Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Meet Sangeeta Author of A Glance At The Unknown

Hello, fellow readers. We are back with another author interview. Two weeks back we reviewed "A Glance at unknown" by Sangeeta Shankaran Sumesh. Today we have Sangeeta is with us to discuss the book.

Hi Sangeeta. Firstly we would like to thank you for providing time from your busy schedule. We welcome to our blog, it is an honour to discuss your debut book.  

Before we proceed towards book can you tell our audience more about you?
I am Chartered Accountant by profession. Currently, I am working as an Executive Director & CFO + Independent Director. 
Can you tell us about your passion for writing?
I started writing recently. I don't have a special schedule for writing. When I am in the mood to write and I go with the flow. Apart from this book written have written short articles/travelogues/poems etc.
Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
“A Glance at the Unknown” is an intriguing fiction thriller that has intertwined murder, rape, extra-marital affair, treachery and tragedy along with mystery, spirituality, clairvoyance, deeds and consequences. It is not just another story but one that gets the reader to think about the cause and effect theory. It also touches upon principles like values, purpose, integrity, crisis management, conflict management, work life balance etc. which are instilled into the reader through the engaging storyline. 
The book stresses the importance of the fact that what goes around comes around. The fiction is based on valuable life lessons such as shouldering responsibility, the importance of forgiveness, expressing gratitude, benefits of teamwork, spreading positivity, seeking inner peace and goodness in actions thus leading the reader towards an inward journey. It also provides insights on various matters including resolving inner conflicts, the importance of ethics and also offers perspectives on management of life.
The book is a blend of mysticism, Indian philosophy, and the modern world, making it an impactful read.
Give us an insight into your main characters.
A sneak peek into the story. As fate would have it, five strangers happened to meet each other in the beautiful, lush green and scenic forests of Agamalai in Tamil Nadu.  Each short story then eventually converges into the main story.
The hero of the story is called Sid. He is young, intelligent and dynamic. He wants to seek answers to his fathers’ untimely and unfortunate death. Revenge is what he seeks. He wants to get rid of the infamous goons the Veerargals, who dwell in the forests near Agamalai. Sid goes in search of the Veerargals to the forest. He wants to know why his innocent father was targeted. Was he able to seek the revenge he wanted and quench his thirst? 
Meet Shiva, of Indian origin, and a top notch CEO living in Malaysia.  While his professional life was at its peak, his personal life was at its low. This gets him very disturbed. He wants to seek answers as to why his life panned out thus. Did he manage to resolve the conflict of his life? 
Next is the runaway victim, Seema, who wants justice for her sister’s death caused by her sisters’ college mates. She is being chased by those college students as she has proof of her sister’s death, which was caused by them. And this proof would endanger the future of these students. Hence she is being targeted. Does she manage to escape from them and get them punished?
Moving on from the city to the interior jungles of Tamil Nadu into a tribal village near Agamalai, lived the tribal chief Arasi, whose life has been struck by tragedy after tragedy, to which she seeks answers. Life has been cruel to her in snatching away her near and dear ones. Why was it so? Does she get inner peace she was seeking?
Amidst them is also a bright person, yet a failure in life called Saravanan. He is money-minded, sarcastic and strong emotionally yet he had decided to end his life. Does he succeed? Why was he running away from life? 
Please tell us more about your experience while writing this book. Like how you got the idea and research you did for the book.
I got the idea for the book during my vacation in Cambodia. And I think my constant spiritual quest & learning lead me to write this book. I think most difficult part of writing was creating the time to write and editing the umpteen versions.
Have you prepared any video trailer or informative video about your book for readers?

What are you working on at the minute?
None at the point in time though there are many ideas up my sleeve
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
Open to it
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Start right (write) away! 
Links for your book readers

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dvarca - Enter into the world of Dystopia - A Book by Madhav Mathur

I added Dvarca to my wishlist considering it as mythological fiction, but when I interviewed (link to interview postMadhav Mathur two months back on our blog I read few reviews and blurb. To my surprise, Dvarca was a dystopian book. I consider myself lucky that I got a copy of the book from the author in exchange for honest review. It was my first read in the dystopian genre, yes you heard me right I haven't read 1984 yet and I call myself an avid reader / bookworm. :)

Book blurb
ONE NATION | ONE RELIGION | ONE WAY OF LIFE Welcome to a land called Dvarca. At the turn of the 22nd century, the world is a mess of warring factions (surprise!). The powers-that-be have fought insanity with an equal and opposite insanity. India has been remodelled under a new bicolour flag, and a State religion called Navmarg. Anyone who does not belong, is a threat. Madhav Mathur's Dvarca is a dark and humorous satire that follows the life of an ordinary family, struggling to get by, in this totalitarian regime. Gandharva, is a patriotic and pious low-level bureaucrat at the Ministry of Finance and Salvation, working hard on his status and overdue promotion. His dutiful and curious wife, Jyoti, works at Dvarca Mills and witnesses a ghastly act of terror, leading to perilous flirtations with dissent. Their two little children, Nakul and Mira, are model students in their predestined streams, indoctrinated and well on their way to becoming faithful and productive citizens. The State religion and cutting-edge science combine to create new ways to make citizens safe, and to hound and hunt those who do not conform. Everything is 'perfect' in this controlled and policed system, until one fateful night, a man happens to break routine.
The 22nd century of Dvarca is 1970th USSR communism with 1400th-century Christianity. It is a country in the digital age where every citizen is a forced believer of state defined gods. The only freedom he gets in his life is the early death. Otherwise starting from his name (one from 10-20 selected Hindu names), his last name (block code), school, profession, life partner (I repeat life partner), kids (you are not allowed to have sex, govt send doctors to your wife for IMP) everything will be decided by government. With added help of digital aids, government controls everything starting from at what time you should wake up to what time to sleep. Sensors are placed in bedroom, hall, kitchen and bathroom. It is actually a black satire for those who want to support only one belief. The family of Gandharva was stuck in this state with each family member with different issues at hand. Their initial struggle was portrayed in this first part. I am eagerly waiting for the sequel.

If you check back cover of the book you will find the comment of Shovon Chowdhury "1984 meets the Meluha series. If you like either, you'll love this." My point is if you have read Meluha series or the first part of Ramchandra Series you would be able to relate this story with muscularity of religious or kingdom's dominion. When we try to bring "zero entropy" system, we ourselves add multiple problems. It feels so perfect when you read how people should be governed. At the macro level, things look wonderful, but at the micro level, things were so frustrating that people are forced to do almost everything. I can start a GD or Debate on the book, but writing about it is quite difficult. I have less space and many things are coming in mind to write about. Let me keep some points for next part as well. :)

The only thing I disliked about the book is the paper quality of pages. It has hampered my overall reading experience. Otherwise, a must read. Talking about rating:
  1. Cover Page : 4 / 5
  2. Concept : 4.5 / 5
  3. Characters : 4 / 5
  4. Storyline : 4.5 / 5
  5. Overall : 4.5 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

Monday, May 29, 2017

Inkredia - Luwan of Brida - New Fantasy Thriller by Sarang Mahajan

I cannot resist myself from the fantasy genre. Because the same genre which made me a book reader. I owe this genre big time. No matter how old I become, no matter how realistic books I read, I can never deny a fantasy book. And if I get my hands on a fantasy books thought from basics like a map, country, belief system; saying no is not an option. I liked Inkredia - Luwan of Brida by Sarang Mahajan the moment I saw the cover page, and the picture of the map made me believe that it would be an adventurous ride not to be missed. 

Book blurb
In Fal Doram, also called as the great empire of Inkredia, a conspiracy begins to unfold. The first step is an easy one – kill a simple, villager named Luwan. When Luwan suddenly faces an enemy straight out of the folklore, he is left dumbfounded by the mystery why they are after him. As he makes a daring run to survive, journeying through the unknown world outside his village, new mysteries emerge, some closely concerning him. Riddled with questions and hunted by legendary assassins, and by the nonhumans made of the darkest element in the nature, Luwan makes a dangerous journey through the incredible empire of Inkredia.

The story started with two dark scenes, a sorcerer wanted to catch a guy and another guy wanted to send a message to someone. Things became light as focus shifted to Luwan a youngster from the mountain village of Brida. Brida was ruled by a greedy and wicked Gruwak a vassal lord of the region. His greed had made the life of people in all surrounding regions miserable. One fine day Luwan denied monthly tax of 10 browns (coin). Gruwak was known for his cruelty, Luwan knew the meaning of denial. Hearing this bad news his elder sister Meg also came to his aid. But Luwan knew dices are rolled, nothing can be done now. His life was on the verge of death if he stayed back in Brida. He was given a mysterious book by his mother as a family possession. To his shock, except 101st page, he could not check any other page. On the day of unfortunate event book suddenly started giving hints to Luwan. The same evening they left for the city Narla, which Brida people called as the City.

The road to Narla passed through Maktra where Gruwak lived in his fortress. Their hunter friend Narjo helped them to leave the village unharmed. But actual threat came to them on the way to Maktra. They came to know about evil assassins called Ghork Riders chasing Luwan. The quest became impossible for them and they found themselves in near death situations. But their luck helped them and they met a merchant named Kiliarn, who agreed to take them to the City in exchange for silver coins. From that point onwards, it was impossible to just put down the book.

I hope I haven't given more details than I should. This is my first read in Indian Fantasy genre where I felt that it was competent of considering as a proper fantasy book. Though story somewhat resembles the Fellowship of the Rings, once you start reading the book you will start finding the differences. Book has everything that a fantasy genre should need, talismans, beasts, magic, ghosts, mysterious lands, etc. Author has kept suspense and thrill intact with pace. Sarang knew the importance of book series, while a single book can concentrate only on the main story line or subject, series should build a plot around the subject. Considering vast map given on the 2nd page, the story covered only 5% of geography, which made me more interested in sequels. One can only guess what will happen next. Apart from fantasy part, the author has equally maintained other aspects like humour, emotions, and action.

I finished ~400 pages book in 3 sittings. I am sure a pure fantasy lover will finish it in 1 or 2 sittings. Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover Page : 5 / 5 (No need to say why)
  2. Concept : 4.5 / 5 (That is main aspect of fantasy genre, and he nailed it)
  3. Characters : 4.5 / 5
  4. Storyline : 4.5 / 5
  5. Overall : 5 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I am Big. So What!? by Shuchi Singh Kalra

"I am Big. So What!?" by Shuchi Singh Kalra is one of the best woman-centric books I have read in last year. In today's Indian culture, Fatness is the biggest problem among bachelor woman / girls. Shuchi has caught that exact pulse and has written a wonderful story around it.

Book Blurb
Is it only in India where people don’t realize that starting a conversation with, “Oh, you’ve put on weight!” is incredibly rude? Perhaps I should respond with “Oh, you’ve become uglier!” so they get the point.

From stores that do not stock clothes my size to unsolicited advice from neighbourhood aunties, my life—quite annoyingly—is ruled by the numbers on the scale.

What’s the big deal about being big? You may wonder. Well, quite a lot, actually. For starters, you get dumped by the only man you’ve ever loved, social situations go from awkward to embarrassing within seconds, and don’t even get me started on the family’s never-ending search for a suitable groom. They just don’t make men my size these days!

Nevertheless, here I am, about to meet Suitor No. 7. Begrudgingly, of course. Ride along as I navigate the crazy arranged marriage market. And trust me, it’s crazier when you’re more than a little curvy.
"I am big so what!?"  is a story of a fat girl Roli who decided to fight with the world with her own way. The book describes Roli’s story how she faced problem due to her size and how she overcame the problems with help of the same size. Roli is a graphic designer who works from home and earns pretty well. One day she had broken up with her boyfriend and she thinks it was because of her heavyweight but that was not the truth. The boy was roguish. He was after Roli only because of her money but it took her some time to understand the truth and accept the truth.

Now, due to pressure from her parents, she met a guy on a date who could be a potential husband or gonna-be-groom. But Roli went on date only for fun. The guy, Kabir Wagh, was the same size as Roli. She found him cute, and she went on the second date with Kabir. But on the second date, she got to know that he was the same Kabir who was bullying her in her teen years and made her life hell during teenage. Ultimately the situation turned the table. Her ex-boyfriend Ronit came to her and apologised for his behavior. Kabir also asked for forgiveness. Will Roli should accept both apologies? Will she choose one of them as a partner? Let’s read the novel.

Personally, I liked the concept and idea very much as it describes through Roli’s story what a fat person in a society have to face and what deadly things how hard they have to try to break stereotypes. Following thought got my attention
Is it only in India where people don’t realize that starting conversation with “ Oh, you’ve put on weight!” is incredibly rude?
Perhaps I should respond with “Oh, you’ve become uglier!” so they get the point.
Thank you.
The novel teaches us that in whatever size we are, good will come to us if we create positivity in ourselves. Everything will be fine so accept whatever you are. Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover Page : 5 / 5
  2. Concept : 4 / 5
  3. Character : 4 / 5
  4. Storyline : 4.5 / 5
  5. Overall : 4.5 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Break-Up Clinic by Govind Sharma

I have read Dr Govind Sharma's first book "Anant Dot Com". His books were always a treat for readers. His expertise over writing a story within 150 pages is really amazing. Just like Anant Dot Com "The Break-up Clinic" is also a short and light read.

Book Blurb
Is the break-up killing you? The scariest three words for a person in love are: It is over. The rejection from a loved one can be the most painful experience in life.
Ajay, Karan and Nisha seek to end their lives as they are driven to despair by failed love relationships. After the near-fatal suicide attempts, the survivors are in the care of the Freudian Psychoanalyst Doctor Dev who works in a Break-up Clinic to accomplish his mission of providing succor to emotionally wounded persons.
Will Doctor Dev be able to help Ajay, Karan and Nisha to come out of the emotional quagmire and move on? The Break-Up Clinic makes an attempt to answer the question: Why do some people suffer so much in love?
The story of "The Break-up clinic" revolves around three main characters Ajay, Karan, and Nisha. They were dumped by their lovers. Failures in their love life made them depressed. They reached a point where they thought the suicide was the only option. Due to their mental condition and being suicide attempters, they were brought to the “break-up clinic”. During their treatment, their past got revealed to readers.

Break-up clinic is a place where suicide attempters were given special treatment. In the clinic, patients were being explained the psychodynamic basis of their behavior. Patients were persuaded how to choose a better partner for their romantic relationship in future. Apart from that, treatment also focuses on improvement of overall happiness level of an individual.

The storyline is perfectly fine but some technical words were used excessively. I think those terms should be explained with proper examples so that a layman can understand the context. If I have been given the meaning of those words, reading experience would have been even better. Overall it was a good read.

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover Page : 3.5 / 5
  2. Characters : 3.5 / 5
  3. Storyline : 4 / 5
  4. Overall : 3.5 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

These Circuses That Sweep Through the Landscape

During our author interaction week, we interviewed author Tejaswini Apte-Rahm. Her book "These circuses that sweep through the landscape" was launched a few months back.  It is a cocktail of different shades of life.

Book Blurb
A fanatical collector of beetles finds out too late where his passion has led him. A woman out on a shopping spree in a glitzy mall finds she can’t go home again. A servant girl experiences a cruel loss of innocence when she eats something that wasn’t meant for her. In the sweltering heat of Bombay, a schoolgirl finds the ground slipping beneath her feet except when she’s watching Star Trek. Four friends meet for drinks one evening, only to find that their friendship is not what it seems. And, in the extraordinary title story, a student who has worshipped his teacher for decades comes to a terrible realization about him. Meanwhile, his old mentor is planning a cunning legacy of his own. 
The book consists 9 main stories titled with different line and 9 sub-stories titled under "These circuses that sweep through the landscape". I would be frank and blunt, I skipped 2 main stories and 4 sub-story because I lost grip. I tried my best to finish them but I failed. So I decided to write the review and give justice to other stories. Following are things that I liked about book:
  • Comical part of "The Mall"
  • Hidden romance between to ex from "Mili"
  • Dark sides of characters from "Drinks at Seven"
  • Mr. Ghosh and his hypothesis
  • Mr. Poonawala's passion towards his profession
You can call me a mediocre reader but I was not able to gauge ending of few stories. Book lost it tempo at many places which have made me skip few pages. 

But I think as a debut work, Tejaswini has done a splendid job. The main reason is character building. Even though it's collection of short stories, each story has given proper importance to the main character of that story, which is rare in short-stories.

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover: 4 / 5 
  2. Characters: 4 / 5 
  3. Stories: 3 / 5
  4. Overall: 3.25 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Glance at the Unknown by Sangeeta Sumesh

"A Glance at the Unknown" by Sangeeta Shankaran Sumesh is a light read which emphasis on the importance of good karma. Karma is like a boomerang, the far you throw your boomerang, the more fierce impact you get when it comes back. Where more than 50% of books are getting published in the romance genre and remaining on alternate-history-fiction, you will find lesser books written on such deep topics. I read such message driven book almost six months back, which would be like 30 books back. :)  

Book blurb
A Glance at the Unknown is an intriguing suspense thriller involving murder, rape, extra-marital affairs, treachery and tragedy. Each short story eventually converges into the main story.
Sid needs to find answers to his father's untimely and unfortunate death. He goes in search of the infamous goons, Veerargals, to avenge his father's death. Soon he realizes that he's not the only one marching toward the unknown and seeking answers to the mystery of life. Now, in a group of five, Sid and his acquaintances-turned-friends, want to unearth the enigma in their life.
They want revenge; do they find it? Will they be spared? What was the invisible truth? Were they able to unravel it? Read this captivating story to discover more.
The blurb has wonderfully given enough clues for interested buyers to pick up the book. I don't want to disclose more than blurb to spoil readers experience. 

I have seen many people who normally reject books after reading first 3 chapters. I would like to point out one thing to such readers specially for this book. "Have patience. Go with the flow." Let me tell you my experience. When I read first four chapters which talk about Shiva's marriage life, Shilpa's tragedy, Srinivasan's (Sid's father) death and Sid convocation ceremony, I was jumping from one plot to another. I didn't understand what is happening with story-line. But once the flow entered the forest of Agamalai, things started becoming clear. Author has wonderfully woven four-five stories at a time and portrayed them as one story at the end.

Another thing that I liked about the story is the way Sangeeta has created characters and their background. Their background shows their traits and suffering, the same background shows the relation of their suffering with their karma. The best part was the way the spiritual message was delivered with 5 different characters. As I said earlier, the story is strongly built on the concept of Karma. And the book has very well shown that one cannot outrun his / her karmic debt. 

The only weak point that I found was the pace at which Sangeeta drove the climax. I felt that the ending was finished in rush. If more emphasis was given on climax, the book would have added one more plus point. 

Overall it was a good read. "Fast pace" and "To the point story" approach are the biggest plus point of the book. One can take it to his/her journey, and finish it within a day.

Talking about rating:
  1. Cover - 4 / 5
  2. Characters - 3.5 / 5 (Being a short book scope was less but justice was done to Sid and Shiva's character)
  3. Storyline - 4 / 5
  4. Concept - 3.5 / 5
  5. Overall - 4 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra - Baby Ganesh Agency

Four months back while window-shopping I found an interesting cover of "The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star". It is the latest book by Vaseem Khan in series of A Baby Ganesh Agency. I instantly liked the book and checked more about the author and his work. My efforts led two more books in the same series released earlier. We also got the chance to interview Vaseem on our blog. I got my hands on the first part of the series "The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra" around a month back. I should be punished for not taking the book with priority, but I am glad that I have broken the queue and taken book earlier than my planner prompted me.

Book Blurb
In this Indian-set mystery, Inspector Chopra inherits an elephant and an unsolved murder on his last day at work. Mumbai, murder and a baby elephant combine in a charming, joyful mystery for fans of Alexander McCall Smith and Rachel Joyce.
On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra inherits two unexpected mysteries. The first is the case of a drowned boy, whose suspicious death no one seems to want solved. And the second is a baby elephant. As his search for clues takes him across the teeming city of Mumbai, from its grand high rises to its sprawling slums and deep into its murky underworld, Chopra begins to suspect that there may be a great deal more to both his last case and his new ward than he thought. And he soon learns that when the going gets tough, a determined elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs.
"The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra" is the first book in series and has its importance to take readers into the world of "Baby Ganesh Investigation Agency" sequels. The story started with the retirement of Inspector Ashwin Chopra. Ashwin Chopra had to take earlier retirement under medical conditions. But taking an early retirement for a person like Chopra was not easy to accept. On top of that, on his retirement, he inherited a baby elephant from his uncle. He was asked to take good care of the elephant. Chopra was promised that elephant was not a normal animal. If that was not enough, on last day of the job, he found out a case of a drowned boy. Police found boy's dead body from a sewer, and boy was drunk. Boy belonged to a poor family, and boy's mother wanted justice for her son's death. Chopra assured justice to the lady but it was his last day at the job and he was not able to do anything for the boy.

Police wanted to close the case as accidental death due to alcohol consumption. Being an expert in the field of crime cases, Chopra smelled something fishy in the behavior of his superior and inspector appointed in his place. He started investigating the case independently; and started finding shocking revelation one after another. The story became interesting as little elephant came handy to Chopra at multiple instances. 

The story is gripping yet light. You don't have to give extra effort to understand what is happening. Flow is flawless. I finished the book in 3 sittings. The book is written with an audience in mind. Every detailing, character and scene were portrayed with a proper thought process. It shows efforts applied behind the work. Author has nicely placed comic, thrill and drama in story keeping overall tempo. The book can be easily adopted as movie or series. Talking about rating:
  1. Cover - 4.5 / 5 (Conveys book in one picture)
  2. Characters - 4 / 5 
  3. Storyline - 4.5 / 5
  4. Concept - 4 / 5 
  5. Overall - 4.25 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Demand the Impossible!: A Radical Manifesto - Guest Review

You keep walking the road, people will follow you. Today we got another guest with us, who would like to publish his book review on our blog.

Book blurb
In an era defined by mass incarceration, endless war, economic crisis, catastrophic environmental destruction, and a political system offering more of the same, radical social transformation has never been more urgent—or seemed more remote.
A manifesto for movement-makers in extraordinary times, Demand the Impossible! urges us to imagine a world beyond what this rotten system would have us believe is possible.
In critiquing the world around us, insurgent educator and activist Bill Ayers uncovers cracks in that system, raising the horizons for radical change, and envisioning strategies for building the movement we need to make a world worth living in.
This book by the author can be seen as a mixture of facts, fantasies, ideology and solutions to the problems faced by society at large. Facts and fantasies are the strongest part of the book and evoke a lot of base emotions. Another strong point of the book is the themes the author picks and argues about. These are quite relevant to any society across any age. The weakest part in this advocacy though are the solutions. Solutions in the book are largely substituted by fantasies. But, that is acceptable as fantasies are the starting point for any possible solution. The main problem with the book is that the author’s idea of anarchy seems to be imprisoned by the prison of ideology and this prevents his fantasy from truly taking flight.

For example when the author reminds that we are unable to self-govern only because we lack in confidence and this leads to hero worship, he may be partly right, but he neglects another majority in public whose interest lies somewhere else and like to delegate certain responsibilities to more interested people. For example a scientist, a technology enthusiast, an adventure freak etc. would just like some of their necessities to be taken care by someone else (ideally in a mutually beneficial way).

His opinion that socialism without freedom can become slavery and brutality is a widely proven fact. But, I do not quite understand another of his assertions that freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice. It is a bit contrary to the idea of anarchy that he considers socialism to be the only viable bedfellow to freedom without giving chance to other forms of governance which may come into being in future.

But in-spite of the drawbacks it would be plain unfair to dismiss the book altogether, as the topic broached is highly complex and elusive to an easy solution since ages. I particularly enjoyed reading when the author resorts to fantasy. For example, I was thrilled on reading the following section: “What if we unleashed our wildest imaginations? The “what if” question might then blow open the spectrum of acceptable possibilities and take us down a rabbit hole or up into orbit-onto one of life’s restless and relentless journeys, exploring and experimenting, orbiting and spinning, inventing and adapting, struggling toward knowledge and enlightenment, freedom and liberation, fighting to know more in order to do more.”

The flow of the book and the sectional treatment also is interesting. Observation of the author in these sections regarding the state of the world is precise, though the reasons for the current state do not seems consistently true.

When the author eludes to the permanent state of war and deliberately created fear of nationalism, it feels appropriate particularly in current context. Though it is also true that this state of affair was largely localized to certain pockets of the world few years before Arab Spring and Iraq war. I believe when the author quotes an anonymous American soldier “We came to help, but a lot of people don’t seem to like us” he might be quoting a veteran of Iraq war, there is a distinct possibility that a veteran from Afghan war feels differently. Ritual search and pat downs could be as much part of a socialist, capitalist, communist or democratic setup. So blaming it on a form of governance rather than on inherent human inefficiencies seems to be wrong. Again war may be a racket in certain or most of the cases, but it becomes a racket only because of human inefficiencies. Although the author is right in fearing private defense corporations but India didn’t allow private defense companies to operate and this did not have any positive impact. On the contrary stifling of enterprise and reliance on lethargic state companies left the Indian military vastly dependent on expensive foreign imports, wasting money which could have been used for health and education.

When the author tells us that former slaves, blacks or other disadvantaged communities continue to be at disadvantage even today and our governance structure is the one to be blamed, he is right and steps are needed to remove these shortcomings in our system. Free education and affordable healthcare are enablers to any economy and hence should be non-negotiable. Still, there are many problems regarding states ability in financing. Concrete solutions to these problems by the author would have been welcome. Another utopian idea that the author discusses is world without prisons. Again the idea is great but a blueprint to carry out the idea is what would have been helpful. Similarly there are many topics which are raised but no effective solution is discussed.

To sum up, the book is good material for propaganda, but should be read with caution in order to step aside the trap of ideology created by the evocative facts. A more mature reader can find better alternatives for their intellectual cravings regarding governance in books like “The Republic.”

Book can be found at Amazon
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

This review was published by Aditya Piratla. He is a researcher in automotive systems in Bengaluru. He is an avid traveler, trekker, wanderer. He loves to read autobiographies, history, foreign policy, mythology and politics. You can reach him on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Narration of Moments, Unadulterated and Unpackaged - My Jiffies

My Jiffies by Priyanka Sharma Kaintura is not a story or a plot, it's just a flow of emotions. It is not even collection of short stories, but a collection of various sentiments. Page-long narrations or poems show feeling of human hearts.

Book Blurb
My Jiffies is a book of bite-sized stories that have the influence to tug at the chords of your heart. This book has seven categories - Orations, Eclogues, Monologues and Dialogues, Stories, Pathos, Satire and Sarcasm, and finally, Life Aphorisms and Epigrams.
Every noteworthy or insignificant, radical or mundane moment around us is a story, only if watched closely. A contained expression, a slightly longer pause, an anxious embrace, expectant silence, disquiet farewell; our jiffies can come from anywhere.
This book captures a string of such jiffies reciting tacit sentiments or messages turned upside down in our everyday life.
Priyanka Kaintura has divided book wonderfully in seven segments. Each segment starts with wonderful art and few lines. Each segment has its own narration which makes us feel the emotions with which narration was painted. Segments are:
  • Orations - Literally mean a formal speech. But this segment is flooded with various questions, incidents, and stories that one person can relate with day to day things. These snippets take readers to themselves and make readers ponder upon thinking process.
  • Eclogues - Poems, shorter ones. Most of these poems are written as Priyanka's own feeling towards various relationships and emotions.
  • Monologues & Dialogues - A very short conversation or mental note of various characters, mostly ending with thought provoking questions or line.
  • Stories - Bite-sized stories as blurb mentioned, but deep in meaning. I liked nine stories that Priyanka has created in line with nine shades of Durga
  • Pathos - Again short narrations/stories talk about some heart touching stories
  • Satire & Sarcasm - Short tales on thoughtful topics
  • Life Aphorisms & Epigrams - Poems, wonderfully penned down.
While other authors keep a theme in their mind even while writing short stories book, Priyanka has kept herself from sticking up to the single theme. Book talks about happiness, sadness, belongingness, separations, death, birth.

My Jiffies presents 150+ gems in form of words, some were portrayed as stories, while some were shown as quotes; and some were dressed up as poems.

Talking about ratings:

  1. Cover: 3.5 / 5
  2. Concept: 4 / 5
  3. Content: 4 / 5
  4. Overall: 4 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

Friday, May 12, 2017

The False Spy by Major Nirmal Ajwani

Memoirs or Biology are not my forte, but "The False Spy" by Major Nirmal Ajwani is a different story altogether. The False Spy is the true life story of Major Nirmal Ajwani and other military personnel who were framed under Samba Spy Scam.

Book Blurb
Between August 1978 and January 1979, in a brief span of six months, 50-odd army persons were arrested by the Military Intelligence authorities under the charge of spying for Pakistan in what eventually came to be known as the ‘Samba Spy Scandal’.
What followed was nothing less than a humiliating debacle of justice in one of the most sordid dramas of greed, intrigues, cowardice and fabrication, as the judicial bodies were plunged into a see-saw between the preposterous claims made by the MI authorities and the facts stated by the accounts of the many soldiers who were framed in this scenario.
When Major Ajwani joined the army in 1964, he had the same rosy picture of the organization being the epitome of bravery, loyalty, discipline and flawless conduct that is embedded in the minds of most Indians. The author leads us by the hand through his very first days in the army, the initial tokens of success, soon to be overshadowed by the rude awakening to the rampant corruption and deception prevalent in the organization. Almost four decades later he recounts, in an eye-opening first-hand account, the unimaginable isolation and sense of ignominy faced by those who were falsely implicated.
The story started with Major Nirmal's entry into the army and Nirmal caught a whiff of corruption in the selection process. Though Nirmal was selected fair and square but that first impression was difficult to digest for young Nirmal. He served as an artillery officer for six years; and then took a role of a judge advocate. During his tenure as the judge advocate, Nirmal's insistence towards merit-based ranking had attracted the attention of many higher-ups who wanted to settle scores with him. Luckily or unluckily major was able stay protected during those times. But his posting location and short assignment at Samba gave some people who disliked his outlook to side track Nirmal. Nirmal got trapped in a case, in which he found out there were multiple victims already caught in it.

Based on intelligence from the Intelligence Bureau of India, two army personnel were caught for spy for Pakistan. These two spies recounted their story to IB and local police authorities. They never mentioned that anyone from the army was associated with their activity. Surprisingly when these spies were brought to the Army for their court martial they started spewing out names of army personnel. In a short span of 4-5 years, they named more than 150 army personnel. Nirmal has dealt with few cases during '76 - '77 as a judge advocate. But later, he was also blamed for the same crime.

Major has collected enough proofs, court discussions, and various letters to throw light on situations face by many such victims and their families. The way they are still fighting for justice even after serving their punishment shows perseverance of the Major and other victims. They are fighting for their pride, which was robbed from them. I am at a loss of words at the amount of effort being put in so they can clear their name and this book is written in the  hope that they will be able to gather enough support from people.

Other Interesting articles on the same topic:

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover: 4 / 5
  2. Storyline: 3.5 / 5
  3. Content: 4.5 / 5 
  4. Overall: 4.25 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Super Women - Inspiring stories of 20 women entrepreneur by Prachi Garg

Prachi Garg's books in "Super" series books are based on inspiring stories of women who became instrumental in entrepreneurship as an individual or as a sibling or as a partner. Super women is stories of successful stories of 20 women. Usually my husband read and write detail review, but I selected this book and decided to review it.

Book blurb
This book brings forth the stories of twenty women entrepreneurs who have struck a perfect personal-professional harmony, and a chord with their immediate consumers. Their innovative ventures encompass a varied range of services – from supporting victims of acid attacks, to providing free skin care solutions; from online retail of lingerie, handmade bags and fashion accessories, to eco-friendly products of everyday utility; from pet care products, to quirky merchandise; from empowering folk artists, to providing clinical assistance to those going through tough times; from image consulting to house hunting; from arty solutions, to innovative marketing and corporate communication; from creating happy readers to making religious ceremonies simpler – these entrepreneurs have opened avenues formerly unexplored. Superwomen is an interesting journey of how they played all their roles to perfection, aligning their families with their ambitions, showing the world their true mettle. 
"Super Women" is all about women entrepreneur who struggled to save their unusual dream. Women meant to be a homemaker and people believed that women have her comfort zone. The women discussed in the book, work out of that comfort zone and done unusual things. And made business profitable and successful. Stories that touched me
  • Madhavi Gandhi who founded ‘Happy Hand’ to revive traditional folk art to help the traditional folk artist. Happy Hand become the key entity between traditional artist and purchaser and make them get a good price for their art.
  • Ria Sharma runs an NGO named Make Love Not Scars who helps acid attack victims and other gender-biased violence. This NGO also helps depressive women who suffer this kind of act and make them feeling comfortable in their lives again.
  • Richa Singh started YOUE D.O.S.T online counseling system to support depressive individuals through trained individuals.
  • Masoom Minawala works as online fashion blogger her online portal name is Style Fiesta and this provides trendy advice on jewelry, accessories, and fashion.
  • Now, every woman is well aware of the the online lingerie store which gives women comfort of shopping and it has changed the views of Indian women about the lingerie shopping.
  • Rustic Art made eco-friendly, pure products for baby, hair, and body which are made of natural ingredients and this was started by environment enthusiast Sunita Jaju and Swati Maheshwari.
There are many others but I give some of it glimpse. Which gives idea about the women entrepreneur’s work and their business. I liked the concept, as book like these are my husbands and my favourite genre. But I felt author gave less emphasis on content part. Each author was assigned 4-5 pages. And I felt justice was not done to them.

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover: 3.5 / 5
  2. Concept: 4 / 5
  3. Content: 2.5 / 5 
  4. Overall: 3.5 / 5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ramayana - The Game of Life - Rise of the Sun Prince

This is my third book by Shubha Vilas, and trust me he never disappoint his readers. Shubha Vilas' writing shows his expertise as an orator and inspirational speaker. He always makes sure that Religion is not just shown as mythological or magical stories but the ocean of learning for mankind.

Book blurb
Ramayana: The Game of Life (Book 1), one of the world's great literary masterpieces, skillfully retold for modern audiences. Epics like the Ramayana have been recounted infinite times. Is there a need for another chronicle in the presence of so many? How is this one different? And is it relevant to our ever-changing modern lives?
Yes, there is a need, yes this is different and yes, it is relevant. This new series of books, each following one khand of the Ramayana, decodes the eternal wisdom of that poetic scripture through gripping narrative and thought-provoking instruction. In the time-honored custom of spreading wisdom through tales, every fascinating story in the epic is retold here and every character unfolded to captivate your heart and open your mind to life's deepest questions.
The narrative closely follows Valmiki's Ramayana, gently weaving in folk tales as well as the beautiful analogies of the Kamba Ramayana. The first of this six-volume series, Rise of the Sun Prince, takes you through the divine story of Lord Rama from His birth up to His marriage. Through these pages are revealed the tales of Dasaratha's leadership, Vishwamitra's quest for power and the intriguing story of a little-known stone maiden. Ramayana: The Game of Life has all of this and much more - food for contemporary thought drawn from an enduring masterpiece.
As rightly mentioned in the blurb, "The Game of Life - Rise of the Sun Prince" is first "khand" of epic Ramayana. The story depicts golden days of Ayodhya when it was ruled by the king Dasharatha. Ram, son of Dasharatha, was born out of divine sacrifice. Four main stories of this book would be, 
  • Background of Dasharatha & Ayodhya
  • Childhood of Ram
  • Ram's adventure with Vishwamitra
  • Sita's Swayamwar & Ram's wedding with Sita
I would say there is nothing new in story part, as on any given hour of any given day you will find Ramayana or related mythological scene playing on one or another channel. But innovative part of the series is author's deep understanding of action of each character. Author has successfully explained each action with proper message. Simply speaking, the book is divided into two parts, the story, and the learning. Though learning part is given as footer (as support to the main story), you will find equal weight given to learning. On many pages, you will find only a few lines of the main story but 80% page with learning. I think without this learning, this book might have ended as another version Ramayana. You can take story lightly but if you miss learning part you would regret it later.

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 5 / 5 (I liked even previous cover as well)
  2. Characters - 5 / 5  (I already mentioned in my review of The Chronicles of Hanuman, I cannot judge characters of Ramayana.) 
  3. Storyline - 4.5 / 5
  4. Concept - 5 / 5 
  5. Content - 5 / 5 (We usually have this category under non-fiction but this is an exceptional case)
  6. Overall - 5 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Inner Conflicts by Remya Menon

"Inner Conflicts" by Remya V Menon is a book that will make you believe in good-natured people, who would like to work for society's upliftment. I got my hands on this book yesterday and I finished it in an hour or two. A light read for any age group.

Book blurb
Prem is dissatisfied with his swanky job and way of life. He is a man of principle, a man with compassion for all beings. Though very successful, he feels unfulfilled and yearns for something deeper, something more meaningful. A family tragedy shakes him up, leading him to confront his conflicts and pursue his dream. But will he succeed? Along the way, Prem meets his brother's enigmatic friend, Raj, who motivates him. Meanwhile, circumstances lead him to Sheela, a smart, ambitious girl. Sheela was painfully aware that society expects women to toe the line. When Sheela and Prem meet, they hit it off. However, they are shackled by the constraints of the traditional culture they belong to. Can their relationship overcome these fetters? Can they find a compromise? Or do they go their own ways? 'Inner Conflicts' portrays the turmoil of the unconventional youth in a conservative, bureaucratic society.
It is a novella, and I don't want to reveal more than the blurb because it will spoil the readers' interest. Let me talk about a few things about book and the story.

Cover & Title of the book
Inner Conflict is the story of Prem who finds his life is all messed up. He loses his brother and the loss weighs heavily on him. The story is named after the mental struggle that Prem goes through after losing his brother. The cover photo is able to portray this message but I didn't like the plain blue color.

It is novella so the scope of going deep into each character is not possible. Though Remya has given enough emphasis to Prem and Sheela's characters.

Couple's Fight Against all Odds
Peer pressure is a devil. We face the same pressure in our day-to-day life. Prem and Sheela had similar problems when it came to their parents and family. They fought and at the same time found a way to give happiness to others. Their mission in life was to serve others for a better world.

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 3.5 / 5 (Already explained why)
  2. Characters - 3.5 / 5 
  3. Storyline - 3.5 / 5 (Very smooth)
  4. Overall - 3.5 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Abhaya" - Story of Woman Warrior By Saiswaroopa Iyer

"Abhaya" by Saiswaroopa Iyer was on my wishlist when it was first published under only Kindle version. I kept checking book time and again for more and more reviews. And those reviews always made sure that I wouldn't remove it from the list. I considered myself lucky when I got the book from the author herself in exchange for honest review.

Book Blurb
"Abhaya allows us to delve into the world of our ancestors and Gods through the route of great storytelling and a brilliant narrative. A thoroughly enjoyable read" - Amish Tripathi
A tale set in the times of Mahabharata. An assertive and idealistic Princess Abhaya meets the enigmatic Krishna Vaasudeva. A bereaved Dhatri, hounded by her own family is saved by Lord Bhauma. When subverted religion becomes a tool in the hands of power thirsty and strikes Bharatavarsha, the land of Aryas, Abhaya finds herself face to face with the impending doom.
“Can we combat the fear with faith? Can we keep our faith undeterred when the last traces of hope melt away? Can we receive blame and adulation, accept them and yet not give in to them?” 
The book is titled on protagonist Abhaya Dhaarmaseni princess of Anagha a small fictional kingdom in the neighbourhood of Avanti in Bharatvarsha. The story is written in times of the Mahabharata with Krishna as the second main character. Abhaya was the daughter of Kind Dharmasen, who has nurtured her with a value system that made her stand out of crowd. Following her Dharma was above than herself for Abhaya. The lord of Kamapura, the temple town of Kamaksha, Bhauma is portrayed as the antagonist. Bhauma wants to leverage religion as a tool to obtain power over Bharatvarsha. During that times, Shaktas, worshippers of divine Goddess, were considered Vamacharis in simple word outcasts from the mainstream population. Shaktas way towards life and openness towards pleasure made them look outrageous to normal people. But Shakta had never given any damn toward others' opinion. 

Bhauma, being Shakta, wanted to poison minds of normal people by exploiting their social and mental stress and to convert them into Shakta. He wanted a face for his mission which he found in Dharti. Years passed and Bhauma's network started spreading in Bharatvarsha and creating problems at many places. Many small tribes and towns fell because of his false play. When Anaga was defeated, Abhaya was forced to take refuge in another kingdom. During this time she found something mysterious in Shaktas and took the mission to uncover the truth.

Few best things that came out from this story
  • The character of Abhaya - An independent woman. Out of her time. Her prowess arms, intellect in political affairs & maturity towards human emotions were really portrayed outstandingly.
  • The bond between Abhaya & Krishna - Both loved each other unconditionally but never wanted to harm each other's feeling. Always wanted to save the honour of counterpart.
  • The vileness of Bhauma - I have to admit it. 
  • Wrong use of religion - Book shows how in wrong hand religion can create havoc
Author has successfully covered many hit points in one small book, where other authors struggle with multiple sequences. If you would like to read a good book on woman character this is a perfect pick for you. Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 5 / 5 (It was cover which attracted me very first time)
  2. Characters - 4.5 / 5 
  3. Storyline - 4.5 / 5 (Very smooth)
  4. Concept - 4.5 / 5 
  5. Overall - 5 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Conspiracy at Meru by Shatrujeet Nath

"Vikramaditya Veergatha" by Shtrujeet Nath has taken the first place in the favorite read of India mythological thriller genre. Where the first part was the start of the action thriller, the second one was the mix of politics, emotions, war and action.

Book blurb
Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine have fought valiantly to repel the rampaging hordes from Devaloka and Patala – but Avanti has been brought to its knees. Ujjayini lies battered its citizens are scared and morale is badly shaken. Meanwhile, the barbaric Hunas and Sakas are gathering on the horizon and cracks are emerging between the allied kingdoms of Sindhuvarta.
The only silver lining is that the deadly Halahala is safe. For now.
Bent on vengeance, Indra is already scheming to destroy Vikramaditya, while Shukracharya has a plan that can spell the doom for the Guardians of the Halahala. How long can the human army hold out against the ferocity and cunning of the devas and asuras? And will Vikramaditya’s love for his queen come in the way of his promise to Shiva?
The Conspiracy at Meru started after Marutas' attack on Ujjaini. Ujjaini was badly affected by attacks of Ashwins and Marutas. Many citizens were deserting cities, while many were giving support to Vikramaditya and stayed in Ujjaini. The positive point was new found power in his nine counselors. As Shukracharya mentioned in the first part, counselors possessed nine powerful pearls which could increase their strength multifold and could give them supernatural powers. On the western borders, the threat of Huna was getting strong. Information from Huna scout was really shocking to Avanthi. In spite of attacks from Deva and Asura, Avanti went to help the Anarta Federation to fight the Huna forces coming via sea. Jayanta, son of Indra, came to Ujjaini to destroy human king to prove his superiority to India. Indra went to Kubera to get help to ruin Vikramaditya moral. King Harihara tried something which would weaken forces of united Bharatvarsha under Avanti. And so on...

I would say there were multiple threads going in parallel but each one is as interesting as the whole story. Though the flow of writing of this series is scattered, it would not make you put it once you start reading it. Author has wonderfully used characters from Indian mythology and created a gripping story for readers. Gauging the story and pace, I think Vikramaditya Veergatha won't be a trilogy, and I won't surprise if the author will come with more than 5 volume in the series. 

Talking about ratings:
  1. Cover - 5 / 5
  2. Characters - 5 / 5
  3. Storyline - 4.5 / 5 (Somewhat jumbled up)
  4. Concept - 5 / 5 (Something new)
  5. Overall - 5 / 5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Thousand Times Over by Sudhanshu Bisen

We are back with another guest review. Devi Talia is back with her second book review on our blog. Today she wants to share review of "A Thousand Times Over" By Sudhanshu Bisen.

Book Blurb
Who doesn’t promise to love the love of their life forever?
But how many actually live up to that promise?
Nishith Singh, a seventeen-year-old, has shared everything with the virtual world—from the pain of losing his father and being blamed for it to falling in love at first sight and being rejected. But nonetheless, he hasn’t given up on his love. When Aahana Basu, a quintessential wife and a loving mother, comes across his blog, she is drawn deeply into his world, much to her own surprise. But when she wakes up to the sudden absence of the recurring dream the next morning, a dream she sees almost every night, and which ends at the very same point, she is left nonplussed. Are the two connected? 
As Aahana finds herself falling for Nishith, she realises there’s much more to things than she sees. From coming across strangers calling out her name and greeting her to feeling an inexplicable connection with a town she visits for the first time, she is left bewildered.
Will Aahana be able to connect the dots and piece together the puzzle? A spine-chilling tale of selfless love, A Thousand Times Over will not only make you fall in love with love but will also leave you with the desire to live up to the promises you’ve made to your beloved.
This story is about Aahana Basu who is a housewife and a mother. Her marriage to Partit has started to falling apart. One day she comes across a blog from Nishith Singh, who has shared the pain of losing his father and falling in love at a first sight and then gets rejected but he did not give up and somehow Aahana felt connected to this blog. At the end, she finds out that the girl Nishith was talking about in the blog was her. The story goes back in past Aahana and Nishith were in love but could not be together as Aahana was supposed to wed Partit so they both Nishith and Aahana decided to kill themselves but Aahana survived and in the process she lost her memory and it was Nishit who was writing the blog all along and he came back to Aahana as her son.

I like the way this story has written but the climax of the story is a bit logic less for me. The first half of the story is quite good and I felt connected to it but at the end, it's quite messed up. What really encourage me to read this book is the line behind the book cover "Hope is a good thing".
  1. Cover : 4/5
  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
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads

This review was published by Devi Talia. She is a medical student, a bookworm and die-heart follower of latest fashion trends. On her blog, she gives tips on being fashionable.



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