Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Not so 'precious' after all

Review of ‘Precious Thing’.

I have a grouse with Gillian Flynn, after her thriller every second FPM (Female psychological mystery) is touted as a story in the tradition of Gone Girl’. The blurb of this book made the same claim vis-à-vis a quote from the Sunday Mirror. I think they would have done much better if they just let it stand on its own; as it builds up too many expectations.

Clara and Rachel have been friends from school. They did everything together and Rachel can’t believe her good luck that Clara actually recognizes her as a friend. Right from the first chapter we know that something has changed in their relationship. Clara is back after being sent away for treatment and she is different now, she is cold and aloof and wants to cut herself off from Rachel who despite being a successful TV anchor in her own right wants nothing more than having Clara as part of her life again.
Clara seems to relent but then she disappears as does Johnny, Rachel’s boyfriend.

The story keeps skipping from past to present to try and give us some background of the two girls. There are smoke screens and red herrings but somehow the book never ever seems to pull off the deep, menacing atmosphere that Gone Girl’ managed or the twists and turns in the story either.

I give it three stars because I liked it (in parts) but not enough to recommend it to someone else to read.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Review of Death of a Red Heroine

This book by Qiu Xiaolong has received a slew of recognition and is also a BBC Radio show, so was really looking forward to reading it.

Set in post Tiananmen Square, Shanghai; it follows the main protagonist Inspector Chen in his bid to solve the mystery behind the murder of a ‘National Model Party Worker’…. whose naked body was found floating in a canal.
The character of Inspector Chen is quite contrary to the typical Inspectors you find in western fiction. He is not the broody, dysfunctional loner, whom the system in constantly trying to put down. Chen is a product of the system and by the system. He is the favored one, getting a house allocated earlier, fast track promotions etc. He does not flaunt it but he does enjoy his privileges despite some sporadic, half-hearted soul searching. It was an interesting take.

As a detective mystery it scored very low for me, however as an eminently readable book it was right up there. The suspense didn’t quite build up, maybe because the detective kept spouting poetry in between (good verse at that). Halfway through the book you had a very good idea as to who the murderer was and the rest of the book was just spent in getting the case built against him and dodging party politics. The book is more about Shanghai and society at that time: relationships within the party and outside it. Life for the ordinary Chinese citizen, families and the mundane; love lost and gained. That is why I say it is an eminently readable book. It moved slowly for me but not a boring slowly but rather a beautiful ride in a horse drawn carriage which relaxes you and draws you into all the scenery you are passing. There were a lot of descriptions and explanations and a lot of poetry (which might be a downer for some people) but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it all. There were so many interesting vignettes’ of Chinese life which I had absolutely no idea of and such interesting phrases.

So if you are looking for a book that has some insightful descriptions and is partly pan-historical (China 25 plus years ago) and partly realistic fiction, then go for this. If you are looking for a nail biting detective mystery, this is not for you.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Review Of 'An Autograph for Anjali' by Sundari Venkatraman.


Anjali, Jayant and Parth, you would think it is the same old love triangle but it isn’t. I would rather think of them as three separate bodies with their own little orbits.
Jayant is the very self-centered, business-man husband and Anjali is the wife who starts off as a dominated, dutiful wife and gradually comes into her own. Parth is the dashing, worldly author who retains his gentle core; even though life has thrown him some hard knocks. Then there is Arjun; Anjali and Jayant’s son, who brings a calmness and balance to the story and serves as a bridge connecting all these diverse characters.

The book starts with the discovery of the murdered body of Jayant and then the rest of it is about how matters got to that point.

The first thing that struck me about this story is that even though Jayant is painted as a completely selfish character, (I do not go with the traditional Indian male bit as I feel an Indian male can have traditional values but that does not necessarily mean they have to be as selfish as Jayant was) yet Sundari tries to bring in a sense of balance in his portrayal through the eyes of Arjun, who understand where he comes from. Anjali has lived vicariously throughout her life through the life of her husband and son and yearns for change. However, when she reaches tipping point, she prefers to make her journey to the light at her pace. Sundari has not allowed the story to slip into total clichéd territory of an abusive relationship or a love triangle. Despite everything, even Jayant has his boundaries and he knows it.

The second part is how Ms Venkatraman has dealt with the mental health issue. She has aptly brought out the causes and effects of these issues and how they tend to be viewed unfortunately by the general public and deftly woven it into the story. This is another reason why I like reading Ms Venkatraman's books; she always has some strong underlying issue in her books which she does not gloss over but rather deals with it in a very sensitive manner.

The strong part of this plot is the romantic parts. Romance is Sundari Venkatraman’s forte and she has proven that yet again. Those parts are soft, sensual, poignant and exciting. Anjali and Jayant are two very strong characters in the book and if anything Parth seems to suffer in comparison, which is rather odd as there, is a lot of word space devoted to him as well. However his character somehow doesn’t quite jump off the pages the way the other two do.

At the end I would like to borrow the words of Arjun, ‘it’s just two people who are very different from each other’.


Sundari Venkatraman


Jayant Mathur is found murdered in his bed, shot at point-blank range with his own revolver. Though she’s extremely disturbed by his death, Jayant’s wife Anjali is way more upset about something else. Who stands to gain by killing the multi-millionaire businessman?

Parth Bhardwaj is a friend and neighbour of the Mathurs. Parth is an author who goes by a pseudonym. He appears more than a friend to Anjali; while he’s also on good terms with her son Arjun who lives and studies in the UK. What role does he play in Anjali’s life? Jayant’s relatives are curious to know.

Jayant’s brother-in-law Rana is convinced that Parth and Anjali are the murderers. But Inspector Phadke has his own doubts about this theory. In comes Samrat, the private detective who appears as quiet as a mouse. Will he be able to find the murderer?

Will Anjali find happiness and peace?

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In 2014, Sundari self-published The Malhotra Bride (2nd Edition); Meghna; The Runaway Bridegroom; Flaming Sun Collection 1: Happily Ever Afters From India (Box Set) and Matches Made In Heaven (a collection of romantic short stories).

2015 brought yet another opportunity. Readomania came forward to traditionally publish this book - The Madras Affair - a mature romance set in Madras.

An Autograph for Anjali, a romance with a touch of suspense, is also a self-published novel. Going a step further, the author has published the paperback version through Notion Press.

Stalk her @


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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Batman vs Superman vs ME

I love watching all the 'super hero' movies, so trotted off for this as well.

OMG! still wondering what hit me. It was a long movie or maybe it just seemed long as the story didn't seem to be going any where. Superman flew around, did his laser eye thing and created chaos. We had super sonic sound effects every time he landed or took off. A buffed up Ben Affleck hung around devising ways he could take revenge on superman and even Lex Luthor was extremely contrived in his role of a psychotic villain. As for his eventual 'piece de resistance' DOOMSDAY.....YAWN!!! He did not come across as the extremely menacing and dangerous character he is supposed to be. Lights, sparks and loud roars do not necessarily a deadly character make, unless you are an 8 year old.

The audiences have changed, they are now used to visual effects the standard which was seen in Star Wars : The Force Awakens, Mad Max or even The Martian and Planet of The Apes. This does not compare. As for their suits, they have become more sculpted and moulded ; makes me think of a cross between Fifty Shades and Katniss's outfit in the Hunger Games.

Saving grace...WONDER WOMAN!

Hopefully she can save the day in the next offering.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Soul Warrior by Falguni Kothari. He has arrived.

Cover Reveal:

Book One



Twisted myths. Discretion advised.

Fight fate, or succumb to destiny?

In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past.

Spanning the cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child.



When you grow up in India, you are engulfed in tales of good and evil, gods and demons, karma and reincarnation on a daily basis. India’s myths are as much part of day-to-day life as is bathing. So I wondered if heaven and hell actually exists what would they look like? What are the good or bad souls doing in this Heaven and Hell? Are the souls in Heaven any happier being stuck there than the souls repenting in Hell? Do they want to come back to Earth as humans?

These questions were the basis of Soul Warrior’s mythos, as was Vedic India and the Mahabharata. India has such a rich offering of grand stories, and its people have a thirst to read them. I want to tell these stories, but in my way. I didn’t want to simply retell the popular tales. I wanted to reimagine them. Go beyond the known myths into the realm of pure fantasy.



Kuru Kshetra Battlefield.

Day 17 of the Great Kuru War, seven thousand five hundred years ago.
Death is hot.
That surprises me. I’d imagined death as cold and brutal. Merciless. But in truth, death is hot as blood, and constant like a heartbeat.
Thrum. Thrum. Thrum. My lifeblood ebbs to the rhythm. My head ripped from its torso by Anjalika, the arrow of death that burns even now with the energy of the sun. Struck from behind like some novice. Felled in battle by that lily-livered usurper the Heavens smile upon—Prince Arjun. Brother Arjun.
What have I done?
I harness the thought. Cease all reflection and wrench free of my mortal body. I soar up, up into the gloaming, snapping the ties that tether me to life. Dead, I have no use for ties.
“A matter of perspective, Karna, O son of my godsire.” The unearthly words strum through the air, and I quiver like a plucked bowstring, overcome as much by the voice as its blasphemous claim. “Bonds of devotion nourish the soul, brother.”
There is that word again. Brother. Unpleasant laughter wells up in me. Alive, I am abandoned, denied my birthright—Celestial or royal. Death, it seems, changes everything.
A bright, nebulous light brings forth Lord Yama, the God of Death, atop his divine mount. His elephantine thighs ripple beneath a silken dhoti, ochre and crimson of color, as he guides the mammoth water buffalo to a halt. An iron medallion sways against the God’s powerful cerulean torso, its center stone an ethereal blood orange.
Hypnotic. Pulsing with life. I am drawn to the stone.
“Piteous waste,” Lord Yama mutters, surveying the carnage of war far below us.
I trace the trajectory of his gaze and behold the battered remains of my army drenched in the evidence of its mortality. Is it true? Have we died in vain?
Words form inside me and I will them out. “Shall we go, my lord?”
“Ha! Impatient to be judged, are you? Anxious to have your fate revealed?” asks the Judge of the Hell Realm. His red-black eyes burn with intelligence and compassion in a blue-tinged face that is long and lean and hard. “Rest easy, brother-warrior. You are not bound for the Great Courtroom.”
Not bound for Hell? Where then? Fear has eluded me for so long that I take a moment to recognize it. A hollow-bellied feeling it is, as annoying as a bone stuck in my throat.
“My lord, I have done bad deeds…terrible deeds in my life. I have waged wars, this horrendous bloodshed, and all because my pride could not—would not abide rejection. I have sinned. I must atone for my actions.”
Lord Yama smiles in a way I do not like. “You have redeemed yourself admirably, Karna. You forfeited your life for the greater good today. The deed far outweighs any misguided ones. Be at peace, brother, and enjoy the fruits of your karma.”
There is but one place to enjoy such fruits—the Higher Worlds.
I’d rather burn in Hell for eternity. I say so. “I won’t live amongst the Celestials.” Coexisting with the very souls who’ve spurned me is unthinkable. Watching her—for she would surely reside in Heaven soon—will be eternal torture.
Yama shakes his head, the horns on his crown slashing to and fro. “I thought you might say that. Relax. Your destiny lies elsewhere.”
“Am I to be reborn then? Am I to begin a new life, and forget the past?” Pain, sharp as a blade, lances through me at the thought. Forget my past? My family? Even her? Was that my punishment? To forget all that made me human?
It must be so. For have I not betrayed them as surely as I’ve betrayed my prince regent?
“Human rebirth is not your destiny, either. You are chosen, brother. Your war skills are needed for a higher purpose.” The God slips off his mount, his garments rustling in agitation. “This unjust war has pushed the Cosmos to the vortex of a cataclysm. Tomorrow, the Kuru War will end. Fearing its outcome, the Celestials rolled the Die of Fate and have unwittingly bestowed on Demon Kali untold powers.” Lord Yama bares his fangs in disgust at the foolish gamble. “Imagine the havoc that asura and his minions will wreak on the weak if left unchecked. The Human Realm must be safeguarded during Kali’s dark reign.”
I can imagine the horror only too well as I have battled with evil all my life. But I am done with wars. I am done with defeat. I won’t waste another lifetime fighting.
“With due respect, my lord, I am not the man for this task.”
“You are not a man at all,” Yama thunders, fists shaking. “You are the son of Surya, the Sun God. Accept that you are no ordinary soul.”
I say nothing. I think nothing. I feel something but I squash it down.
Lord Yama’s thick black brows draw together. “Demon Kali will try to pervade every particle of good that exists in the Cosmos, beginning with the corruptible Human Realm. Once he obliterates all of humanity, he’ll set his sights on the Celestials. Kali will not stop until he’s destroyed our way of life. But you can stop him. You are light to his darkness. Do you understand now why you had to betray him? Your beloved humans need you, Karna. I need you. Our father believes in you. Claim your rightful place in the Cosmos.”
Impatiently, Lord Yama removes the iron medallion from his neck and holds it out. The vermillion sunstone glows as if its soul is on fire. Nay! It is my soul that is on fire.
Indescribable energy curls through me. I gasp, though not in pain. I shudder and feel myself grow large, grow hot. Was this rebirth?
I am strong, full-bodied and lethal once more. Then I roar as light bursts forth from my very core and I throb with glorious, blinding power. When I come to myself, my world has changed again. Bubbles of color shimmer all around me: cobalt and saffron, azure and rose. By karma! They are souls. Infinite floating souls.
“Behold the spectrum of life: the worthy, the notorious, the righteous and the sinners.” The God of Death’s soul was a worthy sapphire blue with a tinge of silver. “Your duty, should you choose to accept the office of the Soul Warrior, is to hunt down the red-souled asuras and crush them. Whatever you decide, I wish you a long and successful Celestial existence, Karna,” Yama booms out and vanishes into the purpling sky.
The parley has stunned me. The world of color holds me in thrall. I was dead. Yet, now I am not. A new path lies before me. Unwanted, unwelcome, I insist on principle. I close my eyes. Open them to stare at the medallion cupped in my hand—a golden-hued hand at once familiar and not—and know myself for a fool. I do want this. It’s what I am.
Bastard-born. Rebel. Son. Husband. Father. Warlord. And protector. I fist the talisman, buoyed by its concrete warmth. This is who I am.
I am the Soul Warrior.

Grab Your Copies Here 

AMAZON CANADA: http://amzn.to/1OnG2sr

AMAZON INDIA: http://amzn.to/1ZgadqD

Meet the Author

Falguni Kothari is a New York-based South Asian author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She’s published in India in contemporary romance with global e-book availability; Bootie and the Beast (Harlequin Mills and Boon) and It’s Your Move, Wordfreak! (Rupa & Co.), and launches a mythic fantasy series with Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali, #1)

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Monday, 9 November 2015

'Spectre' ...spectacularly disappointing.

              I am a die hard 007 fan; must be in my genes as my parents were in line for every James Bond movie that hit the screen. To add to that I think Daniel Craig is smoking hot but alas I think 'Spectre' burnt him in it's flames.

             What was Sam Mendes thinking of ? True we do come to see Bond for his stunts;  we do come to see macho ism at it's blatant best manifested in the cool 'Bond Persona'...shaken not stirred ; we come to see it for the stunning locales and the 'Bond Women'. We love to hate the 'Bond Villains' but seriously a story would be nice as well. Some story, any story even the semblance of a story.

            What we got was a series (and by that I mean quite a few) of spectacular stunts in sensational locations performed by Bond, strung together to represent what someone believed was a storyline. After about four of these episodes they got downright repetitive and patronising. Did they believe this is all a 007 fan comes to watch?

           The movie was let down very badly by a weak script and if I may say so poor casting. I want a Bond villain to be truly menacing, this guy looked like a high school teacher. Plucked eyebrows and black clothes do not a spectre make. I want the Bond girls to be original, stunning and vivacious. Its a fantasy world that we inhabit for two hours, I don't want to see my neighbourhood hot mom strutting her stuff. Last but not least...dare I say it? What was Daniel Craig doing? He was great in the action sequences but absolutely mechanical in the romancing and making out department...and this is 'BOND" we are talking about. I felt if I sat back and closed my eyes, I could imagine the cameramen surrounding the couple; would hear the director shout CUT and Craig was acting as if he felt the same way too.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Queen Of Endurance

Michelle Kakade, comes across as just another modern Indian housewife, talking about the traffic problems, her children, what she likes to eat etc...but do not let that fool you.

Prod her a bit and its 'gloves off'.

She is about to embark on an epic journey across India which will get her into the history books.
(Not that she is not there already, with the bunch of records she has under her belt).

As part of the Great Indian Quadrilateral Run, she will

RUN ; 6010 KMS


This run will take her into the Guiness Book Of World Records.