Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik (review)

Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The trouble with this book is that it reads like a school text book. A textbook that has abridged an epic to the point of turning it into a series of interconnected fables. The kind with morals. Minus the animals. Mostly.

Maybe this only bothers people like me who’ve read so many masterful translations of Mahabharat before this. I really only bought this book because the cover intrigued me. And also because Pattanaik called his book ‘Jaya’ which was the original title of the epic. It was clever and caught my attention. (more…)


Review: God is Disappointed in You

God Is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first thing readers of this book should know is that it really is an abridged version of the Bible and not a mockery of it. The title and the funny doodle might turn some away who’re looking for a serious work that tells you the stories in the Bible without patronization but I think the author does a good job here of striking a balance between appreciation for and examination of the lessons the old Book has to teach us.

I’d forgotten many of the stories (not being a Christian and having read it out of curiosity at sixteen) but with the illustrations and the funny narrative it’ll be a long time before I forget them again. This is a book that’ll tell you the stories simply, keeping the essence of the morals from the original. But readers should be warned that the author has not only rendered the stories in modern tongue but retold them through the lenses of modern sensibilities a well.

My history professor tells us that we shouldn’t judge actors of times past from contemporary perspective just because we know what turn history takes subsequently. While I agree with him completely, in a book like this that very same ‘fallacy’ makes the narrative even more relateable to a reader like me who is less interested in the spiritual value of the tales and more focused on the bits of history that is hidden between the lines.

For instance I’m looking into this online course on the Rise and Fall of Jerusalem and reading the Old Testament was excellent preparation for it. I’ll have to refer to the unabridged version to study quotes but as far as well connected narrative goes, I’m keeping God is Disappointed in You right beside me.

The final word of appreciation I can give this book is the effort made by the author to keep the stories flowing and somehow preventing them from mixing up in my head. The personality he gave the well known characters was absent when I’d read my school’s hard-bound copy of the Bible. This is also the reason that certain momentous hours held more meaning and evoked more emotions in me than the original ever did.

This book is by no means the best abridged version out there, but it’s one of the more entertaining and therefore more engaging retelling of the old parables.

Now, a short note on the only thing that seriously annoyed me: The illustrations (doodles?). Sometimes they were funny and worked in concert with the text and sometimes they were just random and seemingly unconnected with the story the author was telling. I wish a different artist had been chosen or a better job of editing had been done. They added very little to my enjoyment of the book.

Mrs Dew Plays Her Hand (A Christmas review)

Mrs. Drew Plays Her HandMrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The trouble with giving this one 3 stars is that I know I’m lowering it to the level of other books I’ve given the same score to. They weren’t really this good.
Unfortunately, as I’m going through Ms Kelly’s works most of them are getting 4 stars from me, which (as I grow in reviewing experience) is no longer a very common thing from me. (more…)

Fifty Shades of Grey (A review)

UPDATE (March11, 2012) : The review below was written first on Dec 10, 2011. Since then I have completed the trilogy and read in depth reviews by many well-liked and credible reviewers on all three books. To be very honest I hadn’t thought much about the books after I finished reading them. They were decent enough reads (some parts enjoyable, others annoying). It simply hadn’t worked me up enough for me to write a thorough review for the uninitiated. But now when I read the review below, I realize I skated over almost all weaknesses of the story because I was impressed by its open confrontation of a taboo subject (in romance) like BDSM. It was the first of such books for me, and also I was a still-inexperienced reviewer. So, read the review below keeping all this in mind and if you want to read a really good one taking on the negative aspects, click on the link to at the bottom.  Hope this helps. =)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A pretty good book. Explores a life style I’d only heard the sleaziest things about and makes it – if not completely acceptable to me personally – almost compelling. I can see why all the reviewers have been raving about Christian Grey/Fifty Shades. If I had not been informed prior to starting the book that this had originated from a Twilight Fanfic prompt, I would never have made the connections. It’s very cleverly done. The parallels between the books almost makes me think that the fantastic (here meaning: fantasy-like) relationship portrayed between the protagonists is actually possible even in a world devoid of the supernatural.
But back to Fifty Shades. It was not a one-sit-read for me. I didn’t stay up at night to finish it. But I didn’t give up mid reading to go find something else either. I would have preferred a third person POV or even a shifting POV between Christian and Ana – the girl’s POV was slightly dull when Christian was not in the scene. That dullness came from an apparent lack of interesting side characters with the sole exception of Ana’s feisty room-mate, Kate. Her interaction with or inner monologues about everyone else read like compulsory fillers – unnecessary and uninteresting.
There was one specific chapter I would like to congratulate the author on. Chapter Eleven. (more…)

Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews (a review)

Silver Shark (Kinsmen #2)    Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.85/5 (one must be very clear about these things) =D

I’ll begin by the worst fault of the book – the absolutely heinous, most maddening, unpardonable of all      its flaws – it’s too short.

The premise is set beautifully. The first 25% of my ebook takes me from a war torn world, where existence is a punishment to be endured in service of a cause beyond your understanding and with loyalty to an unfeeling corporation trapped in an unending battle began and run by greed, to a planet where every colour is bursting with life and touch, scent and taste are allowed to bring forth the best and the worst of your emotions.

Claire Shannon leaves her dreary, apparently inescapable life in Uley and arrives in Rada, in the flower province of Dahlia.

If you’ve read the first Kinsmen novella, Silent Blade, then you know about this province. You know the wealth and power the gifted Kinsmen wield and their constant battle for supremacy tempered by tradition, protocol, customs and alliances.

Here Claire arrives as a refugee after enduring a painful scan by the immigration officers that could unveil her secret- that she was a trained psycher in Uley and that she can kill with her mind. She passes the test and her brain is declared inert. She is given a job recommendation and arrives at Guardian Inc. for her first interview. Here she meets the head of the Escana Kinsmen family, Venturo Escana, who looks at her drab clothing, chemical stained hair and hires her out of pity. She becomes an Admin in his office. She leaves Guardian Inc. that first day her mind reeling from the beauty of the Adonis who had stood in front of her and the startling brightness of his powerful mind, and coming to grips with her chagrin at being pitied by some one as magnificent as him.

And so the preview ended. I was almost panting for what came next. The authors were ridiculously good with the details and made sure I appreciated her position perfectly. They described both her home planet and the new one that she was coming to love with vivid strokes from a mixed pallet.

This could have gone in so many ways, and while I stewed over what can happen next for two weeks (till the book came out), I knew I could safely leave the story in the hands of two of my favourite authors. My imagination frankly couldn’t come up with anything remotely satisfactory.

The best part is that they skimmed over everything I would have wanted them to go into.

The worst part is that they skimmed over everything I would have wanted them to go into.

There was the office romance, there was the fight between Claire and Venturo in their psycher forms (inside the bionet), and there was the final ‘F U’ to the bad guys when her truth came out and the two ganged up to teach the idiots a lesson, there was even a little disapproval from a family member to keep the plot well rounded – but dammit, why did they have to make it so short? It seems such a waste of a wonderful plot-line filled with so much…potential!

I can’t get over that. I’m going back to my kindle app to read it again. Maybe I’ll feel less emotional about it tomorrow. Probably not.

VERDICT: Loved it.

DISCLOSURE: I emailed Ilona Andrews complaining about how the ebook was only available in Amazon and B&N, and neither would sell it to me (Amazon- wont accept my visa card, B&N- wont sell to anyone but US and Canadian citizens), and pleading them to put it up on smashwords.

They sent me the ebook in two formats in answer.

That was the sweetest thing!!

So, I think it’s only fair to warn you that I am struggling with unexpected gratitude towards them and am likely biased. (In their favour, if you couldn’t guess)

Take my words with a pinch of salt. :]

View all my reviews

Praise and complaints addressed to Alex Flinn, author

To Alex Flinn, who created ‘Beastly‘.


Dear Ms Flinn,

I write here because I can’t write to you directly- I have nothing very important to communicate to you, you see. But I also write here because I am allowed to use the Trebuchet font which looks really nice on my blog (and more people can appreciate it here). Most particularly, I write here and to you because, of the many books you wrote, I have read two and only fallen completely in love with the first.

I found the first few pages of Beastly wholly entertaining and you found a wonderful way to grab my attention. The next few disappointed, because I assumed too quickly that I knew where you were headed. I did indeed know exactly where you intended to take me, but you did the job so well that by the end of the prom night I had settled in very comfortably in my couch and stayed there till the wee hours of the morning when I finally nodded off.

The funny thing is, I criticized almost every turn you took through the story. Kyle, or as he would rather be called, Adrian, was given far too much independence and his father’s indifferent character was unbelievably convenient and ridiculously easy to manipulate. Linda’s worthless parent was also easily disposed off. It nagged me that their story had so few conventional obstacles to defeat and none of them had anything to do with parental disapproval or interference.

I did love it. Odd, unbelievable and so very simple, ‘Beastly’ both irritated and beguiled me. I left it with a disgruntled feeling after the first read. Neither the witch nor the transformation was, for me, as ridiculously made believe as the moneyed ease with which Adrian hid for many months and later courted Linda.

A month later, I read it again. I forgot my previous complaints because Adrian’s disillusionment touched me. His gradual change, or really his slow steps into adulthood, charmed and made me shake my head and smile. His bumbling efforts to befriend Linda had me biting my lip and grinning very hard. The magic that had been spun through the book finally got to me and this time I closed it with a satisfied sigh. I knew that I would read it again. (more…)