Deal of Death by Sonia Chatterjee: Book Review

Title: Deal of Death

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Detective

Deal of Death is an exciting mystery with a an intricate plot and an unconventional detective solving this whodunit.

Review

Raya Ray resigns from her hi flying marketing job when she encounters a personal tragedy. Moving cities and changing occupations, she starts her own detective agency. Battling the ennui of mundane cases of cheating spouses and missing pets, she decides to step out of Kolkata to help her housemaid’s sister who lives in faraway Munshiganj.

For Raya, it starts as a case to trace a missing newborn from a hospital but leads to being a labyrinth of lies and deceit that goes back generations. Evil thrives in this seemingly simple town and by the time Raya is close to solving the case, she discovers that things are not as they seem and people are not who they pretend to be.

What works well

This is exciting detective fiction, fast paced and well plotted with a refreshingly different setting and a well etched out protagonist.

Raya Ray, the corporate hi flier turned detective, battling her grief, concerned with body issues, helpful, trusting, deducing, relying on observation and instinct, is the well sketched protagonist that gets the reader attention and loyalty.

The setting is the quaint Munshiganj on the banks of the river Annapurna and a twin ghat of Diwanganj. It looks like a peaceful, sleepy town but there is plenty of royal intrigue woven into the town’s history. There is also the curious temple and the mosque flanking the sides of the Nawab’s tomb. The photos included in the book bring alive the place for the reader.

The plot is intricate. Like any mystery, there is a crime and there are unexpected perpetrators, yet the backstory and how events came to pass is novel.

This is an impressive debut book and the author, Sonia Chatterjee finished writing it in a record six days.

On the other hand

The protagonist is well etched out but sometimes she is plain lucky. She gets a lot of information too easily and too fast. Also, Raya seems to know too many things without a real knowledge of the events themselves.

The plot is well built but the execution seems rushed. Towards the end there is a lot of information, which also keeps shifting because of the different povs.

There are too many characters towards the end of the book. It would help if these characters are introduced early on.

Some things need to be figured out clearly in the plot. The events and incidents are sometimes not believable.

A few characters are sketchy. Adding physical characteristics would help a little bit of context and relatability.

Chapter length does not seen uniform, which is a little jarring. Some chapters are very short, just a few paragraphs and they seem hurriedly done just to give information to the reader. The formatting needs to be looked into. Some chapters don’t even start from a different page. The chapter names too seem a little random. There are days 1-4 and then we move on to day 8.

Some scenes would flow better if there is more of description and ‘showing’ the reader rather than ‘telling’.

Also, giving meanings of words, like jhalmuri, tonga in brackets affects the flow of the story. It would help if they are put as footnotes.

About the Author

An ex-banker and a self- confessed bibliophile, Sonia inherited her love of the written word from her Professor father. As a tribute to her late mother and a gift to her son on his second birthday, Sonia started blogging from September 2017. Married to a Doctor, Sonia is crazy about four things in life – books, food, travel and her uber-cute toddler. She currently works hard to realize her dream of becoming a best-selling author while secretly wishing harder for twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Her work can be found at soniasmusings.com. She blogs about food, travel, movies, parenting, personal journeys and social issues.

Verdict

A fast paced detective story with an endearing MC and an intriguing setting. This debut book hits the right notes in the crime fiction.

Download the book here.

Advertisements

Peiskos by Reema D’souza: Book Review

Title: Peiskos

Author: Reema D’souza

Genre: Non fiction

The book Peiskos is a collection of unusual and beautiful words with little stories woven around each word. These stories bring out the beauty of each experience that the word evokes.

Review

There are so many words that bundle together fleeting emotions to make up an experience that is difficult to express in just one word. The words in the book hold a wealth of meaning, they present a bunch of emotions that stir in a person when he encounters a thing or a situation.

The title of the book is one such word. Peiskos means the feeling one has sitting in front of a fireplace enjoying the warmth. It is not the mere warmth but also a feeling of contentment that one gets.

There are 26 such lovely words in the book. It is not enough to give their meaning in one word, phrase or sentence. So Reema has gone ahead and written little tales that bring out the meanings and the emotions so well.

What works well

It is a very diverse collection of words that showcases emotions like love, wistfulness, confusion, exhilaration so that the reader gets a well rounded reading experience.

The origins of the words are given too. There are words that have origins as diverse as Latin, Greek, Spanish, Japanese, French, Filipino, Welsh, German and Scottish. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few words from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It just shows how fluid our languages are, in taking words of different provenance and making them our own.

There were a few that found resonance with me. Gigil is the irrestible urge to hug someone because you love them. Jouska is a hypothetical conversation that you play out compulsively in your head. Latibule is a place of safety and comfort and reminded me of childhood hiding places. Hiraeth, Opis, Retrovailles were other words that intrigued me.

On the other hand

The stories that accompany the words feel a little vague. Some are like a ramble of a person. Sometimes the gender of the person is not clear and sometimes the difficulty in situations is only hinted at. More detail in these stories would definitely help for them to stick in the reader’s mind. It would also have helped if there were different voices for the stories or at least a different setting.

About the Author

Reema D’souza is an Indian blogger and poet. An engineer by day, but when the sun sets to make way for the night, she writes. Writing poetry and fiction give her the much needed escape from reality. Most of
her writing is inspired by nature and life experiences.
While she’s not writing, she prefers to read. Music is another of her interests.

Verdict

If you like collecting words that are not part of an average person’s vocabulary and are drawn to complex emotions, then this book is for you.

Read it for nostalgia and exquisite emotions.

Download the book here.

Eighty Hours To Save Karen by Sitharaam Jayakumar: Book Review

Title: Eighty Hours to Save Karen

Author: Sitharaam Jayakumar

Genre: Crime fiction, Thriller

Eighty Hours to Save Karen is a racy, engaging thriller that keeps the reader hooked and spooked till the last page.

Review

Retired Air Commodore, Matthew Williams lives in a remote hill village with his only surviving family member, his little granddaughter, Karen. When Karen is struck by a mysterious ailment under very suspicious circumstances, Matthew takes it upon himself to get to the root of her problem. It seems that there are forces beyond the natural that have a hand in unfortunate incidents; not only Karen’s illness but also a doctor’s death.

What works well

The title of the story sets the tone of urgency for the reader. The cover art is very apt for the book.

The characters are very well etched and are brought to life by an extensive backstory and an impressive attention to detail. The protagonist, the mature war veteran-turned-detective to save his granddaughter is very convincing.

The plotline is very credible and the setting of the little village is created well.

There is a good balance between the backstory and the action in the present so that the pacing stays fast. The tight narration ensures that the reader can finish the book in a single sitting.

The spook factor is high; there are plenty of thrilling moments sprinkled in the book. There are blood covered mysterious objects, cats tapping on windows in the middle of the night, unexplained accidents and many more. Yet, there is no morbid blood and gore.

On the other hand…

I kept waiting to understand the relevance of the no. of hours mentioned in the title to the book. It was only when the book was over that I realised that it probably refered to the entire timeline of the book.

I also could not get a clear picture of Karen from the book. It would have been good if her age and appearance had been mentioned so that she could be brought ‘alive’ in the reader’s mind.

I really enjoyed the traveling of the MC from the village to the state capital Shimla and then to Mumbai. But it rankled that a remote village in Himachal had shopkeepers selling ice, where it is probably cold the year round. Also, a retired Inspector living in a villa in Mumbai sounded far fetched.

The story moved very well but somehow I felt that Matthew held the cards too close to his chest. The case was cracked through his research on the internet. I wished the part about scientific research and cult leaders was expanded further for the story to have more nuances.

About the Author

Sitharaam Jayakumar is an Information Technology professional. He is a passionate reader of books on both fiction and non-fiction. He takes a keen interest in sports, especially cricket and tennis. In addition, he is also interested in politics and music. He loves to write about anything that catches his fancy in everyday life. His repertoire includes articles on social issues, crime, women’s empowerment, fiction and several other topics. He is a
published poet.

Verdict

Pick this fast paced crime thriller that turns spooky and psychological in turns. Very entertaining.

Download the book here.

How I Wrote my Comic Book by Priyanka Vermani: Book Review

Title: How I Wrote My Comic Book: The Journey

Author: Priyanka Vermani

Genre: Memoir

How I Wrote My Comic Book is as bookish as can be. It is a book about the creation of a comic book- the fulfilment of a long cherished dream and the culmination of an often arduous journey.

Review

Priyanka, the new Mom, has a dream. She wants to create a book that serves as a guiding light and legacy for her one year old daughter, Samaira. And thus starts the journey of creating a graphic novel or a comic book, with limited resources but with limitless imagination and creativity.

This book is a chronicle of all the stages of creating the book, right from the conceptualisation to the finished book.

It is an exhilarating read for creative people, for designers, for artists dabbling in the visual arts and for writers. Each chapter is a gem, touching on one or the other part of the book’s creation process.

What works well

The cover art is lovely. Much work has gone into designing it to showcase what the book is all about. In fact, an entire chapter has been dedicated to how it came together.

The format is well suited to the story of a comic book. The colour scheme and the fonts were a definite change as were the two column format.

There is also a lot of learning if you are into writing. The chapters talk in detail about the conceptualisation, about the innumerable rounds of editing, about the challenges of collaboration, about the hurdles and the self doubts. There is plenty of encouragement too, from the little victories, the undying commitment and the unconventional way Priyanka sets out to achieve her dream.

On the other hand…

I did wish that more care had been taken in proofreading this book because there are many references to the A to Z challenge. Also, a couple of chapters were a little out of sync with the rest of the book like the mother in law’s illness.

About the Author

A Content Marketer with a creative streak, Priyanka has written content for corporate films and many kids learning applications. Based on her experience of her stay in London, she has authored a comic book – ‘Samaria and the Gang in London.’

Verdict

How I Wrote My Comic Book is a behind-the-scenes book about a creative process. Read it for the vicarious pleasure of being part of this journey.

Download this book here.

The Contemplation of a Joker by Manas Mukul: Book Review

Title: The Contemplation of a Joker

Author: Manas Mukul

Genre: Short Stories

The Contemplation of a Joker is a collection of 12 tales, with the overarching theme of love and loss. It touches on the various facets in relationships, about the coming together and the moving apart.

Review

The book starts off well with ‘Made for Each Other‘, a story that spans an entire lifetime. There is a deep pathos in love. I could also relate very well to the cultural background of this one and it stayed my favourite through the reading.

Most precious gift of God‘ is a lovely little tale of sibling love. There are others that are impressive, ‘Somebody that I Used to Know, ‘The Shortest Story of my Life‘ and ‘The Absence of her Fragrance‘, among others.

There are stories which have more rounded characters, ‘The First 100 kisses‘ and ‘With Love, from Russia‘.

The writing style of the book is very good. The language is easy to understand; it is colloquial and contemporary which gives the book a kind of lightness and relatability.

Most characters are drawn well, are likeable and the reader can root for them.

The stories are written with a lot of passion and emotion. There is much detail which draws the reader in.

However, I found a sameness in the theme, throughout the book. Also, the stories seem like the retelling of incidents. In many places, they feel half finished, with either the beginning or the middle missing.

The cover art is good, colourful, drawing the reader’s attention and the style elements put it into sync with the title. But the book fails to come up to the explanation of the word ‘Joker’ in the title.

About the Author

Mukul always liked stories but he loves telling them even more. He believes things are better said than kept behind curtains; that emotions are meaningful with expressions, and
so are thoughts which are of no use till they have words to support them.

You can connect with him on his blog-The Contemplation of a Joker.

You can write to him at mukul.manas@gmail.com

Social media links:

Twitter: @manasmukul
Instagram
Facebook

Verdict

Love stories with a twist. For the ones who have loved deeply and the ones who dream of a deep love.

Download the book for free(for a limited period) from the Blogchatter website.

Rains

Rains are always welcome after the scorching hot Indian summers. Usually, a fair amount of praying to the rain Gods is done. The first showers, called the premonsoonal showers bring much rejoicing.

When I moved to this city last year, my greatest excitement was that I was going to be near water. There are so many beaches here and I could live out my fantasy of spending hours near crashing waves, looking at the endless expanse of water.

The apartment we chose to live in was near a small lake, nearly a pond in dimension but to me it was the most magnificent water body I had ever seen. I could see the lake from the windows of my rooms. I would look at the changing colors of the water as the morning progressed. Most evenings were spent admiring the sunset and the shimmering water of the lake.

The Happier Times

And then, this summer they drained the lake. A lot of effluents were flowing into the water, the area around was smelling rotten, the mosquitoes bred faster. So, the water was drained and all that remained of a shimmering water body was dried up baked earth. It looked sad and I feverently prayed for rains.

Soon, the lake bed looked quite busy. Many people climbed down and measured something or the other. Earth moving equipment was used, some sort of digging was going on. When I asked the locals what was happening, I was told that the lake was being deepened so that the Ganapati Visarjan this year could be easier.

The Diggers

Hail the Lord! I think in Mumbai, everything revolves around the Elephant God. Now I can barely wait for the 10 day long Ganapati festival.

The rains are nearly here, we have had the refreshing first few showers and water is filling up the lake slowly.

Hope

The Life Lived by Preeti Negi: Book Review

Title: The Life Lived… Memories of an Ordinary

Author: Preeti Negi

Genre: Memoir

The Life Lived is a lovely memoir, a collage of memories from various stages of the author’s life. The simplicity and the candid emotions are touching and the incidents are very relatable.

Review

The Life Lived is a collection of true stories from the author’s life, arranged alphabetically through A-Z. These memories range from her childhood, spanning her adolescence, young adulthood and her recent past.

The stories are very interesting; some are quite unexpected and others made me think of similar things happening to me.

I fell in love with farmhouses and secret places in Attic Raiders. Birthday on My Own showcases a child’s vulnerability. Reading of Preeti’s friends, I almost started missing my own circle. There are mentions of sibling love and rivalry. I also enjoyed reading about the festivals and the celebrations.

The places are brought alive in the book, be it her hometown or her maternal grandparents’ farmhouse or her paternal grandparents’ house in the hills. There are places that she has traveled to. I really enjoyed reading about the Kedarnath Yatra in Om Namah Shivaya.

Questions that I Never Asked made me think of all the times I have been at that kind of crossroads. I also loved the Tiny Tales of the ‘Baby Lions’. The Youngest Memories made me cast around in my own mind for mine.

What Works Well

The cover art is very good and quite suited to the content of the book.

Preeti’s writing style is very clear and she has a knack of bringing situations and incidents to life for the reader. The emotions are so candid that I felt an instant connection with her memories. There is also a thread of hilarity in many of the situations which made me enjoy reading about the incidents.

The best part is that the book is a bunch of stories, that you need not read alphabetically or in a sequence (even though I did go chronologically). Read the first few chapters and you can ease into her life, the main people and the flavour of her childhood and adolescence.

By the time I finished reading the book, I felt that I had known Preeti for a long time, such was the relatability of the book.

About the Author

Preeti Negi belongs to the beautiful state of Uttaranchal, India. Born and brought up in a small town of Uttar Pradesh, she discovered her love for books at an early age. Her love for reading enhanced her day-dreaming habit and she eventually started weaving stories in her own virtual world.

She can be found occasionally tweeting @preetispanorama or visiting her page
on Facebook. You can definitely catch her at Preeti’s Panorama.

Verdict

A collection of memories, some sweet, some tangy, making up a life lived fully. Read this well written memoir to relive your own memories.

Download The Life Lived…Memories of an Ordinary here.