Book Review – The Best Laid Plans

Category – Thriller
Rating – 3/5

The plot is very well woven. The detailed description of the environment around a person, the facial expressions and parentheses quotes and statements make it a joy to read. There is no doubt about the writing skills of the author – Sidney Sheldon. But this particular book isn’t a masterpiece for sure.

Oliver Russell wants to change something in the system, for betterment of society. He is also thirsty for power. Senator Davis wants a pawn in President’s place. He decides that pawn will be Oliver Russell. Oliver Russell is also thirsty for girls and sex. Random flicks with secretaries and receptionists and keeping the whole affair a going concern is his forte. He falls in love with Leslie Stewart and their love for eachother is widely discussed. They are supposed to get married. But something changes and Oliver betrays Leslie. This triggers revengeful thoughts in Leslie’s mind. The thoughts are so powerful that she amasses Media industry in the country to take down Mr. President. This is where the real story starts and goes on to describe the best laid plans to take down the President on one side and to make him continue the second term in the office.

It is a good example of how best laid plans can also get screwed. Senator Davis and Leslie Stewart (a betrayed fiancee) plan and invest their whole life in screwing President’s (Oliver Russell) life a hell. But their best laid plans too see bumpy ride. In fact, the best laid plans get screwed.

There are some lessons to be learned from the book.
1. Never think you are THE knowledgeable person. There’ll always be someone who has more intellect than you.
2. Never try to be over-smart, as Leslie Stewart did, by broadcasting the news a bit too early.
3. Never underestimate the person you have put your baits on. It’s not necessary that the bait will always work as per your will.

But there were some of the loose ends as well. Dana Evans was the major distraction. All said and done about her, the sufferings in Sarajevo and the life people led there, didn’t make much sense and contribution to the story. Dana Evans wasn’t a fitting mosaic in the footpath towards the main road. Rest all was pretty perfect.

A random lady from the bookstore recommended this book to my friends, saying this is one of the best works by Sidney Sheldon. But I somewhat would not agree to that statement. I have read far more compelling and riveting novels by Sidney Sheldon. But nonetheless this book is a nice read, not just because my friends gifted me this book 🙂

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The Reluctant Detective – Book Review…

The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral

The title of the book is very apt – The “Reluctant” detective.

A thirty something housewife, a school gate mom and a rich, fashionable woman – that’s how Kanan Mehra, the protagonist of the book, is. This book somehow the inverse of what general book is. In general, the author becomes the character in the book. But here, the character reflects more on the life of the author itself.

Kanan Mehra was a working woman, now a full time mom to Kabir and what a normal rich woman is, an avid shopper and fashionable. Attending lunch parties and oh, not to forget the kitty parties. She stays in plush apartment and society where there are not one but two murders. Kay, being the gossip Queen (self bestowed honor) decides to solve the murder mystery of the woman who lived in the same building and of a man whom she hardly knew.

On hearing or reading the word “Detective”, you would expect some investigation, some thrilling revelations etc. But there are more parties and out station trips, kitty parties and gossiping involved. The story starts with jogging, where Kanan Mehra wears some fashionable and costly cloths, lycra or some material. The book kind of describes the author’s own life like what her son does and what she expects from spouse, what she wears and what fashion statement she makes. In between all this, the author sometimes thinks of the murders and what can be done to solve those.

But then what I felt is the book is true to its title, The “Reluctant” detective. The author being a housewife, wife to a rich man and mom to a brat (that’s how she addresses her son) it’s obvious that the book talks about fashion, cloths, make up, kitty parties, zero figure, lunches, expectations from spouse etc. So I think the author (Kiran Manral) has done quite a good job. Her fashion vocabulary is something a girl will like to go through and have.

The book could have been better, had the author tried to reduce the daily make-up and getting ready, what to wear and what to say things and included more of some “real” investigation in the story line. I mean, before going to trip (Kay Mehra and family goes for a trip in between) the murder is a mystery and after coming back from the trip, just after 2 days, the murder mystery is mysteriously solved. That part doesn’t add up pretty much.

Overall, the book is good read for those who like the fashion world, girls especially. And okay read in general.

The Hungry Tide – Book Review

The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

Book CategoryModern Fiction

Rating4/5

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If you want to feel the Tide Country, Sundarban (on boundary of West Bengal and Bangladesh)

If you want to know about river dolphins,

If you want to know about historical tales of tide country, the legends,

If you want to know different personalities,

My advice would be, read “The Hungry Tide” by Amitav Ghosh.

There is more to the book than I have enlisted above. The writing skill of the author, the story telling ability and also the ability to weave the different stories beautifully into one another, are some other highlights of the book.

The book sketches a complete picture of the tide country in front of the readers. The different rivers, their names, the history behind naming them so, the mangroves, the islands, people on the islands, their daily confrontations with nature and animals – all presented in a beautiful way.

The book has many protagonists. The centres of attraction though are Kanai and Piya.

Kanai is a translator in Delhi. He knows quite a few languages with odd combinations. His uncle and aunt live in Lusibari (one of the islands in Tide country). He comes to visit Lusibari and meets Piya while traveling from Kolkata towards Lusibari. The womanizer (that he thinks he is) in him awakes and tries to get close to Piya. But their journey together ends very quickly, though with a promise to meet again. Kanai asks Piya to visit Lusibari.

Piya is a scientist – Cetology (a branch of Marine Mammal Science that studies around 8 species of Whales.) She was to visit Tide Country for her research in potable water Dolphins. She comes to Lusibari and while coming only she gets introduced to Fokir.

The story jumps from present time to past time (time of Nirmal – Kanai’s uncle) very efficiently and swiftly. The story then opens various petals of relationships between humans, humans and nature etc. It also opens pages from the near and distant past. It is a fine blend of practical life the islanders live and the superstitious (not exactly superstitious but having faith in things which Atheists don’t believe in) they have for Bon Bibi (protector mother for the Islanders)

The book catches your attention and mind from the very beginning. And there isn’t a single page where you would be allowed to think that the story is becoming sluggish or losing its plot. Right from Page 1 to Page 402, you will be living, actually living, in the Tide Country. That’s my word.

A must read book, if you ask me 🙂

Book Review – The Thirty Nine Steps…

The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan

Book TypeCrime and Mystery

Rating2/5

I came across this book from a list of “BBC Top 100” books. Somehow I felt like reading the book and I started the process. I haven’t read any book from John Buchan, so thought I would try him.

Let me tell you in the beginning only. The book isn’t “that” fascinating, but still you can go and read for it has some nice old school English phrases and speech techniques. The book is a little fast at some point and a bit too much sluggish at the other. But it still catches your interest and you go on reading it. There is mention of some places in Early London. And if you are not aware of the different places (as I was not while reading it) you might find yourself lost in some paragraphs. But that doesn’t mean the writer should not choose the unknown places. What I feel is the writer wasn’t able to take the readers to the places he is describing in the book (at least he wasn’t able to take me there).

The story is a suspense story and revolves around one character – the protagonist, Mr. Hannay, who is pretty bored of his normal, dull routine and feels there should be some adventure in his life. One fine day, he finds himself amidst the life threatening adventure. A spy comes to his home (why, I don’t know. Why he chose Mr. Hannay is something I too couldn’t figure out) having some information that Karolides will be killed. The spy dies after some days and his adventure begins.

The running away from his home, being sought after fugitive and trying to find the solution while saving his own life – this is what the storyline is like. The book takes speed at some point and lags somewhere. But some of the incidents explained are really good and with nice twists.

But let me tell you frankly, if you are accustomed to read the suspense stories from the likes of Sidney Sheldon or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, then this suspense story will be a bit disappointing for you. Because these two people have upped the standards of twists and suspense so much that this story might seem to you like a normal one and you might say at the end, “Good Try at suspense story writing”.

At least that’s what I said 🙂

Book Review: This Is All I Have To Say…

Book is of 93 pages only but takes 2-3 reading to understand it fully and a life time to experience and preach something like what “Swapan Seth” has written in this book.

Right from Love, Failure, Money, Leadership to Parents, God and Moral things, Swapan has whole heartedly pin pointed his take on everything. As Tarun Tejpal has to say about the book, “The stuff every parent would love to tell their children”, this is really a good book to read. I have felt myself saying “This is what my mother says to me” while reading the book. More than philosophy, Swapan has actually lived these lines in his books. (This is what is my understanding) because my mother is not very philosophical kinds but she has seen the world outside and has lived the hard and sweet times, so its more of a experience talking than the philosophy 🙂

Major one liner in the book will make it clear why this person is so successful in Advertising industry. And those one liners are not just elegant to read but deep in thinking or as he says Graceful. Swapan has pin pointed the exact feelings of your heart. You may not be able to express it and Swapan does that job for you. You read some lines and you go, “Whoa! This is exactly what I feel or this is exactly what my parents tell me”. Swapan has managed to say it more gracefully and articulately what our ancestors said long back. He gives some examples from his own life in every chapter of this book and makes it more lively and touching.

This is a must possess and must read book. It’s worth every penny. Your mindset will change next time you come across certain situations, that’s for sure.

Book Review: Kane and Abel…

This is a very enticing book. I know I am very late to read this book. But as they say, better be late than never.

While I was in a book shop in Bangalore where Jeffrey Archer was to launch his new book “Only Time will tell”, I asked the salesman there, I want to buy the new book and along with it I want to buy his another book too. Can you suggest me some good flick of his? He suggested me two books especially,

  1. Not a penny less and not a penny more, and
  2. Kane and Abel.

I went for Kane and Abel after reading “About Book”.

“This is very enticing book”, probably is an understatement. The splendid detailing of the characters is one strong point of this book. You can actually see the characters in front of you once you start reading the book. Despite the size of book, 645 pages, you don’t feel like keeping the book aside once you start reading it. The weaving of different characters and time lines is another plus point of the book. It builds the climax and keeps you waiting on one character and at the same time starts building climax of other character. And you keep guessing what will be next step and something else happens out of the blue (not on every occasion, but on some it happens for sure).

The book talks about William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovaski. One born rich and born with banking background, hence shrewd and other migrated from utter tyranny to splendid heights, back to tyranny and then to the top like Phoenix. The story is of sibling rivalry as Dan Brown has said. But the book is not just about that. It teaches us the way of life. “Life is very short to keep grudges on someone” or “You never know, the person you were thinking to be your malefactor can actually be your benefactor”. It also teaches; never cloud your view about someone just because of the rivalry. And always give other person a chance to explain themselves.

The World War II and times then have been splendidly detailed. The grace and force with which certain scenes are written made me think whether the author have gone through such a tyranny or richness to detail it so beautifully?

My simple request to anyone who has not read this book till now, “Grab a copy or rent it from a library and read this book anyhow.” One of the must read books. After reading two books by Lord Jeffrey Archer, now I know why people call him “Master Story teller” 🙂  Don’t be more late than you already are and read this book 🙂