Friday, June 19, 2015

Review of Delirium by Sowmya Aji

Check the book details here 
Disclaimer: This review is part of the blog tour of The Book Club and all the details of the book can be found here.

Raising my toast to one of the most undramatic extra-marital affair I have ever come across.

Anjana aka Anju lands up with a scoop after a chance meeting with the Vice-Captain of the Indian Cricket team, Avinash. More than a professional relationship, they are attracted towards each other. 

Marital Issues..
Falling in love is not the problem. But being married and falling in love is. Anjana is already married to a businessman, Naren. It is not like she is having problems with her husband. One of the best part of this book is that relationships are not shown as dramatic and are not dragged more then it needed to be. The extra marital affair is not justified but treated as a part of complex human emotions. Why did she fall in love with Avinash even when Naren is portrayed as a great guy? Sex is not an issue in their marriage nor  Naren comes across as abusive.

Then why?
It is just one of "those things" that "happens". She fell in love with her subject. No explanation, No reproach and definitely no begging for forgiveness.

In Reality?
Makes me wonder if this is what our society is heading towards. As a writer, Sowmya Aji laid it out as it is. No judgements passed. Throughout the story, Anjana's emotions are portrayed and it did not even touch on the emotions of others around her. We come to know about others due to Anjana's interaction with them. Loved the way Ms.Aji stuck to her protag's POV.

The background.
Is the relationship between the media and the cricket world. When Anjana gets the scoop on  the upper- level cricketers using steroids, she starts questioning the team members. This leads to many revelations but none of them came from Avinash, but from the captain of the team, Ratan. Sadly, it is Avinash, who is caught in the web of scandals and accusations. And it is Anjana who is always standing on the thin line between duty and emotions.

Complex characters...
Ms. Aji has woven many complex characters together in this story. From Avinash going through his mood swings to Kartik feeling angry with Anjana for hurting his new-found friend. Strangely the lack of emotion seemed to be Naren's domain and not Anjana's.

That puzzled me as  woman. Is he blind? Open marriages are becoming the norm in the working elites  but still.. not unless he has some major flaws in his own character,I really could not understand why he never questions her. When the newspapers screams of your wife having an affair.. well, there has to be some reaction. But seriously, Naren is booked for me in the next life. :D

Ethics...
The ethics in this story will have you wondering about every shade of grey.Anjana's professional ethics were ten times more than her personal ones. That was another thing that puzzled me. Her coolness to the whole situation. Did she not feel guilty even once? Even when she was making love to Naren - did it not stop her even for a second? Strangely, it is this shallowness in her character which makes her so endearing to the readers.

I frankly started doubting my own character! Not once did I think, while reading it, that Anjana was wrong in any way. It is only when I started writing the review, did I start questioning this . Needless to say, this story is so gripping that you will find this book totally unputdownable.

Small doses of humor...
Even with a serious topic, Ms Aji has managed to inject, what I am presuming, is her dry sense of humor. That scene with 'Mr.Seatmate' was really funny and realistic. 

The colloquial feel..
Whether Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore - Ms. Aji has kept the voice true to the cities. This was the best part of the story..When Anjana translates Assi mentally to 80 - this type of incidents is so bloody true! This forms the heart  of the story. Every place Anjana went became picturesque with Ms. Aji's words.

Rating
Reasoning

I would have gladly given this story a five star but there were a few points that made me question the completeness of the novel.

1) What happened to the fiancĂ©e of Avinash?
2) What was troubling Naren? Why did he not share it with his wife?

And then one line...
 We didn't do live phone-ins on the news shows then, but recorded question-answer phone sessions....
 Did she know that Live phone-ins would happen in the future?

I am all for the 'leave it to the reader's imagination' in the ending. Especially in regard to Avinash and Anjana but the above two questions were a major part of the story and needed some conclusion. The focus of the story was totally on Anjana's reaction to the the discovery of 'who's taking the sterioids' in the Indian Cricket Team and Ms. Aji's journalistic background is easily noticeable at the way she has etched Anjana's character. And I do hope there is a Delirium Part 2 for some of the relationships will haunt me if I don't know their destination.

 Even with a very serious topic, Ms Aji has managed to inject, what I am presuming, is her dry sense of humour. That scene with Mr.Seatmate was really funny.

Would I recommend this book :
A definite Yes... It's  a superb read.

Lines that stayed with me-
"Why did it always feel so good to come back to Bangalore? The air was balmy despite the pollution, and soothing .The old airport was nothing much to boast about . But it was my city, my turf."

- for those who are from Bangalore these lines will resonate. Its just a feeling which you remember every time you land there. Made me homesick.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review of Dead Money Run by J.Frank James

Go to Goodreads to read the blurb etc.
The story...
Is gripping. From the start till the end, the author has managed to keep the readers glued to the story. The book comes with a prequel and the review of the same can be found here. Thankfully the doubts I had, regarding the prequel, was unfounded here. The names had variance. and were easy to connect with. But coming to that I am still wondering who Louise is? :P

Lou Malloy starts on an adventure. And the strange part is he had just come out of one. But 15 years behind the bars at Atlanta Penitentiary must have changed him- one would think so. When the warden asked him, "So what are your plans, Lou?" I started 'listening' too. Well, god forbid if I was in his shoes, I would have first thought of some old age home plans but nada!.. this pesky character had some plans of his own. 

Finding the $15 million he had stolen from the Casino Mafias 15 years ago (wolf whistle) to avenging the traumatic death of his sister, Susan Malloy. 
(Note to the author: I felt bad about this for I had really liked the character in the prequel. An afterlife episode perhaps?)

This episode is the 'hooking' line of the story. Why was the sister working as a prostitute? Why was her name Kandi when she died? The mystery unravels as we start travelling along with Lou. We meet some interesting characters as the strory progresses. Hilary Kelly  and Crusher being my favourites for obvious reasons: I am a good person. :)

The gory details:
This book is not for those who are shy of blood. As Lou and Hilary start getting clues about the man who was responsible for Susan's death, they encounter many who want to finish them off. They could not understand initially why so many were after them. As it becomes clear to them, the game becomes more dangerous. Whom to trust? Who is real? And above all who is on their side is something they had to work out everyday - to stay alive. 

Then comes a situation when Lou is brought back to the point he had started, where he is forced to rob another casino. Why? Will he do it? Well, read the book 

The visual effects are good. I will not deny that there are moments I cringed at the killings but they were justified. I am a no trigger happy person. In fact the opposite. But when your loved one is put through that and without justice being done or remorse being felt; well a guy's got to do what he has got to do. 

"Don't shoot, Malloy. I didn't know who she was. I thought she was just another dirty ....."

Well.. I rest my case. 

Pacing...
J. Frank James did his own rythm with this one. At times, it was too fast paced. Character's introduced, characters vanquished. In a blink of an eye few of the character, whom you could have liked in the future, were done away with. eg. Sheila. But keeping the genre in mind, I will have to admit, the author has done a good job in keeping the readers guessing. The game was not of whodunit? The game was whenwillhebecaught. (Copyright. I invented the word.) 

Rating
Reasoning
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fast paced novel. The antagonists. like Sonny and Nick were cruel enough to make me cheer for Lou and characters like Crusher were soft enough to give multiple dimensions to this plot. Not to forget the romance between Lou and ..... 

Will I recommend this book:
To every crime story lover: YES

The Line that stayed with me 

"I know the difference between a Flying Mare and a Full Nelson. Do you?"
She had me there. "
Yaay! for women power :)



Grab Your Copy Here

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Notes of a Reviewer #2



Question Asked :
Do comments matter? 
Why Am I not getting comments for my Blog Post?



YOU won't. Have you seen any politician getting votes without campaigning? Have you seen any contest winners getting likes without flooding the social media? Forget the technicalities. The cliche, 'a mother gives milk to the child only when it cries' seriously works here. (Don't laugh. I can be dramatic if I want to be!) 

So stop cribbing. The reviewing world and the world of blogging has one thing in common.

You scratch my back and I will scratch yours. 
But do you have to do it? An Emphatic NO. Unless, it is the comments that you are lusting after. As a reviewer keep one thing in mind - Amazon and Goodreads does not care how many comments you have on your blog post.

What are comments to a Blogger?
Lets call it an Ego Metric.The more the comments come, the more the writer, in you ,feels good. The more your confidence rises, the more you  feel encouraged to write.

Initially.

Slowly the comments dwindle and takes down with it your confidence. DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN. Comments are not the criteria of your blog posts. You write for yourself. As you keep on posting, you will find your own niche, where you will get your genuine followers- nah.. make it supporters. The word follower gives me an image of mindless people joining the Rajneesh Ashram. 

FRIENDS ARE NOT FOLLOWERS. THEY ARE YOUR INITIAL SUPPORTERS.

If you have entered the reviewing world, with an army of friends, forget about it. Readers are not fools. This is different from the posts you write about women issues, political hullabaloo(s) or lifestyle posts. Such posts will automatically attract comments since they are #trending topics. A book is not a trending topic.(Unless you are criticizing a certain erotica writer :) Btw.. that post of mine got max. hits. I really should thank the writer, even if, at that point of time, it was not the intention.)

So Dear Reviewers,
If you expect to have lot of comments in your blog, make your post worthwhile. How? Next Post. 

Things to remember with regards to comments ...

1. Do not measure yourself based on the comments you get.

2. Interact with bloggers- only if you want to. According to an anonymous blogger,

"I left blogging 6 times just because the 'expectanc'y of commenting on others blogs and wanting them to comment on mine." 

A big NO NO .

3. Interact via #Twitter if you want. Believe me, you will be doing the blogger a big favour tweeting her posts, rather than leaving glorifying comments on her blog.

4. Between you and me.. controversial comments work better. ( Don't quote me on this. I did not say this. :P but again it depends on the topic of the post.  I would love to write a post on #supportSK.(Til,my dear friend, has forbidden me to take the name and Sk can be the spoilt brat or the aging hero. Bleh. Who cares!)

5. Comments should encourage you to write more but lack of comments should make you more determined. 

End of the day.. blogosphere is rent free. Why should you worry if someone cares or not? You write because you CARE- you EXPRESS and you HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. 

Bleh! Look at me. Do I care..? Ok.. let me know that in the comment section. :D

Next post is : How to express yourself when you have to say something negative about the novel. Keep your questions coming @rubinaramesh1973@gmail.com

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lou Malloy: The Run Begins By J. Frank James

Click to go to Goodreads for the Blurb 
Lou Malloy: The Run Begins is the prequel of  Dead Money Run by J. Frank James. Interesting. 

Lou, a seventeen year old teenager, lives in Kentsville, Kansas. He his the son of the Deputy, who lives by the law. Lou hates the small town. According to him only three kinds of people stay in Kentsville, Kansas,


"Those who are running away from someplace, someone; or something worse."

With these lines we get to understand that Lou is a very tough nut to crack. He has an attitude which demostrats his will power and the incident with Whinny and Duck proves that he could very well stand up for himself and the story progresses  it's very clear to us, as a reader, that his various rendezvous with dangers in the city of Kentsville was already shaping his future.

When his family decides to leave the place, Lou instead of going with them, decides to take his life in his own hand. He runs away from his house without any thing. On his journey, he meets many shady characters. But, he comes out of every situation and soon establishes his superiority amongst his peers. Soon he joins a group of men who decide to rob a casino, from under the nose of the mafia. The stage is set, the players are lined up and the story begins.....

Hard hitting...
The characters are all tough and and well placed. I liked Susan's spunkiness and Lou's boldness. But whether this boldness is right or wrong we are yet to see. 

The running train..
The story is very fast paced and the scenes are moving forward as Lou sees the world passing by. His fast paced personality is enough to keep a reader turning the pages. I have not yet read Dead Money Run. Reading about Lou is making me curious to pick up the book. In that way, this prequel has done what it is meant to do .. pique the interest of the reader to pick up the next one.

Rating 
Reasoning 

The naming ceremony..
The author is in love with the letter L. Many of the characters have their name starting with L.. Lou, Lowe and then Louise. As  a reader, it took me some time getting used to all the L's. Even when Lou is expressed in first person, it was getting confusing at times.

A mobster deserves more than fishes.. 
At the cost of hurting the artist's sentiments, a book cover should tell a reader what exactly he or she is getting into. A story which deals with the Mafia, robbery and murders.. well deserves more than different colored fishes. 

I am looking forward to read the next part. The character of Lou is well etched and is deadly enough.

The Line that decides the destiny of Lou..
"It was clear even Henry was into the act of throwing caution to the wind. The one thing that my dad and I always agreed on, if something was too good to be true, it usually was. But instead of taking my own counsel, I jumped into the net along with the other two fish and listened to the plan."




Grab you copy here ..


At No Man's Command by Melanie Milburne

Check out the Goodread for the blurb etc. 
Disclaimer: I drove till Barnes & Noble and bought it :)

She...
She is Aiesha Adams. A Vegas showgirl, a home wrecker and above all without any scruples. But still endearing. A lady who has seen it all, endured it all. Aiesha comes out very strong as a character. In fact, for this genre, I got a shock at the way her character is portrayed. Where is the damnsel in distress - the one which we are so used to? This lady knows how to throw the punch- literally.  At first, as a reader, I didn't know whether I even liked her. Too cut throat for me. And then, she starts growing on me. Of course she is camouflagd under layers of sassiness and arrogance. Understandable. under the circumstances. 

A woman embroiled in sex and scandal and defying my image of the demure heroines so associated with Harlequin. Took me some time to digest this sassy lass..But when I did - I gave a loud whoop when she threw one of her punches at James and shed a few tears with her when she relived her memories of Archie. That was soul touching.

He.. 
He is James Chandlender. A man who knows her too well and hated all that he knew about her. But circumstances, created by his beautiful mom, makes him rethink about his stand. He knew from the begining that he is fighting a losing battle but he comes across as a man with intergrity and a strong character. A man who is not afraid to face the society for her. 

Just what she needed to break the wall she had errected around herself. 

Matches are made in Heaven.
When two people meet, a relationship is formed based on their compatibility. Aiesha and James had one connection between them. Sex. At least, initially. But as layers are removed, James finds himself doubting the very principles he believed in. Aiesha too hates the fact that her softer side is coming out for the world to see. The one, she is so hard trying to hide even from the man she was slowly falling in love with. 

From the wrong side of the town...
Fighting her background is one of the toughest thing Aiesha has to confront with. But is the enemy only external? As James says,

 "I suspect your only enemy, Aeisha,is yourself."

While running away from her past she does make some wrong choices. Some of them are not intentional and others are just that - wrong choices. But it makes her very humane to me as a reader. A perfect personality makes a wonderful heroine but imperfection connects a reader to the protagonist.

And that is exactly what it did ..
Archie in Aiesha's life is so endearing. I had a lump in my throat when that story was narrated. In this genre where one expects only sex and beaches, this heartwarming story stood out. James comes across as a very sensitive guy. A man who has doubts about the relationship but is ready to overcome them. A man who is ready to accept the weaknesses of his love. What more could a woman want ? :)

The surprise element ..
But Aiesha refuses his proposal. Just when you thought the story is being neatly tied up, Ms. Milburne throws her own punch. Is it because Lady Luck has at last smiled on Aiesha or is it something deeper .. more painful? Check it out for yourself. :)

Rating 
Reasoning

The storyline, the pathos, the sexual tension all were perfect. I loved the way Aiesha is protrayd as a vamp as well as an innocent. Every scenes shows her toughness yet underneath that is a layer of her  vulnerabiltiy. Superb timing of pathos to pull the reader deeper into the story.

Oft repeated..
In the begining of the novel, the defects of both the fathers were repeated often. I am not denying that to justify Aiesha's character, it was needed but once or twice would have been suffice. To me as a reader the repeated mentions of the both the protag's fathers took me a bit away from the love story. 

Justification..
Is justification of a character really neccesary? So she is a home wrecker. a person who loves having sexual relationship with married men. There were moments when Aeisha's character has been justified to the extend that all here wrong doings were made right. A romanticized idealism. Would James not have accepted her if her actions were not justified? Hmm... dunno.

Would I recommend this book : 
A must for all romance lovers :)

The Lines that stayed with me ..

He eased back to look at her face, ravaged by grief and anger and tears that had taken a decade to spill from her eyes. He was so glad she had chosen to tell him. So relieved. So honoured. It made him feel as if she finally saw him as someone she could trust. Not someone who would exploit the betray her.

Do such men exists? :P













Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review: Saved In Sri Lanka by Devika Fernando

Click for details 
Disclaimer: This review has not been commissioned by the Author even though I wish it was :D But Amazon! You have killed my profession.

She...
She is Sepalika. A tour guide in Sri Lanka, who not only mesmerizes Daniel Byrne but even the readers with her knowledge of Sri Lanka. She paints a very picturesque visual of the country. Shrouded under a mysterious past, she comes across as a woman who is looking for love - yet trapped in traditions. 

He...
He is Daniel Byrne from Ireland. A tourist. A historian. His love for history is very passionate and endearing to me as a reader. Seeing Sri Lanka through his eyes was like living there, enjoying its greenery and falling in love with the unknown. 

The love story…
There is a lot of passion and pain in this story. Sepalika is attracted to Daniel, who is a visitor in Sri Lanka. But she cannot give her heart to him since she is already engaged. An engagement which is more like a punishment to her than love. How did she get into this situation and can she come out of it ? 

I have read Ms. Fernando's earlier books (Playing With Fire) and the chemistry between the characters was not so palpable as it is in this one. Ms. Fernando has grown as a writer and this story proves it. Daniel has a very gentle side which draws the reader towards him. When he meets Sepalika she is not free to fall in love. Yet she does. Family values and tradition keeps the lovers apart. 

There is a scene here in which Sepalika visits her family house along with Daniel. The brewing of the black tea and Daniel's continous pleasing of his palate makes me very jealous of him. 

The tour of Sri Lanka....
Sepalika's knowledge of Sri Lanka is astounding. As a history student I loved it. Ms. Fernando has made us visualise The Hakgala Botanical Garden or The Sri Dalada Maligawa with her penmanship. 

"She led the group slowly across the brick paved path on both sides by a wide expanse of lawn. To their left were trees and stonewalls with a few rooftops of old buildings playing peekaboo. To the right they got glimpses of the lake with its walkway, obstructd by a high metal fence."

I loved the way Sepalika introduced every place to the readers and you could almost hear the voice of a tour guide when ever she was talking about the place. In the voice of Sepalika. Ms. Fernando has shown her readers her art of research. Kudos!

Rating 


Reasoning 

A few assumptions:

"Actually, what I love to read most is poetry."
She stared at him with wide eyes. How freaking cool was that? It definitely made him even more different from the rest of the men. Was see ashamed of it?"

I wish in the above lines, a line was added giving the reason as to why he could be ashamed of loving poetry. It would have backed up as to why he would be ashamed of the fact for I don't see any reason why a man should be ashamed for his love for poetry.

The resolution of the conflict
Is too easy for me to digest. There was a scope of more emotional display and if the writer had so chosen it could have been of very intensive and a dramatic conflict. I am all for happy ending but somehow I wanted Daniel and Sepalika to fight their way a bit more. The antigonist gave in too easily, thus diluting the impact of their struggle.

Would I recommend this book?
Any romance lover who loves history will also love this book.  I would also suggest those who are planning to travel to Sri lanka in the near future to read this book. You would fall in love with the place before you reach there.

Something that touched my heart : 

Sepalika's father's story. I resonated with him and I would like to use this platform to send a message across to all my readers. PLEASE DONATE YOUR ORGANS.  Nowhere in any religious text it is written that we use the same set in our next life. This is not our religious, political or social responsibility. This is letting the godliness in us live for ever. I have donated. Have you?




THIS REVIEW IS A PART OF A BLOG TOUR BY THE BOOK CLUB.CHECK OUT THE BLOG TOUR DETAILS HERE. 


Monday, May 25, 2015

Notes of a Reviewer #1


200th Post .. Yesss! I did it.. Thanks Ron! Love you

Disclaimer: This series is being created not to start a controversy but you can create one if you want to. :P

Note #1: Feeling Shy to Review 

When I started reviewing, I used to buy books. Imagine that! 200 posts ago, there was a time, I used to walk into a book shop and buy books and tentatively try to review them. Tentatively, as in a shy person who is not sure if her views matter. I still buy the books, but whether I review them or not is at my discretion.

That is what every new reviewer asks me today. Am I equipped to review? Who will read my reviews? Do authors even know that I have reviewed her or his book?

My answer to them is : Should you care? First be very clear in your own mind:

1. Are you reviewing because you like it?
2. Are you reviewing because you want to please the author?
3. Are you reviewing because you understand the nuances of reviewing and need to grow as a writer?

Rule no. 1: Review because YOU want to review - not for the free ARC. 

My journey as a reviewer has taught me the following :

Why should I review?

I reviewed for the first time because there was no one to hear me rant about an author. Of course that review is no more on my blog and I am not going to tell you who it is, even if you pm me. :) But suffice to say that it made me understand what blogging is all about. Ranting is not reviewing.

But there are many doubts that a reviewer faces when they first review?  The first being - who the heck are you to review a book? What are your qualifications?

I remember shyly hitting the Publish button and waiting for something to happen. Nothing did. I kept my eyes glued on the stats. It crawled up slowly and then I found one trick... the number of times I refreshed my blog, the number rose. I felt very happy thinking that I have found a way to make the numbers crawl up. Stats matter don't they. That ingrained Indian thing we have- 'acche numbers lana mere bacche' (Get great numbers,kiddo) was immersed in my soul.

But it gave me no happiness. It was like a painting, which only the painter could see or appreciate. I think that is the moment I understood the concept of an 'audience' or readership as we call it.

Lesson Learnt: Went back to Blogger stats and changed it to "do not count the stats when I refresh". You see, if you want to realize your worth as a blogger/ reviewer, you need to know how many visited your blog. Even if the number is initially 1, it gives you immense pleasure.

I started posting my links in other blogs - that time I didn't know the concept of posting on any FB forum and I did not want to post it on my wall. My wall was for political debates, killing the politicians with my words and of course heated discussions on why I liked an actor and justifying that -even if those actors didn't know about the existence of little me.

Then came joining group's like Indibloggers. It opened a big world for me. I remember my first 'comment' came from one of my fellow Indibloggers. It said :(hold your breath or at least pretend to hold)

Great Review!!!

I loved the words. I worried about the exclamation marks. Why did they feel surprised ?

....... To be continued in Notes of  a Reviewer #2 .

In the meantime share your experience with me, for I would love to know the viewpoint of other reviewers. It can be topics you want to know more about w.r.t reviewing. If I cannot answer them, some other reviewer will. Do send in your questions @ rubinaramesh1973@gmail.com