Posts Tagged 'Author Requested Review'

Book Review: The Winning Way – Harsha Bhogle, Anita Bhogle

The Winning Way by Harsha Bhogle and Anita Bhogle marries two fields which even though are very different, they share the same set of core attributes. Management and Sports do not seem to have any relation, but they share many common traits. Instead of me trying to explain, I’ll copy-paste part of the book’s synopsis:

What do sporting champions do, what makes winning teams, who is a good leader, why do only some teams keep winning while others win only for a while and then lose… The authors dig into examples from sport to see how they can benefit managers… Contrary to popular perception ability is not a major distinguishing factor in success, especially as the level of competition increases.

I have always stayed clear of management books, unless you count the autobiographers of industrialists and pioneers in their fields; I have never been able to enjoy those books as jargon, the heavy words often make the reading laborious. The Bhogles saw that there was a connection between sports and management, and there would rarely be a person who does not understand sports. And this management book borrowed the language of sports, and it is a very easy read.

Sports anecdotes are always fun, and in this book the authors take tales from Cricket, Tennis, Golf, and even Basketball at times among other sports and find a connect between attaining your goals, leadership, winning, sustaining the winning habit, and more importantly – losing. The Australian team of the past decade finds frequent references thanks to their incessant victories, Sachin Tendulkar is mentioned more times than any other individual (deservedly so), Martina Navratilova, Lance Armstrong, Pete Sampras, Steve Waugh, Bjorn Borg, Michael Jordon crop up frequently when the authors are talking about the successful brands and how they achieved their success.

Since I have never had the stomach for management books, I’ve to admit, that there were times when I was reading for the sports anecdotes instead of the management funda, but then I guess this is the aim of the authors – make people relate to sports and through that help gain insight for management.

The book’s subject is very different from Harsha Bhogle’s earlier book “Out of the Box”, but even this one is an equally engrossing read. Anyone who reads management books, must pick up The Winning Way.

Addendum: This is a requested review. I was contacted by the authors’/publisher’s PR agency to review the book.

Manually Generated Related Link: Review of Out of the Box.


Book Review: The Lotus Queen – Rikin Khamar

History is a confusing subject. There have been times when I absolutely hated it, and there have been times when I have been salivating for more. I’ve had vastly different experiences with Historical Fiction – I loved the fiction based on World War II, but apart from that this genre left a lot to be desired. Amidst this I started reading “The Lotus Queen” by Rikin Khamar which tells the story of the Rajput Queen Padmini and the kingdom of Mewar; and I was pleasantly surprised.

The Lotus Queen recounts the tale of Padmini’s marriage to the king of Mewar, and the subsequent attack by the Delhi Sultan to win over the beautiful queen.Padmini is very beautiful, and her fame travels from Chittor to Delhi whose Sultan wants to see her himself. This is a major disrespect to the Rajput kingdom, relations turn sour soon afterwards and the Sultan comes back to attack Mewar. The defense and final war of Mewar completes the story.

Although this book is based on an actual attack that took place in 14th century, the details known about Queen Padmini are sketchy at best. Here is where Rikin has taken the liberty to fictionalize the tale, and he has come up trumps with the characterization of Queen Padmini. There are a few other characters who appear throughout the book, but they were always the extra characters, including Padmini’s husband. Since the narration of the story was done by different characters at different junctures, I was wishing that at least a few characters be fleshed out more. But then this book is all about Queen Padmini.

The story runs in two parallel segments – one segment concentrates on the on-going war, and parallel flashback track is about the events leading to this eventuality. Even though every chapter is narrated by different people and each chapter has two timelines, the flow never got confusing. And it was a very good decision on part of the author to keep the book short, with so much content at his disposal this book could have easily converted in an epic, but Rikin has kept a tight leash on the story, and never allowed it to run amok. The editing has kept the plot taut and made the book a delightful read.

If you are even a bit interested in Historical Fiction, pick The Lotus Queen.

Addendum: This is an author requested review. Rikin asked me to review this book. Also, Rikin is a co-author of Urban Shots.

Book Review: Cricket Till I Die – Upneet Grover

Cricket is an indispensable part of our lives – both for the fans and the haters of this glorious game. I’ve been a cricket addict for as long as I can remember, and have very often dreamed about playing cricket professionally. Chalk it up to me being lazy or to the fact that I was the sixth bowler in my team, and used to bat at number six or seven and was in the team as a specialist fielder, my dream always remained that – a very elusive dream. And I am sure I am not alone in this field, all the fan-boys would have dreamed of playing cricket for India.

Upneet Grover has taken this dream and weaved the novel “Cricket Till I Die” around it. The protagonist is a code-monkey who is itching to leave his boring job. He gets a break when he qualifies for an MBA and leaves his job. He has a break of 2-3 months, and starts playing cricket at a small club to while away the time. The protagonist had always been a decent player, and soon finds his groove. A bigger club beckons, and how he goes on to become a professional cricketer makes the story. While cricket is the focus, the love-story of the protagonist is also highlighted.

The character of Vinnet Grover (yeah, the names of protagonist and the author are that similar) is very well defined, although I cannot say the same about any other character. The flow of the story is very straightforward, and the story itself is very simple. There are a few plot-holes in the story, and there are some far-fetched moments in the book when you have to look for your jaw on the floor. But that does not hamper the pace of the story. Like any good one-day innings, it was very well paced.

A big sore point in the book was the use of ‘u’ and similar SMS lingo. Since that lingo was not in the whole book, I am chalking it up to the oversight of the editor. This was one thing which even a simple spell check could have caught. Apart from that the writing was decent enough and there were rarely any breaks in the flow.

I completely enjoyed this book – maybe it was the story, maybe it was because Sehwag was one of the major characters, maybe it was because I have had the same dream, maybe all of the above – whatever be the reason I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

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

Book Review: Truly, Madly, Deeply – Faraaz Kazi

There is nothing like the first love, or in many cases nothing like the first infatuation or crush. You would be all of 12 or 14 years old when a beautiful damsel would pass by you stealing your breath, and your heart. Nobody forgets their first time they fall for a girl. In the book “Truly, Madly, Deeply” the author Faraaz Kazi explores the first love, and the problems the couple face in their quest of love.

The protagonist of the book Rahul is a singer, quizzer, guitarist, cricketer, debater, dancer among other things apart from being the school topper. He falls for Seema – a year junior to him, and who is equal to Rahul in all senses except for his arrogance. Being toppers their affair is known to all and sundry, and this adds to the multiple complications that any normal school-time romance has to contend with. Their romance, their life is what makes this book.

The character of Rahul has been very well developed. The author has taken pains to create his protagonist and it shows when you read the book, especially the first few chapters. Similarly the female protagonist Seema’s character has also been developed properly, but she plays second fiddle to Rahul. The writing on display is noteworthy, and at times I was not reading for the story, but for the writing prowess of Faraaz Kazi.

What let the book down was the length – 300 pages is a bit too long for a normal love story. Another thing that disrupted the flow of the story was incessant school events that kept on taking place. One or two events are fine, but in this book most of the middle chapters concentrated majorly on the school events, and the story crawled ahead in those pages. Although I have to admit that the attention to detail for all the events that transpire in a school is exemplary. On reading about the school life, you can vividly remember your own school days.

On the whole, a promising debut by the author. I enjoyed reading the book, but at times it felt a very long read. I would surely enjoy reading more of the author’s writings as he has a great command over the language, I just hope next time there is tighter editing.

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

Book Review: We Can Pull It Off – Suresh Taneja

The biggest problem that India has been facing for quite some time now has been the unchecked corruption anywhere you turn. If you grease them, then only the wheels move; otherwise the wheels metamorphose into a square shape instead of a circle – you are stuck at one place. This widespread problem of corruption and its envisioned solution is what gave rise to the book “We Can Pull It Off” by Suresh Taneja.

Four young adults get a dose of the corrupt system when they encounter a shady cop who asks for bribe. They encounter a few more similar incidents, and decide to do something about it. While brainstorming, they hit on an idea that seems to be a solution for tackling the problem. The book is about the idea they have, how they implement it, and the fortuitous coverage they receive in the mainstream media. Everything just falls into place as they lead India to be the foremost country in the world.

The book has an interesting plot. The idea presented to combat the rampant corruption in the country is actually a very simple idea, and if implemented properly, could be a effective one too. Although the cynic in me could see the problems faced, and how a person could game the system, even then the idea is laudable. I would actually love to see something like a CDI (Corruption Density Index – as mentioned in the book – a rating of how corrupt a person is by his/her own children) being implemented.

Coming to the characters – there were no characters. All the characters spoke as if they are one and the same person. Everybody is painted in shades of white and a few of them are black before turning white when confronted. This book world has no scope for the gray characters. Initially in the book I was confused when 10-12 characters were introduced in a single chapter. Later I realized that it is not a problem, as they all spoke in the same manner. Even if someone does not concentrate on who is speaking, and just understands “what” is being spoken, that is enough to follow the story.

The book tackles a very serious problem, in a surprisingly refreshing read. Even at 160 odd pages, there were a few extra pages with repetitive incidents and talks among the protagonists. On the whole this book is a decent read and can be a good accompaniment for a lazy afternoon.

Suresh Taneja emailed me on his drive for writing the book,  “I want the book to promote introspection amongst the people to do something about the mammoth problem being faced  by us.”

Addendum: This is an author requested review. I was contacted by Suresh Taneja to review his 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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