The Karachi Deception – Shatrujeet Nath – Book Review


TheKarachiDeception

Goodreads blurb: Project Abhimanyu — an audacious plot hatched by the RAW and Indian Army intelligence to assassinate Mumbai’s dreaded underworld don Irshad Dilawar, who’s hiding in Pakistan and assisting the ISI in its proxy war against India.

Major Imtiaz Ahmed is picked to lead the special ops mission deep inside Pakistan — but the ISI and Dilawar are several steps ahead of the Indians. Beaten at every turn, Major Imtiaz is faced with the horrifying realization that Project Abhimanyu has been compromised… and his men are being lured into a deadly trap.

Set against the backdrop of global terrorism, Shatrujeet Nath’s debut novel is a quintessential spy thriller where nothing is what it seems — and treachery is a constant companion.

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While The Karachi Deception is the debut book of author Shatrujeet Nath, it is not the first book of his that I read. In fact I so thoroughly enjoyed The Guardians of Halahala (link to my review) that it prompted me to pick this book of his and man, was this book fun to read or what.

Having been brought up on a staple diet of Frederick Forsyth and some other really good spy thriller writers, I have been exposed to more than my fair share of books in this genre. Add to this the fact that I absolutely enjoy watching movies as well in the spy action thriller genre meant that I have had more than my fair share of exposure to stories and plots in this genre. And believe me when I say this The Karachi Deception can easily be put alongside some of the all-time great books of this genre and can easily stand its ground when compared with them as well.

As the blurb reads, the narrative itself deals with Project Abhimanyu, an operation involving three Indian commandos deep inside Pakistan who find themselves being outsmarted, outwitted and in general failing at every step of their mission. The reasons for their failures, their subsequent Plan B (and even Plan C), the frenetic working-behind-the-scenes at the Project HQ back in India and the final confrontation, all of these make up for a true blue page turner, blockbuster of a book.

Given that the setting is so close to home, the protagonist based on a famous gangster that most of us are aware of, and the overarching plot involving global terrorism in our own neighborhood, it was a no-brainer that I would go on to enjoy the book. And the fact that the author has managed to weave a thoroughly researched, well-paced, and wonderfully written book using all of the above elements meant that this is one book that was a breezy read. Here’s hoping that the author manages to pull out some time from his Vikramaditya trilogy of books and churns out a few more in this genre, as this book clearly proves that he truly has the flair to write some really good books in this genre as well.

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

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


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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.

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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].

The Bestseller She Wrote – Ravi Subramanian – Book Review


TheBestsellerSheWroteGoodreads blurb: He was a bestseller… She wanted him to make her one.

Paperback king, Aditya Kapoor’s life is straight out of a modern man’s fantasy. His literary stardom is perfectly balanced by a loving wife and a spectacular career. With everything he touches turning to gold, Aditya is on a winning streak.

Shreya Kaushik is a student with a heart full of ambition. Young, beautiful, and reckless, Shreya speaks her mind and obsessively chases after what she wants. And what she wants is to be a bestselling author.

What happens when their worlds collide? Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Can real ambition come in the way of blind passion? Can trust once broken, be regained?

Master storyteller Ravi Subramanian, delves into the glitzy world of bestsellers and uncovers a risky dalliance between a superstar novelist and his alluring protégé.

The Bestseller She Wrote is a combustible cocktail of love, betrayal and redemption.

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Despite the fact that I am a fan of Ravi Subramanian’s work I did not pick up a copy of his latest book, The Bestseller she wrote primarily because of the genre that it was slotted into, the romantic novel genre. But then some reviews and then a gentle nudge from Blogadda.com meant that a review copy of this book landed on my desk and I had no option but to read and review it. And to belie all my expectations from it, this book is the author at his best, albeit in a genre that is completely new to him, the romantic thriller genre.

As the blurb states, Aditya Kapoor is a bestselling author who has everything going well for him. His books are bestsellers, he has an enviable career in banking, he is happily married and he has the proverbial Midas touch. However, all of this changes when he comes in contact with outspoken, ambitious Shreya Kaushik whose primary ambition in life is to become a bestselling author herself.

Shreya’s entry into Aditya’s life opens up a Medusa’s Box full of surprises and unanticipated twists and turns. What begins as an attempt at harmless flirting on both their parts soon leads down a path of no return for both of them. Pretty soon Aditya finds himself in quite a soup, both professionally and personally. His protégé Shreya soon ends up becoming more than just that and at the same time he has more than a little love left for his wife of fifteen years Maya as well. Where this path leads Aditya, Shreya and Maya down is what forms the crux of this novel.

As is the norm with all his books the author paces this narrative as well wonderfully well and it is quite unputdownable. Anything less from Ravi Subramanian would have been unacceptable. And true to his form, the pages of this book also pretty much turn themselves.

One part of the book that I found particularly interesting though is the attention that the author has paid to the one friend who has always had to live in his illustrious friend’s shadows. Like the moon which has always had to rely on the sun’s brilliance and luster for its own light and beauty, this book too has a similar character. I have always been somewhat interested in these personalities, the Robin to the Batman, the Kato to the Green Hornet, the Alfred to the Bruce Wayne, the Hanuman to the Rama, the Balarama to the Krishna, and so on. Without giving away any spoilers here, I would encourage prospective readers of this book to pay attention to a similar character in this book as well.

The ending itself is quite a cracker, and it is here that Ravi Subramanian truly outshines himself in this book. How he manages to bring proceedings to a logical closure without giving away any slack speaks volumes for how well he has mastered the craft of penning a thriller novel.

In a nutshell, do read this book if you are already a fan of Ravi Subramanian or of the romantic thriller genre.

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

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I am reviewing The Bestseller She Wrote by Ravi Subramanian as part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

The House that BJ built – Anuja Chauhan – Book Review


TheHouseThatBJBuiltGoodreads blurb: I’ll make my sisters squirm like well-salted earthworms. I won’t sell. Even my jutti wont sell. And if I die na, then even my gosht won’t sell!

The late Binodini Thakur had been very clear that she would never agree to sell her hissa in her Bauji’s big old house on Hailey Road. And her daughter Bonu, is determined to honor her mother’s wishes.

But what to do about her four pushy aunts who are insisting she sell? One is bald and stingy, one is jobless and manless, one needs the money to ‘save the nation’ and one is stepmother to Bonu’s childhood crush-brilliant young Bollywood director Samar Vir Singh, who promised BJ upon his deathbed that he would get the house sold, divvy the money equally and end all the bickering within the family.

The first word baby Bonu ever spoke was ‘Balls’ and indeed, she is ballsy, bullshit-intolerant, brave and beautiful. But is she strong enough to weather emotional blackmail by the spadefull? Not to mention shady builders, wily politicians, spies, lies and the knee-buckling hotness of Samar’s intense eyes? Sharply observed and pulse-quickeningly romantic, this is Anuja Chauhan writing at her sparkling best!

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If I had to describe The House that BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan in one word, it would be “juicy”; yes, you read it right, juicy would be the word that would best encompass all the characters, situations and emotions this book deals with. Writing with the panache of a mega serial / Bollywood screenwriter and the humor that probably is inherently Anuja Chauhan all the way, this book for sure is a must-read for anybody who has already read her earlier work and are fans of hers. As for me, given that this was the first book of hers that I have read, I am making a beeline to get my hands on the rest of her work and devour them with as much gusto as I did this one, if not more.

As the blurb states, the main narrative of this book revolves around the house that ‘The Pricey Thakur Girls’ have inherited from their father BJ. Actually make that four sisters and one common niece who have inherited the property and are now sitting on a potential truckload of money given that a builder now wants to purchase the property for quite an astronomical sum of money. However, things are not quite as straightforward as they seem, and BJ’s brother seems hell bent on making the lives of the sisters miserable with diabolical plans of his own. Do the sisters manage to sell the house and get their money forms the main spine of the narrative around which the more interesting and juicy (I am using this word quite a bit now, ain’t I?) bits of the story are woven around.

Throw in some interesting childhood politics between all the sisters, a sizzling romance between the niece and her step cousin, a movie being made by the said step cousin which is based on BJ’s story, yet another sizzling childhood crush between one of the sisters and the builder, and lo and behold, you have all the ingredients of this potboiler of a book. Suffice to say that the author doesn’t let the pace slow down even for a bit and has enough action happening with all the principal characters (who are ‘characters’ in every sense of the word) throughout the 400 pages of the book.

With enough twists and turns built into the narrative, Anuja Chauhan would make even seasoned screenwriters squirm in shame with the expertise with which each and every one of these twists and turns add more ‘masala’ to the narrative. She knows what works, and more importantly, she know when they work well, and that to me, is where she scores really high when it comes to this book. As I said earlier, I surely am going to grab the rest of her work and surely enjoy them as much as I did this one.

So what are you waiting for? Go grab the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

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

Mandate: Will of the People – Vir Sanghvi – Book Review


MandateGoodreads blurb: This is the first easy-to-read book about recent Indian political history. Pegged on the general elections that shaped today’s India, Mandate: Will of the People tells the story of Indian politics in a gripping, page-turning style.

Vir Sanghvi, the well-known journalist and TV anchor, draws on his personal experiences and memories as well as scores of interviews to piece together an incisive and candid account of what went on behind the scenes. Peppered with little-known details and insider information, this book tells the stories behind the story and brings alive the men and women behind the headlines.

Mandate: Will of the People contains the real story of the declaration of the Emergency, the rise and fall of Sanjay Gandhi, the Punjab insurgencies, the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the bloody riots that followed her death. It tracks the emergence of Rajiv Gandhi and explains the Bofors scandal that contributed to his defeat.

Many of the questions that linger over Indian politics are answered here: how did Narasimha Rao become Prime Minister? Why did he liberalise the economy? What was the Ram Mandir agitation really about? Why didn’t Sonia Gandhi agree to be PM? And how did Manmohan Singh’s weakness clear the way for Narendra Modi.

If you have to read one book about Indian politics – then this is it.

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Given that I was born in 1980 and was too young to remember Indira Gandhi before she was assassinated, the earliest Prime Minister of India that I remember was the handsome Rajiv Gandhi. And as I grew older and coalition politics took over the country and its polity, I was so disillusioned with the whole concept of politics and politicians that I didn’t quite pay much attention to it at all as a teenager. But then I grew older and soon realized that despite their antics to the contrary, these politicians, their decisions, their personalities and actions had more than a direct impact on my regular ordinary life.

And it is in this context that reading Vir Sanghvi’s Mandate: Will Of The People makes immense sense for all of us Indians. Taking a fairly balanced and unbiased view of the history of Indian politics since 1971 till the 2014 General Elections, the author takes us on a journey of recollections (most of the time his own, as he has interacted with almost all of the Prime Ministers mentioned, in his capacity as a journalist) and tries to analyze each of them, their actions, the circumstances that voted them in to and out of power and the impact they had on India as a whole.

In the beginning of the book, he makes a very valid point when he states that the impact of leaders and their actions will probably not immediately be felt but will take some time to be fully understood and appreciated (and in some cases criticized as well). And it is with this context and with the benefit of hindsight that Vir Sanghvi approaches each of these leaders and their actions as Prime Ministers of India.

All in all, this book makes for some really interesting reading, and what’s better is the fact that it is not too heavily loaded for or against one politician or ideology but takes a clearly unbiased view as far as possible. And given that it is quite a small book means that all of us can easily pull out some time from our busy schedules to read and learn from our past. Because remember, history has a nasty habit of repeating itself, albeit in different hues, and the onus is on us to learn from it and not repeat our mistakes from the past.

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

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher in return for a honest and unbiased review.