Tag Archive | blogadda

Kurukshetra- Aryavarta Chronicles 3 : Krishna Udayasankar

Disclaimer:  Forced review. The real one will happen later.

Ok. I hate Blogadda for doing this to me. It is like giving me a nice cup of steaming hot coffee and then asking me to gulp it down in one minute and tell them how it tasted. I burnt my tongue. Yeah.

I know, when I signed up for this Book Reviews thingy, I know that I agreed to the terms and conditions and that I must keep my word and finish the review within 7 days of receiving the book. But I think it is unfair to both the reader and the author if you have Blogadda breathing down your neck and nagging you with reminders (bordering threats: ‘ you won’t be selected next time’ ) asking you to review the book. I have half a mind to send a cheque for Rs.350 and tell them to go to hell and let me read and enjoy this book at my own pace. Being a Mahabarata junkie, this book is exactly what the doctor prescribed to help me get out of my reader’s block. But because of all that Blogadda pestering, I picked it up with the same resentment I used to pick up my civics text book a day before the social studies exam, and said to myself ‘Let’s get this damn thing done with’

Maybe because it is the third of the Trilogy and my OCD kept telling me that I should have read the first two books first, I found it a bit difficult to comfortably settle into the book. And then, I found it difficult to relate to familiar characters with new names and worse, characters with surnames. Sanjaya Galvwhatever, Govinda Shauri,  Partha, Pritha… It bugged me like anything. And don’t even get me started on the yog names like Dron and Dhrishtaydymn. Call him Drona in English ya. And then things like Secret Keepers and Firewrights and such felt very fantasy fiction types and it didn’t make things any better for me. Ok. But these are just the small things. Not important. After awhile, it got better and the pace picked up.

I loved the Abhimanyu-Uttara part, it was so, for the lack of a more descriptive word, cute ( and I mean cute in a good way). It makes me want to read a book solely from Abhimanyu’s point of view now. So was the role of Shikandin, a refreshing change after the recent Shikandhi book. Someone had recently coined the word Amished for this current trend of books that dumb down mythology. Thankfully, this book is  totally the opposite of Amished. It makes you think and look at the epic through a totally different set of eyes. While the war is not exactly my favourite part of the Mahabarata, it has been an excellent read so far. No, I haven’t finished the book yet. What I’ve written so far are just a few thoughts based on what I’ve read until now. Maybe I’ll sit this weekend and finish it, maybe I won’t. This isn’t a book that can be read in one sitting or two. It is gripping, it is something that will keep you up all night. But I want to read it at my own pace, because this is the Mahabharata narrated in a way I’ve never read before. I don’t want to rush through it and skim past. I want to savour it and enjoy it. Bully me all you want, Blogadda. And I’m not applying for any more free phenyl from you after this.

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

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7 Secrets of the Goddess: Devdutt Pattanaik- 54/52

Godesses 101

I’ve never had the opportunity to sit at a grandmother’s feet and listen to stories; stories that I would have listened to in wide eyed wonder at the age of 5, stories that I would have listened to,rolling my eyes in unbelief, at the age of 10 and beyond. Devdutt Pattanaik takes the place of that grandmother in my life. I think he is the only person who can actually get me to sit through a whole book on gods and Gods, goddesses and Goddesses, without waking up that mocking non-believing cynic in me. His books always make me see things from the larger perspective. Nothing is thrust in your face and it is upto you to interpret things the way you want to. And while this book isn’t exactly a page turner, it is an extremely interesting read. I wish I had this book in an e format for easy reference because this is a book that I will revisit again and again , maybe to pick up a tidbit to win an argument or just to reread a story so that I can look at some tradition through less judgmental eyes.

The book starts off with Gaia, but that section somehow felt obligatory. It felt like it was just added to make this book more ‘inclusive’. But once we move on to ‘our’ goddesses, it is familiar territory again and the book picks up speed. Again, these are all familiar stories that we’ve heard over the years, but they are put into neat logical sections. The wild Kali vs the domesticated Gauri. The richposh Lakshmi vs the humble Saraswati. The pure women gods vs Vitthai. The book explores the playful side, the sensual side, the generous side, the benevolent side and the angry side of those women who were created by the gods,  those women who married the gods, those women who gave birth to the gods, those women who are the actual gods. The subtext of the whole book is that Goddesses rule. They are the mothers, the consorts, the sisters. They are the ones who keep the Man Gods under control, the Man Gods who come running to them for help in times of trouble.

I somehow didn’t like the huge font, it made the book seem childish. Also, the pictures on every single facing page seemed a bit distracting. I had to read the text first and then revisit the whole book to study the pictures. It wasn’t possible to do both without breaking the flow. Though every single one of those pictures had a whole story of their own to tell, I somehow couldn’t multitask. And since there was so much, so many names, stories and references, it did need a bit of concentration to keep up.

In a country where the Goddess has so many names, so many faces, so many temples, so many forms, this book should be made mandatory reading. And after this book, I have the urge to watch some of those numerous Amman movies that were a thing in Tamil cinema some years ago.

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

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!

The Rise of the Sun Prince- Shubha Vilas :46/52

Another Ramayana.

I’ve never been much of a Ramayana fan. I’ve read several versions right from ACK to Devdutt Pattanaik’s Sita and The Book of Ram. Asura too, if it can be counted as a ‘version’ of the book. But somehow The Ramayana has never fascinated me as much as The Mahabarata. Maybe because it is too goody-goody for my liking.

This version is a seven part series (phew!) and this book is just part one. So the narration is detailed and unhurried. Unhurried, but fast paced because I finished the book in two longish sittings on the train while going on my holiday and getting back. It starts off right from the very beginning with how Valmiki got recruited into writing the Ramayana with the background story of his transition from Ratnakar to Valmiki.

This is the Balakanda section and the real hero here is Vishwamitra rather than Rama. But ofcourse, Rama overshadows everything and everyone as he is meant to. Tadakka is killed, Ahalya is ‘restored’, Subahu is burnt to ashes, Maricha is sent flying 800 miles away. Vishwamitra tells the boys stories about Ganga and other rivers and his and their ancestors. Mantras and weapons are shared, wisdom passed on. Moral science lessons are imparted. Rama, of course, is so good and obedient that it almost hurts. Gaah. If a god is born human he should exhibit some human characteristics. A couple of shades of grey won’t hurt, Rama. Lakshmana is just a faint shadow, he does nothing much in this book other than stop a baby Rama from crying.  Ravana and his family get their due mention. Still fresh in my memory as the ‘good’ people from Asura, they are once again painted with that black tar brush here. Dasaratha is the scaredy cat who keeps marrying women to avoid a Kshatriya hating rishi from destroying him. 353 wives and no sons. Serves him right for giving away his only daughter. (Again, Shanta is fresh in my memory after I watched Vaisali last week and read up more about her)

I’ve always been a sceptical semi believer and so I read this book as mythological fiction rather than as The Ramayana. And since I didn’t read it with any reverence, I found the capitalizing of letters when referring to Rama and Sita distracting. This book is pure prose, simple prose and so I felt that the gushy descriptions of  the beauty of Rama and Sita were bit funny and out of place. Moon, sun, lotus blossom beauty. All this works better in poetry or poetic prose. So were the exaggerations such as Ayodhya having twenty million palaces and a moat so large that clouds mistook it for the ocean.  And referring to Dasaratha’s council of ministers the Big-M was simply hilarious.

The footnotes on every page were extremely distracting  and so I stopped reading them after a point. Again, I am forced to draw comparisons to Devdutt Pattanaik’s style of afternotes in each chapter. I prefer trivia tidbits rather than blah in the footnotes. And moral lessons and rules to improve the quality of my life? I’ll give that a pass please.

But yes, I enjoyed the book a lot. Nothing new here, but it was a good read. I’m not eagerly looking forward to the next six parts, but when they’re out, I will most certainly read them. ( Also, there’s some rule and order in which The Ramayana should be read. And if you start one kanda you just have to finish the rest or you’ll get seven rebirths of bad luck something.  I hope Shubha Vilas isn’t bringing bad luck to us)

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

The Deliberate Sinner- Bhaavna Arora: 42/52

A Woman’s Era short story in 150 pages.

You know those stories that appear in Woman’s Era? The forced language that seems to be thought-in-Hindi-written-in-English, the attitude of the characters, their names , the weak and disconnected plot, the confused protagonist, the attempted ‘modernity’. Everything in this book reminded me of Woman’s Era. But instead of having the kind of predictable ending those short stories usually have, this book follows the current trend of women breaking free from unhappy marriages. Yeah, that trend. Or maybe it reminded me of one of those never ending soaps that drag on pointlessly for years.

Rihanna is rich, happy, carefree. She has doting parents, a dog and her personal bodyguard-cum-driver-cum-Man Friday. She takes a solo trip to Thailand and Veer, the richhandsomehunk who happens to be sitting next to her also happens to be her friend Raj’s friend. Nothing more Veerwise happens during the trip. Then one day she meets Veer again at the swimming pool and he swims a hundred laps just to take her out for coffee. But instead of coffee, he proposes to her. That very evening she tells her parents about him and they get engaged. Huh? Is this to be categorized as a love marriage or the cliched love-cum-arranged marriage? Then she realises that Veer is not suitable for her, but instead of breaking the engagement and bringing shame to her family she finds solace in Raj, her friend who becomes her friend with benefits. But he is too dark complexioned for her to marry.He vanished from the plot after that and gets mentioned only once later. Blah blah and blah later Rihanna and Veer get married. When he plays a prank on her and stages a terrifying dacoity and almost rape (!) on the Gurgaon highway, she thinks nothing of it. But then as the days go by she realises that he is an insecure drunkard and a selfish jerk who refuses to give her pleasure in bed. Since the day they were married he has given her just three orgasms, something which she innocently reports to her aunt (!). Then he goes on and has an affair with a girl who called him a Tiger because he did it eleven times with her. Numbers. Blah blah and blah some more she leaves him and goes to Mumbai to stay with her uncle who is a Bollywood producer and becomes a fashion designer or something. Then a change of heart happens and she comes back to give him another chance. Then they fight, make up fight again. Then another character is suddenly introduced, a police officer Avinash.  And the predictable you-know-what happens and she is finally set free.

Let me be honest, I skimmed through this book. Everything was so repetitive and predictable that I know skipping sentences did not make me miss out on much. Blogadda sent the copy of the book signed by the author. ‘ Hate the sin, not the sinner’ she had written. I have no clue what the sin was or who the sinner was. So I’m playing it safe and not hating anything here. Not even hating the book. Because you can like or hate something only if you’re involved enough.

Verdict: Nah.

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

 

 

Sita’s Curse- Sreemoyee Piu Kundu: 29/52

She lost me at ‘Feminist Erotica’. And then I saw the promo video, the one with a woman eating a mango more sensuously than Katrina Kaif, and it got me curious. But if this is ‘feminism’, hand me my pink chaddis already.

Spoilers ahead. But hey, this is not the kind of book you read for the plot.

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‘After 15 years of a loveless marriage…’ it says. Love? Hah.

Meera. The ordinary girl from the village. The girl who starts off her sexual journey with incest, moves on to underage discovery, graduates to doing it with a stranger on a riverbank, experiments with another woman and finally gets into that supposedly loveless marriage.

The husband ofcourse is,well, inadequate.  Mohan, inconsistent wimpy creature that he is, tries hard. He really tries. He tries at home, he tries in a movie theater, he tries on the public road behind a parked car. He tries. He even calls her up in the middle of the day and has a very contrived, shudderworthy conversation describing various pieces of imported lingerie. The poor man.  He tries. But hello, what about love shove and all that.

In between the extremely graphic scenes a bit of story happens. And then she goes on to have Guruji sex, indulges in icky voyeurism ( thanks to the lustworthy brother-in-law and his wife), lots of self pleasuring and some more. And then some more. Wait. That’s not all. There is a rendezvous with the hot dance teacher neighbour and some cliched partying with classmates from her English class.

And finally she ushers in the internet era and discovers the pleasures of cyber sex using webcams in paid chatrooms. Oh, the book doesn’t disappoint. These scenes come complete with graphic chats with mumbailover (well researched, I assume ). And then that cataclysmic day finally happens with the earth shaking climax : A  gigolo who completes her search for whatever she is searching for. A godman, his assistant, a neighbour, cheesy classmates, chatrooms and a man who charges three thousand rupees per hour. What more can a woman trapped in a loveless marriage ask for? Seriously.

Yes, the book is not meant to titillate. It is meant to make you cringe. No, I’m not a prude. I’m so ‘modern’ that I was even disappointed with the level of erotica in the 50 Shades books. But this book is pure ick. I have no other words to describe it. Written in first person, it makes it even more icky. There’s so much of sex, that towards the end I skimmed through the scenes just to get to the damn story.

You know those sleazy websites like indian sax stories dot com ( how do I know? Puhleese). Those websites that have ‘true’ stories born out of suppressed fantasies and written in really bad grammar? This book is  like a compilation of all those stories, but with the grammar and spellings corrected. Complete with backless cholis and conveniently slipping pallus.

Sita. Where does she come in? I don’t know. She is plugged into the book in a few places, but I don’t understand the connection. Maybe I should read between the sheets. I have half a mind to call in the culturebrigade and outrage about misusing Sita’s name.

Verdict? Nope. I couldn’t digest it. But maybe you can.

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