If you have nothing else to read NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland is passable


Need to KnowNeed to Know by Karen Cleveland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard this book recommended on the Just the Right Book Podcast: Episode 61 and it sounded really interesting and promising. But it falls quite far from that description and review.

I would call this a page turner yes, a good book to read when you’re travelling
OR
if you don’t have anything else at hand
OR
if you’re looking to break your reading slump.

Reminds me of the Twilight series, not great but keeps you hooked till the end.

Entertainer – can totally see this being turned into a film.

I didn’t connect with the protagonist at all, story and characters not memorable, and I really wish Vivian’s character learnt to be less naive because CIA analysts like her would be the nightmare of the American intelligence machinery.

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A Review and A Comment on the GoodReads Choice Awards System


Into the WaterInto the Water by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This year I decided to read the top three voted novels on the 2017 Good Reads Choice Awards to see which one of the 3 was the winner for me, and Into the Water was the first one I read in the Mystery/Thriller category. But a the bigger mystery it seems is how it won the award for the year’s best mystery / thriller at all!
Riding on the popularity wave of her first book, The Girl on the Train, this book was much awaited and obviously promoted as the next amazing thing from Paula Hawkins, and received a lot of attention from readers who liked the first one.

But one look at the average rating (3.53 by over 92,000 reviewers) will show you that its nothing special. I got caught up by the fact that it was voted the best mystery / thriller in 2017 by readers and without checking its reviews decided to listen to the audio book. Approximately 20% in, I was heading to its review page to see what I was missing and why I wasn’t enjoying it at all. When I saw the 3.53 number – I was so put off, but also not surprised.

I decided to finish the book anyway, mostly because it was audio and did not eat into my actual reading time. The story is so dark and gloomy and dreary and pointless – its not fun to read at all! The thrill and pace of an engaging and engrossing mystery is completely missing. So all I would say is, Skip It.

A view on the GoodReads Choice Awards

As most readers know, the GR Awards are based completely on the votes readers give to a book, whether they have read it or not. While this is a great initiative, it leaves room for misrepresentation. This is because even though you haven’t read the shortlisted titles, the system allows you to put in your vote anyway – and you end up voting either because of how popular that book seems to be or because you read something else by the author that you liked. I know this because I’ve done it too!

Now, if you look at the number of votes for the winning title, Into The Water, versus the number of people who have read it – it is just 52%. The close second, Origin by Dan Brown, has a share of 82% votes against the total number that have read it and an average rating of 3.84. This alone shows that the backing of the actual readers on the winning title was super low.

I know that the GoodReads Choice Awards are meant to be a popularity vote – but if they can think of a way to avoid this kind of polarised misrepresentation, then the results (and deserving winners) would be so much more authentic – like everything else this site has managed to keep all these years.

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Book Review – Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris


Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The danger with reading something that comes with such high praise is that you set yourself up for disappointment.

Crime fiction / psychological thrillers are my antidote, my cure for a reading slump, something that consumes my mind in the most deliciously twisted way, that I come out of satisfied and happy – marveling at the author’s ingenuity, intelligence or creativity; their timing; their ability to bring out the worst in human nature in the most believable way.

Probably, for many readers, this book delivered that. But for me, even though I was hooked to see what happened next, a large chunk of the story got very tiresome and there were many moments of impatience where I just wanted them to get on with it. The story tries hard but lacks depth. The villain is portrayed far too evil to be believable.

So even though I found myself reading it in every free minute I had, I also wanted to get done with it a.s.a.p. to be able to move on to something more meaningful – so its been a bit confusing to understand whether I liked it or not.

I can however say for sure that I did not “enjoy” it. I did not come away with a feeling of being on a roller coaster ride that was over too soon, or with an overwhelming feeling to make my friends read it 🙂

I think I’ve been #muchtoocritical on this one. But it is how it is.

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Book Review: The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons


5/5 STARS!!!!!!!

27239265Well…. that was pretty intense, exciting and enjoyable!
Gibson Vaughn is like the American equivalent of Cormoran Strike – in a refreshing, believable and non-super hero kind of way; and this first book builds a great back story for him. This is not a James Bond / Mitch Rapp equivalent and I’m so grateful to Matthew FitzSimmons for keeping it real. I am definitely looking forward to the release of the next one in October this year.

The story hooks you from the very first page and keeps the tempo up throughout. There is something about surveillance videos of missing persons that just keeps you glued and I’m sharing no more than that. Though I was able to guess the plot before the big reveal, that didn’t spoil it for me, it was still super interesting till the end.

Usually, in this genre, the lead character is either unbelievably ‘uber cool’ or so ‘flawed’ that it doesn’t seem real anymore and I find it hard to relate to. But I liked all the characterizations in this book. They are well balanced, and don’t fall into the usual cliched territory. The other thing that sets this one apart is that while the book is so fast paced, its not a shallow story and makes one care for its characters. It will stick in the mind for a while.

I think this story is perfect for American TV or at least a movie, though I think 2 hours wouldn’t do justice to all the plot lines.

Read it!!

Featured image: Goodreads.com

Book Review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz


The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium, #4)The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel bad to rate this book anything less than 4 stars, especially since I was rooting for Lagercrantz, a writer of such established precedence, to bring back the Lisbeth Salander magic that was created over a decade ago. But sadly it did not happen.

Too much seemed to be going on. There were too many parallel narratives from varying viewpoints and most of them ended on a hook that surprisingly got frustrating after a point. I got lost in names and the multiple associations across characters and by the time Lisbeth Salander showed up in the flesh, I realized I was half way through the book already.

I think the trap here is that there is only so much you can milk from her background story, which I thought was well done in the second and third book, conclusively. Only her evil twin remained the hanging link to be carried on in subsequent volumes. But then even that, I felt, wasn’t well developed or exploited in this book. I think there was so much more scope for Lisbeth and Camilla to come face to face and really bring out the fierceness in both their characters, but I came away much more disappointed than expected.

The other reason could also be that the fourth book may seem better when read in continuity to the other three. Because after ten years, when you’ve forgotten the details but only remember the impression the trilogy made on you, the time gap is too long to recover the same intensity. Lisbeth herself seems to have lost a lot of her characteristic singularity.

I remember tearing through second and third Millennium books and at the same time trying to slow down so they didn’t finish too soon. But here I was constantly checking my progress after the 85% mark, just to wrap it up and be done. I appreciate the author’s effort and probably its too much to expect of him to deliver the same experience as Steig Larsson did in the first three books, but then that was why the fourth book was even attempted I presume.

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Featured Image: Goodreads.com

the TALAASH ends here…..!


SPOILER ALERT!!!! (if you haven’t yet seen the movie, you might want to save reading this for later :))

Talaash is the kind of film that re-instates my faith in the hindi film industry, or rather in the “commercial” hindi film industry.

The credits are barely over and the first sequence of the film jolts you in your seat, pulling you into the story immediately. Aamir Khan enters the scene and so begins the unraveling of a mysterious death that seems to have no logical explanations.

Playing a hardened police man, Surjan Singh Shekhawat, Aamir Khan is delightful as the no-nonsense yet sensitive guy, with a tragic backstory. Rani Mukherjee, as his wife and the other half living their shared tragedy, underplays her character perfectly. Even though her role is not dialogue heavy, her acting is so emotive and sensitive, it is endearing. Dressed in simple sarees and minimal makeup, she blends comfortably into a policeman’s humble flat.

What I really miss in Bollywood movies is a good murder mystery, one that keeps you thinking and engaged till the very last. Talaash for me, was one such film that checked all the right boxes where story, direction, editing, acting and dialogue – were thought through and executed with detail and precision. Isn’t it obvious why Aamir Khan takes so long to make a film – the experience of watching it clearly evident when you come out of the movie hall amazed / thoughtful / surprised / delighted all at once.

Aamir Khan is undoubtedly the king of conviction, perfection and execution. His insistence on his movies / shows being produced by his own production house is what the production of his movies most often reflect. Though I wouldn’t say that’s true always, especially in the case of the recent PK.

 

Note: This post was written almost 3 years ago in Dec 2012. I found it sitting in my drafts folder today and decided to publish it as it was. The decision to revive the blog was rewarded with a ready piece of writing to lend me some much required encouragement and impetus. I hope to do it more justice this time. 🙂