Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Story of Madhubala by Manju Gupta

Famous "Anarkali" from Mughale-Azam was one of the most heard characters from my elders during my childhood. There are numerous statements like "Nobody could have poured color in Anarkali than Madhubala." I chose "I don't want to die - Madhubala" by Manju Gupta with all excitement to know about Madhubala's story.

Blurb of  book goes something like this -
Madhubala was born as Mumtaz Jehan Begum in Delhi on 14 February 1933. When she entered in film industry as a child artist in 1942, who could ever thought on seeing her that one day she would become one of the most beautiful and versatile actresses of Hindi cinema.
Lavishly illustrated with photos of Madhubala, this special book covers in detail the major events in her life, her rise in the film industry from bit player to celebrity and her marriage to Kishore Kumar. Her life, especially her helplessness at being caught between the two persons she loved most in life -- Dilip Kumar and her father Ataullah Khan, is vividly portrayed. 
I rarely read biographies. This is one I took with sheer excitement to know about famous film actress personal life. But it was not as I expected. Instead of biography, it was simply compilation of various articles and comments with few short incidents. I found that Madhubala's actual life story is scattered in different pages. Even story content is just 50% of total content, remaining is filled with quotes and comments from articles or celebrity. Well I came to know few facts about Madhubala that's plus part.
Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 4 / 5 (Its for Madhubala Pic)
  2. Content - 2 / 5 (
  3. Language - 3 / 5
  4. Story Line - 2.5 / 5
  5. Overall - 2.5 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I wanted it to be you by Kalpa Das

There is a famous quote from Robin Sharma - 'Not all books need to be finished'. "I wanted it to be you.' by Kalpa Jyoti Das was one of such book. But I got the book as giveaway and as a gratitude I finished it.

Blurb of book goes like this 
Everyone has a dream love.You yearn for it to happen, to met the love of your dream, but it comes to nothing. Just when you realise, love was never made for you, someone else walks in your life. Just when you feel that she is the right one for you, your dream love knocks your door. What do you do, keep up your vow , or espouse the love you always dreamed off.
Book cover and title was interesting when I first started it, I may have picked book from shop if it would be sold at price of 50-70 rs. But the moment I read first few pages, all expectation fell down. When I was reading I got feeling that, someone is narrating me a movie that he/she has watched last night. 

Story goes something like this - Boy fell in love for a girl in his home town. Though distant their relationship flourish, and when you expect things go normally. Boy fell for another girl at same time, and morally justified his inner self with both commitment. But as time goes he started liking second girl and left first one. And when you expect again to go things well, he got frustrated with second girl and instead of leaving that girl he end up marring her up.

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 3.5 / 5 
  2. Concept - 1.5 / 5
  3. Content - 1.5 / 5 
  4. Language - 2.5 / 5
  5. Story Line - 1.5 / 5
  6. Characters - 2 / 5
  7. Overall - 1.5 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Friday, August 19, 2016

Saat Pagla Aakash Ma by Kundanika Kapadia

Saat Pagla Aakash Ma is an inspirational book about women. Its ever-read on women equality and empowerment. Author Kundanika Kapadia did detailed field work and research about women and their situations, she has mentioned it in book's introduction page. There is rebel in her voice against age old misconception about women.

In our society women's mind is always filled with various questions, story characters like Vasudha, Aena, Jayaben, Mitra are the answer to those questions. These women have power and dedication to change the society's mindset about women. Definition of liberation is not about having a MNC job, wearing jeans or skirt, having maids. Women liberation comes when people change their mindset and consider women with equality. Women also have to change their mindset about themselves.

This amazing book boost up positive thoughts in your mind. Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 4 / 5 (Though hardcover but looks boring)
  2. Concept - 4.5 / 5
  3. Content - 4.5 / 5
  4. Language - 4.5 / 5
  5. Story Line - 4.5 / 5
  6. Characters - 4.5 / 5
  7. Overall - 4 / 5
Book can be found at DhoomKharidi
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Friday, August 12, 2016

One More Candle - Picture Book

"One More Candle" written by Merry Susiarjo and illustrated by Emmeline Pidgen is the perfect read for any parent who want to encourage good sibling relationships, especially the relationship between sisters. If I have missed this book considering kids book I might have missed a wonderful message for my kid. 

Blurb of the book goes like -
Nola is just over a year younger than her sister Betty, and they decide to have one big, shared birthday party every year rather than each having a smaller one. But poor Nola gets upset that Betty always has one more candle than her, and fruitlessly seeks help from all the light-giving things she finds in the world outside. But just as she begins to accept the reality of their different ages, the solution comes as an enchantingly simple surprise. Emmeline Pidgen's authentic and imaginative illustrations bring this sweet and gentle picture book story magically to life.
Considering children story, author has narrated it beautifully around two sisters. Younger girl Nola always competes with her elder sister. She always wants same not less than what her elder sister gets. Nola observed that candles on her birthday cake is always one less than Betty. Through out the story Nola tried to equal Betty in the number of candle. At the end author gave a good message of sharing with siblings, where Betty did something which changed Nola's perspective from her sister completely.

One More Candle, as story, started with sibling rivalry and ended with wonderful message at end. The illustrations are very well done and really help to convey the emotions experienced by Nola. 
Talking about ratings:

  1. Cover - 4.5 / 5 (Though hardcover but looks boring)
  2. Concept - 4.5 / 5
  3. Content - 4.5 / 5 (For Emmeline Pidgen)
  4. Language - 5 / 5
  5. Story Line - 4.5 / 5
  6. Characters - 4.5 / 5
  7. Overall - 4.5 / 5

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Aakhet - MustRead Thriller of Gujarati Literature

When I have written review of Aakhet-1, I didn't know that I was making big mistake of dividing review of story. Aakhet should be seen as single story, divided into three parts just because of its content length and commercial limitation. Written in three parts with more than 1450 pages, Aakhet is like an epitome of Gujarati thriller stories. I haven't read more interesting story than Aakhet even in English. I am again stating this book should be translated into other languages to spread its amazing story to other parts of world.

Author, Ashwini Bhatt had portrayed a wonderful tale of Vasant Gaonkar, main protagonist of the story. Three different phases of Gaonkar's life is described in each part. Apart from Gaonkar, major characters are his daughter Urja, Urja's lover Shemal Paswan, Shemal's maternal uncle Gulshan Rai, Jagjitsingh Hara a freedom fighter, Hemant Oak, Malti Krishnan to name a few. Each character has it's own role in overall story. Apart from major characters, each part has it's own set of supporting characters and antagonist as well.

The first part described darkest history of Vasant Gaonkar a.k.a. Shavant Shirke. Story started in late 1960 when Portuguese were about to leave Goa, Diu & Daman. Vasant Gaonkar and his friend had planned something dangerous. But things became complex when Gaonkar got a call from a blackmailer. Blackmailer claimed to know his dark history of being Shavant Shirke instead of Gaonkar. Even the cue of this fact brought Gaonkar into his long forgotten past. In past around 1930's where an orphan Gaonkar became a servant of a wealthy land lord. Author has nicely described how Gaonkar with his sheer luck survive in his plan to kill and loot his landlord. He ran from there and met Gulshan Rai, a police sub inspector. Gaonkar ran from police and met Jagjitsingh. Jagjit helped him to change his identity and sent him Saudi. Apart from his past, story went ahead in his current time (1960's) where Shemal in-spite of knowing facts about Gaonkar, fell in love for Urja. Urja had similar feelings for Shemal but they didn't expressed their feelings yet.

The second part is had two timelines. One in Saudi where Gaonkar started his empire with pearl hunting company and second where Urja and Shemal relationship started deepening. Second part narrates how Gaonkar had played role of pirate and looted ship to give financial support to Jagjit. After settling down as respected businessman in Saudi, Gaonkar by accident met Urja's mother. Story of how Gaonkar got her wife was also breathtaking. In India, Jagjit cover was exposed and he was forced to leave country. He later joined Azand Hind Fauj under Subhash Chandra Bose. Second timeline was again in current time (1960's) where Shemal & Urja expressed each others' feeling and emotion. Urja tried to convince Gaonkar to accept Shemal; on other hand Shemal asked Gulshan Rai to stop blackmailing Gaonkar and told him about his love. Things became interesting as Hemant Oak and Malti Krishnan, Gaonkar helper & secretary started solving blackmailing mystery.

The last part is written in 1960's time just before Diu's freedom from Portuguese. 2/3 rd of the story is written as climax, which makes it impossible to put down the book. Third part started with everyone's movement towards Una / Diu. One by one each major and minor characters end up in either Dui or Una. In this part, Gulshan Rai did damage control. He made sure that Gaonkar will accept Shemal as his son-in-law. Whole team fight against, Portuguese and put Portuguese in great uproar.

I took my own pace and completed trilogy in 4-5 months, with multiple parallel reads. But I am sure fan of Aakhet will call me idiot. There is not a single page in 1450+ pages which will make you put down book. All characters, locations & incidents were described in detailed. You can visualise it while reading it. Must read for every Gujarati. 

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 3 / 5 (Though hardcover but looks boring)
  2. Concept - 5 / 5
  3. Content - 5 / 5
  4. Language - 5 / 5
  5. Story Line - 5 / 5
  6. Characters - 5 / 5
  7. Overall - 5 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon Part1, Part2, Part3
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads - Part1, Part2, Part3

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Merjella by Yuvaraja Dhayanithi

Though 'Merjella' by Yuvaraja is written for kids/young adults, it is a refreshing read for any age group. Merjella can remind us why fantasy is still the best genre to read.

Blurb of the book goes like :
Jella, an octopus, is the rightful ruler of Zypher, a kingdom in the sea. But her father was killed and the kingdom was taken over by the evil Chiro. She has no one left but her two little friends, Qwerty and Bingo. Now the task of winning back Zypher and freeing the people is up to her.
Marina is an eminent scientist who has no clue about her contributions to the world. Her inventions are placed in the wrong hands, posing a huge threat to everybody.
Jella finds Marina stabbed and left to die in her sea. In a magical intervention, together they discover each other’s life experiences - but will they be able to reclaim their destiny?
Story started with an octopus Jella, who had ability to become Jellopus (octopus with magical powers). She was living far from her birthright Zypher with her friends. Her life changed when one of her octopus friend went to Zypher to challenge evil Chiro. Her friend got defeated and she was forced to go in hiding. During this Jella accidentally met Mariana (a human). Mariana was stabbed in her back and she was thrown in sea. When Jella tried to save Mariana they both merged in each other and became a new species called MereJella. Because of this fusion Jella got magical powers. And became Jellopus in real sense. 

With her new power she wanted to fight Chiro but Bingo, her friend, asked her to be patient. He advised her to make a strategy and come back when she understand her own powers. Considering Bingo's advice Jella go to human world. She makes friends there. She also started finding out reason behind Marina's murder. Jella train an army of various fishes species and lead them to war against Chiro. Story was sure-shot page turner till last page.

It was a good - light book for young adults. The pace was pretty fast. There were few lose points where author ran very fast to describe scene / part well. Author has used fish capability well to characterized them in story.

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 3.5 / 5
  2. Concept - 4 / 5 (Completely new, no doubts about it.)
  3. Content - 4 / 5 (Specially for facts provided about fish)
  4. Language - 3.5 / 5 (Proper for its age group)
  5. Story Line - 4 / 5 (Pretty straight)
  6. Characters - 3.5 / 5 
  7. Overall - 3.5 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at - GoodReads

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mahabharata - Story of 5 Individuals - Not Pandavas

"Ajaya - Roll of The Dice (Part 1) & Rise of Kali (Part 2)" is an epic written by Anand Neelakantan which shows Mahabharata from Duryodhana's point of view. I was unjust and hasty when I have written review of part-1, but I will correct my review as I have completed both the parts. I will re-write review for complete series "Ajaya".

From our childhood, either we heard or watched (On Doordarshan) stories the Mahabharata. We accepted Pandavas and Krishna as hero. We accepted all loopholes in stories that came to our mind as divine intervention. Except Karna, We always imagined Suyodhana, Sushashana, Ashwathama as wrong doers. We never thought what could be the reason behind Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Narayani Sena and other nobles support for Suyodhana in his struggle against Pandavas. We accepted available Mahabharata as recited by Ved Vyasa in front of Vaisampayana, but what if it was altered by the time it reached to us; what if Mahabharata as we know today is completely different from what it was actualy. It is winner who chooses what will go down to history. Neither Duryodhana nor his supporters won to continue his side of story. Anand has wonderfully portrayed how Duryodhana would be if his struggle for kingship was righteous.

Story started with five important individuals (I am not talking about Pandavas). First and foremost, the protagonist of this story is Suyodhana, a young, energetic, rebellious prince. Born in times of strict caste rule where dying on the name of dharma is seen higher than survival of existence, Suyodhana found it ridiculous to consider every person through accidental birth (or commonly known as caste). He dreamed of a country where things would be on merit based than caste based. Bullied by his cousins throughout his childhood and underestimated by his Guru - Teacher, he spent most of the childhood listening to equlity and ideal society from rebellious Kripa & Carvaka. Throughout his life he earned three things, first good friends (Karna, Ashwatthama & Eklavya) even Krishna and Pandavas were envy of him for this, second support of common people (I would say lower caste) which Krishna & Brahmin caste saw as threat to society; and last respect from few nobles (such as Bhishma, Balrama, Jarasandha) which even Pandava were not able to get. Known for his evil actions Duryodhana had done few things that earned him ill-fame, first insult of Draupadi in Court, second consultation of his uncle Shakuni, and last going against traditions of upper caste.

Second character is Karna, adopted by a charioteer family. He was first-born of Kunti (Pandavas mother) before her marriage. He wanted to become worrier. He followed his heart against all the odds. He was accepted by Suyodhana when he was alone. Throughout his life he struggle to have equal status of Kashatriya. He followed each and every tradition of Kashtriya. He rejected crown of Hastinapur for his friendship and proved his loyalty to Suyodhana.

Third character is Ashwatthama, son of Drona, brahmin by birth. He was childhood friend of Suyodhana. He was equal in strength of Karna and Arjuna, but always seen as Suyodhana's friend. His ability were always underestimated. He tried to show his abilities to Suyodhana but always failed his friend & father. His speech in last chapter of Ajaya was actually heart-touching. He is immortal in out thoughts whenever we read or hear Mahabharata stories.

Fourth is Eklavya, a son of Commander-in-chief of Maghada, but lived childhood in poverty. He also wanted to learn use of weapons. Unlike Karna, Eklavya learnt weapons from Drona just by seeing how Drona teaching Pandavas. He also wanted to acknowledge by people for his superiority specially from Drona. Cheated by Drona at early age and even after losing his thumb to Drona, his struggle made him king of Nagas. 

Fifth character is Jara, commonly shown as hunter who killed Krishna. Jara spent few years of his life with Eklavya. But when Eklavya beat him they parted. His teenage life went in dark (killing, looting, etc), but a life changing experience came to Jara's life and he became blind follower of Krishna.

Same way it is story of few antagonist. First and foremost is Shakuni. I would say some characters were always end up as villain, no matter which side of story you listen. Shakuni was on characters. His homeland was destroyed by Bhishma, and his sister was forced to marry a blind prince of Hastinapura. He had taken oath to bring down complete Bharata-varsha with him.

The second anatagonist was Dhaumya, a brahmin considered himself as brahm-gyani (who knows everything) often insulted by knowledgable people (specially Bhishma, Kripa, Carvaka). He always shielded Pandavas with lame Dharma and Scripture that he thuoght he knew. He was firm believer of caste system. Ideas of Suyodhana were dangerous for his, as they can take special rights from him and his caste. He lead or I would say mislead Krishna (though Krishna's caste belief was different than Dhaumya), Pandavas and common folks.

Characters like Samba (Krishna's Vanara-clan wife son), Durjaya, Yuyutsu (Dhritrasta's Vaishya wife's son) and Takshaka had also played their role to bring chaos to peace and unity between cousins.

I would say apart from above mentioned characters everyone else were misguided or became direct or indirect puppet to antagonist's laid game. Story-line was almost parallel to what we have heard from our childhood, difference between those stories and these books are:
  1. No magic or divine power
  2. Stories were portrayed from Suyodhan's side
Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 3.75 / 5
  2. Concept - 4.5 / 5
  3. Content - 4 / 5
  4. Language - 3.5 / 5
  5. Story Line - 4.5 / 5
  6. Characters - 4.25 / 5
  7. Overall - 4.5 / 5

Ajaya - Roll of The Dice (Part 1) can be found at - Amazon  & Flipkart
Ajaya - Rise of Kali (Part 2) can be found at - Amazon  & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at - GoodReads Part1 & Part2

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mansai ni Thapan - The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk By Sudha Murthy

I fell in love for the title the moment I saw the cover of "Mansai Ni Thapan" - (English translation would be "Capital of Humanity"). It is a Gujarati translation by Jelam Hardik of book "The Day I Stopped Drinking" by Sudha Murthy.

Blurb written about books goes like this : It is collection of heartwarming stories about my and your life. Many incidents and stories mentioned in book which can touch your memories. This is a collection of such short-stories which make you feel that it has happened with you as well. Such occasions are penned down wonderfully by Sudha Murthy.

Title which gives you food for though, whether we talk about English title of Gujarati. Same way book also force you to change your view towards life. Each short-story is bundled with bigger meaning. 

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover Page - 2.5 / 5 (Specially for Gujarati Edition)
  2. Content - 4.5 / 5
  3. Language - 4 / 5
  4. Story - 5 / 5
  5. Overall - 4.5 / 5
Gujarati version of book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
English version of book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at - GoodReads