Sunday, March 24, 2019

Book Review - Once upon an IAS exam by K. Vijayakarthikeyan

I liked this book because of its interesting cover and the title of the book "Once upon an IAS exam" by K. Vijayakarthikeyan. Being a teenager hearing the word exam always rings a bell in mind. Also, there were more than 100 positive reviews of the books on Amazon & Goodreads that made my decision easy. So I finally read this book.


Book Blurb
It's about a 25 year old Vishy who is trying to crack the UPSC Civil Services Exam, while he balances the tugs and lurches of love and family. Will there be a happily ever after?
This book follows the story of a boy named Vishy Who aspired to become an IAS officer, after failing the entrance exam once his will to become IAS officer got even stronger. And everyone in his family and his girlfriend encouraged him to do so but the ride to the exam was tough. His positive attitude got him through it and finally, he became IAS officer. In between 1st failed attempt and 2nd successful attempt lies the story which will keep us engaged till the last page. Read the book to know more.

I really like the character of Vishy and his attitude towards life and Civil service exam. His character is seen in the light of witty, courageous, positive and little humorous. By the journey of Vishy through his IAS exam, I have remembered my journey when I was giving my board exams. The memory, the anxiety of the exam, the hype around scoring the exams well all came rushing back to my memory. Besides Vishy, the character of his girlfriend is also kind and supportive. After reading this book every boy is gonna want to have a girlfriend like her.

I think this book is written beautifully and all and all if you want to read a soft book after reading an intense thriller or heavy mind blown stuff than this book is perfect.

Ratings
  1. Cover :- 3.5/5
  2. Content :- 3.5/5
  3. Character :-4/5
  4. Concept :- 3/5
  5. Overall :- 3.5/5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

We would like to thank HalfBakedBeans & ReachoutToRicha for providing us the review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Book Review - The Heist Artist by Vish Dhamija

A mysterious man walking towards the tunnel light in the cover, the mention of a heist in the title itself and the well written colophon enough to get anyone interested in what lay inside. It had been a long time that I had read something wherein the protagonist was portrayed in a grey shade.


Book blurb
Vagh Pratap Singh aka the Captain is a conman extraordinaire. From transporting illegal merchandise and stealing cars to breaking safes, he's done it all. But now, in his fortieth year, he's ready to retire. So when Udham Kumar, a crooked politician from Uttar Pradesh, commissions the Captain to track down and steal Poppy Flowers, a Vincent van Gogh's painting that has been smuggled into India after it went missing in a museum in Egypt in 2010, the Captain knows that he's found his last, and biggest case. But the painting is now in possession of a dangerous gangster, and the Captain is being followed by Udham Kumar's ruthless associates, greedy for both money and power. As the odds against him begin to stack up, the Captain realizes that his last heist might not be as easy as he'd imagined.
“The Heist Artist” revolves around the planning and execution of an art theft of a lost but precious Van Gogh painting by the sneaky Vagh Pratap Singh, aka “The Captain” and the complete chaos that follows afterwards wherein each character has a double-crossing plan of their own. 

The book is written in third and first person narratives. Its light on the eyes and the unwanted details are kept to the bare minimum. Yes, it does lack the element of powerful suspense, but makes up for it by keeping the story well paced and interesting. The chapters are short well placed and connected. The use of simple language aids the plot as the readers can actually focus on the story and keeps them engaged. Most of the story is on the roads, and the author successfully is able to implant the city and highway scenes in the readers mind with a use of very few words.

Captain as a central character sticks to the plot and portrays his role flawlessly. His planning, on-the-feet thinking, dark humour and his self-justified “steal to survive” ideas are depicted superbly. 
The female protagonist Sylvia’s depiction as a beauty-with-brains aides to the plot and supplements it nicely. Uddham Kumar and Bipin Patel as real world rich and powerful goons play their antagonist parts well, but personally I felt could had been more villainous. Damodar Yadav, Sheena as a supportive character are used only when needed during the plot so that the story stays oncourse. 

Personally, I found the ending to be a little bit of damper. But overall, the author delivers us a story which is quite light for a criminal fiction genre. Inspite of its not-so-new plot, the book successfully captures the readers interest. Its not nail-biting, but it’s something.

For Vish Dhamija’s simple yet lucid criminal fiction thriller, my overall rating would be 4/5.

Overall Verdict:- Light, Interesting and Uncomplicated Heist

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

We would like to thank WritersMelon for providing us the review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Book Review - In Love with Simran by Kulpreet Yadav

We are following Kulpreet Yadav on social media, ever since we have seen praise of his book "Murder in Paharganj". Later on, we read and reviewed that book. It was an awesome read. So when we saw Kulpreet's tweet about the next book, we expected it to be an action or thriller. Later on, we found the title "In Love with Simran." Don't blame me, but the title made me visualize DDLJ kind of story. But I was proven wrong by the author.


Book Blurb
Sanjana’s best friend at college is murdered. She was in love with a business tycoon named Nik Sethi, and Sanjana is certain that he killed her. In an effort to find proof, she decides to get close to him. 

Good looking and rich, Nik falls in love with Sanjana instantly, but a month later, when he accidently discovers her real agenda, he throws her out of his life. Determined to nail him, Sanjana’s desperation exceeds all limits when she realizes that she too, like her friend, has fallen in love with a killer. 
After she escapes an attack one night, Sanjana quits college and goes into hiding. Now her only ambition is to punish the killer and her only weapon is her body. In a last, desperate attempt, she uses herself as bait and pursues her best plan. There are only two options: she becomes a victim or she becomes a victor. 
Through the story of Sanjana and Nik, In Love With Simran explores the boundaries of the basic instincts of the young: love, sex, trust and survival.
Before I start, tell me how far you can go for your friends. The protagonist of our story is Sanjana. She found her friend Simran in love with a high profile business tycoon, Nik. But within in a short duration, Simran was found dead. Unable to accept the situation, Sanjana wanted to find out the truth behind Simran's death. She took the chance and decided to go near Simran's boyfriend. But things didn't work out as she expected. Nik came to know about Sanjana's true motive and left her. At the same time, Sanjana also started feeling for Nik. The situation became grave for her as powerful hands of Nik made her life difficult. Determined to go to any level to solve the mystery, Sanjana took help of her body. (You may relate it to Hate Story -1's protagonist) Read the book to know more.

My observations
  1. A bold book, which shows what a woman can do if she decides to take revenge.
  2. Easy language and fast pace
  3. A simple & straight storyline, you may take it as positive or negative. Depending on your reading preferences
  4. Light in size. Good for trips
I think certain places that spark was missing or not touching upto the mark, especially if written by an author like Kuldeep. But not a big issue, I still enjoyed the book.

I would give 3.75/5 to "In Love with Simran"

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

Book Review - Ghoomophiro - Travel Bringing Families Together by Himadri Garg

I have read fiction based on trekking, road trips, mountaineering. But a traveling-fiction was my first-time experience. There are three major reasons for selecting this book.
  1. Traveling fiction - Something new. We have not tried it yet.
  2. Writer - Himadri Garg is the sister of Prachi Garg. We have already read Super Women series by Prachi and we loved it. So we had high hopes from Himadri.
  3. The domain of writer - Those who are not aware of sisters. They run a travel venture with same name Ghoomophiro. So they must have ample of wonderful memories to relate and make a story around it.

Book Blurb
"Full of photographs, souvenirs and trinkets from around the world, the Kumar house was nothing short of a mini-museum of the flavours from the world. There were preserve-me glow balls from places that no longer existed- like the great barrier reef or the Hawaiian Islands, along with memory-cubes, that contained snap-shot holograms of places that the residents had been to and wanted to revisit virtually anytime they wanted. Happy photographs of family members, still framed, instead of the now common digital screen-shots that kept changing as per calendar events, awards and certificates for varied accomplishments, both professional and personal and signs of a well-read occupant were all visible. The house, to say the least, had character and spoke for itself, even though, ironically, most of its members did not as much.

Ghoomophiro is the story of two sisters Nitika and Kritika and their exciting much-awaited trip with their family. Both of them are travelers and during this trip, family discusses everything about their travel tales.
With its vivid descriptions, uplifting adventures, Ghoomophiro is a journey that everyone can live with and can relate to and can inspire anyone to pack the bags to explore."
Coming to the story part, it revolves around a promise or a trend set by two sisters, Nitika and Kritika. They have decided to go on traveling every year without fail and they have followed this tradition for 25 years. But this year they have decided to do it with the whole family. The family trip has made the story more interesting, as each character brings a new & fresh perspective. Read the book to know more.

As I have already mentioned Himadri & Prachi have traveled a lot. They have been to different places, which can be seen while reading Nitika and Kritika's experience of 25 places they visited during their 25 years of trips. It required a lot of research and first-hand experience of traveling, places, people to write a perfect travel-book. The debut efforts of Himadri is really commendable. The only issue I found was mix and match of fiction, travelogue and documentary style. It could have been better.

I would give 3.5/5 to efforts of Himadri.

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Meet Nishika Bajaj - Author of Tiny Tara and the Tree of Life

India needs quality literature works for kids and middle grades. And every such work should be appreciated well. Recently we read "Tiny Tara and the Tree of Life" by Nishika Bajaj, which was actually applaudable work. Today we have Nishika with us to discuss the book in detail.


Can you brief us about your educational background?
I am a post graduate in print journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. Prior to that, I did my MBA in Finance from the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi, which followed closely on the heels of a B.Com. (H) from Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC).
What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I was a keen contributor to the college magazine while at Sri Ram College of Commerce. In fact, we started a cross-college publication called Candid Expressions, as we were keen to have a larger audience for college magazines than just the students we regularly hobnobbed with.
What are some day jobs you have held?
Banker, Editor, Content Specialist and Communications Consultant – these are just some of the hats I’ve worn at work.
Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors? Which author inspires you the most?
Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, JK Rowling, Ruth Rendell, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Vikram Seth, Amish, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Amitabh Ghosh – the list is long! Most recently, Amish has been a big inspiration for the way he used elements of Indian mythology to spark interest in youth and show them a side of Lord Shiva that has made him contemporary and cool!
When did you start writing?
I began to take writing seriously when some friends and I started aninter-college magazine in Delhi University.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I decided to become a writer when my child was born. My now 2-year-old son loves all things green and I realised that I must do more to encourage children to explore nature, rather than take refuge behind the TV, tablets, phones and laptops.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To encourage more children (and grown-ups with an inner child!) to read as a matter of course, to read about what matters and to read as a foundation for making the world a better, a greener and a kinder place.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
I work from home, so I save time commuting to and from office and use that time to pen down my thoughts for writing my next work.
Is this your debut work?
I write blogs for LinkedIn where I have made a name for myself as the Top Voice for 2018 in the field of Philanthropy and Global Development.
What genre are your books?
My book pertains to the genre of children’s fiction – a blend of mythology and contemporary themes such as global warming. 


Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
The adventures of the Tiny trio – princess Tara, flight-crazy Sam and healer Neera – take us on a journey through the Tree of Life, and beyond. As the construction of the Delhi Metro begins to threaten their existence, tree spirits Tara, Sam and Neera use their brains to solve problems that even grown-ups find challenging. Lord Ganesha does a cameo, coming to their rescue when things appear most bleak. Of course, it’s not the God himself, but his statue that saves the day. How? Well, the miracle of the milk-drinking statue manifesting below the Tree of Life convinces the religious majority that this sacred land must be saved. 
Give us an insight into your main character
Tiny Tara is the princess of the Tinies, the tree sprites who live in trees all around us but are hidden from our view. She is a feisty spirit, an untamed and wild child who decides her own destiny. As a tree spirit from the House of Light, she possesses unusual divination skills and can read the minds of those around her. Her friends, mischievous Sameer from the House of Air – who can never stay still– and calm Neera from the House of Water – who can heal with just a simple touch –are the other characters who are central to this story. They forge a deep bond as they go through a time of great trial and tribulation for the tree spirit community, and I only hope that readers are able to forge as deep a bond with these lovable tree spirits.
Where did you get idea for this book?
It was when my son was born. His first words after family were centred on birds, animals, flowers and trees. He is still too young for complete sentences but his body language and his love for the outdoors leave no doubt in my mind that there is so much more harmony between children and nature than we grown-ups can ever comprehend.  
How much research did you do for this book?
I did a lot of research into trees, birds and bugs. I wanted to see the world from the perspective of tree spirits and try to understand how they would view the world from a tree top.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Tara, hands down. I identify with her drive to change the world and make it a better place. I moved from banking to journalism with the vague idea of making a difference, and I am constantly trying to make the world a better place with my philanthropy-centric blogs on LinkedIn and now this book on nature. Tara too has a rebellious streak in her that makes her go against the tide and do what she thinks is right, rather than give in to peer pressure and go with the flow.
Who is your least favorite character and why?
Parthiv, from the House of Earth, is a truly despicable character. He has nothing to redeem him and is always taking pleasure in others’ misery. He provides the perfect foil for the tiny trio of Tara, Sam and Neera who are always trying tohelp others and ultimately change the world for the better.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Balancing my human child on the one hand and my brain child on the other!
Release date.
31st December 2018.
What are you working on at the minute?
The next book in the Tree of Life series.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
As I mentioned, I am happy to write one, provided this book finds a willing audience.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep reading! The day you stop reading, is the day you stop learning, and the day you stop learning is the day you start dying.
Links for your book readers

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Meet Sudhir Ahluwalia - Author of Natural Solutions for Cancer

We have hosted interviews with many authors. Today we have botany and herb expert Mr. Sudhir Ahluwalia with us to discuss his latest book "Natural Solutions for Cancer".


Can you please brief us about your educational background?
BSc Hans Raj College, Delhi University, Post Graduate Diploma in Forestry from Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun
What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
Ordinary student. I started writing short stories when in college.
What are some day jobs you have held?
Member of the Indian Forest Service for 23 years ; Global business consulting head at Tata Consultancy Services for 10 years; business adviser to multiple technology and consultancy firms for 5 years.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspire you the most?
Yes, I read non-fiction books. My favorite titles are – After the Music Stopped by Alan Blinder; The Future of Mind – Michio Kaku; The Gene- Siddhartha Mukherjee
When did you start writing?
My first short stories were published in The Mirror and The Caravan around 1970s when I was finishing graduation from Delhi University
When did you decide to become a writer?
My first book was published pre digital age. It was The Indian Forestry Scene by International Publisher in 1991
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Want to explore the world of herbs and plants. 
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
I write five days Mondays to Fridays from 8 am to 3 pm. I do not take an off day during these days except when I am unwell.
Is this your debut work? If not so, what have you written?
My previous books are – The Indian Forestry Scene; Holy Herbs: Modern Connections to Ancient Plants; Asian Herbs; Natural Solutions for Cancer
What genre are your books?
Health and natural products

Can you describe your current book in few lines?
The failure of modern medicine to find a satisfactory and cost-effective solution to cancer has led many patients turn to complementary alternative medicine for relief. Patients and caregivers both need to get a balanced, scientific evidence-based view of the various nature-based solutions on offer. The book is divided into two parts: fundamental principles and herbs used in treating cancer.
Where did you get idea for this book?
Cancer is a disease which brings fear to many. There are certain herbs and foods with anticancer properties. I wanted to explore the world of natural solutions for cancer.
How much research did you do for this book?
I undertook dozens of trips to the forests where herbs with anticancer properties grow. I had detailed conversations with oncologists, Ayurveda professionals, scientists, Tibetan medicine doctors, European scientists engaged in doing research on herbs for drug discovery. The research work was spread over a period of close to a year. 
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The use of Sanskrit shlokas and terms by Ayurveda professionals describing their treatment methods was the toughest thing to figure out, analyze and put in simple English.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?

Release date. 
4th February, 2019
What are you working on at the minute?
Working on another title on Natural Solutions for Obesity
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
Natural Solutions for Obesity is the second title in the series on Natural Solutions for major ailments. Natural Solutions for Cancer was the first one.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you enjoy writing, go ahead and take the plunge.
Links for your book readers

Meet Nithya - Author of Once Upon a Reunion

Today we have Nithya to discuss her book "Once Upon a Reunion" with us. Those who have missed our review of the book can check here.


Before we go to serious questions, can you please brief our readers about your educational & professional background?
Educational Background – BE (Computer Science), MBA
Professional Background – As an e-learning developer in World Bank, Cognizant, Sify, Xerox, Zoho
What were you like at school/college apart from studies? 
Introvert, bordering on being asocial
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspire you the most?
I read a lot. I read 1-2 books every week. Currently, I am reading, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’. I do not have any favorite authors, though I can say I have read all the works of Kurt Vonnegut and Murakami. I am most inspired by Murakami.
When did you start writing?
At the age of six, I wrote a short story, which got me a first prize. I think it was about my Mum and how she got me a dog.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I think I was always writing, either in my mind or on the paper. It was in 2009 that I decided to get my first novella out, ‘Legal Bond’, which garnered quite some interest.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I aim to reach out to more readers, to share my views, my experiences.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
I write whenever I find time. I write in the morning, while waiting for the curry to cook, while I eat my lunch at office, while watching a movie on TV. Whenever I find time and an idea strikes, I write.
What have you written?
My first novella was Legal Bond published by Pageturn Publishers (now closed). Then I self-published, ‘Entrapment in Aquamarine’. I wrote a short story, ‘Kalyani’, for the Commonwealth Award, which got shortlisted from India, last year.
What genre are your books?
Legal Bond and Entrapment in Aquamarine – Romance; Four Blocks Wide (including Kalyani) – Literary fiction/short story; Once Upon a Reunion – Literary Fiction

Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
My current book, Once Upon a Reunion is about a woman, Nirmala and how her past doesn’t let her move on. How a painful break up forces her to yearn for her lost lover. It is a slice of life story, which I believe can be anybody’s story.
Give us an insight into your main character
The main characters are Nirmala, her husband, Sreenivas, Suresh – Nirmala’s ex. Others are part of the periphery.
Where did you get idea for this book?
I recently attended a school reunion. I happened to meet two exes who refused to speak with each other. I knew both their back stories and I decided to put it out with a lot of fictional elements. I was hoping that they would read my book and realize that it was not anybody’s fault that they got separated.
How much research did you do for this book?
A lot. Spoke to many of my classmates including the estranged lovers. 
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Nirmala, of course. Nirmala can be any woman we know. The complexities of relationships is what I have tried to capture. Why we do what we do? Why we react in a certain way and so on. There is a scene where Sreenivas hits Nirmala. This particular scene gave rise to many questions: how could she react like that? Why didn’t she hit him back? Many questions, many objections. The various layers that all of us wear, at all times forces us to hide our insecurities and hypocrisies. We are not uni-dimensional characters, we have multiple shades. I am trying to give a new point of view with my protagonist.
Who is your least favorite character and why?
I would say, Indraneel. I started by making him a yearning lover of Nirmala. But, this character took on a new shape. It was as if the evil in him just came out and forced me to add the layers on his persona.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Hardest thing was to keep the emotions in check as I had to keep recollecting incidents from my school days, which led to a lot of depressing moments for me. I recollected several incidents which I had buried.
Release date
Feb 5, 2019
Tell us the response you have received for your book from readers.
I sold around 500 copies within a month and my KENP number is at 15,000 pages. The response has been good and I got very good feedback about my writing style. There were critical comments about the way the murder part was handled. I agree with the thriller element not being up to the reader’s expectation. I would just say that I had not intended to write a thriller. This is just Nirmala’s story and how she comes to terms with a loss.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on a full length novel.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
A book series is a great idea, provided there is continuity in the ideas across the books.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep reading, keep writing. Write daily.
Links for your book readers

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