Monday, April 29, 2013
“The Japanese Stieg Larsson” – that’s what The Times had to say in regards to Keigo Higashino. As I am a big fan of Larsson’s Millenium Series, this statement was enough to serve as a catalyst and I picked up Higashino’s latest offering, and God, was I satisfied? Well, the answer is positive.
Salvation Of A Saint is a Japanese Crime Thriller penned by Keigo Higashino, the author of bestselling novel The Devotion of Suspect X. Fortunately for many readers like me who do not understand Japanese, the book has been perfectly translated into English by Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander. A big thumbs up to you two.
Let’s go straight to the basic plot. A man was found dead in his house, with his wife out of town. The Forensic team concluded that he was poisoned. As the investigation progresses, the wife appears to be the most likely suspect who could have poisoned her husband, and that is where the real problem lies. How can a wife poison her husband when she is miles away from home?
As Tokyo Police Detectives Kusanagi and Utsumi conduct their investigations, we are left wondering as to who could have performed this crime. Though we suspect the wife as well, it is difficult to imagine how she executed it. That’s when Professor Yukawa comes into the picture. He uses scientific analysis and research in finding out the method by which the man was poisoned. Together the three of them work meticulously to unravel the missing links. Were they successful? Read the book to know more.
It’s not an easy job to concoct a brilliant thriller. A lot of attention needs to be paid to the characterization, the flow, the construction of the plot and the eventual conclusion. Needless to say, Higashino scores a perfect ten on all the above parameters. Ayane and Hiromi could be any normal women we have come across at some points in our lives. They turn out to be good company, almost like a friend you always wanted to have, and when both of them come under suspicion for having committed the crime, our heart goes out to them, and we pray that they are proved innocent eventually.
What I loved most was the constant debate and sharing of opinions, sometimes creating differences in views, among Kusunagi, Utsumi and Yukawa. The minor confrontations between Kusunagi and Yukawa are fun to read, and you quickly realize you have similar friends with whom you had multiple petty quarrels and differences, and yet, that didn’t affect your friendship. The bond between Kusanagi and Yukawa paint a picture of such a friendship.
Detective Utsumi comes out as a lady who is sensible and tough. She has good intuitions and focuses on minute details. Her close observations and analysis towards things which other deem as irrelevant make her my favorite character in the book. To be honest, I would love to meet someone as bright and smart as Utsumi in real life (no, not over a crime case though).
Somewhere in the novel, Yukawa comments that the killer has committed the perfect crime, where you can’t find enough evidence against the culprit. Well, I would say that Higashino has managed to come up with a perfect thriller, where I can’t find enough flaws that could stop me from concluding this review with a five star rating.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication Year: 2013
Number of Pages: 384
My Rating: 5/5
Thank You Blog Adda for providing me with the wonderful opportunity to review this book.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
"Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat," she repeated, slowly.
Mrs. Morgan sighed. There was no way she could grant passing marks to Katherine in the Culinary Test this semester.
"I already heard that twice my girl. What next? What do you do after melting the butter to prepare this dish that you have been asked for?"
Katherine knew there was no way she could answer that. She made an attempt to recollect the recipe from her memory, but nothing fruitful came to her mind. She didn't love cooking, but she had to pass the subject.
A silent flood welled up inside those crystal eyes of hers.
This 109 Words Micro-Fiction is shared with Saturday Centus - Week 157.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
(Image Source: http://www.hdwallpapersfan.com)
oh dear waterfall
be my guide in this valley
princess waits for me
princess waits for me
her heart singing songs of love
beyond the rose bush
beyond the rose bush
please show me my destiny
oh dear waterfall
This Haiku is shared with Haiku Heights - Waterfall.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
There are books that make you smile; there are books that make you cry.
And then there comes the third category – books that drive you crazy. In case you need an example, look no further than Jugal Mody’s Toke. Toke is one of those wickedly delicious and nonsensically crazy page-turners that manage to intoxicate your reading nerves and keeps you awake all through the night, as you gradually unravel the brilliance of the author in weaving a plot so unconventionally spell-binding.
Jugal Mody hits the precise notes on his debut. Right from the cover, we know something unusual is on offer. A pixelated depiction of Vishnu, wearing stylish Wayfarers, does let your imaginations run wild, and you can’t stop yourself from diving straightaway into the story. Nikhil is the narrator, and like so many youngsters of today, considers his life to be in total disarray. He hates his boss, loves Suparna ‘from HR’, and finds his colleague Alok intolerable. Having encountered a tough day at work, he realizes he needs to relax, and thus pays a visit to his friends Danny and Aman. He smokes weed along with them, and lo, Vishnu arrives, informing him that the world is in danger and he should help his friends in saving mankind. What follows is complete mayhem that leaves no stone unturned in grasping the readers’ attention.
Jugal Mody loves fictions. He worked in gaming and has handled web and social media for Filmfare and Tehelka. Through out the book, his humor leaves you in splits. Whether it is the Author Introduction at the beginning or the Afterword at the end, your funny bones are never spared.
The characterization is absolutely perfect. Nikhil gains your trust in no time and you soon find yourself rooting for him, his love and his mission to save the world. Danny and Aman are among the best supporting characters I have come across in a story since a very long time. They keep the flow intact, their acts drawing out your smiles at regular intervals. Suparna’s role of a lady confused with the happenings around her has been superbly sketched. Somewhere deep in our hearts, we wish her to fall in love with Nikhil.
And then there is Crow. Yes, a crow that can talk, and brag, and shout, and hug, and do everything that you and I can do. What more, it smokes weed too. The clever imagination of the author in using the Crow’s wings similar to hands is truly commendable. This character surely stands tall, and is undoubtedly my favorite character of Toke.
The unconventional characterization of Vishnu scores high points as well. Here, we have the God conversing in modern jargon, and performing tasks that we do not really associate our Gods with. All credit goes to the author for his wacky imagination.
There are other characters too, but they are more or less like surprise packages in the book. Mentioning about them might ruin all the fun. My suggestion, read it to relish it.
This is one novel that surely deserves a 2nd and a 3rd reading, and more. A real entertainer, Jugal Mody’s Toke left me 'Tokeliciously Toked'.
Author: Jugal Mody
Publication Year: 2012
Number of Pages: 224
My Rating: 5/5
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Ever dreamt of being an author? Perhaps your answer is yes, but then, why haven't you done anything about it yet?
Ok, agreed that you have drafted your story on MS Word and it's lying somewhere on the hard disk of your machine. What next? Clueless, right?
There is a huge difference between dreaming and turning that dream into reality. While the former doesn't require any genuine effort, it's in the latter that the true potential of a person comes out. Hard-work and dedication is needed to achieve the goal and acquire your ambition.
It's definitely not easy to gain a foothold in the literary world today. True, you write well, but so do many others. What you probably need is proper guidance. You possess the necessary talent, now it's time to channelize your skills in the right direction.
Bestselling author S. V. Divvaakar and his team comprising of eminent personalities bring forward the National Author Mentorship Contest. An aspiring writer has to submit a synopsis and the first three sample chapters of his/her original work. The winner gets a personalized mentorship package covering literary, commercial and marketing aspects for the selected entry.
You can share your writings directly by clicking here http://www.svdivvaakar.
All the best to all wannabe writers. Who knows, your dreams are on their way to the bookstores!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Monday, April 22, 2013
Sunday, April 21, 2013
People have different needs and wants. They harbor aspirations, which change with time, depending on situations and experiences. Each individual is different, and as such, every human being has his/her own unique perspective towards life. However, there are times when a person is left stranded on the crossroads, pondering over his/her dilemma, not sure which paths to follow. All of us have been through this stage at some points in our lives when we felt the need of external help to guide us through. This is exactly where my dream business comes into play.
Well, let’s not just call it a business; rather I would prefer the term ‘venture.’ We have heard of consultancy firms that provide business solutions to companies that want to grow and prosper in the competitive market. However, the market is just another part of this society, which again is comprised of people. Since people make up the society, I aim to start a Consultancy serving common people.
“People Consultancy” is what I call my dream venture. A child grows into a teen, an adolescent, an adult, and finally an elder member of the society. Each of these phases has different wishes and ambitions. A person undergoes several physical and emotional changes through out his/her life as he/she passes through these phases. Wouldn't it be great if he/she is provided with proper guidance whenever required?
The below points summarize the operation of this venture:
- The Consultancy will comprise of expert Doctors, Educationists, Psychologists and other Learned members of the society.
- Parents enroll their child to “People Consultancy”. The child then becomes a client of the Consultancy.
- All medical records of the child are shared with the Consultancy.
- Details of child’s academics, his performances and activities are provided to the Consultancy periodically.
- After carefully observing the child over a period of time, the Consultancy comes into play and offers regular guidance to the child and parents whenever they require.
- The Consultancy plays the role of a mentor once the child is in his/her teens, guiding him/her in different phases of life.
- The Consultancy assesses the child’s aptitude and provides its recommendations on career paths which are best suited to his/her aptitude.
- As the teen grows into an adult, the Consultancy makes sure his/her goals are clear and helps him/her with his/her choices.
- The Consultancy helps the person with the financial and personal aspects of his/her life, often acting as a friend who provides the right advice.
- The Consultancy provides a much needed companionship to people. Over time, the Consultancy takes on the diverse roles of friend, philosopher and guide.
To implement such a venture into action requires right people and appropriate resources and tools. There will be a team of Experts as mentioned in #1 who will form the core of this venture. However, to make them feel at ease and derive the maximum benefit out of their skill and knowledge, proper software packages should be used. After scanning the current market, I realized that there could not be a better productivity suite than Microsoft Office 365. The reasons are many. Some of the primary ones are listed below:
Office as a subscription service provides with latest version of popular applications like Word, Powerpoint and Excel. We can also access the documents when and where we need them. Since this type of venture will require constant documentation and updating of existing data, a cloud based data storage is the most preferred choice. Thankfully, Office 365 provides just that.
Email and Calendar
Communication is of supreme importance in this venture. Office 365 provides the option of accessing emails anywhere and everywhere. The Experts can check their mails and reply quickly through PC, Mac, web browser, Windows Phone, iPhone, Android Phone, Symbian Phone and Blackberry. There is 25 GB of dedicated email storage space for each user, which would enable them to preserve important emails. Built-in antivirus and anti-spam filtering will protect the email from external unwanted threats. The best thing is that we can set up email accounts with our personalized domain name.
Calendar too can be accessed from anywhere and through multiple devices. Calendars are needed since the Experts have to constantly monitor and maintain communication with the clients and arrange for meetings and counseling sessions with them. Office 365 Calendar provides the Experts a useful utility to manage their dates and memo effectively.
To run any business one needs a website that would attract people and make them aware of the products and services on offer. Same can be said about my venture. Office 365 provides me with the option of building my own website with easy to use tools and then publishes it within seconds. I can customize the layout and contents according to my need. What I really liked is that there are no website hosting fees. Do-it-yourself updates make the suite quite flexible and user friendly.
Office Web Apps
This feature provides businesses with business class email, file sharing, conferencing, and other productivity services in the cloud plus the desktop version of Office. The Experts associated with my venture can create and edit office files via web browsers whenever they are accessing their computers, and save the documents on cloud using the SkyDrive channel. They can then access these data through mobile phones and tablets as well.
Sharepoint provides Experts with easy to use intranet portals, document and file management, collaboration and social networks, extranets, websites, enterprise search and business intelligence. The Experts upload the client data on Sharepoint, which can also be viewed by other Experts. Thus Experts can refer to other files and data and share their knowledge with each other. This will enhance the productivity of the Experts and help them work better with the clients.
Sharepoint can be used to share and view data of different clients. As a result, different Experts can work together for a single client and provide numerous solutions which integrate into one effective suggestion. Due to the central repository, data is always present and can be accessed from anywhere. The high integrity and security feature of Microsoft Office 365 prevents data loss, thus maintaining every necessary record in the system and the cloud.
Lync provides Experts and employees with the option of multi-party HD video conferencing. Online meetings and web conferencing can be held with the clients. One click screen sharing and real-time note taking make meetings more effective.
Also, the Experts can chat with each other in real-time and discuss best practices and effective ideas that they have used. The Experts can also chat with their clients and vice-versa using Lync through compatible devices. What is interesting is that as many as 250 participants can be invited for a web chat/conferencing on Lync at the same time.
Let us imagine a situation where Client A was registered with the Consultancy by his parents when he was a child. Over time, an Expert (let’s call him X) maintains his records – health, medical, academics, extra curricular, hobbies, personal discussions – in the form of several sub-folders under a main folder named Client A on Sharepoint. Now, it may happen that Expert X may not be able to give attention to Client A due to some critical reasons. In that case, another Expert (let’s call him Y) comes into the picture. Through the data stored on Sharepoint, Expert Y can know about Client A in detail and perform the necessary role.
There can be another instance where the client and the Expert are in different cities, but need to communicate real time. In these circumstances, Lync can be used effectively for instant messaging, voice calling and video calling. The Expert and the client can discuss online and find solutions. OneNote can be used to jot down the crucial points that come up in the meeting. These can then be structured in a Word Document which is uploaded on Sharepoint. Excel and Powerpoint can be used to represent the data in graphical and pictorial manner. Through cloud, the data can also be made available across different devices.
Often, an Expert needs to check the reports and data of other clients to gauge the situation of his/her client better. Sharepoint serves the purpose as it provides a well maintained repository where authorized personnel can view and update data, and learn accordingly.
Every human being is special. However, it is important to nurture his/her talents and abilities so that they are useful to him/her as well as helps in the growth of the society. We all live in a world which witnesses numerous unwanted ugly behavior from mankind day in and day out. Don’t we all deserve to live in peace and harmony? Betterment of society can happen if its people know the value of their lives and identify the purpose of their existences. My dream venture is all about providing people with proper guidance and support so that they move towards the right path. True, I am talking of an idealistic world, but with passion and determination, and powered by Microsoft Office 365, I am sure the impossible can be achieved, at least to a certain extent.
Let’s all work together for a happier society, join hands and make Human Consultancy a success.
Trust me, the effort will not go in vain. A better tomorrow waits for us.
This is my official entry to the "Your Dream Business With Office 365" contest organized by Indiblogger in association with Office365.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
(Image Source: http://www.scenicreflections.com)
In the market place today
Apologies are on sale
Some fixed prices
Proudly displayed in glass cases
That crack, and un-crack
With the tears of men
Boys girls and animals
That bled in salt
Apologies bought and gifted
Wounds covered with band-aids
But the scar remains!
This Poem is shared with
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I hear you not
Though spring is here
It's still hot hot hot.
Love no no
Got a lot on my plate
Just go man go
I'm not in your fate.
I know am pretty
Your ringtone too crappy.
This love nonsensical
You are just not my type
First grow some curls
Before you ping me on Skype.
This Poem is shared with Mag - 164.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Do you believe in Tantra and supernatural forces that you have read about in mythological pieces? Well, even if you don’t, trust me and my words and pick up a copy of TANTRA by Adi to spend a leisurely weekend fighting the evil forces in the comfortable confines of your bedroom. You wouldn’t regret it.
TANTRA by Adi is the latest superhero, oops I mean super-heroine, action/adventure story doing the rounds. What’s more remarkable is that this is an honest attempt to provide the Batman, Superman and Spiderman loving Indians with an Indian Super-heroine who can fight the baddies and charm the goodies with equal aplomb.
Debutant author Adi loves reading fiction since his childhood. However, that didn’t affect his studies as he is a proud degree holder from
and Stanford University . He nurtured his dreams of writing and published a poetry book and a text book. Adi credited his successes in life to the late night trysts with fictions, and not to the academics he followed in high – school. His desire to pen a novel grew stronger and thus TANTRA took birth. Harvard University
Needless to say, Adi effortlessly succeeds in transferring his late night reading habits to readers like me. Honestly speaking, it was tough to put down this book after I started it, and like an addict, I kept turning the pages as I lived a few hours of my life through the brilliant plot weaved by the author.
Anu is the protagonist of the plot. She is a leather wearing, no-nonsense professional guardian of
New York City, protecting its inhabitants from the evil vampires. However, when she encounters a personal tragedy, she flies to India to seek revenge for the loss, and lands in Delhi. Here, she comes across Amit, who is a guardian of this city, and together they walk on the path of eradicating evil. However, Anu soon realizes that the situation is darker, and messier, than she eventually thought. From facing vampires to fighting the power of Tantra, Anu and her companions take us through this riveting battle between good and evil. Who wins eventually, and how? Well, that’s what the book is all about, and I wouldn’t spoil your interest by divulging too much.
You never know what to expect from new authors. Adi scores in this front by bringing to us a potboiler that will definitely cater to the taste of Indian readers. The amalgamation of fantasy, mythology and super-heroism is brilliantly concocted, and you realize how well a plot can be shaped up if the pen is wielded by the right guy. Adi doesn’t disappoint. The action sequences are well sketched. In fact, I had no difficulty visualizing the scenes while reading. It almost felt as if I was watching a movie.
Anu is just another everyday young girl when she is not fighting dark forces. She loves being with friends and enjoys good company. She desires being loved but can’t leave behind the memories of her lover who was brutally killed by the vampires. However, this doesn’t stop her from falling in love again, and as she flows through her internal turmoil, you feel for her, every moment.
Adi brings his protagonist Anu alive to his readers.
There are also several fun sequences in the book. The Dekhan – Dekhai ceremony is one. This would surely make you laugh. Also, the friendly moments shared between Anu and Amit bring a certain degree of amusement in this otherwise
acton – packed tale. However, somewhere down the line, you could sense something amiss. I re-read certain chapters, and realized that a bit more attention to the romantic junctures in the story could have made it a perfect action/adventure tale.
Another minor let down is the cover. It displays the protagonist Anu sitting alert on a high rise building, ready to fight against the dark elements. I felt the color scheme was a bit dull, and a brighter layout would surely add magic. However, do not go by the cover. The contents make up for it perfectly.
I surely recommend this book to be read by all, and am eagerly waiting for the sequel. Do pick up a copy and fight alongside Anu, this weekend.
Publisher: Apeejay Stya Publishing
Publication Year: 2013
Number of Pages: 344 Pages
My Rating: 4/5
Thank You Blog Adda for providing me with the wonderful opportunity to review this book.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Monday, April 08, 2013
Sunday, April 07, 2013
(Image Source: http://www.scenicreflections.com)
those perfect lovers
argue over minor stuffs
calmly lick wounded ego
a balm for soured hearts
she avoids darkness
escapade with naughty sun
tickling squint in eyes
This Haiku is shared with