Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#45 : The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Homing Pigeons

ISBN: 9380349912

AUTHOR: Sid Bahri

GENRE: Fiction - Romance


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Nimmi Vashi @ The Readers' Cosmos sent us this book as a part of her review program. We thank her for the same.

SUMMARY:: In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar, little does he know that his life will change forever…..
When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom that she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it…..
They say Homing Pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines

Love,lust,prejudice, male prostitution, Self-examination, contemplation and fickle minded confused people. That just about sums up the the story line.

The book is aptly titled “the homing pigeons”, for the homing pigeons always returns home to its mate, no matter how “far” it travels. That's exactly what happens with our protagonists. The above line can't possibly qualify as a spoiler can it? Putting two and two together, one can really predict the climax. That's how the book is written. A love story where the boy loves the girl and girl loves the boy, they don't tell each other, go on with lives,   meet midway and rekindle love, only to break up and drift apart? And it's titled “the homing pigeons”. It’s obvious isn't it?

Then where is the usual twist element? What is a love story sans a good twist! Well! There is plenty of it in this book. In fact, too many twists for my taste. You have decided that your lovers are going to be united, you have titled the book so, what is the point in putting a twist in every other chapter?

I guess the writer saw this question coming. His tag line – Not all love stories are perfect, but then neither are people – answers my question. Our protagonists’, like every other people on planet earth are imperfect. They have their own insecurities along with a bloated ego causing them to take all possible wrong decisions. Reality- bites!
Though one thing I found a bit far-fetched was Adiyta being “forced” to take up prostitution after losing his high paying job. In this patriarchal society, that idea seems more than far-fetched, it's virtually impossible.

The story is rather complex. The narrative forces the reader to concentrate and keeps them hooked. Reason: It's a twin narrative with a perpetual time travel. If you stop paying attention you might end up feeling disoriented and confused.

The book sort of left me feeling wistful thought the writer signs off in a positive note. For a debutant, Sid Bahri has done a great job. The writing was simple and crisp. He has beautifully dealt with usual prejudices of the conservative Indian society.

Love stories aren't exactly my cup of tea, especially if they are this mushy - “ Oh!I am in madly love ” sort. Thank god the writer spared me of that agony! Thanks Sid!

VERDICT: Give it a read. But a word of caution – Don't go for it if you are already depressed.

RATING: 3.8 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sid has been a necktie-clad executive in the corporate world. He has also been a necktie- clad waiter. He has written for charity and writes for writing for passion.  

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback

PRICE: Rs.150

NOTE: This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program". To get free books write to  thereaderscosmos@gmail.com

#44 : Murder At Cold Creek College by Christa Nardi : A Review

Murder At Cold Creek College (Cold Creek #1)
BOOK TITLE: Murder At Cold Creek College
ISBN: 1492323829
AUTHOR: Christa Nardi
GENRE: Fiction – Crime & Mystery
FORMAT: Digital (PDF)
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The writer mailed us a copy for review. We thank her for it!
When the writer contacted us for the review, we sort of jumped into it right away. Murder of a Womanizer, Psychologist in the play. Bring it on! Given my dear co-blogger's pile of “To-Read” books is overflowing, I dived to reading it.
Psychology professor Dr.Adam Millberg is found murdered in Cold Creek college's rec center. The usual suspects : Girlfriend (Plenty there), Ex-Wives ( again plenty : 4), colleagues and the students. The story follows the investigation of the murder narrated by Adam's Colleague Dr.Sherdian. Enter State police office Brett McMann who has been assigned to investigate. He takes Sherdian's help to crack the case and love blossoms between them (Well...okay! The case gets cracked).
There are multiple suspects ranging from Sherdian's colleagues Kim, Ali to various other staff and students in the college. Thanks to a fact that Adam was playboy and traps every other women with his charm. Our protagonist seems to be one amongst the handful women who didn't fall for his antics and kept him at arm's length. Thus she is chosen to “help” the cop out. Turns out Adam slept with a lot of women, took photos/videos of them in the act and blackmailed them. Not only did he simply blackmail, he kept ledgers of the blackmail.
Predictably, that turns out to be the motive for his murder. That's the ironical part of the book. Normally in a crime novel, the motive is elaborated then the murderer is found. But in this book, the murderer is “found” and the motive is later elaborated before the murderer is officially arrested.
The writer has done a rather good job of not revealing the suspects till almost mid way of the book. She kept me guessing till the very end. Initially the book seemed rather mysterious. It sort of lacked that suspense element in the start. But as the story line progressed so did the suspense element. The plot sort of peaked only when Sherdian's car gets vandalized. That is actually when the reader begins to really suspect whom the murderer might be.
There are strong influences of Nancy drew in Christa's writing. Though the story line is unique, for a seasoned Nancy Drew reader the similarities are hard to escape.
What I loved about the book: The writer clings on to that mystery and suspense element very well. The writing was clean sans that usual twisting redirection one finds in a mystery book
What could have been better: Way too many suspects and characters. Every other woman seem to have had an affair with Adam,
VERDICT: Definitely worth a read though it has the usual recepie for a crime novel
RATING: 3.8 on 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: From childhood, as a fan of Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, Perry Mason, and the Hardy Boys, it was inevitable that Christa Nardi would continue her love of books and particularly mysteries. With a career in technical/nonfiction writing (under real name), it is not surprising that her love of mystery transformed into not only reading but writing mysteries. Christa combines her love for reading and writing on her blog. 
PRICE: Rs. 187 (Kindle)


Monday, November 25, 2013

#43 : Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Can you keep a secret?
ISBN: 0440241901
AUTHOR: Sophie Kinsella a.k.a  Madeleine Wickham
GENRE:Fiction- Chic Lit
FORMAT: Digital (E-Pub)
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Stumbled upon it while looking for a light chic lit to read.
Chic lit. That one genre I turn to when I am going through a rough patch. That one genre people don't take seriously. That one genre which can make a woman in turmoil feel better!
This book was no different. The protagonist Emma cariggan like any other normal women has her share of secrets. On her way back from a conference Emma's flight is jilted by turbulence  sending her into  panic mode making her blabber all her secrets to a complete good looking stranger sitting next to her.
She forgets this whole episode until that “good-looking” stranger turns out to be her company's elusive CEO, Jack Harper who is visiting her office. What follows is a complete comedy.
Emma finally breaks up with her long time “perfect” boyfriend Connor and falls in love with Jack Harper who like most of the men in chic-lit stories, break her heart only to come begging later.
It's a feel good kind of story that ends in this happily ever after note. Typical Kinsella style.
One big drawback with Kinsella's writing – It's just too predictable. Especially if you have read the Shopaholic series. Its plain monotonous. Reality bites. It can’t end the same all the time can it?
Yet, no matter how predictable the book is, the reader is always left feeling good and happy. That’s exactly why Kinsella is famous and her books are widely read in this genre
VERDICT: Read it when you are down in dumps. Will do you good.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Madeleine Wickham (born 12 December 1969) is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming ("The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic") to the latest book on being married and having a child ("Shopaholic & Baby"). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Hardcover, Digital
PRICE: Rs.294.60 (Kindle)
BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0031RS7X6/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

Note : This review was first posted in 
Readers' Muse


Sunday, November 24, 2013

#42 : Between Boyfriends By Sarka -Jonae Miller : A Review (Part of Review Tour)

 Displaying Between Boyfriends HR cover (1).jpg
BOOK TITLE: Between Boyfriends

ISBN: 9781452436890

AUTHOR: Sarka-Jonae Miller

GENRE: Fiction - Chic-lit


FORMAT: Digital (PDF)

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone   

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani  

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: ARC as a part of blog tour


Chic-lit books tend to have two possible “story – lines”. One, A brainless -Barbie doll protagonist who is usually down in the dumps in the start of the story and progresses to this confident girl towards the end. Of course there is this usual addition of boyfriends and a girls gang to go with that story line.

Other, A smart Barbie doll whose “oh-so-perfect' life gets all messed up and she sorts it somehow. Yes. Boyfriends & Girls gang here too. No change in that!

“Between Boyfriends” sort of follows the second story line though our protagonist, Jan Weston is no way a “smart Barbie”. She is rich, spoilt and is this haughty girl with a string of failed relationships behind her.
When she is dumped by her last boyfriend, Mike, she decides to “wait” for the perfect boyfriend (Read: Vows not to date the next guy her eyes see) who loves her. Of course, the usual post break up drama of under eating, drinking binge and sleeping randomly happens.

Jan not only is dumped by her boyfriend, her parents cut her off too. Reason: She quit college and joined massage school without telling her mom who is this hot headed lawyer (Honestly. She deserved that!)
Then there is gang of girls. The usual mix where one girl is “superior” to our protagonist in terms of beauty, dressing (The usual “girl” things *sighs*) and then there is this outcast/new comer who is initially disliked by our protagonist but then turns out to help her.

Managing finances, hunting for a job, staying away from men and “fixing” relationships – Pretty much sums up the story.

What I liked about the book : A positive ending. Simple and clear writing.

What could have been better:  The characterization lacked depth. All characters including the protagonist were really shallow.

VERDICT:If you are a woman and you are down in the dumps you might want to pick this book up and give it a reading.

RATING: 3.8 on 5

Note : This review was first posted in 
Readers' Muse

Saturday, November 23, 2013

#41 : Mein Kampf By Adolf Hitler : A Review

Mein Kampf dust jacket.jpeg

BOOK TITLE: Mein Kampf
ISBN: 0395083621
AUTHOR: Adolf Hilter
GENRE: Non-Fiction – Autobiographical manifesto
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: “Hitler” The name speaks volumes and my ever curious brain decided to make me dive for that untouched book in the library.
DISCLAIMER: I am no supporter of Adolf Hitler. He was an “A” Class scoundrel for sure but that doesn't mean I can be biased while reviewing his book. This review is not intended to hurt any sentiments.
I am writing this review about 7 years after I read the book. Back then when I read the book, I wasn't mature enough to know certain things (To be elaborated later). All I knew was Hitler was the reason behind the reduction of a huge of the population of the earth. But now my viewpoint has changed. It has changed so much that I remember Mein Kampf like I read it yesterday. Thanks to growing up.
Mein Kampf (My struggle) is an account of Hitler's life, his aspirations, his thought process as narrated by him. He has split the book into two volumes, Volume 1: The Reckoning and Volume 2: The National Socialist movement.
Volume 1 : The Reckoning more or less narrates how exactly the seeds of “The National Socialist Movement “  was planted in his head. It is very apparent from this line as stated by Hitler; “While the Goddess of Suffering took me in her arms, often threatening to crush me, my will to resistance grew, and in the end this will was victorious” he was a fighter by spirit. He recounts how all the suffering changed him and his ideologies. How exactly did he suffer? He “was forced to earn a living” working as a daily laborer and as a painter. He went hungry for a long time yet he read books voraciously. Books seem to have been his best friend. He then goes on to state that he initially didn't understand two principles, Marxism and Jewry (Mr. Hitler. I don’t too. It would have been best not to have thought about those things back then!  Would have prevented a war you know).  But learning made him frame this mental picture of what earth & its philosophies were. In short, his rather crooked opinion of Jewish ideologies.
But Volume 1 isn't the interesting part.
Volume 2 is where the serious thinking comes in. In volume 2 he elaborates his plans to wipe out the entire religion of Jew in German. He seems to have done a thorough analysis of his ideologies and ways to implement it. (Read steps to achieve “holocaust” or Genocide”).
Volume 2 was more compelling than the first volume. One tends to believe that Hitler was a true patriot and his ideologies are justified. Technically he looked like a saint compared to politicians today. Yes. That's the powerful writing in action. It's a classic example of how a political propaganda must be written. Volume two contained most of Hitler's military blueprints and Political aspirations.
But there was this line in the last chapter, “All the persecutions of the movement and its individual leaders, all vilification and slanders, were powerless to harm it. The correctness of its ideas, the purity of its will, its supporters' spirit of self-sacrifice, have caused it to issue from all repressions strong than ever” which made me snap back to the harsh reality that Hitler's ideologies and methodologies were the reason many innocent people were butchered. Volume two is a true proof that he was the prime reason behind the death of 50 million people.
The book is an eye opener for someone who has no idea of the magnitude of his tyranny. This is “the book” for people who lack determination and that fighter spirit. But unlike Hitler one must learn to fight for the right thing.
How is it even remotely possible for one individual (who was a vegetarian and loved only one women) to influence the world so much, destabilize peace and massacre millions? Simple. His determination. His unwavering stand on his beliefs. Most important of all, his hypnotic influence on people via his books, his writing and his speeches.
The writer just wanted to explain to people, his ideologies and justify it. The book did that bang on. The debate of whether his ideologies are right or wrong is up to the reader. To any sane reader his ideologies would sound wrong. That's the beauty of the book. Hitler hypnotizes the readers, making them feel his ideologies are so valid. Yet his writing makes you understand how wrong he was. That’s the irony of the book.
There were a lot of people in the Axis coalition who were responsible for Jews being slaughtered. But why is Hitler unforgettable while no one even cares to look upon who the “others” were? Read this book to know why.
VERDICT: “The” book to be read before you die. A perfect example of “how to be” but “how not to be that”!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADOLF HITLER (Do I even need to tell more?!)
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Hard Bound, Paperback, Digital , Open Access Edition

P.S. I am not a political sciences student. But I am human. A human who has a perfect sense of right and wrong.

Note : This review was first posted in 
Readers' Muse


Saturday, November 16, 2013

#40 : Talking Walls and Cigarettes and other dark tales by Erin Beck & Kelli Beck : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Talking Walls and Cigarettes And Other Dark Tales

ISBN: 9781492265191

AUTHOR: Kelli Beck & Erin Beck

GENRE: Fiction


FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone collection of short stories

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The writer (Kelli Beck) shipped us a review copy. We thank her for that.


“Talking Walls and Cigarettes and Other Dark Tales” is a rather different book. It's a collection of 7 short stories revolving around one theme – Dark emotions.

The sort of emotions which normally you keep locked away and peeps rarely but when it does, it creates a ruckus. That's exactly what the book is about.

In the first story, “The Salesman” there is this bartender who hasn't recovered from her brother's death. She is visited by a handsome man called the “salesman” (Read a ghost/impression). Unable to overcome her brother’s death she also wants to die. This story is all about – Guilt, Sadness and want of death.

In the second story, “The Cellar”, a woman is tortured and murdered in a cellar. The killer is a psychopath who had a bad childhood which eventually turned him to the monster who takes pleasure in injuring women and murdering them.  Longing for love and revenge of sorts – That’s what this story is all about
The third story, “The Air In Venice” is a fictional account of a boy and a city which suffered due to plague. The boy who lives in a Christian missionary has hallucinations of hooded men spreading some sort of mist. The boy is taken to quarantine along with the sisters of the missionary but Sister Isabetta saves him and smuggles him to another city where he eventually dies. This story is about – Suffering and Death.

The fourth story, “Cough Syrup” is about a boy with a dysfunctional family – Drunk Mother who most of the time is high on drugs and eventually dies. The boy falls in loves with a girl and stalks her. But he has these visions of another woman who warns him and is always with him. This story is all about loneliness and that longing for love

Homecoming”. The fifth story is about a woman who is under psychiatric treatment. She hallucinates about her father who left her. Again this story is about that longing of father’s love.

The sixth story, “Porcelain” was by far the most disturbing story. A child is killed by her own parents to provide meat for their elder daughter’s birthday feast.

Talking walls and Cigarettes” the last story deals with a schizophrenic’s life and his hallucinations. He kills his old neighbor and eventually kills himself right in front of his sister.

Overall, the book was a rather dark and depressing read. I sort of felt drained when I finished reading the book. The writers portrayed the emotions bang on. But almost all the emotions were connected - anger, sadness, loneliness, longing. The sort of emotions that is connected with depression.

My rating for this book is purely based on the emotions the writers conveyed. The stories as such were too dark for my taste.

Dare not read the book in morning or late nights. Dark emotions make impressions faster. It tends to linger. That's exactly what happened with me. I read the book on the way to work. The emotions sort of lingered. I was grumpy or depressed all day!

VERDICT: Unless you have a strong tummy and a stronger heart and appreciate “Emotions” don’t go for it.

RATING: 4 /5 (Only and Only for the emotions the writers have conveyed.

Kelli Beck: When she is not gold mining or globetrotting with her husband, Kelli spends her time writing, reading, and playing with her two dogs. Often described as “worldly” and “well-traveled,” Kelli is envied amongst co-workers and friends alike. She has a knack for reading minds and can often predict the future. Many people worldwide come to her for financial advice and money as she is the sole proprietor of the only money tree in existence. Her heroes include her father, Stephen King, and Albus Dumbledore. She has read the Harry Potter series many times over and is proud to share her birthday with The Chosen One. She has been described as a fearless leader, charismatic, even bulletproof.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Kindle.

PRICE: Rs. 184 (Kindle Version)


Saturday, November 9, 2013

#39 : Where the shadows lie By Michael Ridpath : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Where the shadows lie

ISBN: 1848873972

AUTHOR: Michael Ridpath

GENRE: Fiction- Crime


FORMAT: Hardcover – Abridged

SERIES / STANDALONE: Part of Readers' Digest Select edition

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: My co-blogger. Who else would lend me a hardbound readers' digest collector edition

I simply love the concept of having 4 separate books bound into one. “Where the shadows lie” is the first book. In spite of hitting the reader's block I managed to finish the book pretty quickly by standards. Reason: The book kept me hooked.

Our protagonist, Magnus Jonson, a cop in Boston is a target of goons. Thanks to his whistle blowing activity of a senior cop. He is shipped off to Iceland by the FBI's witness protection program. Why particularly Iceland? He is native of that country who migrated to US. And mostly importantly, there has been a murder and the Iceland police being inexperienced in such “brutal” form of violence need an “experienced” consultant.

Thus Magnus lands in Iceland’s wild volcanic landscape and begins his work investigating the murder of a professor studying an Ancient Icelandic saga. The investigation takes plenty of twists and turns pacing back and forth from past to present. Why was the professor killed? He went about poking his nose in an ancient saga called as Gakur's saga involving a ring (Yes I know rings a bell. J.R.R Tolkien’s LOTR!) Our dear villain’s dad finds that evil ring. (Nope I am not going to reveal who) The ring is allegedly gives the wearer immense power. But with great power comes great evil. That's exactly what happens. Our villain’s dad follows his ancestral manuscripts (letters from Tolkien and a original “copy” of Gakur's saga) and finally locates the ring. Our dear villain accidentally kills off his father. There begins the “evil descend” of the ring.

Magnus figures this all out by simply putting two and two together (Read talking to all people reopening old case files – The dad's murder) In short, he opens a big can of old worms.

Finally Magnus and our villain’s sister dump the ring in the mouth of a volcano for the havoc it caused.

The book kept me hooked all the way. There were no logical flaws. I loved the description of Iceland.

His love for J.R.R.Tolkien certainly shows in his writing. After all, one doesn't simply use “The ring” unless he is a Tolkien fan.

I had only one complaint : He didn't need that many characters. Arni's sister, the black detective!

Overall. Neat would be word to describe the book

VERDICT: Go for it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Before becoming a writer, Michael used to work in the City of London as a bond trader. He has written eight thrillers set in the worlds of business and finance, but is now trying my hand at something different. Where The Shadows Lie, the first in a series featuring an Icelandic detective named Magnus Jonson, was published in 2010. The third book in the series, Meltwater, is out in the UK this summer. His books have been translated into over 30 languages (including Icelandic).

He was born in Devon, brought up in North Yorkshire and studied history at Oxford University. He now lives in North London with his American wife and three children. He is a former vice chair of the Crime Writers' Association.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Hardcover, Paperback, Digital

PRICE: Rs. 191.90 (Kindle)

Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse