Book Review: Love, Murder & Mayhem (Russ Colchamiro)

Title: Love, Murder & Mayhem
Editor: Russ Colchamiro
Genre: Science Fiction Short Stories 

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My Review

Love, Murder & Mayhem is a collection of science fiction stories. Science fiction they may be, but they still manage to connect to the readers emotionally. 
I was surprised at myself as I related to the emotions of a machine as I read about the craziness of one in Love, Murder & Mayhem.

"I have joined the stars and become one of their own, one of many—if machines have souls, which I believe they do. If you look within a machine, you'll see the truth—that despite what some brand us, we're more than sophisticated slates."

The good thing about reading science fiction is that one doesn't need to be told to let one's imagination run wild. It goes with the territory. Anything is possible.
Just use your imagination about the meanings of names and references by the context in which they are written.

I am a little wary of reading science fiction though. I connect to emotions more than thrill or fantasy, and it is the 'love' part of the title of this anthology that had me choosing it... and it didn't disappoint.

In one of the stories (Robert Greenberger's Fractured), humans are living on Mars, so the concern is an overuse of the Martian resources and damaging the environment there. And marriages are contracts that are to be renewed every five years. At times such details rather than the actual story have a lingering effect. The limitations and challenges of living in a new, strange, unexplored, hostile environment and its' impact on the people living there.

Then there is one with Sherlock. (Mary Fan's The Note on The Blue Screen). A humanoid Sherlock whose method of getting high is 'injecting herself with corrosives which ate away at her metal bones'.

The 'people' in these stories are not normal, the setting of the stories can be just about anywhere (Earth, or Mars, or another galaxy altogether), so starting each story is like entering a new world, which at least for me meant that I couldn't move from one story to the next effortlessly. 
It took me time reading this collection. A maximum of two stories a day and that too not one after the other. 

A couple of stories didn't work for me - I think it was mostly because the science fiction part of the story was too crazy for me and the emotions could not hold my attention. Would it work for someone who is into this genre? Maybe.

I had to google some of the things that surprised me and not all of them are as 'new' as I thought they were. Maybe because I am not a regular reader of this genre, I got more out of this book.

My takeaway from this anthology is strange locales, fictitious creatures, but the same emotions. Love, jealousy, guilt, confusion, sacrifice, deceit, and more.
Some humans who have lost touch with their feelings because they are surrounded by technology, and machines who seem so very human. 

©Nimi Arora

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I received this ebook for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The italicized text in quotes is an excerpt from the book.

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Love science fiction stories that all include elements of Love, Murder & Mayhem?

Then welcome to the latest anthology from Crazy 8 Press! This amazing collection from 15 all-star authors will delight you with superheroes and supervillians. AIs, off-worlders, and space cruisers. We've also got private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travelers, aliens and monsters-and one DuckBob!

With tales ranging from wild and wacky to dark and gritty to heartbreaking and fun, take the deadly leap with authors Meriah Crawford, Paige Daniels, Peter David, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Lois Spangler, Patrick Thomas, and editor Russ Colchamiro.
You'll never look at Love, Murder & Mayhem the same way again-and that's just the way we like it.

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About the Editor: Russ Colchamiro

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is the editor of teh new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an aliem himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.

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Book Review - 60 minutes (Upendra Namburi)

Title: 60 minutes
Author: Upendra Namburi
Genre: Fiction (Thriller)
Published by: Westland Ltd
No. of pages: 361
Cover price: Rs. 350

Agastya is the chief marketing officer in a big company, on the verge of an important product launch, which can give a big boost to his career. Suddenly, everything seems to be going wrong. 60 minutes is the story of that one crucial hour when his career and his personal life, including his marriage seem to be on a downward spiral.

Sailesh, in contrast to his past modest past and academic brilliance, is part of the corporate maze too.

60 minutes begins with Maithili's struggle to hold on to her sanity. Maithili is a beautiful, successful woman, who feels she has lost it all.

Sailesh and Agastya are both exceptionally good at their jobs. So, not only are they aggressive competitors, over the years they have gotten to respect each other too.

60 minutes is a fast-paced thriller, set in the corporate world. Not even a sentence seems to drag the story. Even the descriptions, whether of feelings, or of surroundings, convey the underlying mood.

The book starts with an impressive epigraph. The last line of the epigraph is 'The truth lies in the shades of grey'.
Each character in 60 minutes has these shades of grey. I may have felt repulsion for a character, but the same character would rouse feelings of pity and understanding too.
The story effortlessly moves back and forth between present and past, giving glimpses of 'what is' and 'why'. With each revelation, my affinity would shift from one character to another.

This book brings into focus the pettiness of the politics in corporate culture and the almost-inhuman stress.

Each chapter has a few intense words as if giving a peek into what is to come. One of my favorites is 'history trusts turmoil and suspects stability'.

Poignant Quotes from '60 Minutes'

  • "The illogical nature of the corporate world was far removed from the order of academia and research... The fetish for emails amused him, the illogical allocation of resources on the basis of persona over economic opportunities fascinated him. He was disgusted with the obsession with designations..."
  • "Revenge is a natural instinct... But there's more often than not too much collateral damage and in most instances we miss the point in the process, and hurt ourselves."
I feel happy when the stories I read, give closure to the characters. The only thing that had me a little restless at the end of 60 minutes is that I would have ideally liked something else/more for Agastya, Sailesh, and Maithili. I guess what I am asking for is that everything be tied in a pretty little bow. I do realise that it is foolish to expect everything to end in the perfect way. Certain imperfections are the truth of life, and thus of fiction too.

60 minutes by Upendra Namburi is a riveting, page-turner... although I am sure it would have been yet more interesting to me had I known more about the corporate world and stocks. The upside, I got an insight into a world I don't know much about.

An interesting read...

Book Review (Jatin Kuberkar's Cabbing All The Way)

Title: Cabbing All The Way
Author: Jatin Kuberkar

As the title and cover suggest, Jatin Kuberkar's Cabbing all the way is an account of the experience of sharing a cab by a few colleagues to commute to their office.

From office politics to appraisal troubles and personal problems to ego issues, this book touches on many subjects that affect the life of the ones trying to find a foothold in the corporate world.

Jatin Kuberkar's narrative reads like a journal with the small details of everyday life dominating it.

It is the introspections that I found especially interesting.

"I don't know why, but of late I was starting to feel that I have in me, two different beings. One of them emotional. It is grounded to its values, it stops me from reacting to situations, it makes me observe the little wonders in everyday life, encourages me to see the brighter side, and sometimes... The other is, as I wish to call it, judgemental. Notorious for furious outbursts, it quickly jumps to conclusions. It is strong-headed, it asks me to be selfish, pessimistic and often teases me with phrases like 'grow up'!"

Journal-style that it is, Cabbing all the way is rather slow and indulges in much trivia.
Cabbing all the way is not a book that keeps you hooked with the plot and the story. It is the characters, their idiosyncrasies, their differences, and the author's style of writing that makes it interesting all the way.

This book is quite a rulebook on how to survive in an office. Certain solutions are a little too easy and simplistic, but they deserve a read.

Based in Hyderabad, the lingo of the place, especially related to food spice up the descriptions, and are aptly explained too through footnotes.

"Sometimes I feel that Hyderabad is the 'Babel City' of the modern times where nobody understands each other. All the areas we travelled through were major traffic junctions. Everyone was in a mad rush. Each traffic signal ended up into another mini traffic jam because no one followed any rules..."

Just as true for Delhi as for Hyderabad, I have to say :P

The author takes his time introducing the readers to each of the characters. And does so with a style...

"If a spoon full of Abhishek Bachchan, a little Hrithik Roshan and a whole lot of Keshto Mukherjee were to be blended together, the end product would be Mohan. Confused, heroic and Kehsto!"

In the author's own words he is "lost in wondering and documenting the complexities of human nature."

With the characters evolving through the course of the book, Cabbing all the way is a study in the emotions

Cabbing all the way is the author's celebration of sharing time and experiences, of becoming friends and of letting go...
The author's love for Bollywood, food, Hyderabad and is obvious in his style of writing. 

The premise of the book is rather simple. The wit, the details, and the local touch make it an interesting read.

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The italicized text in quotation marks is quotes from the book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Twelve people agree to an idea of running a shared transport service from a common residential locality to their out-of-civilisation office campus. Twelve different minds with equally diverse personalities gel with each other to fulfill a common need. At first, the members collide on mutual interests, timings, priorities and personal discipline, but in the course of their journey, they become best friends, make long-lasting relationships, mentor and help each other on various mundane matters. The journey goes on fine until one day some members try to dictate terms over the group. The rift widens with each passing day, the tension surmounts and finally all hell breaks loose... Will the journey continue? Fasten your seatbelts for the journey is about to begin...

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About the author

Take an ounce full of imagination and a scoop of humor. Mix them well. Now put a few teaspoons of feelings and emotions and simmer until it smells good. Add spices for taste. Put the mixture on the platter of dreams and garnish it with a few peanuts of desires and some herbs of passion – that’s all it takes to be Jatin Kuberkar. Jatin is a software engineer by day and a passionate writer by night. When not tangled in software codes, Jatin likes to express his inspirations in the form of poetry, short stories, novels, and essays.

He lives in Hyderabad and adorns polymorphic forms in his personal life as a son, a husband, a father, a friend, a mentor, an observer, a critic and the list goes on… He is an ardent lover of Hyderabadi biryani and is a worshipper of chaai. If granted a boon, Jatin would love to learn magic from Hogwarts and fly around on a broom stick. 

Jatin is the author of two other books. Rainbow Dreams, a collection of poetry and While I Was Waiting, a collection of short stories. This is Jatin’s third book.

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