Monday, January 28, 2019

Book Review - Walk the Wire - A 21st Century Guide for Millennials

The title "Walk the Wire" in red font and a man juggling 3 apples at ease got my attention when I first saw the book cover. Then I saw the introductory line "A 21st Century Guide for Millennials to Find Balance and Accomplish Their Goals" on the top of the book. Though self-help is not our favorite genre, the short length made us select this book.

Book Blurb
A strong reason why we fail to achieve our goals is our inability to comprehend our minds. We sometimes tend to over-commit to multiple goals and set ourselves up for failure or lose direction of where we want to go. History is important because it reminds us of mistakes from the past, the knowledge of which prevents us from repeating the same. Similarly, our personal history with goal-setting and goal-achievement is salient in understanding what we could have done better in the past, and implementing them into a more effective present and future. 

Through this book, you will become aware of why you aren’t as effective in goal-setting and goal-achievement and how you can become the absolute best version of yourself. We will cover the wonderful art and science behind setting multiple goals and achieving them, and attempt to master the jugglery of balance in several aspects of our lives. Take this journey with me to truly understand how you can excel in multiple aspects of your life all at once. You can have your cake and eat it too. 
Let’s walk the wire together!
The book is divided into 4 chapters. The name goes like this
  1. Too many distraction, too little substance
  2. Dealing with the beast
  3. Putting into Practice
  4. Finding balance 
You may find the name of chapters too generic or theoretic, but the author has nicely covered important points as in bullet list. He has perfectly started with the situation of the 21st-century young generation. It is easy to get distracted in today's world. Even if you feel you are not distracted then many of us are still under the false impression of achieving something. Things may look good but won't fit us. Many times we set goals without giving many thoughts. Author has shown a systematic approach to decide realistic, achievable and measurable goals, considering all circumstances. And then comes how we are going to achieve them. We all complain about lack of time and money. But so was the case with successful people. Here the author has shown some real cases to prioritize/delegate/schedule our current lifestyle. Lastly, he has shown the importance of balance between work life and how to achieve maintain goals.

Self-help book required a good amount of illustrations and examples otherwise it will end up another theory book. Vivek has given ample examples (one per topic) to keep the reader hooked. Illustrations /tools/materials also help the reader to apply these concepts in real life. Finally short in size book will not give the first impression of a dull read. The author has also provided blank spaces, wherever thought process and jotting down required. If you are really looking for some help in increasing your focus/concentrations, but cannot take self-help, then I would recommend this book to you. It is a light and engaging read, and equally helpful.

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

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book Review - Bargad Ka Ped - Waqt Ke Pher Se Phere Lekar Kuch Lamhein Talashne Nikla

We have made a resolution to read at least 20% of our books/pages in the regional language/mother tongue. Under this agenda, we always look out for some good books in Gujarati & Hindi languages. Things that made us go for "Bargad Ka Ped".
  • Wonderful cover page/artwork
  • Collection of poems & short stories
  • Short in content

I wanted to take this book in the first week of January itself, but I received the courier late. Still, we are able to take it in the first month of the year and we are happy about it.

As I have mentioned the book is a collection of around 50+ poems & a few short narrations. Even these narrations are poetic & it would be hard not to call them poems. The topic and theme of poems varied. Most of them are based on memories. They are about parents, home town/village, friends, lost time, childhood. A major portion of poems are around love (or I would say lost love)

My personal favorites are
  • Jao Tum - Which discussed breakup of a couple
  • Gumsum - A lover recalls his last moments with his partner spent in darkness
  • Saath Sapne Dekhe The - Discussed harsh reality when some people in friendship or love uses others for their personal goals
  • Woh Char Log - A taunt on gossiping nature of society, which pulls us down most of the time
Each poem depicts its story in a different context. Though the book is short in content it is very rich in context. The word usage is also simple if you have studied Hindi in school and if you are keeping track of Hindi shows, you can easily read the book without a dictionary. Yes, you need to read it with full concentration as it is not a story. It is a poetry book.

The only complain would be the last 8-10 2 liners poems, the author could have reframed them and given as full poems.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Book Review "Ambling Indian Diaries" by Aina Rao

A vibrant, colourful and dramatic cover that literally depicts a typical day in an Indian city, and a colophon that promises quirky, thought provoking take on various social norms and issues, I set my expectations high for this book.

“Ambling Indian diaries” is a diary of a wimpy youngster living the corporate tumultuous millennial Indian life who resorts to dark humour, satire, hypocrisy to engage us with her (probably true) life experiences. 

Book Blurb
This unusual take on India offers a neverseen- before view of the country through the eyes of the Ambling Indian - a new generation aam aurat. This delicious mix of laughter, spice and nuggets of reflection to savour, delights the mind. We meet people just like us and experience hilarious happenings through the 31 stories woven together with one common thread - India's journey. Watch the Ambling Indian rewire the IIT syllabi, struggle with taxes, celebrate a pink valentine's day and plunge into the hoi polloi of Indian politics, journalism, modern offices, IIMs, weddings, cities and Bollywood. These intriguing stories cast Mangoman, Kofee Johar, Dr. Rupee Rajan and Runny Singh, among many other unforgettable characters. Challenges merge with the joy, agony and ecstacy of life in India. We are left bemused by this marvellous nation with its unique amalgamation of cultures and thought. Be prepared to go on a rollicking fun ride and discover India that puzzles, amuses, excites and provokes thought, through the mirror of the Ambling Indian Aina, an IIT and IIM graduate, who in the process, discovers an unknown side to herself too.

From the very start, the author makes us dive in into the chaotic streets of Bengaluru and her life as a reporter. She takes swipes from politicians(Mangoman Party) to Show business (Koffee Johar) and gives us a peek of what she does, what she actually thinks and the frustration in between. Using cryptic and pointing names such as Mr. Chatu(the sycophant), Runny Singh (her boyfriend with commitment issues) she makes sure that we get the character description from the name itself. Be it the reckless driving or the marital problems of her autorickshaw driver Jamal or social issues like scams, education the author explores it all using witty jibes throughout this book.

The book is written in first person narrative. At the start of every chapter there is a child like pencil drawing that gives us a hint of what’s to come. The chapters are short, sweet and non-related. The book is mostly written in a light vein but there are some dark parts which feel forced, misplaced and disconnected. There were a lot of favourite relatable moments especially from “Big and Bad Data” and “On Coaching Classes and IIT” to name a few.

Personally, I felt that the there was a huge potential in the content, but required a good editing. Every taken swing or satire pinches a bit but fails to drive the point home, as we move from one chapter to next. With more depth and clarity it would had actually had matched the expectations that the cover sets.

For Aina Rao’s maiden simple humorous banter, my overall rating would be 3/5.

Overall Verdict:- Simple, funny, relatable but could be better

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

Book on Fictional work of a Publishing House trying to bring - Bestseller

It is true that if you keep seeing something every day, you will get attached to it or at least your opinion of the same will change over time. The same thing happened to us, though we liked the cover & blurb of the book, we didn't choose it in the first go, due to heavy workload. But as we started seeing this book in our bookish social timeline, we started regrating the decision. It was WrittersMelon who gave us the second chance to read this book & we would like to thank them for providing us the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Blurb
Akshay Saxena, an out of work editor of a defunct literary magazine in the UK, is told to move to India for a year to help shore up the value of Kalim, an ailing Indian publisher.

Akshay finds himself in a job where he has to do the impossible. Angus Lee, the new owner of Thomson Lee Books, wants at least five bestsellers in the coming year, failing which the business would be wound up.

He has to find a way of making a success out of books he would never publish or would never even read. To complicate things further, he has to contend with motley crew of has-beens and misfits working for the publishing house as well as wannabe writers, dealing with their follies and derisive tactics, and battle his own affections for Zorah Kalim, the impulsive daughter of his former boss.
Will he succeed in bringing out that one ‘bestseller’ from his publishing house? And what about his own life and love in office? Find out in this riveting read.
"Bestseller" is a story of bringing best selling books by a dying publishing house. The protagonist of our story is Akshay, who was working in a UK based publishing house. His life changed when he was fired by his company, he had to come to India and join Kalim Publishing house. He was given the task of bringing at least 5 best selling title within a year. He was assigned small team of odd natured people for this task. Fired from the previous organization, Akshay wanted to prove himself, so he found the challenging task attractive. But finding best selling title needed a good script, which was somewhat overlooked by the company in past. So Akshay had to clear that image of publishing house as well. Also, many authors were trying to capture Akshay's attention to get their work to publish among 5 best selling titles. See whether Akshay would be able to solve the problem of his employer with his personal happiness as well.

Coming to writing style, the overall tone of the book is humorous & slightly satirical. Though I have worked with good-publishing houses in the the capacity of a book reviewer. I was not fully aware of the life of people working with publishers. The author has nicely portrayed issues that arises in publishing industry. Light language & use of funfilled events make reading expereince interesting. The book has potential to finish in 1-2 sittings. I finished it in 3 sittings though. Though book is short in size, the author has done justice to all major characters. Finally a short book that you can take on your trip or book date. :)

  1. Cover - 4/5
  2. Concept - 4/5
  3. Characters - 3.5/5
  4. Overall - 3.75/5

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

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Discussion with Kavita Devgan - an Expert Dietician & a Best-selling Author

It was a pleasure for us to host an interview with Kavita Devgan a celebrity dietician & the best selling author on our blog. We have reviewed both of her books on our blog "Ultimate Grandmother Hacks" & "Don't Diet". She has delivered the most complex topics in the least boring manner. So without wasting time let us have a round of Q&A for which you all are waiting.

When did you start a career as Dietician? Did you have thought about working in this line from your teenage?
Well, my dad wanted me to become a doctor and I even took up bio in plus two because of that (and also because i enjoyed the subject). He was really really keen but by the time i finished my 12th class I had made up my mind not to study medicine. I wasn't very clear about what I really wanted to pursue but somehow I was totally clear that i did not see myself as a doctor. So even though dad tried to convince me, i resisted and finally got my way. Luckily i am like this: once i make up my mind I stick to it. So then I decided to study HomeScience (hons) with specialisation in nutrition in Delhi University as I found that more interesting than other science streams like botony or zoology. And thank God for that as it was love at first lesson for me. I realised the potential of prevention, and was sure this is what i wanted to practice and teach. What also helped was that I was naturally / maybe genetically a healthy eater (thanks to mom's efforts), so i was a good fit. I followed up my graduation with a specialisation in Dietitics and Public health nutrition an then an internship at Safdarjung Hospital later I was a qualified Dietician, ready to practice. And now I have been practising for almost 25 years and been writing on health for 20.
When did you think of coming into writing as well? Any specific incident which made you write?
I was always writing, ever since I remember. But earlier it was mostly fiction (short stories, poetry etc). When my son was born, I took a break from practice for a year and began writing more regularly. As by then I had subject matter expertise plus lots and lots of practical experience via the people I had counselled for health gain and weight loss, I started writing in the health genre and luckily found many takers in the media for it. Then on, for many years writing took front seat and my clinical practice was put on the back foot. Now I practice a healthy balance of both, and like it like this.The fact that I can through my writing take my idea and the rules of healthy living (that I believe work) and also the latest researches in the field to thousands of people at  one go is a huge motivator, and this is precisely why I began writing. Also the thrill of seeming my byline… that is unparalleled. Yes even after so many years of writing.
The recipes mentioned in books tell us your expertise for cooking as well. So tell us how do you manage work (at home & office/clinic) & writing both. We feel writing requires a good amount of effort, what about you?
Yes there’s a lot to juggle, but I like it like this. The best part is that this way I don’t have a typical day. It changes depending on whether its my writing day, clinic practice day, or a day when I have a speaking assignment penciled in. It usually begins the same way every day though: with lots of water first thing in the morning and then a cup of ginger (lots of) and pepper tea. Another constant is that on most days I manage to sneak in some writing too - as that’s almost a soul necessity for me.

So tell us about your book "Don't Diet"&"Ultimate Grandmother Hacks”?
My first book Don’t Diet! 50 habits of thin people grew out of my interactions during my weight management practice. It is a compilation of lessons I learnt (what works and what doesn’t) from my clients. I believe that the only sustainable way to gain health and prevent Illness is by changing our habits. So I have listed the ones I believe (and have seen) work.

Ultimate Grandmother hacks is a compilation of habits that I have grown up with and consider super healthy. The book compiles time-tested food habits to help us develop a cohesive healthy lifestyle and rediscover the joy in eating. It lists the many nuggets of wisdom and discusses the various foods and habits that our parents and grandparents followed that are still relevant today. I basically did not want us and the next generations to forget them, hence the book. That was the motivation behind the book.
Any specific thing that you would like to share with us?
Never think short term, always keep the long term goal of health in focus. You only get one body (like one life), so don’t be responsible with it. Focus on nutrition and the weight loss will happen naturally. And yes please go back to the traditional way of eating.
Follow Kavita Devgan on 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Enter into the World of Tantric - Anantya Tantrist Mystery - Cult of Chaos by Shweta Taneja - Book Review

The Matsya Curse (Anantya Tantrist Mystery #2) by Shweta Taneja was reviewed by us almost a year back. Later on, we got the copy of "Cult of Chaos (Anantya Tantrist Mystery)". Yes, you heard me correct, we read & reviewed part-2 without reading previous one. There is 95% of independence between two volumes. Unfortunately, we were not able to take part-1 on priority, which made book the victim of bug called "Shelved" just like the 2nd page of Google. But we cannot do that injustice for a long time, so this Diwali we renamed that 2nd page as the 1st page and all those pending books became our priority.

Book Blurb
The tantriks are now overground. They have their own council, police and justice systems. The White clan, Kaula, has emerged as the most powerful: their men are recognized tantriks, women intimate collaborators.
Then there is Anantya Tantrist, who has rejected the Kaula path. She is powerful and lives life by her own strict moral code. Who needs official seals anyway? When the world goes to hell in a handcart, badges and honours aren't going to save the day.
Incidentally, hell and chaos is just where the world is headed. In Delhi, little girls are being sacrificed in a tantrik ritual. A desperate daeva is trying to blackmail Anantya. Someone is trying to call up the God of Chaos. A three-headed giant cobra turns up in old Delhi. The White and Red tantriks are facing off, and there is one or more Black tantric brewing some dangerous shakti. As Anantya struggles to stop the madness, the supernatural underworld - peopled with creatures humanoid, barely human and inhuman - comes alive in all its bloody, gory glory
As this is the first part of the series, the book started with an introduction (not plain paragraph & paragraph of details, it is in story format only) of the separate underground world of tantric. The world of Tantric was divided into 3 sects, who prefer & follow their own rituals. A governing body was in place to make sure things would be in control. Then there were all mythic creatures like Dasyus, Danava, Ghost, Rakshasas and what not. Among that world our protagonist, Anantya, lived life on her own terms. She was living away from her clan reasons known to her. To survive she started working as a Tantric Detective & helps CBI to solve cases associated with black magic. This is where our story starts when she was working on the case. Things started revealing gory truth that can destroy the human world. It was linked to her past so deep that she needed to fight on emotional front as well as the physical front. Read the book to know more.

Coming to our take from the book, it has the potential to start "Cult of Anantya" among readers. It is sad that Indian film/tv industry is not able to take benefits of such wonderfully written books. Yes, you heard me right, the book is capable enough for adaption for the screen. Characters, plot & visualization shows deep research rather than just another bedtime-story or on-the-spot-made-up-story. As I have already read 2nd part, I cannot say waiting for it but yes 3rd part may be equally interesting. The best part is the way storytelling merged with a fictional description of people & places. The cover art is also interesting enough to leave an impression for a long time.

The only issue is a little bit slow paced at multiple places.

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

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Mythological Fiction - Ganga The Constant Goddess by Anuja Chandramouli

Anuja's word sorcery has mesmerized us since we have read Shakti two years back. To prove our devotion towards the author, we have our precious possession. Out of 9 books that Anuja has published we have 7 books with us, only missing guys are "Rani Padmavati" & Kamadeva. We are hopeful that they will be added to our shelf with their siblings soon. 

Book Blurb
Believed to be the liquid manifestation of Shakti and the nurturer of the three worlds with her life-sustaining waters, Goddess Ganga is the epitome of beauty and purity, famous for her indomitable spirit and boundless charm. Renowned as a devoted daughter, a caring mother, a passionate lover, and a merciful saviour, she is here to absorb and absolve us of our sins. A constant goddess, she is part of the Indian ethos, revered, and loved across the ages.
The exquisite epic that is Ganga’s story, from her miraculous origins, her sojourn in the heavens, her poignant relationships with the divine trinity, the birth of her sons—Bhishma and Kartikeya, and her descent into a wicked world that is not worthy of her, is dazzlingly told by Anuja Chandramouli. Without this Goddess, life as we know it will be over, for her righteous retribution will be terrifying.
This book is a vibrant retelling of the story of Ganga, who has the power to save us all and bestow the precious gift of moksha, embracing saints and sinners alike with her all-encompassing compassion.
We were on our vacation when we saw first communication about Anuja's latest release which is "Ganga - The Constant Goddess" The first thing we did after coming back got the copy. The only reason for a slight delay in the review was our resolve of finishing all review copies this year & bring 30+ copies in single digit number.

I think I have discussed too much about other things, talking about Ganga - the book. Being a Hindu (Spent childhood in Indian) raised in 1990-200 when TV shows were more mythological, I have seen many serials around Ganga's descend on earth, her marriage with Shantanu and at the max as the sister of Paravati. She was always part of the story. Never been the main character, so what you know about Ganga before & after. Those who have read Vedic literature may answer you but how many people can take that serious literature for just one character, as our literature is full of many such Gods. Anuja has done this task easy for us. She has taken the support of Mythology & penned down her fiction work Ganga. You may know some stories in parts but this book is a compilation of many such tales in Anuja's words in a fictional format. Starting from Himvan's daughter to other tales.

There are two things which are common across Anuja's work. A deep emotional portrayal of the main character and the poetic flow. Both have their own pros & cons. Emotional parts are essential & it attracts a reader to know more but excess is also dangerous as it can take readers away. Anuja has kept the balance between two. Coming to poetic flow her stories are never in the same flow. At places it is slow & at places, it will rush you through. The book is bit slower overall. Finally her mastery over words, it always makes me refer dictionary ( :) )

In an all a worthy read. Ratings
  1. Cover - 4.5/5
  2. Concept - 3.5/5
  3. Characer - 4/5
  4. Overall - 4/5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Book Review - Reaching for Kloud 9 - Foreword by Ruskin Bond

The first thing that took our attention while checking this book was "Ruskin Bond". Though we considered ourself bookworm, we haven't read a single book by him till now. So we started exploring what the book is all about. Later on, we came to know that the book was foreward by Ruskin Bond. As the book was a collection of short stories, we gladly took it.

As given in the description, this book contains short stories written by a student from class 7 to class 12. These were the winner of competition help from 2015 to 2017. Later on, they were personally guided by Sir Ruskin Bond. So the quality of the stories is bound to be good.

As it is a collection of short stories, I don't have the liberty to discuss about the plot. But I can share a few stories that I liked
  1. The Tree House
  2. The Return Gift 
  3. An unreciprocated wish
  4. A day to Remember
As each story is written by a different person, you will find uniqueness from one plot to another. You will also find a different narration style in each story. You will feel that each story is written with clear thought-process. I think attempts like this should keep happening in India to bring literature glory in back. I will give 5 out of 5 stars for each story.

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Book Review - Pyjamas are Forgiving by Twinkle Khanna

Though as a couple we are hardcore bookworms, my husband has made a strict rule about book acquisition because of our impulse book buying. The is the reason "Mrs. Funnybones" & "The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad" I had to read from borrowed copies. So this time I was all set to buy a copy of "Pyjamas are Forgiving". But thanks to our star & our consistent blogging we got our own copy of the book during Mega giveaway of Juggernaut.

Book Blurb
There sitting on that porch, that light-eyed man, a pitta like me, was my ex-husband and that woman whose inner element I was unaware of, unless bitch is accepted as an undiscovered fourth dosha, was his young wife.In the serene sanctuary of Kerala’s Shanthamaaya spa where food is rationed, sex forbidden and emotions centred, Anshu meets someone familiar and deeply unsettling – her ex-husband. Bittersweet, funny and wise, Pyjamas Are Forgiving confirms Twinkle Khanna as one of our great storytellers
Unlike first two books by Twinkle Khanna, this book is focused on a single story or I would say a proper novel. The story revolves around a divorced lady (Anshu) in her forties reached to her 28 days of stay at Ayurvedic ashram. She met her ex-husband along with his wife. Determined to stay in Aashram, Aashu decided to fight her emotions. Then followed the emotional turmoil of Anshu whether she would fall for the same guy again or she would forgive & forget him.

Good points about the book
  • Simple & straight narration style
  • Witty storytelling of author which is her USP
  • Light in content & deep in context
  • Ideal gift for light readers as well as serious readers
We hope to have many more books from Twinkle Khanna. Once again, Thank you so much Juggernaut for providing us review copy in exchange of an honest review. I cannot give less than 5 stars to my favorite English author.

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

Book Review - A Historical Fiction - The Silent Witness by Anuradha

Frankly speaking, if you would like to read historical fiction of a region (state or city) then look for a book written by locals in their native language. If you can not read in the native language, then check the translated edition. You will not get the same level of satisfaction from non-native's work. At least that is my experience till now. I have read K M Munshi's "Glory of Patan", "King/Master of Gujarat" & "King of King". Same way I have read Kalki Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan's translation by Sumeetha Manikandan. "The Silent Witness" by Anuradha has touched the same level for me. I loved the book.

Book Blurb
A thrilling saga of loyalty, deceit, love and war. Seventeenth century Malabar. Law and order lay in shambles as the Portuguese terrorize the locals. Native kings troop in separate camps for and against the foreign invaders. The rift is so deep that Samoothiri of Calicut, the sworn enemy of the Kochi kingdom, has finally decided to join forces with Kochi to fight the outsiders. In a dramatic turn of events, the heir to the Kochi throne, Kerala Varma and his brother, Veera Kerala Varma, go into exile in guise of sanyasis to escape the Portuguese. During their journey, Veera Kerala Verma falls in love with Unnimaya, the gorgeous niece of the army chief of Chempakassery Raja, a major Portuguese ally. Another storm is brewing in the horizon. The Dutch, seizing the opportunity to topple the Portuguese rule, plan to partner with Kerala Varma and Samoothiri. Will they succeed. Who will rule Kochi next. Will Veera Kerala Varma’s and Unnimaya’s love triumph above duty.
Focused around the Seventeenth century when the Portuguese were losing their control over Indian (southern) nations due to Dutch aggression & local government/kingdoms' freedom struggle. The story started with Portuguese were still trying their best to keep things in control. The kingdom of Kochi was about to receive its beloved king in form of Prince Kerala Varma. But due to the betrayal of a minister & rival royal family, the prince was denied his due rights just an hour before his coronation. The prince along with his brother Veera Kerela Verma went into the exile (underground) for time being. On the other hand, the king of Samoothiri Kingdom has extended his hand of friendship towards Kochi over years of rivalry. There were many other local chieftains & minister who may give support to Prince. But fighting a war in open with Portuguese was a major concern for the prince. Would be able to overrule foreign invaders? Would be able to handle Dutch inclusion if takes their help? Read the book to know more.

The more I read the book, more I was convinced that inspiration behind Anuraadha is same that was behind Munshi & Kalki. The way story unfolded with characters, it will take you on a historical movie. My personal favorite characters are Prince's brother Veera Kerela Verma & his lover Unnimaya. Lovers' story & struggle gives entertainment/softness to the book. Wherein war, strategies & conspiracy gives an element of engagement & interest. On top of that sketched prepared by artist Namboodiri for various character also let you visualize how they would look like. (Again same in Munshi's original edition has many characters' sketches)

The only problem I faced was following character & locations' name, it took me 50% of the book to follow without checking important character page.

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

We have heard positive review about the prequel of this book "The Saga of Black Gold", we have already added this book in our wishlist.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Meet a Historical Fiction Writer Terry Ward

Have you checked out the book review of Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward? If not check it ASAP. As today we are here to publish the interview of Terry Ward the same author.

Let us welcome you to our blog. Can you please brief our readers about your background?
A clever child, due to poverty, I was obliged to leave school at the age of 15
What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
My father being a restless soul, I attended no less than 22 different schools in 10 years, so I had little time in which to form friendships or become involved in activities; just kept on reading! 
What are some day jobs you have held?
Served with the elite Trucial Oman Scouts in the Seven Sheikhdoms, now the UAE; experienced more active service in the Aden Protectorate, now Yemen; became an award-winning Chef de Cuisine in civilian life; CEO for a university’s hospitality and catering services.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspire you the most?
I have been an avid reader all of my life.  I love the 19th and 20th century classics;  Anthony Powell’s ‘Dance to the Music of Time’ series of novels are among my favourites.  I knew that I had to become a writer after reading ‘Treasure Island’ when I was eleven year’s old.
When did you start writing?
I have written poetry and short stories for the amusement of my family for many years.  After winning two ‘Creative Writing’ awards in competitions, I took early retirement and began to apply myself to become a published writer. When did you decide to become a writer?
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
A bibliophile all my life, I know, and my literary agent knows, that ‘Jack Dawkins’ deserves to become a best-seller.  If it does, it will encourage readers to buy my next novel, Between Cancer and Capricorn a post-Second World War drama.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?  
I love my wonderful wife-but- ‘The married writer’s lot, a happy one is not, for he suffers interruptions by the score!
Is this your debut work?
Many years ago, I won two creative writing awards from the University of Kent.  I self-published The Levelling Dust, As Far as I can Remember which, together with poetry and short stories, provides an account of the first twenty five years of my picaresque life.  I also collected together the reminiscences of those who served with me in the Trucial Oman Scouts, together with a plethora of rare photographs and self-published Are You the Man?’  All the royalties are paid into the TOS Association’s account.
What genre are your books?
Historical fiction
Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
To quote a reviewer, Jack Dawkins follows on seamlessly from the end of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist .  Saved from being transported to a penal colony by the intervention of Oliver, the Artful Dodger, Jack Dawkins, embarks on what proves to be a perilous quest to discover his roots; finding his own true self in the process.
Give us an insight into your main character(s)
Forced to survive on the streets of London from a very early age [‘You ought to try it sometime, it’s an education.’ Quote, unquote] Jack becomes thick-skinned and loses a good deal of his humanity.  His protective armour is gradually stripped from him after he meets Lysette Godden, the first human being he has ever loved.
Where did you get idea for this book?
I have always wanted to turn the Artful Dodger in to a real human being rather than a mere cypher, a counterpoint to the angelic Oliver Twist. 
How much research did you do for this book?
Over a period of a year, I checked every historical fact as the need arose.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Apart from being eminently satisfied with Jack, my favourite character is the feisty Lysette Godden, a girl who is determined to throw off the chains that ‘society’ shackled females with in the early 19th century.
What was the toughest thing about writing your latest book?
Finding the time.
What are you working on at the minute? 
Between Cancer and Capricorn
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I am considering writing a sequel Jack Dawkins and the Savages, set  in the United States, Jack encounters the pirate Jean Lafitte and Jim Bowie, who is known to have traded with him.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Keep writing. Never give up.

The book can be found at Amazon USA and Amazon India
Reviews from other readers can be found at GoodReads

In Discussion with Julie Coons - Author of This Does Not Leave This House

We have read & reviewed "This Does Not Leave This House" by Julie Coons a few months back. It was an emotional memoir of the author which has touched us deeply. We would like to welcome Julie Coons on our platform to know more about her latest book.

What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I was very social in school.  My friends were what I called my “love supply” since I didn’t have a very loving mother.  My social life replaced the love I was missing.  I also studied hard because I wanted to be a doctor someday.
What are some day jobs you have held?
I started babysitting at the age of 11.  I also worked in a cannery during green bean season.  I worked in a hair salon on weekends during the school season.  Later, when I realized I wasn’t going to be a doctor I worked as an admitting clerk in the emergency room for five years.  When I realized I was bringing all the sadness of what I saw home with me I quit and became a Mortgage Loan Officer.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspire you the most?
It’s funny, I used to read a lot as a child.  I used to escape into my books.  My favorite author was Danielle Steele.  Today, I don’t have time to read as much.  I enjoy reading horror, mystery and true crime from authors like Stephen King and Ann Rule.  
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was asked to do an article for our local business journal.  My husband and I own a commercial janitorial business.  It has been in our family for many years in the same town, so the article was about our family and how the city has changed over the years.  I am the fifth generation to live in our small little town.
When did you decide to become a writer?
It wasn’t my idea. I was told by a psychic medium I should write about my life. I didn’t want to write my story because I didn’t want to relive my painful past. After she told me it would really help others, that’s when I decided I needed to write it.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I didn’t realize it at first but I enjoy writing.  I am almost finished with my second book.  I have about three more books planned after the second one launches.  
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
I am really bad at budgeting time to write.  I really need to get better at disciplining myself.  I just write when the mood strikes me.  Some days I write all day long.  Some days I don’t write at all.  I think I need to be more balanced.  Maybe that should be my New Year’s resolution.  My New Year’s resolution has always been to never make resolutions.  
What genre are your books?
Non-fiction for my first book and fiction based on a true story for my second book.  My third book will be a horror story based on my own experiences.

 Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
My book is about my life.  The title is a quote from my father and the first two lines in the book are quotes from my mother.  It’s about the abuse I experienced from my narcissistic and mentally ill mother.  I’m also hoping to inspire others to break the cycle of abuse in their own families.
Where did you get idea for this book?
I had a near-death, out-of-body experience when I was 15 years old.  After that happened, about a year later, I was able to see into the spirit world.  Because of my abilities, scary things sometimes happened to me inside my home.  I needed help so I went to see a local medium.  After about 5 minutes she told me she had a message for me from spirit.  She told me the message was that I needed to write a book to tell my story.  
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Reliving the past.
Book Trailer

Release date. 
My first book was released January, 2018.  My second book will hopefully be released in February, 2019
How good the book is faring on Amazon?
My current book’s rating averages 4.0 on Amazon.
What are you working on at the minute?
My next book is also based on my personal story.  It will be shining a light on the epidemic of human trafficking.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I love the idea of a writing a book series.  
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Hire an editor.  
Links for your book readers

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Discussion with Shilpa Menon about her latest book In Pursuit of a Family

Today we have Shilpa Menon with us to discuss her recently published book, "In Pursuit of a Family". Those who are reading this post first time can check the author's previous interview where she had discussed her previous book "Scars Do Heal"

As we have already covered Shilpa's personal & professional background in the last interview, we will jump to "In Pursuit of a Family" directly

So you are back with another female-centric story. Can you tell us how you have perceived the concept of the book?
My first novel, Scars do heal, was published in December 2015. I had dedicated that novel to the survivors of sexual assaults. I had used fiction as a means to achieve two aims - The first was to increase awareness and sensitise people about the rampant crime against women and its aftermath and provide an understanding what the victims of sexual abuse go through. The second aspect was regarding self-healing. The research that went into the work behind the writing of Scars do Heal all paid off. Scars do Heal has been well received by readers across many countries. The reviews were very encouraging and that fuelled the desire for me to pen my second novel, “In Pursuit of a Family”. 
For the storyline of the second novel, I maintained my stance of wanting to write about less discussed topics. I chose to write about a topic which is close to my heart – about orphans, those who have no mother or father to guide them, protect them or love them. Unless adopted or taken in by an orphanage, these children are left to wander the streets, beg or steal for food and find shelter wherever they can. This cycle results in a high rate of suicide, physical and sexual abuse, the need to turn to organised crime and prostitution for survival. Their rights to adequate standards of living, health care and education are often violated. 
Once I backed myself with a fair share of research about the main challenges orphans face, I started writing the story. In the second novel also I relied fiction and used it as a medium to table the issued faced by orphans. 
The lead protagonist in the plot is, Zsofia. She had lost her parents at the tender age of 4. By the time she got to her twenties, she had gone through so much of struggles on her own that she turned into an introvert.  What kept her sanity were the walls which she built around her over the years to keep herself protected and her determination on building a bright career for stability. She then meets Kevin, someone who shares similar career aspirations with Zsofia. 
The story revolves around them —  how they help, challenge and complement each other despite their having  radically different upbringing. The story also focuses on how the lead protagonist brings out her suppressed desire of having a family of her own.

How much time did it take for you to complete this book? Any specific moment you would like to share from writing period of this book?
My journey of writing my second novel began towards the end of 2016. The first step was to do a fair amount of research about the main challenges orphans face. Once I was satisfied with the kind of issues I wanted to table in the novel, I started developing and weaving the story. It took me around a year and a half to bring the novel to fruition. 
I find writing very therapeutic so there are so many moments I cherish from having penned this novel. I, however enjoyed immensely in the area I challenged myself on this book. I took the risk of using a different style of writing whereby I oscillated in between the point of views from the two main protagonists from chapter to chapter. That was unique, exciting and simulating for me as a writer. Maintaining the flow in the story while playing with the point of views was invigorating. 
We visited the same family with Zsophia which Sonal visited. Have you been to such family from which you have taken inspiration? Also, similar Birmingham home that you have visited?
The lead protagonists from my first novel, Scars Do Heal, were cherished immensely by the readers so I was pretty sure that I wanted them back in my second novel as side characters. Though the second book can still be read as a stand-alone, for those who have read the first novel will be happy to see their loved characters back in the scene. 
I have been to London many times but I never got the opportunity to visit Birmingham, although it has been a place I have been wanting to visit for a long while. I am a big fan of historical novels and I have always been fascinated by buildings with heritage. It was therefore, not a coincidence to have the Percy’s house in Birmingham as one with legacy and passed over by generations. 
Assume that a Bollywood director selects your story for a movie with slight Indian touch, who would you like to play Zsofia & Kevin?
I would love to see Alia Bhatt and John Abraham play the roles of Zsofia and Kevin respectively.
What you are working on right now?
I have started conceptualising my third novel. The topic I have chosen to write around is domestic violence. The initial reading I am doing around domestic violence are shocking, to say the least. I feel the urge to write around this sensitive topic as soon as possible. This novel will be having a fresh crew of characters. If all goes by plan, I hope to see this novel published by end of 2020. 
Thank you so much, Shilpa, for providing us with time to get this article done. 

For our readers, links related to the author and book as follows:

A Long Way Home by Mitali Meelan - A Book Review

"A Long Way Home" by Mitali Meelan was a challenge read given by my husband for me. He asked me to select my last read of 2018 just by the title & cover, which means no blurb, no reviews & no Googleing. I have been given 4 options. "A Long Way.." was one of them. A catchy title & an interesting cover picture of feet on the road helped me made my decision.

Book Blurb
The Adhikaris are a regular, happy family - or so they will have you believe. But at the dinner table, a silence hangs heavy over the three children, especially Arihant and Ishaan. Twenty-three-year-old Arihant possesses a secret talent and a shattered heart. He yearns for his muse and ex-girlfriend, only to surprise himself when they finally meet after a long and difficult time apart. If only Ishaan could share some brotherly advice rather than sneak about, aloof and increasingly suspicious. 
Ishaan, twenty-eight, seems to have the job of his dreams - or at least, his parents' dreams. But how long can he stay torn between two worlds? How long before someone finds out about his evenings: about the place he goes to and the woman he sees. Here is a story set in the calm before a storm - after which nothing will be the same for this seemingly happy household.
The story is based on a family drama. Adhikari family & its younger generation is portrayed in the book. So we have a Maharashtrian family where the father was working hard to provide his children with ways to get them settled in their life. Another hand mother was a perfect housewife, maintaining the family's need. Their children (main characters) were Ishaan (eldest son), Arihant & Saloni. The story covers how two brothers have completely different personality but similar inner goals & dreams. It shows how they are achieving them either by staying with or away from family.

Mitali has good control over words. Through the story, she will make you feel how each character is going through. This is a different kind of read for me. I have read romance, thriller, suspense & what not. But rarely I have read a book based on family bonding/relationship. Don't worry it is not another Ekta Kapoor SOP, you will have enough elements of a good read.

  1. Cover - 4.5/5
  2. Characters - 4/5
  3. Concept - 3/5
  4. Overall - 3.5/5
Book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

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

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Internet Trap: Five Costs of Living Online by Ashesh Mukherjee

We have just entered in the year 2019 & looking at technological evolution, it is not possible to live without the internet. Even our book blogging is dependent on the same technology. So when we saw the cover & the title of the book "The Internet Trap: Five Costs of Living Online" by Ashesh Mukherjee, we were bound to read it. We couldn't say no to the book. Let us take you through what we found after reading the book.

Book Blurb
Whether we are checking emails, following friends on Facebook and Twitter, catching up on gossip from TMZ, planning holidays on TripAdvisor, arranging dates on, watching videos on Youtube, or simply browsing for deals on Amazon, the internet pervades our professional and personal environments. The internet has revolutionized our lives, but at what cost?
In The Internet Trap, Ashesh Mukherjee uses the latest research in consumer psychology to highlight five hidden costs of living online: too many temptations, too much information, too much customization, too many comparisons, and too little privacy. The book uses everyday examples to explain these costs including how surfing the internet anonymously can encourage bad behavior, using social media can make us envious and unhappy, and doing online research can devalue the product finally chosen. The book also provides actionable solutions to minimize these costs. For example, the book reveals how deciding not to choose is as important as deciding what to choose, setting up structural barriers to temptation can reduce overspending on e-commerce websites, and comparisons with others on social media websites needs to be cold rather than hot. The Internet Trap provides a new perspective on the dark side of the internet, and gives readers the tools to become smarter users of the internet.
As the title suggests, "the internet trap" is divided into five sections. Each section covers one cost. These costs are
  1. Too many temptations
  2. Too much information
  3. Too much customization
  4. Too many comparisons
  5. Too little privacy
If you look at headings, few may look problematic & few may look helpful. Same was my opinion when I checked the index. But once I read the book, I came to know the pros & cons of each cost in detail with examples & proper research support.

Let's start with good points first. The author has not done just complaining about these costs. He has explained following aspects in depth
  • the importance of each cost
  • how it could be helpful
  • how it is currently affecting us
  • and at the end of each chapter, he has also shared how to avoid becoming a victim of these costs & how to take maximum benefits of them.
The book is written in semi nonfiction & semi academical tone Though research support to understand the importance of underlying facts it also hampers the overall reading experience.

Having said that, it is a deep studied informative book. Ratings
  1. Cover - 4/5
  2. Content -3/5
  3. Overall - 3.5/5
Book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Book Review of SuperCouples - Inspiring Stories of Couple-preneurs by Prachi Garg

After a series of fictions, thrillers and poems, I decided to go for this light read having a cute, cuddly animated picture of a relaxed couple and an engaging colophon briefing about the struggles and success of the couples who dared to merge their home and work.

Book Blurb
In an era booming with the 'Startup' trend and loving this new attitude of breaking boundaries and conventions of a career, one also faces the challenge of being able to partner up with the right people. In lieu of reliable and trustworthy partners, real life couples in relationships have started exploring the idea of partnering up in business too!

Speaking to various couple-preneurs, one realizes that the myth about mixing work and home is just as misty as the one about needing a stable and conventional job for an ambitious career. These dynamic startups break stereotypes and cover a varied range of services: ecommerce, innovative gifts, eco-friendly products, health care solutions, social responsibility ventures, event management, digital solutions and many others.
SuperCouples brings out such lovely stories of enterprising couples. After all, when great minds come together to produce something built on conjoined dreams, the result is eminently successful
“Super Couples” celebrates the stories of 19 couples entrepreneurs; their working methodologies, struggles and finally their success hoping that they serve as an inspiration.

“Super Couples” is written in second person perspective. The start of every story has a picture of the company founders and a small idea of their startup. Be it an arranged or a love marriage, the author is successful to depict the start of the journey as a “match-made-in-heaven” manner. She captures the struggling road to success of these couples in a simple yet effective way. 

There are times when the book becomes monotonous. There are some stories especially of core IT sector which feel similar and personally, I felt more fields could had been covered and more diversity could had been included. Nevertheless, the book leaves its mark as you get inspired from one story to the other.

There are many stories that became my personal favorite. I thoroughly enjoyed “Boring Brands”, “Kitki” and many more. In fact, the moment I finished this book, I made sure I register for and made a mental note of the various websites to visit next of these fabulous couples with such offstream ideas.

Overall, the author is successfully able to draw common conclusions from all these success stories such as strong belief in the idea, love, mutual support, exclusivity and teamwork amongst these various stories using statistics and numbers to seal the facts to the point some might even be tempted to start something of their own.

For Prachi Garg’s motivational delight my rating would be 4/5

Overall Verdict:- Simple, Light and  Inspiring

Book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads
Review of other books in this series - Super Siblings & Super Women



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