Tag Archives: entertaining

Book Review of “The Other Side of the Table” by Madhumita Mukherjee

The Other Side of the Table
By
Madhumita Mukerjee

The other side of the table

The other side of the table

When the book arrived, I was overtly excited to begin reading, given its soothing cover page and quite an appealing format (letters).

The book format quite unusual for a debut writer – in the form of letters, exchanged between two friends – Abhimanyu and Uma.

Spanning almost a decade, the letters reflect the friendship (and eventually the love) shared by the two protagonists. Uma is about 10 years younger to Abhi and is studying medicine in Calcutta, while Abhi is a practicing surgeon in London.

The ten years of their lives, captured through the letters exchanged, make for decent read. With each letter exchanged, you peep a bit deeper in to their lives and discover more about their personalities and surroundings. Their experiences, their joys, their sorrows, the challenge faced, the hurdles overcome, the dreams cherished and the ambitions brewed.

The format definitely is new and gripping but the language got me a little disinterested.

Given the fact that I can’t get myself to put a book down once I begin reading, saw me struggle through certain portions.

There were places where the language was overtly sweet, as if Abhi was trying to “impress” Uma. I personally do not like “sweet talk” or as you say “buttering-up”- for as far as I know, no one in the real world indulges in such verbose as used in the letters. No wonder I was immensely turned off to the extent of wondering if such people do still exist (and if they do, please steer clear of me!)

I agree that the premise of the story, though ordinary, does have a grip. I appreciate the fact that the author did not use medical terminology extensively at the risk of losing her readers. And the emotions, quite relatable, bring you closer to the protagonists.

Overall, it is a decent story of love, loss, friendship, overcoming difficulties and taking a stride in life to bring out the real you.

The story could have been more gripping, personally, had there been less of “jibber-jabber”.

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Book Review of “And God Made A Mistake” By Mohit Gupta

And God Made A Mistake
By Mohit Gupta

Let me begin by apologizing for not posting reviews for so long. Globe-trotting doesn’t leave me with much time to write online.

But none the less, here are a quick few reviews that I was supposed to post long back.

Mohit Gupta’s debut sci-fi novella lives up to quite a bit of our expectations.
The story of a scientist trying to figure out a way to achieve immortality by transferring knowledge and feelings from one brain to another (scientifically) got me hooked a few pages down the first chapter. And then it built a retreat of sorts for me to escape in to each night as I dreaded the end of the book.

Quite a riveting concept and ideation, with sound research it seems. Engrossing points in the book saw me admire the writing skills of the author, wondering how such thoughts of unimaginable consequences brewed in his mind. After 12 years when Ayaan traces the steps to reveal the truth behind the mystery and certain inferences, the climax gets more intriguing and fascinating.

Overall, this one was a pleasure to read.
If there is another off-beat writing spree the author wishes to embark up on- count me in to read that too!

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Book Review of “Sybil” By Flora Rheta Schreiber

Sybil

By Flora Rheta Schreiber

I don’t know where to begin from and what to write. What shocked me most was the ideation of the novel. The issue of child abuse, put in one of the most horrifying ways, makes this a difficult book to “just read” through.
The book is about split personalities (MPD- Multiple Personality Disorder) that is a by-product of child abuse essentially.

 

 

Sybil is said to be a true story based on one of the most severe cases of MPD and child abuse in history. It portrays sexual, physical and emotional abuse by the hands of a mentally disturbed mother. It reveals the different personalities living within one woman (Sybil), in the course of (about) twenty years of her life that the book spans. As clichéd as it may sound, the pain and horrid incidents reflected in the book are sure to send a chill down your spine.

In 1954, New York psychiatrist Cornelia Wilbur has a new client –a thin, nervous young woman complaining of unusual back outs. She speaks of losing time, fading in and out of consciousness over erratic time frames (sometimes hours, sometimes days). She speaks of finding herself in new cities and town, in clothes she never remembered buying. Dr. Wilbur takes her through a routine course of treatment until the day she meets “Vicky”- another personality inhabiting Sybil’s body. Dr. Wilbur realizes that Sybil is a case of MPD (an almost unheard of disorder back then) and she would have to dig deeper in to the case. Slowly about 16 personalities rise from within Sybil (including two male alters, Mike and Sid). The sophisticated Vicky was the “record keeper” of the selves, holding back the memories too painful for Sybil and the others to know. Peggy Lou was the repository of Sybil’s anger–defiant, belligerent, contemptuous of Sybil and terrified of breaking glass; Vanessa, a redhead with impressive musical talent. Some, like Ruthie, were barely more than toddlers mentally. It was the beginning of an emotionally exhausting eleven-year journey to make a fractured human being whole again.

The agony of a six (or seven) year old suffering from rape, and inexplicable, unnecessary forced enemas, and other forms of physical and sexual abuse compose the chilling tale. The torture ended only with Sybil’s death.

This by far is one of the most nerve wrenching reads of all time, for me. But a must have!

(Book Review by Sanjana Kapoor)

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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.

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On Chick-lits

I do not like chick-lits. Yes, you read that right (*looking at EvilDevil). I feel it is not really a genre, but simply the book description.
And I do not like chick-lits. At all.

Spattered with pink (eeuu!) and margaritas and martinis and cosmopolitans and lotions and stockings – rather than soaking in literary awards, or IQ for that matter, I’m surprised such books sell like hot cakes.

The image that pops in my head (when a book is termed as chick-lit) is that of mediocre quality writing, published with minimum editing, available in paperback at half the price, and is as easily forgotten as read.

What ever happened to the enriching content or highlighting an issue of concern?
Don’t get me wrong. Chick-lits are fun, if well crafted. But look at the quality of chick-lits being produced nowadays.
All they have is random “bold”-ness and a generous serving of sex, affairs, lusty and flirtatious men and women, gossip, gal pals, shopping, high heels, parties, diets, broken dreams, lucky breaks, and the clichéd jazz (happy sorta endings) that help in no way apart from wasting time.

Chick-lits were meant to show a woman’s point of view. Remember Rona Jaffe’s fast –paced, sassy tale of New York girls’ office life, “The Best Of Everything” that came out in 1958? No, I haven’t read it but during my research I did come across a lot of reviews of this book. And most of them did mention how “the book changed the lives of many readers” (yes, in a positive way)! Now that’s what you call a good chick-lit that is a real bestseller. The one that has an impact. And weren’t chick-lits aimed at (young) women to change their perspective for the good? What really happened to that funda?

And if you consider it to be a genre, I’m sorry to say it has really degraded and instead of dealing with the real problem/issues faced by women, it highlights the kind of lifestyle most women yearn for today. Obnoxious most of the time. And it’s all in the name of enjoyment and fun. Fine, there is nothing wrong in indulging in fun. But honey, can’t you pull up your socks and just think of a better name, if not the content!??!
All I ask you “budding writers” is to make some sense! Those “no-brainer” reads make it to the bestsellers list.
How, I have no idea!
Someone told me recently that chick-lits sell. It’s easier to find publishers for it. Not many publishers take their chances with serious content lest they lose face.
Ok, what? How???


It baffles me how each time someone blames the publisher(s) and walks away with a chick-lit. Now just because no one can really go (cross-) question the publisher, the argument ends there (forcibly).
I’ve met a couple of publishers during book fests and boy! Are they serious about their work or what! Name “chick-lits” that have won any awards. You won’t find many. Right. Because they have no invigorating content!!!

To add more misery are your ‘telly series’ (like Sex and the City) that makes young women think they too can write a shoddy articles about their lifestyle in the metro as a single girl and garner accolades. Accolades of shame I say.

And what’s with the pink cover! Really!!! Or cup cakes or cherries or hearts or suggestive silhouettes of women. All marketing gimmicks eh? Here’s a secret ladies – when you do that, no matter how good the content is, you definitely are losing out on certain readers. Because we are going to assume (and sorry about that –once bitten twice shy) that the inside would be as girly, uninteresting, formulaic and mundane as the cover.
Wise men have suggested that books furnish a house. But looking at the books on the shelves of major bookstores I don’t think I wish to furnish my room with the sickly pinks or sugar spewing, atrocious thin tomes.

And oh yes, the plot seems to be written for the dim-wits. An ordinary story, with no great characterization or depth or meaning what-so-ever, to mock the readers and their IQ. And there is no real humor. It is all forced/fake and non-existent. Don’t even get me started on the predictable endings. FYI “Happily ever after” is a myth.
Again, and I’m not defending myself here, there have been works by seasoned authors that count as really good chick-lits. But my grudge is against the new-age silly chicks who really think they can compile and compose a novella, when in reality they can hardly frame a sentence, or make sense.

I’ve read some of Sophie KinsellaMarian KeyesHelen Fielding and Janet Evanovich who’ve whipped up delicious chick-lits to savor. Yes, not all their work is good. But they are naturally humorous and entertaining, with sometimes a hidden agenda being addressed.
I recently heard people all over celebrated May 2011 as the inauguralInternational Chick-lit Month. Wow! I wish people attended that to learn more about crafting good stories rather than jotting clichéd routines and self-proclaim them as best-sellers!

*All views expressed in the blogs are of the writer (Sanjana Kapoor) alone and do not reflect the views of Sonia in any manner.


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Book Review of “The Itch You Can’t Scratch” by Sumit Kumar

The Itch You Can’t Scratch

Sumit Kumar



The blurb on the book read:

A Former Writer For Savita Bhabhi, Sumit Kumar Takes The Reader Through His Short But Eventful Life. From The Absurd To The Comical, From Mundane Activities To Mind Blowing Realizations, From Entrepreneurship To Embarrassment. This Is A Self Effacing, Honest View Of The Life Of A Young, Confused Man Suffering From An Acute Case of The Itch You Can’t Scratch.

And rightfully so this book offers all that and much more. Maybe even an itch to read more from Sumit Kumar.

Insanely and extremely funny, witty, quirky, and highly captivating, this book gives a whole new outlook and meaning to “comics” in India. No one can escape Sumit’s radar – not even Sumit himself. Simple plots, tight satire, sarcasm to its max – what more could you ask for!?!

The content, the graphics and the presentation –awesome!

The ideation and the thought behind it all – Legend…wait for it…Ary!!!

It’s expensive no doubt. But then who said humor is cheap.

Go for it. It’s totally worth the money.

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Book Review of “The 9th Judgment” By James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

The 9th Judgment

By James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Well, this one is a fast paced entertainer. It delivers a generous dose of mystery, shock, awe, suspense and excitement – till the last page. Patterson and Paetro’s lethal combination (of writing and visualizing skills) surely captivates attention and definitely all nerves!

The story shows Detective Lindsey Boxer and her partner, Rich Conklin, working on two cases – a female cat burglar (Hello Kitty) robbing the city’s celebrities of their jewels; and a sadist, ruthless, psycho, serial killer (Lipstick Killer) targeting mothers and their children and callously killing both.

The characterization of Claire, Cindy, and Yuki are well rounded and realistic. They come across as the smart, brave, sometimes arrogant, yet vulnerable lot.

Certain sections of the story seemed predictable, since Patterson has a peculiar style of depicting mysteries.

But the climax of the two contrasting cases comes loaded with an ironic twist.

The gripping tale and acute detailing of events and the horrendous crime shuns its readers from putting it down until the very last word.

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