Monday, 15 July 2013

J.K. Rowling into crime!

Which resident of the world of bibliophilia hasn't heard about J.K Rowling?

The woman who wrote the record-breaking bestseller, Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone on an old typewriter, was rejected by around twelve publishers, and lived off a grant from the state.

J.K Rowling
There was no looking back after Bloomsbury decided to publish her novel. A string of sequels followed.
Last year, she made news through her adult book, The Casual vacancy.

Her desire to write a crime novel did not go unnoticed. Reports surfaced that she was found scribbling a crime novel by author Ian Rankin's wife. Under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo Calling, gave us enough reasons to believe in her authorship. Rowling and Galbraith had the same agent and publisher, linguistic similarities, et al. Now, it has been confirmed that she is the writer of the novel which sold 1500 hard copies, but garnered rave reviews and critical appreciation.
Confirming her nom de plume, She says,"I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name. "


Well, Rowling, we guess, has her own chamber of secrets, with the sequel to The Cuckoo Calling already speculated to be ready for publication. Now that readers know who the author is, the sales might just shoot up!


Quote source: The Telegraph
Image source: bookpage.com
                     wikipedia.org

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Book review: Strike @ 36 by Aparna Pednekar

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When the book begins, the story seems to unravel at an annoying pace, then it gains momentum and drops to a well-crafted but insipid end.



Everything about the story hovers unabashedly around Mumbai, which one of the protagonists describes as “the putrid hellhole of my dream.”
It’s the titles of the chapters that keep you going. Then there is a plethora of witticisms and sarcasms, not to forget the umpteen hyperboles deployed by the characters. The characters are the best part. Their lives are deceptively simple at first and the very next moment, they aren’t. So that endears them to the reader, giving a slice of reality. Reality, amid the city of dreams.
Strike @ 36
The narration that oscillates between first person accounts of Shobhana and Udayan alternately, followed by a third-person account is the icing on the cake, for the writer remarks in the manner of an explanation, “All great incomplete love stories are best narrated in third person.” 
One of the two aspects that tend to put you off is that the text is weighed down by an invasion of a multitude of languages. Had it been just peppered with such terms, it would have been another canvas altogether. But here, an almost faint rainbow of languages- English, foreign and vernacular is painted. If you haven’t read any “lifestyle” lexicon and don’t intend to, either, then be prepared for a bombardment of jargon and gobbledygook. Another is the foul-mouthing and the variegated expletives pouring like raindrops. Initially you get away with a smirk, but at its height, you despise it. But then hey, it’s Mumbai!
Somewhere the novel echoes the likes of Chetan Bhagat or Preeti Shenoy, but as it turns out to be, it has no anathema of the former, neither any depth of the latter. It is simply a gripping account of the lives of people around the film industry: an on-the-surface plot.


Author Aparna Pednekar
The plot is commendable. In the end the lives of all characters are entangled and interwoven in the most unexpected ways. Throughout, the suspense does not break even an iota of hint which is hmmmm… rare but when it does, its unconvincing, because it vexes the protagonist Shobhana, and us, the readers, further. The story of ex-lovers who have seemingly moved on, are brought together when things have gone downhill, by the vicissitudes of circumstances. What follows is a twister ride of many stories: the political group, the writer, Shobhana and Uday’s old love story and break-up, Shobhana’s ambitions et al.
I must commend the author for creating true-to-life portraits of the protagonists as well as etching multi-hued supporting characters.
The book is rightly dedicated to contrarians, since it itself creates a real and surreal world simultaneously.
Filming the story on the palimpsest of your mind, you can see a great story being tormented at the altar of a queer background, as the characters loiter hither and thither.
Towards the end, it’s apparent that the end will not be substantial, so there’s no disappointment.


All in all, it’s an entertaining and intriguing read, rich on witty phrases, embellished with breathtaking pace, the amusement being weighed down a bit by the burden of referring to a multilingual lexicon, every now and then to decipher the expressions behind the vernacular words!



Book Review: Angels and Demons



“She looked nothing like the bookish physicist he had expected. Lithe and graceful, she was tall with chestnut skin and long black hair that slurred in the backwind of the rotors. Her face was unmistakably Italian – not overly beautiful, but possessing full, earthy features that even at 20 yards, she seemed to exude a raw sensuality.”






Well, does this description make you wish it were yours? I am sure it did. Because so was the case with me.


To put simply, this character is Vittoria Vetra from the celebrated author Dan Brown’s bestseller work, the immaculately sublime novel “ANGELS AND DEMONS”. It is incontrovertible that all the characters he etches so deftly are worth going under the skin of, for as long as it is about the epicsome rhetoric, enigmatic miens, panoramic venues, sequential mysteries and startling plots that he creates, it hardly matters which character, all characters are etched by him with flawless precision and meticulous perfection that wins any and every reader’s heart.His plots are all peppered with a mind-boggling volume of symbols, cryptography, mythology, code-deciphering, surreptitious rendezvous with strangers, et al.

Robert Langdon, the protagonist of the novel who is a strict Harvard professor, a scintillating symbologist who “relishes recreation with an infectious fanaticism”, is no less of a dream character. Yet, I’d rather prefer to accompany him in his quest, and though Vittoria Vetra's character is subsidiary to Langdon, it is so indispensable to the plot, bereft of an iota of doubt.

Now talking about the story, Langdon and Vittoria Vetra are called up by the Vatican to deploy their brilliance and expertise to a situation. And the situation is nothing short of a murder- an excruciatingly nauseating one, at that.


The journey is characterized by bone-crunching forces and mind-numbing revelations. Vittoria Vetra is the CERN scientist who had developed anti-matter, a breakthrough energy source which she was protecting from falling victim to PR fiascos and political envy. As the story unravels, it is found that a vial of antimatter had been stolen by a secret group called “illuminati” and even I the minutest proportions it was capable of doing far more damage than nuclear weapons. At this stage, the story delves deeper into dark alleys of the intersections of literature, science and religion.


What follows is a journey- nothing short of an epic, interspersed with descriptions of the “papal conclave” due to the sudden death of the pope. Langdon attempts to retrace the steps of the "Path of Illumination", a process once used by the Illuminati as a means of inducting new members; aspirants to the order were required to follow a series of subtle clues left in various landmarks in and around Rome. The clues indicate the secret meeting place of the Illuminati. Langdon sets off on the Path of Illumination in hopes of delivering the Preferiti (the most likely candidates of the papal elections) and recovering the antimatter canister. So he has to decipher the ambigrams, that is with help from Vittoria Vetra. They make deduction regarding the site and manner of death of each of the cardinal. Since its human tendency to be intrigued by matters of life and death, that explains my proclivity to make it true. Here, the W-H-O-L-E Vatican City is at stake. The following quotes are thought-provoking at one level and poignant at another; they work to enrich the text and infuse it with emotions.

  • “Nothing captures human interest more than human tragedy.” 
  • “Skepticism has become a virtue. Cynicism and demand for proof has become enlightened thought. Is it any wonder that humans now feel more depressed and defeated than they have at any point in human history? ” 
  • "Fear cripples faster than any implement of war.” 
  • “Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed.” 
  • “If it wasn't painfully difficult, you did it wrong!” 
  • …Our sunsets have been reduced to wavelengths and frequencies. The complexities of the universe have been shredded into mathematical equations. Even our self-worth as human beings has been destroyed. 
  • “Even the technology that promises to unite us, divides us. Each of us is now electronically connected to the globe, and yet we feel utterly alone.” 
Such monologues are a treat for the reader, and an intellectual cherry on the plot that Brown creates.
These sum up the theme too.




 The ecstasy and exhilaration, the adrenaline rush, the earth-shattering revelations. The plot is based in Rome, Italy, which adds to the appeal (and the yearning for it to come true)


Well there has to be something about the book that the aforementioned lines still reverberate in my mind-



“From Santi's earthly tomb with demon's hole,

'Cross Rome the mystic elements unfold.

The path of light is laid, the sacred test,

Let angels guide you on your lofty quest.”



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