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2 & 3 down for 2019….15 more to go..!!

Ok.. I need to go to a rehab to get over my “laziness” & “binge watching” addiction. Literally, I haven’t written about the books I have read and I haven’t read any new book, despite having one to read. But then Meister Eckhart said, “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” So I have begun again, albeit on Sunday evening. Perfect. 🙂

My second book of this year was Chetan Bhagat’s “The Girl in Room 105”. Chetan is not on my list of authors I would want to read again. I have read one and that is enough for me but I couldn’t say no when the book was offered. I respect the person who offered me the book. I don’t want to dwell in the plot much. The book narrates story of how the “protagonist” uncovers the murder of “the Girl”, who happens to be his forlorn lover and he is unable to overcome his love for her.

Too much twists and turns doesn’t always make an awesome thriller, especially when you end up comparing them with John Grisham, Vince Flynn, and so on. I do not have any affinity for any of the characters as they were not developed at all. Each of the characters maintained their stoic expressions throughout. “Girl’s” character is supposed to be complex, like an onion, one needs to peel layer by layer to understand completely. On the contrary, the “Girl’s” character became a caricature of sorts. “Protagonist’s” character is equally pathetic. At no point of time did the protagonist transcend from being fool to a wise, but rather becomes “logical analyst”, who lands up a high paying job with a cyber security firm. Same is the case with other characters. There were attempts to create a substance but each one of them turned shallow. I am very much disappointed by the “protagonist”, who was madly in love with “the girl” ends up “unloving her” after becoming a “logical analyst”. Humans are all fallible and everyone has to fight their own demons and the book makes no attempt at showing the conflict of each of the characters that were few. I would love a story written about those who fight their demons and lose everything and yet do not stop loving “the one person they loved”, who turned out to be the demon. I finished the book in my usual time. Read the book if you have nothing else to do.

My third book of this year was “The Fox” by Frederick Forsyth. The story can be summed up as the final battles fought by two master spys, one serving Britain and one serving Russia, for 17 year old boy suffering from a severe case of Asperger’s syndrome and yet is genius with computer to an extent that he can break into worlds most sophisticated, protected networks. There is trade-craft involved and battles test the wits, common sense, and innate wisdom & knowledge acquired over years of experience of the spys and their men.

After a long time I have read Frederick Forsyth and I concur with Daily Mail whose review was “The master of the modern espionage novel returns . . . this is Forsyth at his spellbinding best.”. Frederick is an English author and I am already in awe of English authors. I have no qualms in admitting I am biased towards English and American authors.  Frederick was an air force pilot and a journalist, so the level of detailing was great. I have already written earlier about Frederick, when I read “Fist of God”. Frederick follows the same structure. Layers of the job that certain characters do are explained in layered manner, i.e., as and when required. This time I felt the characters have been give some emotions beyond the normal “Fredrick style of narration”. Probably the central figure was a 17 year teenager suffering from Asperger’s syndrome with a “blisteringly brilliant mind”. He needs to be taken care while being used against enemies. His family needs to be protected. In dealing so, conscience needs to be answered. Sir Adrian Weston is not some cold calculative intelligence officer. He is a person of brain with a heart. The way he handles his job of protecting the boy and family, emotionally and otherwise, gives a glimpse into emotions of his character. Sometimes conclusions to certain characters get missed out to make way for the “story” and “prominent characters”. But in this book, i felt like each character got its own conclusion, no matter how small. Overall, the book is pacy and thrilling. Happy reading.

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1 down for 2019…17 more to go

jahywI haven’t read any books in the past two years. What a wasted time!! I have no reason and no excuse for the same.But then it is never too late to start again. 🙂

So the first book I read is Heads You Win by Jeffery Archer. And what a start I must. I am a fan of Jerry Archer and I had read the starting the pages of Alexander’s story in the short stories Tell Tale by Jeffery Archer. And after that, I didn’t finish any book. What a perfect start to this year, with story from Jeffery Archer.

By now, a lot of people have read this book and have already provided their esteemed reviews. Let see how I much I can differentiate from them. The book narrates the story of Alexander Karpenko who must to escape from Russia if he has to survive along with this mother. But he has to make a decision whether to go to Great Britain or America. America is the land of dreams in which every man has the opportunity to make life rich based on his abilities. Great Britain is the land of sophistication and intellect that accepts anyone with abilities to achieve success. Britain is sweet and America is tangy. The book has a parallel narrative about how Alexander achieves success and love in both countries. It would not be hard to miss this sweet differentiation. It would be also hard not to think about what is happening in Britain while one is reading about what is happening in America. The story at both places unfolds on a rather similar fashion, similar type of ups and downs while trying to make a mark in their chosen professions – Alexander in Britain wants to be Politician & Alexander in America wants to be Businessman. With just one exception, like in Kane & Abel and Sons of Fortune, one gets her love without any stops and one has to go through bumps.

Jeffery Archer ‘men’ are ‘True Blue Gentlemen’ and Jeffery Archer ‘women’ are ‘Strong and Independent’. A true blue gentleman never tries to subdue his ‘strong and independent’ woman and encourages & supports her to make his mark. The woman in turn is the anchor in his life and provides the much-needed support and clarity at opportune moments. Alexander and his better half in America and Alexander and his better half in Britain are just like that. No exception in that and no one would miss that either.

As cover indicates, whether Alexander reaches America or Britain based on a toss of a coin, his destiny eventually lies in Russia only, from where his fate initially began. Curiously enough, the one who doesn’t own private jet and has political experience is an easy target for elimination. Strangely, Alexander from Britain and Alexander from America are alive when there is a cross-over, much like in the current sci-fi shows where two characters from different time space meet. Only difference in this book, Alexander from Britain never meets Alexander from America but the wife does. Likewise, Ivan Donovan (I have misspelt the name, I will correct later) meets Alexander in America but not in Britain, and his narrative was only drawn in Britain. Yet he also thinks in the Russian embassy in Britain that there are two characters. These are the points I didn’t really understand. What was the logic behind this? Kane & Abel and Sons of Fortune had two separate characters existing in same time zone. But not in this book. It is the same character, whose personality develops with the land he chooses to go. So, a cross-over only indicates a non-existent sci-fi. Or is there something I am missing.

Contrary to popular commentary, Vladimir Putin being Alexander’s nemesis was not a ‘shock’ for me but rather a confirmation. After all, Vladimir was the reason for troubles in Alexander’s life in Russia.

Writing, narration, emotions, flow, – all are best. Usual Jeffery Archer. But I felt emptiness towards the end, when one Alexander dies and other Alexander starts in his campaign when actually he was only in Russia to attend funeral of his ‘savior’ uncle. I felt as if the story is not over and yet there are no more pages to read. I didn’t feel so when I read Kane & Abel and Sons of Fortune, since it felt the protagonists have life their life to full and it was time to bid them farewell. So is there a sequel to coming up? But then why kill one character? Was the one who survived is match or hustler to Vladimir? I was left with these thoughts..and so I am also leaving you with them. Happy Reading. Overall, Jeffery Archer is a pleasure to read. Always and Ever.

 


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The Pleasure is All Mine …

I picked up this book while browsing the book shop solely for the title and cover page. I read few pages and discovered the content is for mature adults, as duly mentioned on back cover. I smiled and put the book down. Then I thought why did I put the book down? Was it for the adult content? Was I bothered that when people see me reading this book they will form opinions about me? Wasn’t I silently affirming the same stereotypes of the society that I want to break by even having these questions? The answer to these questions was ‘yes’ and consequently I purchased the book. The sales person of the shop (I am regular there but this guy doesn’t know that) did not react at all. He gave the book as a usual transaction. Was I looking for some reaction there? May be he wasn’t aware of this book just like he is, or may be, unaware of 50 shades of grey. Why was even I bothered about the same? I am a reader and I have a freedom to read any book and to make such choice. I started reading the book in bus and metro. People saw the cover of the book. They didn’t bother. I didn’t bother. Why should book1anyone be bothered? Because of the stereotypes we are bound to?

The power of any book or for that matter education and knowledge is to raise the inquisitive nature of a human being and challenge the intellect, the wisdom, notions the human being has so far gained. For me this book challenged me to think whether I am truly capable of even breaking the stereotypes or I am just being a hypocrite. I will come to this question later in another blog. First, let me provide a review of the book per se.

This book is second from Shanaya Taneja. She becomes the first Indian author this year I read. The book is intense with detailed explicit descriptions of passion, love-making and feelings therein. The author has made a considerable effort in presenting that this love-making is not a mechanical things but a lot goes in mind during those sessions, and the effort pay offs. People often enter into purely sexual relationships for different reasons. When it comes to sexual desires and coupled with feeling of loneliness and not be desired or wanted, people often break restrictions-whether self-imposed or societal pressures. But what happens when you add the need to continue to live an extravagant life one is accustomed to? This book is answers this question. All 5 protagonists, Sanjay, Bharathi, Abhinav, Trisha, and Ankit, enter into each other’s life, deceive and betray each other for money using unfulfilled sexual desire as the ammunition. Until we reach 15-20 pages towards end, the book is full of descriptions of intense love making and the various thoughts that cross the mind during and after love making. The author has done a good job by portraying the conflicts that play in one’s mind when one is not following certain human rules (not societal rules). The conflicts can only be understood only if the passion is understood and the passion can be understood if the conflicts can be understood.

But after reading some sessions in the book, I truly felt bored reading about them. May be the reason was “too much of anything takes away the pleasure in itself”. The end was twisting but I was disappointed. The common thread among the 5 protagonists was that all of them were deceiving and betraying at least one person. However, rather than giving success of Trisha and Ankit, who plotted the entire scam of luring and robbing Sanjay using Abhinav and Bharathi, success should have been given to Bharathi, who could have been portrayed as strong yet cunning woman who took revenge from all those who exploited her, in a typical “revenge is best served cold” manner. The book steers clear from being preachy and presents the story in as-it-is basis. The book cannot be compared with “Adultery” by Paulo Coelho, as both authors are different in handling these conflicting human states and emotions. Frankly, Adultery was very depressing and too preachy in my opinion. This book, on the contrary, touches and presents the dark emotions and related conflicts. It would be great to see if the author is able to explore these dark emotions on a next level that moves beyond sexual desires and plays with intellect.

Overall the book is one time read. Appreciation must be given to the author, who despite having the Indian back drop, did not the make the book sound like “Hinglish” or “translated from Hindi to English”. It was out and out an English fiction with Indian Backdrop.