Book review – Facebook Phantom by Suzanne Sangi
Before I say anything else, I want to tell you that Suzanne Sangi is just 17 years old and she has managed to not just write but publish a fantastic story. Now that’s something!
She completely won me over with her easy style of writing and the engaging story. I couldn’t put the book down once I began. I laughed as I recognized myself with the main character’s teenage tantrums, crushes and Facebook obsession.
Sonali Machado is a teenage girl who has just finished off her tenth board exams and is set to enjoy her holidays. And enjoying, obviously, means waking up in afternoons, sleeping late, hanging out with friends and basically doing whatever she wants. Her world turns upside down when she meets Omi Daan, a stranger who she befriends on facebook. He comes in her life, unannounced, calm as it is before a storm before he shows his true colors. Omi Daan is not just any other ordinary boy. Well to begin with, he has killer looks, curly bronze hair, intense mystifying grey eyes and the reluctant smile that hint at the pain in his heart. Something stranger is that his FB profile doesn’t turn up on anyone’s computer but Li, as Sonali’s friends call her. Neel and Jo are her two best friends. The three are inseparable but as Omi wounds himself deeper into her life, she finds herself getting more and more distant from those she once loved the most. At first, Omi is just the new crush of her life, too cute not to acknowledge but soon he turns to be some kind of an obsession. She can think, dream and talk about nothing other than him. It’s almost non-human. As she tries to find more about this strange character that is threatening to destroy her life, she and her friends find themselves in a situation that is way beyond reality. Will she be able to save hers and her friend’s life? Is Omi Daan really who he claims to be?
As fantasy entwines with reality, you will be hooked to the book until you finish.
Paperback edition: April 2013
Book Review – The Deadly Royal Recipe by Ranjit Lal
- One lonely princess
- Three school friends
- One little brother
- One villainous raja
- One even more villainous son
- One top-secret Recipe Master book
Blend the lonely princess thoroughly with the friends, brother, raja and son. Mix it with the Master book. Stir in lots of exotic food. Cook it all to perfection with a fast paced plot. Garnish with action, adventure, car-chases and elephant rides. This wacky, racy adventure will have you burping with satisfaction.
Aah! Imagine the spicy Indian chaats, the tangy Italian pastas and the finest Danish chocolate, to top it all, served in one plate. Mouth watering, no? Well, at first glance the book seems to be, too.
There’s the Kamargarh raja and the whole dynasty who are obsessed with extravagant food. The recipes to which are a secret that people are ready to pay any price for, even shed some blood! Then there is princess Zafira, a feisty young gal, who apart from being filthy rich, has the knowledge of about almost everything. She can cook some of the most delectable dishes, drive a Rolls Royce, ride an elephant, make spears out of bamboos to fish and etc etc. Oh and did I mention she is school going kid? I am so jealous!
Well anyways, she makes a few friends, Lana who can dream, think and talk of nothing other than food, Ragini, Yogita and her little brother Yogesh(who is sadly named Barfi, poor him!). They all go together on a camping trip and the poor kids get trapped in a royal feud over the Master book. Rest of the story is about how they manage to save the family secret, the Kamargarh honor and most of all, their lives!
The book is quite amusing, funny here and there but I would rank it just as average. Nevertheless, it’s a good way to pass time for young readers (I would say, up to 11 years).
254 Pages .
Paperback edition: Dec 2012
Book Review – Jobless, Clueless, Reckless by Revathi Suresh
Jobless, Clueless, Reckless – These are the very three words that seem like the answer to why the author wrote the book. And in all honesty, I am glad she did. There are no twisty plots, complicated characters or beyond reality situations. It’s just simple and easy. It’s the life of a teenage girl, Kavya laid bare in our hands. I know I am not making it sound all exciting but it is.
To those who are way past their teen years, remember the rash decisions, the infinite crushes, the big bad boy who seemed to be every girl’s dream boyfriend, mom’s totally un-cool lectures and dad’s protective nature that always seemed to be going a bit over board? That’s what teenage is all about and so is the book. I love how Revathi Suresh has compiled it up in 173 pages.
Kavya has no idea why her life turned out to be this way. Her mom has forgotten that she actually has children, her brother…well he’s just a confused eleven year old and her friends…umm she’s not sure she has that many. Her life is far from normal and to add to it is Kiran. No, not a girl but the handsome blue eyed guy who everyone has a crush on. As hard as she tries to live with it all, there’s something or the other that always gets in the way. She is living without television, laptop, mobiles and Facebook! And imagine we are in the 21st century! She never got a chance to go to school and was home-schooled at a farm. Her friends find her nothing but weird and eventually she starts to feel the same way. She is caught up in a web of friendships that she’s not even sure are true, cheating boyfriend, dumb girls, and not-so-decent guy who she can’t help but like.
Adolescence is like that one crazy night after having too much drink. Wild, careless, jumbled but above all, FUN! And so is this book. (Yeah, I am fifteen and no, I don’t drink. So obviously I wouldn’t know. I saw it in the movies. Okaaayyy!) I loved it and I am pretty sure you will too.
Oops The Mighty Gurgle by RamG Vallath
Oops…The Mighty Gurgle. As absurd as the name may sound the book sure is funny, best suited for kids of 10 to 12 years. I feel as if even RamG Vallath would have said, “Oops! I just wrote it.” Pardon my silly humor I guess the book just got to me.
The plot of the story is totally out of the world, literally! Gurgles are an extra-terrestrial species evolved from the genetically modified pumpkins on Earth. As you would have figured out by now Oops is the name of a gurgle and the protagonist of the story. These pumpkins or gurgles left the planet in fear being squeezed into pumpkin juice and now live on Unearth. They are well beyond our time…so far in the future that other species of that time refer to humans as “pre-primitive”. Imagine!! Well just like them there are many other species each living on their own planets and inter-space travel is just another casual matter.
The antagonists are the groinks. They are green colored highly evolved pigs. You must be wondering why green. Before you start racking your brains of any green colored pig you might have read of, remember that pigs often represent greed and envy. The author says that the groinks were so jealous of other species that they turned green with envy. Well anyways, this nature of theirs turns out be a threat for us on Earth as they are set on taking over planets and making them one of their own.
The Intergalactic Governance Council is unable to reach a sound decision and thus, Oops decides to go and save Earth all alone and prove himself. On his mission he is aided by two pre-primitives i.e. humans of our era, Chuck and Kia. Oh! And even Floppy, a dog and another pre-primitive. With the Cerebums of planet Holibutt, who just worship their butts as their brains are in their bottoms and are as addicted to Assbook as we are to Facebook (Yeah guys, in the coming million years ‘having brains in his bottoms’ won’t be an insult, in-fact another species.), the ‘single and ready to mingle’ emperor of penguins who sends out matrimonial ads to outer space through the aurora borealis and other totally bizarre species that come along the journey are sure to make you laugh out loud.
Book review: Zombiestan by Mainak Dhar
“Mullah Omar sat down for what would be the last meal of his life…” and thus begins Mainak Dhar’s Zombiestan. What else would you expect when yellow-skinned, ghoul looking zombies with puss and blood running down their faces stare out at you from the book cover. Being a fan of romantic and mystery genres only, I was a bit reluctant to read a book of vengeful zombies and helpless humans. But for the sake of writing this review I started reading it. Much to my surprise I was roped in from the first chapter itself, where Dhar goes on describe the killing of Taliban leaders. Yes! Osama is dead and the US Navy Seals have yet again attacked the terrorists. That is how it all begins and the Zombiestan takes birth.
People overnight have turned into zombies, or the ‘biters’ as they are being called, who seem to know only one thing – to kill humans and make them one of their own. Roads are stranded, people have fled from homes and crammed into small shops, finding every possible way of surviving. What begin as aimless killers who slaughter humans like barbarians, evolve into well-coordinated Taliban terrorists who have learned to plan, read and write. This is when fate throws together five complete strangers to embark on a journey that calls for much more than just the “spirit of adventure”. Mayukh, a 17 year old boy, Swati and her 3-year-old brother, Abhi, Hima, an old history professor but with the guts of a soldier and David Bremsak, an US Navy Seal and thus, the only individual amongst them who is likely to stand a possibility of surviving. When they discover that Abhi might be the only chance of theirs, and for that matter the world’s survival, they go on board a journey to Ladakh with a hope of finding help there. They face challenges where they have put aside their fears and weaknesses and fight for each other. They get into deadly wars with the biters who are now after Abhi and even the human survivors who feel handing over Abhi to them would make peace. Can this odd group of survivors, an US commando, a boy who is shaken from the loss of his family, an old professor and novelist, a young girl and a three-year old make it?
As the saga unfolds, somewhere the readers form a connection with the characters and as their heart races when attacked by biters, so does yours and when they crumble with pain on seeing another human die in front of them you also feel the helplessness. Even the naiveté and simplicity of the 3-year-old, Abhi in tough situations is sure to put smile on your faces. It brings forward the essence of the small joys in life that in normalcy we tend to overlook whether it be playing video games, having pizza every other weekend or just a kiss of goodnight from your mom. Mainak Dhar’s Zombiestan makes up for an action-packed, thrilling novel with even a bit of peripheral romance for some romanticists. It is a good read although the introductions can feel quite long but it surely is gripping.
Bitch Goddess for Dummies by Maya Sharma Sriram
The title was catchy enough to lay my hands on this book as I kept my laptop bag on chair and found this book newly come in for review! I finished the book in two days flat, that is because, I had to sneak time from my sleep and morning breakfast. I could not have read the book in the office hence, two days.
About the author – this is Maya’s first novel and surprisingly it is good , funny, wild humour and full of masala. I must congratulate her on her work at the onset. I hope that she keeps up the good work.
The story is set in Singapore and Chennai. Of late, the Tamilians seem to be hot favorite characters of the writers, not sure though as to why.
So, we have Mira Iyer who is almost 30, single and kind of ready to mingle but the problem is that she earns well, has a mind of her own, fiercely independent and cannot seem to gel with the boys or men who are set up by her mother to meet her. Hence, the usual ma-beti tussle “when-will-you-marry” continues. It does form an important plot of the story. The boss ignores her; the pretty colleague seems to always ahead of her no matter how good work Mira does. The only person who seems to care is Vinay, a friend in need is a friend indeed. He is her team member and a friend.
After being ignored for so long Mira decides to shed her Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes image and gets a new avatar “Bitch Goddess”. Thus begins a roller coaster ride for Mira. During this ride, she demands a promotion, some good work for her team, she shocks her pretty colleague Sanya, almost loses her friend Vinay, gets wooed by Rohan (Sanya also likes him). As if this was not enough, the plot thickens when her half-sister lands at her doorstep unannounced and insists that she be given shelter; circumstances force her to meet her estranged father too!
So, as readers, you will have some unanswered questions – Did Mira get a promotion? Did she get the projects for her team? What happened to Rohan finally? Who wins Rohan – is it Mira or is it Sanya? So on and so forth. I do not want to give the tidbit details of the entire story, I want people reading this to pick the book and start figuring out themselves. The book gives you a message, a little make over doesn’t harm anyone though it should not be overboard and hurt people.
Sometimes we all need to stop being always nice and make people around us notice and set the things right. The book is all about this and more. Thankfully, there is some dark humour thrown in so that a reader will not get bored.
So, all you people out there, go ahead, pick the book and read it; Oh yes! For ladies, it’s a must read book, some of you will identify with Mira.
Ginger Chai gives a “garam chai – masala maar ke” verdict for Bitch Goddess for Dummies.
Book Review: The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian
Having read all of Ravi Subramanian’s financial crime thrillers, both as a reader and a reviewer he remains one of my favourite Indian writers. So I was waiting eagerly for ‘The Bankster’ and the title name itself was quiet catchy. As soon as it hit the stores, I caught hold of a copy. Did the bankster manage to live up to my expectations? Here is my performance appraisal of Ravi Subramanian’s latest thriller. Read on.
If you have read all his four books, you might find it getting bit monotonous and bit predictive in certain areas but he nevertheless has a knack to deftly navigate into the murky waters of banking world clouded by scams and fuelled by ambitions, greed and power struggle. Being a banker himself, helps Ravi and thus If God was a Banker, Devil in PinStripes and Incredible Banker went on to be a best seller. While in the first two books, Ravi confined himself to the push and pulls within the Banking world, in Incredible Banker he came out of the banking closet and touched upon the terror funding through misuse of banking system. While reading Incredible Banker, I felt the author was bit apprehensive and it reflected in the writing style probably because Ravi was delving into broader areas of crime involving Naxalism. In The Bankster there is more maturity and confidence in handling a bigger stage of global conspiracy and crime.
His latest novel, The Bankster still has his banking DNA intact but it also marks a more articulate waddling into serious crime thriller by the author. He connects three dots – different characters and events and converge them into a nail-biting saga that is worth all the time you pour into the book.
So the bank in picture is the familiar Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2), which Ravi fictionalized in his previous book Incredible Banker. So if you have read the IB, you would be familiar with Karan Panjabi, the banker turned financial journalist who also plays the key role in this book too. The plot begins in the African country of Angola and with Joseph Bragnanza, a CIA covert agent involved in blood diamonds and arms dealing. From there it switches to a small town in Kerala, Devikullam and a 75-year-old man fighting the government in Gandhian way for clarity in the nuclear program being commissioned in his area and then we have our GB2 where the banking rigour, manipulations and power struggle brings out the various shades of the bankers. The storyline wades us alternatively through the three dots spanning continents, various characters and finally how all the streams converges into a murkier plot that also sniffs out three banker’s life during the course.
What could be the connecting point of an international CIA agent and events happening in Kerala and the tragic deaths of Greater Boston Global bank employees? There is a global conspiracy to undermine the nation’s growth and how does it get muddier in cognisance with certain bankers? How the financial crime gets unravelled and does it shake the foundation of the multinational bank? It’s for you to read and trust me Ravi keeps you glued to the pages till the end and makes a compelling read on one go.
The Bankster for me is a more accomplished work of the author so far wherein he exudes more confidence and control over the plot and the course of it. Do grab a copy if you are a fan of crime thrillers, The Bankster is sure to cast his tight grip on you.
Book review: The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy
Nilanjana Roy is a popular journalist and writer. She is a regular columnist at Business Standard. The Wildings is her first novel. Not since reading T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cat” have I enjoyed a book about the feline species so much. Nilanjana Roy has woven a magical tale describing the lives of the wildings (stray cats for uninitiated) and other assorted city animals. This lovely book is written without a shade of condescension.
Spoiler Alert: Please skip the following two paragraphs if you don’t want to know the plot.
The story revolves around the wildings of Nizamuddin, which includes several clans that live by strict rules. The cats communicate with each other by linking to a psychic cat network through their whiskers. One night their network is interrupted by the calls of a strange, new cat, called Mara. The calls are very potent, indicating that Mara is a sender, with exceptionally powerful linking skills. The community gathers together and decides that this intruder must be killed. Beraal, an experienced hunter and the clan-queen, is entrusted with this task.
The plan goes of off-kilter when Beraal realises that the sender is a tiny orange kitten, who doesn’t even know that she is linking. Beraal takes Mara under her wings, and teaches the kitten to control her sendings so that she doesn’t disturb the cat networks. Under Beeral’s tender guidance, Mara begins to hone her linking skills; soon she is able to travel to distant places through the psychic link. She even ends up befriending the tigers at the zoo. When a large clan of blood-hungry house cats attack the community, Mara helps the clan in the most unexpected manner.
The story-telling is fast paced and captivating. While Mara and Beeral are the most detailed characters, we meet a host of other wildings, including the naughty kitten Southpaw, The blue-eyed Siamese Miao, and the villainous Datura. Other animals including a reticent mongoose, Kirri, and a brave mouse, Jethro also make an appearance.
Interspersed with the text, are illustrations by Prabha Mallya. These black and white, mixed media images blend beautifully with the text. My favourite is the small drawing of Mara and Southpaw rubbing noses, and the full-page rendering of Mara looking at the Royal Bengal tiger, Ozymandias.
The most delightful aspect about The Wildings is that it is indeed a world of cats, and not an allegorical reference to human societies. In fact, the book rarely talks about humans except to refer to them as awkward, “bigfeet.” However, some of its themes will resonate with all readers, such as Mara’s fear of venturing outside her house, Southpaw’s unquenchable curiosity, and Beraal’s strong maternal instincts.
This book raises serious questions, such as the dangers of isolation and the cause of insanity, however it’s done so subtly that you never even realise the seriousness of the issues. Reading the book is a complete journey of wonder and thrill, right to the action packed ending. However, it lingers long after the last page has been read.
This curious assortment of cats is sure to win your heart, especially if you are an animal lover.
Book review written by Seema Misra is a Bangalore-based freelance writer and artist. When she is not writing, she spends her time reading books, comics, and graphic novels. She is also an avid movie-watcher, and reviews independent cinema, world cinema, and animation. She blogs at http://lalalandandreellife.blogspot.in/ and http://lalalandandreellife.blogspot.in/.
Book Review: Untruly Yours by Smita Shetty
Untruly Yours is a lighthearted romantic book to begin with.
The book begins on a lighter note where you get introduced to Natasha and her 11-year-old son Rishab while they clean the garden of their house. Readers’ get introduced slowly to the Rakesh – Natasha’s psychologist husband, who is professionally consumed, an alpha neatness-fetish man! Theirs is a small family settled in US where Natasha works in a local Radio Station and Rakesh practices medicine.
Natasha comes from a fast forward Bengali family and Rakesh is a Tamil Brahman. The writer takes you through a roller coaster laughter ride when you get introduced to over sized “Maya” the mother in law of Natasha. As one reads on, we find that though from outside everything looks fine in Natasha’s life, yet it is not the case. She misses the romance and appreciation in her life which should come from her husband. While she juggles through the routine and the emotions, she gets an unexpected call from India. This makes her travel back to India and she is accompanied by her son and her ‘devastatingly handsome work colleague’ Steve.
In India, she finds that her home land has under gone many changes however, the deep-rooted issues in the Indian Society still exists. The realization comes in the form of the visit to her friend Priti whose was a happy marriage but it came apart on dowry issues. Natasha helps settling her friend and on other side her own ‘one – man – woman’ status seems to go hay wire with she getting undue attention from Steve and her ‘blast from past’ Veer .
Natasha goes through a journey of self – discovery in India. What happens post this discovery? Will she go back to Rakesh? Or, will she decide to pursue Veer who still yearns for her? Pick the book and read it for yourself.
Over all “Untruly Yours” makes a good read, pick it up and read it at your own pace. It is a simple, sweet and short book. Smita Shetty as a debut writer makes a very good effort and has really written well.
Ginger Chai verdict – a very good read!
Book review: Just Married, Please Excuse by Yashodhara Lal
“Opposites Attract – Trouble” – the tagline of the book “Just Married, Please Excuse” by Yashodhara Lal is tantalizing enough for anyone to pick the book and at least browse through it! I being an impulsive reader generally go by the title, followed by the cover page and last would be the story inside the book. When the book arrived at home for review, I was skeptical though; not because I didn’t like the title but I could not hold it amongst other books and flip it over and over again before deciding whether to pick it or not. However, the first look of the book itself was motivating enough for me to start reading it. Hmm.. I guess now, I should actually start writing about the book rather than giving blow-by-blow account of how I read it.
The book is all about marriage, literally speaking! Okay, let me correct myself, it is about love marriage which is arranged with the consent of the families. So we have our own “typical Dilli Wali” Yashodhara (Y) being married to Vijay (V) who is from good old school of thought, though not so much old-fashioned because he does pop a question to her on marriage and he does believe in love marriages. A Punjabi girl getting married into a non-punjabi family itself is a challenge; however, all said and done, they get married and settle into Bangalore later moving to Mumbai. They have some good people like Zareena (the over friendly maid – by the way there is no denying here that we literally love our maids); Vinod (the polite driver from small town with big dreams) and of course Vivi – friend in need is a friend indeed kinds (believe me we all have one of this kind in our circles). The not-so-expected arrival of the baby, Peanut (while reading I was rather wondering how moongfali would sound! ) makes the life for Y a little upside down but not so upside down for V. The real journey for both of them as a married couple begins from here. Both of them have different views on raising the child. The seven years of age difference between Y and V doesn’t help them much, a visit to the marriage counselor also is not of much help; but then the help does come for both of them from V’s parents who have been married for ages and imagine they never fought.
The book is a reality check on the married life of the Urban Couples who stay alone far away from the comfort zone of the families. As one reads, you will find yourself laughing over smallest of the matters which are detailed out in the book. Y’s tryst with the atta is one of the fun moments which a reader cannot forget! She searching for the ready dough in the kitchen had me out of my wits! V’s character is really endearing and his “I-am-born-curious-and-I-will-ask-all-questions” quality makes him fun to read. And to add to this, the arrival of the maid from Y’s mother’s house is another feather added to all those funny moments.
The book makes a good read, and it can be finished quickly so as a reader one doesn’t have to bother much as to when-it-will-get-over kind situation. Most of the incidents or rather all of it is so much driven from real life incidents that as a reader one could immediately relate to. The cover page is kind of cute (yes, it is a female way of saying it is good). Overall, it is a good book to spend money and time on it and believe me as a first title from the author; it does make a good read. Way to go Yashodhara!
Ginger Chai recommends this a “cool” pick.
|HarperCollins Publishers India