Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Horror, the horror


A glimmer of positivity underpins the grim, sordid tales in a debut collection

SANGEETA Shankaran Sumesh narrates tales of Conradian fears and abomination in her debut collection. Admittedly though, her choice of settings are more accessible, even as her plots revolve around murder, rape and extra marital affairs.

Sangeeta, who’s a CFO at a multinational company in Chennai & a Performance Coach, had a life-altering experience on a recent vacation to Cambodia, which became the basis for these stories. "I felt emotionally challenged on hearing the stories in Phnom Penh," she says, recalling the relics of the Cambodian genocide of the early 1970s that she got to see. The haunting images of the killing fields set her thinking about "How man can be so inhuman and barbaric," she says. "Even today, pieces of human bones and nails can be seen here."

A Glance at the Unknown weaves stories around a motley band of characters – a youngster looking to avenge his father’s death, a CEO of Indian origin in Malaysia, a runaway victim seeking justice for her sister’s death, a tribal chief and a suicidal intellect. Each story reveals complex shades of human characters and relationships.

"I love to read books on suspense and thrillers, as I find them gripping," says Sangeeta. The tragical elements, in fact, form the unifying theme for her stories. "I was thinking about the inhumane and barbaric acts and wondered what the repercussions of such deeds would be. That became the basis for the stories," she explains.

"Tragedies touch the human chord, and the empathy in an individual is evoked. That is what happened to me," explains the writer. "In effect, I was transferring my emotions through the book. Further, I wanted to create awareness on the impact of the tragedies."

Interestingly, Sangeeta completed the book in a 100-day challenge, while the stories are largely fictional. A few of them are based in the forests of Agamalai, Tamil Nadu, though she’s yet to actually visit the neighbouring village. "I strongly believe in conversation of nature," affirms Sangeeta, suggesting a possible premise for her next book.

"The larger story," she offers, "is about positive messages, with tips on principles of values, purpose, integrity, crisis, conflict management and so on."

Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

If you have missed the review of the book earlier check here.

P.S. - Article is shared by author. It is originally published via Notion Press.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Lucknow Cookbook - Delicious Lucknowi Food - Book Review

I have decided to try different genres this year. And when I saw "The Lucknow Cookbook", I thought of taking chance. I have already read & reviewed "Superfood for Awesome Memories", and I liked that book. I started liking this genre but I expect more than just recipes. 


Book Blurb
Lucknow’s famous Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb—a melding together of influences—is seen in its art, architecture, dance and music. But nowhere is this tehzeeb better represented than in its food, redolent with the tastes of Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan, and infused with the flavours of Sindhi, Parsi, Punjabi, Nawabi, Mughlai and British food.

When Sunita Kohli’s parents, Chand and Inder Prakash Sur, first settled in Lucknow after having to leave Lahore following Partition, they brought with them only the memories of home. In The Lucknow Cookbook Sunita Kohli and Chand Sur bring together the taste and smells of home in these 150 well-loved dishes from their kitchens and from the kitchens of family and friends. These delectable kebabs and soups, biryanis, pulaos and raitas, mutton, chicken and fish dishes, paranthas and rotis, vegetables, sweets and puddings, cocktail snacks, chutneys and pickles are a taste of the fabled Lucknowi tradition of hospitality.
A celebration of the tehzeeb of Lucknow as well as its nazaakat (elegance) the book is also a portrait of the city and its storied history.
The Lucknow Cookbook started with author's mother Chand Sur's life before & after her marriage, through different phases of her life. After that author started various recipes types - Kabab, Soups, Veggies, Mutton, Chicken, Fish, Dals & Biryanis. She has also covered various desserts, puddings, drinks & exotic bakery items & chutneys. I know I have mentioned all types but believe me each of these is covering 5-10 recipes individually. The book is the treasure of mouthwatering desi food, specially Lucknow-y style food.

At home, we have already tried biryani, curry & raita. We loved it. I didn't take pictures else I would have shared it here. 

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover 4.5/5
  2. Content - 3.5/5
  3. Overall - 4/5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Friday, January 19, 2018

BookReview - Bayoneting with Opinions by Bhopinder Singh

I was attracted to "Bayoneting with Opinions" by Bhopinder Singh while going through war-politico books on Amazon & social media. Lt. General Bhopinder Singh has consolidated current and eye-opening articles he has published over time in one book.

Book Blurb
The following collection of articles are a reflection of the unique and inspiring perspective of a soldier, who has both served in the Indian Army, and also acted as the Military Secretary to two of the foremost Presidents of Independent India – 
​ KR Narayanan and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. These articles deal with matters of a political, military, economic and psychological nature; not simply through an intellectual lens, but through the prism of experience. Interspersed with anecdotes from the personal life of the author, drawing upon all that he has witnessed, and partaken, these words take the reader through a journey filled with dragons, fighter jets, newsroom warriors, and even, Sufi saints. 
They are a celebration of the human spirit, and an invocation for the betterment of society, and the world that we inhabit. Although, the topics that find mention, are often filled with suffering and bleakness, the element of hope is ever-present. Veering away from the pit-falls of gross over-simplifications, the author delves deep into the topics he has chosen to write about, offering a nuanced and conscientious approach to a wide range of subjects. As comprehensive and varied as the topics are; they are also extremely relevant given the current hyper-nationalistic word-view. The author seeks to remind his readers about the importance of critical engagement and multiple perspectives, and appeals that the spirit of “cooperative federalism” be considered as paramount in these trying times.​
Lt. Gen. Bhopinder Singh has had multiple combat experiences & held diplomatic positions too. He has served as the Military Secretary to the president of India, Shri K R Narayanan & Shri APJ Abdul Kalam. Based on his wide experience in the army, of war & the political domain he has written numerous articles in India’s top newspapers. His articles on foreign policy, international affair, defense, governance & serious social issues are consolidated in this book. 

Talking about the depth of articles. They are pure gems. His vast experience and high position enabled him to provide insights and harsh truths. To talk about the first two sections. Articles wonderfully describe how India is placed among countries who are more cheque-book-style led. Our second biggest neighbor (Pakistan) plays cards as per their convenience and goals. How our biggest neighbor China threatens half of the world with border  issues. The book also covers how various countries fulfill their economic & political motives through international treaties & donations. 

It took an extra effort for me to digest the information & the thought process of these articles. Normally a person can read and absorb 3-4 articles in a day, reading 80 such articles required dedication on my part.

Those who love politics, diplomacy, international relations and are looking to go into Civil Services will love it. I can vouch for it. It is so revealing and informative.
We hardly understand the motive behind international politics but this book can help you understand it.  Just grab it.

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover – 4/5
  2. Content – 4.5/5
  3. Overall – 4/5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown - Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation - Vaseem Khan

A few months back I got two fantastic books. Unexpected inheritance of Inspector Chopra & The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown two books in series of “Baby Ganesha Agency” by Vaseem Khan. I loved the first part & was equally enthusiastic to read second part but during my relocation, I misplaced this gem. It took me three months to find back this book & every minute spent on finding this book was worth. I found it damn interesting & gripping. In spite of heavy workload, I finished this book in 3-4 sittings.

Book Blurb
For centuries the Koh-i-Noor diamond has set man against man and king against king. Now part of the British Crown Jewels, the priceless gem is a prize that many have killed to possess. So when the Crown Jewels go on display in Mumbai, security is everyone's principal concern. And yet, on the very day Inspector Chopra visits the exhibition, the diamond is stolen from under his nose. The heist was daring and seemingly impossible. The hunt is on for the culprits. But it soon becomes clear that only one man - and his elephant - can possibly crack this case.
Last part ended with Retired Inspector Chopra starting his detective agency & restaurant. Both of his plans were instantly hit. But life is not that grateful for Chopra. As the restaurant was managed by her mother-in-law, he had to be on his toe due to her harshness. On other hand, detective jobs were not as great & interesting as his unofficial case of human- trafficking. In his quest, his ex-subordinate also joined him. There were many changes came into Chopra’s life after human trafficking case, which kept the story interesting. Introduction of Irfan’s part was a warm heart touching.

The narration of Vaseem Khan is simple yet powerful. It can take you on the ride of Chopra’s life with as realistic touch as possible. The characters’ development makes you fall in love with the story. Talking about detective part, Vaseem Khan has again created an impossible looking case of Jewel Theft, the beginning of which even made me think how it happened.
This books or I would say series have emotion, drama, sarcasm, humor, thriller & suspense, I think many books with just one of this ingredient became a big hit. And this book has each ingredient in the perfect mix. I am glad my 2018 started with this book. A perfect read for any age group.

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover – 4.5/5
  2. Characters – 5/5
  3. Concept – 4.5/5
  4. Overall – 4.5/5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

The Dev Anand Story by Govind Sharma

As the name suggests The Dev Anand Story is the biography of evergreen Dev Anand. This book has covered his ups & downs in the film industry and his personal traits. A very informative book with writing mixed with beautiful quotes and recollections from different personalities & publishing mediums.


Book Blurb
A must-read for Dev Anand fans and students of film history
“A broken nose sometimes makes a great boxer,” said the evergreen Bollywood star Dev Anand after his movie Ishq Ishq Ishq did not work at the box office. In his sixty-five years of unchallenged dominance as the most-loved Hindi film star, Dev Anand gave us several memorable hits like Guide, Taxi Driver, Hum Dono, Johny Mera Naam, and Hare Rama Hare Krishna.
He was not only an exceptionally handsome and stylish hero. His ‘man of the future’ philosophy is worth emulating by persons of all generations. He neither celebrated his successes nor lamented over his failures. A Karma Yogi, in the true sense of the term, he produced, directed, and acted in a lead role in a movie at the age of eighty-eight, which is without parallel in the history of Bollywood.
The book attempts to analyse why his philosophy of life is a source of inspiration for all. It also gives a detailed filmography from Hum Ek Hain to Charge Sheet, with a separate chapter on Guide, and a special write-up on his genius brother Vijay Anand.
The book covers the year-wise classification of Dev Anand's movies along with the summary of few of his remarkable movies. That is appreciable work of the author. 

Though this is  "Dev Anand Story" there is less about "Dev Anand" and more about his films. As a reader, I can understand that film and actor can't be separated from each other. Still, a lot can be done & written over the struggle of Dev Anand. Facts about the movie which everyone knows. In a biography, people would like to know other facts about his relationships with others in the film industry, his ups & downs in his film career. These facts can be researched & written. The author could have added the part which talks about his efforts behind getting a movie or struggle in the initial phase.

The Dev Anand fan would surely love that mini summary of movie & don't miss this great art of work.

Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book Review - Rankshetram: Asureshwar Durbheeksha Ki Wapsi

I know I have given average ratings to Rankshetram - 1 - Raksh Raj Markesh Ka Ant. That doesn't mean I cannot read next part. The author provided me ARC of the book to get my suggestions as I bombarded with issues in part-1. He wanted critical inputs to improve Asureshwar Durbhiksh Ki Vapsi. And I am glad author has improved a lot compare to part-1.


Book Blurb
चार खण्डों में फैली रणक्षेत्रम महागाथा का दूसरा खण्ड राजकुमार सुर्जन पर केन्द्रित है जो जन्मा तो मानव रूप में किन्तु नायक असुरों का बना। उसके मुख के तेज को देखकर कोई यह अनुमान भी नहीं लगा सकता कि एक दिन वह असुरेश्वर कहलायेगा। किन्तु प्रश्न यह है, कि क्या वह वास्तव में दुष्प्रवृत्ति का है? या फिर यह उन योद्धाओं द्वारा फैलायी गयी एक भ्रांति मात्र है जिन्होंने उस अट्ठारह वर्षीय युवा को छल से पराजित किया था। जब वह लौटकर आया, तो सुर्जन से दुर्भीक्ष बन चुका था परन्तु अब ऐसा कोई जीवित नहीं बचा था जिससे वह अपना प्रतिशोध ले सके। किसी प्रकार उसने अतीत में अपने साथ हुए अन्याय को विस्मृत करने का प्रयास किया। किन्तु परिस्थितियों ने उसे हस्तिनापुर के युवराज सर्वदमन (भरत) के सम्मुख ला खड़ा किया और सर्वदमन से सामना होते ही अतीत के सारे पीड़ादायक दृश्य दुर्भीक्ष के समक्ष आ खड़े हुए और उसकी प्रतिशोध की प्यास फिर जाग उठी। वह सर्वदमन का वध करने दौड़ा, किन्तु एक स्त्री उन दोनों के बीच आ खड़ी हुयी, जिसे देखकर उसे अपने शस्त्रों का त्याग करना पड़ा और एक बार फिर उसका प्रतिशोध अधूरा रह गया। दुर्भीक्ष का सर्वदमन से क्या संबंध है? कौन थी वह स्त्री जिसके पास दुर्भीक्ष के सामने खड़ी होने का हौसला था? क्या होगा आर्यावर्त के सबसे बड़े योद्धा के अपूर्ण प्रतिशोध का परिणाम?
The first part ended with "Mahayudhdh" a great war. The second part started at the beginning of Durbhiksh background. The story also portrayed a good part of Markesh, his wife Shivanya and their love story. The story then switched back to Tejaswi's time, where again things went hay wired due to Bhairavnath's cunningness, which led to another big war. In that deadly war, the return of Durbhiksh was known to the world. After the war, the story advanced and new generation entered into the story. Sons of Akhand and Tejasvi led there on. Another kingdom entered the scene which is Hastinapur. Along with Hastinapur new sets of characters added to the story. To know more read the complete story.

Firstly I would like to apologize to the author as I was not aware book audience last time. If I have known the fact I might have reviewed differently. Well, the book is targetted for young adults and middle grades. Content maturity and writing style is aligned with the audience. Some highlights of writing style & characters.
  • To the point story. No extra line apart from the main story.
  • No abusive language
  • Simple language usage for beginners
  • Good linking of characters as story evolves
I had many negative points in mind while reading previous part even halfway through this part but author's style also evolved and improved after Tejaswi's chapter. The impatient behavior of characters steadied in later part. Though some bricks lose here and there but looking at the targetted audience I think content is strong enough. Looking for next part in series.

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover -  3.5/5
  2. Title - 4/5
  3. Characters - 3.5/5
  4. Content - 3/5
  5. Concept - 3.5/5
  6. Overall - 4/5
Book can be found at Amazon
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Super Food for Awesome Memory by Shipra Khanna

Though I like to experiment various recipes at home, I have never read any food book seriously. Super Food for Awesome memory by Shipra Khanna is my first book in the genre and I really enjoyed the experience. Book or I would say ingredients & recipes were focused towards improvements in mind power.


Book Blurb
We are what we eat and so our memory is linked to food. The helplessness that overwhelms us when one forgets a name can be embarrassing. In this age of instant googling, this is just the start of the ebbing process where memory is gradually relegated to a shrinking space in our brains. Enter Master Chef India shipra Khanna who tells you about the fish that helps you meditate or a walnut that prevents you from going nuts. This amazing book of recipes brings to us on a platter the food that helps us in strengthening our mind and memory. And this food is to be found not in some exotic location but in our own kitchen. Try her recipes and see for yourself how you can fight the complacency and sloth that come in the way of your exercise and positive action, thereby making for a better life. From chicken recipes that keep ageing away to recipes made with coconut oil that help fight memory loss, super foods for awesome memory is the book you will never forget.
Shipra has provided 15+ ingredients & related recipes. Each ingredient started with it benefits & background. That was followed by recipes using that ingredient. Recipes were “simple”, I am giving emphasis on simple because many of them can be cooked in less than 10 minutes, including preparation time. Many of those recipes were mouthwatering & worth trying by anyone. For me 90% of the recipes were new. I would like to try some of them personally. I think comparing with general recipes book, this is a different book in the following manner
  • Main ingredients pros were enlisted initially & recipes following that ingredient
  • Not all recipes were pictured supported. Only 25% of them images supported.
  • Cooking methodology  was considered above normal households
Once again, it was a different read for me. I tried something new in 2017 and I am happy for the same. Talking about ratings
  1. Cover – 5/5
  2. Title – 4.5/5
  3. Concept – 4/5
  4. Artwork – 4/5
  5. Overall – 4/5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

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