Thursday, October 23, 2014

God is a Gamer– Book Review

Book: God is a Gamer
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Number of Pages: 310

‘God is a gamer’ is a book by Ravi Subramanian, who is one among the new generation of Indian authors.  Ravi Subramanian is a banker by profession and has written popular thrillers that are based in the banking world. I enjoyed reading his book ‘Bankster’ a couple of years ago and was really excited to read ‘God is a Gamer’ which has been marketed as the world’s first novel on Bitcoins.

The story starts with the assassination of a politician in USA.  This is immediately followed by a Phishing scam where the customers of a reputed International bank in India start losing money. Consequently, the company that manages the card operations for the bank is also in trouble. Back in the US, 5 million dollars are stolen in 2 days from 520 ATMs in New York in an ATM heist. Meanwhile in India, a powerful woman who is the ex-CEO of the bank is murdered.  In the midst of all this, there is a love story and some snippets on the personal lives of all the characters involved.

Ravi Subramanian does a great job connecting all these various sub-plots in the story through the different characters.  The story also moves at a quick pace with the scenes shifting from US to India and vice-versa across the different chapters. This is precisely the reason why the book is unputdownable and can be finished in 1-3 readings. Coming from the banking industry, Ravi also explains the technical details of the banking industry in a language that is understood by a layman.

The best part of the story is the fact it is based on the latest happenings in the technology, internet, social media space like Bitcoins, Facebook, Gaming Apps etc. This gives a very real world connect to the book. The fictional part is brilliantly integrated into all these things. This is where Ravi Subramanian hits the bull’s eye. I mean which youngster wouldn’t be interested when you talk of Facebook, Zynga and Gaming apps and then add the murder/heist/thriller layer on top it.

The other aspect of the movie is that there is no clear protagonist who calls the shots and drives the story. This makes the plot interesting which is very essential for a thriller. I wish Bollywood take a look at this book and have someone direct a movie based on it.

The only flip side of the book I thought was the ending. It is s a bit of let down which gets a tad predictable. I would have preferred the last 10 pages to be something else. But perhaps it is the element in these 10 pages which make the movie ideal for a Bollywood potboiler – Revenge!

On the whole, it’s a very good read. It is also interesting to read books that are based on an industry (Banking in this case) rather on mere personal lives or love stories.  Kudos to Ravi Subramanian for doing that on a consistent basis through his books based on Banking. This is a must read for the Ravi Subramanian fans and a decent read for the rest.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Missing ( Part 4)

Part 1

Team of Writers - Tete-a-Ten

Kalvani Bakery, Juhu, Mumbai – 20:00

Cyrus Daruwalla was lost in his thoughts sitting outside the Kalvani Bakery in Juhu.  With a beard on his chin, extremely fair complexion, thick framed specs and loose Kurtas he looked like a script writer looking for ideas for his new movie. Cyrus however was a law student from Delhi. He had come to Mumbai for his friend’s wedding.

He didn’t like the Mumbai weather. He preferred the Delhi heat over this humidity which really drove him crazy. He had decided years ago that he would avoid visiting the city in the future. But then he had to be there that day.

It wasn’t his friend’s wedding. He had a bigger, more important reason to be in Mumbai that day. None of his friends knew about it. He didn’t want to tell anyone since it wouldn’t help his cause. It was time for him to handle it all by himself. He was quite worried about it. He knew this would his last chance. It was Now or Never for him.  He didn’t know whether this was the right thing to do at this point of time, but he really had no option. 

“Cool down! Cyrus! It will be fine. You will get it right.  This shouldn’t be a problem for a six feet hunk like you”, he told himself. 

Cyrus got up and started walking towards the ice-cream trolley that was parked at the corner of the lane. 

Once he was near it, he reached for his wallet and asked for a Chocolate ice-cream cone.  He gave the cone to the nine year old girl who was with him.

A visiting card had slipped out and floated to the ground when Cyrus opened his wallet. It lay there behind a discarded ice-cream cup.

There was something handwritten on the other side of the visiting card.
It read ‘Mission Roohi – Do it Today .

Ramada Hotel, Juhu, Mumbai – 20:15 

Meanwhile, the picture that she clicked disturbed Jennifer very much. What was the tall guy planning?  Was there some kind of drug in the ice-cream that Roohi was having? The tall guy with curly hair was like the cool dude you see in the movies and ads. But then that was no reason to believe that he had noble intentions and that he wouldn't harm the girl.

She wondered if the tall guy was Roohi’s relative or a family friend. But if he was, her parents would immediately contact him. So Roohi’s parents definitely didn’t know this guy. She closely examined the photo  again.There was no trace of fear on Roohi’s face.  A kid would only be happy when a stranger offered her an ice-cream.  May be the tall guy was trying to keep her happy so that she didn’t create a nuisance before he took her away to a lonely spot.

May be the tall guy wasn’t alone. May be he was just assisting someone kidnap the girl. Given his good looks, he might have been hired by some goons to kidnap the girl and hand her over to them. Jennifer’s mind was jammed with all these thoughts when she realized that was losing time by pondering about all this. She had to reach Roohi’s parents.

She immediately opened the Facebook page, saw the number in the post and tried calling Tara. Out of coverage area was the response that she had got. She immediately tried messaging Tara on Facebook but couldn’t as she wasn’t her friend. She sent a friend request. She felt that it wasn’t a good idea to post the information that she had on a public forum.

The Dutta’s Residence, Mumbai 20:00

Tara was quite irritated with the responses that she got on Facebook. She was looking for information out there and not sympathy messages. She wondered how she reacted when she saw such messages. She would always dismiss them as useless content that spammed her wall. She now prayed that others don't do that with her post and instead gave her some information about her missing daughter.

Shekhar was calm thinking of the various places where his daughter could go. He had taught Roohi to assess strangers and watch out for certain signs. More importantly, he had taught her to trust her instincts. May be a child's instincts could be swayed. Could this have acted against her right now? He hoped and prayed that she would have the presence of mind to cry out and and alert passersby if she really was kidnapped.  He closed his eyes and told himself that worrying about Roohi wouldn’t help him or Tara. He was going to stay positive and find a way out.

There were a few messages where the people who claimed to have seen a girl but ended up providing irrelevant information when she called them. Tara noticed a new comment that provided some irrelevant information. This really irked Tara.

“Facebook is bull shit. How can someone from Bangalore contact us without even reading the complete information that Roohi is lost in Mumbai? “ she shouted at Shekhar.

“Tara, we don’t have a choice. Do we? We cannot ignore any message just because we got 10 irrelevant calls. There might be someone who might actually spot Roohi and contact us” said Shekhar trying to pacify Tara and making sure that they left no stone unturned to find Roohi.

“I don’t think so. We are in a panic mode out here and this seems to be some kind of entertainment to all these fools on Facebook," replied Tara switching off her mobile data connection that was draining her battery.

Read the next part of 'Missing' here.

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Private India - Book Review

Book: Private India
Author: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Number of Pages: 470

Private India is the latest book by Ashwin Sanghi. He joins hands with James Patterson, a well known international author in his latest book.  I was looking forward to read this book having thoroughly enjoyed reading Ashwin Sanghi’s earlier book - ‘Chanakya’s Chant’. After having completed reading the book, I have to say that the book is a good read.

Private India is about a series of seemingly unrelated murders that happen in Mumbai.  Private India is the international investigation agency that takes up the assignment of tracing the criminal responsible for these murders. Lead by Santosh Wagh, the head of Private India, the team earnestly goes about the investigation process to discover that that there is a bigger danger that is about to hit them. How the team manages to foil the antagonist’s attempts to do this takes us to the end of this interesting case.

The story is narrated at a fast pace with backgrounds of different characters in the story being unveiled at different junctures.  Each of these personal backgrounds is connected to the main plot to establish why a particular character is behaving in a particular manner. It is interesting to note that each of the characters is portrayed in grey as it happens in real life rather in absolute black and white.

At one point in the novel, the criminal’s rational for killing the victim’s bear some resemblance with the 1995 David Fincher American thriller film ‘Seven’. However as one goes further in the story, it is revealed that the killer’s motive are personal unlike the killer in Seven who kills his victims based on the seven deadly sins.  

With the setting in Mumbai,   the story is quite Indian and at times Bollywood like in terms of ending and storytelling. The story sticks to the Bollywood style of holding terrorist organizations in Pakistan responsible for creating panic in India. In a way it is apt that the characters especially the antagonist in the story motivated by personal vengeance like in a Bollywood movie.  May be the ending could have been different instead of the protagonist bashing all the goons and doing the rescue act like we have witnessed in a zillion regional/Bollywood movies before.

I was slightly disappointed with the book having read Ashwin Sanghi’s ‘Chanakya’s Chant’ where the Indian cultural/historical angle in the story was weaved quite well.  In this book, there are times where the cultural connect with Goddess Durga to each of the murders appearing out of place in the given context. Also one is left to wonder if the there is a foreign guy in the story just because there is a foreign author working on the story. Is there really a need for one in the plot? The story could have adopted a more Indian approach or a completely global approach.

The book  however does a decent job in terms of holding the reader’s interest, the book . I enjoyed reading it  and it kept me engrossed all through. You might want to grab a copy of it if you are interested in thrillers and murder mysteries.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Deliberate Sinner - Book review

The Deliberate Sinner – Book Review
Book:  The Deliberate Sinner
Author: Bhaavna Arora
Number of Pages: 148

The Deliberate Sinner is the story of Rihana, an adventurous and free spirited girl who marries Veer, an eligible bachelor from a wealthy family. Almost immediately after accepting Veer’s proposal, Rihana starts fearing that Veer and she are very different individuals whose needs and priorities in life are strikingly dissimilar.

Bowing to the family and societal pressures, she goes ahead and marries Veer. However, she soon finds the going tough with Veer after marriage and realizes that he is insensitive to her physical and emotional needs. Unable to find any happiness in her marriage, Rihana now decides to walk out of her marriage and divorce Veer. How she manages to find freedom fighting the pressure from her family and society and ends up being The Deliberate Sinner forms the rest of the story.

The book is an easy read like most of the books by the new generation Indian writers. Although, the modern Indian woman is changing with times, she still has to mold her life according to what her family or her husband decides. The author Bhaavna Arora connects to the modern Indian woman by placing her protagonist Rihana in exactly the same situation – where she wants to live a life of her choice but is burdened by the worries of her mother and demands of her husband.

The author is successful in terms of expressing the conflict that Rihana goes through trying to be the good traditional married wife and still fulfilling her physical and emotional needs. Thankfully, Rihana chooses what is important for her rather than sticking with her husband and doing what her family and society wanted her to do.

As a reader, I found it surprising that a rich, adventurous and a free spirited girl like Rihana turned very accommodating and adjusting by nature once she got married.  When I pondered over it, I felt that the same thing happens in the outside world in our country where a girl who lives the life of princess before marriage is often forced to conform to the norms of the society and the requirements of her husband and family. The author does a good job conveying this message through her story.

I was not too sure if the book should have been titled ‘The Deliberate Sinner’.  In order to find her freedom keeping her family and mother happy, Rihana ends up planning an escape route and call herself the ‘Deliberate Sinner’.  What Rihana did was the best thing to get out of the mess she is in and this act can’t be a sin. At least, she shouldn't be calling it a sin. There would have been some guilt when Rihana did what she did to be a free bird, but calling herself a Sinner even a deliberate the book ends  on a negative note. 

The fact that book is titled with the same name puts the protagonist in a more negative shade than what she deserves. May be this is why the author has a message on the first page which says ‘Hate the Sin Not the Sinner’. Unfortunately, this is the feeling of guilt that an Indian woman has to go through in such a situation and maybe that’s the reason for the title.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!