end :) if that is how this story would have gone, I am sure I would liked it as that would have given it the correct "whys" but what Author has done with his story as I said earlier I didn't find it very convincing. Writing is too advanced as far as Indian standards go, even in this jet age it was too hard for me to digest school going kids doing something his characters were doing (even in fiction). A very straight forward story of a kid being bullied all his life who takes up to take revenge on the people who've been bullying, betraying or letting him down throughout his life. How it all happens and how he takes revenge coming across a Cannibal and a lover in his stride is the story all about. Unfortunately neither I could connect with the psychopath nor with the Cannibal and the lover's character hardly gets much attention from his own created that the reader in me felt betrayed for that part. The only good part was that the books length isn't too long and I was able to finish it in flat three sittings but whatever I could quote from the ongoing story to my wife and kiddo, they were shocked that I was still reading it. 

Shockingly other than me, everyone else who has read the book and posted their thoughts on Goodreads have somehow liked the book. If you have read The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover - do let me know how you like it but if you haven't yet read it, I highly suggest you stay away. 

PS: I guess Tejaswi has read a little too much of Surendra Mohan Pathak or James Hadley Chase kind of books and decided to dedicate his first book to the master himself. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Brass Verdict - Michael Connelly (Book)

The Brass Verdict - Michael Connelly.

I have a weird habit of picking up and reading the "filler" books that I go through on and off 🙂. I never read a Michael Connelly book before I picked this one up 🙂, what made me pick this one was its super glossy cover with a courtroom in background, its size (550+ pages) and that last name Connelly. I've been a Jennifer Connelly fan all my life (you've got to see her in leather) so I thought how bad a book can be with that similar last name 🙂. On top of that I have read a few Grishams and Jodi Picoults with superb courtroom dramas in the recent past. And on top of that I recently finished a Thomas Hardy so I wanted unwind a little before I pick up my first Kafka next. But what a terrific heartbreak this one was, totally predictable with almost no character development, I could feel nothing for none of the characters, almost no thrill element even after multiple murders and an unknown killer roaming around looking for his / her next target. Lackluster courtroom scene and dialogues, almost good for nothing detectives totally clueless as what is happening and unfortunately they do not uncover anything as I said that the ending was totally predictable. I was able to guess the killer in the first 50 pages only 🙁. Some of my favorite names from Hollywood too weren't able to make it any better for me like Johny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Mickey Rourke 🙂. 

Started reading this on Sunday morning and finished it on Tuesday afternoon, was a breeze of an easy read but just about a very average story (much against my expectations). Perfect setting of an out of work lawyer taking break from his practice recovering from drug addiction. No work and family to look forward to, his fortune changes as one of his close buddy (another lawyer) is shot dead with a high profile Hollywood producers case hanging in-between. The producer is a suspect himself of a dual murder (his wife & her lover). Two ex wives with one of them working with him (and her boy friend) and a daughter in toes, his father's best buddy as the detective helping him solve the case, imagine it had so much scope of being a fantastic novel but I guess Mr. Connelly has read too much of Christie, Grisham and Conan Doyle but learned nothing, as it all falls flat on the reader. Even for a person like who reads books for pleasure, this didn't had almost nothing for me in it, still I kept going forward thinking it may shock me somewhere down the line and may have a different ending than how I imagined but even that wasn't the case. The only good thing about the book was that it kept reminding me of the terrific movie Lincoln Lawyer that I watched and loved a few years ago, based on Michael Connelly's most successful book I guess. 

After a long time I guess I found a book which I won't be recommending much to my own heart-break. But do let me know if you have read "The Brass Verdict" and liked it too. If not, do let me know if you have a favorite Michael Connelly book, I would like to give the Author a second chance.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (Book)

Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy.

Disclaimer: If you have read my earlier posts saying that I have found my all time favorite Author, this post makes those posts Null & Void and finally I have found my all time favorite Author and Thomas Hardy is now my permanent favorite.
I still very well remember by FYJC days when I was smitten in love (now I call it infatuation) with a girl whose name even was so rich that I couldn't dare dream of ever having her in my life but that never stopped me from being in love with her. Although we were as different as chalk & cheese, she was rich I was poor, she was beautiful and most of you have seen my pictures 🙁 she was bubbly in a group of admirers and I usually had my lunch alone sitting on a puliya. But what has that got to do with the book in question? if you want to ask me that, it means you haven't read this one or any of the Hardy books. Wonder why is he so cruel to his characters, especially to his men, women he is still at times fines and gives them some leverage but he is brutal to his men, I tell you that in advance. Also, I started this while travelling and as I boarded an Aircraft this Sunday morning holding the book in my hand, even the air-hostess who welcomed me in quickly added pointing to the book "Depressing, is it?" and while she made coffee to me I dared asked her "Why is he so hard on his men?" to which she retorted "He isn't easy on his women too, especially in this one". And I must tell you that this story and the book again invoked so many unbelievable emotions that I can't properly put them in words, I had to race to the end to know if it would be any better than his last that I read "Jude the Obscure".
Love (and life) story of a shepherd who faces severe hardship because of his sheer bad luck, a gem of a man from all angles but God (mean Hardy) has some different plans for him. Initially I was totally in love with the man Gabriel as I can bet my life that you will not find a better character than him even if you search with the help of Aladin's lamp. Falls in love at first sight but as I know Thomas Hardy so much better going though his second book that I could predict, it ain't be easy for Gabriel to get the love of his life. But how he goes through after his rejection and where his destiny takes him especially when the reader hopes that his path should cross again with the love of his life, like I said earlier once you love someone, you just can't unlove it and so is the case of Gabriel. How he goes through in life still in shadows of love of Bathsheba Everdene is the rest of the story. But by the time I hit the halfway mark, Mr. Hardy plays with my loyalty so royally that it is very hard to explain. Just when I thought he was too cruel to his Men he changes gears and we have a second story, and just when I thought that was that, he decides to give me another twist 🙂 but with so much heart and emotions in it that he very ably swiped me off my feat and not only made me fall in love with a few of the characters but the Author himself too. You've got to keep trust on your Author to know more and feel the depth that he actually wants you to feel. Throughout the 320+ pages I was totally clueless as what would be the right way to judge the things the way they were going.
Undoubtedly Far from the Madding Crowd I will always remember for the amazing characters carved out by Mr Hardy so beautifully. And his prose is so poetic that it flows like a smooth river which flows without making any noise or ripples, if you know what I mean. This is ultimate story in poetry I should say. I am dead sure that I will never read a book ever from any other writer which will come any close (in prose) to Thomas Hardy's work(s). Also, if you are into collection fantastic one liners, t his is the book which will give you at least a good dozen for your collection. Thomas Hardy's philosophies are simply incomparable. And If you ever want to know the meaning of a word called Selfless, you've got to read this book for the same. And this will always show up on the top of my list now onward whenever a discussion on the best love stories will ever start. Oh! and before I forget I must mention that it has some BEAUTIFUL illustrations, and they are so true to life that I could never imagine a more beautiful (and fragile) face for Bathsheba, and farmer Gabriel Oak or the two men that I shouldn't mention here 🙂.
Have you read Far from the Madding Crowd? if you have read it, do let me know how you like it and if you haven't, I must say that you've got to read it ASAP. Also, do let me know which one is your favorite Thomas Hardy book.
PS: I so much wish that I run into the same Air-hostess on my way back to Pune this weekend so I could tell her whether this was depressing or not 🙂.