2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Review: You are my Best Wife

Author: Ajay K. Pandey

You are the Best Wife: A True Love Story

Book Blurb:

Ajay believes in living for himself; Bhavna teaches him to live for others. Ajay is a planner for life; Bhavna makes him live in every moment. You are the Best Wife is a story of two people with contradictory ideologies who fall in love. It changes them for good. It changes the way they look at the world and the way the world looks at them. Until destiny reveals its plans. This is a true inspiring story of the author and his struggle with life, after his beloved wife left him halfway through their journey. But her last words, ‘you are the best husband’ gave him the strength to live on, and fulfil his promise of love. Told with frankness and doses of humor, this heart-warming tale of a boy and a girl who never gave up on their love in face of adversities, ends on a bittersweet and poignant note as Ajay comes to terms with the biggest lesson life has to offer.

My Review:

This is a book that is written by the Author to celebrate his love for his wife. While my heart goes out to the author and for all that he has gone through, I feel that this book lacks on the story telling skills.

The language was too simplistic, with grammatical errors, for a reader to actually invest in the book.

While the second half of the book was good, I am not sure if it was worth to plod to the “oh-so-typical” first half of the book. We have all read, countless times about the engineering guy who goes to a hostel and falls for a girl. Also, the caste issues, while very relevant, have been seen in so many books now, it becomes hard to figure out which book had what characters.

This is a book that the author can give to his friends and relatives, who know the characters mentioned. But, in order to make it in the world of books, I feel it needs a bit more polishing and work on it.

 

Review:A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold

Series: A Song of Ice And Fire

Part: 3.2

A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold (A Song of Ice and Fire #3, Part 2 of 2)

Book Blurb:

The Starks are scattered.

Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his youngest sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon King, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart.

My Review:

This book is the part 2 of part three of the song of Ice and Fire series.

By far, the best book of the series.

While the part one of the third book had introduced new characters, and had included the point of views of the new characters, this is the book where the story actually starts building up.

The first book had started with introducing characters, second book had all the scheming and plotting, and this is the book, where the action starts to happen.

Arya remains one of my favorite character. Her story line is perfect, she is just so darn amazing. While Sansa irritated me in the initial books, because of her “oh-so-soft” image, in this book she realizes that life is not all roses and that she should pull up her pants and start playing the game if she wants to win. Then her character starts getting stronger.

Also, loved the Jamie Lannister story line is the one that is the most interesting. Kudos to the author for turning an antagonist to someone who needs to be understood.

If GRRM’s writing skills could be rated, the best of them would be the way he handles his characters. Each character is so complex and dynamic, that you just cannot wait for their next point of view.

Amazing, Amazing, Amazing read!

 

 

Review: The Quest For Integrity

Author: Jaswinder Singh

The Quest for Integrity

Book Blurb:

A noble, accomplished man named Purshottam Gill is chosen to replace the latest in a line of negligent managers at the Amlawar branch of India’s nationalized bank. As he attempts to improve the branch’s performance and raise employee morale, he becomes hindered by corrupt trade union officials, politicians, and even some of the bank’s senior officers. He soon discovers that top union leaders control not just the bank, but the politics of his country, causing its citizens to live under fear and great hardships.

Having come from a life of poverty and disease, Neki Lal, the union leader for Purshottam’s bank, values money and success above all else. Viewing Purshottam’s integrity as a threat, Neki begins a deceptive and corrupt campaign to try and intimidate Purshottam and remove him from his position at the bank. And Purshottam’s loyal employees have no choice but to follow the union directive.

As Neki Lal and his supporters begin to take over the branch, deception and manipulation reign supreme in a battle of good and evil that will forever change the lives of everyone involved.

A riveting tale of power and corruption, The Quest for Integrity is a thought-provoking and inspiring story that illustrates the importance of dignity, morality, and social responsibility.

My Review:

What happens when integrity meets politics? In this day and age of corruption, how important is it to remain ethical?

The Quest for Integrity highlights a need for a social change, as well as the attitudes that we have towards our work in general, especially in Government Sectors, or the industries whose employees are heavily influenced by Trade Unions.

Initially, the trade unions were formed to protect the interests of the employees. But then, they have become almost mafia-esque, who believe in letting people be paid, even if they do not perform on the job.

The best part of this book, was when the new manager, Purshottam Gill, is called to his welcoming party. Two people from the trade union come in and try to threaten him to do as they say. The way Purshottam Gill handles them was a delight. I almost found myself clapping hands at his responses.

The story writing is crisp and the language used is quite simple, yet effective.

Although fiction, I believe this book is for slightly serious reader. Those who love the generic love stories or light books, might not like this book. Whereas those who have any kind of contact with the banking sector, would really enjoy reading it.

Two Shades of Hermione Granger

Recently, the new star cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was made public. It created an uproar, but even more than celebrating that we are getting Harry Potter back after all these years, people focused on one thing: Skin colour of the actress who will be playing Hermione Granger.

Recently there was an article, that those who grow up reading Harry Potter are significantly less likely to be racists and more likely to be accepting of other people. The fandom just proved that theory wrong.

How does it matter if Hermione is black or white? How would it change any thing to the main story line? How is it even important?

Many people say she is not Emma Watson…well guess what? Emma Watson is not Hermione either…she is a character who was chosen to play Hermione.

Also, if you look at the character description, Rowling mentions “Busy Haired and Bucktoothed”, that I think suits Nora more, just saying.

Yes, we have grown used to seeing Emma Watson as Hermione. But, that does not mean any other person cannot be Hermione! For the readers, who were fans before the movies, I am quite sure had imagined a totally different Hermione, I know I had…

More Importantly, if Harry Potter ever taught us anything, was to look beyond the surface. To see people for who they really are, and not what they looked like!

To conclude I’d like to say, Hermione is Hermione..doesn’t matter if she’s black or white!

 

 

 

Review: Inferno

Series: Robert Langdon #4

Author: Dan Brown

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)

Book Blurb:

‘Seek and ye shall find.’

With these words echoing in his head, eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings.

A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence. Only Langdon’s knowledge of hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers.

With only a few lines from Dante’s dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artefacts of the Renaissance – sculptures, paintings, buildings – to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat…

Set against an extraordinary landscape inspired by one of history’s most ominous literary classics, Inferno is Dan Brown’s most compelling and thought-provoking novel yet, a breathless race-against-time thriller that will grab you from page one and not let you go until you close the book.

My Review:

The fourth book in the Robert Langdon series….and it does not disappoint!

For those of you who have never picked up a Dan Brown book before, worry not, while these books are a part of a series, it is not necessary to read them in order. It would be better to do so…but not altogether necessary.

While Inferno is no Angles and Demons, it was a really great read. And like any other book of this series…it really really really REALLY makes one want need to go to Italy.. While I have been to all these places mentioned in the books, but the facts that are presented in these books, makes me mentally kick myself for not knowing all this before…and I want to go back and see it with all these awesome facts in mind.

Inferno has it’s base in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Which provided quite an interesting and fresh backdrop. We learn more about the divine comedy, as we read Inferno.

Like the previous book in the series, the sequence of events in this book also remains the same. Some one dies, Robert Langdon is called.The difference in this book is that while death does happen, and Robert Langdon is called…the book starts with Langdon in a strange place, in the middle, with no idea how and why he got there..and then the whole race against time situation arises. But, personally, the end of Inferno satisfied me more than any other book of the series. It has this logical and more realistic ending than the others.

If you have read any other Dan Brown books, or you enjoy fiction with facts..read it..you won’t be disappointing.

Also, while I was disappointed with the previous movies of this franchise, I am quite looking forward to this movie, which is going to be released in 2016, simply because it has Irrfan Khan. An excellent actor who chooses excellent roles. I look forward to his portrayal of Provost.

 

 

 

 

Review: The Bestseller She Wrote

Author: Ravi Subramanian

9789385152382

Book Blurb:

He was a bestseller She wanted him to make her one.

Paperback king, Aditya Kapoor life is straight out of a modern man’s fantasy. His literary stardom is perfectly balanced by a loving wife and a spectacular career. With everything he touches turning to gold, Aditya is on a winning streak.

Shreya Kaushik is a student with a heart full of ambition. Young, beautiful and reckless, Shreya speaks her mind and obsessively chases after what she wants. And what she wants is to be a bestselling author.

What happens when their worlds collide? Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Can real ambition come in the way of blind passion? Can trust once broken, be regained?

Master storyteller Ravi Subramanian, delves into the glitzy world of bestsellers and uncovers a risky dalliance between a superstar novelist and his alluring protege.

The Bestseller She Wrote is a combustible cocktail of love, betrayal and redemption.

My Review:

What happens when the king of thrillers starts to write romance?

A totally different genre of literature comes into play!

A romantic thriller, that is what this book can best be described.

When i first found out that Ravi Subramanian was writing romance, I was skeptical. While I thoroughly enjoyed his previous thriller, God is a Gamer (Click here for review), i was not really sure how the author would manage to pull of something that was way out of his comfort zone.

While some part of the book did have a bit of Bollywood entertainer feel, the end made it worth the read.

This is almost a 400 page book, but the pace and the language is such that it is an extremely fast read.

As expected from the author, the characterization and the depth of each of the characters is quite brilliant. I found myself thinking about the characters and feeling their presence after I finished reading the book. That itself is what separates a good author from the rest.

I loved the subtle references to how “popular” authors now a days forget about focusing on their work, and are more wrapped up in Bollywood parties and judging reality dance shows..we all know what you did there *wink wink*

Initially, I was a bit annoyed as I felt that the author was going on the whole “pyaar ka punchnama” tide…you know the troupe….where all women are different kinds of hurdles in the successful man’s life…but, by end, this was all sorted out…quite thankfully!

I liked how the author merges the ebola virus in the story. The whole paris and the virus transmission infuses a great change, which othewise might have lead to a slight lul in the main storyline. It was also great to read about other favorite books that were mentioned in this book. It’s always a pleasure to come across your favorite books in other books.

Excellent book cover design, when these books hit the stores, the cover was enough to lure people into buying it. Even those, who had previously never heard of the author said that they were attracted to buy this book. Excellent, classy, sophisticated..This cover is even better than the previous books of the same author.

The only negative aspect about this book was that I felt that the author managed to showcase adultery as a mistake. It is not a mistake. If you cheat on your partner, you do not love your partner.  Period. The author’s explanation, that you can love your partner, as well as form relations outside…did not sit right with me. If you love someone truly, your main aim would be to keep that person’s trust and happiness intact. You cannot consciously choose to decide to break their trust as well as act in a way that you know would hurt them…and then harp about how u made a “little” mistake, and you loved them all along. I did not like how the author managed to reduce the impact of adultery and showcase this act of brutally killing your partner’s trust, as mistake.

Other than that, this was a fast paced and interesting read.

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

 

 

 

 

 

Review: So What’s Next! (SoWhat! Stories, #2)

Author: G. J. Griffiths

So What's Next! (SoWhat! Stories, #2)

Book Blurb:

Molly Pearson is a young Biology teacher with two passions in her life: a strong commitment to protecting wildlife; and a desire to encourage the children in her classes to feel the same enthusiasm for Nature.

When her class decide they would like to restore the school’s neglected and vandalised nature corner her hopes are raised and challenged at the same time. The hurdles that she meets along the way will include bullied and bullying pupils, as well as the expected ones of finance and willing manpower.

But leaping those fences does not prepare the ambitious Molly for a dramatic fire and the confusion of a new passion in her life, in the form of Oliver Shrimpton. Will he become that significant someone, or is he just another obstacle for her to overcome?

My Review:

This is the second book in the So What series. This is the first book that I read, and had no trouble getting into the story line. So, even if you have not read the first one, you could safely pick this one up first.

I tend to love the stories where teachers are invested in the lives of the students, and they help shape the students’ characters. This story is one such effort.

What distinguishes this book from other school fiction is that the author has provided quite interesting and helpful information on conserving the nature around us. Which was quite a delight to read, the author has managed to provide all the necessary information, without sounding too preachy.

The story is weaved perfectly, and I loved the way we as readers learn the back stories of the students as well as the teachers.

A nice,insightful and enriching read.

Review: The Curse of Damini

Author: Debajani Mohanty

The Curse of Damini

Book Blurb:

The world seemed not enough for free spirited Renuka, when she married the highly educated Shashank hailing from the mightiest Zamindars of Bengal. However, soon her life turned upside down when a neighbor revealed her of their sinister past.

It’s a mysterious supernatural curse cast on their family almost a century back. Generation by generation, Damini’s enraged curse had passed on, declining their family clan from hundreds to a handful few. Who would be Damini’s next victim? And why innocent lives are at a stake for a crime committed by an ancestor a hundred years back? Renuka would not settle until she finds an answer and in her quest she struggles to eradicate all the evils that come in her way. Would she ever win a battle against an unseen enemy? Would the wrong done to Damini be ever avenged?

Set against the nostalgic era of 1940s, the story narrates the arduous journey of Renuka Pal, the protagonist, from a rash teen age freedom fighter to the seasoned writer of the 21st century India. In this thrilling saga of death, betrayal and power plays the narrative would cover a large chunk of twentieth century history. The passing of time, historical events and the changing country is so well-woven to the story that one would hardly differentiate between fact and fiction.

My Review:

When I first saw the book cover, I kind of got the vibe that it would be from the horror genre. I could not have been more wrong.

This is an excellent book, depicting a story of a lady, Renuka, who is all set to counter superstitions with logic.

Honestly, I feel the book cover brings this book down. If this was lying on a book shelf, I would not have picked it up.

In this book, “Damini” symbolized how women were bound by traditions and fear. While Renuka, with her education, could overcome these traditions, her younger sister in law choose a life of submission and faced a dire consequence. Which really shows, that in this patriarchal society if women do not stand up for themselves, it is only they who pay the price.

Also, this book brought out the role of men as a strong pillar of support. A woman needs her man to support her, just as a man needs a woman to support him. Both together can grow. But, bound by traditions, neither flourishes, as instead of focusing on betterment, they focus on “should be done”.

A fast paced book with great potential.