Write & Watch

Salesh Dipak Fernando

Category: BOOKS (Page 1 of 4)

TIT FOR TAT – BOOK REVIEW

I picked up Tit for Tat by Archana Sarat because I love stories which are precise and to the point. The collection of flash fiction is an engaging ode to gloom. The biggest plus is the consistency in terms of tone and narrative style.  There is no deviation from start to finish.

I loved the fact that the author decided to completely skip the happily ever part of life to explore despair. Maybe that’s her way of showing the middle finger to the cruel unexpected twists of fate that life often hands out to us.

Every story made me yearn for more. It is heartening to see someone use pain as a twist factor. Thankfully she chooses not to dwell on the consequences of loss. A loss in itself can be a compelling narration. 

Consistency in tone is both a boon and a bane. After a point, even the twists become predictable because the reader is mentally prepared for the worst. And I literally wanted more in terms of the number of stories.  A few more stories would have done the trick.  My pick of the lot is HS174. 

If you love flash fiction and if you love stories which explore the dark side then Tit for Tat is the book for you. Pick it up and relish this short and engaging trip to the dark side.

Amazon Link

Tit For Tat

 

 

CLAIRE – BOOK REVIEW

It’s been a while since I read a good murder mystery by a first time Indian author. Poornima Bhaskar’s Claire caught me off guard.  Claire sounded more like one of those happily ever stories that we hear time and again but once I started reading Claire I was in for a pleasant surprise.

On the surface, Claire is a murder mystery but for me, the book was an exaggerated version of the various masks that we choose to wear. And I mean exaggeration in a good way. There are two distinct identities within each of us.  While one is the real person with all our scars and imperfections the other identity is the mask we choose to reveal to the people around us.

As the investigation unfolds each of the breadcrumbs reveal an unknown facet of a known identity. There’s an interesting tussle between who Claire was and who Claire really is as we move forward. This tussle forms the crux of the narration. Each person in the story is different with traits that make them stand out from the rest. Of course like all murder mysteries, everyone is a suspect in one way or the other.

The success or failure of a mystery novel depends on how the author decorates the obvious. It is here that Poornima scores big time. She gives the reader hardly any time to pause and reflect and lures the reader in with frenetic pacing and an engaging narration. When the author paces the narration well it hides the minor blemishes and keeps the reader engaged.

This is one book I would recommend the readers to read in one go. It’s precise and engaging. The one downside for me was the creative liberty taken towards the very end. Though it serves the purpose even without that the book would have worked very well. To me, it felt like an unnecessary diversion. But that’s just me for others it might be a necessary addition.

I am yet to reveal the other characters in the story and I will not. To me, it is all about Claire and how her presence and actions impact the lives of people around her. Who are these people? What role do they play? You have to pick the book to find out.

It’s been a long time since I came across a book which deserved 4 stars. I have been stuck at 3 for a long time. But Claire deserves 4 Stars and thumbs up.  If you like mystery novels and stories which are fast-paced this is the one for you.

Congrats Poornima Bhaskar for a very good start as an author. All the very best for the future.

Claire – Paperback 

Claire – Kindle

                                                                                                       

BOOK REVIEW – RANDOMLY ORDERED

 

This review wasn’t on the cards an hour ago.  Picking up Randomly Ordered for reading was an instinctive reaction. For starters, I loved note at the beginning which gave the readers an idea of what to expect. More often than not our working days are filled with set routines. Wake up, Go to Office, Finish the Day’s work, Come back Home and Sleep. It does like a mediocre day to the naked eye.

We seldom pause and reflect on the extraordinary sequence of thoughts that occupy our mind day in and day out.  From the time we wake up to the time we sleep our mind functions like a never-ending maze with each action and reaction resulting in a particular thought process. Randomly ordered amplifies an ordinary day in a person’s life by sprinkling it with extraordinary thoughts.

Randomly ordered is smartly written in the sense it packs in all the necessary elements to keep the readers hooked till the end. There is the Rajini- Illayaraja touch, a brief nostalgic time travel and more importantly it finishes with a flourish. Each Chapter is set in a particular time and my favorite is 1:35 PM. Read the novella and you will know why.

On the flip side the minor editing flaws, especially at the beginning, could have been avoided and a couple more chapters to nullify the huge time jumps would have made it a perfect read.

The author claims it to be an experiment of sorts but I believe it would appeal to everybody. All of us are used to the routine in our daily existence. Randomly Ordered adds a little bit of spice to our ordinary day. It is one of those nice, breezy, harmless reads which will make you feel good.

Pick it up if you love short reads which doesn’t take too much of your time.

 BOOK – RANDOMLY ORDERED

AUTHOR – KARTHIK PASUPATHY 

SERVED WITH LOVE – BOOK REVIEW

 

Another book was to be reviewed today but I ended up picking Priyanka Menon’s Served with Love.   Served with love is a delicious cocktail of the three things that often soothe a troubled soul – Food, Travel, and Love. For most parts the book stays true to the Indian Romance template and surprisingly it works very well to a certain extent. I guess irrespective of how many romance novels we read we will never get tired of love

Served with love is a tale of two troubled souls finding each other through love, food and travel There’s a precious fourth element as well which binds the two protagonists together. It adds colour, charm and cuteness to lovely romance. I will keep it under wraps for the readers to pick the book and cherish the fourth element.  Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard are sweeter.

The positives – The details with regard to food make you yearn for your favourite dish especially the desserts – just not fair to the readers but it is delightful. The initial period of romance is pure bliss. The sought of romance that stirs your soul as a lovely curve adorns your lips. The teasing and taunting make you yearn for your own version of the same. The travel spots also strike a chord. 

The closure – The closure had a very special connect to me as a person. An unusual time skip gives a fitting finale. It brought back memories of the good old days.

The Negatives – For a brief period, the book becomes a cinematic cliché which could have been narrated differently or totally avoided to give a different tone to the events.

Pick up the book if you love Indian romances. At 176 pages it’s a short guilty pleasure which will make you feel good.

SERVED WITH LOVE

 

 

DREAM IT LIVE IT – BOOK REVIEW

I picked up Dream it Live it because of the title. It’s a very short breezy read which doesn’t stretch your imagination too much. It is a woman’s search for her identity and purpose.

The book starts off on a rant mode which was an unexpected surprise. To be frank it did put me off initially for I have rarely seen a protagonist adapt a negative tone to describe the conflict points. It was supposed to be an inspiring journey of a daughter in law but the tone was a contradiction.

But after a while I began to enjoy the contradiction. The protagonist spares no one, not even her husband and the narrative begins to make sense as you begin to identify yourself with the brutal honesty which prevails till the very end.

Once you begin to comprehend the smaller transformations that happen within the protagonist’s personal space the rants in the beginning begin to make sense. The first trip to Middle East, the struggle with a permanent disease and the way monotony at work paves the way for blogging were nostalgic trips down the memory lane. But the biggest clincher was the name of Harshika’s Blog Initium Novum which means New Beginnings which was the name of my first blog.  I found myself smiling.

The eventual triumph is gratifying but I still believe toning the rant at the beginning and a bit more of her fabulous life after the transformation would have made it perfect. But despite the flaws if you are daughter in law who has been at the receiving end  and if working Mom who shuffles her life between family, work and dreams this book is for you.

Amazon link 

Dream It Live It

STANDING ON AN APPLE BOX – BOOK REVIEW

 

I have reviewed books before but this one’s special. You don’t usually come back after an illness to review a book written by the Superstar’s Daughter. I love anything which gives me a glimpse of the Superstar’s life and that was the sole reason I picked up Standing on an Apple Box.

The book keeps you hooked with it’s simple narration and brevity. Aishwarya picks up the smaller fragments of her celebrity life to show us the pros and cons of being a star daughter. We all make that one common mistake. We place a star on a pedestal and want to have a sneak peek of everything that goes around him. We rarely realize there’s a family around him who go through their own ups and downs. Their insecurities mirror our own in more ways than one.

Her affinity towards coffee and radio and the love she had for her dog despite her inherent apprehensions were so touching and relatable. A funny take on perseverance too left me in splits. Her persistence towards pursuing law which was her passion in whatever way could is something we could all emulate.

I have a favourite passage too “ We are involuntarily teaching our kids that there is something better around every corner and in that process they forget to appreciate the present, Instead we should be telling them to make a choice and stick to it. Understand the value of what you possess. Life will always throw more at you. Know what to pick and what to will make you happy in the long run. Be it food, family, love, career or even cranky cooks”.

On the downside I would have loved to know a bit more about the bonding between the sisters and it did drag a bit towards the end with random inclusions. A few edit flaws too show up but these are minor blemishes in a simple yet heart-warming narration.

Go for it if you love the Superstar. Who doesn’t? This might reveal a different side of the star and his family if you are a fan. Go for it if you love simple narratives filled with real life anecdotes.

PS: Grandparents are desserts indeed!

 

 

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OLEANDER GIRL – BOOK REVIEW

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Oleander Girl – I picked this one up because of the title. I haven’t read One Amazing Thing yet. This is my first attempt at reviewing Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s work. After a long time a book left me with mixed emotions.

There’s a legacy that each us carry.  At times it is our only connecting point to a forgotten past. What if fate gives you a chance to re-discover your past? Would you take that gamble to discover your roots or will you embrace your present?  Oleander girl gives you the answers in it’s own unique way.

On the surface the book does seem like a girl’s search for her own identity. But Chitra deftly weaves in various subplots within this journey of self – discovery. Each of the sub-plots have their own implied meaning which is both a plus and a minus for when you have too many deviations from the main plot it almost tires and frustrates as you reader.

The book takes it’s own sweet time to grow on you. I loved the characters and what they stood for.  Each one of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. Even the Oleander girl isn’t perfect. They react to the situations around them in the best possible way. It is this aspect which made me overlook the flaws.

The finishing touch too is impressive as Chitra ties up loose ends with feasible solutions. The pace did bother me at times but the finish was soothing and gratifying. 

Pick this one up if you love a mix of self discovery and romance. This might be the work for you.

 

ONE INDIAN GIRL – BOOK REVIEW

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I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would re-start my book review with a Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl.  But it has happened. Life does have it’s fair share of surprises. The last Chetan Bhagat book that I read was Five Point Someone and rest were strictly limited to viewing on the big screen.

A best – selling author speaks in a feminine voice for the first time. So is it a path -breaking novel. The answer is a big fat no. To me the feminine voice was a clever switch which makes it a definite luring factor.  Radhika could have been Rajesh with the roles reversed and most of us would have dismissed it as old wine in new bottle and having Radhika as the main protagonist creates intent in the mind of the readers. You would pick up the book atleast to find out how Radhika is different from his other protagonists.

One Indian Girl comes to life whenever Radhika’s inner voice takes over. It’s fresh, enticing and exciting. Radhika’s choices too make sense as we are all flawed beings who make muddled choices. And it seems like Chetan Bhagat has an affinity towards sequences involving food. It’s sprinkled throughout the book and almost makes the reader yearn for his/her own favourite dish. 

Radhika’s aspirations as a career woman worked for me.  Her conflicts begin to add up as she moves up the career ladder. For a while the plot revolves around career – marriage conflict before it settles down to resolve the question of Choice.

One Indian girl falls short whenever Chetan Bhagat tries to crack the Feminist muddle.   There is no real attempt to convey the right ideals of feminism through the book and Radhika too seems lost in places where Feminism is discussed. Chetan uses Feminism as a resolution point and messes it up. Feminism works more as a promotional strategy for the book than as a concept.

The sex sequences were shabbily written. I dozed off after reading the sequences. If you write an erotic scene write it well or else chop it off like the Indian censor board. Unfortunately a lot of authors seem to mess up when it comes to Erotica. We don’t need a Fifty Shades of Grey but give us something which doesn’t make us cringe. You may wonder why I am talking about sex because it is one of the many conflict points for Radhika.

One Indian girl isn’t path- breaking literature. It is a form of escapism we all secretly yearn for. It might not make you think but it will definitely keep you entertained throughout the duration of your read and the language isn’t too bad either.

To me One Indian Girl is a girl’s search for her Mr Right, the one true thing in her life. I enjoyed the book from that perspective. Does she find her mister right or does fate have a different twist for Radhika ? Read the book to find out. 

Pick it up if you like light entertaining books.

 

  

THE SPEAKING GHOST OF RAJPUR

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“As the blurb clearly states: who knows – you might even get to encounter the speaking ghost’ at the very end!” The book looks upon adventure from a philosophical standpoint of pursuing the unknown and what are ghosts but the unknown. It’s literary and philosophical work with an element of suspense.  

The plot – The summer adventures of a group of teenagers. The suspense element in the title is maintained till the very end which helps the reader to overlook the flaws. The plot oscillates from sweet nothings to thriller mode very well. There are parts of the book which will help the reader recall his/her own summer vacations.

Very appropriate cover and fine sketches inside add the charm of the book. All the characters in the book are justified well though their names were quite unique, hence couldn’t connect me that much.

Do pick up this thoughtful piece of literature for intellectual stimulation of your mind.  

My Rating – 4/5

 

 

 

 

THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL – MY FIRST SUPERHERO

 

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How do I explain my obsession towards THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL? He was my first superhero and a vigilante on a mission. I didn’t know who Emma Orczy was when I first read the book. But the plot intrigued me so much that I began to believe the Scarlet Pimpernel was real.

I remember trying to understand the French Revolution just to know if Scarlet Pimpernel really existed. To me French Revolution was yet another boring chapter in the history textbook. But the impression of my first super hero would never fade away.

The plot – The Scarlet Pimpernel rescues his countrymen from the clutches of the French. He wears the mask of a fool. The book was my first introduction to the concept of dual identity

Emmy Orczy narrates the story from Marguerite’s point of view.  Marguerite – his better half who underestimates him and betrays him without knowing his true identity. When the truth is revealed she sets out on a journey to right the wrong which puts her life at risk.

The antagonist Chauvelin is as cunning as a fox and anticipates the hero’s every move. There is one sequence in the book where they meet face to face.  It was so clever and nerve wrecking at the same time.

Long before THE BATMAN and THE SUPERMAN there was the SCARLET PIMPERNEL – MY FIRST SUPER HERO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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