Tag Archives: author

Book Review of “Taming The Restless Mind” By Rashmi Singh

 

This book, I believe, is Rashmi Singh’s first non-fictional offering. A freelance Personality Development Trainer and Counselor, Rashmi has compiled small pearls of wisdom for her readers.
Pitching the book to be a guide, to tame your mind, Rashmi has put together about 20, quite prominent, topics that indeed are the factors that lead to unrest in the mind.

I would suggest young adults to give it a read. It is sure to help them as they walk the path of life- in college and in the corporate world.

But for most folks like me, these are topics that we are familiar with and know the nitty-gritty of the consequences they bring. The book seemed very interesting to me initially, but within a few pages it was too predictable. There was no novelty for me.

Also, I did not quite understand the usage of all caps words/sentences in between. If a point needs to be stressed up on highly, making the text “bold” could’ve worked just as fine. The usage of caps in between did not go well with my reading process. I did find many grammatical and other flaws but since the flow was soft and easy, I guess I shall by-pass them for now.

People dealing with confidence and self development issues must give it a read. There are many winning tricks highlighted in the book that are bound to help readers gather and uplift their self-esteem and decision making skills.

I will suggest this book to youngsters definitely so that they are at least aware of the things that they are doing wrong (yes, already) and how they can improve their communication and interpersonal skills, as they stand on the brink of the transition (from a youngster to an adult).

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Maintaining A Reading Log Or A Book Journal

 

A reading log (or a book journal) is a great way of keeping a track of what you have read, or are and will be reading. And truth be told, not many of us make or maintain a reading log.

It is in fact good practice that helps you record your reactions to a book, and its characters. You can note your thoughts and gain further insight about the theme, the plot, the appeal and even its relevance. This will help you expand your overall enjoyment of reading and going back to a book you liked.

You will notice that towards the end of it all, you will turn in to a good reviewer of a book and a keen observer of things around.

 

 

Here are a few ideas/questions to get you started:

 

1.    After reading the first couple of chapters, pen down your thoughts. See if they change as you proceed and reach the mid-way. And how you feel towards the end of the book. Would you go back to the book again or tag it as a one-time read? Also note any emotions that the book managed to invoke in you: smile, laughter, anger, worry, concern, tears?
2.    Did you connect with the story line, or the characters, or the ideation at all? Could you draw a parallel with your life while reading it? Did the book remind you of any aspect of your life or an incident you (or someone you know) have undergone? Or did the book remind you of any other book you’ve read in the past? Was there any unique idea that made you think on different lines?
3.    If you connected with any of the characters, who? Why? How? What did you find most appealing? Or given a chance would you become any of the characters? Who? Why?
4.    If you’d have written the story, what would you do differently? Would you change its title, or any of its characters, or altered any bit of the story or location?
5.    Do you have any apprehensions about any part of the book or any of its characters?

6.    Does the book provoke you to ask questions of any sort? What kind of questions would they be? Are they questions about the author or the characters or the ideation?
7.    If you could ask the author questions based on the book, would you? Or would you be inclined to read about the author itself, to maybe give you an insight to his world (his upbringing, his works, his ideologies)?

8.    Were you confused at any point while reading the book? Was there any situation that you did not understand or comprehend or you felt was out of place? Did that affect your reading or thoughts about the book and the author at any point?
9.    Note down your favorite part of the book, and your favorite quote by a character. What was it about them that appealed to you?
10.    Was reading the book a learning experience? If yes, what did the book teach you?
11.    Would you cheer for the book, and recommend it to others?
12.    Did you like the author’s style of writing? Would you read more from his collection? Why or why not?

 

Recording all the above will in a way help you review the book better. It will broaden your thought process, your evaluation power and of course help you explore different genres of books and authors.

You may follow the same practice while reading poetry and plays and other works of literature.

This will also help you read autobiographies, journals, or diaries of renowned authors, about their reading experience. You may also be able to compare your thoughts with theirs.

To conclude, maintaining a book journal or a reading log is a good practice. If you include a list of books that you wish to read in a particular month or year, the log will help you remember and attain your target too.

Let’s not forget, it will give you a good practice of expressing yourself, which in turn may help hone your writing skills. So, go get started tiger! It’s time to pen your thoughts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

Book Review of Welcome To Americastan by Jabeen Akhtar

Welcome To Americastan           

By Jabeen Akhtar

Identity crisis does not seem to spare anyone. Be it an Indian, or a Pakistani, or a Britisher who have now made the United States of America their home.

Welcome to Americastan is one such novel that deals with not just the quest for one’s identity but also brings out the quirks in one’s life.

Samira is a Pakistani-American is dumped by her boyfriend (Ethan) of eight years in the weirdest manner.

 

He chooses her best friend over her. And this is not a pretty situation to be in. In a fit of anger, Samira tries to run him over but as fate would have it, she lands up on the FBI’s terror watch list. And this brilliant move of lands her behind the bars, which in turn sees her being fired from her job (of course!) as legislative aide to a Congressman.
This is just the onset of her problems. And it all goes down-hill from thereon, as she moves in with her eccentric family in North Carolina.

Her father is a strong supporter of the Pakistani American Council (PAC), and a weirdly funny man. His arguments will make you chuckle- sometime in disbelief, and sometimes…just! Her mother is a typical mother as anyone else’s. She ends up spiking the punch with rum, and grumbles all along as she prepares delicious meals for family and friends who seem to be forever visiting or piled up in their home. This also means that Samira’s and her siblings are always at the receiving end of their parents verbosities.
Sam’s parents know nothing of what she has been through and think she is on a vacation. But when the truth is revealed, apart from the trauma, there is much humor. Youngsters in the house seem to be living a dual life.
Amidst all the drama and dilemma and confusion, Samira nurses her broken heart and gathers her strength to stand up again to face the world with all its offerings.

I like the way the details of a typical Pakistani family are covered. From the blatant use of swear words to what’s happening where and how and by whom – the typical nosey-pokey stuff brings in a lot of humor and laughs. The quirks of a traditional family that has its youth bending towards the modern society, bring out the stark realities that immigrant families face. They don’t know where they belong- to Pakistan or to America or to both…and how.

There are glimpses of racism and sexism. There are traces of cultural loss. There are hints of identity crises. All woven in to a web of satire, sprinkled with humor and garnished with wit.
A fast paced read, the writing style is refreshing and captivating. The plot never fades out. In fact, it keeps you wanting to read further.

The author seems to have a clear picture of what she wants to show her readers and delivers just that. The humor and the narrative are bound to keep you hooked till the very end. At a point you’d want the pages to increase. Such is the grasp of the author.

I highly recommend this one.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

To Date Or Not To Date

There was a blog by Rosemarie Urquico on “Date a girl who reads” that created ripples. That was a response to Charles Warnke’s “You should date an illiterate girl”.

 

Since I was almost facing a “writer’s block” and couldn’t think of a blog idea, I thought, why not jot points for people who wish to date. So we can take a look at pros and cons of dating people who are well read, vs. others who disregard books.

Let’s begin with the cons. (No, I’m not a pessimist. I just want the negative out of the way.)
•    A person who loves to read and write would know just too well when you are lying.

•    They would be your grammar police when you least expect them to be.

•    They would be more crazier than you –speaking like Shakespeare, imagining likeRowling, reciting like Keats, talking about Gainman and what have you!

•    They will be master storytellers telling you off. They would have their expectations running high –thanks to all romantic/mystery novels they would’ve gulped by now.

•    They would be gaining more limelight, than you, amongst your peers. And sometimes more weight, sitting around with books as their sole companions.

•    They might, sometimes, be too engrossed in a book to pay attention to you. And sometimes they might end up paying more attention to details than expected.

•    They might lose their cool and snap at you, just because the protagonist behaved like an ……..
And now for the pros:

•    Cost

One of the most important of all factors. (Yes, let’s be practical.) Dating a person who reads implies an inexpensive affair. Books nowadays do cost a lot. Unless they are from some of the Indian publishers who save on the paper quality and offer books for like a mere Rs. 100!
Getting him/her a library card would go easy on your mind and pocket. And also relieve you of thinking, “What should I gift him/her now!?”
Dating a person who does not read implies there is greater cost involved. Imagine the kind of shopping some people indulge in – guys and their electronic gadgets; and girls with their (bare) clothing. Oh this is much more expensive!!!

 

•    Conversation abilities

Hands down I think a well read person can engage you in intellectual conversation, over a person who absolutely scorns books and newspapers. A well read person adds value to your knowledge bank. He/she can help you spin fantastic stories, and dwell in a world of goblins and fairies when you need some cheering.

•    Personality
A person who reads would be wise. (Let’s just say so for conversation sake.) He/she would be more composed and mannered than a person who doesn’t. He/she will understand that failure doesn’t mean the end of the world. A sequel can be written and life will move on. Success will follow. After all, you are the lead of your life story.

•    World of fantasy
There can be so much to talk about, so much to imagine, so much to fantasize about, with a person who reads, (and reads good stuff) over a person who can’t even make decent stories to save his/her life.

•    Priorities
Well…at times his/her books would gain priority over you. But it’s better than indulging in mindless banter with a person who knows not much. True you will be given all the attention and pampering by a person who doesn’t care much for books, but is that of any value when there is no growth, individually or together. If you crave for intellectual challenges, be prepared to not indulge in any with the person who cares not for the written word.

•     Simple living. High thinking.
Apart from the fact that this is Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, it is quite relevant in life. The person gobbles up words like a hungry reader is sure to find pleasures in simple things in life. A flower, the rainbow, the first drop of rain, a butterfly, a coloring book, colors, stationary, anything that brings in a smile instantly without any effort. He/she would inspire you more than life itself, someday!

 

•    Life

Life will no longer be bland with a person who reads. Imagine adventures, treasure hunts, fantasy world stories. You might end up having weird (in a nice way) kids with weirder tastes and observation powers. Growing old with that person would be so much easier and fun. It’s true when they say, marry a person who you can talk to, because when you are old, it’s only good conversations that keep you going. He/she would recite KeatsWordsworthShakespeare,WhitmanWilde with much ease when you wish to hear a few words of love.

•    Other factors
It’s better to have you partner check out books than check out other people when with you. And who doesn’t make mistakes? We all are human after all. At least you can expect a well-worded apology in case you partner goofs up at some place.

All the places that you cannot afford to visit can be imagined and improvised in the company of a partner who utilizes his/her creative abilities to the hilt. He/she will lend you a listening ear. Always. Because, he/she knows how to give someone their undivided concentration.

He/she would know when to get serious and when not. He/she would appreciate your passion just like their’s.

So you see…there are too many pros of dating a well-read person. So go ahead, find yourself a…

good book and begin reading. NOW!

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

Book Review of “In Pursuit Of Infidelity” by Sujata Parashar

In Pursuit Of Infidelity

By Sujata Parashar

 

*spoiler alert*

Infidelity nowadays is as common as a headache. It can happen anytime. And it really isn’t as weird. Or so people say/think.
People write/talk about what they observe. Looking at the number of stories being written and published on this subject (of infidelity) it makes one wonder about the changing times of today.

In Pursuit of Infidelity by Sujata Parashar is one such story about Sheena, a busy professional, happily married (or so she thinks) to Gaurav. Both are trapped in the worldly woes of a professional life in Delhi, trying to make for a better future for themselves and their son Krish.

Sheena does not really feel the love towards Gaurav, but it’s her commitment to marriage and family that keeps her going. That is, until temptation comes calling. She bumps into her long lost love/crush- Nikhil and when he too confesses of being in love with her, Sheena faces the eternal dispute between her conscience and her heart.

Her work takes her to Mumbai and she ends up giving into her heart’s desire with him. She decides to walk out of her marriage. But when she returns home, it’s time for Gaurav to leave for Singapore on business. She decides to hold on till his return. But what happens in Singapore doesn’t remain in Singapore.
Gaurav ends up being attracted to Anita and one drunken night sees them breaking all inhibitions. Anita realizes their mistake and requests Gaurav to never contact her or be in touch with her.
Back home, Sheena stumbles upon Gaurav’s deed and feels cheated. She then walks out on him and demands a divorce.
What happens next is something I leave for the readers to find out.
(Yeah, it would be too bratty of me to give out the entire story here –albeit I’ve marked the spoiler alert!)

The narrative is quite smooth, yet captivating given its decent pace. The characterization is quite relatable to. But there were some points that ticked me.

Sheena was anyways set to call quits. So why did she feel so hurt and cheated on Gaurav’s infidelity? Ego hurt you say? Well, I don’t quite seem to agree with that. It was quite selfish on her part. Just because she wasn’t “caught” being unfaithful she put the entire “fall out blame” on him. Super selfish!

Secondly, all of us have moments of weakness. In this case, Nikhil happened to catch the right nerve and press it hard. People, especially girls/women, need to be the ones in control of their lives. The moment you show that you are vulnerable, people prey on you.

Also, being dissatisfied with (married) life doesn’t give you the license to cheat. You better be brave enough to own up to things.
And what about the sacred vows couples take during their marriage ceremonies? Why marry at all then? Why not just live in the moment with “no strings attached”?

Sheena is scared and worried about societal pressures and anxieties that come along with. But why doesn’t she think about them while indulging with Nikhil? Yes, there is no such thing as right or wrong, and sometimes everyone gives in to the moment…then why does she not come out clean with Gaurav? Why is he made the scapegoat who ends up carrying the entire blame!?
Well, to each his own.

Coming back to the writing, the “bedroom scenes” have been crafted very subtly. The mellow version of passionate love that the characters indulge in is quite concise. She could’ve explored that a bit more.

The author has well presented a hard-hitting fact/reality of life. It is a perceptive story that makes you think about the on goings in your life. Quite deeply. Overall, a good read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “Turn Coat” By Jim Butcher

Turn Coat

By Jim Butcher

Yet another feather in the cap for Jim Butcher.

The story begins with Dresden finding the antagonist, Morgan, lying injured at his door seeking his help to get out of a crime he did not commit. Dresden, being the good guy, commits to help Morgan (after much contemplation within).

The story is persuasive and has – a lot about the White Wizard Council (that was missing in the earlier series); a lot of magic; Morgan’s story; smart, witty dialogues (not all by Dresden); alluring action; and best of all the character of Mouse. 

With his supernatural skills as a wizard, and a keen eye for detail (as a detective) Dresden fights against all odds (literally) to emerge the hero (once again!)

Though the pace could have been a bit higher, the plot and the characters, in a way, make up for it.

Absolutely recommended to all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “The Road” By Cormac McCarthy

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy

This one ranks up to be a masterpiece.

The story revolves around a father-son relationship in a post apocalyptic world – amidst brutality, cruelty, savagery, gloom, despair, trench, terror and ashes.

A bold poetic envisage of a dreadful setting/nightmare that captures the reader and lingers in the memory for a long time after reading.

A beautifully executed thriller that can only be devised by an author of McCarthy’s caliber. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “Trace” by Patricia Cornwell

Trace by Patricia Cornwell

Another Scarpetta novel by Patricia Cornwell.

The story is essentially set in modern day Richmond and revolves around D. Kay Scarpetta returning after five years to help on a case.

A fourteen year old is found dead with no evidence or cause of death.

Scarpetta’s new boss – Dr. Joel Marcus seeks her help. But this comes as a surprise to Scarpetta since she believes he barely knows her. The truth is that Dr. Marcus has a hidden agenda behind getting Scarpetta to Richmond.

 

As Marino, Scarpetta’s retired police officer friend, chips in to help her investigate the mysterious death they cross paths with an FBI agent who almost messes things up. Scarpetta gets some clues from her boyfriend in Aspen, who is also working on a case without Scarpetta’s knowledge. Somehow both the cases are linked.

Scarpetta has the knack of getting down to the truth of the matter and solving the matter outright. It turns out that the 14 year old was killed by a serial killer. Though there is no evidence to trace the killer, Scarpetta eventually finds her way out.

It is a very well crafted detective-thriller with action taking place in South Florida, Richmond, Virginia and Aspen. The clues are haywire but the way in which Scarpetta connects the dots is commendable. I enjoyed the whole plot and the fine writing skills of Cornwell.

Read it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “R” Is For Ricochet By Sue Grafton

“R” Is For Ricochet

By Sue Grafton

I don’t know what to say about this one. Grafton has delivered stupendous work in the past (and hopefully will keep doing so) but R for Ricochet got a bit messed up I believe. There is a bit too much going on in here – and it is not all that captivating.

Santa Teresa detective Kinsey is hired by a wealthy man Nord Lafferty to drive his daughter (Reba) home from prison.

Reba has been a brat – a spoilt child. Now that she is released, her father is concerned and wants her to stay away from trouble. She had committed a fraud and admitted the crime, for which the judge had given her a four year sentence, but she is released early for good behavior.

Kinsey and Reba talk, share stuff and crib together and of course become friends.

Reba admits to her gambling habits. She promises her parole officer she would stay off gambling and drinking during her parole time.

Kinsey takes Reba for dinner that evening where they bump into Reba’s ex-employer Alan Beck. Kinsey realizes this is a set up. Beck was the one who put Reba in the prison in the first place. She pretends to leave but hides and watches Reba and Beck making love in the backseat of Beck’s car.

Reba wants to elope with Beck but the cops are closing in on Beck for some money laundering stunt.

Kinsey’s baby-sitting task turns out to be a bit more complex – like her other cases.

A fed agent visits Kinsey and wants her to convince Reba to turn witness for the FBI and put Beck behind the bars for all his hideous acts. He even has photographs of Beck in bed with another woman.

Reba decides to avenge herself (after seeing the proofs) but the feds want things their way. Kinsey to tries to coax Reba to listen to the authorities before things go out of control and she is put back into the prison.

This suspense-thriller, set in the 80’s, lacks the usual action. Not to say there is none – but I liked the earlier series better. This one has many predictable parts. The characters have been etched fine and you do end up caring for Reba. She is fun, reckless and seems hopelessly in love. Kinsey is more mature and serious and also gains a love interest in this one.

But there was no fun in knowing about Kinsey’s old landlord/neighbour’s love interest; or his brother’s case; etc.

Read it only if you have bought the book. Else skip it – no loss.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “The Defector” By Daniel Silva

The Defector

By Daniel Silva

 

The Defector looks like Silva’s best and strongest work in the action/adventure genre.

Gabriel Allon – a tough (yet sympathetic) art restorer and preeminent Israeli secret agent, is sent on a secret mission – to get back a man he previously rescued, who is now kidnapped by a Russian arms dealer.

First time readers of Silva’s work will have no trouble catching up with the plot as there is enough background detail to illustrate the real motive of the actions of all the characters and the plot.

The author’s impeccable writing skills bring in a horde of suspense and thrill and unending excitement with splendid twists, keeping the pace of this multi-continent mission sleek and fast. The rich content and quality of the otherwise stereotypical Russian military show a new flavor of his writing and ideation.

Tension builds with every word. The plot is captivating and definitely thrilling.

Apt descriptions and believable plots/situations/characters make it a quick read for all of Silva’s fans. His brilliance in portraying emotions, motivation and appeal are simply aweinspiring.

The compelling political backgrounds; the complex yet charismatic character of Allon; the appealing characters; the links and revelation of plots – sometimes seem predictable but they still seem better off than many other thrillers provided by other authors.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews