Month: September 2015

The Reader-Reviewer Tussle

Image source: monologuedb.com
Image source: monologuedb.com

It was in college, when at the end of my tether, that I decided I have strong opinions on books and the world should hear them, whether they liked it or not. There was just one problem – I had not read as many books as I thought I had. Sure, almost definitely more than what my peer group had, but nearly not enough to do what I had in mind – which was this: a new bookstore had opened in the town where my college is located; I decided to get a job there as “an opinion giver” or “an advice giver.” The idea, of course, was to boss people around and tell them what I thought was good for them in terms of literature. Sounded great in my head, except for some minor roadblocks, that included the fact that my lectures concluded at 4 pm, and the hostel curfew demanded I return latest by 6 pm, so that interval isn’t “productively employable.” Another roadblock – and this was a real bummer – was that: that was not a job.

No, I don’t mean it in a “get a real job” kinda way. I mean, literally, that was not a job – there was no such job description, no one was hiring, no classifieds screamed “pompous opinionated bitch wanted.” Nope, none.

I gave up on that idea, and buying more books helped me lick my wounds (not from that bookstore, of course – I had already read all of what that tiny place had to offer).

Fast forward to many years when I read a book oh-so-terrible that my anger knew no bounds. I decided to declare war – against bad literature. I re-logged in to my goodreads account after a gap of many years just because I wanted to rant about this book.

Sadly that was a bad year for me – I had made some really bad decisions and nearly every book that I read was just plain bad. This led to more goodreads rantings. Then things got weird.

Apparently, authors liked my rantings. They wanted me to rant about their books too! Which was okay, because they requested it, but later it didn’t go down too well with them. Well, it’s not my fault now, is it, that I get a little carried away with my cringyness?

And yet, all was as well as things can be – like I said, I was only picking up bad books at the time – it was some kinda curse on me – I might even add that was the year 50 Shades of Crap Grey became popular, so probably it was a bad time for literature in general. The more bad books I read, the more I fed the little Anton Ego in me, which is what I meant by “all was well.” It was fun playing a judgmental God (“judgmental God” is a little redundant, don’t you think?) for a while, but months and years had sneaked past me and I went from Not-Read-A-Lot-But-Still-Definitely-More-Than-Peer-Group to Hasn’t-Read-Anything-Worthwhile-In-Ages-But-Has-Knowledge-Of-SomeTerribleBooksOfNoLiteraryValue.

Life is short, and there are a lot of good books, and suddenly I felt like I had lost a lot (a LOT) of time. I was not reading any books that I wanted. Just books that were being requested of me. That gets tiring. Reading does not remain a hobby any more. It becomes a JOB. Why am I complaining, cos isn’t that the job I wanted in the first place? No! I like reading what I want to read. Not what I am reading on a deadline because I have to. Now, my brain has been rewired to such an extent that I can’t read for the pure joy of reading. I am constantly looking for loopholes, for those “Ah-ha! Gotcha” moments to write about. In short, I am not enjoying a book so much as ripping it to shreds.

See, kids, this is what war does to you. No matter how good (?) your intentions, no matter how much cleansing you want to do, no matter how many trees you want to save from becoming terrible books, you ultimately become the villain, the Jack-the-Ripper-of-Books.

The world of reviewing is not all bad. I discovered this gem of a book because I became a reviewer, so I can’t wholly complain. In fact, the main problem here is probably my inability to say no. Or that I am a bad judge of back cover summaries, because they always sound enticing, if you ask me! But here’s the deal now – from now on, I am on a race – to make up for all that lost time. I am going back to classics and popular bestsellers (don’t worry, this does not mean I will rush into the comforting covers of a Chetan Bhagat book – I will still be prudent about the bestsellers I choose to read). I will try not to make mental notes of the good and the bad. For a while, I will try to wire my brain back to that of a reader, and not a harsh critic.

The world of bad literature can wait. I need to be my own superhero right now.

Take Back The Memory, by Augustine Sam

Take Back The Memory, by Augustine Sam was a book I was supposed to review a long time ago, but msreesha-divakaran-rain-and-book-take-back-memory-augustine-samy laptop crashed, and if you’ve been following my other blog, you know I lost all my files, my WIPs (sob!) and a load of other stuff when that happened. Yeah, sad, I know, but what can you do, it’s irretrievable apparently. Anyway, on with the review.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Summary: Paige Lyman is a psychiatrist who becomes, you could say, unhinged after her husband’s sudden death. Her daughter insists that she meet a doctor. She reveals to the psychiatrist (a colleague of hers in the medical world) that she grew up in Kenya and was in love with a boy named Bill, who left her to become a priest. She turns vengeful, and seeks revenge by seducing other priests.

What is good about this book is the level of detail – the scenes are described vividly and we can visualize the scenes as they happen. You realize early on that Paige Lyman’s heartbreak has turned her into a Ms Havisham kind of character and she will go to a ridiculous extent to exact her revenge.

What is bad about this book is also its level of detail. Perhaps, I should not say “bad,” just that it is not really my kind of book. There are a lot (and I do mean – a LOT) of graphic scenes. It is strange more so because it does not mesh well with the overall plot; and it is sad that it makes up for the larger portion of the narrative.

Narrative Technique and Language: Some sentences sway into purple territory – breezes have been compared to caresses in contexts where the metaphor does not quite fit in.

The book begins with Paige’s daughter Diane noticing that the former has been talking to herself lately. Suddenly the narrative shifts, and we view Paige’s thoughts. This POV shift happens quite a bit, causing a bit of a jumble in the reader’s mind.

Overuse of adverbs: While I am not against adverbs myself, several writers strongly discourage their usage, especially when verbs are used in that manner [for instance: the tip of his fountain pen pressed against his lips, seemingly distractedly, yet deliberately]. In this book, even I can’t seem to let go of the excessive usage.

Repetitive Flashback: Paige would mention an incident to the doctor and then start from the beginning to describe it in detail. The “newspaper headline” pattern was unnecessary, or could have been presented differently.

Paige’s character is not very likeable. She insults the natives, and their language. Her dialogues (not to mention her adventures) seem implausible, at least in the way they have been presented.

Her doctor is a stoic gentleman, whose indifference can get annoying.

All-in-all, I have to say this book was probably not for me – I like my plots to be fleshier, but with less (and unnecessary) flashes of flesh, if you know what I mean.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Available at: Amazon.

Note: The author sent me a PDF copy of the book for review.

New Book Release: The Conspiracy of Silence, by Augustine Sam | Summary and Excerpt

Book cover - 3D

The Conspiracy of Silence

Sex scandals in high places… an exposé on the murky world of high-stakes politics.      

The conscience of a town steeped in sexism, vanity and hypocrisy is pricked by the brutal murder of a mysterious woman in a park in Los Angeles. But the shock is transformed into a steamy, seductive scandal when the body turns out to be that of Susan Whitaker, the flamboyant wife of the governor of California.

Soon, a dazzlingly intricate shuffle of volatile links leads the police to the delicate theory of secret lover/blackmailer, and to the indictment of Benjamin Carlton, Hollywood’s most influential black celebrity.

Then curious things begin to happen when Carlton’s ambitious girlfriend, Rita Spencer suddenly unearths the shocking secret that Susan Whitaker did not, in fact, exist. She little realizes however that her discovery of this colossal fraud is a mere curtain raiser to a chilling world of ugly skeletons dating back to the assassination of a U.S. senator in a Washington hotel sauna, skeletons connected to riveting sex scandals in high places, skeletons the FBI and political kingmakers will kill for…  

Genre:         Mystery/Thriller

ISBN:           978-1517190316

Page count207 pages

Date of Release: 30th September 2015

Book Trailer | Amazon

About the Author

Author pic

Augustine Sam is a bilingual Italian journalist and an award winning poet. A member of the U.K. Chartered Institute of Journalists, he was formerly Special Desk editor at THISDAY newspapers, an authoritative Third World daily first published in collaboration with the Financial Times of London. He later became correspondent for central Europe. His poems have been published in two international anthologies: The Sounds of Silence & Measures of the Heart. One of his poems, Anguish & Passion, was the winner of the Editors’ Choice Awards in the North America Open Poetry contest, USA.

Augustine’s debut novel, Take Back the Memory, a contemporary Women’s fiction, received a Readers’ Favorite 5-star medal. His second book, Flashes of Emotion, a collection of poems, was the 2015 International Book Award Finalist. Augustine lives and works in Venice.

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Excerpt

The dim figure continued to lurk in the dusking patch of tangled shrubbery until he was completely enveloped in darkness. Then he choked and swore and frothed at the mouth and went down on all fours. After a while, he clambered out of the shrubbery like a ghost, picked himself up deftly, and wiped his hand across his brow. He was tall and had an athletic build. His hands were covered with fleeced gloves, his face partially masked by a hood. He had a definite presence in spite of the aura of repulsion that swelled around him like foul breath. For a spell, he stood in death-like silence, in a navy hooded sweatshirt, a pair of matching pants, and black running shoes. His dark brown eyes studied his environment like a bloodhound determined to unearth a misplaced object without losing its sense of smell.
A short distance away, small cylindrical light bulbs cast an eerie glow over the lush greenery of Glennon Park, capturing its beauty in a halo of kaleidoscopic brilliance. And then a throng of men in fancy tee shirts and short pants intermixed with women in jeans and sleeveless tops, whisked into view. The dim figure, hearing their muffled voices over the sound of the fountain’s cascading waters, stiffened. Like him, the fountain stood in a poorly lit area of the park. Surrounded by luxuriant shrubs, it was the place where randy youths prone to exploiting the semidarkness for romantic mischief loved to loiter.

On this particular night, there were no lovers necking by the fountain, but there was something else. A black diamond Cadillac was parked beside the fountain. The curiously unusual sight caused the dim figure’s hands to shake with excitement. Cars were not allowed that far into the park, so whatever fantasies within the limits of human accomplishment the Cadillac’s driver had conceived, this was the wrong night for it, he mused. This’ll be my last murder, he decided, the climax of a long, enterprising career as the greatest hit man of all time. He was a killer so efficient and so elusive that even the FBI nicknamed him Shadow of Death for his uncanny ability to dissolve into a penumbra after every hit.