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July 30, 2014

Book Review - 168 : The Helpline



Author : Uday Mane
Publisher : Frog Books / Leadstart Publishing

Reading Uday Mane's 'The Helpline' is like going to your favourite restaurant and being undone by the signature dish. It is a competent book by a new author, it builds strong characters and settings, only to throw it away with cliches in the reason behind his suicidal tendencies.

Samir is suicidal. Rachel works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir's story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life. As his story reaches its conclusion, Rachael will know the true reason behind his suicidal tendencies. But this suicide helpline is not any ordinary service. There is more to the mysterious and ye so convincing voice of Rachael. As this new mystery unfolds, Samir will know the answers to most important questions of his life.

The author has noble intentions - He takes research on suicide and dealing with it with utmost seriousness evident from the detailing we get in the initial pages about Samir's condition. The pangs of guilt he experience every now and then, his inner demons which crop up at regular intervals and his unguarded ability to reflect suicidal tendency in the most rare circumstances - all this will move your insides and make you relate to his heartbreak with a warm feeling. I particularly liked Samir relationship with the cafe owner and the back story is heart wrenching.

Problem is, these competent portions are bogged down by over exacting detailing of his dates at a cafe and other famous places in Mumbai never allowing the readers to go beyond the obvious. As you move forward in the book, the mystery is clearly founded way before the climax which is a terrible disappointment. I was also undone that those initial well written portions about Samir's depression ultimately draws down from a heart break and takes the usual, safe route of every other book you will find in market these days. At 230 odd pages, the book is long and will drain you out barring the sincere emotions behind penning it down.

I am going with generous 3/5 for Uday Mane's 'The Helpline'. Chances are you will love the first 50 odd pages, only to be undone by the safe zone author takes to complete this story. In my opinion, an opportunity wasted but i do hope to read more from the author in future.

Note: “Proceedings of Rs. 5 per book will be used for child welfare through The Rotary Foundation”

Note: “This book is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book review Program. To get free books log on to "thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com

July 13, 2014

Book Review - 167 : The Thugs and a Courtesan




Publisher : Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Author : Mukta Singh Zocchi


The Thugs and a Courtesan is on the life of a thug named Firangia and his extramarital affair with a Maratha princess named Chanda Bai. Zeroing on a folkfare type narrative, the story is woven with a historical background that of the Maratha prime minister, Balaji Baji Rao II’s exile imposed by the British. In Chanda Bai, one can see the semblance of a patriotic warrior, who on the face of a foreign invasion attempts to save her motherland. 

With extra emphasis on fanatics, the scope and ambition of the plot stands out in today's time. Mukta raises pertinent questions about the haves and have nots about killing innocent people or polygamy. These are genuine questions pertinent even in today's time, making the story more invested to readers at multiple levels. Bouncing off a beautiful cover, the pace of the narrative is brisk. The travel portions are captured decently with an eye for detail.

But the material is dense and it may take some time getting used to the characters and their obtuse tone. The dialogues are clumsily written and the flow between conversations lack a smooth touch. Multiple sub plots stand out like sore thumbs since they are not properly woven into the narrative touch and act as speeding bumps. 

I am going with 2/5 for Mukta Singh Zocchi's 'The Thugs and a Courtesan'. There are enough clues to judge that there is merit in the writing style but it requires much more compact storytelling and some smooth hand in dialogue writing.

July 1, 2014

Handful of notes 'With a Pinch of Salt'




Author : Jas Anand
Publisher : Srishti Publishers and Distributors


Rating : 2.5 / 5


With a Pinch of Salt is like a 'handbook of everyday humour'. It is based on observations of funny tendencies in people and then creating fictional caricatures and anecdotes around them. The author creates solid characters based on their quirky behaviour - each of them from your every day life and one which everyone can relate to on an emotional level. They talk in detail about each of their quirkiness, vivaciousness and other funny tendencies but at the same time it creates such long, draining stories around them that your patience is tested on reading about them.

 Any one with a good sense of humour will tell you that crisp and to the point humour works best. If you stretch it too far, it will fall flat and difficult to endorse. For a book who is actually feeding off humour as the main lynchpin to tell a story, it is way too long and verbose to start with. Humour books should be easy on the senses, need to be mercilessly edited and it should allow you to turn pages effortlessly. This one fails on those accounts.

Divided into four sections - Stupidity and its derivatives, Matter of hearts, Mind, intelligentsia and pseudo appeal and lastly, Titbits, the book is not long at 180 odd pages but the first three sections stretch too far. You can see that fourth section which is shortest of the lot creates most impact and the maximum LOL moments. You can see the talent, you just wish it was properly packaged and edited.