Friday, December 30, 2016

Book Log - Year 2016 - Targets Achieved

If I look back to 2016, I felt satisfied with my book journey. I have achieved most of the targets. Targets set for language (English & Gujarati), Fiction-NonFiction were fulfilled. I have read more than 60 books this year with and average of 41 pages per day. It was quite a good achievement for me. And being data scientist I analysed my book log and compared it with all the previous years. Insights are really interesting.

Looking at birds eye view, first graph shows number of books read in 2016 and combined years before 2016. It seems this year average number of pages in my books were 200-250. Books in 2016 were thinner compare to previous years.


Well knowing over all average didn't help me much. So I went a level deeper and found out average number of pages read for each category and sub category. 


Looking at plain average was again a not a good indication. As I have read 2-3 books in few categories. So lets see number of books read per category.


I always found number of pages mismatch with books. So without checking actual number of pages per category our study wont finish.

And finally, how can I conclude my book-log without preparing word cloud for the same.


Thanks 2016. Having great hope for 2017.

Interview of Sumit Agarwal - Author of The Four Patriots

Some books always stand out from the crowd, and we have seen that many debut author were able to create such magic with their words. Today we have with us Sumit Agarwal the author of 'The Four Patriots'. His book is currently bestseller in various categories.

 

Can you tell our reader about your educational background?
I am a Chemical Engineer from  IIT-Kanpur 1998 batch and  have completed my secondary education from Seth Anandram Jaipuria School Kanpur
Can we know about your professional background?
I am the Managing Director at MLA Group of Industries, Kanpur with a turnover of about 150 crores and I also run a self funded NGO to educate poor children.
What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I was a very active participant at school and college and have won many essay writing contests. I used to speak extempore and debates and won several contests. I learnt to play the guitar  and drums in class 12th to impress someone. When I reached IIT, I started singing and performing on stage. I was also the cultural secretary of my hall at IIT.
Can you tell us more about your reading habit? And your favorite book or novel?
I like reading very diversified topics so there’s no specific author I would like to mention but I read all of the Sidney Sheldon series by the time I passed high school. I like Dan Brown amongst contemporary authors.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I had this dream from childhood to see my country march ahead. I felt we had huge potential but somehow we do not work that hard as we should. We want to win back our lost pride but don’t want to take pains. So I had this desire to portray how all of our dreams about the country can become a reality if the youth works towards it. I started writing this book somewhere in 2011 or 12.
When did you start writing?
From my school days I used to write articles for the school magazine. I don’t exactly remember when I wrote my first published story, but I do remember that I won the essay writing contest for the class 5th-8th section, when I was in class 5. By the time I passed high school. I had my own list of elements of good story telling – characterization, plot, twists, interlinks, dramatization and so on.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to write stories as captivating as Dan Brown with the backdrop of India and patriotism as my core theme.  I am not exactly thinking of winning awards, but my dividend lies in being able to write timeless stories which will be remembered for a long time, in winning hearts and earning the love of my readers.
What genre are your books?
I am committed to the patriotic genre which is very close to my heart. I have written this patriotic thriller and shall continue to write stories with a message and with the intention to inspire our country's youth to participate in its development.
Coming to your current book. Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
If you have ever fallen victim to the system, been humiliated, felt helpless… this book is for you. Destiny invites the four protagonists to step out of their comfort zones and fight the devil that holds their country captive. Will they choose country over love, comfort and success?Will they enter the Chakravyuh, intricately laid down to ensure their destruction?Will they come out of it alive and win back our lost pride?The book is a roller-coaster ride into the lives of these four young men who are out to change the system which could not be changed in the last 70 years of independence.  A story fraught with romance, faith, friendship  and patriotism.
Give us an insight into your main character(s)
Varun, a NRI software engineer, loves Alisha . An extrovert, bubbly character who runs an NGO on policy research to give feedback to the Indian Government.
Salman, CEO of Coffee Moments, loves Mahi – an angry young man, who reacts somewhat violently to the wrongs around him, he loves the people of his chawl where he was born and nurtured by his foster parents.
Raghav, a virtuous politician, loves Neha. His  uncle and cousin are shrewd politicians for whom power is dearer than relationships. He would go to any extent to protect his education ministry from being corrupted by his uncle and cousin. He had lost his parents in childhood, a very turbulent one, which made him emotionally very strong.
Aditya, an altruist businessman, is married to Prachi. He lost his first love, an Austrian girl during engineering days. Runs three NGOs with the sole intention to contribute to his country’s betterment. Loving parents, wife and two children comprise his family, around whom his world revolves.
Where do the your ideas come from?
It is a blend of real incidents / experiences and imagination.
How much research did you do for this book?
A lot. It is a must for any good book. More so for this book as it focuses on the problems faced by our country and their solutions.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Since there are four protagonists, retaining the reader’s interest even during their introduction phase was a challenge.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Since I have 4 protagonists the atleast 25-30 other important characters in the book, the list is too long. Apart from the industry leaders like the Khans and the Kapoors, some names which I have in mind are Ranveer Singh, Jimmy Shergil, Randeep Hudda, Nana Patekar etc.
What are you working on at the minute?
Another patriotic thriller, with a new and even more interesting flavor. It’s brewing in my mind. Many more music videos and a series of lectures across colleges and institutes for nation building.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
Yes, my books most probably will be woven into a series with some common characters, since they will also be related to patriotism.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
A book is your dream, don't give up on it! There are many who start writing but stop at some point, being pulled into the grind of their work and other responsibilities. So even if there is a six month gap, just go back to those twenty pages you had written, read them over, even if it is to add just one line to it. If you can do that, no one can stop you from completing your book.
Links for your book readers

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

An Afghan Winter - A Murder Mystery by Rajesh Talwar

'An Afghan Winter' - Another book from Rajesh Talwar. It's my 4th book from the author in 2016. A suspense story placed after USA's attack on Taliban & Afghanistan.


Book blurb -
Soon after Anzan’s arrival in Kabul he is embroiled in a surreal episode that involves the murder of a friend and fellow inmate of a guest house. There are three possible suspects in the killing of the American army officer. As he travels north and south of the country investigating, he begins to doubt if he will ever discover who killed his friend, when he stumbles upon a horrifying possibility that chills him to the bone.
A journalist Anzan was asked by his Dubai based employer to conduct training for Afghan based media journos. He met many interesting characters through out the story starting from Dubai airport to his journey to Kabul-Kandahar. He became a good friend of one of the inmate Micheal (US national) while staying Aram guest house in Kabul. But on one unfortunate day a bomb blast happened in Micheal's room and he passed away. A detective from US - Wendell took Micheal's case in hand. Anzan also started trying to solve the case. Along with Micheal's case Anzan also worked on other issues like finding his girl friend's dad, unethical practices in few charitable activities. With his journalism skills and luck he was able to solve most of the task at hand. 

It is a slow paced & character-centric story. Each character and it's importance in story was revealed in proper manner. Nothing came out too much unexpected at the same time story was not too much expected. Author was able to keep reader's interest even with slow speed. Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 2.5 / 5 
  2. Language - 3.5 / 5
  3. Story Line - 3 / 5 (Very Very Slow Paced)
  4. Characters - 4 / 5 
  5. Overall - 3 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

I won a review copy from The Tales Pensieve as part of Reviewers Programme. Register on #TTP for lots of #book fun and activities.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Interview of Anupama Garg - Author of The Tantric Curse

'The Tantric Curse' by Anupama Garg was one of our pick of 2016. Written with a topic 'Tantra' which is considered as taboo in India, Anupama has created a wonderful story around tantra and tantra sadhak. Last week we got chance to talk to author and she agreed to give a short interview about her book.

Before we start, let me congratulate and wish Anumapma Garg all the best for her debut book 'The Tantric Curse'.

 

Can you tell our readers about your educational background?
I am post graduate in Chemistry, and have received a Diploma in Business Management and completed law thereafter.
What is your profession?
I presently conduct programs under the name and style of “Life by Choice” with corporate, educational institutes, hospitals and organisations. The focal point of all the programs is self-awareness and self-cultivation leading to holistic wellness. To know more about my work , one can visit www.lifebychoice.net.
Any extra-curricular activities during your school & college?
In school I actively participated in dance, dramatics and debating.
So tell us about your reading habit. Do you read any specific genre or author?
I do read and I read whatever catches my attention irrespective of whose written it. I choose a book depending on the kind of flow and mood I am in.
When did you start writing?
I started with writing small motivational articles for the participants attending my programs around 12/13 years back. I do have a blog which has simple short motivational articles written by me, some of which were published in newspapers and magazines lifebychoice
When did you decide to become a writer?
I am a student of Tantra and disciple of Baba Batuknathji, a Tantric and the head of Bhootnath ashram, the main centre being in Lucknow, India. Media in general has maligned, misinterpreted and misrepresented Tantrics as dark mystical people, indulging in sinister activities. Often people get duped as they lack the understanding of what it is all about. They are lured by such people in the name of offering miraculous solutions to their problems. This also is primarily due to fact that there is nothing known about Tantra. I am not really a writer and often I would discuss with my Guruji about miscreants posing as Tantrics and maligning Tantra. This book happened as one day my Guruji directed me to write a book on Tantra which could be read and comprehended by a common man instead of sitting and forever complaining that why do people misunderstand Tantra so grievously.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
No such ambitions just do my work judiciously, to the best of my ability! 
What genre are your books?
The Tantric Curse is romance, inspirational and mystery rolled in one.

Can you describe your current book in few lines? 
The book throws light on the principles of Tantra. The book, through its central characters, takes the readers into the world of authentic Tantra giving an un-bashed account of the dark and light in Tantra. It is an intense and passionate love story, inspirational handbook of life explaining the principles of Tantra all rolled in one. It is gripping set in present-day and is fast paced.
Give us an insight into your main character(s)
The three main characters of the book are Satya, Krishnam and Rhea. Rhea is the protagonist, gifted with inexplicable abilities and pursuing the royal path of ancient Tantra in Varanasi. Satya, her revered guru, shapes her to carry on the lineage of one of the most controversial path, “Tantra”. He is like a father who lets her make the mistakes, bear the consequences and learn from them. Her personal journey of growth gives the readers a peep into the world of Tantra. The lineage is cursed several generations before her and is at its last where either it will be redeemed or will end, responsibility of which lies on her shoulders. Krishnam is the son of her guru, who shows her the door to sensual pleasures where their body and spirit meet. He is a celebrity lawyer in U.S. and possesses her through love which helps her grow to be woman he is proud of. Rhea is fiery and he the silent space that encompasses her fire. He gives her all the freedom except from himself and places her before himself at every point in life.
Where do your ideas come from?
Life, people and nature.
How much research did you do for this book?
Books like these have to be researched through practice and life. I have dedicated my life to Tantra under the guidance of my Guruji to be able to write a fiction book on it.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
For me personally the hardest part was to get into the flow and then to articulate what I wish to communicate in a way that it’s easy to comprehend.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book? 
No I do not have a trailer. I do have podcasts the link to which are: Podcast-1 & Podcast-2
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? 
I would want a good director to take up the adaptation and leave the casting to him/her.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am contemplating to write a book on reincarnation.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I really don’t think that there are any laws for writing. As Ernest Hemingway has said “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”However I do recommend reading and also reading on subjects beyond what is one’s comfort zone.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I am not a writer but have made an attempt to introduce the true face of Tantra. The book is simple and easy to comprehend and will take you into a world that few understand and know. My idea to write this book was to draw attention to certain facts about Tantra.Tantra is a path of self-realisation descending from Lord Shiva. It is maligned as never before has a genuine practitioner told what it entails to be a Tantric and what exactly is Tantra. The West has misrepresented and misunderstood it as some exceptional sexual practice, whereas in India, as some practice which has grotesque rituals meant to cause destruction. Often media and television in particular have reinstated the fact time and again by calling delinquents Tantrics. Self-proclaimed Tantrics indulging in illegitimate activities are not Tantrics but impostors wearing robes and exploiting people under the garb of Tantra.”The Tantric Curse” is an attempt to bring out the truth of what it entails to be a tantric and why is it given under the Guru Shisya system. Every power has the potential to be misused and how it is used depends on the wisdom of the user.
Links for your book readers

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Interview of Onaiza Khan - Author of Caged

Three weeks back we reviewed an interesting book Caged by Onaiza Khan on our blog. In current time where many young guys and girls are coming up with their self-publishing book, this 25 year old girl won the best story and got it published by competition publisher. Today we are got chance to talk to author Onaiza about her book and about her writing career. 

Welcome to our blog Onaiza. Congratulations for your debut novel. Can you tell our reader about your educational background.
I have a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management and some certificates in the French Language, Creative writing etc. I’m currently pursuing my second Master’s in Education and have plans to study a million more things. Enrolling in a new course is like a hobby for me. I’ve also completed many online courses in cultural and historical areas.

That's really surprising. You look like a girl in her teenage. Do you have any work experience?
I have a little but very rich experience in the Human Resources area and I’m usually pretty good at anything I do.
What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I was a really naughty kid. Really really naughty.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors. Which author inspires you the most?
I’ve been reading a lot in the last couple years but before that I rarely ever read. There are many authors and many books that have inspired, touched and moved me, I’ll mention a few here. I love Jane Eyre for its content. It is so powerful and moving. I love Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier for the writing. It’s like flowing water, so beautiful and refreshing that you don’t want to stop reading for a split second. And Wild by Cheryl Strayed that changed my perspective of life.
So tell us, when did you start writing?
I've been writing since forever I'd say. I used to write passages, poems, and even songs sometimes whenever I felt like. In fact, I've written quite some poems. I remember when I was in the 5th grade, I had written a song and now when I look back, especially at that song, it's pretty embarrassing. I started writing stories 2 years ago. Caged is my first completed novel. I have written first chapters for several others.
That's interesting. And when did you decide to become a writer?
Two years ago. I didn't get a revelation from God or a dream or anything. I don't think anything led to this decision. I just woke up one day wanting to be a writer and wanting to share my words and thoughts with the world.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I don't really know how to answer this as I don't see myself signing bestseller copies of my books and chatting with fans in book readings. (Although I can handle that really well) I just want to connect with people on a whole different level. I want to make people laugh and cry and forget their problems, learn life lessons through my writings.
Is this your debut work? Or have you tried your writing skill with some other work as well?
This is my first book. I've written a few short stories that I've published on Inkitt and are available for free at https://www.inkitt.com/onaiza123
What genre are your books?
Mostly supernatural. Because I don’t like limiting myself within the realms of logic. 
Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
Caged is the story of a woman who has been kidnapped by her own husband. After 3 months in isolation things start to change and with the help of an unexpected ally, she discovers an inner strength and powers previously unknown; changing her perspective and realigning her past, present and future.
Give us an insight into your main character(s)
Noor is a strong woman. She can love even when she's in her worst state. She trusts blindly. She's innocent but she doesn't forgive those who try to hurt her beloved people. And she wouldn't hesitate in avenging herself.
Where do your ideas come from?
From a strange and unknown place called Onaiza's secret fantasy island. It's not the map.
How much research did you do for this book?
I researched only for the places I used in the book.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Obsession. My obsession was the toughest thing. When I was writing this book, I lived like a jungle animal. I was so obsessed with the story, I forgot to brush my teeth sometimes. Sometimes, I'd go for a bath and forget to shampoo. Even when I woke up in the middle of the night to pee, I'd think about CAGED. So I was totally crazy. But I still loved those 8 days. I'm just glad my mother didn't throw me out.

Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
Nope. Not yet.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I would love to see Liam Hemsworth playing Daniel and Nathaniel Buzolic as Christian.
What are you working on at the minute?
I've written a short story recently introducing a new character to the Caged series. It is available on Inkitt for free here, https://www.inkitt.com/stories/horror/83845?ref=a_7cb817d9-55be-49c2-ae25-02098021b1ac
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
It's the coolest thing to do.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write what you strongly feel about. Sometimes people try to write what the readers want to read. But what if you can't be good at writing what the reader wants. But you'll be great at what you want to write and what you strongly feel about. And readers are of various kinds. There will definitely be a bunch of them who will like your work for what it is. It should just come from within you. As deep down as possible.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Oh I think you've got it all covered. I just want to add that if anyone has questions for me anytime, or wants to connect with me, they're always welcome. I love to hear from readers and writers and anything human. So please feel free to say Hi or drop in a message
Links for your book readers

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Men and Dreams: In the Dhauladhar

There are some books which has interesting plot and characters that you forget about other negative points of book. 'Men and Dreams In the Dhauladhar' by Kochery Shibu is one such tale which kept me reading book till last page in-spite of many dull phases.


Blurb of the book -
A hydro power project in the remote Himalayas. Three people brought together by fate. Nanda, an engineer from Kerala at the dam construction site hiding from his past, from the law, torn between the love of his dear ones and the traditional kalari code of revenge. Khusru, a boy displaced from his native village in Kashmir, a gambit in the terror plot threatening to blow up the dam, working as a labour at the site. Rekha, a Kathak dancer in heart, a doctor by profession, arrives at the campsite as the consort of Khusru.
A village that accepts the dictates of modernity with a heavy heart, its population steeped in superstitions and religious beliefs. All throng the camp site like moths to a flame. Some escape untouched,successful; some miss a step and perish. Each has a story to tell and a dream to realize. The fury of nature and hardship of project life has no mercy for the weak and time for the dead. Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk their limb and life in their quest to full fill their dreams
I don't want to brief about story this time. I will discuss few points I marked through out story. Let me start with negative point first so that positive points will cover up afterwards.

For me book has two stories.
  • Story revolves about dam construction. 
  • Story revolves around terrorist plan to blow dam. 
First story is boring and I would say not at all required. No body have noticed even if it is not present. Removal of that part will comprise original story to 50%. Even till last 240 pages I felt that dam construction would have something to do with main plot, but apart from Khusru joining labour camp nothing interesting was there. I was about to finish book because I didn't mind reading technical description but I don't know how many non-engineer/non-technical person can bear it.

Now coming to second story, main crux of the book. Author has cover up the boredom spread over construction details with equally interesting characters and plot. This part shows how deep information author has gathered to write each and every incident and character. Author has created not just main character Nanda, Khusru or Rekha, he created a detailed background for their family as well. Struggle starting from each characters' father or grand father or great grand father to that particular character was given with appealing description. One could visualize beauty of Pakistan Controlled Kashmir or Dhauladhar just by description. Again this story also has few points or detailed characters which I found useless from story point of view. One more thing that disappointed me was climax, I didn't felt that book finished. Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 4.5 / 5 (Nice cover)
  2. Language - 4 / 5 (Easy and straight)
  3. Story Line - 2.5 / 5 (Given for main story only)
  4. Content - 3.5 / 5 (Because of boring dam construction logs)
  5. Characters - 5 / 5
  6. Overall - 3.5/ 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Tantric Curse by Anupama Garg

What a Hypnotic book cover! Even if I haven't received this book from author I would have bought from market. 'The Tantric Curse' - by Anupama Garg is a insightful book with a strong story line and wonderful characters.



Blurb of the book
On an amavasya night, eight-year-old Rhea mysteriously lands at the doors of Shaktidham, a Tantric house of worship, in a trance. Realizing that she is blessed with unusual faculties, the guru of Shaktidham, Satya, chooses her as a disciple over his own son, Krishnam, to carry on his lineage, a privilege previously bestowed only to males. But the lineage has been cursed for generations, and it is up to Rhea to either break the curse or perish in the attempt. Will she succeed in her endeavour? Will her love for Krishnam become an obstacle in her path? The Tantric Curse, an unusual story set in the world of Tantra that aims to dispel most of the myths about the practice, will keep you spellbound till the very last page. About the Author Anupama Garg was born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. She has studied chemistry, business management and law. She has been training under her Guru, Baba Batuk Nathji, a renowned Tantric and head of the Bhoot
No need to take you through story outline as it is nicely written in blurb. Book throws lights on the things we consider sinister. In India tantra is considered taboo. Though principal Goddess of tantra (Chamunda - Durga or Kamyakshini) is worshipped by all, tantrics who worship Goddess were seen as black magician. Things that book explained about trantra
  • What is the right path to achieve the title of Sadhak (Tantric - in normal term)
  • What are the duties of tantric?
  • Chakras in human bodies and what each chakra symbolise
  • How strong will-powered Sadhak can affect other person through his mind and vibration?
  • Many more things that I cannot put down in words
Apart from these insights, through out the story author kept secret of why Krishnam and Rhea should keep distance from each other. 
The only reason I am giving 0.5 less is I found few parts of story (which is not more than 8-10%) boring / slow and it took me more time to finish the book. Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 5 / 5 (Full marks for cover as well as title)
  2. Language - 4 / 5
  3. Story Line - 4 / 5
  4. Content - 5 / 5 (Usually I add this category for non-fiction, only few fictions were able to get score in this)
  5. Characters - 4 / 5
  6. Overall - 4.5 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Thursday, December 8, 2016

En Route Goa: A Memory Can Taint Your Dreams

"Never judge a book by its cover." I read this line many times. And in 10% of the time book turns out to be completely different than what I expected. 'En Route Goa - A Memory Can Taint Your Dreams' - I was expecting a road/train journey towards Goa. But it turned out a horror story.


Blurb of the book -
Every journey in life has a purpose, and at the end we make lasting memories out of each journey. Some memories will be cherished and some others struggle to be forgotten. En Route Goa is one such journey of a few people travelling to different destinations. In this story, each one plays a subtle role in other’s lives, carving lasting memories in an overnight train travel. But they never knew they were just playing their part in an age old myth.
A short story. Started with 5-6 characters boarding a train, which was scheduled to with night travel. Passengers were A guy in his early 20s, a widow guy in his last 20s, two college girls, a nun and a 10 year old girl, two brothers. In first 30 pages were author tried to settle each character of the story. Few strange things happened before 10 PM. Main story started after 10 PM, for which you have to read the book.

Talking about ratings:
  • Cover - 2.5 / 5 (I title is okay, but somehow didn't find cover matching with storyline)
  • Language - 2.5 / 5
  • Story Line - 3 / 5 (No ups and downs.)
  • Characters - 2.5 / 5
  • Overall - 2.5 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

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