Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Children’s Book, Fantasy
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson used the penname Lewis Carroll to write. He was an English writer, mathematician and photographer. After writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, he next wrote Through the Looking Glass with Alice as protagonist again.
A young girl called Alice follows a talking rabbit down a hole that leads to a magical land that Alice calls Wonderland. Here she meets weird characters. Mostly they are talking animals and crazy looking and behaving humans. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland comprises of all the events Alice endeavors there.
Lewis Carroll must have been high when he wrote this book. The narration is good for storytelling for kids or picturization; not for reading to self. Alice is always either growing tall or short, talking nonsense. Was there a necessity to write this book? Reading this book is a great agony. ‘As soon as she had made out the proper way of nursing it (which was to twist it up into a sort of knot, and then keep tight hold of its right ear and left foot, so as to prevent its undoing itself), she carried it out into the open air.’ This is how handling a baby of unknown species described in the story. What kind of sick mind would do this? It is only when the Mad Hatter appears, that the story starts to make some sense. By the end of the story, you will sure of one thing: one of the 3 people – Lewis Carroll, Alice and her sister – were high. Or all were high indeed. When you finish the book, if you are my kind of a reader who doesn’t quit a book just because it is boring, you will let out a sigh of relief.
Don’t bother reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Cyberpunk Sci-Fi
Imprint: Inked – Penguin Books, India
Shiv Ramdas is a former media professional who is now completely into writing.
Albert is too emotional for someone who is a resident of the Dome. In his dystopian world, one day when he is going back home after finishing talking to random people on the network, that is what everybody does for work, he takes a route that is forbidden for people of the city. There he finds a child, Theo, gets fatally attacked by her and her friends, saves her from patrolling robots, and rescues her by taking her to his home. Next day, he gets blackmailed by a data management computer. It wants to die, and it wants Albert to file a petition to the governing body to pull its plug. It tells him if he doesn’t do as told, it will inform everyone about him sheltering a fugitive. What does Albert do? He can’t send the girl away as she has no one. If he doesn’t listen to the computer, he dies along with the girl. Read Domechild to know what Albert finally does.
Theo’s anxiety of not living up to people’s expectations is what I could relate to as a reader. Her grandfather, Robert, is the guy whose genius is misused. Albert is the frustrated guy who is fed up of waiting for a Messiah.
Domechild feels more like a dystopian satire than a cyberpunk sci-fi. Narration is not grippy in the beginning for such a genre. Conversations between the characters don’t have emotions in them though present in the words. As a reader, the murder of Castor in the story did not have any effect on me. The story gets intense only after 3/4th of the book is over. That is when you realize the dystopia of the book is not in the far future, but is the current time that we live in. Information is the dope that gives high here. Just like the useful and useless trivia that we find on our Facebook newsfeed. The concept here is about businesses run on pay-per-view income. Here technology has taken over everything. This is a clever dystopia by Shiv Ramdas. The dome here signifies the bubble. Burst the bubble to face the truth kind of situation. The concept of Information Epidemic is simply a marvelous concept. If not for anything else, the book is worth reading for the sake of this Information Epidemic. But in the end, it feels like the author has brought in assumptions of Albert in a hurried manner to bring book one to an end and establish that Albert is clever.
Domechild is not your regular dystopian fiction. You can relate to a lot of things even in the present day. Read it. That’s it.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Play, Drama
Imprint: Kindle edition
Ajesh Sharma is an NRI writer residing in Canada. A Couple of Choices is his first play and first published work.
Alex is a writer living in seclusion, somewhere is outskirts of a city that is almost a jungle. Linda, his literary agent, is after him to know why his estranged wife, Phyllis, is visiting him after so many years. Alex is all ready to welcome Phyllis to his home as if she is coming to live with him forever. Even he doesn’t know why she is visiting him. Though Alex is not keen on it, Linda barges into his privacy and insists on meeting Phyllis. Linda wants to know if Phyllis is the inspiration behind the great female characters in Alex’s stories. After the meet and greet, Phyllis tells Alex the reason she is visiting him. Alex is saddened, angered and calm, all at the same time after listening to the reason behind Phyllis’ visit. What is that reason? Read (enact in your mind) A Couple of Choices to know the reason.
A Couple of Choices is a play with dialogues that sound like every day conversations. They are in layman language and not complicated. Moreover, it is about a topic with which most of us are familiar. In a short duration, this play tells you about the bonds that weren’t supposed to happen, weren’t supposed to break, weren’t supposed to renew. All this in an easy flow of dialogues and mannerisms. But I felt the ending was kind of abrupt. On the other hand, I feel the characters just moved on with their lives. Maybe I missed something the author has hinted. All in all, I enjoyed reading it.
Even if you are not into plays, do give A Couple of Choices a read. It is not some random script for a play that doesn’t know where it is taking its audience (or even readers). It is a beautifully scripted play that can teach anybody a thing or two about relationships. Do give A Couple of Choices a read.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Fiction
Imprint: Alfred A Knoff, New York
Jo Nesbo is a musician, song writer and economist, as well as writer. His Harry Hole novels include The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard and Phantom, and he is also the author of several stand-alone novels and the Doctor Proctor series of children’s books. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel. The Son, known as Sonner in Norwegien, is one of the stand alone works of this multi-talented writer. It was published in 2014.
Sonny Lofthus is happily settled in the prison convicted for the crimes that he didn’t do but is getting drugs as a compensation. He doesn’t have a care for the world, but every prisoner thinks he is divine and goes to him to make a confession whenever they feel burdened by their conscience. When Sonny gets to know that his father was not a mole but was a victim of conspirers, he breaks out of the prison to avenge his father’s death and other meaningless deaths for which he was made scapegoat. In the process, he falls in love with Martha who is caretaker of the drug addicts hostel where he takes refuge. Simon Kefas, a aging but efficient police officer who was Sonny’s father’s partner and friend, starts looking for the son who ends up finally looking for the Twin who heads the mafia in Norway. With government officials conspiring against Sonny and unsure whether Simon is helpful or not, the son forges is way ahead to reach the Twin. How he does and what he does is for you to not just read but to enjoy.
It took me some time to get used to so many characters thrown at me one after other. But they all are well etched and distinct characters that are not just brought in to be props but to move story forward. Reading the novel felt like I was watching a movie. Everything was well described and was catering to my imagination.
The Son by Jo Nesbo is a must read. Don’t miss it.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Sinjini Sengupta is a poetess, columnist and a short story writer. By profession, she is an actuary. Her debut novel Elixir is based on mental health.
Manisha is an actuary in an MNC. She is married to Amit who is working hard for his startup. Theirs is an arranged marriage with no love, and no understanding from Amit’s end. Manisha feels lonely as her husband doesn’t give her any attention, and whenever she tries to tell him anything, he ignores her. Amit always takes his mother’s side though he knows his wife is right. In his ignorance towards his wife, he doesn’t notice that she is suddenly happy with her life and suddenly screws up at her job for which she was always praised. Her strange behavior catches his attention and bothers him. This even takes them on the verge of divorce. But what is this strange but seemingly normal life of Manisha that is troubling people around her? Read Elixir to get your answer. Or rather rush through it. Why? I will tell you.
As mentioned above, Elixir is a novel about mental health. But reading it will give readers a mental illness. Author has used “you see” so many times that it starts to get on the nerves. Every character talks like that as if there is no difference between one another. The writing or terrible editing has left too many commas for the readers making the narration unreadable. The narration is incorrigible. Even after three chapters can’t understand what Manisha is doing. Maybe that is what the author wants to convey; not let the readers understand the story. So much of description that cannot be understood has killed my imagination and made me turn to Facebook often. The author’s attempted sophisticated description about everything is suffocating. To top it all, Manisha is always wondering whether it will rain today or not. She has a reason, but this wondering is overdone, left me wondering why I am reading it. I understand that Sengupta was describing Manisha’s loneliness. But in that attempt, she makes the reader feel lonely with her book. The experience of reading this book was truly traumatic.
Read Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta if you have nothing better to read. Oops, you can’t read until the last three chapters. Till then, you ought to rush to keep your sanity.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: History, Nonfiction
In60Learning is a new publishing brand that produces concise historical and biographical that can be read or listened to in sixty minutes. Their concept is based on the intention to make large works of literature be readable to all people who don’t have much reading time. You can find their learning list here. One of their published works is Detroit: From Boom to Bust and back Again.
In the book, there is a description of Detroit’s history as a city. A nondescript place gets chosen to be a hub for automotive industry. It shoots to fame for being the place to be for anyone looking for a job. But the ill-managed finances and doom of automotive industry scores bad with the desirability of the city’s state of living. Followed by drug mafia and racism, the city finds itself moving towards irrecoverable breakdown. But the city recuperates, not as expected, but in a different manner and intention. A micro history of the city Detroit is worth reading.
Detroit, the book, tells the reader a lot about why the city is the way it is, enough to be read in sixty minutes. It would have been better if more of racism could have been explained. Even the expansion of KKK is not given. But overall, Detroit deserves your sixty minutes.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Birds of Prey is a debut novel of Archana Sarat, a chartered accountant turned writer. She is also a poetess. Her works have appeared in various magazines and anthologies.
Anton Pinto is a police officer turned tour guide in Goa. His colleague and friend, Rajesh, comes seeking his help in a case of disappearing men. Anton, who had quit his risky job for the sake of his wife and daughter, because he almost died in his last case, reluctantly agrees to help his friend and goes to Mumbai where the new case is filed. All three men, who have disappeared so far, have gone missing in the same way by following an old limping lady. Who the lady is? Nobody knows. When the dead bodies of these three men turn up in a forest area in a sack, case intensifies. At the same time another man goes missing in the same way. Anton goes looking for a common link between all these men. That’s when he comes across Swarna whose peculiar behaviour arouses his curiosity. But is Swarna the culprit or someone else? Why are men missing in the same way? What is the common link between all these men? Will Anton succeed in stopping more men from going missing? You have to read Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat to get your answers.
Apart from few editorial mistakes, Birds of Prey is an outstanding crime thriller by an Indian author. Archana Sarat couldn’t have gotten any better debut than this. The narration is superb. Superb is an understatement. Archana’s vivid narration incites such emotions that sometimes you feel nauseated and sometimes high on adrenaline. I had to go to work, so took about three days to finish this book. But my boyfriend couldn’t resist finishing the book, so took a day off and finished reading Birds of Prey in a day. This book is a definite recommendation. Don’t forget to read it as soon as possible.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy.
The Lively Library & Unlikely Romance is an appreciable debut novella by Niranjan Navalgund, an author and a chess player from India.
Nayan, an arbiter in the chess tournaments, is now looking after a library that his father has left behind. It was Nayan’s father’s last wish to reopen the library which was very special for him. Why was it special for his father? Nayan doesn’t know. In absence of humans in the immediate surroundings, the books of the library come to life. They have their own world in which they are equipped with all the counterparts of human world. These books fall in love and get married too. Like humans, they too face curses. And they have their own gods too. Pakshi and Helmine are the cursed divine entities of this lively library. While the books are going about their day-to-day lives, they get to know of an upcoming danger. What is that danger? How did they get to know about it? What will they do to protect themselves from this unknown danger? Read the Lively Library & Unlikely Romance to decode the codes of this book world.
For a novella, The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance does good with the brief descriptions and scenes. But as a reader, I felt that the concept of this book, though beautiful, got wasted without the elaboration into grandeur. This concept honestly had such potential. A grand fantasy world got shrunk to a tiny segment. The author could have built on each chapter with more details to cater to the imagination of the readers. I am disheartened by the shortness of this life of the lively library. The calculations in between the narration distracts the flow. And the curses could have been explained in detail too. It is such a loss to the readers! Nevertheless, whatever is narrated is enough to give you a peek into the lively library as the book also has illustrations to aid to your imagination.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Zombie romance, Classic retelling
Imprint: Quirk Classics
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith is a classic retelling, in a lesser unknow subgenre zombie romance, of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The author has written several books in other lesser known genres. Another of his famous work is Abraham Lincoln: The Vampire Slayer. You can read our reviews of Pride and Prejudice’s graphic novel and illustrated book by clicking on the options.
Seth Grahame-Smith is a smart boy. He didn’t have to write much. All he had to do was include ninja lifestyle descriptions, zombies and a few fights here and there without changing the Goddess Jane Austen’s original. Sorry, Seth actually kills Charlotte Lucas in his version. How and when? It is for you to find out by reading this book.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been personally gratifying at so many levels to a Pride and Prejudice fan like me. I have three instances where I kind of appreciated Seth for his version. First, there is an instance when Mr. Bennet actually asks Mrs. Bennet to shut up, which I had been wondering why it didn’t happen since the time I first read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Anyway, if Mrs. Bennet shuts up, how will the show go on? So, she gets to be herself. Second, Elizabeth kicks Darcy’s ass for separating Jane and Bingley, and for insulting her family while he professes his love for her during her stay at Mr. Collins and Charlotte’s house. The usually slight rudeness in the original had not gone down well with me. Thirs, Darcy kicking some zombie-asses on the beautiful grounds of Pemberley to help Elizabeth when she single-handedly tries to fight a herd of zombies without any ninja weapon. What an entry to the scene! Absolutely heroic and saving-damsel-in distress kind. Well, it is satiating enough.
Apart from the minor inclusions and modifications to the storyline, rest is same as the original version. Nobody would read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies until they have read the original. So, if the original is good or bad, then the same applies to this version as well. You won’t lose anything by giving this a read.
Review by Shwetha H S
Imprint: Harper Collins, India
The Queens of Hastinapur is third in the Hastinapur series. First two were Winds of Hastinapur and Rise of Hastinapur. Hastinapur series is a retelling of Mahabharath. This retelling shows how humane and materialistic the characters of the epic saga are compared to their depictions in the original and other versions.
Gandhari is striving to secure her chance to be the queen and the future queen-mother of Hastinapur. Pritha is striving to secure her place in the heart of her husband, the king of Hastinapur, Pandu, who has taken Madri as his second wife. The gods on Mount Meru are striving to resist the flourishing of Hastinapur to prevent the great empire, under the aegis of Devavrata, invading their abode on the holy mountain. Devaki is striving to keep her new-born alive so that he can grow up to kill his uncle Kamsa. King Kamsa is striving to keep his kingdom Mathura safe by coming into an alliance with King Jarasandha. The gods on Mount Meru have to now strive to keep themselves safe from the strong alliance of Kamsa and Jarasandha because Kamsa will definitely try to avenge the theft of the black stone magic by the gods from his kingdom. Jahnavi, Ganga’s apprentice, sent by the gods to Mathura, along with Kubera and Nishantha, gets caught by Kamsa and they all strive to get out out of the prison. What happens to all these women who are striving in this game of power? What happens to the men whose lives are entangled with the lives of these women? Ganga continues to tell you the epic story of Mahabharath.
Since the Queens of Hastinapur is third in the Hastinapur series, you need to read the first two books too to understand what is happening. After watching B R Chopra’s Mahabharath on television, this fresh retelling that shows each character in a different angle is welcoming. But, compared to the first two books, the Queens of Hastinapur’s narration seems pale, especially the part of Jahnavi, Kubera and Nishantha. Rest of the book’s narration is tolerable.
Hoping that the birth and upbringing of Krishna will not make women suffer more, hoping that the fourth book in the Hastinapur series will have a better narration than the third one, do give the Queens of Hastinapur a read.