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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Taking a break


Over the last 2 months, i have not only tried to be more active on the blog but also managed to cover a significant part of my book-reviews back log.


I still have a lot of book reviews to post but I have another patch of life where the blog needs to take a back seat. 


Along with my usual role of a Change Management Consultant, with the resignation of the Project Manager; i have been given the additional role of 'acting/interim' Project Manger and it is seriously taking up all my time (and more). 


Also, my younger brother is getting married in a little over a week so I will be busy in that too. 


All in all, I dont see myself posting anything on the blog for almost a month from now. Hopefully, life in office would have stabilized a bit by then and I would have time for my blog and pending book reviews once again. 

 

See you later ... 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Review: The Great Indian Democracy by Manivannan K



 

Book: The Great Indian Democracy

Author: Manivannan K

No. of Pages: 208

Genre: Fiction, Humor

Publisher: Pirates 

 

How do I review this book? It reminded me too much of the DORK series. I could draw some invisible parallels between the two books in terms of core concept.

The GID is a light read with a heavy dose of satire on the Indian Political system, the stand-up comedy trend and even on the way guys look at and think of girls (and categorize them in weird categories). All with a help of a dork like character who encounters other dorky characters to fulfill their mission of making his life hell … in a humorous kind of way.

The climax unexpectedly turned out to be quite predictable ... what an irony !

The author actually had some good context and situations to weave a better story ... it could have been better. Maybe the author needed a push to be more creative with the storyline and sequence of events and their treatment. 


What could have been hilariously brilliant turned out to be ordinary and mediocre. Maybe my expectations were set higher and that's why the disappointment 

The 3 central characters of the book ... they were good. Lots of possibilities but ultimately under-utilized.

So for me … actually the rating is between 'it was Ok' and 'I like it' .... since I enjoyed reading the book but can't say it was hilarious and I loved it. 

The cover design was interesting and catchy. I liked it. It was different and something that would make people pick up the book and read the blurb on the backside which is equally well-written ... making people buy the book. 

 

The book blurb from the back of the book says

Twenty-something Vikram rebels against his father and the mediocre life his engineering background has ordained for him by travelling to Delhi to become a stand-up comedian.

Only, he is forced to see the serious side of his jokes when circumstances compel him to accept the position of a journalist at The Great Indian Democracy, an upcoming political magazine.

Life drifts along through plagiarized articles and pub-hopping until one day he finds out why he was hired in the first place. And meets Advaita, the annoyingly beautiful intern with whom he falls in love.

Disarmingly funny, The GID is a satirical and thought-provoking take on everything that makes our nation's democracy the biggest stand-up show.


Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 3.5 / 5

Writing Style: 2.5 / 5

Characters:     3.0 / 5

Story / Plot:     2.0 / 5

Climax:            2.0 / 5

Overall:           2.5 / 5   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: Metro Diaries by Namrata



Book: Potluck: Metro Diaries

Author: Namrata

No. of Pages: 162

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories 

Publisher: Amazon

 
A collection of very mushy love stories with an occasional spark of bold and scandalous variety sprinkled in between for some change and spice.

I am not really a reader of the love story genre but an occasional foray into the mushy / emotional stuff is not bad for the reading appetite. And the risk with short stories is definitely less. 

In the Metro Diaries, the author takes you on a near poetic ride of the emotional world of hearts in love … and that too, love which is not simple but complicated as usual. The author spends most of the words on exploring the inner thoughts and feelings of the people in love or those who are grappling with the concept of love and are unable to make up their mind about it. The stories hardly have too many things happening or sequence of events forming a storyline – there are a running commentary on the varied thoughts inside the head and hearts of people involved.

For a person like me who enjoyed the action packed and mystery genres, such stories are almost 'boring' … but I must say, I was very much touched. I could feel the written words and identify with the feeling of the characters. I could place myself in their shoes and go nostalgic thinking about a time in my life where I had similar feelings / thoughts / fears / anxiety.

I liked the stories which were heavy on mushy feelings while I appreciated the ones which had their own 'shock value' associated with the modern times and greater level of openness in things previously considered taboo. 

Some of the stories made my eyes moist and I think I might have as well shed a few tear here and there. (That alone should result in a near 5-star rating for the book and the author alike). But being the person I am, too much of mush is also boring to me and I started to tire out after half the book (about 10 stories) as things began to become repetitive. No, the stories were not following the common thread or common storyline. It is just that the expression of love became repetitive.

I wish I did not have to read this book in a short period for the review. Wish I had the liberty to read the book over the span of several months, reading just 3-4 stories every month. I would have not suffered from over-dose of love and would have been able to appreciate every story independently; unaffected by love-fatigue.

Last but not the least, even after completing the book, I am not really sure why the collection is called 'Metro Diaries' – I did not feel that the stories or setting or the emotion was 'metro specific' nor did it seem that all stories were set in the metro cities. So I connected with the author on twitter and asked her. She told me the stories are based on real life people and their stories and most of these she came across when she was riding the metro train … and hence the name. Well, now the name made more sense to me (and reminded me of the movie 'Life in a Metro' which was essentially a collection of love stories as well as life struggles of several people living in a metro city)

The cover was equally simple and not really appealing (to me). The book inside was deep … the title and cover design did not do justice to it. I am not creative enough to suggest a better cover or title but I feel the book deserved better of both.  

 

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 2.0 / 5

Writing Style: 3.5 / 5

Characters:     3.5 / 5

Story / Plot:     3.5 / 5

Climax:            x.x / 5  Not applicable. The stories don't really end.

Overall:           3.5 / 5   

 
Guess a comment about the 'climax' is needed.
Barring 2-3 out of the 20, the stories don't really end. As I have said before, the stories in the book are not your typical love stories which have a sequence of events and a definite end. They are thoughts and feelings of people in love … at some point in time in their love life. Their life and their love continues to evolve even after the story ends in the book.
 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Seductive Communication by Karma Peters

 


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Book: The Art of Seductive Communication

Author: Karma Peters

No. of Pages: 151

Genre: Non-Fiction, Self-Development

Publisher: Self Published using Smashwords

 

Plenty of good straight-forward to-the-point advice in bite sized chapters (calling them chapters is actually a hyperbole)

The book is easy to read and assimilate with each chapter offering a piece of advice followed by explanations and examples.

Most of the advice is pretty much common-sense but it is good to have it all in one place … as a reminder for you.

If you had no time, you could read the table of contents and get a gist of the book.

Also, the table of Contents is a summary of the book and can serve as a quick reminder for you when you have read the book and want to remind yourself the key principles. Mind you, it has a looong table of contents.

Of course, the worth of such a book is not in the beauty of how well it is written. It is in how well you are able to use the book in your life and apply the principles in there. If you are able to apply even some of the principles from the book (and it is not at all difficult to do that); I guess the author will be happy.

 

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:
Usual parameters don't apply for this non-fictions work

Overall:           3.0 / 5   

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Spotlight: Metro Diaries by Namrata (Privy Trifles)


As a voracious reader and a budding author who is too lazy to write, i have a soft corner for books and their authors. So i will always be ready to extend a helping hand when it comes to reviewing books and talking about authors. So this post is a spotlight on the book "Metro Diaries' by the blogger author Namrata who is popularly known by her online identity of Privy Trifles. She is a prolific reader herself and reviews books at http://www.privytrifles.co.in/

Well, as i said, this post is to shine a spotlight on a book and the author. So here we go ...


About the Book:




Love is one of the most amazing feelings on this earth, one that makes you the most powerful person or the most helpless person in a split second. These stories capture those feelings of despair, longing, love, lust, desire, want, dejection and admiration to create deja vu. Hold onto your hearts as you flip through these pages and take a walk down the memory lane as "Metro Diaries" will revive your innermost feelings and imbibe in you the magic of love. Touching, amusing and deeply moving, Metro Diaries - Love Classics are tales that will hold you from start till end.



Book Links: Goodreads I Amazon I Flipkart



Some Random Fun Facts:

1. All the stories in the book are real - based on real people and their love lives. Of course, name of places and people have been changed to maintain confidentiality and protect the love birds.

2. Metro Diaries is a segment on Namrata's blog which consists of stories across genres though this book has only got the romance collection.

3. One of the characters in the book is the author herself and she does not reveal which one -- If you think you have the right answer do write to her and she might just let you know how close or far you are.

4. The stories in the book dont have a "The end" - they come to a sort of conclusion ... You will understand this only when you read the stories in the book.

5. Last but not the least, the stories are not your typical boy-meets-girl and they-live-happily-forever love stories. Namrata's writings are far deeper

About the Author:



Namrata is a prolific blogger popularly known by the name 'Privy Trifles' in the blogosphere. She romances life through her writings and aspires to make love the universal language. She dons various hats between that of a contributing author to 7 anthologies, a reviewer for leading publishing houses, an editor to various books and a columnist. Apart from that she is also the editor for an online magazine called Writer's Ezine. Having mastered the nuances of finance till recently she also held the title of an investment banker closely to let it go to embrace her love for writing fully.


Contact the Author: Website I Facebook I Twitter




Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Future of Personal Computing

Preface to the blog post J

Blogs are conversations

Sometimes they are conversation which the blogger has with himself / herself while there are times when the conversation is with the readers. If the reader has a point of view and would like to join the conversation, he/she will comment and the conversation continues.

Sometimes, conversations lead to blog posts. Ideas discussed spark off things in the bloggers head and they end up writing about it on their blogs.

This blog post is one such conversation which started with email exchange and then the summary of that email exchange culminates in the blog post.

I came across the news item about Myntra 'shutting down' their website and going completely mobile. Since Myntra is now owned by Flipkart, it was their decision to do this and I had a perspective on it. I share the news item and my perspective with the one and only one, Nikhil Kulkarni, with whom I have had countless discussions and brainstorming on business ideas, new age technology, internet, etc.

During the conversation, we were also reminded of a conversation we had 9 years ago … that also became part of the post. Nikhil summarized the email conversation and our conversation from 9 years ago into a blog post which I re-produce here verbatim J

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Personal Computing is probably a word from the 90s, not quite apt for the post iPad era. The reason we use it though is because, this post starts with a recap of a discussion from 2006.

As the 
news spread about Flipkart.com and its affiliate Myntra.com moving to mobile only websites - our minds went back to a discussion we had in 2006 which started at Hemant's apartment in Geneva and continued for next 5 days through our train journeys across Switzerland. The 80GB iPod had just been released, and Hemant mentioned that at the end of the day, the iPod which fits the pocket had hard drive space and a processor. So all we needed now was to load a light weight OS on it, connect it to a monitor, keyboard/mouse and you have a personal computer ready.

Today, the relevance of the personal computer is almost lost in context of tablets and mobile phones. The question is - will this 'mobile-only' trend sustain itself - especially given the wide variety of uses we put computers to today. The next generation of users is far more mobile-friendly and mobile-addicted than laptop/computer; quite a large majority of them practically use the phone for everything and don't use the laptop at all unless they already have one due to their work or they have one in the house. There are few of the mid-generation though who are more comfortable with the larger screen space of the laptop/desktop but they may be a part of a large dwindling minority.

To be frank, the Flipkart / Myntra news is misleading; portals might still continue with 'websites' but they might morph into HTML5 sites which are mobile browser compatible. What portals may want to do is to make even the desktop site resemble the mobile site rather than have two versions. This will not only help bring a consistent experience to customers across platforms, but also save costs of developing and maintaining two versions. It is entirely possible that the formal 'announcements' from Flipkart / Myntra are clever marketing ploys to stay in the news.

However, one cannot deny that mobile is a force to reckon with - most of the India's online retailers, including Snapdeal and Amazon, get a majority of their traffic from the mobile. Even those who are 'laptop native users' prefer to consume content on mobiles or tablets. Laptops / desktops are easier for work that involved editing/creating content including 'small editing' such as writing this blog post.

On the longer term, we think, desktops will surely disappear. Laptops have already been replaced by tablets as far as CxOs are concerned. With time almost all general purpose users might migrate to tablets. But in all probability these tablets will be dual avatar - they will transform into laptops when docked into a keyboard station realizing that the user now wants to do an editing/creating job and not just consume content. This is exactly the vision we discussed 9 years ago on our 
Swiss Tour.

As an exception, special purpose desktops may still survive for the next decade or so - for people such as designers or other craftsmen who need a magnified viewing experience. But within a decade, new technologies such as expandable screens may also emerge so that these users dock their tablet into a device which expands the screen of the tablet into a mega size screen.

This means that, the next wave of specialized hardware will be various types of special purpose docking stations. Simple ones which have only a keyboard and power supply for general users and special purpose docking stations equipped with controls such as expandable screens, stylus controls, eye movement detectors, even Braille readers/writes or motion detection technologies.

All data now anyway resides on Cloud - the day isn't far when we will stop having hard disks which contain our data; the primary purpose of hard disk will be to run the OS. Solid state hard drives will become a norm as far as end user hardware is concerned - the only place you will find disk drives is where cost of storage needs to be lower i.e. Cloud data centers.

So the second place of innovation in hardware will now be in the Data Center space - this will have all the innovation aspects of today such as energy saving, improving CPU utilization and even redundancy controls, but a lot of incremental innovations such as more reliable disks or better data packing density will become essential. Data center business is soon going to be something that big Industrial houses need to enter if they want to stay relevant in the market - the likes of Reliance Industries (
RELIANCE | NSE) in India or GE (NYSE) in the US need to get into this business as early as possible. Data centers are the next utility wave like Power of 1900s or Communication technologies of 2000s.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well that was the post from Nikhil's blog.

I hope you see the future that has been painted in those few words and if you are a tech-enthusiasts; you will be able to see the Big Picture … a picture which will change the way we live our lives and do things.
 Join the conversation ... let us know YOUR thoughts on the future of personal computing ...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Book Review: Lead Tin Yellow by Doug Gunnery

 

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Book: Lead Tin Yellow

Author: Doug Gunnery

No. of Pages: 348

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Partridge India

 

Difficult to rate this book ...

I liked reading it but wasn't really excited about it.

It could have been a fast paced action suspense thriller but the author chose to give it a steady pace without end-of-the-chapter cliff-hangers which are typical in murder mystery and chase oriented novels.

Surprisingly, I did not feel bored though. It was different and I somehow liked it, even though it was not my usual taste.

There was a certain definite quality of the writing (I can't really place my finger on) which kept me going till the end.

It was an interesting read and the 'relatively slower' pace also made it more believable. The unsuspecting protagonist thrown into a dire situation suddenly becomes a hero doing things he couldn't have imagined. That's not what happens here.

The response of the protagonist to situations is more realistic and believable. I liked him. I could identify with him and felt that I might have done something similar.  This quality makes it palatable and you see the story unfolding through the eyes of the protagonist and feel it.

Can't say "I really loved it" simply because I enjoy reading fast-paced racy novels ... Robert Ludlum, Matthew Reilly and the likes. So from that perspective, this novel getting a 3-star from me is no mean feat in itself.

I had thought of the cover design to hold some special meaning … it seemed to me that it showed the yellow lines on the road. But the Lead Tin Yellow in the story had to do with 'art' and 'renaissance paintings' so after reading the book, the cover seemed meaningless (which somehow makes me feel, I have missed a point). I am sure the author and cover designer had a meaning behind the cover design which I am missing.

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 2.0 / 5

Writing Style: 3.5 / 5

Characters:     3.5 / 5

Story / Plot:     3.0 / 5

Climax:            3.0 / 5

Overall:           3.0 / 5   

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bon Voyage – floating hope of education



If the children can't go to school, why not take the school to them and make it enjoyable – as enjoyable as a boat ride on the river .


With these thoughts, Ajeet Singh started a novel and innovative 'boat school'. Considered a stepping stone in the world of learning, the children spend two hours after their regular school day and study, play or revise without any pressures or tensions.

This interesting concept got coverage in leading newspaper as the 'Varanasi Boat School'. I first read about it on DoRight.in and was intrigued by it. I almost dismissed it as a random gimmick but something told me that the boat school was not just floating around … it was just the first step in the Journey of Doing Right.
I did a bit of googling and found that Ajeet Singh means serious business here and it is not a temporary experiment. In fact, he is not alone in this initiative either. I saw a couple of boat school and other innovative school examples – not just in India but around the world (of course, these are in developing countries only). 

It's a fairly simple idea - If the students can't come to the school, take the school to the students … and make it fun for them. The Boat School is fun and it serves the purpose.

Ajeet Singh  is not only educating the students but keeping them 'off the streets' (or off-the-ganga-ghats in this particular case) thereby making a dual-positive contribution to the society and if he can scale up this initiative to include more children, you will have a sort of magicaltransformation hitherto thought very difficult.

But scaling up is never easy.

The boats currently being used are 'donated' by a local fisherman and the professor and other volunteers are providing their 'teaching time' for free. Scaling up means involvement of more people, more boats and of course, more study material for the children … and all this has monetary costs associated with it.

The boats of the fisherman are also something you need to think about. They are definitely not beautiful or attractive and I am sure we should not even talk about the 'safety' features and equipment of the boat (since there will be nothing to talk about).

This is where a single person's effort begins to show its limitation. Funds are always short when it is only one person funding it … but then the power of many is invariably there to tap in this age of social media and a far greater social consciousness.

Lets say the individual needs about 100 thousand (one lakh) to create a magical transformation of the boat school. For a single person it may hardly be anything. But imagine, just about a 100 people coming together who understand the significance of the effort and for whom a 1000 bucks is but a weekend movie and dinner in restaurant. The load becomes significantly lighter when shared and the goal seems pretty much achievable.

So maybe you can head to DoRight.in and make a donation to this initiative. Think about it. Your weekend movie-dinner could educate a child. Isn't it worth !!

I would suggest you head to DoRight.in and watch the video about this Boat School – maybe that can inspire you to donate (even more) J  http://doright.in/category/learning-on-board/ 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Book Review: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

 


 

Book: I Am Pilgrim

Author: Terry Hayes

No. of Pages: 624

Genre: Fiction, Thriller

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

 

A deeply entwined story with various facets

The author delves deep into the psyche of the protagonist and the villain - other characters have their significant role to play and hardly anyone is marginalized but the author spends so much time (and words) on the two central characters that by the end of the book - you feel for them, you feel with them and you feel like them.

The book starts off with a murder - an almost perfect murder - and it is seems like a murder mystery ... which it isn't

the story veers towards the life of an ex secret service agent - our protagonist ... and we feel that the story might go down the path of another Jason Bourne ... but it doesn't

the story also begins to follow the life and times of the 'villain' giving us an in-depth view of his life through the words of the protagonist ... we feel this book is simply going to establish the characters pitting against each other to set up a trilogy or a series ... but it doesn't

What unfolds then is a an extremely simply and audacious terror attack plan which can wipe our millions (or maybe actually over a Billion) people off the face of the earth - most of them being Americans of course since that is the primary target

Unfortunately the villain does not even hate US so much or has anything 'directly' against it. He wants to destroy someone else .. something else ... and he is soooo furious that he is ready to get rid of a nation ... the most powerful on earth ... to fulfill his conviction.

If this review has begun to confuse you ... imagine what I felt reading the book.

The book is deeply engrossing and it can be termed as an unputdownable. I hate reading a book on the tiny mobile screen (even if it is 4/5 inches) ... and I read this one entirely on my mobile - often with low battery and the charging cord connected with me leaving the comfort of the bed and sitting on a chair or sofa near the charging plug point. It is that level of unputdownbale.

The finger-print cover design gave me the impression of it being a CSI / murder mystery based story and as I have clarified above, it is not a murder mystery that you are reading (yes there is murder, there is a mystery and there is even the mystery behind the murder … but that's not the core of the book). So in the end, the cover kind of feels irrelevant. BUT, its an attractive cover design nevertheless and it appeals to a casual reader. The name, the cover design and the back blurb would have definitely made me pick the book in a book-store.

 

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 3.5 / 5

Writing Style: 4.5 / 5

Characters:     4.5 / 5

Story / Plot:     4.5 / 5

Climax:            4.5 / 5

Overall:           4.5 / 5   

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Book Review: 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder

 

 

Book: 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts

Author: Ryan Andrew Kinder

No. of Pages: 111

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Self Published using Amazon Digital Services

 

A really nice book for all those who were lazy to write (but wanted to write) and their excuse for not writing was a lack of inspiration for a plot idea. The book is even good for that amateur who wants to start writing but facing 'start-up' issues.

This book gives you a thousand (quite literally) prompts .. which can act as a plot line or a starting point for a short or a long story. You could potentially write extremely short flash-fiction, a short story, a novella or even a full length novel using those ideas.

At the beginning, the book is not event trying to make you write a story … it simply gives you a nudge – a thought on which to write a few lines and paragraphs. Then it gives you an idea to expand with varied constraints of time as well as word limit (from 55 words to 5500 words)

You can basically start small and go large at your own pace ...

Now you cant complain that you are not able to identify a nice plot line or line of thought to write with ...

 

Ratings on Book Review Parameters: Usual parameters don't apply for this non-fiction work

Overall:           3.5 / 5   

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Book Review: Potluck: A Literary Collection of the Critique Group by Various Authors

 

 

Book: Potluck: A Literary Collection of the Critique Group   

Author: Various Authors

No. of Pages: 250

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories 

Publisher: BecomeShakespeare.com

 

From the Book Blurb: "From the intimate to pure fantasy, from first person experiences to travelogues, Potluck is a collection of stories and reflections by a group of Mumbai-based writers from diverse backgrounds. Working mothers, single women, senior executives, a Catholic priest, a Hindu monk, and a writer from Slovenia, are all a part of the Critique Group. You might relive a fond or long-lost memory or be happily transported into a new world as you savour the stories"

There is an interesting background about how this book got written and how the various authors came together. The 26 stories in this book are of varied style and have a strange but very interesting quality to them. They had depth and their pace was just right to create the desired effect. Some of them struck your heart in the right manner, while others hit hard.

I liked the collection although I won't say I loved it and would give it 5-star ratings. Buts that's more to do with me than the book. I enjoy action thrillers and even in case of short stories, I prefer the ones which surprise me rather than move my heart.

But an occasional sensitive read is always good for the mind and the soul ... and the intellectual and spiritually inclined self. A nice collection of short stories none the less. Anyone can pick this one up and can't say they did not like it.

In one line, I might say … Potluck was a nice collection of short stories with such varied emotions and styles that its like having an Indian Thali for lunch with bite sized portions of a wide variety of interesting tasty items

The cover design did not impress me much and I might not have picked the book based on cover design or the name. Maybe the publisher and author collection could have thought a bit from 'marketing' point of view. You got to sell the book and you got to make it appealing … BEFORE people start to read it.

 

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 2.0 / 5

Writing Style: 4.0 / 5

Characters:     3.5 / 5

Story / Plot:     3.0 / 5

Climax:            3.0 / 5

Overall:           3.5 / 5   

 

The rating here is for a collection of stories and hence an average across them. Some stories had 5-star climax while others had 2-star kind and so with the writing style. On an average, the stories were pretty nice and I liked the collection

Monday, April 06, 2015

Book Review: The Hoard by Neil Grimmett


 

Book: The Hoard

Author: Neil Grimmett

No. of Pages: 378

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Grimpen Publications 

 

As with the earlier one by Grimmett, this one is not easy to review.

The book has a central plot and its pretty interesting with some good amount of suspense and twists ... BUT ... his book is not just about the plot. It is about the varied emotions and feelings of the different characters in the story.

Grimmett pays a lot of attention to character development and what goes on inside the head and heart rather than narrate a series of events forming a story. Yes, that makes his book slow ... but it is an entirely different quality and I must say, that I have enjoyed both his books.

In this particular book, the story revolves around a FACTORY where explosives are manufactured - A place where RDX is manufactured.

We have often talked about explosives when we hear about war or acts of terrorism but have we ever given thought to the place where they are manufactured.

Did we ever think that the manufacturing of those explosives and destructive elements must be a dangerous activity and the lives of those who are involved are under constant threat?

Have we ever thought about the living and working conditions of those involved?

And did we ever wonder what would be the impact of all those dangerous chemicals on those people and their lives? How did their families / spouses feel about it?  

The Hoard brings to light these realities. The people involved in the manufacturing of explosives are people after all and they are not evil. They are just doing their job, earning a living. Suffering the vagaries of the dangerous manufacturing conditions. And of course, there are workplace politics and some bad guys who will blow it up for all … for their own personal benefit.

This story is actually inspired by a massive explosion that killed six men at the real-world ROF Bridgwater facility in 1951 - no cause was ever found. The Hoard is a gripping, grim novel that offers a glimpse into a self-contained apocalyptic landscape scarred both by the birthing of the materiel that fuels war, and the hearts of evil men who would do anything for greed.

 

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 3.0 / 5

Writing Style: 3.5 / 5

Characters:     3.5 / 5

Story / Plot:     3.0 / 5

Climax:            3.5 / 5

Overall:           3.5 / 5   

Sunday, April 05, 2015

LIFE

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s calling by Robert Galbraith / J K Rowling


 

Book: The Cuckoo's calling

Author: Robert Galbraith / J K Rowling

No. of Pages: 455

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Mulholland Books

 

This has long been on my to-read list … finally picked it up and read it. Liked it but not too much

I love mysteries and murder mysteries are included. I like the suspense and how things tie up nicely in the end and the murderer is revealed to be someone who is least expected to be one and whom you might have chanced a guess without any strong line of argument.

But I don't like it when the author decides to write a looooong novel when an average sized novel would have been just fine. Why 450 pages when a 250 page novel would have done the job nicely and succinctly.

I loved the first 4 harry potter books but did not like HP part 5 onwards simply because the books went on and on forever ... interest begins to fade if your novel is long and your story is not moving fast enough.

That's what happened to the Cuckoo … it was slow and it began to drag along ... it was a nice murder mystery no doubt where there are many loose ends which tie up well in the end ... but the end should have come earlier. The book should have been a sharply written murder thriller and not a seemingly emotional roller coaster (which it did not manage successfully though)

I liked the characters which Galbraith created - each one distinctly different from the other but still the leaves of the same high-society branch where the outward appearances are a far-cry from the person within with complex love-hate relationships.

The central character, our detective, is no ordinary hero. In fact, if this would have been a movie, you might have actually discounted him as a temporary character who would probably die as a casualty or collateral damage within a few minutes of introduction. But our guy persists. In the classic multi-layered onion style personality, Galbraith uncovers the personality of the man over the length of the entire book and manages to surprise us all through the book.

The author spent considerable time and words on character development which was nice and enjoyable but it made the novel slow which was not very nice (for me). Hence, I like it but not so much.

I rest my case (and NO ... I am not biased by the fact that the author is actually JKR)

I liked the cover design though. It seems to kind of show the essence of the life of the central character … although when you finish reading, the picture seems meaningless. Phew

 

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 2.5 / 5

Writing Style: 3.0 / 5

Characters:     3.0 / 5

Story / Plot:     2.5 / 5

Climax:            2.0 / 5

Overall:           2.5 / 5