Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Raising Supaman

Parenting is one unique behavior that separates us from other animals. While for other animals raising their young is just an instinct, for humans it is more than that. For us it is much more complex. Parenting is one way in which we instill principles in our next generation. For any particular species of animal there is only one way to do it, but among humans, the technique and the outcome vary individually. It has evolved as an art form. Raising kids, developing them to their full potential and making them succeed in their lives is any parent’s ambition. But then, the success level is varied. There is no secret formula to raise a kid. As every kid is unique, parenting style also should be unique. Raising Supaman by Nathaniel A. Turner J. D. is a book trying to provide some help to the parents out there sweating, in realizing their dream of raising a successful child.

Raising Supaman is a collection of letters from the writer addressed to his son Naeem. He started these letters from when his kid crossed adolescent and ends towards the end of his teens. All the letters invariably address the issues the kid is facing while coming of age and are intended to motivate him in facing the challenges and obstacles on his way to success. But what makes each letter stand out on its own, is the varying context. Each letter has in its concern a different struggle that the kid has to come over in his everyday life. Added to these concerns is the father’s own emotional turmoil, his struggle in finding out what is good for the kid and his introspection to find out where he stands and what correction he has to do. The beauty of these letters is the story that it tells, that of a kid who aims for the stars and has the persistence to reach there, thanks to the overall support from his loving father.

When I chose this book after seeing the title and cover graphics, I felt it is going to be a humorous read. Unfortunately the case wasn’t so and I will not deny that this factor has hampered my enjoying this book to a small extent. Yet I enjoyed the sincerity in the language of these letters, the conviction that the Dad has on his son and the motivating tone his prose has. The book tries to emphasize the power of written word over verbal advises in parenting. I feel the writer has a point in it, because written word does not have the emotional baggage that follows a spoken word, which most of the time dilute the intended effect. Another factor is the longevity of letters.

Raising Supaman can be beneficial for parents as it provide them a path to reach out to their kids- that of writing letters. It is useful for kids as most of the issues they face while growing up are addressed in this book.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Book Review: Early One Morning by Robert Ryan

For writers around the globe, wars were always a treasure trove of inspiration. Every war generates its own share of stories in every color. Among all the wars, The Second world War remains the one that has been a constant source of inspiration to countless story tellers. One reason may be its magnitude- most of the nations took sides in that war and fighting happened on almost all the continents known then. Another reason may be the unpleasant memories of the holocaust. That atrocity of men against men has generated a separate genre in literature. The war novel, Early One Morning by Robert Ryan is an attempt to tell a story based on the resistance movement within France against German Invasion.

Most of the major characters in this novel are either ones who really lived, or is loosely based on real people. The story starts when an English man, William Grover- Williams enters the arena of car racing and become a major figure driving for Bugatti. Robert Benoist, the French man who led the team till then becomes his major rival when both of them fall for the affection of same lady- Eve Aubicq. Later Williams marries Eve and eventually he and Robert become thick friends. The break out of Second World War and subsequent invasion of France by Germany causes them to start a resistance movement against Germans within France aided by British secret agency. The war becomes a field to test their love, loyalty and honor.

The story unfolds in two different time lines. One follows an old woman, Rose Miller, in 2001, trying to explore the contents in an old car buried deep inside a lake in Austria. Another one starts inside an artist’s studio in Versailles in 1928, and follows the rise of Williams as a race car driver and his involvement in French Resistance against Germans. Both narratives merge at the end, when we find out the mission of Rose Miller. The tempo of the novel is quite slow at the starting. It takes its sweet time in establishing the characters and the premise. There is no much action in the initial parts other than car racing.  But this initial built up helps us in appreciating the action that follows during the war, because by that time we start feeling for the characters thrown into a whirlpool of love, friendship, betrayal, loyalty espionage and violence.

I enjoyed reading this early novel from Robert Ryan. It is epic, entertaining and has something for everyone. Combining of fact and fiction is technique that requires skill. Robert Ryan is at ease doing it. I would recommend Early One Morning for those who like their stories well told and don’t mind a bit of inaction in a story about war. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Giveaway: The Winner's Curse by Dee Walker

Conscientious Reflections is happy to announce its first ever Book Give-away. Participate and you stand the chance to win a copy of e-book The Winner’s Curse by Dee Walker, a political thriller about India, technology and greed.

The Book

The Winner’s Curse is Dee Walker’s first political thriller and his second novel, the first one being Beaten by Bhagath, written under his real name. Instead of treading the safe path of depending on an established publisher, he self-published the book in e-book format. It worked because within two weeks of its release, it entered the top 100 Amazon UK Best Sellers list in two genres, Thriller- international mystery and crime and Historical.

Major motive of Conscientious Reflections in  selecting this book for its first ever book endorsement is its fabulous product quality, which is difficult to find in most of the recent books by reputed Indian publications, let alone the ones self-published. Another important factor is its plot that is very relevant in today’s political, business and social scenario of India. We felt there is a strong need for such books to find its readers. You can read our review of The Winner’s Curse here . You can read more on the book here.

We are planning to give-away three copies of the e-book (originally costing INR 149 each) free of cost by Amazon gift coupons.

The Catch

To get considered for the giveaway, you have to send us ‘How will you use technology in war against corruption?’ in less than 120 words. You can email your answer  to . The email should have the subject- The Winner’s Curse book give away.

The Deadline

You have a week’s time to send your entry by email from the day giveaway is announced. So your deadline is midnight of 27th of March 2014.
The Decision

Once all your entries reach us, we will be selecting three best ones out of them. We will be giving equal priority for innovative concept and presentation while selecting. Our decision will be final. The three best entries will be posted in Conscientious Reflections along with a short bio and a link to your website if you are a blogger.  

The Delivery

After selection, winners will be notified by email. Gift Coupons will be arranged from Amazon so that e-book can be downloaded from the site.

So what are you waiting for? Send in your entry, take part in The Winner’s Curse Give away and get this fabulous e-book for free…!

For any clarification, feel free to comment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review: The Winner's Curse by Dee Walker

India as a nation is going through an interesting phase. We are facing an election that suddenly has opened up an opportunity for citizens to decide where we are standing as a nation and what should be our path to future. Thanks to social media we are aware of the corruption happening around us and at least some of us has got platforms and are showing an initiative to fight the system and change it for good. Technology inside the country is growing by leaps and bounds. We are using the technology from West for the betterment of life and at the same time spearheading projects involving cutting edge, innovative ideas. These aspects are reflecting on our literary field too. Writers are using these developments for innovative story telling. One such attempt is the novel, The Winner's Curse written by Dee Walker.

Harsh is a successful business tycoon and the protégé of Master, the political leader of Popular Party. Master's dream is Jan Shakthi, a project that can bring complete transparency into the dealings between public and government, thereby eliminating corruption and black money from system. Harsh, as a loyal disciple, is committed in realising it. But unknown to him, Master is planning to make Jan Shakthi a project that can provide him dictatorial power on a platter and Harsh, a pawn in his scheme. What follows is a rollercoaster ride involving business, politics, crime, conspiracies and intrigue.

The book is based on The Ten Commandments of IIT. Harsh is an alumni of IIT and so are most of the important characters. The story tries to show case different outlook people passed out of this premier institution has towards life and how their actions based on them affects others around and the nation. The Winner's Curse is a book with a tight plot with many subplots interwoven to the main one. The narration is very fast paced. Author succeeds in building up the curiosity till the end of the book. He throws plot twists toward readers in regular intervals and the story is never predictable.

My major grievance with the book is the presence of many flashbacks that most often causes a lag in the otherwise smooth narrative. Many of them does not have any major connection with the story. Also the writer could be careful when writing about things that are unfamiliar to him. Like, I doubt if l a man with the surname Mishra can ever be the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Overall I feel the book which deals with corruption and the politician- criminal- businessman nexus is an entertaining read thanks to the breakneck speed of the proceedings. The author, Dee Walker has self published this novel as an eBook. I give him my best of luck with book.

Buy the book:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Megashark Versus Mechashark: Machine Fights Monster!

Asylum is a parallel movie industry in USA. They started out with exploitation movies and graduated to Mockbusters. Mockbusters are cheaply done movies with plots, titles and even posters similar to upcoming big budget flicks and are released mostly straight to DVD. Timing of release will be intended to cash in on the pre-release hype surrounding the big budget flick. Asylum's contributions to the genre are quite diverse like Transmorphers, Snakes in a Train and Paranormal Entity. Every time a sequel to Transformers hit cinema, Asylum comes up with their sequel of Transmorphers...!

One of their Mockbuster title, Mega Piranha was such a huge success that Asylum started making original movies- all monster movies where creatures become huge in terms of size and violence. The latest one is titled Megashark Versus Mechashark. Its the third part of Asylum's Megashark line up of movies. Here, a huge shark wreaks havoc in oceans around the world causing destruction of ships and even air planes. Scientists make a robotic ship in the shape of a shark to destroy megashark and infuse it with artificial intelligence. Finally that one turns out to be a bigger threat.

In any conventional sense this movie hits the bottom of the barrel. Bad plotting, aimless direction, cheesy effects, lack of any suspense, third rate acting- its bad in all ways. There are three major characters- the man who resemble Denzel Washington, the military guy who resemble Kevin Spacey and the lady who doesn't look like Anjelina Jolie, but tries to act like her and fails miserably. Then there is a lady reporter who appears in a few scenes and makes them so unintentionally funny. But my favourite is the teenage girl who appearing near the climax, behaves like a 3 year old kid by staring into the mouth of the metal monster and screaming instead of getting the hell out of there when it tries to swallow her.

I really don't want to list out the logical or continuity errors of the movie as it will require me to type the whole script of the movie here. But what struck me was that the aftereffects that this movie left in me was eerily similar to what I felt after watching many recent overhyped, studio made Hollywood films.

All said, two scenes are worth mentioning here. The first one had the Mega shark cause a boulder to destroy the head of the Sphinx. In another scene, the two sharks go on a collision course, midair, right infront of a Jumbo Jet...!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Einstein, Pascal and Newton joke...

Found this while browsing:

One day, Einstein, Newton, and Pascal meet up and decide to play a game of hide and seek. Einstein volunteered to be “It.”

As Einstein counted, eyes closed, to 100, Pascal ran away and hid, but Newton stood right in front of Einstein and drew a one meter by one meter square on the floor around himself.

When Einstein opened his eyes, he immediately saw Newton and said “I found you Newton,” but Newton replied, “No, you found one Newton per square meter. You found Pascal!”.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister by Tabrik C

The best political novel that I read is First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer. It told a story spanning decades about the rise of three competing politicians from diverse backgrounds and of different ideological positions and its masterstroke was the suspense that broke only in its last sentence. The awesomeness of that novel is the reason why I keep that as a benchmark when I read anything in the genre. Tabrik C has attempted a political thriller to start his writing career. As soon as I read the synopsis of this book on BlogAdda, I was interested to know what dimensions can an author who is also a perfumer, an entrepreneur and a political enthusiast, bring to the table.

Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister tells the story of Siddhartha Tagore, a music prodigy and Harvard educated heir of a senior politician who enters the arena of murky politics. The novel starts when a mysterious person enters Indian territory through Pakistan and plants a nuclear bomb in Pokhran on December 31st 2016, the day Siddhartha is elected to the Prime Minister's office. Causing head ache to the newly elected Prime Minister, one side is the Jehadi nuclear threat and on other side is the internal revolt by opposition leader Rukmani Devi, an economist and a Nobel laureate who wants to alter Constitution. Reader is then exposed to his past- a past of hidden secrets, bruised egos, reckless living, his relation with his love Ruby and her twin sister Karisma.

The story is told in alternating first person and third person narrative. First person narration is through the eyes of Siddhartha and wherever he is not present, it is in third person. Also the novel uses a non linear time frame. Novel starts in 2017 and alternates between then and as back as 1986. These techniques, changing narrators and alternating time frame is, I feel becoming a norm in Indian English writing. In the case of this book, they definitely help in getting into the genius but deranged mind of the protagonist, which is essential in identifying with him. It also help to keep the suspense built up. The book cover is designed in line with its mood- dark, sinister and ominous.

Tabrik has succeeded in writing a book that is immensely readable. The characterisation is a high light of this début novel and it is really satisfying to read about a bunch of people who are as crazy as nuts but relatable to the core. The passion that has went into creating them, not only the significant ones like Siddhartha, Ruby or Karisma, but even the relatively minor characters like Vikram and Shanti Jaykar is commendable. I loved the parts were Siddhartha shows off his Mozart Man psyche. His sudden transformation and behavioural pattern are depicted very well. There were a couple of places were the narrative plunged into cheesy, even little bit silly situations, but I feel those can be overlooked.

As a political novel, I expected a bit more politics in it. The ideological differences, power games, confrontation of national issues and conspiracies that are an integral part of the genre are given a toss, preferring to concentrate on more personal affairs. That definitely is an opportunity lost as the present Indian political scene muddled with serious issues of cross border terrorism, corruption, favouritism and regionalism could have provided ample potential for a great thriller.

Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister is a good debut novel inhabited with many complex characters and tells a good story. The author can be proud of it. Hope the next time he writes one which is more insightful about Indian political scene.

This review is a part of the biggest <a href="" target="_blank"> Book Review Program </a> for <a href="" target="_blank">Indian Bloggers.</a> Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book Review: Supertraits of Superstars by Priyanka Sinha Jha

Bollywood... a factory manufacturing dreams written on celluloid. A place were stars come down to earth every Friday. Bollywood of Legends, Kings, Queens and Emperors of entertainment. Every day several persons throughout the world reach Mumbai in pursuit of their silver screen dreams. Very few of them make it into the film making industry. A tiny fraction of them develop themselves into faces recognized by public. Out of them some are destined to see their names written in golden letters in the pages of cinematic history. Supertraits of Superstars is an effort by journalist Priyanka Sinha Jha to uncover the secrets behind the unparalleled success stories of some of these distinguished celebrities.

 In this book Priyanka Sinha Jha showcases eleven celebrities of Hindi movie industry, each of them possessing enormous star power. All of them have ultimately achieved phenomenal success, and on their way to top or even when they are right there have survived several downfalls, failures and criticism which can turn fatal for the careers of lesser men. The writer scrutinize each of these stories and tries to arrive at certain traits these individual personalities has in them which enable them to survive the grind and to endure the long race to the pinnacle. She uses her long career as a film journalist and her access to celebrities to her advantage for writing this book.

 The book dedicate one chapter each for a star, with a nice and funny caricature at the start of the chapter that in most of the cases sums up the qualities of the person described. There are plenty of relevant motivational quotes embedded in the book at the starting of the chapter and of every subtopics in it. Quotes from celebrities themselves are given enlarged and boxed. In the end of each chapter there is a boxed summary that lists the traits that makes the superstar distinct from peers. With a colorful cover design and its retro look, Supertraits of Superstars is sure to grab eyeballs in bookshops.

 Main plus point of this book is its readability. Its light and humorous prose makes sure that the reader has difficulty to put it down. The content is relatable to any common man as it deals with movies, a passion that most of the Indians share. This helps the motivational aspect of the book too. Because generally we like to adore and worship our heroes and an endorsement from them goes a long way. It also helps that she has discussed about their short comings and how they valiantly overcame them.

 Speaking of minuses, I feel the book never give the reader anything new or even mildly surprising. Every traits that the writer elaborates on is already established in connection with these stars. After all who doesn't know of the punctuality of Amitabh, Shahrukh's passion, Aamir's perfectionism or Salman's generosity..! She never go beyond that. I feel Vidya Balan's and John Abraham's chapters were quite interesting in this regards. Also a representation of someone from non commercial cinema, who are superstars in their own rights, would be a welcome change. Inclusion of a Naseerudin Shah, Irrfan Khan or Nawazuddin Siddiqui could have spiced up things a bit.

 As a light read and for some quick dose of motivation Supertraits of Superstars is recommended. The moral that I learned is that, though success is obtained with talent, inorder to sustain it severe adherence to some basic principles is a must.

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.