Kindle Single Review: A Face in the Crowd

Dean Evers, an old widower who lives alone, spends most of his time watching baseball games on television. Then he starts seeing familiar faces from his past in the game crowd. These are people who are long gone and each of them reminds him of some guilt or regret from his past life. Things take an interesting turn when he sees himself sitting in the crowd.

To be very frank, King is an acquired taste, and not everyone enjoys or appreciates his writings. I have always been very ambivalent towards his writings. Some of his works are magnificent (like the dark tower series), others – I do not find anything great about them.

This story – it is gripping and enjoyable. Some readers may find the ending abrupt, but I liked it. The loneliness and pain of an old man living alone is presented in a heart warming way.

Although a good read, it is not a masterpiece which will sweep you off your feet.

A face in the crowd is a Kindle Single by Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan. Around 43 pages in length, King fans will find it to be an engaging read which can be completed in one lazy afternoon.

Book Review: How Parking Enforcement Stole My Soul

“…it’s the story of my journey of learning that a job is more than just a job. It affects who you are, your character” – excerpt from How Parking Enforcement Stole My Soul by Ben Friedrich

How Parking Enforcement Stole My Soul is the autobiographical story of how Ben’s life and character are affected because of his job as a parking enforcement officer – his transition from an easy-going and friendly person who was considered by mothers as an ideal companion for their homely daughters to being grumpy, sadistic and a jerk. On a broader level, it is about the stress and emotional turmoil which results from doing things in your job which your heart and soul are not in agreement with, and the impact it will have on your physical and psychological well-being.

It is an engaging and enjoyable book. The first person narrative is like having an intimate conversation with a friend over dinner or a cup of coffee. It is a frank and candid account of Ben’s experience, without any attempt to make him look heroic or good (self-glorification is one of the most common pitfalls of autobiographies – and Ben has done a good job of staying clear of it). Although, he is a good performing officer (in terms of number of tickets), he is not an ideal one. Description of his failed romances is also very real and honest – not overly melodramatic. Also, the story is sufficiently laced with humor and sarcasm which keeps it from being too emotionally laden.

By the end of the book the message is loud and clear – you life is too previous to waste on the wrong job. You may think that it is just about the hours you spend while on work. But it is much more than that. It effects you as a whole, it defines and shapes who you are. If you are in such a  situation, find an escape route. Sacrifice on material gains, if you must. Otherwise, momentary comfort may lead to life long regret.

PS: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review it

Breathtaking Trailer: Life of Pi

Life of Pi is one of the novels which I always considered “un-film-able”. I mean most of it is just a boy and a tiger in a boat with limitless sea all around. As gripping and exciting the story is (I am currently reading it for the second time and enjoying every moment of it), I was never able to imagine a movie out of it.

Over the past couple of years, there were lot of rumors around a film based on this novel, various directors (M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet) came on board and then dropped off. Each failed attempt strengthened my belief that Life of Pi is one of those great novels which will never be recreated on-screen. Yet some part of me always yearned for a movie adaptation.

When I saw this awesome trailer of the adaptation by Ang Lee, and I was overwhelmed. Slightly over two minutes, there isn’t a single dialog in the trailer, yet it conveys so much.

I think it takes a rare artistic arrogance to take up such a job. But then, this is how masterpieces are created.

This is one of my most awaited movies for 2012.

Life of Pi is a Man Booker price winning, international best-selling novel written by Yann Martel. The movie is directed by Ang Lee and releases on November 21, 2012.

Kindle Single Review: Board Room Babies

Board Room Babies is a pseudo-research study which proves that there is a lot of commonality between the behavior of babies and corporate head honchos. editorial describes it as a “wickedly delightful satire”. Satire it is and a decent one, but not at all “wickedly delightful”. There are a some extremely funny moments. Like the one where there is a graph which compares CEO’s work product with baby shit. Or the one which talks about how nonsensical things said by both babies and CEOs are considered smart and remarkable. But these are too far (even considering the length of the book) and too few. The rest of the book is plain drab and boring. Some comparisons even feel stretched – like the one which relates CEO’s hair to baby hair. Remove some of these dull portions, what remains is genuinely funny and piquant commentary on the life style of the corporate moguls.

My verdict – decent but not awesome. Good writing, could have been made better with tighter editing.

Board Room Babies is a Kindle Single written by Stanley Bing.

Kindle Single Review: Don’t Eat Cat

Quirky and unusual (which does not necessarily mean good), is how I would describe this story.

It is  a story of a man’s relationship with his girlfriend in a futuristic world where man and zombies coexist (mostly) peacefully.

The starting was good. Description of the future lifestyle was interesting, some portions were funny, but the end was a sure let down.

It am not sure what the story wanted to be: humorous? sc-fi? dystopian fiction? emotional drama? It tried being all and ended up being none.   Also, it would have been better if more time/ space would have been spent on developing the characters.

To summarize, this was not one of the better Kindle Singles I have read.

Don’t eat cat is a Kindle Single written by Jess Walter. Less than 22 pages in length, it can be easily completed in 30 mins.

Book Review: Gold by Chris Cleave

“Caring for sick children is the Olympics of parenting”  – Excerpt from Gold by Chris Cleave

I had heard a lot about Chris’s earlier novels Little Bee and Incendiary. When I saw this novel available for pre-order, I was not able to stop my self and booked it immediately.

Gold is the story of cyclists – Zoe and Kate, two dramatically distinct personalities who have been competing against each other over the last 13 years. Zoe is obsessed about winning and can go to any extent for victory. She is so consumed by her hunger for winning that there is little else left in her life. Kate, on the other hand is Keep Reading…

Kindle Single Review: Everyone’s Reading Bastard

What made me buy this one was the name of the story and the cover page. The name does not make sense at all and it compelled me find out more about the story. I had a couple of hours to spare and this 29 pager short story proved to be a perfect choice.

Its more of a slice of life story without a well defined start and ending, however the premise is very interesting. Its about a man whose ex-wife starts writing about him in a weekly column called “Bastard” (that explains the name – Everyone’s reading bastard). Its all about the trials and tribulations of this man as each week some of his most embarrassing secrets become public fodder. Funny and ironic at the same time, its the story of ones dirty linen gone viral.

Everyone’s reading bastard is a Kindle Single by bestselling author Nick Hornby.

Book Review: Wrath of the White Tigress

He thought he was a hero. She showed him the truth. Now he’ll do anything to stop the man who made him a monster.” – Excerpt from Wrath of the White Tigress by David Alastair Hayden

When I started reading this book, I did not have much expectation. The publisher and the author were not known to me, nor had I any strong recommendations regarding the book. Further, it is not the genre which I generally prefer reading. However, a few pages into the book, it felt interesting. By the time I finished it, I was pleasantly surprised.

The story is a standard redemption/revenge drama based in a fictional fantasy world called Pawan Kor. The characters, specifically the protagonist Jaska Bavadi, are interesting and well itched out. Although the basic premise is predictable, story is well written and keeps one captivated. Certain sex scenes were un-necessarily pushed into the narrative. Probably it was an attempt to play to the gallery, but I would have been better without them.

The highlight of the book for me was the fine balance which David achieved between the pace of the primary narrative and the details/back stories of the secondary characters. This is where I have seen many authors failing, specifically for stories set in unfamiliar setting and having unfamiliar characters.

If you like reading supernatural/fantasy fiction, you should try this. It may not sweep you off your feet, but still you will enjoy it.

PS: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review it

Dune: Right Time to Remake the Movie

Dune by Frank HerbertJust finished reading Dune. What an amazing book! Now I understand why it is called as “one of the greatest sc-fi novels of all times”  and an “Unparalleled Achievement of Imagination“. It was a start to end read, consuming the whole of my weekend.

The book got me interested in the movie adaptation. Upon searching, I came across David Lynch’s 1984 movie Dune. Opinions are divided about this movie. It is definitely not Lynch’s best work, with most loyal Dune fans having a negative opinion about it.  Even Lynch has sort of disowned the movie, and does not talk about it in interviews etc. It did not perform well commercially either.

I have seen portions of it on youtube and I must say that I was not impressed. Some very powerful portions of the novel are presented in quite unimpressive manner. For example, see this scene where Paul rides the sand worm for the first time. Such a waste of  a wonderful cinematic opportunity.

Also, probably the technology required to present the grand canvas of the movie was not available at that time.

In short, this one is not a worthy cinematic cousin of this great Keep Reading…

Book Review: The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes

After killing Moriarty and faking his own death in “The Adventure of the Final Problem” Sherlock Holmes goes missing for a few years. On his re-appearance in “The Adventure of the Empty House“, the readers become aware that Holmes has spent this time travelling to various places including India and Tibet. Jamyang Norbu’s novel “The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes” is about Holmes’ adventures in India and Tibet during this period. Accompanied by an Indian spy, Huree Chunder Mookerjee, (who plays a role very similar to Watson) Holmes travels to India, where he dodges a few attempts on his life from Colonel Moran. Then he travels to Tibet and saves Dalai Lama’s life.

A great premise – a book on Holmes’ missing years, that too in India. The idea itself got we salivating. This should have been a great book. And it does start well. We see the glimpse of typical Holmes in the way Keep Reading…