Thursday, October 31, 2013

The adventures of Sally - fly around

As a kid, I couldn't appreciate Wodehouse much. It took time to get his humour. As I grew up when I learnt he'd also worked in hsbc, he became my inspiration. I probably can't write like him but I can still read and appreciate.

Wodehouse always puts a smile on my face and he did it again with this witty, warm book about a do gooder.

Sally inherits some money from her dead father and things get complicated for the young heiress when the dependencies on her increase. Her fiancée, her brother and everyone else has high expectations of her and the silver lining is her friendship with a red haired young man she met when she was abroad.

Sally is adorable and I did want to give her a earful for a few bad decisions. Ginger is weak and still likable. Bruce and his family, Mrs.Meecher and her boarding house and a host of quirky characters make this book an interesting read. A good one to start a holiday with. It gives you that warm fuzzy feeling that's difficult to lose.

If you like Wodehouse you would love this one. I like Jeeves books better but since it had a girl on a vacation in it, I appreciate it today. :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dodger - dodge it

The book is supposedly inspired by few famous personalities and has quite a few historical characters playing key roles in it. I was taken aback to find names like Dickens, Peeler, Disraeli etc thrown around.

The plot follows a tosher - Dodger who has a unique career of finding money in the sewers. He accidentally saves a young woman from killers and gets the attention of personalities like Dickens, Disraeli, Peeler etc. - now that is unbelievable and the many such coincidences make this book fail.

I know that I shouldn't be giving such a harsh review in the first para but Pratchett disappointed me a lot. I would have loved something in the lines of Johnny or even truckers but I get a book which is perhaps like nation - flawed and incomplete.

Dodgers character is unbelievable and though I enjoyed his wit, I had to brush up my history to better appreciate it and I loved this book for that. The other character around whom the story revolves- Simplicity is anything but simple. However she is unfortunately unimpressive. Dodger steals her thunder. Solomon, Dickens and the other characters are entertaining but it's difficult to relate to them or like them much.

No die hard Pratchett fan will ignore his book and I can't believe that the Pratchett I adore wrote this book. I am still getting over that. The characterisation is a little incomplete and the plot slows down and sometimes puts you to sleep. The characters speak in cliches and the story is not that impressive either.

That being said, the book wasn't all that bad, objectively, my expectation ruined it for me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Anita Nair's Cut like wound - your brain might bleed

I am a mystery buff and I loved Nair's ladies coupe. When I heard Nair's mystery was set in bangalore, ( for the uninitiated, i love the city I've made my home in) I literally grabbed it. I wish I hadn't. It was a big disappointment. It read like a book written after the author had watched a lot of b grade mystery movies in a row. I mean give me a break - idealistic cop tired of system and becoming a loser, his girl friend back in town from abroad, his wife working in some random place away from him, a nutty serial killer murdering people nobody cares about - it's like too many blockbusters cut and pasted together. I was so irritated.

The main character Borei is boring. He is one of the most unimpressive characters I've come across in the recent past. I couldn't understand why his character was so hyped. He mocks at CSI and doesn't have the common sense to run a trace on the number that calls to inform people about the murders. That's common sense dude. The characters girl friend from the past Urmila is again ridiculous. Just there for some sleaze. That relationship is anything but pure. The sidekicks are so dumb and act like paper puppets. Actually paper puppets might sometimes change and behave differently than expected because of the wind but these geniuses are worse.

The villain is from a 1970s tamil movie. Everything about him, his back story, his friends, the whole aura - ridiculous. I wish I hadn't picked this up. It's about a bangalore I don't know. Somehow it doesn't seem researched enough. Perhaps it's real but considering I don't want to do anything with the book again, I doubt I'll follow up. Disappointed more than you can imagine.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wind through a keyhole - for those who love storms

I've never been a fan of Stephen king. I shudder as I think of a couple of his books I read in college. I still have sleepless nights if I think about them. Perhaps that's his mark as a brilliant writer. Just not the type I enjoy. I have not read the dark tower series but I still wanted to read this book as I was recovering from being sick and wanted something very badly to save me from the monsters inside my head that were having a field day.

It was a decent read but pretty scary and disgusting in places. The descriptions made me feel crazy bugs crawl down my spine. The plot was different and both the stories in it, that of a younger Roland and a story his mother read to him as a boy,"wind through a keyhole", were dark and full of despair and sorrow. There was definitely a glimmer of hope but I really did not like so much of the atmosphere around the book. I could feel the characters walk around me. Roland and tim were characters I couldn't connect to. Both of them were similar, trying to do things to please a parent and trying to overcome the unavoidable loss of the other. I could sympathise with their plight but couldn't connect to the characters or root for them for they were too lost for my taste. The creature from Roland's back story and the characters in tim's are far too fantastic to believe and in a way I am glad for that for I am sure this book is going to give me nightmares for a few more days to come.

Maybe this is suitable for those that like dark humor and horror. A brilliant book of that genre - perhaps..

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Anita Nair's The better man - could have been better

After ladies coupe by the same author, I wanted to read more of her books and I picked up this book. I was not completely disappointed but was not impressed either. I enjoyed watching Kerala come alive in front of me as I read the book. I could almost hear the monsoon and see the big imposing tharavadu and the paddy fields. I could feel Mukundans fear, loneliness and understand his desires.

The writer has taken a simple story of a man with numerous ghosts from his past finding himself and told it with such breathtakingly beautiful prose. The book should be read for the experience, for a feel of the place - for anyone who has visited Kerala will relate to it and for the plot which is fresh and simple.

Mukundan, the protagonist just makes me want to punch him in places. His impotence and lack of control on his life is too irritating to be true. One screw loose bhasi, anjana and krishnan Nair are much more in control of their lives than he is and though their influence rubs off on him, it is not long lasting and he slips back and forth between what he can be and what he is. The transformation though interesting to watch, makes the reader become impatient after a while and gives one a feeling of coming across something good - but incomplete in a way you cannot put your finger on.

That being said, this book is definitely worth a read for anyone who likes Kerala and knows what it is like to stay there for a few days. But we warned that the book feels a little unfinished and abrupt. As though the author decided to stop writing and start again in places. The conflicts are resolved in a hurry and that acts against the whole feel of the book.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My blog on Indian mythology

I've started blogging on Indian mythology in a separate blog. Call it my attempt to better understand my roots -

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Krishna key- better lost than found

Quiet easily my most difficult read this year. The book is slow, writing varies from flawed to bad and the author keeps insulting the readers intelligence by calling out obvious ways the plot falls together.
I picked the book up as it's based on Indian mythology and though I appreciate the research that could have gone into it, the da Vinci code imitation was a little too much for me to bear.

The characters don't catch your fancy despite detailed descriptions like "she had the body of a Rajput and the brain of a tamil engineer" (not verbatim but something like this) and the authors fancy to explain clothes and brands worn by his characters. I am so sad after reading this book and I need something better to recover.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The canvas of life

In the long run, one way or the other, it all evens out. You win some, you lose some and you draw on a few. Everything is a battle - major or minor and everything is an unchangeable part of the wave of life which somebody has already painted on a canvas. So long ago that the stars were suns then.

Your enemy today becomes the one you lend your hand to tomorrow and the one you stood by will leave when you least expect. You rise to fall to rise to fall and I wonder what the point of it all is, for in the long run it all evens out and when we weigh the scales they balance. What we gain and what we lose I guess becomes the crux. What we want and what we do not, what we reached and what we did not, what we saw and what we did not.

Life my friend keeps laughing at me and today for a change I laugh with her. For this midnight, there is a clarity. I see the canvas like one glimpses the universe and I know it will all even out and already everything does, though I usually hold on to the lows and go behind ways to fix it.

I love this clarity and the sense of peace that settles on me like the dew on my favourite rose. One I know might not last long - as my frustrations and dreams will catch up soon, like the rays of the sun. It is needed for sustenance - which in my case is my constant evolution, my constant desires and the thrill of the ride . But until then, I will laugh. Until then I will look out and see the stars and count and be thankful for all those moments that have made this endless journey to the end worth it.

Ocean at the end of the lane - Neil Gaiman

There are dreams and then there are dreams. Then you reach a stage where you cannot distinguish the waking world from the sleeping one. There are times when you fail to see all that's big and beautiful as there are too many dark things around. There are times you fail to see darkness as there is some distraction. Both come back. Both are merely locked away in your brain and you hold the key. A glimpse of a strangers face, a forgotten tune, a hidden momento - all these and more will remind you some day and you will not forget for a few more moments. Neil Gaiman inspired me to write all this after I read his brilliant book.

The plot follows an middle aged man who returns to his childhood home. He reaches a house where his friend from childhood lived and revisits their common memories. Memories of things, dreams and the story that was forgotten and never retold. A compelling narrative that makes you pinch yourself. A well written novel that reminds you that perhaps our ghosts are much closer to home than we think and that perhaps all that we remember need not be the way it was.

Read it to remember, forget, desire, fear and fall in love.