Pages

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: RIP - Resurgent Indian Patriots by Mukul Deva

Book: RIP
Author: Mukul Deva
No. of Pages: 286
Genre: Thriller, Fiction
Publisher: Westland Books

The first book for review in 2013 comes once again from BlogAdda.com – RIP by Mukul Deva
The title of the book is as catchy as it can get with a graphic cover page which attracts immediate attention while the back cover blob wants you to buy it on the spot (if you are looking at it in the store or reading it on an online eCommerce portal that is)
While I waited for the book to arrive, I checked out what other books had the Author written since he is new for me. I have heard about him but not read his works till date.
RIP has an explosive start with 3 high profile murders taking place across the country followed by a statement sent to major media agencies regarding the intent and objective of the group who is behind the murders. The message concludes the threat that if the demands are not met, more will die and as a token of this threat, 3 more will die in next 3 days. This leads to a flurry of activities in the Indian political system sending waves across the country … amongst politicians, police, military as well as the common public. The start gave me (once again) a Robert Ludlum like feeling. Interestingly, the group which is responsible for murders is called the K-Team.
While reading, you will find elements and inspirations from different place. The entire political cast of the book has reflections of real life people and it's easy to see who is being indirectly referenced (in spite of changing names and having a disclaimer at the beginning about coincidental similarities). The K-team has the Hollywood A-Team kind of feel while the writing and events are attempting to be Ludlum like. There are extremely close connections with real life as you can begin to draw similarities between the scams in the book and real world political scams in India; including the politicians in the book as well as in real Indian politics.
I liked the book but was somewhat dissatisfied too. It could have been better; tighter. The pace of the book does slacken a bit at times which is not something I expected from a book of this caliber.  
One thing surely differentiated Mukul Deva from Ludlum … Romance and associated Emotions. I don't know why, but Mukul Deva decided to introduce a Love Triangle and 2 kids into the story. Yes, they did play a role in the story to some extent but that could have been managed without this extra emotional baggage. It looked more like a 'formula' to spice up the book rather than a real need of the plot – one can see the Bollywood influence – almost written as if a screenplay for a movie.
And the Romantic and Emotional story of the protagnist was the only time when the pace of the story slackens ...   
This was my first Mukul Deva novel and I think I would probably read another one from his stable, if I came across one. Visiting his website tells me he has written more novels with the military touch and another set for the corporate world. It will be interesting to see how he has managed the corporate ones.
Note: This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com  ... Participate now to get free books!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Reading Graph of 2012



After the Movies and Blogging graphs of 2012, its time for the third and final graph of 2012. The Reading Graph – a record of the number of stories (novels, novellas, short stories) that I read every month in 2012.

You will see that the numbers were smaller in the beginning of the year and swelled as the year progressed. This was simply due to a larger number of short stories being read as the year progressed.
What started at 10 in Jan went as high as 35 in October ...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Colgate Subliminal advertisement

Colgate has created a very ingenious advertising campaign to promote their dental floss
Have a look at the advertisements below (and once you have done that, look once again ... carefully ... and then look hard) ... see if you catch on the 'subtle-ness'





Alright, now that you had time to quietly observe the images, in the first one you will now notice that she has one finger too many
in her hand, in the second one a phantom arm is floating there, and in the third one the man has only one ear...

 
The campaign attained its purpose, because it proved that food remaining on your teeth draw more attention than any physical defect...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Movie Graph


Having posted the Blog post trend chart, i decided to post 2 more graphs.
The first one is the graph of movies I have seen in movie halls across 2012.
And here is the list of movies that I saw in 2012 ... 
January
1
Sherlock Holmes – the Game of Shadows 
February
1
Journey 2 – The Mystery Island (3D)
March 
2
London Paris New York 
Kahaani  
April 
2
Houseful 2
Titanic (3D) 
May  
3
Vicky Donor
Dangerous Ishq (3D) 
Avengers (3D)
June 
2
MiB3 
Prometheus 
July 
4
Bol Bachchan 
Cocktail 
The Dark Knight Rises
Ice Age: Continental Drift 
August 
1
Ek Tha Tiger
September
2
Barfi
Oh My God !
October 
2
English Vinglish
Makkhi
November
2
Skyfall
Son of Sardar 
December 
6
Talaash
Life of Pi (3D)
Khiladi 786
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (3D)
The Rise of the Guardians (3D)
Dabangg 2
Total
28
The year was a mix of good, bad and boring movies ...
Interestingly, there were quite a few 3D movies in the beginning of the year and then there was almost a 6 months gap before I saw a couple of them in December again. In total, about 25% of the movies I saw in theatre were the 3D kind.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dozen Dozen



Just noticed that I made exactly 144 posts last year …

An average of 12 posts through each of the 12 months … an average of a Dozen across a Dozen months …

The actual trend of blog posts across months looks like this …
 

The dip at the end of year reflects how busy I began to get due to work and work related travel.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Incomplete Kurkure Family

 Kurkure has created an immense brand presence in India and part of it is due to the presence of the Juhi Chawla effervescence. She added a certain character to the Brand which has built the brand's image in Indian minds. We associated Juhi very strongly with the Kurkure brand.



BUT …. The recent Kurkure ads which talk about the 'Indian Kurkure Family' don't feature Juhi. No doubt the family of full of interesting characters but the absence of Juhi is too startling and noticeable. What Juhi is to the Brand image cannot be replicated by anyone those members.

I just hope Kurkure brand has not made the mistake of dropping Juhi from the Kurkure equation … If they have done it .. they will have to go through a heavy investment to recreate a different Kurkure brand image because the existing one cannot be sustained by the new cast of brand ambassadors. The new star cast simply cannot match up with the brand image created by Juhi ...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Series and Short Stories Reading Score of 2011 and 2012

 
I read a lot of novels in 2009-2010.
In 2011, I decided to pick up some series to read throughout the year.
I started with Sherlock Holmes, Three Investigators and Feluda.  
During 2012, I also picked up some short story series/collections … and fell in love with them all over again.
As my inclination towards them increase, I started reading more and more of short stories every month picking up several collections. I also found more of Sherlock Holmes stories (after exhausting the original Conan stories). I discovered short stories by Satyajit Ray and Philip K Dick too.
So here is a round-up of all the different series I read in past 2 years ...
 

 

2011-2012 :: Series Reading Score                                    143

Feluda                        by Satyajit Ray                                    35

Three Investigators    by William Arden / M V Carrey          43

Sherlock Holmes         by Arthur Conan Doyle                       60

Famous Five                by Enid Blyton                                     5

 

2011-2012 :: Short Stories Collections                                 301

Chicken Soup               by Juhi, Mark & Victor                        101     

12 Red Herrings          by Jeffrey Archer                                12       

Best of Satyajit Ray     by Satyajit Ray                                    21       

Sherlock: Exploits        by Conan Jr & John Carr                     12

Sherlock: Misadventures by various authors                          33

The Mysterious Traveler Magazine (6 Editions)                    36       

Short & Long Stories   by Philip K Dick                                   43

Short & Long Stories   by Arthur Conan Doyle                       34

Love, Peace and Happiness by Rituraj Verma                        09

 

2011-2012 turned out to be a year of Novellas & Short Stories … Count crossing 350 !! 

 
Total Reading Score = 143 + 301 = 444 Stories
 
A large majority of these 444 were read in 2012 … and I think the trend will continue in 2013.
 
Trivia - I started reading the Famous Five also but kind of abandoned it after reading just 5 from the series of 21.
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2012 Reading Round up …



From a reading perspective, the year that was 2012 proved to be a pretty fantastic year.
With 33 Novels and more than 300 short stories and around 25 novellas … an awesome reading score of around 365 for the year …

Short Story Collections (Approx. 305 Stories – including the 7 novellas):

1.      Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul at Work by Juhi, Mark & Victor (101 stories) 
2.      Best of Satyajit Ray by Satyajit Ray (21 stories)
3.      The Mysterious Traveler Magazine (6 Editions – 36 stories)
4.      Sherlock Holmes Complete Collection (Remaining 16 Short Stories + 1 Novella)
5.      The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle & John Dickson Carr (12)
6.      The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes by Various Authors edited by Ellery Queen (33)
7.      Several Short and Long Stories by Philip K Dick (40 + 3 stories)
8.      Several Short and Long Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle (31 + 3 stories)
9.      Short Story Collection: Love, Peace and Happiness by Rituraj Verma (9 stories)

Novels (36)
1.      Myth = Mithya by Devdutt Pattanaik
2.      Sign of the Cross by Chris Kuzneski
3.      Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly
4.      The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral
5.      Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell
6.      A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
7.      Scammed: Confessions of a Confused Accountant by Anonymous
8.      Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell
9.      Trevayne by Robert Ludlum
10.  The All Bengali Crime Detectives by Suparna Chatterjee 
11.  The Gemini Contenders by Robert Ludlum
12.  Velocity by Dean Koontz
13.  The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
14.  The Mayan Conspiracy by Steve Alten
15.  Of Course, I Love you by Durjoy Dutta & Maanvi Ahuja
16.  Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer
17.  The Dark Prophecy by Anthony Zuiker with Duane Swierczynski
18.  The Clockwork Man by William Jablonsky
19.  The Mayan Resurrection by Steve Alten
20.  The Holcroft Covanent by Robert Ludlum
21.  Three Mistakes of My Life by Chetan Bhagat
22.  The Mayan Destiny by Steve Alten
23.  The Death Relic by Chris Kuzneski
24.  Fractured Legend by Kranthi Askani
25.  Untruly Yours by Smita Shetty 
26.  The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi
27.  The Shadow Throne by Aroon Raman
28.  Red Jihad by Sami Ahmad Khan
29.  The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian
30.  Collision of Dimension by M V Ravi Shanker
31.  The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (New Sherlock Novel)
32.  The Edge of the Machete by Abhisar Sharma
33.  Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra

Book Reviews: Out of the 33 above; 15 came to me for Book Review – 10 from the Blog Adda Bok Review Program and remaining 5 came directly from Authors or the Publishers with the Book Review request.

Novellas: Adding to the above novels list … there were 4 short novels by Arthur Conan Doyle (ACD) + 3 by Philip K. Dick (PKD) + 18 from the Three Investigator series by a mix of 3 authors  = 25 Novellas  
Hope 2013 turns out to be yet another good / great / awesome year for reading for me.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Most Read Authors of 2012

 

Having put in the December reading account ... its times to look back at my reading of the entire year ...
Lets begin with a glance at the most read authors of the year for me …

 

Short Stories
 

Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Homes, Dr. Challenger Novellas and other Short stories: 51)

Philip K Dick (Sci-fi short stories & novella - 43)

Satyajit Ray (Short Stories - 21)

Adrian Doyle and John Carr (Sherlock Holmes stories - 12)

M V Carrey, William Arden & Marc Brendel (Three Investigators series – 9, 6 & 3 resp. = 18)

 

Novels

 
Robert Ludlum (3 novels)
Steve Alten (Mayan Trilogy - 3)
 
So thats just about the most read authors of the year for me ...
 
Expect a few more reading related posts in coming days ...
 
 

 

Friday, January 11, 2013

December Reading - Part 2

Continued from previous post …

 

7. PKD Shorts: Piper in the Woods by Philip K Dick

 

A small army unit located on a rather small asteroid is facing a threateningly interesting problem. Some of its brightest men have begun to behave very strangely, have given up work, begun basking in the sun 'literally' and consider themselves as 'TREES'.

The problem gets increasingly serious the Army Psychiatrist, after examining several such cases, reaches the conclusion that it was not a case of delusions or novel-excuse-to-escape-work; but the individuals genuinely believed that they were Trees !!

He decides to investigate it himself by visiting the asteroid … only to return a transformed person himself.

 

8. PKD Shorts: The Infinites by Philip K Dick

 

This one had quite a few twists. An exploratory spaceship encounters an unknown planet which seems perfect for habitation but has no visible habitation of any kind. Exploration of this space leads to some dreadful results and physical deformation including losing eyesight.

But all is not as bad as it seems as the 3 surviving members discover that they were probably exposed to radiation which is transforming them. The transformation was scary at first but then they begin to understand them.

In the climax, they realize that they were not the only ones to be radiated and that they are not yet ready for the transformation.

 

9. PKD Shorts: The Preserving Machine by Philip K Dick

 

The story has a very interesting premise. All living things have a survival instinct while the material things may exist for either a long time to come or forever depending on their properties and the action of the environment on them.

In a world where things are perishing, a gentleman is worried about the perishable beauties of life which do not have a material existence. He feels music by virtue of its non-material existence will be the biggest and the quickest loss for mankind. With this thought in mind … he designs a machine to 'convert' music into living creatures. The results are interesting and their implications even more.

What makes this story interesting is PKD's attempt at giving music a shape and the visualization of music in the form of a living creature with physical features, moods and temperaments.

 

10. PKD Shorts: Expendable by Philip K Dick

 

We humans live with a superiority complex of being more evolved beings than the other members of the Animal kingdom. What if it is not true? What if we are the ones who need protection and are being protected by other 'animals' whom we consider worthless …

 

11. PKD Shorts: The Indefatigable Frog by Philip K Dick

 

Zeno's paradox of the frog and the well - the frog will never reach the top of the well when each jump is half the previous jump from the bottom of the well; a small but very real margin always remains for him to travel. The Physics professor believes this while the math/logic professor believes otherwise.

Together they 'build' a machine to test the scenario. They put a frog in a long tunnel with force field which reduces the size of the frog to half every time he leaps towards the other end thereby reducing his leaping distance to half. The frog hopping forward eventually 'vanishes'.  

The Physics professor in a fit of humor/prank/revenge/etc puts the Logic professor inside the tunnel and closes it off. The professor begins to face a fate similar to the frog … diminishing half in size every time you take a step and eventually disappearing.

The climax is interesting as we face a situation we did not imagine …

 

12. Dr. Challenger Short: The Disintegration Machine by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A man has invented a machine which can disintegrate absolutely anything in its sphere of influence … and the more striking thing is that he can put the object back together again at any other location at will. This machine immediately catches the attention of all government / military bodies for the intense ramifications which such a weapon / machine can have on war and power.

Dr. Challenger is called upon to assist in ascertaining the validity of the claim.

Much to the chagrin of Dr. C; the machine works as is evident from the demonstrative experiment performed by the inventor on Dr. C himself … making him vanish and reappear right in front of Marlon. The inventor becomes slightly audacious and plays a trick on Dr. C

Dr. C is enraged to the extent he could have broken the inventors neck with his bare hands but he has greater designs on his mind.

 

13-14. Three Investigators short: 'Down in the Tube' and 'Vanishing Chocolate' by Dave Jinks

 

Both the stories were pretty uninteresting and even childish with several errors and a very bad writing style. Let's not talk about it now …

 

15-22. ACD Brigadier Shorts by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A complete collection of 8 short stories or chapters about an outlandish character called Brigadier. It was ok to read and nothing great about the character. Wont write much about him.

 

With this the year ended on a not so great note from reading point of view. I wanted to end the year with a Ludlum novel but never got a chance to pick it up because of all the travel. The next month also looks scary and I hope reading is not a casualty in the coming year.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

December Reading – Part 1


Author Rishi Vohra approached me directly in November with a request to review his novel 'Once upon the tracks of Mumbai' … I accepted and picked it up as the first read in December.
Then things went into a whirlwind for me and I was unable to pick up any other novel in the month. I was travelling and was busy. Despite being a month with a lot of travel but it did not translate into reading as my travel time was encroached upon by work. It was a pretty busy month with my travel times being consumed by blackberry emails, calls and documentation reading. Suddenly all my fiction reading time vanished :(
Besides the singular novel, I also enjoyed reading the last novella from the original Three Investigators series and 2 short stories by Dave Jinks. In 2013, I will continue reading the fan fiction and the crime-buster series of the 3 Investigators.
I ended up reading only one novel (mentioned above) and amongst the short story regulars I read 8 by Philip K. Dick and 10 by Arthur Conan Doyle giving a short story count of 20 (including the two 3I shorts mentioned above.
New authors this month: The singular novel that I read this month was by a new author; Rishi Vohra. Also, the 3I short stories I read by a new author – Dave Jinks.
This reading score last month of a splendid year – a measly 22

1. Novel: Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra
The author wrote to me with a request to review his book and I agreed for a very simple reason. It has been some time since I have read anything emotional so I was thinking of picking up something along those lines. When the review request for this one came up and I read the cover blurb, it was a quick one to decide.
I enjoyed reading the book as it gave a perspective of the protagonist who is suffering from autism and hence ignored by most or taken advantage off, if not being made into a clown for their personal entertainment. He then chances upon an event which changes his life and gives meaning to his otherwise non-existent life. He is noticed and talked about … but is this really happening. Are people really talking about him or someone else?
There is a nice set of regular predictable day-to-day characters which are believable and provide the various curves in the story. And there is Rail-Man (yes … he is a super-man, spider-man kind of '-man') who saves people in distress near railway line (hence the name) who attracts a lot of media attention and has an influence on the key characters of our story.


2. PKD Shorts: The Skull by Philip K Dick

A man is sent to kill another man who died about 200 years ago. This little known dead man had his 2 minutes of glory when he said something to an assembled crowd and ended up changing the course of history. He was immediately arrested. Although deemed dead shortly after; he was seen by people at a later date and hence the assumption of him 'rising from the dead' and given Christ-like status and his words sparking off a revolutionary movement.
People now want him dead and hence our protagonist is given the task of killing him off BEFORE he makes those statements. Since there is little known about this man; the assassin in handed over his skull for identification. The climax is extremely interesting and you tend to begin to guess the climax somewhere at the last beginning of the last quarter of the story.

3. PKD Shorts: The Defenders by Philip K Dick

A world where humans have declared world war and the world as we know are destroyed. The surface is not habitable and humans have moved down to the sub-surface cities and continue to wage a war against each other (Russians and Americans) using robots who are on the surface. It has been 8 years since humans have come down to the bowels of the earth working in factories churning out weapons and arms for the robot's to continue the war.
They get the latest reports and pictures etc from the surface which is horrendous – humans cannot survive on the surface and hence human's have not gone up to the surface for 8 years. The robots are their only link to the stark reality of the surface and their means to continue the war. A chance observation by one of the interrogators is now going to change all that …

4. PKD Shorts: Mr. Spaceship by Philip K Dick

A very interesting premise with an equally interesting climax. Humans are faced with new kinds of interstellar entities which are living weapons. They are living beings which feel and sense and probably even think …as a result humans have been unable to penetrate their defenses while those entities are destroying human space ships even before the ships arm themselves and begin to fire.
A man has a brainwave and he designs a fighter spaceship which will be controlled by a human brain (just the brain … without the body). The challenge is to find an genius human who will be willing to donate his brain.
He eventually finds an individual who is ready to donate … but he has no clue of what the individual's master plan is !!!

5. Three Investigators Novella: The Mystery of the Cranky Collector by M. V. Carey 
This was the last one in the original 3I series. The story begins on an interesting note where the trio finds themselves in the house (mansion) of a Rich and Mean individual who seems to have made only enemies all along his life. They are in a middle of a party and the man himself disappears.
The trio gets involved and things begin to point towards something paranormal in the house (read: ghosts) … someone or something walking in the attic but is not visible to anyone. A Ransom note appears on the scene confirming kidnap of the old man but the kidnappers want some book which no one in the household seems to have a clue about. The old man seems to have a collection of thousands of books but none of them fits the kidnapper's requirement.

6. ACD Challenger Short: When the World Screamed by Arthur Conan Doyle
This one was first of the Dr. Challenger short stories where Dr. C decides to test his hypothesis that Earth is a living organism and we humans and the rest of the flora, fauna, animal and other life forms on the surface of the earth are nothing but what bacteria and virus on our skin might seem to us.
His audacious plan is to 'poke' this organism after drilling through the hard exterior shell which protects it. Dr. C is eventually successful in his experiment and the 'poked' earth 'reacts' in pain … causing world-wide repercussions  

To be continued …

Thursday, January 03, 2013

New Year Party

For a change, I actually celebrated the new year's eve in a party. Otherwise I have been a loner staying away from the crowded roads, crowded parties and crowded places on new year's eve. 

 

This time around, cousins planned a family kids and youngsters and not-so-young couples on the terrace and i was fortunately in town to be a part of it with my wife. Theme of masks and moustaches along with simple food, music and some games and a lot of time pass meant that it was a time well spent with family members.

 

Just a few pics of me and wifey ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year