Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book Discussion with Debjeet Mukherjee - Author of Voyages Volume 1

Two weeks back we reviewed Voyages Volume I - A Collection of Poetry by Debjeet Mukherjee. Today we have Debjeet Mukherjee with us to talk more about his life a.k.a. writerslife along with Voyages 1. Those who have missed the review can click here.


Can you tell our readers about your educational background?
I am a postgraduate student of economics at the University of Calcutta. My educational background was centered in and around Kolkata and I like improving my aspects and opportunities that studying provides. Opening up new avenues such that studying complements my other talents as well. I guess that’s the whole point of studying! To apply it.
What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I was popular. Haha. Not in the usual sense but I was known for what I did. No matter where I step in I am able to create a unique identity of my own. I was never the topper and yet teachers and students knew me. I am grateful for the love and affection I received in my school and college days.
What are some day jobs you have held?
I wish I held any but I am currently a full time university student.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspires you the most?
I read fairly. Depends on the set of books I need to read at any given point of time. Study books, reference books, story books, poetry books, novels, it’s a big set. The importance of reading any one category of books increases given the ambience at that point of time; like study books are read more during exam months and stories and novels are a preference during vacations, while I end up reading no book at all during festivals. Lol.

My favorite authors are Paulo Coelho and Khaled Hosseini.
As far as inspiration is concerned, I am inspired reading the works of Paulo Coelho and when it comes to inspiration from an author as a person, I am more inspired by Vikram Seth although I never had the opportunity to meet him. I just love reading that man’s biography.
When did you start writing?
I started writing at age 12. I used to be an introvert (still am to some extent) and I scribbled stuff at the back of my school notebooks while my friends played dare challenges. Then I used to tear those pages and gift it to my English teachers. My teachers at school were my first and earliest readers. I switch between being an introvert and extrovert. I am an introvert when I am working on something and extrovert when it is complete and ready to be presented to the world. 
When did you decide to become a writer?
I decided to become a writer at class 8 when I was 14 years old. There was this English teacher of mine who used to support me above everyone else. While others read my work, she provided a critique. And then one day when I presented her a poem, she scolded me! Like literally she scolded me. I was surprised and confused. And then she went on to state that she had seen many future Keats and Shelley’s of India all lost in the rat race of higher studies. She feared that I will end up doing the same. So I made a promise that day that I will not quit writing and surely gift India the first Debjeet Mukherjee!
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
There are ambitions but I prefer not to say other than the fact that I won’t be quitting what I started. I am more of a presenter. I keep quiet and normally do not share my ideas unless I feel I have achieved what my initial thoughts have originally envisioned.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
I do not have a specific time to write. I write when I feel like. It may be months before I write another poem or it may be hours within which I complete writing a short story. My thoughts are random and when some idea comes I immediately finish writing it on any paper in front before the thought gets lost. Daydreaming and talking to myself are two important things that help me write better and I will not shy away from stating it.
Is this your debut work? 
Yes. This is my debut international self-published work. Like I said I have been writing for many years now but this is the first time that I have compiled up everything and published. It has till now been well received by authors, bloggers and book reviewers around the world as is evident from ratings and reviews on Amazon, Google Books and Goodreads.
What genre are your books?
My books are mainly non-fiction/young adult poetry and short stories.

Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
My current book is VOYAGES Volume I – A Collection of Poetry. It is a new style of writing poetry wherein a two line quotation has been provided at the end of each poem which gives a gist of the preceding lines. This has been adopted to make poetry more comprehensible among people who commonly mistake it as a genre understandable only to the Elite.
Where did you get idea for this book?
The idea behind this was that most people share two line quotations on social media everyday when they are sad, happy, angry, betrayed or in love. What people don’t realize is that if they keep all these quotations together then it forms a new style of poetry. A poem can be looked as a collection of quotations. Therefore, I experimented this new idea of mine in this book and it has been a huge success. People who are reading it are surely appreciating my thoughts and efforts.
How much research did you do for this book?
The research into this particular poetry collection of mine is taken from several years of my life. My most recent poems are at the very beginning, and my earliest poems are at the end. It mainly reflects the thoughts that lie embedded in one’s life as a teenager as the collected poems are from age 14 to 21. So it may frequently be relatable to persons reading this particular collection and act as a time machine to help them re-visit their teenage years and the kind of feelings they dealt with as a young adult. 
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Deciding how to arrange the poems! Poems are inspired by age, experience, season, climate, place and mood. So it’s difficult to arrange a poetry collection such that it comes out as a meaningful message.
Can we have your book trailer?

When was your book published?
05 September, 2018. (Teacher’s Day, yay!)
Can you tell us about the response you got for your book?
My book has been reviewed and rated Five Stars by Readers’ Favorite, USA and it has also won a Gold Star at TheBookDesigner.com’s September 2018 e-Book Cover Design Awards. The book currently has near to/above Four Star ratings on Amazon, Google Books and Goodreads and I am expecting some more reviews and awards soon in the coming months. Unfortunately, the book was published as an e-book three months before this conversation and the e-book policy of my publishers Notion Press updates the book sales quarterly. So my author dashboard is currently without any sales figure.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on VOYAGES Volume II – A Collection of Short Stories. It will be a unique book since my writings reflect different experiences of people and I am sure it will have one situation/character with whom the reader can relate to. It will not be the usual short stories and there will be lots of satisfaction and peace of heart in every conclusion. It will reflect the goodness that is abundantly still present in this world but is just not always pointed out/discovered.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I really have not given a thought to that but I may end up writing a novel. Book series are currently not in my Five Year Plans. Haha.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
To never let the aspirations fall down. As a student of economics I would say that every individual has a limited set of resources which he/she tries to maximize. Now the process of maximization is different for different individuals and it may not always lead to the best/efficient outcomes. But we either fail or we learn. If we fail then it simply means that our time has not yet come and we must always keep faith in our own processes simply because it is our own. Imitation never leads to efficient outcomes! 
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
My first short story “A Rural Coincidence”, won a Commendable Mention at the Wingword Short Story Prize 2017 organised by Delhi Poetry Slam; followed by a Shortlist for my internationally acclaimed story “The Farewell” at the Wordweavers India Short Story 2018 Contest. I am also an amateur photographer and I received Honorable Mention at the International Photography Awards 2017 under Non-Pro Nature – Wildlife category. My love for history made me a keen numismatist. I have a decent collection of republic India commemorative coins, Foreign coins bearing important dates, commemorative coins of USA and USSR and even Berlin Mint coins of Nazi Germany!
Links for your book readers

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Cloud 9 - Story about a Futuristic Virtual Reality Gaming by N Matthias Moore - a Book Review

Though I have read a number of fantasy books, in the genre of sci-fi & dystopia I am still new. Before Diwali, I saw “Cloud 9” by N. Matthias Moore. I found the blurb interesting. Though book’s reviews were few, the cover got me attached to it. So I took the book.


Book Blurb
The year is 2109. Michael is one of San Francisco's most notorious VR gamers in a world of uninhibited debauchery. Now at the turn of the 22nd century, the effects of cultural collapse compel the gaming aficionado to leave his sedated existence and venture on a quest for virtual utopia. But first, he must traverse nine levels inside a computer-brain interface or pay the ultimate price. The promise of living the rest of one's days in a computer-simulated paradise may be too enticing to resist, but for Michael Tillman and his girlfriend Valerie reality is hardly what it seems. Meet Real Games Enterprise RGE the underground cartel pandering the Cloud software that requires players to complete nine levels within the game or suffer elimination. With only three lives to win, failure results in death when their data is terminated. Outside threats from those determined to undermine the Cloud software finally puts RGE in jeopardy when they're attacked by infiltrators who don't like secrets.
The story goes like this, in the year 2109 when futuristic technologies reached its peak, virtual reality was taking over things. In fast-track world, partly stressed partly lost, Michael Tillman took solace in Virtual Reality Gaming. His only support was his girlfriend Valerie. He was broken inside & feels lonely (even after having a family). Things changed when he got a letter from Real Games Enterprise RGE a virtual reality gaming company. They offered him Virtual Paradise if he could clear their game. Unlike the previous games, he played, this was a completely different technology and environment. He had to clear 9 stages with 3 lives. The only clause was if he loses 3 lives he would lose his real life as well. (Sounds interesting? Yes it is new) The developer of the game (named as Manager) wanted government approval for the game to control population. But someone was against it. Manager’s only hope was the victory of Michael. Read the book to know more.

The book reached us in the 3rd week of November, but busy schedule postponed the review. Determined to reach the goal, I took the book in last week of November. Though it took me a few pages to attach myself with the story, once I got my hands on tempo I finished it in 2-3 days. Actually, I read too many Indian authors, that has set my mindset for reading. This habit always slows down my pace while reading foreign authors. Same happened with me while reading Cloud 9. The is no mistake from author’s side.

Good points about the book
  • Multi-Genre book – Yes you heard me right. Action, Thriller, Scifi, Suspense, Psychology, Gaming & whatnot.
  • The character of Manager – (called as a mad scientist by another party) Each of his actions & dialogs will amaze you. It had multiple interpretations which makes you guess what exactly he meant.
  • Conceptualization – The whole idea of VR Game is just amazing. Though scary, if lives are not at the stack, such technologies can create a complete revolution.
Overall a fantastic read. Ratings
  1. Cover – 4.5/5
  2. Character – 4.5/5
  3. Concept – 5/5
  4. Overall – 4.5/5
The book can be found at Amazon USA and Amazon India
Reviews from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Book Review - Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-Administered Kashmir by Anam Zakaria

We have received "Between the Great Divide" by Anam Zakaria almost 2 months back. Actually, my husband wanted to read it. But being a patriot, my husband didn’t like the context after reading the first few pages. He took permission from Publisher to donate the book. Fortunately, he asked me to donate it to the library, unlike him I was able to read the book as a neutral party. So here I am to give my view about the book.


Book Blurb
Seventy years ago, as India and Pakistan gained their independence, the region of Jammu & Kashmir also found itself divided, with parts of the territory administered by Pakistan ever since. Located by the volatile Line of Control and caught in the middle of artillery barrages from both ends, Pakistan-administered Kashmir was until over a decade ago one of the most closed-off territories of the world. In a first book of its kind, award-winning Pakistani writer Anam Zakaria travels through Pakistan-administered Kashmir to hear its people - their sufferings, hopes and aspirations. She talks to women and children living near the Line of Control, bearing the brunt of ceasefire violations; journalists and writers braving all odds to document events in remote areas; political and military representatives championing the cause of Kashmir; former militants still committed to the cause; nationalists struggling for a united independent Kashmir; and refugees yearning to reunite with their families on the other side. In the process, Zakaria breaks the silence surrounding a people who are often ignored in discussions on the present and future of Jammu & Kashmir even though they are important stakeholders in what happens in the region. What she unearths during her deeply empathetic journeys is critical to understanding the Kashmir conflict and will surprise and enlighten Indians and Pakistanis alike.
The author has taken tremendous efforts in visiting Pakistan Occupied Kashmir region and gather information about the lives of those people. Instead of giving straight legal or documentary content, she has taken few life stories. She has taken us through the life of those people showing how their life is affected by all the political and military pressure of Kashmir.

Life is life whether it is from India or POK. People have to meet days end with the same basic needs. But here things are not normal, their struggle is visible in words of Anam. I am not getting biased, but the same would be the condition of India Occupied Kashmish. Still, it won’t justify terrorism and violence shown towards authorities. Let's not divert the topic. In short, authorities at both sides should read such books and take decision for the betterment of population.

Ratings
  1. Cover – 4.5/5
  2. Content – 3.5/5
  3. Concept -3.5/5
  4. Overall – 3.5/5
The book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Blogger Trailmap - How to Take Your Blog to the Next Level in Easy Steps - A Book Review

I am blogging for more than 5 years now. I started dedicated (book) blogging in July 2016. Since then I tried and tested many things so when I saw "The Blogger Trailmap" with interesting illustration at just 1$ (72 INR) I gave it a try.


The book is divided into 3 parts.
  1. Deciding the type of blog/topic/subject
  2. Creating MVP - minimum viable product
  3. Taking proven blog (model) to next level
The content is written as pointers. You won't find spoonfeed material or step by step (pedagogy). Frankly speaking, being a solo/small group blogger there are no fix steps. The author has given only directions.

As a blogger, in the initial phase of blogging, all I wanted was more and more number of visits. While building blog, I thought of buying web space and domain, but my stable mind prevail me to do so. When I read these sections it reminded me earlier phase of my blogging days. At many places, my decisions were validated by book direction, though at some places they were criticized as well. In short, I have planned for my blog 3.0 based on the book.

Coming to general sense, the author has used a practical approach to wanna-be blogger and ametuare blogger. If we don't plan out we may lose viewership. If we think too much about planning before execution we may miss the right entry. The author has also shown where, when and how monetary decisions should be taken. Whether it's about marketing your blog or monetizing it.

Following are good points
  • Easy to understand language usage
  • Less preaching more examples
  • Shown steps in pointers
  • Wonderful illustrations
  • Supporting materials provided at end of each chapter
Only suggestion would be proper cover design. Though trail map (cover) is good as content, it looks like an academic poster.

Kindly note that though I have used word blogger, the book is equally true for Vlogger & Podcaster as well.

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 3/5
  2. Concept - 4/5
  3. Content - 4.5/5 (0.5 extra for good illlustations)
  4. Overall - 4/5
The book can be found at Amazon India and Amazon USA
Reviews from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Book Review - Harables: Short Stories 1 & 2 by Haidji

Before I start my review I would like to apologize Haidji and my husband for ignoring these books for more than a year. In 2017 beginning my husband became so active in book blogging that I got excited to help him (as he got this bookworm-iness from me). So in excitation, I gave him a list of genres I can help him. He gave confirmation on my promise to few authors. "Harables: Short Stories 1 & 2" by Haidji were two of them. I still remember my husband giving me the deadline of 3 months while handing me thse two books. But later on, I got busy with my kid and was not able to finish 50-60% of the books I took. During this year Diwali cleaning I found these two books in the storeroom and I got guilty feeling so I took them on my vacation. 


Book Blurbs
Harables (Short Stories 1) brings together eighteen of Haidji’s short stories. Each story is prefaced with a hint of what’s inside, for example: “To be shaped for life is never easy…”. “Life seemed to be just a letter, or a few words, in the metaphor of the Earth’s biography.” “All lines are drawings!”… “For the Earth to survive, for the human race to survive, we need to overcome our own survivor instinct.”
Harables - Short Stories 1 and Ines' Words now brings us Harables - Short Stories 2, with fifteen new stories. Each story showcases Haidji's unique voice and imagery, including "The Gondola Walker," "Lob's Castle," "The Blue Spot," "Final Destination" and "Candles." True to Haidji's form, this book is beautiful and magical. You'll want to read each story more than once, to uncover all Haidji's meanings. Entering Haidji's world, you will find hope, love and wonderful mysteries.
I would like to tell the author to come up with an attractive cover, another major reason for the delay in the review was the cover, I didn't get strong urge/appeal to read the book at first go.

When I started first part I was not sure whether I would be able to read second as well due to dull cover. But content or I would say amazing stories of part-1 made me jump to part-2.

Both books contain short gems (yes I would call story/poem gem, read the review to know why) with a different tone. Some were funny, some were cute, and many of them are thought-provoking. It will take you in a rollercoaster of various phases and emotions. Inspiring messages are the real reason I called there stories as a gem. And the icing on the stories are quotations given for each story as a crux.

Stories I liked in part 1
  1. One Euro
  2. The New School
  3. War Love Story
  4. The last to go
Stories I liked in part 2
  1. Pipo
  2. Lob's Castle
  3. The Pine Tree
  4. The Gondola Walker
The language usage is simple and narration style is straight and sweet. You may fall in love with many characters. I sure shot recommend to any genre lovers. Even if you don't like some stories, you can simply skip them.

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 2.5/5 (I strongly recommend the author to have another design)
  2. Content - 4/5
  3. Overall - 4/5
Book Links
Amazon - Part 1 and Part 2
Goodreads - Part 1 and Part 2

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Book Review of - A compelling, heart-touching story of a drug addict - Of Aakash and Aarti

"Of Aakash and Aarti" is our 4th Book by Dr. Govind Sharma. All of his previous books were read and reviewed by my wife. So this time I gave a try. The book was like a Diwali gift to me. I have taken it to one day journey from Surat to Mumbai. The 200-pages-long book gave me a good company for 8+ hour of the journey (though actual reading time was around 4-5 hours only)


Book Blurb
A compelling, heart-touching story of a drug addict.
Aakash has so much emotional pain inside him that he can breathe only because of the escape that comes from the hits of smack. He looks for succor in his school sweetheart Aarti but she opts for the fast lane to come out of her impecunious situation in life. She manipulates the top industrialist Basant Somani into a relationship entirely on her terms. The industrialist’s wife Rajeshwari Devi is a kind-hearted woman of religious mind-set who makes several attempts at cleaning up the mess from Aakash’s life, but he fails her every time. The turn of events takes Aakash and Aarti to Haridwar where they rediscover their emotional connection but Aakash has already gone too far down the road of addiction. Can Aarti bring him back?
As the name suggests, Aakash & Aarti are the main characters of our story. Aakash belonged to a modest priest family but he had lost parents at an early age. He was being raised by relatives, which was also changed from time to time. The situation led him to loneliness. The directionless teen-age made him take the path of drugs. On the other side, Aarti belonged to a very poor family and she was the youngest of her four siblings (all sisters). She was shrewd and practicle. She knew there was no future if she stayed dependent on her parents. She understood the bitter truth of society and willing to go to any extreme to get herself out of poverty. Characters that joined these two are Somanis. Basant Somani was an established businessman and his second wife was Rajeshwari Somani, a 29-year-old lady. Rajeshwari had shown great care towards Aakash. Aarti wanted to take a shortcut to success by amoral actions, so she was using Basant Somani. Things got bitter, and Aakash-Aarti got separated. Destiny brought them together again in Kashi, by that time Aakash was already a slave of Drugs. The second half talks about it.

When I narrated the story to my wife, she said Govind Sharma is improving with each successive book. This book has crossed bar set by "Break Up Clinic". I also found that many authors in process of attracting young readers add too much "Love Sex & Dhoka" and "Sutta Daru & Drugs", but very few shows how their lives become victim/slave to those bad habits. The story shows the bitter side of today's young generation traits. Especially drugs, the situation of Aakash reminded me situation shown in Sanju movie which was faced by Sanjay Dutt. 

Positive points about the book
  • Simple & Gripping Tale
  • Easy language usage
  • Short & ideal light read
Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 3.5/5
  2. Characters - 3.5/5
  3. Concept - 3/5
  4. Overall - 3.5/5
The book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Friday, November 30, 2018

Story of Honor Killing - A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferris - A Book Review

Almost two years back we had interviewed Lucy Ferris for her (then recently) published book "A Sister To honor" (In India with Fingerprint Publishers). As a token of gratitude, we have received a copy of the book. Unfortunately, during that period we shifted job and home so this book got into our storeroom. This Diwali when we cleaned the room, I found this angry lady asking for justification for ignoring her so long. Fun parts, I took this book to my Diwali trip so that can be read with a peaceful mind.


Main characters of the story are Afia and Shahid Satar. As given in blurb, Shahid was having a good rep and challenging career to set his life in the USA. He convinced his family to send Afia for Medical studies to states. Born and brought up in the super suppressed family and culture values Afia found her class and college mates completely opposite. Though her mind showed her fear of strict traditional values, her heart ached for freedom. Things became messy when her parents/family in Pakistan saw her picture holding a hand of an American guy. Her family given Shahid impossible task of honoring family by killing his sister.

I have heard/read/seen (on screen) many cases of hour killing, this story is similar. What makes it different is characterization. How each character feels at the time of such decision, how doting love converts in extreme hate. How culture value overrides normal human feelings. The book required efforts to read it. Those who want light read can skip this book. Those who love to read a deeply narrated story can take it. Read when you can give 100% else you may leave it in between.

I give 3.5 out of 5 stars to the book.

Lucy Interview Link - Author Interview
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

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