Posts Tagged 'Author Requested Review'

Book Review: The Canyon Of Souls – Ronald Malfi

There was a line in the book, “Mountaineering is one of the last remaining extreme sports” and I cannot agree more with this statement. But sometimes I wonder why it is called an extreme sport, I don’t understand that. This is something where people die regularly and even then it is called a sport. I am no serious mountaineer, but then I am not completely naive about it either. I have done a fair bit of hiking/mountaineering and I can vouch for one thing – mountaineering is not just a test of one’s physical stamina, it is a test of one’s mental strength too. It takes a toll on the mind and the body. And this thing has been captured perfectly by Ronald Malfi in The Canyon of Souls.

The book follows the journey of a gifted sculptor Tim Overleigh as he tries to come to terms with the untimely death of his wife who had left him and loses his drive and talent to sculpt. He consumes himself with extreme sports, facing death at every turn to and avoids confronting his demons and keeps living in the past. He gets invited to visit the elusive Canyon of Souls along with a team of six. And soon death makes an appearance as the team struggles to remain sane and alive.

The protagonist has been sketched wonderfully. You can feel his pain when he reminisces about his dead wife, you can feel his frustration that his skill has deserted him. Ronald Malfi has breathed life into Tim Overleigh and you can easily empathize with him.  The flow of the story while not linear completely, is not difficult to follow. Another thing I completely enjoyed about the book was the description of the locales – it makes one miss or dread the majestic Himalayas depending on your appetite for mountaineering.  If somebody were to adapt this book into a movie it would make a really grand spectacle.

I wish the primary antagonist was characterized better. I would have loved to have this book narrated from his perspective too. It too would have made for an interesting read – Why the antagonist does what he does? There were a few time when I felt the book was a few pages too long. While the story never drags – you keep turning the pages, but there were a few incidents which could have been skipped altogether. Also for someone not familiar with the mountaineering jargon or techniques few paragraphs would not make any sense at all.

All in all The Canyon of Souls is a captivating thriller. What especially stood out was the locale which the author picked for the book. Imagine yourself in middle of a climb to a mountain where the closest civilization is at least a few days’ trek away and all you can rely on is yourself, and now imagine death lurking about, awaiting around the corner sharpening his knife especially for you. This is what this book made me feel like.

Addendum: This is a requested review. I was contacted by the publishers of this book for reviewing it.

Book Review: Puppet On The Fast Track – Ilika Ranjan

There have rarely been times when I’ve not been sure of what to think of a book I just read. The only time I remember having that problem was when I had read The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time. Even today I am not sure whether I liked the book or not. I am facing the same dilemma again now while reviewing another book.

Ilika Ranjan has penned the book “Puppet on the Fast Track” which tells the story of a bank where politics is as common as potholes on an Indian road and everyone in the upper management hates everybody else in the upper management and all of their common aims is to ride on the shoulders of their subordinates to success and subsequently the next promotion. Told from the perspective of the people on the lower echelons, this book would resonate with anyone who has faced office politics.

The story of the book is quite simple, and it is quite easy to empathize with the primary characters as almost everyone in the corporate world has faced one of the situations depicted in the book. The pace of the book is quite steady but owing to a few repetitive incidents it actually feels slower than it actually is. The plot is not complex, but what lets the book down is the abrupt flow. At times I did not realize that one conversation was over and a new one has started between two other characters. The editing leaves a lot to be desired, there were instances when two different conversation topics overlapped and it became a confusing read. Few of the characters have been sketched out pretty well, and you can easily love or hate them. The writing actually improved a lot as the chapters progressed.

There were times when I absolutely enjoyed the book, and there were times it became a lethargic read – that is the reason I feel this book has me in two minds. This book seems aimed at management professionals and students considering the bits of jargon and the work environment and it is an interesting read for the target audience. For others it may get a tad tedious if they are not able to relate to the characters or the scenarios in the book.

Addendum: This is an author requested review. I was contacted by her to review the book.

Book Review: The Book of Answers – C. Y. Gopinath

“With great power, comes great responsibility” – somehow this line has made a permanent home in my conscience. This line from Spiderman keeps cropping up at various times. Anytime I’m reading a book or some story where a common man like you and me is thrown into an extraordinary situation, I keep imagining how would that person react? Not all people are born heroes, most would shirk away from the responsibility, and the ones who do not make for good heroes in books and movies. C. Y. Gopinath’s hero in The Book of Answers is surprisingly of the first kind, and I’ve to say makes for a most intriguing hero.

As soon as I had read the blurb of this book, my interest had been piqued. “The Book of Answers” is the story of Patros Patranobis. He inherits a book that supposedly has the answers to all the problems plaguing the world. Not wanting to add more problems to his already problematic life Patros disposes of the book but is shocked to see it again on National Television under the control of India’s most powerful (and corrupt) political leader. The rest of the story follows Patros and his (mis)adventures as he tries to grapple with unwanted heroism thrust on him, and the repercussions of him becoming the forced leader of a political movement.

The story is gripping and you keep turning the pages to know what happened next. There are rarely any places where the pace of the story slackens and that is saying something for a 350+ pages long book. The flow of the book was mostly linear, and there was no problem following the story anywhere. I especially loved the names of the characters. The protagonist is Patros Patranobis, his son is Tipperary (Tippy), the ‘ruler’ of the country is aptly named Ishwar Prasad, and once you hear the name Shinde – you know it is going to be a cop. Apart from the names, almost all the characters have been given quite a bit of personality. All the major characters have an interesting back-story which helps in understanding nuances of that person’s characterization.

What I did not enjoy about the book was the usage of a few words which would not have been amiss in an advanced English vocabulary class. I would say my knowledge of English is not bad as I’ve been a voracious reader since I don’t remember when, and even then at many times I had to interrupt my read to find the meaning of the word. Mostly I can figure out what a word means from the context, but while reading this book there were times when I had to resort to a dictionary to find the meaning. Thankfully I had been reading this book on my Kindle and thus I had quick access to a dictionary and that saved me a lot of hassles. Apart from this trivial complaint there are hardly any negative points about the book.

In summary, I would say this is one of the better books I’ve read this year and I completely enjoyed the read. Read a few excerpts here and if you enjoy it, do not miss The Book of Answers.

Addendum: This is an author requested review. I was contacted by the author to review his book.

Book Review: Fate, Fraud & a Friday Wedding – Bhavna Rai

Recently I finished reading Fate, Fraud & a Friday Wedding by Bhavna Rai. The book follows the protagonists across a decade as they come to terms with their lives while juggling their careers, relationships and friendships. The book follows Tara, Anand, Neel and Jenny and their lives in USA and Delhi. The lives of the protagonists are inter-connected as their work centers around the same product and Tara fits in as the love interest of both Anand and Neel.This book follows the personal and professional lives of all protagonists and has given equal importance to both – the business meetings as well as the personal ones.

The book is fast paced, and the story has no apparent gaps in it. All the main characters have been sketched in detail, and after some time reading the book I could easily second guess their actions. This is powerful writing on the part of Bhavna Rai that the reader could so easily understand her protagonists. Both the male protagonists have shades of grey in their characters which makes them very realistic. Although this is mainly a book concentrating on lives of contemporary urban people, what I enjoyed most was the business writing. The business dealings, the insider trading, the workings of a BPO and an IT company – these made for far more enthralling reading than the chapters dealing with the personal lives of the protagonists.

Although the pace of the book rarely slacked, and the editing is top-notch; even then I felt that it was a long read. Maybe it is because these days I expect such contemporary books to be around 200 pages long; if it is a long book then my expectations change a lot – I feel it should be a thriller, or a fantasy novel, or a Jeffrey Archer book, or some book that promises much more, but then it is a matter of personal choice. And somehow I did not like the title of the book, it was not catchy enough. Guess the author has the same problem as me – I spend more time trying to think up a perfect title for my short-stories than I do writing them and even then I rarely like the titles I can think of 🙂

On the whole it is a delightful read, a good companion for a lazy weekend when you decide to stay indoors to avoid these stupid rains!

Addendum: This is an author requested review. I was contacted by the author to review her book.

Book Review: Love on the Rocks – Ismita Tandon Dhankher

It is always fun to delve into a life about which you have no or very less idea. I guess that is why the spy-novels, the thrillers, the detective-novels sell like hotcakes. They give an insight into a life which is not experienced by most of the readers. That is the reason I love Arthur Hailey’s writing, he goes in such details about any industry that after reading the book you can claim to have inside knowledge of that industry. In a similar vein, the book Love on the Rocks by Ismita Tandon Dhankher attempts to explore the life on a ship.

The book is about the time spent by Sancha – wife of an officer of merchant navy- aboard a ship, along with her husband and a band of disparate people who make up the crew. A robbery takes place on the ship, Sancha finds out about the death of a cook few days before she came on-board, and soon the accidental death is found to be a murder. Sancha’s efforts along with the investigative officer’s makes up the rest of story along with her interactions with her husband.

The book is a breezy read. It has an interesting plot, and the flow of the story is quite good. Even though the mystery started quite late in the book, the editing does not let off anywhere and makes the book a quick read. The story is told from viewpoints of different people and that makes the story quite interesting as the reader has all the information. The character of Sancha was sketched out very well, but other characters could not be sketched well as they were part of the list of suspects. But even then you know a bit of background story for everybody, and it in an interesting group of people on-board that ship.

Initially in the book many characters were introduced at one go, which made it confusing to keep track of them as almost all main characters had nicknames too which were used by the other characters in conversations making it confusing at times to keep track of who is who.  It would have been great if there was a page dedicated to all main characters, their nicknames, and what do they do on the ship – meaning what exactly is their responsibility on the ship.  And I wish there was more explanation on how the cargo ship works. That could have made the read much more interesting. There were a few abbreviations which made reading a tad difficult. Had to think twice before realizing that 2/O is second officer, and till now I don’t know what is AB? These minor things did deter the flow a bit, but did not have any major impact on the reading.

On the whole an interesting book. The Metro-Reads stands true to its name – it definitely is a very quick read.

Addendum: This is an author requested review. I was contacted by the author to review her book.

Meet the Blogger…

I write! Topic does not matter, can be my life, or my travels, or any match I saw, or the Hyderabadi life, or reminiscing about Raipur, or penning Short Stories & 55s.

I can be contacted at kunalblogs[at]gmail[dot]com.

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