Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Synopsis Garbage Beat

Laila is on the entertainment beat—a world where bitchy is sexy, and sexy is everything. Vain heroines, superstars with fragile egoes who get their ‘bad’ stories dropped by blackmailing editors, spirited item girls, prissy stars … To top it all, life in the newsroom is a series of deadline-driven bloopers till her tv life hits black. 
Adding to the mayhem is a madcap cast: sexy Bollywood journo-turned-hit item girl Latika; star-struck reporter Chiki, who is obsessed with a superstar; Nandu, the byline-swindler; award-winning super hack Indumati; and their razor sharp and hard to please editor Bunny.
Caught between her ambition to excel, a live-in boyfriend who feels ignored, and a super-intelligent and brilliant father who is ashamed of her career choice, Laila realizes that the life of an entertainment reporter is not the glamour ride she had expected … because, on the Garbage Beat, reporting is a harrowing, ball-crushing and back-breaking affair.
Some real love stories, some real heartbreaks, and some real tragedies.
But life as a reporter gets worse when she crosses powerful producers, has big fights with jealous reporters and adamant cameramen and makes bloopers galore.Its about how tv this very greedy god of the airwaves demands a new pound of flesh from her everyday.
Ten years of entertainment journalism. A lifetime of  being a manoranjan junkie. Richa 
believes that you should accept your most demented thoughts fears and fantasies. Born in Dehradun. Richa did her Masters in Chemistry from Miranda House, before she studied Journalism. Special Correspondent and TV Anchor Richa is currently Associate Editor, entertainment in a prominent news channel. She has extensively covered Hindi Cinema, Bollywood, Fashion and Art in several prominent national news channels and reported from Mumbai to Malaysia, Seoul to Simla, Johannesberg to Jodhpur, Pretoria to Punjab, Dubai to Delhi to Benaras,Goa, Agra, Ajmer,Kolkata,Nainital and counting. She has produced, anchored and reported for shows like Night Out, Bollywood Quiz show IDBI Sawaal India Ka, Glamour Show, Filmy Friday, Cinema India, Cinema Ke Sikander, Raat Baaki.

Mumbai Book Launch of Garbage Beat

Dear Mumbai Book Lovers

Here's an invite to a book launch you just wouldn't wanna miss!!

Kareena Kapoor will be launching Richa Lakhera's book Garbage Beat  today Sunday 23rd December at 4pm Venue details on the card!

Richa's book is a scandalous novel set in the big bad world of entertainment television.The highs and lows of entertainment reporting.

Do join in for the book launch and buy the book for a fun super pacy read!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Guest Review: Sexy at Sixty

Book Reviewed By : Dr. ShivaniKapoor
Author: Namita Jain

To my chagrin the book had nothing to do with a kinky story of a sixty year old couple. Sexy @ Sixty instead is a book on yoga, exercise and diet. If there is anything to do with the word sexy it is the author, Namita Jain, who is all of that at her age.

Once my disappointment of the book not being the one to satisfy my voyeuristic pallet was overcome, I started actually to enjoy the book. It is simple, and straight to the point- how to celebrate life at sixty. Many tips ranging from exercises to diet plans to feeling positive are offered by her. What catches your attention is the way she makes being slimmer and sexier simple and quick. In fact, those younger can pick it up too that is if you are a lazy bum who has been adding up the body meat. She doesn’t just suggest but also softly motivates you. If you are an exercise freak at 60 and eat measured quantity, read it nevertheless.

The author has specially chosen the common physical problems at sixty and touched upon the relevant solutions. Prostrate, menopause, arthritis and the likes are dealt with well.
Maybe it is a book you could keep for a chapter a day, chew on it and slowly inculcate. The exercises are more of a warm up sessions for those regular at gym, are easy to handle for specially for the very obese elders and for those lethargic few whose simple rule is- If I can’t reach it, I don’t need it.

Facts and figures (I meant the mathematical ones) add to the authenticity. Illustrations and tables make reading quick.

My rating: 2.5 of 5

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winners of the contest: When the Snow Melts

To make it a memorable 12-12-12 for the winners we chose to hold on to the names of the winners of our contest! We received many correct replies and the response to the contest was phenomenal. Thank you to all those who participated. Congratulations winners and better luck next time to the other participants.

Requesting all the winners to send their postal address with contact number to bookwelove at gmail dot com to enable us to send the book across as soon as possible:

Gunjan S
Vulcan Eager
Dr. Sharmila K
MM Roy
Shilpa Roy

Send us your address as soon as possible please!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When the Snow Melts: A Review and a contest!

I recently happened to read a book called When the Snow Melts by Vinod Joseph. The book is Vinod’s debut novel and must say it was a very interesting, fast paced read.  What surprises me is the low key or almost zilch promotions for the book by the publishers- seriously wonder why. It is a good read, well priced yet not many would have heard of the book. Also have a major bone to pick about the book cover! Anyway that’s the publisher and author’s call, but I am glad I chose to read the book.

So what is the book about? It is a racy thriller about espionage, spies , where everything is deceptive and trust is rare. The protagonist Ritwik Kumar is the Indian representative in an International intelligence gathering group named International Assessment Group. This group has intelligence agents from all over the world who are trying to pool in their information networks to help fight global terrorism. Ritwik who is battling his alcohol addiction ends up borrowing a lot of money and when IAG head General West gets to know of this, asks him to pay up within 15 days or lose his job. Finding himself isolated and cornered he finally decides to defect. To get out of the mess he is in, he ends up getting into a much bigger mess by defecting to terror network of Al-Qaeda. He realizes he doesn’t fit there either and its ideology is something he can never agree to.

Is it going to be such an easy task to switch loyalities? Would the members of Al-Qaeda trust him enough to let them know of what is going on in their organization? Will Ritwik be able to get out of the self created trouble he is in? It gets messier still when he starts falling in love with Nilofer, wife of one of the members of the Al-Qaeda team. In a hostile place where he can trust not a single soul is he setting himself up for the worse….

All in all a good read, nice plot and page turner of a read. For those who like to read such genres should give reading this book a try. Believe me it is worth your money.

What’s more our blog also gives you a chance to win an autographed copy of his book by answering 2 very very simple questions. We have 5 copies to give away. But remember the contest closes on 8/12/12. The rules: You need to be an Indian Resident above 18 years of age, Judges decision is final…Now for the questions:
A)      Who was the founder of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)?
B)      “Mossad” is Israel’s external intelligence agency. What’s the name of Israel’s internal intelligence agency?

So hurry and send us your answers to bookwelove(at)gmail(dot)com your time starts now!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guest Review: Land of the Well

Author: Sampurna Chattarji
Reviewed by: Madhulika Mitra 

Too many elements took away the story.
One book which I was totally looking forward to has disappointed me at quite a few places. The snippet behind the book increased my curiosity levels and made me feel that it would be a good read. Quickly getting to the main theme of the book, it’s about youngsters who are totally misguided by the idea of Death.
The story is set up in Goa, away from the fun and the frolic (surprised? It was off season in Goa), about a young lad who has just finished his 12th exams, brilliant but very protected by his parents. This youngster has a very sad story to share about not having friends ever, always being shielded by his mom and dad, no decision of his own. For a boy of his age where independence is everything, he was being caged. And when you are sad you are vulnerable. This is where the other characters of the story enter Goa and the story begins. And he who is in dire need of friends gives in everything to be in their gang.
For the first time in life he breaks away from his cage and demands to stay back in Goa for a few more days alone. The strength to take this stand comes from straight from his heart after he sees a pretty girl whom he gets attracted to from the very moment he sees her. But she is not alone. She comes with a group of friends very weird in their own ways but with even more weird names.
He does manage to stay back after his parents leave, finally gets to taste independence but everything comes with a price tag. So what price does he pay: something which really shook me off.   He meets them, gets their approval to be one among them, gets their appreciation but is all that for real or a very big trap he is unaware of. The book really held me till he narrates the story of “land of the well” but then the only constant term and feeling in the book was DEATH.
All these friends are traumatized scared and have almost stopped living their life because they are scared they would die someday. To be very honest I did not understand the book after a point, could be because it was beyond my understanding levels or because I always search stuff which I can relate to or a feel good/bad (this din feel anything-may be too mournful). There are a lot of crisscrossed love stories, lot of deaths and one murder or maybe not hidden in the story.
My advice: Pick up the book and try to finish it at one go. If not you might lose the flow.
After a point the book had a lot of repetitions of the same incidents, same characters and failed to leave a mark in my mind. I do not know which adjective I should associate with the book: Spiritual, philosophical, or morose.  It’s for you if you can associate to one of these attributes closely. I would not agree that it was a mystery or even if it was, it was not carried out properly.  A little lesser pages with a little more of suspense/proper story line would have done justice to the book.

Review: The Edge of Desire

Author: Tuhin Sinha
Reviewed by: Purvi Shah

The Edge of Desire is a story of a female, who is raped and that event shapes up her life as a politician, seemngly changing the future course of events for the country. The inspiration comes from the age old epic "Mahabharata" where  Draupadi's cheer haran lays the foundation for the battle. 

There are principally two kinds of writers. One , who start a story and shape is up as the heart goes or as the pen prevails, the others who outline a story, chart out the characters, frame the sequence and go by joining the dots. Essentially a difference between way of thinking, but the end product of this book, makes you think of the latter ones.

The two central characters, Shruti and Sharad seem to have a lot in common. They are both enigmatic public personalities with a drive to do something for the country. Both politicians with failed marriages, lonely and depicting shades of grey. Yet they do not have a clearly defined relationship. They are not friends, they do not fall in love, they are colleagues, yes. Tuhin Sinha tries to define their relationship making them the modern day Draupadi and Krishna of the Mahabharata, citing the example many a times comparing various turns of events in the story. Not very convincingly , though.

The story does not rise and fall, or has many , sorry any highs and lows, mostly revolving around the Indian political scenario in the 70's and 80's. Except for the rape of the central female character, which is pivotal in her joining Indian politics, the story moves on pretty much like a daily soap.

Also , an important aspect, I noticed throughout is that: There are descriptions of emotional turmoils Shruti faces many a times (but as would be clearly evident to any female reader) and  all of them, I repeat ALL of them are starkly from a male viewpoint. When the author has attempted so much research on politics, the Mahabharata, etc, he should have done a little homework on the female psyche, especially since the book is in the first person, a memoir of Shruti, and if a female cannot relate to the emotional punch at all....I don't know what to say.

On that note, I leave it  for the reader to figure out whether to like the book or not. Its a difficult one to label and very tough to review. I would give it a 5 on 10. A good read for the political minds, maybe...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Guest Review: Revolution 2.0

Author: Wael Ghonim
Reviewed by: Pinak Kapadia

Wael Ghonim became a famous name during the Arab spring last year, when his online activism helped change the role of Social Media in the real society, and the way his own country is governed, forever. His book Revolution 2.0 is a chronicle of those heady days in Egypt when the seemingly impossible suddenly became possible, and a dictator ruling for decades was deposed. The book reads like a fast paced thriller, or a news report, and is fun to read. This is precisely because it is a first person account, and Ghonim was very active during those days, in helping to depose Mubarak. 

The book starts off in the days before there was any indication that there was going to be any revolution. The Egyptian Secret Service, their dossiers on prominent people, and their methods of harassment are very interesting to know, and the author describes them well, since he was unfortunate to experience them himself. His description of an absolutely normal life with wife and kids, his anonymous online activism, and his days at work give us an insight of the man. But more than that, it makes you identify with him. Here is this person, who leads a normal life just like you and me, but hates tyranny. He is as far away from politics and activism as you and me. He is the typical computer geek ubiquitous these days across the world, and especially in India. The way his life changes, he changes as a person, finds a cause bigger than his own, and makes a difference to his country, is enough to inspire couch activists like me. Step by step, we can actually see the snowball that was the initial activism, turn into an actual avalanche of a revolution. Ghonim is right at the centre of the avalanche, and one of the persons who threw the first snowball.

The book is also a must read for those who want to understand the power of social media - facebook and twitter, in the current age. In India, we have a recent example of the Govt attempting to regulate social media and mass communications. The belief that it is as easy for rumours to spread through the social media as actual news, makes governments across the world wary of social media. But the same power is harnessed by Ghonim and other activists to unite people across the country. The fact remains, that it is much easier to be courageous in the virtual world than in the real world.The struggles of the author, to actually come out of the closet from being an anonymous poster, to someone whom people believed in, are something you and me can get inspired from. Ultimately, it requires a lot of bravery, and belief to stand up for what you believe, to give up our cloistered daily life, and become part of a revolution. Ghonim also describes his days in custody of the secret police really well. How would it suddenly feel to you, if the thing you want most, is just a bath and to feel clean? If a gift of undergarments by a police officer makes you grateful? Read this book for a real insight into the days of a normal person whose life turns upside down.

The revolution 2.0 starts from the social media, and ends up in Tahrir square. A million people gather on the streets, based on an idea conceived in an individual's mind. A dictator who believed himself invincible, is made to flee by the people. And all this starts with a single facebook group? That is the beauty of this story. You should read it to believe it.

Ghonim also conveys the power of a picture. How a single picture of torture is more effective than bland facts such as a 100 people injured. How the pictures can become viral and arouse emotions that no words could. How he was able to utilise this power of pictures. It also gives us an insight into the thinking of those in power. 

The negatives in this book? Well, Ghonim was under custody, and 'missing' during the action that took place in Tahrir square for the main fortnight. Credit to the author for not relying on hearsay, but we do not come to know in detail how the mass of people refusing to leave actually brought down a government. Maybe someone who was there in Tahrir square in those days will come out soon with another book to make up for this void.

Egypt in the arab spring, with its corruption, and its police losing respect, and the unemployment, and the government losing credibility, resembles India of today. Thankfully, we are a democracy, and there is no dictator to depose. But if anyone ever wants to believe that a group of people can bring about actual change, and that online media is just a medium of passing time, please recommend Revolution 2.0 to him. Even if you are in the mood of reading a thriller, you can read this book. It is a great read.

Guest Review: Opening Night

Author: Diksha Basu
Book reviewed by: Madhulika Mitra

Madhu Stars: 2.5/5

All human beings Rich or poor, black or white, have one thing in common, DREAMS. And it takes tremendous amount of passion to follow them, fulfill them and this journey to hug our desires defines our lifetime.

Opening Night might not say everything from its name, but it’s a journey of many lows and very few highs of our Lead character, Naiya Kapur.  She is an Indian, born and brought up in America. She has a comfortable, sheltered life with her father. Though not very studious, she bagged herself a job in a corporate, wore stylish clothes, but gradually her high heels and pencil skirt life got monotonous like all ours. And just like all of us, at a moment she ponders, “Was this is all I dreamed of? Am I supposed to this work all my life” And then she was bitten, in fact smitten by the Acting Bug. After performing for a small play in theatre, she felt this is what she was made for, and then as you all could have guessed, she packs her bags and ran away to mahanagari Mumbai, leaving her dreary, humdrum life behind. 

In Mumbai She met people, roamed aimlessly on streets of Bandra, fell in love, had a series of disappointments, but her roomies, jess and Dino, add a glow to her life.
 But will Naiya survive? Will her “Happily ever after “dreams come true? Will she ever have an opening Night? Or will she be bored again here in Mumbai and pack her bags back to her life in America? Grab a copy to know.

 I enjoyed the book given the Bollywood touch to it. It’s predictable at times, but still holds you.  One thing which stood out for me personally was the traditional culture which Naiya held to, she never fell into bed with every stranger she met, she took her dad’s advice, she knew what she had to do and never compromised on that, may be her dollars helped her as well. :)

Yes the book drags, and after a point you can guess that she would not make it at all, there is only disappointments and isolation.
But all in all, it’s a good pass time book, with very few moments which makes you stare at the page and think for a while. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: The Taj Conspiracy

Now here's a book I totally enjoyed reading! Move over Dan Brown, our very own desi lady Dan Brown is here. 

The book centers around the Taj Mahal as a conspiracy is afoot to create tensions between two faiths. Time is running out, death is knocking on the door and Mehrunissa Khosa, the protagonist in the book has to get to the bottom of this conspiracy else it will lead to chaos and clashes in the country.

Mehrunisa Khosa, a Mughal scholar stumbles on a controversy to destroy the Taj Mahal when she discovers the murder of the Taj supervisor inside the tomb, what she also notes are some changes made in the calligraphy at the tomb to suggest that the monument was of Hindu origin. 

Who is behind this conspiracy? What is the agenda? To save the Taj Mahal Mehrunisa has to not just overcome prejudiced police but also battle her inner demons that will lead her to the conspirator.

Though the book is a good read there are some places where one feels the author has excessively tried to maintain high intrigue when there is none. In case of the Islamic militants planning an attack just doesn't tie up at the end. Then the climax where the Home Minister, Prime Minister all are involved and the surging crowd scenario at the monument makes it laughable.

But all in all a good read, fast paced, edge of the seat kind of a read.

Review: Just Married, Please Excuse

Okay if you want to read a favourable review of this book, I'd suggest you skip reading this entire post right away since I do not have anything really great to say about the book. 

The story predictable, the characters more so, humour forced at many places. The story? A hip girl from the city meets a small town guy living in the city, love happens leading to marriage, all is hunky dory till baby arrives, but then all is well that ends well. Yes that's the story.

So yes during the romance phase we have the predictable fights, then when they choose to marry the mandatory meet the parents chapter, followed by the after marriage sequence, fights, where has all the love gone scenario.

Chetan Bhagat's 2 States seems to have inspired a lot many authors to write about their romance and marriages. But alas these book ends up reading the same facing more or less the same challenges everyone faces in their married life, leading to a bored to death reader. 

But then that is just my opinion. In case, such stories interest you please do read the book. It does end up being a light, breezy read.

Guest Review: The Evolution of Gods

Author: Ajay Kansal
Reviewed by : Reshmy Pillai

Did gods create mankind, or did mankind created gods?

The back cover screams this question at the reader with the preamble concluding that this book by Ajay Kansal deals with establishing the fact that anthropologies and histories lead to one conclusion - mankind created gods!

The writer starts off with a very arresting question in the preface – Why are there many religions but only one science on the earth and you would expect a atheist’s rant coming along in the next 200 odd pages. But he surprises with the balance and poise of his argument with never the book turning onto an anti-theist track. Ajay Kansal takes us along on the journey of the evolution of mankind from the nomadic human to the agriculturist to the social animal by tracing his religious evolution.

He tells us that the religious journey of man began right in his nomadic days with abundant mysteries of nature boggling him scared like night, animals, pregnancy, ghosts, etc. This fear of man gave birth to the concept of a superhuman somewhere with immense powers – the very concept of god. Nomadic man began worshipping the things that relived him from his fears – Fire, Sun and Sky and thus began nature worship. Later with him turning to agriculture the fear of food scarcity came in and with it developed the fertility cult – the worship of the goddess. Agriculture led to settlements that led to diseases, which proved another mystery for human minds, and up came the concept of a punishing god – The Yahweh of Judaism. The beliefs were prominent that diseases are punishments from the super power and ways to please the punishing god were sort out which led to the barbaric practice to sacrifices – human and animal. With the punishment culture settling in, came the problems of cruelty, injustice and exploitation which it required some relief. This requirement of mankind gets fulfilled in the form of a kind merciful god – Jesus of Christianity. While this was the story of the western side of the globe the eastern side too underwent similar change patterns with fire, sky and sun worships being followed in the name of yagnas leading to only affluent strata’s of the society understanding worships and gods. The need was simplification of religion and a prince-turned-ascetic is the answer – Buddha of Buddhism. With a major part of the population understanding and following Buddhism the priests of the earlier practiced religion of the land – Hinduism revamp the teachings to revolve around thousands of gods and millions of folklores about the gods getting it back to be the favorite of the people.     

Ajay Kansal has written an excellent book about the religious evolution of mankind filled with historical facts and scientific proofs. There is hardly any invalid talk that is not supported by hard facts concerning the discussion. Be it the proof of first human burials at Skhul caves in Israel or talk of a solar cult, with the Stonehenge in England as a proof of its existence, he talks in facts. While he talks about the temple snake healers in Greece, he also questions on why only domesticated animals like bull or goat were offered to the gods in sacrifice by priests; why not a tiger? He challenges the reader to question beliefs and rituals not for the faith but for their authenticity and need.

A work that talks so well based on facts is weakened some what in narration by the writer’s continuous projection of priests of every religion, in every era as clever self-centered beings who created gods, rituals, traditions etc. for more selfish reasons than social ones. Also the writer being a doctor and Hindu unwittingly emphasizes more on the chapters dealing with diseases and Hinduism, which form the two longest chapters in the book while an equal depth in other areas is missing.

Not one of the best books on the subject but a very decent one for overall understanding of Religious Evolution of Mankind which moved from new problems to new gods to new religions. It’s a 3 on 5 for me.

Happy Reading.

(Reshmy loves stories and books that tell those stories, corporate slave by the day, obsessed reader, writer and reviewer by any other time available. She blogs at and tweets @ReshmyPillai )

Guest Review: The Purple Line

Two new reviewers have joined our book review programme! The Book Lovers welcomes Reshmy Pillai and Pooja Dave to the book lovers gang! 

Author: Priyamvada N. Purushotham
Reviewed by: Pooja Dave

Rating: 9/10

Priyamvada’s debut novel, The Purple Line, delves into womanhood and explores the significance& intricacies revolving around the elusive “Purple Line” that symbolises Pregnancy....

It’s the era of Star Wars & Tennessee Williams & the place is Madras - 1982 (before it morphed into Chennai), where Mrinalini, a typical teenager, is besotted by poetry & finds solace in the literary world. She breezes past from one vocation to another like a running train as her heart makes journey stops on each. But then puberty hits & the hormonal changes conduced by her pubescence bestir her dormant Tam Brahm genes & in a moment of epiphany, she finally realizes that she wants to be a gynaecologist...Mrinalini then sets on a journey that makes her laugh, cry & teaches her the true meaning of womanhood...

Fast forward to the year 2000, where Mrinalini is now a Gynaecologist with a Masters from London. She returns back to Chennai to set up a clinic in her ancestral home...As a gynaecologist, Mrinalini encounters motley of characters in her patients everyday but six of Mrinalini’s patients instantaneously strike the chord. This is Mrinalini’s story & the story of these six women whose lives are unknowingly linked together like fibres braided in a rope..

First there is Zubeida, a typical burqa clad muslim woman, whose entire existence engulfs everything that encompasses womanhood. Zubeida has four boys & yet she yearns for a girl because she firmly believes that only a girl will be the absolute redemption of her motherhood. Zubeida wants to be that ideal mother for her daughter, a mother that she never had & always craved for. She finds solace in watching movies with her neighbour while pining for a girl but then one incident changes her entire way of existence..

Then there is Megha, wed in a heavily patriarchal Marwadi family where having a son is a quintessential status quo.. Needless to say Megha desperately wants a boy, a boy who will lift her entire state of beingness to a higher stratum.. For Megha, a mother of three daughters, delivering a boy to the family is her only way of achieving salvation but then it she realises that it takes a one broken heart to heal another...

Leela is like a Shakespearean sonnet, who is unblemished & always so perfect that wherever she goes she leaves behind a trail of immaculateness. On an first impression to any outsider, like Mrinalini - Leela’s world would seem picture perfect like those in fairy tales but as you move closer, you would see the cracks in the otherwise impeccable wall...But Leela never let the cracks run deeper & in her quest she never experimented, nor explored and never fell down to fit the pieces of herself back together...

Pooja, the 16 year old falls in love and slides headlong into the tunnel of a painful loneliness. She is bowled over by the Cricket Captain of her school team and ends up being pregnant. She comes to the clinic to abort the child but as she does so she learns to embrace a brave new world...

Tulsi, an art director, has been trying to make a kid with her husband Dhruv for 3 years but without any results. She follows her ovulation cycles meticulously but as she goes on & on the method loses its rhythm and the passion seems to seep out from her unfertile efforts. Tulsi is an artist waiting in the wings and ultimately a time comes when she realises what she truly wants & what she can have.

Anjolie is a performance artist who has the capability to breathe life even into a sleepy consultation room by her mere presence. She is a fading artist who has mastered her emotions & conquered her fears but when her time comes she must know that it takes two sounds to make a heartbeat...

This is a beautifully crafted tale that explores the various convolutions of a female mind and reveals the vulnerability of women along with their dreams. The plot narrates seven different stories including Mrinalini’s own tangled tale of love but they flow seamlessly into one another be it  Zubeida’s tale ending on a delicious note or Megha’s desperation for her own selfish interests or the abrupt ending of Leela’s tale. The writing is sensous, vibrant & audacious but not brassy. The Another high point is the aesthetic way in which the author has highlighted realistic stories like teen pregnancy or the unwantedness of a girl child... A must read for every woman!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Guest Review: The Last Kestrel

Author: Jill McGivering
Reviewed by: Vishal Kale

·         Ellen Thomas: News Correspondent; doughty, tough; never-say-die; a person without any prejudice; responsible and sensitive…
·         Hasina: A Mother…
·         Major Mack: Can be called the quintessential commanding officer… except that he cares too much for his boys and their welfare…
·         Jalil: An Honest Afghan translator who got caught in the middle
·         Najib: Jalil’s reluctant but hionest friend
·         Aref: Hasina’s son; wounded and dying; a picture of a tragic nation….

Ellen Thomas is a news correspondent on the hunt for the killers of her translator Jalil; her 10-year association with Jalil and his family lead her to the conclusion that the truth lies elsewhere. In pursuit of this, she lands near the place where Jalil was killed, with the same unit – a bunch of young, inexperienced British soldiers led by a very likable and competent Major. She get a chance to cover an attack on a Talibani stronghold by the military, where she comes face to face with the people caught in between the Taliban and the British., an experience which jars her to the core of her existence. Simultaneously, Hasina is a mother – nothing more, nothing less. Her son has been led astray by his uncle into the deadly folds of local fighters. He comes home mortally wounded; at this point, the mother steps in with a will to do anything to save her son from both the Taliban and the British.
There is little trust between these two women when they inevitably meet; their respective agenda are different and mutually exclusive. While Ellen is primarily interested in uncovering Jalil’s death, the mother is only interested in saving her son. To complicate matters further, there is a history of violence coming in the way. Not only that, neither can understand a word of the others’ language – nor is there any trust. Yet, they are thrown together – being the only 2 women in the camp… Why was Jalil killed? Was it because he was close to the british? Or was Jalil a traitor? What Happens to Aref? What is the link between Aref and Jalil – or is there no link?

Much has been said about the power of the written word, of its capability to educate, elucidate, clarify, aid memory etcetera. All of the above are universally accepted and understood. But beyond all of these, it has also been stated that the properly written word can evoke memories, as also paint a vivid picture in your mind as you read the prose. This latter statement is also accepted as gospel by all: and it is this latter statement that describes this book!
A book that will jar you to the core of your being on 2 fronts: the first being the awesome power of its prose, which literally paints a moving picture in your mind as the story in the book plays out. Such is the stunning quality of the writing that you can picturise the entire story play out right in front of your eyes. You are held spellbound and riveted to the story. This its not  a small feat by any means; in fact, given the plot and its treatment, it is a feat that is very nearly unparalleled in my experience at least. I have never  read a more powerful piece of writing than this… I say this because the story and its flow is comparatively slow. The author manages to hold your attention through the sheer power of her writing!
The second front where the book bets you is your guts: it wrenches them from you, takes your breath away and leaves you in a state of suspension as you read the pages. This has nothing to do with the writing: it has everything to do with the content. The way the plight of the Afghan people has been laid out in front of your eyes is breathtaking. Wondrously, this is achieved not by an overdose of melodrama – but by forceful logic, pin-point observation and straightforward analysis. In other words, you don’t shed a tear, or feel like crying your eyes out. You don’t even feel disgust: you are left in a state of wonder combined with an indefinable sadness at their plight. 
There are no value judgements in the book; it shies away from either justification or explanations – or indeed solutions. It states things like they are. The characterizations to achieve this would have  to be limited to the bare essentials – which is precisely what they are. Each character has been developed only to the extent that is needed for the story to forward; there are no needless details or dilly-dallying of any sort anywhere in the book. All in all, a book you would want read again and again. I rate it 5 stars – in fact, I rate it to be among the best fiction novels I have ever read! 

Guest Review: Differential Diagnosis

Edited by Leah Kaminsky
Book Reviewed by: Vishal Kale 

Every once in a while you come across a book that redefines the very concept of reading; every once in a while you come across a book that makes you drop whatever you are doing and get absorbed; once in a while…. This is one of those books. A book with simple clean prose, an engaging writing style (especially considering its content), a book that leaves its mark on your memory, a book that takes you deep into the emotions of doctors – and yet is interesting to read as well as fast paced! A book written by doctors – actual, practicing doctors: Atul Gawande, Sandeep Jauhar, Perri Klass, Robert Jay Lifton, Danielle Ofri…
You would expect to read boring repitive stuff; or perhaps great cases handled by these doctors; or maybe stories of that leave you depressed at the ugly aspect of life. You couldn’t be more wrong; you are treated instead to a veritable kaleidoscope of the colours of life – the entire spectrum of life. You will read about amazing and interesting incidents – simple things like the first operation of a would-be surgeon; the first intensive care ward rounds. The style of writing comes across as a total and pleasant surprise – in place of being dry and tactless, it is on the contrary very alive and full of blossom and emotion. Not what you would expect from doctors, to be totally honest!
The book itself is divided into 2 parts: non-fiction and fiction. The non-fiction part details stories like The Checklist which starts with an episode in intensive care, detailing the pressures faced by doctors, the tasks required to be done to take care of a patient… by the middle of this story, you begin to appreciate the difficulties and pressures of being a doctor, the endless decisions that must be taken on a routine basis. The story then moves on to the importance and the impact of something so simple as a checklist of tasks to be done. Wonder of wonders, the addition of a simple checklist can even save lives… this forces you to question yourself – if even lives can be saved by checklists – perhaps we should keep one for all our little tasks!
Another class story dwells on the experience of a doctor who has just lost his first patient – admirable well chronicled in The Beauty. A heart rending tale, dispassionately told, yet chronicled with intense feeling – it is a tale that takes you into the heart and mind of a doctor. You realize that these people are special, one of a kind: people who are trained to take decisions to save lives. When they cure a person, they are usually thanked by the family and the patient; but when the opposite happens, the doctor is all alone… alone with himself and his thoughts. He has to move on; he has no option to move on, for another patient is waiting for his healing hands…
The book is filled with such sensitive and class stories – like the amnesia case, or the Nazi Doctor Story; or the story of the lively but tough intern; or the haunting story of Joshua, a story that will touch the raw nerves of every parent who will read it! These are stories that take you into the mind of the doctors, into the myriad problems, emotions, tensions, successes, relationships and lives of the men and women who strive to keep us healthy. The people to whom we turn to in our hours of need; the people we entrust our lives with. You learn to appreciate the men and women behind the doctors’ masks, and to understand them better…

Guest Review: Micro

Reviewed by: Vishal Kale
Author: Michael Crichton

The Characters
·         Peter Janson: The born leader…
·         Karen King: tough, intelligent, independent, smart
·         Rick Hutter: constantly baits Karen, but is tough nonetheless
·         Eric Janson: Peter ‘s elder brother- a successful Executive at Nanigen
·         Vin Drake: The quintessential villain
·         Alyson Bender: The “halfway” sidekick!!!!
·         Dan Watanabe: Doughty Police Officer
·         Danny Minot: I, Me, Myself
·         Jarel Kinsky: Tricked, and trapped…
The Supportive Cast: Important nonetheless! Erika Moll, Amar Singh, Jenny Linn, Johnstone, Telius

The Plot
The story starts with 7 research students getting a visit from the elder brother of one among them. Through the efforts of the brother – Eric Janson – they get invited to a state of the art research lab for a visit. This lab specializes in Nanotechnology on a level and scale that is unprecedented. On the eve of the visit, Peter (Eric’s younger brother) receives an sms from Eric: “Don’t come”. To complicate matters, Eric in untraceable. Peter learns that Eric is assumed dead in a boating accident, and suspects foul play…
Peter’s attempts to prove that his brother had been murdered leads to a stunning discovery for the unfortunate students: that the technology being developed by Nanigen involves miniaturizing machines and humans to operate on a micro scale. The unfortunate students get trapped into being miniaturized. They subsequently manage to escape – straight into the rain forest. The rest of the story focuses on how the students- on a micro scale – fight the forces of nature as well as man in order to survive, to get back to real size and to prove that the death of Eric was a murder…

The Analysis
The book is worth a read, no doubt about that. It is reasonably fast paced, well written with attention to detail. It is a page turner that will keep your interest right through till the end of the book. However Crichton fans will notice a discernible change in the writing style from previous books. This book was started by Michael Crichton but completed by Richard Preston after the original author’s unfortunate demise. The question is whether the book is worth a buy? Yes, it is – it is a  well written book if taken on its own , fast-paced, interesting, on a science fiction base, without any glitches.
As regards character development, most characters have been reasonably well-developed. The principal characters have been decently fleshed out and outlined; the pace of the story does not leave much scope for further development. The supporting cast, while they have important functions in the story, do not merit further development in my opinion. In a story of this type, pace of the story has to take precedence. There are no obvious gaps or holes that I could spot. 
The part where the inch-high students fight for survival make for enthralling reading. You are constanty wondering how on earth are these students going to get out of this one? The treck through the jungle and its awesome scenes where the students fight creatures we take for granted, like caterpillars etc are riveting. The attention to detail in this segment makes for enthralling reading. More than anything else, the way the differing responses of each individual has been represented also give you a fabulous insight into human nature. Critically, each response also gels with the overall characterization of the individual.
All in all, the book is a good one, gives you a good time – and most importantly, this is the last book from the Michael Crichton stable… so don’t miss this one. You are not going to be treated to another Crichton! Also, the scientific aspects mentioned- miniature machines et al  make this book well worth a read. It transports you into a world where normally only your footwear reaches… and makes a good story out of it as well! What more could a person want from a fiction book?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Books up for review

Following books are available for review. If you would be interested in reviewing books for the blog do send us an email to bookwelove(at)gmail(dot)com This Book Review Programme is open for Indian Residents only. Here goes:

Mrs Ali’s Road to Happiness- Farahad Zama
The Purple Line- Priyamvada N Purushottam
Wings of Silence- Shriram Iyer
The House I Loved- Tatiana De Rosnay
City of Lies- Lian Tanner
Sachin A Hundred Hundreds Now- V Krishnaswamy
Revolt of the fish eaters- Lopa Ghosh
Chennaivaasi- TS Trimurti
Dream new dreams- Jai Pausch
Black Bread White Beer- Niven Govinden
The Evolution of Gods- Ajay Kansal

Winners of the Brett Lee Contest

Dhantanaa!!!! We have the winners of The Brett Lee book giveaway contest and here they are:
  • Vishal Kale
  • Kshaunish
  • Crystal Clear Thinking
Congratulations winners! Do send us your contact details(postal address and telephone number) to boookwelove(at)gmail(dot)com to send the book across to you.

Thank you all for participating! Every single response to that question was a memorable moment in cricket history but we had only three books to give away...But we have another contest coming up real keep reading.

Guest Review: She's Never Coming Back

Reviewed by- Shantanu Bhattachraya

Author - Hans Koppel

What's with Scandinavian writers and crime fiction? They seem to have taken over the world lately. It all started with the late Steig Larssen and his Dragon Tattoo trilogy, of course, and ten carried on with writers like Jo Nesbo and the Inspector Harry Hole series, and now Hans Koppel with this book - She's Never Coming Back. Not to generalize, but there seems to be a particularly nasty streak to Scandinavian crime fiction - violent, horrific crimes against women, described in great detail with what can at best be described as realism, and at worst as ghoulish titillation. In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, this was the graphic description of the rape of Lisbeth Salander, the protagonist, and in this extremely popular book, the incarceration and brutalization of Ylva, a married woman with a past.

But first the good parts. The book is very fast paced, fluidly written, and gripping enough that I actually finished it in one sitting. The characters, even the good ones are all nuanced, with (sometimes fatal) flaws. There is no "hero" as you'd tend to find in a conventional crime book - no Michael Blomqvists here - and even the evil characters have redeeming features. That of course, doesn't stop them from doing the most unspeakable things, and that actually raises the question of how realistic they are. The character of Mike is also delineated well, and his growth as a person from a cuckolded doormat to a more confident, rounded individual who starts guiltily thinking he might actually be better off without his wife is very well etched. Overall Mike's character is the most rounded in the novel.

The basic story is this. A seemingly happily married mother of a 6 year old girl is abducted by an older couple and imprisoned in a soundproof basement apartment with only basic amenities and a TV screen for company. The TV screen has a camera that focuses on her house that is actually just across the road, so that she can see her family - husband and child, but is not able to contact them in any way - while they go through the trauma of facing and living through the sudden disappearance of the woman of the house. Meanwhile she is subject to the most horrific sexual degradations by the husband of the couple that kidnapped her, with active assistance of the wife. They are apparently taking revenge for some horrific act that Ylva has done while at school along with three other classmates. They are getting rid of all four of them one by one. Ylva is the last.

Things are made complicated by the fact that the marriage is not complete a happy one. Ylva has previously cheated on her husband, Mike, and still held the upper hand in the relationship because even as a cuckold, he is too dependent on her to end the marriage. Ylva is a compulsive flirt, while Mike is a wimp. After Ylva disappears, Mike is shell shocked, broken, even though his first assumption is that she had runaway with another man. It's only as time passes that he begins to think his wife may be dead and that he has to man up and be in charge now. But of course he realizes that the police now suspect him of murdering his cheating wife!

As time goes by, Mike reboots his life, gets a new girlfriend, and takes charge. And all this is viewed by an increasingly despondent and dependent Ylva on the TV screen in her basement room. Things come to a head when a journalist Calle Colin, who was also a classmate of Ylva's, starts putting some pieces together and inexorably draws the terrible, unbelievable conclusions that lead to the seemingly harmless old couple in the house opposite Mike's. But that means that it's time for them to end Ylva's existence...

Admittedly the plot makes for a very interesting premise and a cracking read. However it's on deeper thought that one realizes that many things don't add up. Why does the couple dispatch three of the four brutally and quickly but make the woman a sex slave for a year and a half without killing her? Why does the lady assist and condone the husband in repeatedly raping the woman? Why the sadistic brutalization, especially when the husband is shows to be a very effective and compassionate psychiatrist? More importantly, why wait 20 years before taking their revenge? These questions are never really clear in the book. 

At the end what you are left with is a weary sense of horror and disgust, and the fear that this might, just might, happen to you. Which is probably the secret to the success of the book, along with the prurience and salaciousness of the sexual brutality inflicted upon the captive woman. There is no real catharsis for the reader, and while the reader will finish the book fast and perhaps even breathlessly, the payoff is not as satisfying as she would like.