Tag Archives: book reviews

The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara – S V Sujatha a Book Review

 

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Aleph Book Company
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 9789386021090, 9386021099
  • Edition: 1, 2017
  • Pages: 200

The story of the demon hunter of Chottanikkara is a super natural  thriller in a unique way. Probably if you know the place and the temple you would more than easily understand the background and appreciate the story telling. That was one of the reasons that actually got me to read this book.

This is a very interesting read because it bares the human limitations and weakness to a level that it is really scary what people can do in some instances.

The portrayal of Devi is a classic case of the super natural among the human and it is very vivid and down to earth and makes her a hero of the masses with an earthen attitude. The all powerful and the rustic portrayal and especially the food habits etc make it a part of the folklore and how the temple manifestation is a pointer in a way. I loved the fearlessness that is so easy going with the character which makes the people worship her. The background and the minute details especially of the rituals and the way the demon is hunted makes for a great reading. I think the story of Kannappa – a thief turned father here adds to the emotional drama.

The characters are so well sketched to make you sit up and though I would say the plot could have been a bit intense towards the end, the story at some point midway almost give away the secret.

I liked the interlude of Parasurama, for me the mythological aspect of him being a Chiranjeevi and his relationship with Kerala are quite folklore and so loved the aspect of his characterisation.

The author has written a beautiful prose and the story telling is fast paced but could have led to the climax and plot in a more intense way and it would have been a better presentation. As for the pace I took three sessions to finish this book.

I was also wondering the date of this story. Absolutely vivid story telling, and simple narrative prose for reading, this book gives you a different perspective on exorcism and rituals.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book Review Program. Thank You Flipkart for your copy!

Best Stories From Around the World by Deepa Agarwal – Book Review

 

book cover

  • Reading level: 8 – 12 years
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India (2 June 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129147386
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129147387
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm

Absolutely a delightful read, each of the stories took me back to the childhood. Timelessness is not easy but then the authors in this collection are not ordinary human beings for that matter. So when you get to put some of the best names in a collection the result obviously is going to be something extra ordinary and to that effect I am very thankful to the Editor Deepa Agarwal here.

She has chosen some of the best works from around the world literally. Who can ever forget the Gift of the Magi, or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, I liked some of those stories that will remain etched in life for the sheer magic that they create and make you spell bound when they close.

The story Open Window  by Saki is a classic example of narration and holding you by the wits with the childish innocence that can transform things in a great way! The little girl simply knows what she was doing or does she?

I relished the Freedom the story which actually looks at the present set of police and how the Freedom fighter thinks he can be the same as against the British.

You cant miss the Red Room by HG Wells or the story Dare for its narrative excellence and how it gives you a twist.

One of the relatively longer stories is Saritha Kamakshi makes a mistake by Jerry Pinto makes for a wonderful reading and just gives us glimpses of lives of people around us.

The Accursed House makes for a wonderful reading especially how it makes fun of the character and how things go for a slide, very well articulated and the story stands out for its sheer black humour.

All in all a great set of stories with varied background and delivered by masters story tellers. One thing about the Short story collection is you don’t have to go page by page, you could start reading a new story at will and so I did not read it in sequence as a matter of fact but got to read all the stories. Some were known and had that affinity to re read it at a fast pace.

The editor  Deepa Agarwal has taken pains to present the same without any changes in the way it was told.

Thanks a lot Rupa / Red Turtle for the copy and I am sure this will brighten the days of many who read and those around too!

Pick your copy here: Amazon

Think With Me by Saharasri Subroto Roy Sahara #BookReview

think withme

 

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India; Latest edition (10 November 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129142252
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129142252

This is a nice attempt at creating a discussion on making an ideal country. To that extent, Think with me makes a valiant effort to look back or sometimes look within the system and try to get some answers.

Here the author takes five important topics, if Indian decides on these it might lead to a new transition of sorts and would make the country an ideal nation. The topics are

1. Electoral system & Leadership
2. Population
3. Education System
4. Media
5. Religion

Here there is a concerted effort to take the discussion seriously but then we need to see if they can be effective, and it needs so much of real work on the ground and needs some constitutional amendment and that is not easy.

The best part if you ask me is the topics which has been chosen and they very largely contribute to what you see in the country whether good or bad.

The Electoral system still can be autonomous and I remember when TN Seshan then Chief Election Commissioner brought about the changes with implementation. Till then no one knew that EC had such powers and it can be the master when it comes to conducting elections. Since then there has been an ideal way of looking at elections and the accounts are scrutinised to a great extent but Indians being Indians we have a jugaad for everything you see.

I am happy that the author took the issue of population, which is very very sensitive subject since it also involves religion for some people. Its a fact that whatever development happens in the country gets offset with the population making it ineffective. Somewhere we need to make this heard and let people know that having more kids leads to productivity is an idea whose time has gone.

Think With Me

Education System is long due for overhaul. I still don’t know if we can get back to rehaul the system in the way we want. The suggestions seems unreal in part though. Anyways a good try if we can inculcate moral values and ethical issues in education with the past being taught the way it was.

Media the so called fourth pillar has become the den of corruption and the role which it was supposed to envisage has now become defunct and its time for a change that will see a lot of uprising and breakdowns in structure.

Religion was good as long as it was one mans personal space. But its a sensitive topic today unfortunately so much so that Supreme court has decided that you cant use religion for election, whatever that means…

As for the solutions offered we can take it with a pinch of salt, given the authors proximity to politicians and we would not judge them unless if it was tried and tested.

A good effort ideally, but lacks the punch when it comes to implementation at the ground zero. Probably if it was possible for common man to achieve things then it would have been different.

Senthilkumar

SkyFire by Aroon Raman a book review…

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
  • ISBN: 9789382616610, 9382616616
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 256

This is a sequel and I must admit that I am reading the author for the first time. As a series I am sure it helps the reader with continuity and the characters make it easy for readers to relate. But ofcourse this is also stand alone issue that this story concerns with.

The issue of weather calibration to cause damage is core of the plot and on the sidelines we do also have child trafficking embedded into the story. The one on weather and its devasting effects it can unleash is equivalent to a biological weapon.

Chandrasekar and his friend Hassan, along with Meenakshi form the characters and unravel an ugly truth of child trafficking since they work with kids from the slum.

The characters stick to the plot and sometimes you could sense a bit of bollywood or cinematic attempts of narattion esp when the villain gives a walk through of the facility.

The fact remains that child trafficking and the laws that govern are highly ridiculous to the extent that you need to be a relative to complain of a lost child!

The book is well written except that it gives away the plot too easily and it triggers the faultlines in the early pages only. And the strands of plot are not interlinked to details but the author seems to suggest well you know this is how things are.

The plot on weather caliberation or the children trafficked both have not been given the real due, and somewhere those break like Sherlock doesn’t hold much and its a bit amatuerish. I know the characters can be amatuers but the work needs to be professional. Somewhere getting introduced to the NGO I got a feeling that they were behind this.

There’s a pace with the book but it could have been more detailed in some aspects of the plots.

It’s a good read and you will finish this in a single sitting max two. The language is simple and narrative is fast paced.

Three Stars from my side. To pick up the book go here: Flipkart

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Review Program. Thanks Flipkart for the review copy.

Senthilkumar

Ganesh by Subhadra Sen Gupta #bookreview

Ganesh

Welcome to the land of stories, the land which presented the Mahabharata the longest epic ever written. It has so many stories that we know of and so many stories that we don’t know of. Quite incidentally the book that we now are reviewing is of Ganesh.

Ganesh the son of Shiva and Parvathy is the celebrated God in Indian mythology and has expressions in being the remover of all obstacles and we know how grand is the celebration of Ganesh in Maharashtra which has come to symbolise the way Ganesh is celebrated.

The best facet of our Indian storytelling is you could have many an interpretation and many a twist and take in the way the story is presented. That’s the reason we have so many interpretations of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

In this book the story of how Ganesh lost his head is an endearing one. In south it was believed that Shiva was not allowed entry to see Parvathy by Ganesh since he was keeping a watch firmly doing what his mother told him to do. Never let anyone inside till I am done with my bath. Ganesh took this seriously and Shiva has no inkling that the child was Parvathy’s making and he when obstructed to see his own wife, cuts the lad’s head off in anger, only to be told by Parvathy that it her kid and he has done total injustice to the boy.

Now the elephant with its head towards the north was the alternative that we have as common. In this narrative we do have a big ceremony to celebrate and then there is the Shani coming and looking at Ganesh and he gets the head burnt. Therein lies the interpretation of Shani being a part of the story.

A classical story for night read for the kids and the way its has been illustrated makes for interesting read aloud stuff for the kids.

A new story and a new interpretation is always welcome. The kids I am sure will relish this illustrations and storytelling through the pictures.

Each of the four stories are embedded with nice instances that are easily assimilated by the young audience. The illustrations deserve a great appreciation that has the comic effect and also a story telling way.

The story of Mahabharata is also a nice one wherein Ganesh decides to pull off his tusk to keep writing on the palm leaves.

The illustration by Tapas Gupta add a very nice touch to the already fascinating story of Ganesh.

I enjoyed this book for kids and i tried keeping this book around kids and saw they were pretty involved because of the format.

The author and the illustrator deserve every praise for the work that they have done and it sure will be a great way to introduce them to Ganesh with stories that make for fun reading.

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri #bookreview

In_other_words

 

BOOK DETAILS
Publisher Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN-10 0670088897
Imprint Hamish Hamilton
Number of Pages 224 Pages
Publication Year 2016
Language English
ISBN-13 9780670088898
Binding Hardcover

A translation by Ann Goldstein of the original Italian work by Jhumpa Lahiri.

One of the most personal relationship books I have ever come across, simply the best since it outlines the way the relationship is taken forward, quite a few times it looks as if this is the way love works, may be courtship too.

It’s the growing of the bonds between the seeker and the one which is sought perhaps, here its the language which is being learnt by the author, the language is Italian!

It is quite a revelation at a very personal level for the author the way Italian language grasps her attention and how she wants to live the language like no other. It becomes all the more interesting that Italian has never been a part of her upbringing in a way as to experience this kind of approach to language.

Over the years she feels an intimate connection as if this was the call the soul has been waiting for. The way she takes it up learning and the travails and travels in literary world is an nice journey that she takes the readers with.

And when you know this is a translated masterpiece, it makes it all the more alluring and when you read the explanation I think she has put the right perspective. And when we complete the book we know what she meant and she meant every word of it. Probably that is the relationship that she has been nurturing with the language.

There is an air of romance in the way the language is treated as a person, trying to know him or her, the fulfilment of having achieved the goal of possessing the other person or seeing yourself in the other.

Kudos to the translator, we can feel that the justice has been done the way the book progresses in short but sure steps, sometimes looking back to stories that will augment the theory that she holds forth, and sometimes stop to listen to the inner rumblings and sometimes to the practical difficulty in getting to know the perfect grammar and the translator has the pulse and does an excellent job of giving us the feel.

Its a nice book and well its a non fiction and that makes it a must read title. If you are interested in literature this will surely give you an idea of how language can be looked at as an extension of you.

Pick it up in case you see it at the book store or click here.

This was a part of Flipkart Book Review Program! Thanks Flipkart for the book.

Senthilkumar R

The Dark Side of Light by Sanil Sachar #Bookreview

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Publisher Rupa Publications India
ISBN-10 8129139766
Number of Pages 200 Pages
Publication Year 2016
Language English
ISBN-13 9788129139764
Binding Hardcover

Sometimes the cover of the book says it all. The photograph on the cover gives you an idea of the title in a way. But the content in this book will leave you in dark for some time.

Travelling through the negative mind as we have known or being portrayed is a genre by itself, but Sanil Sachar takes it to a whole new level. Sometimes I think how he has been able to think through the thought of the thought.

The climax that he weaves at the end of the story is a sheer brilliance in prose and in such short captivating mastery of language and narration, he holds the attention span till the end of ever story.

That darkness can be celebrated is not often that you come across, but herein lies the trick and ofcourse you will sometimes think how it could be possible to be thinking exactly like the character you just met.

The best part is his taking us through the stories, the poetic prose and the real poetry with ease and keeping you mesmerized till you put the book down.

There are stories and there are poems that characterizes darkness explained like never before. The author / poet in Sanil Sachar seems to be at ease navigating the dark and traverses seamlessly across the prose and poetry with ease that’s probably only he can take pride in.

The words in poetry and prose leaves you with a visual imagery blended in the darkness of mind’s remotest corner. It would not be an understatement if I said he had a a bit of O Henry’s twist to the tales even thought they were dark. I refrain from using the word negative for the fact that I realised you could have it dark the way the author has woven stories after stories.

I think you take time to read sometimes break and then continue even as you let the words sink in.

Not to mention there are play scripts too to take time off from those serious words.

So that’s the book for you, pick it up for listening to some voices you thought would never speak or you would want to hear.

Now that you think you should take a read go over here to buy the book.

Senthilkumar

This is a part of Flipkart Book Review Program, and thanks Flipkart for sending the book.

River of Flesh and other stories – Book Review

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Publisher Speaking Tiger
ISBN-10 9385755587
Edition 1
Number of Pages 272 Pages
Publication Year 2016
Language English
ISBN-13 9789385755583
Binding Paperback

When I got a mail from Vivek Flipkart on two different books for review, it appealed to me in a way that this has got to be different probably, changing the way I would start looking at society.

I replied stating this must be a different perspective given the topic and how they have been seen in the way the society draws a line. So when the Sunny Leone interview happened the same time, it showed how deep those lines run in our mind rather than on the roads where these unprivileged women make the ends meet.

And to put together some of the most acclaimed writers in a collection must have been a task and getting to the topic on hand must have been a great decision by itself. I see this as a big and bold step simply because that was what ultimately got me to read this book. And the editor Ruchira Gupta has done a fabulous job on this front.

And when you read those stories you get to read those innocence writ on their lives and how those innocence has been tarnished and trampled to a state of prostitution.

It took sometime to realise the gravity of the context in each of these stories which come to life with words from some of the classic writers as Kamla Das, Indira Goswami to Mushi Premchand.

Poignant sometimes, rebellious sometimes,  meek and mild and varied the expressions are myriad in more ways than one.

This book also opens up to the regional intricacies and the thoughts that pervade through the countryside. Some the endings are sure to give you goose pumps and some make you sit up and almost have a stuck throat. Quite often the end is a dark twist of fate if you may call that. How would you rationalise the woman going to bed with another man in the darkness to feed a hungry, ailing husband a mouth full of gruel.

The characters will live with you for sometime and sometimes you will feel the bitterness of the words. I am amazed by the fact that some of the works are recreated in the sense translated and I could sense the emotion when I could connect with the original language and the author. (eg. Ponnagaram)

It’s not just the woman’s plight that is portrayed here but the whole of the society which gets the whiplashes from the authors through the characters.

Pick this book and you will be led to a neighborhood you didn’t want to walk through. Gripping stories narrated so intensely and with appeal that makes you think.

Check out and buy the book here

Senthilkumar

Mistress of Honour by Bhavnaa Arora #bookreview

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BOOK DETAILS
Publisher Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN-10 0143425285
Imprint penguin
Number of Pages 224 Pages
Publication Year 2015 June
Language English
ISBN-13 9780143425281
Binding Paperback

A setting in the armed forces is always an interesting phenomenon, simply because I have been close yet so far. I have seen some of them close and yes it rings a bell.

This story Mistress of Honour by Bhaavna Arora has the right mix of those attitude which are pretty reflective of the armed forces. The Story revolves around the life and times of the characters and has a reflective poise to it with the background in Operation Bluestar as a intrinsic part of the story.

Thats when the hero and the lady protagonist meet each other. The story is well paced and the situations around the characters makes for an interesting read.

The characterization of the Potnis and Pansy in their different worlds and the passion towards career and the how they try to bridge their world makes it an page turning affair.

The story goes on a nice trail even when the past is narrated and holds the reader and makes you walk the scene beside the characters. The author has taken due efforts in understanding the background and it shows in the book and the way the story unfolds.

The story goes on with the kids too, a similar plot of the love and courtship. its got all speed and passion and narratives all blended in a style.

All in all a neat fast paced read, and the characters have a depth of their own and the story moves on as you keep turning pages. The author has very minimal characters and makes it a success in a way that the story is told.

My rating 3.5 Stars out of 5

Senthilkumar

Democrazy by Atulya Mahajan #bookreview

 

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Atulya Mahajan takes you on a roller coaster ride with the politics of the day in a satire that you will enjoy till the last page of the book is turned.

Aptly titled Democrazy, it is the story of how the mighty and the powerful take the voting gullible public at large for a ride and continue to play God.

I think the book is a classic representation of the electoral politics that we call ourselves as democracy. Except its actually the crazy with the ‘z’ which makes it true.

For all its goodness and its superlative ability to uphold the citizens right, democracy can be take to task if you are skillful and more importantly know how to play it right.

The book has an array of characters which I am sure you can easily identify with, make a pardon there is a disclaimer boss that its all the authors imagination.

There is the Badi Sarkar who wants the Chote Sarkar to be the PM, dont guess who it is, bit the fact is Chote Sarkar is interested in eating icecreams of different flavours.

The characters of the book come straight out of entertainment industry if you ask me especially the news with a nation anchor BB who wants to know everything under the sun relegating the Saas bahu serials to the back burner for the active and know all citizens who want to know it all.

There is a social media activist on twitter who helps his mother get out of an incedent, and then there is a big capitalist all get together to get the democracy working like crazy.

All of them have a goal and that is power never mind it corrupts absolutely. The people taken for a ride across is not significant because they are made ready to be taken for a ride!

With elections in the background and the cacophony of speeches barbs and counter barbs and also the trp hungry TV shows its a classic mockery of the democratic traits that we harbour as sacred.

This is very well set in Indian background and for once after a long time that the election is over I am wondering if the book is a true story!

Highly recommended for a dutiful citizen so that he will be convinced to take off on the election day as if his voting mattered!

Senthilkumar