Sunday, August 23, 2015

After the crash - Book review

Before I dive into the review let me tell you that I am an avid reader and fan of mysteries and thrillers, and one of those who try to figure out the end/ killer from every clue that the author lets you bite - or not. And it is mostly the well written ones that keep me going till the end, full of excitement and suspense. After the crash has been an interesting one in those terms. Set in the late 90s while taking you back to 1980, Michael Bussi weaves a mystery, not of murder but of life. While most authors kill a character and take us through dark alleys trying to solve it, Bussi takes us through the 18 yrs of a girl through the eyes of a detective and his journal of the investigation.

It starts of with promise, as you feel drawn to know more of the mystery of the sole survivor of a plane crash - a 3 month old baby - while the detective who investigated the case for 18 yrs without any success, resolves to end his life bogged down and depressed. The story is set in a time when technology wasn't the master of lives and solving any puzzle needs only a few clicks and taps. It is set in the beautiful France that allows the readers to experience the sun and the sea and the beauty of the city and the mountains alike, quaint but modern, and taking us through the highs and lows of the mystery as the characters themselves trudge along clues and dead-ends.

The first part of the book sets the pace going as we get drawn into the detective journals and the confusions of the protagonists, letting us wonder and guess. The plan crash, the discovery of the baby, and then how two families claim for the baby and how the story really starts are very well written, keeping us glued, waiting for the events to unwrap themselves. It is however the character of Lylie tha intrigues us. The main protagonist surely would be coming back later to add more substance, right? Umm..kind of. Then there is the crazy Malvina, who I personally found to be a confused character. The author wanted her to be the right dose of weirdness and confusion to add strangeness to the story but seems to have got confused himself. So she is a crazy lady who refused to grow up, is dangerous, spews hatred from her tiny mouth, and yet is supposed to have a tender heart deep inside. OK! the premise is understandable, but as the story progresses, it seems her strangeness was used to fit and fix the loose ends.

Till the middle of the book, the clues and investigation keep on going, until the author realized his book went too long. So he seems to race to the finish a little too fast. And yet the final clue to the identity of Lylie is gob smacking awesome. The events towards the end leave us running ahead with Marc to find it all before it is too late.

There were a few things that I found intriguing in such a well thought out book. Firstly was the lack of definitive humour, and secondly I feel the translation surely would have made the book lose the real essence. Every language has its own small peculiarities, and when a language like French gets translated into English, which it is very disparate with, the essence of many parts could have been lost. This is just a theory but, having watched movies remade into other languages and with subtitles

that kill the essence while grappling to convert it blindly, I personally think that the real essence of any art can be felt only in its native language. Just IMHO.
If the above two points and Malvina had been a little darn stronger, the book would be on my top list of Must-Read-Thrillers list.

I go with 3.5/5 for this mystery of identity confusion and family feud.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

All the Bright Places - A review


All the bright places is a Contemporary Young Adult Novel. So there! Young Adult. Hmm.. so a girl, a boy, a school, project, and you might think it is yet another book full of the unmindful cockiness, edginess that has been fed in most of these. But Jennifer Niven slowly unravels a boy who is different.
A fluorescent, electric, shining-bright boy, Finch, who finds love in a melancholy girl, Violet. And in bringing her out of her grief, he finds a little more meaning to his life. I could go on and give you more on the story and let you hanging on the edge, but I don't want to. Because this is a book that needs to be read and absorbed.

There is a lot of depth that Jennifer Niven has given to her characters and her story. The narrative is simple and shifts us back and forth among Finch and Violet. But we can feel their emotions. We start as observers and are slowly led into their changing equation. When the twist comes, we are forever changed too.While we all the time knew what was going to happen, we hope it doesn't and like all fairy tales this will be one too. She has taken a very serious subject and done justice to it and never let us feel the pressure of the subject too. It is a very unique book.

It shows you a whole new world in just a closet. It shows you a world that is bright yet painfully dark. Then it also shows you how to brighten that dark place and let yourself stay and breathe. It shows you pain, happiness, helplessness, and takes you on a journey to discover what you are looking for. This journey is unique and it is up to you to leave something behind, and mark your presence. Jennifer Niven sure has!

'Unremarkably'  light. 'Unremarkably' unnerving. To quote from the book -
"It is rooted..but it flows".

I personally would recommend to all readers of young adult fiction who are stuck with werewolves, futuristic games and what-not, and just check this unremarkable tale that can happen anywhere. Mind you! That is what makes it stand out too.

I loved it so much that I could go on and on. In short all I say is this.

Go. For. It.

Rating: 4.5/5
Picture Courtesy:  www.goodreads.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

God is a Gamer - Book review


Genre: Thriller
Author: Ravi Subramanian

This is my first book by Ravi Subramanian. Having heard a lot of this author whose books have gained wide popularity as great thrillers, I was more than thrilled to get my own autographed copy of his book.
Though I must admit, when I saw the note
Dear Aishwarya,
Wish Best Wishes
- Ravi
I was left wondering why my boss(who is also Ravi incidentally) would send me a book, especially a thriller!
It took me a few seconds for the fact to sink in that it was actually the author himself. That was how much I expected an autographed book at my doorstep! :)

Now coming back to the book itself, the first few chapters looked promising, shaping a story that went on parallel lines.
While one chapter introduces a Senator in the US, the other jumps to a Banker in India.Then suddenly you are reading about some Nigerian riots in Goa.
The book has very short chapters and it keeps moving from one scene to next leaving the reader to catch up, if he / she wants to keep pace.The multiple story lines that do not seem to have any connection with each other, slowly starts fitting into the puzzle, once the concept of TOR and Bitcoins come into picture.
The author has done his research well, on the concept of Bitcoins, TOR, how gaming works and of course, the banking domain. As we are exposed to each of these, he tries his best to keep it simple, crisp and yet to the point. Though cramming so much information wherever possible, mostly explaining it through the characters' conversations itself, didn't make the characters sound convincing.

(Caution : Spoilers ahead)
In order to build the story quickly, the author has compromised the characters. It was little over the top when Aditya allows his long estranged son to lead a business empire when he hardly knew him for a couple of days.
The same was felt when Tanya and Varun hit it off -to the point of love, in just a couple of meetings. The whole characterization of Varun had been shady from the beginning, and when in the end the FBI pin it on Tanya, it has been very clearly assumed that the readers will not be attentive. because just a few chapters back, we were are made to understand that Varun places a device in Tanya's house without her knowledge.

It seemed like a grandiose plot, that just had to be put together in whichever way possible, but ultimately tripped on it's own feet, while sounding like those who desperately try to fling their newly acquired accents and slang at all meetings, only to lead to awkward pauses.

Rating : 2.5/5

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hello! Focus!




There have been very average reviews for this movie. But personally, after watching a spate of flops, waiting through all the hype, going all the way 20 miles and having to think of nice comments to sit through the 75 mins of utter nonsenses that these days movies are becoming, Cocktail was 2.5 hours of  enjoyment.

Breezy, light yet original. Three friends, 2 of them extremely out to enjoy the world, while the other is the conservative-yet-understanding part of the gang that keeps them together and sane, have to come to terms with matters of their heart too.

I went in with zero expectations, and was in fact expecting another rom-com with cheesy lines. But half-way through when the movie started getting funny with the scenes where Veronica catches flirt-boy Gautam off guard with his own drama, I started gaining interest. I knew it was a regular rom-com love triangle, but  the way it was executed was way better than I expected. It plainly showed how matters of the heart can catch anyone off-guard but without dramatizing it more than necessary. Well, even if the characters are crazy enough to make Gautam dance about with ridiculous make up and whatever-costume-that-was, they are still people with hearts, and you never know how it ends up getting everything you already knew as complicated as it can get. They enjoy every moment that life has to offer and it is all hunky-dory until Ms.Kavita Kappoor arrives on 'this side' :). And then the drama becomes real and all that stuff which we expect in such movies, of course. The two who were poles apart find themselves wanting to keep the drama that they put up for the Mom to get real, and then the story starts off getting serious. Diana Penty could've used a little more emotions to keep us grounded, but given that her character is already a muted version, we can live with it.

There are some really hilarious moments in the movie, that I was almost thrown out of the hall for laughing that loud. The place when Gautam is found dancing by his mom, or where Mrs. Kapoor (Dimple Kapadia) tries to save Veronica's life surely would've had anyone laughing off their seats. The movie doesn't delve too much into the characters' work or other social life much, but keeps it within those three only. That was the only negative part that I could think of.
The songs have all been placed with enough sense not to bore the viewer and still letting the movie move along. In many places in the movie, the characters are shot brooding over the happenings in solitude, and we find ourselves also brooding along and speculating how this love triangle will sort itself out. The song 'Luttna' was one of the songs that I loved for the way it has been shot, with very short shots of Veronica standing all alone in the bar which is actually full of people interspersed with the club scenes, and how she tries to come to terms with her situation, and what is really going on inside her.
The conflict that the characters face to keep their friendship and love from not breaking off has been shown nicely. They don't want to lose what they had, but cannot run away from what they feel right now. They never expected it to happen, but now that it has, it can never go back to what it was before.
All songs keep the mood of the movie intact and don't let the audience move out of it. The locations and cinematography is again very good, in fact the actual locations might've been just normal and not as good as in the movie.

Deepika Padukone has given an impressive performance. Maybe it is her eyes that help her express her happiness or agony in equal terms I'm not sure. But she was Veronica in and out there. Saif goes on in the role that he does best. But the best part of the movie that keeps it real for us are the dialogues. It is light, funny and sometimes hilariously casual. Well, 'To phir tu hi propose kar le na' would be exactly what I would expect out of Gautam when Veronica doesn't let him finish his already terrible attempt at a proposal.

It is not a mindless comedy where they show three friends having fun and doing crazy stuff and never being adults. They are normal adults who enjoy life and still have to fight the same matters of the heart as anyone else.
All in all a nice movie which has it's heart in the right place, while the characters go around finding theirs. A modern age love triangle which keeps it light but real.

P.S: Though this movie has received it's own fair share of average to very bad reviews, I liked it, and hence my reviews says it too. Well, this is my blog so why would I really care what the critics think. :D

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In reverie..

The faint notes of an old bygone song, were borne by the light breeze into my room. A father’s desperation to spend as many precious golden hours with his daughter as he could, before he had to take leave of her, was singing by itself in those notes that reached me. The father would be leaving his beloved child soon, to pursue an important phase in his career, which was only a foresight to secure her future. The child bawled on.

It was late in the night, with a slight chill in the air. The kind that is the best to make you enter into a reverie, and I was trying to get the better of a book, that I had to return to its rightful owner as soon as I could. And as I sat there on the arm chair, in my room, listening to him sing, slowly my thoughts wandered away to what inexplicable creatures we are.

The weird nature of bondage and the harsh crudeness of loneliness have always been a thing of wonder to me. We are, as adults, but for some unfortunate few, quite capable of living our lives independently. But again, we are due to some unknown strength, known to crave for acceptance, and bondage, making ourselves dependent on those that we love. We are as free as our bonds are, and as caged as the strength of those bonds turns out to be. You might argue that, we are as free as our bonds are, and only the freer, as the strength of the bonds remain intact. I agree! This is but a side of looking at it. In that view, do we intentionally make ourselves the prisoner of our emotions?

Perhaps we do. And then again, perhaps not. We can only fathom so much as that the complex set of criss-crossing wiring in our cranium can wish to explain. But the psychological nature of that also has always been an enigma, hasn’t it? The mysterious working of the so-called heart - which should not be confused with the heart that in terms of science , has been well studied, and has the main function of pumping blood to all parts of the body - is all the more of a wonder to me. They say the heart pains, and it bleeds. They say, the heart rejoices. Well! Well!

It is no wonder that we are, is what our heart makes us. Tender, timid, strong, practical, hard, cold and so the list goes on in the hundred ways that we describe people. The same adjectives also apply to the heart of that person don’t they? During the process of growing up, and becoming cognizant of the various wonderful things around us, we slowly get entangled amidst the bonds that come our way, while we move hither and thither. And we love, and we hate. Hate, being a negative and undesirable emotion, has been proved by all the legends and epics behind us, to be a meeker competitor when compared to love. For love is that wonderful medicine that even the specialists in the medical profession have been unable to synthesize.

"The greatest science in the world; in heaven and on earth; is love."

Said Mother Teresa. Who else will know more about that beautiful jewel, than her, who devoted her life to spread her love to all she met.

For some priceless hours of staying with our loved ones, we are even ready to part them for a length of time. Strange are the ways that the heart makes us act. Stranger are the ways, how we all listen to that heart, while the pragmatic point always shows how that is quite unnecessary. The strangest is the fact that we are but humans with a mix of emotions, and thoughts, which we let our own people rule, and still remain happy about it.

The child had gone to a restful slumber, as the crying had stopped, but the notes kept wafting into my room, singing by itself the fantastic ways of Nature and the unknown!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Tale of the Mole under the Sole

"You know, when I grow big, I'll go to Australia"
"Bah! When I grow big, I'll go to Antartica!"
"Silly gals, When I grow big I'll go to Bermuda Triangle"
And so we went on, when we were about 2 ft high, knitting dreams in the air, about far flung places, as though we were just talking about going to the Periyar street behind our house.

Then one day, while removing the shoes and socks for the computer science class, when the Preethi saw the mole that I have on the sole, she pulled me aside, with eyes as big as saucers. While I was wondering, if the reaction was due to the fact that she was accidentally in the vicinity of Varun, when he was removing his shoes & socks-that-were-rumoured-to-be-the-reason-for-computer-ma'ms-frequent-fainting-episodes, she was regarding me with something in the terms of a venerable expression. While I was searching for something to hit her head with, to get her out of the trance, and decided that James's shoes were not the right option, she opened her mouth at last to throw some light on the matter.
"Hey Aishu, you have a mole on your sole of your right foot. You know what that means?!!"
Must say, I never realized that a mole could actually 'mean' anything. But apparently it did to her.
"I don't know what it means. Err.. do you?"
"Hey.. u know.. that means 'payanam' (travel). You are really going to travel to a lot of places. Only very lucky few have a mole right in the center of the right foot. My god! What a luck!"
And so she went on until the computer science teacher at last told us, that she might ask us both to make a short trip to the principal's room if we didn't stop chattering right away. So much for traveling! :O

Well, somehow that thought registered itself in my brain, and whenever my eyes fell on the mole, my thoughts would wander among the monuments that Discovery channel would show. Sigh!!!
Little did I know, how true Preethi was. Travel I did.To far flung places, you ask.. oh sure!
College itself was a good six hours of bus travel from the place that I lived. Though this is common and many even travel longer and have tougher journeys, I'm just highlighting upon the fact, to stress on the effect of the mole. The journey though only of 6 hrs, made me change 4 buses and a van/car to get me to the house. As you can imagine, by the end of the journey, any beggars in the vicinity would look at me, as though welcoming me to join their gang. (The best part was that they wouldn't hound me for money.. Pheww!)
Ok.. let me not digress. After those dreary college days when I started working, I thought the mole's luck would take me away from the Tamil Nadu and I would get to work in other cities too. But no, I got a job in Chennai itself, and the only mole-effect was dreary bus journeys to the Siruseri. While in 2 hrs you can make a trip to Madurai from Karaikudi, I would be waiting for more than that time, sitting in a bus, looking at vehicles honking for no reason.

But the mole-effect didn't stop there. My toothy problems, had me going to the dentist, who for some god-forsaken reason, felt Perambur to be the best place to pratice. Sitting in a bus for more than 2 hrs, all to have a doctor tighten some nuts and bolts in your mouth in 10 mins, then ask you to come after 2 weeks, also reminding you not to eat anything solid, was really not my idea of travel! During all those longer bus journeys, Preethi's fateful prophecy kept rewinding in my head. Mole-ki-to-aisi-ki-taisi!!! $@%$#@($#!!

And then happened the fateful US trip very recently, after quite a bit of fate and luck played their parts. So when I thought, "Hmm..after all Preethi's prophecy ka kuch to hua" I was boarding a plane to Denver. Happy that in the end, the mole decided to do something true to it's dubious reputation, I was quite happily going about my way.

But looks like, the mole is not very happy to have obliged it's role. For now, another mole has sprang up on my left foot's sole. Though not as big as the other one, this one now seems to be more like those fresher kids who join work, right out of college. The kind you know, who are all eager to prove themselves.. and come and ask your permission even to go to restrooms? I know.. really amusing lot! But not this teeny-weeny mole, I tell you!

Next month again, I'm moving to West Chester, PA. I hope this small travel on my part will abate the pangs of this new mole, and I can at last stay there for while. By the way, do anyone of you know, how to prevent moles, especially on the soles?
(Quite rhyming eh? :P)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

And I'm back!!

Whoa! I haven't been writing for ages! Hmm.. I need to do some justice to this space that dear own blogspot has allocated to me, thinking that I would scribble now and then, but what am I doing? Reading dready documents all day and your night, trying to exercise the top bean into a hit shape. Well, in any case, jolly old bean liked to be left alone, and I wanted to do some scribbling. So am back! :P

So amidst doubts of 'Tera Kya hoga re Aishu' I was flung into this far away land of Denver, sometime last month. I must tell that, when the weather outside is like -5 C, it is a very bad time to be caught by the worst form of cold. But it had already caught sight of me, and while I was sneezing the bejesus out of all and sundry, I had to travel to this land of 'Mile High city'. 34 hours of solid travel, in a trance like state, nose all clogged up, almost wheezing, sounding like a baby-elephant learning to bleat, I somehow reached this city. The best thing about the travel was that, I was able to watch 'Zabaan Sambhaalke' on the flight. Now this used to be the TV show that brought many a laughter with it, when I was in school. Those days of simple unadulterated laughter, the kind that is really rare now. Simple easy old days! Sigh! :)

Ah.. well, where was I? Oh.. yeah.. so now it has been more than a month here, and I've seen the snow, the rain, and sun too (thankfully). It is a quiet place, with rabbits and geese having a stroll on the roads as they like. I even saw a deer jolly well crossing the road in 2 long leaps, while my mouth was left hanging by itself. Err..By all this don't you guys go into any thoughts in the rein of "Iva entha vandalur zoo le irukka?" There are enough people around, and though the place is a far cry from the honks, loud whirring bikes, and other noises that keep company all the time in India, it has a peace about it, that quietens the soul. Take a peek.. go on!



Now does the peace part of my talk make sense? :) *Smiling benignly* I knew it is difficult to expect so much of the grey cells residing in the cranium without giving some of the tough work to the photoreceptors on the top of the head. Ah.. well, now that you got it, the most part of what I wanted to scribble here has been conveyed successfully.

While I go on, to enjoy a little more of the solitude of the place, you all have a jolly good time! Pip Pip!