Private India
Author: Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson
Publisher: Random House India
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780099586395
Rating: ★★★½☆
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Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson knead a fast-paced thriller-fiction with a generous helping of Bollywood-ish twists to deliver one of Patterson’s trademark mystery-action plots!

Move aside all you small time Indian detectives! India has got its own hi-tech detective agency! Private India is the Indian chapter of one of the world’s finest PI agencies, headed by Jack Morgan. Santosh Wagh is its Indian head. With a rather Dr. House-like character and a love for his drink, Mr. Wagh is a brilliant PI with a murky past. His aides are Nisha Gandhe – an Ex-cop turned PI and the attractive lass that every PI team needs, Mubeen the medical expert and Hari the unusual techie with a macho build. The story begins with the murder of a woman in a rather stagey fashion. But contrary to the cops’ initial belief, they later find out that the killer is on a killing spree. They need to find the killer not just to stop further killings but to save Mumbai from much larger threats!

What I liked

I haven’t read Mr. Patterson’s other books from the Private series though there was a time when all I read were his books – Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club were my favorites. As you read, you get the taste of Mr. Patterson’s distinctive style that is seen in his other work. Luckily, the murder scenes are not that graphic when compared to other James Patterson works – I was thankful for that! With a lot of red herrings thrown around the plot and ample cliffhangers, the plot works perfectly and will have you guessing till the very end.

The “Indianness” of the book has been handled well. The workings of the Indian Police and Judicial system has been meticulously researched. The authors take you on a wild ride through the various streets of Mumbai,  with its notorious side of gambling, prostitution, corruption, smuggling and Bollywood all making an appearance to give this book a distinctively “Mumbai” feel.

For Ashwin Sanghi, who previous works (such as Chanakya’s Chant and Krishna Key) were restricted to historical or mythological thrillers, this is new territory, and there is no doubt that he has come out of it victorious. He has added just the right dose of desi tadka to the international bestselling series, giving it an immediacy and appeal for Indian readers while retaining the spirit of the “Private series”.

What I didn’t

I am not sure how this co-authoring works, but the plot seems a little too Bollywood-ish. And there were a few things that seemed downright farfetched like a house that has thermostat in the sweltering hot Mumbai – huh? The whole motive for the killings seems fine, but I found the backstory a little weak. I know that both the authors are known more for the fast pace of their novels rather than the “literariness”, but I still felt they could have improved their narration at certain points, especially the character portrayals.

The verdict

Despite these minor flaws, the book kept me turning the pages. I finished it in just 2 days, it was that engaging. This book is an early sign of the evolution of Indian thriller fiction territory, and I hope it just gets better from here!

Read more on this work at ibnlive! For another quintessentially Indian detective from recent times, check out Inspector Virkar by Piyush Jha.

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The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Ebury Publications
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780091956448
Rating: ★★★★★
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When you pick a book from your ‘To-read’ list, every once in a while, you pick up a book and wonder why you wanted to read this boring/unusual/unheard-off book but still give it a chance and when you are done with it, you realize that you must never doubt your judgment. This book is one such.

The first page of the book reads,
“I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m fucked.”

Sounds a little quirky, doesn’t it? This is precisely why you should not miss out on this book. Mark Watney, a smart and resourceful engineer, one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars, is now stranded in Mars. Separated by a sandstorm from his team and presumed dead, the team leaves for Earth leaving him behind. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first. Does he survive?

You remember that despair you felt for the main character while reading Robinson Crusoe or watching Cast Away? Well, that feeling comes to a nada when you read this book. At least they were all stranded in Earth! Andy Weir has done an excellent job with defining the character of Mark Watney. His super smartness, wit and snarkiness, never-give-up attitude and usage of humor and sarcasm as a coping mechanism when in distress presents a very different protagonist to the regular macho and super strong ones the readers usually encounter. With lines like “I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!” and “Turns out the “L” in “LCD” stands for “Liquid.” I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”, you’ll see a novel blend of sci-fi, satire, and adventure-thriller. Andy Weir’s attention to detail stands out with his description of the different mechanisms in a simple language to his naïve readers. Though the story is filled with technical jargons, it still doesn’t evade the reader’s mind. The whole plot has not one single visible loophole which alleviates The Martian to join the most prestigious adventure-thriller books club where its peers are Jurassic Park, The Da Vinci Code, etc. I will not be surprised if this book is already on its way to a Hollywood adaptation.

With the USA today calling this book “a techno sci-fi at a level even Arthur Clarke never achieved”, this book is truly ingenious and one of the best sci-fi thrillers of recent times.

Read what the Wall Street Journal has to say about the book <″ target=”_blank”>here


The Best of RK Narayan

July 21, 2014
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RK Narayan was one of the most intelligent authors of his age; the Malgudi in his books is shown to be a dynamic entity – the town we read of in his debut novel (1935) is noticeably different from that in his last fictional work, The World of Nagaraj (1990).

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Review: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

July 18, 2014
Long Walk to Freedom

Author: Nelson Mandela
Publisher: Hachette India
Year: 1994
ISBN: ★★★★
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“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
- Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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Nicholas Sparks

July 18, 2014
Nicholas Sparks

Born: December 31, 1965, Omaha, Nebraska
Genre: Romantic fiction, Romantic drama, Non-fiction
Nationality: American

About him…

Nicholas Charles Sparks is an American novelist who has published seventeen novels and one non-fiction work. He has also ventured into screenwriting and production after the success of his novels. Eight of his novels have been adapted to film while two more are in talks for the same. He is one of those few authors who can convey emotions to his readers in the most unpretentious manner and yet make readers empathize for his characters. As Linda Rosencrance of The Boston Globe says, “Readers don’t turn to Sparks’s books because he writes great literature. He’s not Ernest Hemingway, after all. Sparks’s novels serve as a diversion. He can always be counted on to conjure up the twists and turns of a captivating story — formulaic or not — and wrap them up neatly with a surprise ending.

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Review: Crushed

July 17, 2014

Author: Eliza Crewe Publisher: Penguin Publications Year: 2014 ISBN: 9780143332916 Rating: Click for latest prices   “You see, I’m a cold-hearted person. Not as in cruel and mean, but as in, someone who very seldom cries, who’s seldom moved by emotional scenes, and so on. The few things that make me reach such a state […]

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Ache Din Aa Rahe Hain! Unreal Elections?

July 16, 2014
Unreal Elections by C.S. Krishna & Karthik Laxman
Author: C.S. Krishna, Karthik Laxman
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780143423119
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Unreal Elections is satirical delight on the elections. It is essentially meant to paint a facetious image of the elections. The sense of humour is vivid and writing style is lucid. Every politician has been distinctively covered, taking into account the preconceived notions that rest in the mind of the reading audience.

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Review: Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You by Devdutt Pattanaik

July 14, 2014
Shikhandi and other tales they don't tell you
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher: Penguin India and Zubaan Books
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9789383074846
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Devdutt Pattanaik’s latest book, Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You is a collection of 30 stories about gender and sexual identity – Shikhandi, who was born a woman but raised as a man, Krishna, who became a woman for one day to become wife to a doomed man, Chudala who became a man so that her husband would accept her as a teacher, and more.

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Review: 12 Years A Slave

July 11, 2014
12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup
Author: Solomon Northup
Publisher: Pirates
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9788192681023
Rating: ★★★★☆
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12 Years A Slave started filling the bestseller line in almost all bookstores, having gained widespread acclaim due to the award winning success of its movie adaption. Movies based on books inadvertently bring out the need for comparison where, almost unfailingly, the books gain the upper hand. Amazingly enough, this time the movie topped the book!

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Review: Tigers of Taboo Valley

July 9, 2014
Tigers of Taboo Valley by Ranjit Lal

Author: Ranjit Lal Publisher: Rupa/Red Turtle Publications Year: 2014 ISBN: 9788129130044 Rating: Click for latest prices   In a simplistic story written about complex issues, Tigers of Taboo Valley by Ranjit Lal is simply one of his finest. A prolific writer, Lal has written for both adults and children in the past, interweaving issues of […]

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