Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks – Sanjaya Senanayake – Book Review


Book blurb: Dr Manju Mendis, a Sri Lankan living in Australia, comes through medical school with first class honors and is chosen to intern in the much vaunted St Ivanhoe Hospital. But right from the word go, the author leaves the reader in no doubt that this is no mere diary of hospital life.

Even as Manju deals with the rigors of an exacting job, he finds himself in the midst of a series of misadventures – from a prolonged case of priapism, to the ‘murder’ of a well-heeled ‘sugardaddiphile’, to a sudden encounter with a foul-mouthed braggart. Worse, his personal life is on the verge of being wrecked, what with an overbearing mother determined to set him up with a prosperous Sri Lankan girl, a father who fails to understand his disconnect from his homeland’s culture, and a sister inclined to saddle him with her young son.

In the span of a year, Manju must learn to confront fraudulent specialists, self-important clients, and an imperious set of immigrant relatives. Equally, he must find time to sustain his friends and relationships – with patients, colleagues, celebrities and most importantly with a troubled past.


At the outset let me be honest and state that I picked up the book primarily based on its catchy title – Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks. I mean, how many of us can resist reading a book with a name like that. And true to its cheeky name, the book itself is a tongue-in-cheek look at one year in the life of a medical intern at St Ivanhoe’s Hospital in Australia.

Written in the style of a diary, the author Sanjaya Senanayake narrates the events that transpire in the life of Dr Manju Mendis, the protagonist in the one year that he serves as a medical intern in the prestigious St Ivanhoe’s Hospital. As if being a Sri Lankan in Australia was not funny enough, Manju has all the trappings of a classic molly-coddled mama’s (and papa’s) boy as most Sri Lankan immigrants in Australia do. Couple this with the fact that his year as intern throws more than quite a few daunting medical and non-medical challenges his way, and lo and behold, you have a true-blue coming of age story. Does Manju emerge out his troubles the way a beautiful butterfly emerges from its ugly cocoon or does he succumb to the pressures and wilt away into nothingness is what the overarching story arc of the book is about.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book due to many reasons, primary among them being the fact that Manju, as the protagonist and the situations he faces are so completely relatable. Despite the fact that I am not Sri Lankan nor am I an immigrant in another country, the fact that the author manages to bring out so many everyday situations which I am sure all readers can relate to, speaks volumes for how well the author has managed to translate all our everyday lives into the protagonist’s life in the book. And what’s better Manju’s reactions, the way he tackles these situations, his approach to life in general, all of these resonated so well with me.

Another reason why I thoroughly enjoyed this book was the tongue-in-cheek humorous way in which the author takes a look at the medical profession in general. Not once in the book does he deride or poke fun at the profession or at doctors, but using only the ‘bad apples’ ie, the bad doctors and their malpractices, the author clearly brings down the façade that most of these ‘big famous’ doctors and hospital hide behind. Using patients and their ailments and conditions as the backdrop, the author brings to fore some of the rot that ails the hospital system in general without being too overbearing and preachy about it. After all, this is a coming of age story and not a book which looks to highlight these ills in particular.

End of day, this is one book which is a quick breezy weekend read which shouldn’t trouble readers too much while ensuring that they have more than a few laughs when reading it.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

Temple – Matthew Reilly – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: Four centuries ago, a precious idol was hidden in the jungles of Peru. To the Incan people, it is still the ultimate symbol of their spirit. To William Race, an American linguist enlisted by the U.S. Army to decipher the clues to its location, it’s the ultimate symbol of the apocalypse…

Carved from a rare stone not found on Earth, the idol possesses elements more destructive than any nuclear bomb–a virtual planet killer. In the wrong hands it could mean the end of mankind. And whoever possesses the idol, possesses the unfathomable–and cataclysmic–power of the gods…

Now, in the foothills of the Andes, Race’s team has arrived–but they’re not alone. And soon they’ll discover that to penetrate the temple of the idol is to break the first rule of survival.

Because some treasures are meant to stay buried..and forces are ready to kill to keep it that way…


William Race’s boring everyday life and boring schedule is disturbed when the US Army temporarily ‘recruits’ him to translate an old manuscript written by a Spanish explorer which supposedly contains clues to an invaluable treasure, one that has the potential to change the world. While Race hesitatingly accepts the assignment, little does he realize the crazy roller-coaster ride that he gets on! From being taken on crazy chopper rides to midnight jaunts through the South American rainforests, being attacked by giant feline cats to being shot at by neo-fascist Nazis, the next few days in Race’s life are like no other that he has ever experienced so far. Does he survive this ordeal, and more importantly do his efforts bear useful fruit is what the overarching narrative arc of this book is about.

Temple was the first Matthew Reilly book I read and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I thoroughly enjoyed his style of writing. The action picks up pace right from the get go and not one page goes by where the script is not pushed forward relentlessly. The speed at which the action unfolds is breathtaking and readers cannot afford to relax one bit during the entire duration of the book. The author does an admirable job at not giving any respite to readers, despite the fact that the plot combines science fiction with historical facts and legends from a far time ago. The only other author that I would compare Matthew Reilly to would have to be Michael Crichton where he combined science, fiction and history so well together that readers wouldn’t be able to figure out where facts ended and fiction began. The fact that I picked up this book and re-read 9 odd years after I first read it speaks volumes for the longevity of the author and his wonderful narrative style.

Given that it is that time of the year when Hollywood Action Blockbusters hit movie screens, and our adrenaline levels are at their highest, there is no time like summer to pick up this book and devour it to satiate our energy levels. Or look at it this way, this book serves to keep our energy levels high despite the best efforts of the searing heat to keep them low.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

The Emperor’s Riddles – Satyarth Nayak – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: More terrifying than the savage murder of historian Ram Mathur on the ghats of Ganga, are the questions that follow. Desperate for answers, Sia turns to esoteric writer & friend Om Patnaik. But what begins as a hunt for the killer, becomes an extraordinary trail of riddles strewn across the country that must end at the gates of an enigma.

An ancient enigma so powerful that even gods would kill for it!!!

In another time and space, rules an Emperor who plays with phenomenal forces that make him supreme…who faces these very forces when they threaten the survival of the human race. An Emperor who must ultimately pay homage to the enigma…

As Patnaik and Sia race from one riddle to another, towards a royal secret that has remained alive for centuries….will the final truth, save them or destroy them forever?

The path beckons. Can you solve The Emperor’s Riddles?


While the blurb of the book piqued my interest in reading it quite a bit I must confess that I wasn’t quite prepared for how interesting the book actually is and how obsessed I would get in finishing it. Travails of being a book lover, I guess. That being said, I have to admit this has to be among the better books I have read in recent times in terms of how the plot is constructed, the pace at which it unfolds and ultimately how it all ends up.

As the blurb states what starts off as a murder mystery soon metamorphoses into a treasure hunt (which seems like a ‘wild goose hunt’ at times to both the principal characters Om and Sia). As they keep solving riddles one after the other and move across the length and breadth of the country, the author segues into the Emperor’s life (yes, the eponymous Emperor whose riddles they are solving) and gives readers an insight into why he designed the riddles in the first place. Do Om and Sia succeed in their quest, what they gain at the end of it, what they lose at the end of their journey, these questions form the crux of the climax.

The one grouse, if I can call it that, would be the somewhat dragged out ending, especially the last five odd pages or so. While the ending is perfectly logical and all loose ends are tied up, somehow it seemed a little contrived to me, especially given the clarity with which the rest of the plot unraveled itself. However, it is not so bad that I would dissuade you from reading the book, in fact, I would strongly recommend the same, especially for any fans of Dan Brown and similar authors.

To me, this book would remain in my memory as one of the best books in which the plot manages to seamlessly combine fact, fiction, history, mythology and good old fashioned thrills into a coherent enjoyable story.


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

The Sandman – Lars Kepler – Book Review

Goodreads blurb
: He’s Sweden’s most prolific serial killer.

Jurek Walter is serving a life sentence. Kept in solitary confinement, he is still considered extremely dangerous by psychiatric staff.

He’ll lull you into a sense of calm.

Mikael knows him as “The Sandman”. Seven years ago, he was taken from his bed along with his sister. They are both presumed dead.

He has one target left.

When Mikael is discovered on a railway line, close to death, the hunt begins for his sister. To get to the truth, Detective Inspector Joona Linna will need to get closer than ever to the man who stripped him of a family; the man who wants Linna dead.


As the blurb above reads, the storyline of this book deals with the eponymous The Sandman who at the beginning of the book is well and safe in jail. But things drastically change for Joona Linna, the National Crime Branch detective who actually put The Sandman in jail seven years ago when one of the supposed victims of The Sandman reappears. What begins then is a cat and mouse game between Joona and The Sandman where Joona soon realizes that there is more than meets the eye.

As is the norm with the other Swedish crime thrillers that I have read, this too is quite a dark, brooding book with extremely dark and gory undertones, both in terms of the storyline itself as well as most of the characters. Almost all the characters strike us as probably just a tad too close to reality and invariably have one or more character trait which will strike fear into the hearts of the readers. The authors (yes, I said authors) of the book have done an admirable job of keeping the pace of the book quite taut despite the book running into all of almost 500 pages.

All through the book, readers will be hung on tenterhooks waiting and wondering if The Sandman will achieve what he has set out to do or will Joona Linna manage to thwart his well laid plans. And what is better is how it all ends up right at the last page of the book as well. While this book will probably not appeal to fans of the American Crime Fiction genre a-la James Patterson, Dean Koontz, etc it will surely be enjoyed by readers who like their stories and suspense to be slowly built up before exploding in a huge ball of fire right at the very end.


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Surpanakha – Hariharan Iyer – Book Review

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Goodreads blurb: Educated, young, no-nonsense bearing, able administrator-these are the equalities that won Sesha the loyalties of the people after three years of rule as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. An allegation that he was the mastermind behind the murder of 73 Kannadigas threatens to bring him down but he is miraculously saved at the 11th hour.

Even before he can relish his victory, Sesha is slapped with the charge of sexually offending a young nurse. This time around, the case is strong and his supporters are uncertain. Worse, his teenage daughter calls him ‘vile’ and walks out of the house. While Mythili, his wife promises her full support, her secretive activities-undertaken with the help of a retired cop-is cause of concern for Sesha.

Will Zarina, the human-rights activist, succeed in bringing him down? What about the insinuations of a celebrity lawyer that he is casteist and anti-minorities? When the young nurse is found dead, the case becomes even more complex. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And who is the mastermind?


What piqued my interest in this book was the fact that the storyline was based on contemporary politics in South Indian states and Tamil Nadu in particular. The protagonist being the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the overarching story being political was something that interested me quite a bit. And believe me when I say this, the author has a firm hold on the subject matter of this book and does more than a fair amount of justice to the same.

One extremely strong point about the book itself is the character development. In his own unhurried, yet crisp manner, the author fleshes out each of the principal characters, their back stories, their motivations and their current state of mind. While this could have potentially reduced the book to a slow, drab affair, surprisingly these character sketches move the plot forward in this book.

One small dampener about this book is its predictability. I don’t know if it was just me or whether other readers also kind of saw the connection between the first and second halves of the book, and somehow predicted how the book would progress from its touch point at the middle.

A relatively larger dampener for me was the sheer abruptness and suddenness with which the book ended. Given all that was happening at that point in time, the proceedings come to a sudden end. And the choice of the main antagonist’s motivations also didn’t quite work for me at all. It was a little too unbelievable and fantastic for me to digest, more so given that the rest of the book is fairly grounded in reality throughout the proceedings.

All of the above being said, this book is a sure shot read for anybody who is interested in contemporary politics and are fans of well thought out and well executed books.


This review has been written for the b00kr3vi3w tours Book Tour for this book. However, the views expressed above are completely honest and unbiased.



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