Men on my mind – book review

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Short review: It’s a cleverly written novel that embraces classic chick literature plot. An entertaining read for women in teens and twenties. And also, for people who love M&B.

Radha Thomas

Radha Thomas

Details:

On Sunday afternoon, within an hour of my online conversation with the author, Radha Thomas, the book was in my hands. She sent across the review copy with the driver, who smilingly handed it over. After a heavy lunch, I started reading a book. On to the second page, I came across this line.

I had on my mind other things that were far more pervasive. Thoughts that had nothing to do with books and everything to do with boys. What I would do with them and what they would do back to me. Over and over again. That’s all I could think about.

….

Like the fact that I was only seven.

Seven and these thoughts, it put me off and I kept the book aside and dozed off. But when I finally finished the book, I realized how stupid I was to judge the book so early.

So here’s the blurb and the cover.

blurb_momm

Blurb

men-on-my-mind-700x700-imadekfy8tnxfzrp

cover

Detailed review

Story

It’s a story about a girl, who grew up thinking about men – 24 x 7. As young as seven, the protagonist closely observed and influenced by the lifestyle of her hot and sassy aunt, who dated men, dime-a-dozen. She was sent to all-girls boarding school which ignited her curiosity even more. After school, she had her share of men and experiences of touch, kiss and everything else, apart from being part of the band as a Jazz Singer.  Post graduation, she moved to New york to assist the same aunt and there she got exposed to whole new world with whole new species of men. In US, she found work and moved in with a Jazz musician. He was good but not ‘the one’. On an event management tour in Beijing, she explored several rich and dynamic men, but the Mr. perfect was nowhere in sight. Finally in the last 5 pages, something happened.

The story appears semi-biographical 😉 especially if you connect with the author details on the cover. A lot of elements to keep you interested through out, right from events in all-girls boarding school to Jazz music nights to nude beach in US.

Title, cover and blurb

Awesome cover with befitting title that promises a lot of chick literature. Blurb, full of spices, will seduce you to buy the book. Good first impressions there.

Plot

Classic plot of a chick literature, where a woman has to meet many wrong men before finding the right one. Executed well.

Setting

Set in the present day and age, the story moves from Boarding school, Mumbai, New york and Beijing. The places are described well.

Story structure

It follows the linear story structure with defined start and end. It followed an interesting pattern in the first half of the novel, then it was just one event after another leading to an interesting climax. Would have loved more conflict, pinch points, setup-payoffs in the second half.

Writing style

This is where the author gets full marks. She has such a strong hold on the language, that she can describe two completely different emotions crisply with an ease. Here’s the sample paragraph, when a teen protagonist is meeting a boy (friend’s brother) to learn the guitar.

I had to do this right. I had to make him feel that my feelings hadn’t changed since the day before. So I snuggled and kissed earnestly, deftly fending off Johnny’s fumbling and bra-unclasping attempts. Then I diverted his attention to the chords C, F and G, which were fortunately far more difficult that A, D and E. That took a lot more time than he’d counted on. Barre chords are not easy for a student on her second day, especially upside-down, so that cut down hugely on wrestling time.

and another

He had probably been out playing doctor with God knows how-many women all over New York, leaving me to do his dirty dishes! That scoundrel.

Narration

The story is narrated in First person, interestingly nowhere the protagonist is nameless. On the same note, it left to reader’s imagination how the protagonist look like, though the author does describe her indirectly through comparison on couple of occasions. Language is easy and lucid.

Special mention – Naming of the Chapters

Radha Thomas has done a remarkable job in naming of the chapters. Can’t get juicer than this. Check it for yourself.

chapters_back_men_on_my_mind_radha_thomas

Chapter index

chapters_front_men_on_my_mind_radha_thomas

Chapter index

Verdict

Women in late teens and twenties will love the book and this book is also for men who wants to know “What women really think about while having sex?”.

What do you think about the book and this review? Tell me your opinion in the box below.

(PS: here’s the review from a fellow blogger – Pooja )

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Book review: The Krishna Key

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Short review: Well researched book on Krishna and India, a tad too detailed, but definitely cannot be missed.

Detailed one

The author, Ashwin Sanghi, is doing a fab job of publicizing the book across all channels. I loved the book trailer, here it is

Ashwin has Masters degree from Yale University and is currently pursuing PhD in Creative Writing. Hence, I picked up the book for review.

The book is a little long one, 465 pages. It’s style in such a way that there are two stories going in parallel – one mahabharata and other the   actual story of the book. I don’t read books based on history or mythology or religion, but the captivating trailer did the trick. The amount of research that has gone in to the making of this book deserves a big round of applause. Let’s start dissecting.

Trailer: Absolutely captivating, you saw that earlier.

Title: Hmmm, it could have been better. Doesn’t resonate completely with the book.

Cover design: Spot on, beautiful artwork from Gunjan Ahlawat. Perfect to the theme of the book. Haven’t seen such a lovely and apt cover design in the past.

Plot: Murder mystery colored with history and religion (Krishna). A trademark Dan Brown style. It’s a beautiful adaptation of ‘Da Vinci Code’.

Setting: Kalibangan in Rajastan to Dwarka and Somnath in Gujrat to Mount Kailash in Tibet to Vrindavan and Agra in UP, you can’t ask for a wider canvas and detailed description.

Characterization:  Lovely strong characters Taarak Vakil, Priya, Ravi Mohan Saini (protagonist), et-al. However, the motives of the two main dark characters didn’t go well down my throat – lacked depth.

Story, structure and everything else: The story starts with a brutal murder of Historian Anil Varshey who was in possession of ancient artifacts that cost his life. The blame goes to his close friend and protagonist Ravi Mohan Saini, who is one of the most knowledgeable person when it comes to ‘History of India, Mahabharata or Krishna’.  Without giving away too much, I would list down the things that irritated me before I talk about good points

  •  Every chapter has two parts. (a) story of Mahabharata and (b) the actual story of the book. Now, it was a good refresher on Mahabharata, at times I got enlightened, but it was completely unnecessary and at times irritating. I would have liked the story of Krishna weaved in to the thriller rather then just giving a reference at the start of every chapter.
  • Loads of Sanskrit Shlokas, not sure if all of them have been explained in detailed.
  • There’s no dialogue happening between the characters. In every scene, everyone is just giving Gyan on history.
  • Almost every scene has two or more characters that are experts in history.
  • I was not eased in to the book, first 100 pages were tough ones to navigate.

Lot of bashing, let’s talk about the good points.

It’s fast paced thriller (if you don’t read the Mahabharata paragraph at the start of every chapter), a delight to see how a dry history topic is converted in to fiction.  Again the amount of research that has gone in to making of this book deserves 5 stars right away. This book will definitely be referred by history buffs in the future. He has a list of 130+ sources listed at the end of the book.

It’s lovely to see that Ashwin listed down the typos in the book on his website.

Out an out a good read if you want to know more about history / krishna / mahabharata / taj mahal / India or to see how much sweat and blood has gone in to the research in creating this book.

Rating  4 / 5.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at  BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

 

Want to read first 5 chapters?  –  click here

The Taj Conspiracy review

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Short review: If you read one book in a decade than this is the book you want to pick up. (unless you want to wait for my book to come out)

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Detailed one: I happened to visit the book launch organized by Bangalore International Center. Honestly, I was completely bowled over by the author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. What a strong hold on the subject coupled with absolute clear diction and a calm composure. Honestly, I never bought a book during the book release in the past, but this time I had to buy it was so compelling.

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So coming to the blurb (portion):

Mughal scholar Mehrunisa Khosa stumbles upon a conspiracy to destroy the Taj Mahal when she discovers the murder of the Taj supervisor, and the Quranic calligraphy on the tomb of Queen Mumtaz altered to suggest a Hindu origin of the Taj Mahal…That urban legend had always existed. Now, though, someone was conspiring to make it come true. (…more directly from her in the video below)

Never before in an Indian Fiction, I’ve read a book so well research and around the monument that defines our country. Manreet has done a lot of research on the Taj Mahal and probably might have read all the books available on it.

This is one of the best written books in the Indian Literature.

Title, cover and blurb: The title, The Taj Conspriacy, perfect for the book. Cover a little gloomy, it could have been better. Blurb could have been a little simplified and the last paragraph looks little overdone.

Plot: Murder mystery leading to the bigger conspiracy around Taj  – Bang On. You won’t find a better plot than this. Delivered to its promise. Just too good.

Setting: Agra, Delhi, Kashmir, Jaipur. Beautifully description that makes the scenes come alive.

Characterization: Mehrunisa Khosa was carved beautifully. Her appearance, intentions and strong mind does excellent justice to the character. The two cops SSP Raghav and RP Singh – well I would say, at time got confused between the two – may be because they have similar initials. There are half-a-dozen other characters that are perfectly placed in the story.

Story (and it’s structure): 10/10 – Starts with the murder (like The Da-vinci code) with a cryptic clue by the victim. The high stakes, that someone’s behind Taj to destroy or alter it, cannot get any grandeur than this. A fast paced story, set in multiple cities with beautiful twists and turns along the way it will keep you glued. Every bit of the story is just so damn good. This is one story in which I have not found any error from the technical point of view. Every bit is just perfect.

Writing style/language/misc: Awesome writing style. At times, the author did use the heavy words that slows down the pace. Towards the end, I couldn’t visualize what’s happening within the different rooms and the garden of Taj Mahal. (tip to the author: Show don’t tell). But that’s ok, these things can be ignored in the Majestic book.

Out an out, a face paced thriller that will also educate you about the Taj Mahal and leave you to read more…

Go buy it.

Manreet Ma’m, you’re hardworking, skillful and gifted. Eagerly waiting for your next one.

 

Rating 4.5/5

Book review – Murder in Amaravati

5

Short review: An honest attempt to write a murder mystery in an Indian setting. Very raw and fresh, it’s a good read.

Detailed review:

This book will remain very close to my heart till the last day. It’s been 2 years that I have been writing actively and this book is the first materialistic reward. Lemme explain, Blogadda.com have this book review program. If you are passionate about books and can write reviews, you just have to sign up with them and they will send you new books for free…. Yes, free. You just have to write the review of the book you received within 7-10 days.

Coming to the book in question

Title: Murder in Amaravati. Straight to the point, very few books have a title which reflects the content. Even the great Chetan Bhagat’s recent one ‘Revolution 2020 ‘ failed in this department.

Cover: Mind blowing. It once again precisely depicts the two main important corner stones of the story.

Plot: In the Indian context, attempting to write a murder mystery is a mammoth effort by itself. Even though as readers we understand the Genre very well, we hardly come across any new authors who experiment with this Genre.

Without revealing too much, the plot is about the murder of Padmavati, a village hostess (prostitute). Investigated by a village constable, who has never had the chance to solve a case of petty crime, forget about murder investigation. He finds seven suspects and each of them with a strong motive to kill Padmavati.

Sharath Komarraju, the author, once again did a fantastic job in coming up with the commendable plot.

Setting: Amaravati –  No, this is not the same populous city of Maharashtra. The author forgot to mention that it’s a village in Andhra Pradesh. The other facts about Amaravati (AP) have been depicted quite beautifully.

It’s like saying, there is a village called London near Mumbai. The author could have done better in selecting a fictitious or better setting to avoid the confusion. On the other hand, he could have added more clarity on the name and difference between the two cities of the same name.

Characterisation, story, structure, dialogues, etc.,

The novel started pretty well. It did provided an initial hook – full marks on the same. The story had its own pace, a slower one, what I expected out of Murder mystery is a fast, page-turner kind. But on the contrary, it came out a Malgudi-days-type slow paced but honest to it’s title story.

Let me be brutally honest here – The book had all the right ingredients to become a block buster, but sub-standard editing messed it up. I mean like I didn’t expect this from a seasoned Literary agent  and seasoned publisher. Sharath, write to me in case if you want to learn about those editing glitches in detail. Few of them, I am jotting them down here.

  • Too many characters, often get’s mixed up. You had to go back to the previous chapters to recall about the character and come back.
  • The plot says the constable has never faced even a petty crime before. He’s a small time, small town constable not a detective and definitely not the smart types. How come all of a sudden he has contacts  (that he has used before) in the city that can do the job of investigating within no time.
  • Extensive use of the word Gaaru during the conversation, which could have been ironed out. In fact this is the only word used to depict the culture, I would have liked to learn more about the nuances, the music, the art, the food, etc.,

Now this book belongs to the genre of Easy reads, but at times the author shows-off his vocab which was completely unnecessary.

However, there were some good lines that stayed with me.

  • Education doesn’t make people smart or foolish. Education just makes people educated.
  • Huge patches of grey clouds irregularly punctuated the blue sky.

So my dear reader, overall it’s a nice, slow paced story – a welcome break from the College romances and chic-lits that are being floating around. Go read it and let me know.

It deserves a good 3/5.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Click here if you wish to buy it from flipkart or

Click here to visit the author’s website to read the first two chapters for free.

Aakash tablet – a complete waste

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Before I start with the review, here are some comments from my near and dear ones

@pvinod (after playing for 10 minutes):

Crappiest Tablet EVER!

@ramespark  (after helping me out with initial set up. He spent close to 30 minutes with the tablet):

Useless! It’s a shame that it has Made-in-India tag.

Brother-in-law (after using it for close to two  hours):

Bakwas – with a capital B

Wifey  (she used it for 3 hours):

Loss of talent and money over a futile product.

My one line review summary:

Don’t waste your time on this. You can’t put this tablet to any use. It’s a piece of junk.

Detailed review:

Box: It contains the tablet, adapter, 2GB micro SD card and a tiny leaflet called quick start guide.

The user manual provides minimal information. A CD detailing the set up and few videos would have been saved a lot of pain. Also, I would have love to have a basic case for protection and headphones.

Interesting thing to note is the adapter has Made-in-China tag.

Looks: Not bad and thank God not ugly for Rs. 2500.

Body: The main part of the body i.e. resistive touch screen is made of inferior plastic. The plastic is of the exact same quality as the one which I used to cover my school notebooks to protect it from wear and tear. Also, the touch screen is not flat, it bends in the middle. Reminds me of the cotton mattress on which I sleep.

The back of the tablet is made of good fiber, matt finish. No complaints.

It scores high on ergonomics because of its weight (350 grams) and matt finish.

Working:

Screen: The resistive touch screen is too resistive and pathetic. I’ve used resistive touch screens of Nokia, $30 PDAs and other phones, they work quite well once you apply appropriate pressure. But this one, no matter how much pressure you apply it’s either too much or too little. Here’s the video showing how long it takes.

Example: It took me 12 minutes to type in my user name and password for Facebook. Yes, because what happens is, if you press it lightly it doesn’t respond and if you press it hard, it takes the alternate character (a becomes à and s becomes ß) most of the times. Rames suggested me to use nails but it didn’t make much of a difference.

The screen is the worst part of the tablet. It reminds me of Rani Mukherjee (who played Helen Keller) of the movie Black. She was beautiful, had brains but both of her input senses (sight and sound) were defunct.

Now what will you do with the tablet, if you cannot interact with it’s touch screen?

Wondering why Mr. Kapil Sibal is screaming at the top of his lungs about this tablet? Has he ever tried to type his name on it?

Surprise: When I attached an external keyboard it detected it within few seconds. The response to the keyboard was almost instant and way too good. I could feel as if I am working on a laptop. Here’s the video

Reading : With no access to android market, @ramespark suggested to use alternative market places – slideme.org, f-droid.org and getjar.com. I downloaded the essential applications like Kindle reader, Opera mini browser, IO file manager, etc.,

The kindle reader app experience was pretty good. The formatting of the text was comparable to any of the e-readers. In other reviews, I’ve seen that it reads the office documents (with ‘documents to go’ app) as well. So reading point of view – no problems, in fact it’s a good option with couple of hours of offline reading. Here’s the video

Internet access: Initially it froze five times whenever I started the Wi-Fi. Now, it works reasonably well. With Opera mini browser the experience is a little smoother. However, Opera mini browser doesn’t play YouTube videos. So, I had to use the default browser to play YouTube videos. Point to note is the video worked without flickering that means, it has a separate graphics processor. Full marks for video play.

The sad part is even though the specs states that it has an internal speaker, it’s a lie.  I used the external speakers connected to the audio jack. The audio jack is designed for failure, as you can’t insert most of the external speakers. The speaker pin has to be flat to get inserted in to the audio jack.

However, the most frustration part is, once the video is played, you cannot control it. No pause, No stop. Here’s the demo of the same:

Another disappointment was, it has no volume controls to increase or decrease the volume. So if you are using headphones, you have to live with the loud noise.

Music: It played the the music from an external device. Here’s the video

External buttons: The buttons are really a disaster. The power button really requires a huge amount of power to turn it on. So much so that it leaves you a round mark on your finger. Your fingers will experience the same amount of pain as you get on the first day of learning a guitar.

The home button also does the job of waking up the screen, but hey there is no way you can put the screen back to sleep (like the power button in normal Samsung or other android phones). You have to wait for default screen timeout to put the screen to sleep. So, if you’re screen timeout is 30 minutes, the screen will be on for the 30 minutes and no control will put it off to sleep. Guess the amount of battery consumed.

USB slots: It has two USB slots, you can attach a USB drive and also you can attach the keyboard. It identifies the USB drive within few seconds, albeit it shows you as an SD card for some reason. Also, if you try to insert USB drive with SD card still on, it will fail to recognize.

Battery: After charging 100% for full four hours, I could use it for an hour (with Wi-Fi turned on). With Wi-Fi turned off, it’s slightly better and it goes up to 2 hours (no gaming, just reading and entering some text).

SD Card and heating: The tablet is so sensitive that if you press home button, it disconnects the micro SD card. Another factor is the heat, if you’re using it for more than 15 minutes the tablet gets heated up nicely. Almost the same burning sensation when you accidentally put your finger on a ceramic cup that has a piping hot tea. With this kind of heat, the micro SD card gives up after 10 minutes and tablet fails to read it. Lastly, the SD card doesn’t go all inside the slot, half of it always remains outside. Big risk of wear and tear.

No Bluetooth or USB connectivity: There is no way to Sync / backup your data in the absence of USB connectivity. However, I found a way. First create a document on your tablet. Then with the help of IO app, copy it on your USB drive and then you can copy it on your computer. Better, if you have Wi-Fi access, upload it on Google docs or Dropbox.

Image rendering: You can’t load images in the gallery. Tried several times to load the pictures, it hangs every single time.

Once the system hangs (which it does at least once in 30 minutes), you can’t do anything – you have to go for hard reset by inserting a pin on the back. Here’s the video.

It was supposed to be an Indian tablet, but no signs of any other language except English.

Anyways, my 2 cents:

  1. You have to be reasonably well-educated and IT savvy to operate the device. If you’re using it as your first computing device, leave the hassle.
  2. No way that you can use the device without an external keyboard.
  3. Good for reading and watching videos for at least one to two hours. With health and safety risk of getting a heat pinch.
  4. Always, have a push-pin ready for a hard reset.

In short, don’t waste your time, energy and money.

Earlier I wrote a post on my dream of owning an Aakash tablet

Please share it with all your friends who are planning to buy one.

Thanks for your time and patience.

PS: This is my first humble attempt to write a technical product review. Please pardon my reviewing and my video shooting skills.

PPS: My tablet is up for sale for the same price – Rs. 2500 (with all the configuration done)

Movie review – Hulla

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Didn’t wanted to blog about this movie, but anyways.

Hulla is an excellent comedy movie, but only for the first half it. It has a subject that is quite small for its 110 minutes frame.

Awesome setup in the first half that promised a lot. But at the end it was – “blah”.

What-a-waste.

Performance by Rajat kapoor, Sushant, Kartika Rane, etc., were up to the mark. But what can you do when you have a weak story ending? or poor editing. Kartika Rane was a good find from the movie.

My dear reader, just watch it for the first 40 or 50 minutes, then call/SMS me  I will tell you the rest.

Cheers, it deserves not more than 3/5.

Mod – movie review

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Wifey again chose this movie. She couldn’t watch it yesterday because of some technical issues with my laptop. So, I watched it alone. I somehow feel she has the seventh (or eighth) sense when it comes to judging a movie by it’s poster.

This movie just transports you to a different world – a hill station that has its own beauty and sweet pace. Nagesh (kukunoor) has this magic mantra to ease you into his story. The visuals throughout the story (especially at the start) compel you to logon to http://www.makemytrip.com and book your holiday for a hill station (mind you it’s freezing cold in Bangalore – when this review is written)

Let’s talk about performances.

Ayesha Takia – I don’t know how Nagesh always get the best out of her. Haven’t seen her performing that well with any other director.  Probably it’s because when he writes the story, he carves her character in sync with her personality.

Rannvijay – Boy! He did a marvelous job. He should shut down all his businesses on the road(ies) and get on to movies full time. He may not fit in to a usual bollywood hero, but if he chooses his scripts well in the future, he can give all the heroes of today – a good run for their monies.

Brilliant characterization of Raghuveer Yadav as Ayesha’s dad and Tanvi Azmi as GG. Don’t know from where Nagesh unearthed these long forgotten gems. Also, small little things like the Band – ‘Kishore Bhakt’ has members of various religions like Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Christian, etc., Most importantly Loved Ayesha’s character as a watch maker.

Let’s talk about the story – Perfect. I have been reading about writing stories for the last 15 months. In recent times, every single story that I watched (movie) or read (book) had some loose ends. But this one is just so darn perfect. It may be because when an engineer (Nagesh) decides to get down to any job (which may be story writing or engineering), he completes it with utmost precision.

Visuals (direction et al) – absolutely awesome. The location, the colors, the camera angle it’s like I can just see this movie again without the sound. Brilliant. Very lively colors in Ayesha’s house added a whole lot of meaning to the character.

Music – actually songs, were a bit disappointment. The music and songs were perfect for the movie, but none which you can hum or remember after the movie is over. Had a huge expectation after the extraordinary songs of ‘Dor’ and ‘Iqbal’.

I scratched my head to think – why the heck this movie did not take off during Dushera 2011. It took a long time to realize that may be  everyone at that time was waiting for ra.one.

So, my dear reader, it’s an awesome movie with a tight story line. Go ahead and watch it.

My rating 4/5