Showing posts with label BlogAdda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BlogAdda. Show all posts
November 07, 2014

Is Revenge the Best Solution? - Review of God is A Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

God is a Gamer (English): BookGod is A Gamer -  Ravi Subramanian 
Publishers - Penguin Books India                              
Genre - Contemporary - Thriller

Paperbook - 210  Pages
Price: Rs 299

Available at Leading Indian Stores and Amazon 



Blurb
What happens when you cross gamer, banker, politician and terrorist with virtual money? God Is a Gamer is a world where money means nothing, martyrs are villains, predators are prey, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.



 Ravi Subramanian is considered the Indian John Grisham of financial/banking thrillers and there is no question about his insider knowledge of the banking system and the industry at large.
In fact, I bought one of his bestsellers "Bankrupt" for my dad (a banker himself). Unfortunately, he fell sick and never got a chance to read it. It stills lies on my book shelf, unread. Given my audit and finance background and my interest in technology, it's only natural I grabbed at the chance to review his latest thriller offering. 

Review -
The book didn't disappoint when it came to the goings-on in the banking sector - the card processing and scamming aspect of the business, to be specific. The addition of the bitcoin trail was a welcome move. 

The book starts off with a worried head honcho (or should that be two worried head honchos) of one of the biggest card payment processing companyies in the world - MasterCard (no prizes for guessing right) planning a meeting with his business rival. Senator Gillan Tan, who has the President's ears, steps in and diffuses the sizeable threat to profitability of the comapnies but traps the two men in a reciprocrity bond. We are given a glimpse, not only into the discreet lobbying in Washington, but also a peek into the Senator's daily routine. As you wonder where this is headed, trouble erupts, rather explodes, claiming th elives of Senator and his entourage. This is rapidly followed by an ATM heist in NewYork that have the bankers in a twist and pulls the FBI into action. The case picks up new scents including a bitcoin based dark web network, scams in multinational banks, hacking within/through gaming companies before dropping us into a world of deceit - a dark place where family members, colleagues and friends wear masks disguisng their true character and intentions.

The actions is spread over many locations and moves from the power corridors of Washington to the banking zones of Mumbai, the drug addled beaches of Goa, the Finance Ministry in Delhi; and to a lesser extent New York City, Stanford, and Ukraine. It reveals the banks' recurrent battle with phishing, sponsored heists, hacks, internal scams and ego-driven bickering within in the upper echelons of these financial giants.
Despite the brutal killing of a US Senator Tan, the murder of an Indian CEO of an MNC bank Malvika Sehgal, the hit-and-run death of her immediate but defiant subordinate Swamy, the story is essentially about greed, deceit, acts of betrayal and revenge.

When Aditya, ex-boss at NHIB - the MNC bank and now owner of two successful companies, welcomes estranged son, Varun back into his life, he never quite imagined the nature of events that followed. Neither did his ex-colleague and current CEO, Malavika forsee her downfall. 
Varun hits off with Malvika daughter Tanya while in Mumbai; their acquaintance established on a previous visit to Rio, Brazil. The lives of Malvika, Swamy, Mike, Josh, Nikki and the rest of the characters are inadvertently tied to each other through their actions.

But both Varun and Tanya have secrets hidden from each other and the rest of world, secrets that have deadly consequences for everyone involved. They have seperate agendas and yet share a strange link with Senator Tan.

The book is pacey enough and has a lot of short and single page chapters. The author has done his research when it comes to the banking and gaming scenarios. There are no black and white charcters here, except for Sundeep, as the rest are realistically presented in varying shades of grey. There is a bit of technical stuff that may distract a reader unfamiliar with either systems but is necessary enough for the plot.

Things that bugged me include: a step-motherly treatment to bitcoins, info dump on gaming, more of "tell versus show" style of writing, clipped dialogues, too many sub plots, and a blotchy, narrative ending. Not  a single character was worthy of readers empathy or cheering, except perhaps for Swamy and Aditya. Varun and Tanya's choices (revealed at the end) left me cold and with ambivalent feelings for both of them.

In short, it's a good one-time read and gets a 3 star rating from me. (Goodreads version - I like the book) Will I recommend it to others? - Only to friends who prefer Indian authors and family menbers in the banking sector.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book as part of the Book Reviews Program of blogadda.com.

June 11, 2014

Ramayana - The Game of Life: Rise of the Sun Prince - a Book Review


Ramayana - The Game of Life : Rise of the Sun Prince (Book 1) -  Shubha Vilas                     
Publishers - Jaico Publishing
Genre - Contemporary - Mythology

Paperbook - 217  Pages
Price: Rs 250

Available as eBook at Amazon Kindle Store


A common childhood memory for older generations is the faithful retelling of the Ramayana by the elders in the family and the gradual progression to reading numerous adaptations of the epic.
The current generation is probably more familiar with the basic story and concepts in comic form. While the mythological tale has been revisited countless times, every new rendition – fiction or philosophical lends a unique flavour of its own.
One such modern rendition combined with traditional theological elements is the first one in the book series - Ramayana - The Game of Life: Rise of the Sun Prince by Shubha Vilas

The book starts as every Ramayana narration begins; with the Bala Kandha or the childhood exploits of Prince Ram and his brothers. The book draws largely from the Valmiki's masterpiece but artfully weaves in the poetic analogies found in the southern version by Tamil poet Kamban and folk tales.

The book begins with sage Valmiki and rightly so. The original narrator is analysed in detail. This detailing of characters, their actions and situations that they face is something that is retained throughout the story.
Sage Vishwamitra, a unique personality in his own way, is accorded ample acknowledgement as both spiritual guide and mentor of the celestial Prince.

The lessons of childhood shape our future actions and the sage plays an important in moulding the character of the princes and helping them earn their rightful place.
Readers familiar with the tale are well aware of the father, king Dashratha - his hopes, foibles and agony. The same has been well captured in this narrative, as well.

The famous ceremonial fire and battlefield scene has been captured in all its serenity and pathos. As the reader watches the young Rama and his siblings grow up under the sage's tutelage, he/she is swept along by the immersive storyline. Every character gets a place under the sun including minor ones. The parts involving Ahalya and Sita move you and make you question the customs and traditions that dictate their lives.

The Ramayana is a serious but engrossing tale and the author provides a version that mirrors the original while retaining a unique voice. The book cover is attractive and draws you in. The author has adopted a simple but effective writing style. He handles the complexity of various situations with the ease of a skilled narrator.
The detailed explanation in the form of footnotes is a welcome addition. You learn and unlearn as you read some of the explanations.

As a neutral agnostic with a fairly religious upbringing, I liked the explanatory parts more than the preaching aspects. Seen from a dispassionate point of view, the book manages to motivate on a humane level through the "laws or key lessons" and provides a path of life that can be assimilated without adding colours of faith.

If you are seeking a mythological fiction series such as Ajaya: Roll of the Dice by Anand Neelakantan, you will be sorely mistaken.
The author Swami Shubha Vilas is a motivational speaker and spiritual seeker. His book reflects this; it is a modern rendition of the timeless epic.

I give this engrossing and intellectually stimulating book, a four star rating.

 This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. 
September 14, 2012

Magic Realism And Three Women - A Review

Fractured LegendFractured Legends -  Kranthi Askani
Publishers - APK Publisher
Genre - Speculative fiction - Contemporary fantasy - magic realism - women's fiction
Novel - Paperback - 200  Pages
Price: Rs 192
Available at Flipkart.com/Indiaplaza.com  (India)

Blurb:
We are like the moths that follow invisible spiral loops to go round and round a flickering flame before jumping into the center leaving in their wake, a glowing red sore in the eye of the flame,” says the narrator, a temple slave. Priyambada makes up her mind to leave the temple where she melt into flesh at night and froze into statue by the morning. She renounces her immortal chalices, the temple facades, for a mortal life, for a life in flesh... But the tangles of life in flesh – marriage and bearing children – thrust her into a world of tribulations that cast her off into the past, sealed past, frozen past...
Nandhini, a professional assassin, is plagued by an assignment to retrieve a mysterious manuscript that is smeared with a rope of blood across its pages. She finds herself in the midst of a complex game of deceit and rivalry between two factions... Pravalli is drafting a very long letter to her mother. She is grieving, glowering, repenting, atoning....
Fractured Legend is the story of these three women who are sailing away from their turbulent pasts, the denouement puzzlingly curling them all together into one tight ribbon of hope...

This narrative follows the lives of three women - Priyambada who as a temple slave is immortal, but forgoes it for a human life and goes through the cycle of marriage & childbirth. Though she can't make a clear break from her past; she is happy in her new life. Nandhini is a trained assassin eliminating people for a price. She is entrapped by a close relative to kill someone related to her job, and for the first time in her life wonders at the futility of it all. Pravalli, on the other hand, is estranged from her mother Priyamvada over the secrets of the past, and is writing a letter of forgiveness and trying to come in terms with her mother's behaviour. The story progresses through the eyes, actions and reactions of the three female protagonists.

I liked the use of magic realism to get the tale across. That the book is based on a female perspective focusing on the trials and tribulations of Indian women (some of these aspects have universal connotation) makes it interesting enough to plow through the slow first 1/3 of the book.

The author had tried to portray the heroines (each of them is one in their own right) in a humane, understanding and empathic manner. He has attempted to infuse a vintage feel to the grey of contemporary realities. The concept is intriguing enough, and comes as breath of fresh air among all the college romances and chick-lits floating on the Indian book scene. It shows a side of India, applicable to many regions of the world, where women are struggling to assert themselves, while being bound to often well meaning but grossly misused traditions and customs.


 If you can leave aside all rational expectations of the world we inhabit, the book has the ability to move you with the sadness, pain and loneliness of the three women. The secondary characters, especially the husband - Priyamvada’s and son - Nandhini’s stand out, though their presence in the book is limited. The women move back and forth through their memories, dream a lot and often traverse between the real and surreal world. The author has left us with an open ended story, maybe a sequel is in line. 

 On the flip side, the author uses a dry narrative style of storytelling throughout the novel. The lack of dialogues makes it a very distracting read. For someone used to books, even long winded classic ones, with flowing conversations, this can be a difficult book to attempt and read through. The sentence structure  is awkward, and the overuse of adjectives and adverbs could have been avoided.

I am not sure I could recommend this book to a reader in its current version despite descriptive and detailed analysis of the lives of contemporary women and use of magic realism. A major review of the language usage and a rewrite would do wonders for this book. 

I would give this book a 3/5 rating basically for the debut effort, for attempting a book without the prejudices of the male point of view and for choosing a difficult women's related story.

Personal Disclaimer: This book was recieved for the purpose of review, hence the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book. It is not based on intervention by the author, publishing house or the blog review forum.
February 21, 2012

Nostalgia Attacks The Campus - A Book Review




Down The Road - Edited By Ahmed Faiyaz And Rohini Kejriwal
 Grey Oak Publications
 Genre - Contemporary Fiction - Short Story Anthology (28 stories by 16 authors)
 Paperback, Pages 216, Price  INR 195 
 (Currently for sale only in the Indian Sub-continent)



This collection takes a trip down memory lane into the campus experiences both high school and college.  Not  just about 'a carefree life and fun times' as many parents believe but also a journey through the pains and trials of soon to be grown ups.
As the blurb says:
An exciting and eclectic collection of short stories that bring out all those memories - unforgettable, warm, thrilling and at times embarrassing - of life and the times in school and college campuses.

The stories are broadly dived into four sections. The first category “Attendance Is Compulsary” deals with antics both within and outside the high school classroom. Most of these deal with teenage crushes and romances, some in a breezy manner with a quirky ending that made me do a high five like ‘Down The Road’ by Ahmed Faiyaz. A couple like ‘Rishi And Me’ by Ira Trivedi and ‘Sororicide’ By Paritosh Uttam twisted and pulled at the heart strings.

 The second grouping “Festivals, Elections And Placements” as the title suggests deal with other aspects of campus life. Some like the tale ending of ‘ Loves Me, Loves Me Not’ by Vibha Batra that made me laugh, ‘Between Friends’ By Paritosh Uttam which had me cringing. ‘The Cafe With No Name’ by Sneh Thakur, the endearing story that reminded me of the Irani cafes with their bun maska and chai that once dotted the Mumbai landscape. And the ‘Setting’ by Ahmed Faiyaz the brilliant, twisted ending of which, had me commiserating.

Further down the pages, “Lights Out” deal with the end of the golden days and career beginnings. Here ‘The Worm That Turned’ by Malathi Jaykumar was a inspiring read albeit the embarrassing beginning. Short and hard hitting ‘Bellow Yellow’ by Chinmayi Bali raised uncomfortable questions. 

The final section “Looking Back”  literally has, now well established  protagonists turning back to individuals from the school, who made a difference in their lives.Of these, the thought provoking 'Strangers In Strange Places'by Abhijit Bhaduri struck a chord. I enjoyed the very different read ‘Accidental Start’ By Kunal Dhabalia as well as the cheeky 'Remember Me' by Ahmed Faiyaz.
I found interesting, the well researched,  finale essays ‘Fiction On Campus’ by Sonia Safri and ‘Bollywood On Campus’ by Aseem Rastogi.

I loved the quirky, twisted endings which leaves room for possibilities an imaginative brain can explore.
I also loved the use of realistic settings and reactions which give many of the stories that personal touch.
Each of the author has a distinct writing style and some managed different writing voices effortlessly.

A major grouse I have with a few of the stories was the abrupt ending. A couple of them felt, with due respect, written by those who love to hoard their words rather than let them out. In some cases, I am sort of  unhappy with the stories, for the simple reason 'I didn't want them to end'. 

 Since this not the first publication for many of the authors, they have seemingly honed their craft to capture the moments with candid humour, subtle sarcasm, often exploring painful emotions with raw honesty. The conversationalist styles of most of the works coupled with  fast paced story lines makes for a quick, entertaining read. It earns in my capacity as a reviewer a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

I would recommend this collection for any one looking for  good stories well told, who want a fictional rendition of their own personal experiences. Not a heavy duty anthology though some of them would fall into that category.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.comParticipate now to get free books!


 Personal Disclaimer: Though this Collection was a free copy received for the purpose of review, the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book twice. It is not based on intervention by the authors, editors, publishing house or the blogging forum.


Other Books
A bloggette friend Annalisa Crawford has released  Cat & the Dreamer in the Genre: Contemporary Women / New Adult . Available from Amazon, B&N, and other places.
Here for links.  Do check it out.
Since I won her E book Novella at a blog guest post...my review will be up this Friday or Saturday.
December 01, 2011

A Journey Through A Fairytale - Book Review


   The Iron Tooth - Prithvin Rajendran
 Lead Start Publications  
 Genre - Fiction/ Fantasy (Children/ Middle Grade/Young Adult)
 Paperback, Pages 218, Price  INR 195/$ 8 (available at Amazon.com)

‘The Iron Tooth’ is a fantasy set in the fictional continent of Goodabaiya and aimed at children and young teens. It starts with the prologue of a young, unmarried and pregnant girl from the land of Sumrak thrown out of her home and forced to find shelter at a remote area in the foothills of the Mala Mountains.  There she gives birth to two babies – a human boy and one troll girl which form the basis for events which are revealed only at the end of the story.
  The book then takes us to the land of Dashter, a great and mighty kingdom ruled first by a good king, Dashtum and later by his equally strong but evil son Darum. It is Darum’s eldest daughter Nova’s vanity driven behaviour that leads to her imprisonment and suffering of her people cursed by the powerful magician Faerum; till their redemption at the hands of Princix.
 Three main Characters emerge at this point, the protagonist Princix whose unknown heritage is revealed with other clues that tie up the prologue with the tale. The imprisoned Princess Nova who by then, regrets her part played in the curse becomes his love interest keeping in line with the fairytales we have grown up with. Finally the evil Wizard rather sorcerer  Faerum who enlists the help of six powerful fellow wizards and the Custodian Of Light in his cruel, malicious act of revenge on Dashter . The book then introduces us to the kingdom of Greatix, which is also the home of our protagonist and his family. Princix, who is both kind and brave, on an quest for fame and wealth wins magical weapons that enable him to become the Champion General for the kingdom of Greatix.
Princix’s duty as Champion General is to find out what ails the neighbouring kingdom of Dastur and help alleviate it. He journeys with two Imperial Guards, Candelbre and Hammil faces his share of battles and adventures  and discovers the all-important iron tooth.

The Author Prithvin has faithfully adhered to the fairy tale style and tried to create a tale that displays his creativity in the process. There is a assortment of languages in the book including the one invented by the author, the language of the Bak. Both old and modern English have been used throughout the book and a bard style of rendition of opinions and conversations finds a place. A multitude of characters in the form of mythical creatures like vampires, trolls, Medusas, fairies, an immortal Custodian, zombies, ghouls and creatures of the author’s own imagination  like the elite soldiers, the Baks are found throughout the pages.
 I liked the addition of appendices which include a chronology, maps, a translation of the Bak language Nivthrip.
I felt that the cast of characters was overcrowded with the mythical beings have very little to do. The prologue will baffle readers till the end, which I wish had been addressed in the form of a retelling in the early or middle part of the book.
At times the book felt like a series of short stories leaving this reviewer with an ambivalent feeling. The tenderness between Princix And Nova didn’t inspire either nor did Faerum come across as that cruel or foreboding.
The book overall has good continuity and flow but doesn't suck you into its world making you want to read more. Some stereotypes are inevitable because of the genre and do not detract from the book, but a tame  Nova who does nothing but repent her actions was a bit of a dampener for me.
Some of the opinions were demeaning to women. They shouldn’t find place in a book whose primary audience is to be those between 9-13 years.
The book doesn’t clearly mention the exact genre rather coded only as a mystery on the back cover. This being the author’s first novel, hopefully his next novel will be worth more than the 3/5 star rating  given for the debut attempt.


This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.comParticipate now to get free books!

 Personal Disclaimer: Though this book was a free copy received for the purpose of review, the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book. It is not based on intervention by the author, publishing house or the blogging forum.

October 18, 2011

A Romantic Journey Through Music - Review Of Live From London


 Live From London - Parinda Joshi 
 Publisher  - Rupa Publications  
 Genre - Chick Lit - Contemporary Fiction - Women Fiction
 Novel - Paperback - Pages 204 
 Price - INR 195/$ 19.95 
 Available at Amazon





This book is not just a journey from India to England. This is a crossing over from a  carefree, fun filled days of growing up to the pain and trials filled life of a grown up. It is not about going back to the roots rather about escaping the harsh realities of one world to nurture broken dreams in another.
 This story of an aspiring singer who loves her red guitar starts with her first major failure and a humiliating one at that. Anyone who had watched or been a part of reality talent shows know the trauma of failing under watchful, snickering eyes of millions. Nishi Gupta experiences this with a  false start in TV reality talent show "British’s Got Talent". This, coupled with the fact that the debut is an unplanned one makes it a double jeopardy in terms of her future career.
The tale unfolds with her trying to drown the nightmarish memory in the cacophony of an internship in one of the dominant record label companies in the U.K - Hues. Accompanying her in the roller coaster ride is a trio of friends Riya, Sarah and Zac (as different from each other as cheese, chalk and beer), a rigid boss turned friend Lynette and loving parents, who in typical Indian style of parenting, are unable to cut off the apron strings. 

It’s a kind of reverse karma that a Britain’s Got Talent reject’s first breakthrough comes from the generous, underhand plans of the American Idol runner up. The new import from USA on the UK horizon is initially the current big client material for her company but goes on the become the love of her life. The half Canadian, half Indian musician boyfriend Nick Navjot Chapman dominates a major part of the story. Nick and the well meaning but flirty friend Arjun provide the necessary drama and entertainment.
This tryst with fame causes a major upheaval in Nishi and Nick’s personal lives and she returns to India, to Mumbai, where her father is currently stationed. The search for success continues its often lighthearted and crazy journey till it meets the open gates called "co-host" for a reality TV show Indian Rockstar Season 5.

The boyfriend is initially too good to be true, but becomes more human with the classic touch of falling for (well almost) a seductive and tempting colleague. The nerdy, bossy Sarah who spearheads Nishi’s dormant desire for success is a typical alpha female whose affair with goofy, witty but less smart guitarist Zac is doomed to failure. Riya, the typical rich, happy go lucky romantic who falls for men with looks comprises the third of the band of close friends. Nishi's support system comprises of  a mom who shows her love through food and well meaning but oft rejected advice, a civil servant father who is torn between treating her as an adult and his na├»ve child and a rigid female boss who becomes her mentor. Arjun, an RJ for the popular FM Channel "Radio Mirchi", who at the onset is annoying but gradually becomes a good friend is added to this collection of interesting characters.

Nishi, the protagonist, comes across as a little heartless and insensitive to others feelings. I didn't quite feel her pain and her success in a short span of 6 months is a bit unsettling. I wish her character had been better rounded but I guess a 21 year old can be granted some leeway.

I loved the “unfinished” ending which leaves room for more possibilities even a sequel.
I liked the concept and the fact that the author has done the necessary research to provide an authentic description of the music scenario in London and Mumbai.

A major grouse I have with other chick lits or expat writers (a reason why they don’t form a major part of my reading) is the excessive caricature and stereotyping of characters. In the case of Live From Londonwhich I have rated at 3.5/5, I am glad to say the book manages to escape that quite well.

The author, Parinda Joshi, captures the moments with candid humour that often belies the tribulations and heartbreak beneath. The conversationalist style coupled with a fast paced storyline makes for a quick, entertaining read.

I would recommend this book  for those looking for a modern fairytale with its sad moments. This is not a book for those interested in an extensive study into human relations and emotions or looking for depth in characters.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.comParticipate now to get free books!


 Personal Disclaimer: Though this book was a free copy received for the purpose of review, the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book twice. It is not based on intervention by the author, publishing house or the blogging forum.
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