Archive | September 2014

Private India- Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

This is an outsourced review

I got this book for review as as part of the Blogadda program, but since I was on holiday in my hometown, I gave them that address to deliver it to. But it reached late and I was back in Chennai by then. So I asked my mother to read it and review it for me. I’ll read when I get my hands on it next week.

Below are her reactions to this book

When she started reading it , she sent me this text message ‘ The book is light. Like Perry Mason or some Tamil detective stuff. Too early to tell yet’.

The next message said ‘ It is ok, but not all that exciting or anything‘.

It has been a week now and today she texts me this ‘ Not such a great one. Had all the sophisticated devices. A bunch of detectives. Murders. Politicians. Underworld. Policemen. Stuff. Not a non-putdownable book. I would not give it 25/100′

And another text ‘ If L or S take that book from my bookshelf and don’t return it I won’t feel sad or ask them to return it’ . L and S are serial borrowers who raid our bookshelf whenever they visit.

Ok. So she’s rated it out of 100. That’s not even 4/10. How many not stars is that out of five? Do the maths.

Maybe it is not fair on my part to post an outsourced review. So let me call it a guest blog post curated from text messages. Now that’s a new method of reviewing, right? And it gives a potential reader a basic picture of the book. And that picture is Meh.

But I’m doing this just because I promised to review it, come rain or shine. Blogadda shouldn’t give us such a strict deadline of 7 days to finish reading a book sent for review. And they even have strict wordcount rules and this review needs to be in 500 words or more.  I would like do do some shameless cheating and post what the blurb says and add the ISBN code and the Flipkart or Amazon link to this book. I actually did that, then deleted it. I’d rather increase wordcount with my own blah rather than someone else’s. So if you want to know what this book is about, do a Google search.

I haven’t read any of Ashwin Sanghi’s or James Patterson’s books before, so I have nothing to compare it with. A friend who also got the book  from the Blogadda program texted me that the book was ‘the worst’. So I’m not sure if I’m in a hurry to get my hands on it soon. To keep my conscience clean, I’ll most certainly  read this book. But not tomorrow, not this month. I want to end my 52 books challenge with  a biggie and I’m still deciding which one it will be. Also, I’m not logging all these light reads as part of the challenge. Sorry Blogadda, let me off easy this time. Please don’t stop sending me free books.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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That Tag

There’s this tag doing the rounds on Facebook. Top ten books that changed your life. I’m too cool to participate in Facebook tags. Also, most of my real life Facebook friends are more Like-and-Facebook-will-donate-one-dollar or Share-in-2-seconds-to -avoid-bad-luck or the Profound Quotes by Rumi and Gandhi sharing types. And on the other extreme I’m intimidated by some of the lists that I see. What if my top ten books are too plebeian for the book bourgeois and they judge me. Someone listed Dante’s Inferno on her list. I tried ten pages of that book after I read the more common-man Dan Brown’s Inferno and gave up in frustration. There’s a lot of Shakspeare also being listed. I wonder if they are being pretentious or they’ve read more Shakespeare than what was prescribed in school. Or maybe abridged versions are allowed on the List. Yes, they should be.  I don’t know the rules. Anyway. I wanted to list mine. This is in no particular order.

( Warning: Too many old blogposts linked here. Kindly adjust)

1. The God of Small Things- Arundhati Roy

People seem to either hate the book or love it.  But I’m tampering with the laws that lay down which book should be loved, and how. And how much. This gets its own blogpost soon. And so does She.

2. Gone with the Wind– Margaret Mitchell

The book has grown up with me. I read it from the perspective of someone new every time I read it. And it is like reading a whole new book each time

3. Animal Farm- George Orwell

This  should be the prescribed textbook in Commie School and should be read even before The Communist Manifesto. Absolute brilliance. And there’s no better way than this to have called Stalin a pig.

4. Nancy Drew- Carolyn Keene

A part of my childhood died when I learnt that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for a group of authors. But then there were some books that kept me up all night with a torch under the pillow and some books that were returned to VK Library, unread. Explains. But Nancy Drew made me write Detective against Ambition when everyone else was writing Doctor or Teacher, and prepare fingerprint kits with cellotape and talcum powder. Again, this gets a separate blogpost soon.

5. Dark Places- Gillian Flynn

It was a tie between this and Gone Girl, but Dark Places was deliciously dark cranberry flavoured bitter chocolate and it pipped the mind games of Gone Girl by one point. Protagonists who are nothing are really something.

6. The Mahabarata- By Anyone

From the ACK comic books to Prem Panicker’s tweets as @epicretold. Jaya, Palace of Illusions, Ajaya, Karna’s Wife. I’ve read almost every non-serious version of this book and still can’t get enough of it. And Karna. Sigh. Oh Karna.  Why isn’t someone writing Karna’s version of it? The closest we’ve got from Karna’s point of view is Dhalapathi. I want a book.

7. Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

The chapter with Jo getting her story published was in my fifth standard English textbook. And I’ve been hooked since then. I’ve read the book right from the baby version when I was ten to the actual unabridged version very recently. Beth doesn’t die in the baby version. And when she did, I felt exactly like Joey .  This too deserves a separate blogpost.

8. A Fine Balance– Rohinton Mistry

Read it very recently. I can’t imagine that I lost out on all that darkness and depression for so many years of my life.

9. The Illicit Happiness of Other People– Manu Joseph

This is popping up on a lot of lists. I’m still recovering from this book . I continue to pick up random passages every now and then and just relish them again

10. The Cuckold- Kiran Nagarkar

Strange how Krishna who spoke so much about Duty in the Gita encourages Meera to not do her duty as a wife. Ok, that’s my interpretation. But this book tells the tale from the Prince of Mewar’s point of view. The husband who lost his wife to a god.

 

Honourable Mentions. I thought I’ll have a difficult time listing my Books, but there are some more.

1. The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseni. He killed it with that Bollywood ending though.

2. The Diary of Anne Frank- Anne Frank. Because it is actually a happy book. Just set during a horrible time.

3. City of Joy- Dominique Lapierre. Priests, poverty, foreign doctors. Lepers, more lepers and even a leper wedding. Reality. What’s there not to like in this book.

4. Half of a Yellow Sun– Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.  I have no clue if the Nigerians still want it, but I wish for a Biafra someday. That’s the secessionist in me talking. Yeah. I’m like that.

5. The Ring and Message from Nam- Danielle Steel- Ouch. Danielle Steel. But yes, I romanticize wars. Or maybe I should read these two books again to see if I still feel the same way about them

6. As The Crow Flies- Jeffrey Archer. Such a pity that the guy who wrote this story of Charlie Trumper is now torturing us with The Clifton Chronicles

10. The Seige and The Betrayal– Helen Dunmore. Because Soviet Russia. Because World War II. Because dark, cold and depressing.

8. Crosswinds- Keepsake. My first series of books with the boy-girl covers. Clean American High School fun. Good old days when sex, booze and cigarettes were not a thing in young adult fiction.

9. Master of the Game- Sidney Sheldon. He’s not called a master storyteller for nothing. Maybe I was too young for it when I read it first. But it only kept getting better and better the second and the third time I read it. A book that keeps you reading through the night whenever you read it even though you know what is going to happen next.

10. Anthem- Ayn Rand.  Dystopian as dystopian can get.

Waah. I want to list some more now. But maybe I’ll do a list of popular books that I just don’t get.

What’s on your list?

 

The Associate- John Grisham :49/52

A poor man’s The Firm

John Grisham is my go to guy when I want an easy read that is not chicklit. Read this book somewhere in between a couple of heavy reads, but never got down to logging it in my list. Nothing to write home about, but it is one of those books that you can finish over the weekend.

An alleged rape video secretly filmed during his college days comes back to bite Kyle. He gets blackmailed into accepting a job that he is hesitant to because though it is lucrative, but against his ideals. The blackmailers want him to be the mole there and get hold of some confidential files related to some biggie defence deal. A nail biting, hmmm no, I can’t call it nail biting. A tight game of hide and seek and a murder later he manages to do the right thing. And lives happily ever after.

The best part of this book is that it leaves a loose end. I usually get irritated when a book ends without providing me with all the answers, but I liked the part that left me guessing in this one.

I’m a sucker for American legal stuff. Going by expertise in American law based on the legal dramas on TV and  all the John Grisham books I’ve read, I think they have the coolest legal system. Not the best, but the coolest. Like that old joke goes, I would love to go to America someday just to trip on the sidewalk and sue someone. And then retire comfortably.