Monthly Archives: March 2011

Book Review of “Love…A rather bad idea…all it gives is a lousy hangover” By Anirban Mukherjee

Love…A rather bad idea…all it gives is a lousy hangover

By Anirban Mukherjee

 

Yet another IITian’s well crafted verbose.

The title itself aims at giving you the crux of the whole story but after you read it, the wee bit of disparity lingers. You might get an impression that the book is more about love and the hangover that follows. But interestingly, there is more to it than just the “love”. It is a mélange of feelings and relationships. Friendship, politics, inter-personal relationships with hints of betrayal, deception, misunderstandings and the sorts.

Of course, humor prevails. The book is pretty much gripping. It is difficult to put it down until the very end. What I found most appealing were the titles for each chapter/section. Very well selected and apt.

The language is fervent but at the same time pretty casual. Typical guy behavior reflects in every line.

The character sketches are done fantastically. Be it the buddies- Samar, Skimpy, Pranav, Jiya, Natasha, Rohan, or their seniors Yadav, Tej etc.

The incidents and situations are absolutely relatable. Especially for hostelites. Anirban’s take on drugs, love, college politics, family, friends, the dean, the rat race, etc are a clean sweep!

This one is totally worth a read!

 

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Book Review of “Long Lost” By Harlan Coben

Long Lost

By Harlan Coben

 

I’d say this is a mediocre attempt of Coben.

The plot is not as gripping as his first book.

Myron Bolitar, shown in a sad/dark light, is a sports agent. He receives an unexpected call from his ex-girlfriend (Teresa Collins) from Paris and on reaching he finds himself involved in solving the murder mystery of Collin’s ex-husband and spots a blond girl who resembles Collin’s daughter (who apparently had died in a car accident earlier). Myron and Win start investigating and undergo a series of torture revolving around the implausible plot.

Myron’s bright character seems to have dipped strikingly in this one.

At places the plot seems interesting, only to dip again. Quirky dialogues and decent amount of action make it a one-time read.

 

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Book Review of “Knockout” by Catherine Coulter

Knockout

By Catherine Coulter

 

Alright…this one seems like a mixed bag. At some points the story grips you like never before and at some points it dips to the depths of an unknown shoddy valley.

The way the characters developed in the earlier series was intriguing – but now they just seem stuck.

The story begins with FBI Agent Dillon Savich stopping a bank robbery and ends up killing the leader of the gang. The daughter (of the leader) then vows to seek revenge and goes on a killing rampage.

Dillon gets a telepathic message from a seven year old girl, Autumn who thinks of Dillon as a hero. Autumn desperately wishes to save her mom and herself from her father’s relatives who wish to make use of her “super talents” to augment their power and their paranormal cult.

There is a bit of excitement, drama, action and suspense with a tinge of humor, but delivered in potions that keep running out soon. Both the plots are managed well but lack of chemistry and characterization make it weak.

It is gripping enough to keep you hooked but Coulter could’ve done a better job.

 

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Book Review of “Cross Country” By James Patterson

Cross Country

By James Patterson

 

A thriller by James Patterson featuring the forensic detective Alex Cross.

 

The plot revolves around the cold-blooded murder of Ellie Cox (Alex’s friend / first real love) and her family by a criminal known as “Tiger”. Many people are brutally murdered by this horrendous person and Cross takes it upon him to catch “Tiger” and deliver justice to Ellie and others murdered by him. His quest lands him in Africa.

The grim reality of this new country though depicted well (to a certain extent) is very graphic in nature. The corrupt government officials in Nigeria arrest, jail and torture Alex for three days before the CIA can come to his rescue. He witnesses some of the most horrible situations and conditions of the people of Africa, far beyond anyone’s imagination. The dire situation in Darfur and the diamond mines of Sierra Leone are boldly portrayed by the author.

Though Alex comes across as smart detective in most of his books, in this one it feels like he walks into lame situations without giving it any thought. How did he simply fly over to Africa tracing a murderer without any political or government assistance?! Why does he end up landing his family into trouble and pain?

The gruesome murders, the contrived situations, and a loose and somewhat complicated plot did not satisfy me as a reader.

Patterson’s short chapters ending with a cliffhanger made it easier to finish the book but the poor action did not keep me engrossed like before.

 

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Book Review of “Black Ops” By W.E.B. Griffin

Black Ops

By W.E.B. Griffin

 


Though beginning with a slow start, this last part of the Presidential Agent series picks up its pace and thrill midway engaging in a fascinating plot till the very end.

But I could see more of low points in the story. There’s too much unnecessary detailing; strong opinions of Russian history that seem somewhat unimpressive; a bit of mindless love interest / sex that doesn’t lead anywhere; high action-packed-drama missing; and most importantly the interesting climax seemed to end too soon!

No doubt the book is well written and characters well etched, but it failed to satisfy me as a reader.

The only ray of hope or anticipation is what’s gonna come of Castillo’s future in the secret operations arena.

 

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An Indian Is, As An Indian Does…

 

We live in an interesting era. New-age Indian authors are on the rise. The market is flooding with authors churning out English books that revolve around campus fiction, contemporary fiction, murder mysteries, local everyday drama, and the commercial story sorts. They give an almost accurate picture of society as it exists today. The real and sometimes pretentious situations; the fictionally honest thoughts; and the simply elaborate settings gel remarkably to make up for fun breezy reads that (usually) are highly appreciated.
And adding awesomeness is the fact that Indian writers no longer write to impress the Western audiences / readers. They write for the masses of their own country. Hence the clichéd content, sometimes. But one of the highlights of their writing is the prolific use of “Hindi” or “Hinglish” or vernacular words /phrases that seem to register and appeal more to the readers.

A movement started by some of India’s renowned and elite authors has finely trickled down to the young authors who do complete justice to the language and its sense (and by that I mean maintain the boundaries of decency and not irk the reader).
Pick up any recent contemporary fiction offered in the last few years and you are sure to come across some of the most widely used terms. Bhagwan, Guru, jungle, chutney, bungalow, Namaste, pajamas, veranda, pundit, loot, bindaas, masala, curry, tandoor, Yoga, Mantra, Nirvana and many such every day terms no longer feel alien when seen used in an English statement.
And not just these. The liberal use of profanity too has occupied a prime spot in scripts nowadays. I don’t think anyone any longer thinks twice before using words like – saala, chor, chup, kamina, badmash, etc.

As I see it, it is a marriage of convenience. The graceful flow of a sentence beautified with the sprinkle of vernacular words that portray just the right feeling at the right time, at least to the Indian at heart. (As long as it doesn’t offend any specific language/nation/person.)
You know how satisfying it is to call someone “saala chor” than just “thief”! You can actually feel the emotion and the adrenaline rush associated with the statement.

Vernacular words seem to infuse a new life into the unadventurous simple language. It feels exotic, given the fact that India and our umpteen Indian languages are truly colorful in nature. It feels as if such generous borrowing from the Indian languages is only making the English language a bit richer. It is hard-hitting. It is effective. And it comes from the heart.

And talking about “Indianization” of words –it is a well known fact that we have proudly “chutnified” the language of the “firangis” by adding an English prefix or post fix to Indian words. Yes, that’s our beloved “Hinglish”.
If I remember right, Oxford included some eighty Indian words (including “Hinglish”) in its 11th Edition of the Concise Dictionary, recognizing the fact that the world’s third-largest English speaking community belongs to India. I’m sure constant use of other choicest words might earn them a place in the dictionary as well.

But that’s not all. Some authors indulge in literal translations (from the local dialect to English), bringing in humor to the most serious of situations. The generalized question tag (Isn’t it? Hai na? Kyu ji?); the repetitive words (take take, morning morning, madamji madamji, fast fast do); the local “lingo” (one-by-two chai, tiffin box, four –twenty (a thief/thug), band-baaja, naach-gaana) are some of the ways of making the situations more bright, cheerful and yes, close to your heart. It, after all, reflects the “Indian” character.

As someone rightly pointed out, the increased usage of Indian languages (words and phrases) is contributing significantly to changing the interface of the English language, adding spice, fun, color and variety to a truly global language. Perhaps the best is yet to come!
Till then I guess we are on the ‘write’ track folks. Just keep them, words, coming.

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Book Review of “The Lifeguard” By James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Lifeguard

By James Patterson and Andrew Gross

 

Let the name not fool you. This one does not have a straight-up “beachy” plot, but none-less-less good action.

This new thriller is filled with suspense and high tension “who-dunnit” guesses.
So we have Ned Kelly, a college graduate turned lifeguard/pool boy/handy man sorta guy at the Palm Beach. His father Frank Kelly is a small time criminal. And so are his friends Mickey, Bobby, Dee, and Barney.
Ned falls in love with a rich and beautiful “out of his league” girl Tess McAuliffe. He wants to give up his rotten ways to settle down with her.
His friends coax him to join them in one last heist, worth millions, so as to live a comfortable life with Tess.
It is supposed to be an easy job. All Ned has to do is trigger out several house alarms, as a distraction, while his friends steal the multi-million dollar worth art pieces from the mansion of Dennis Stratton.
But thins do not go as planned. The art pieces are not where they were supposed to be. They are double-crossed. All four end up being murdered. And Tess too. It seems like someone has framed Ned.
Ned flees to Boston, escaping the clutches of the cops, some criminals and of course the mastermind of the heist (Dr. Gachet).
Ned is soon caught by FBI agent, Ellie Shurtleff. But soon she too is almost convinced of his innocence and together they set out to nab the real criminals.

Though this one is quite fast paced and full of suspense, it does lack depth at some places. Ned seems to be forever sulking (initially). I wish there was more of Champs (the Aussie guy). There were some really silly instances portrayed (taking off car plates; trying to rob million dollar worth stuff with no artillery; etc).
The plot is decent, not an extra ordinary surprise ending. Lot many characters sometimes spoil the structure – but thankfully JP has managed to hold it, albeit missing the usual wit/humor. I don’t like JP co-authoring books. They tend to burn out soon.
Overall this one is worth a read.

 

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