Sunday, March 31, 2019

Book Review - Daitya Diaries - Blood and Vengeance by Aditya

I am not lying but "Daitya Diaries -  Blood and Vengeance" caught my attention the moment I saw the book launch invitation in my mailbox by publishers. Let me tell you frankly, I haven't checked the blurb of the book at that time, I liked the cover so much I just wanted to read the book. The next thing I did was grabbed the copy. Though I read the book a little late, I am happy that my selection was not wrong. It is indeed a good book. Let me give more details.

Book Blurb
A man arrives at the temple town of Srisailam. He carries with him a warning to the gods. A cosmic war between the Devas and the Daityas has spilled over into the mortal world.
A few years ago in the same temple town, a tour guide named Mallikarjuna finds himself being unjustly punished and sent to Naraka. At the same time, a mysterious figure challenging the Devas has been gathering resources from the annals of time to bring forth a monster that will fulfil his promise for revenge.
Daitya Diaries is an exciting blend of Hindu mythology and world history. It’s an adventure that takes you on a fantastical journey, through time and space. On one hand it’s a story of an innocent man, punished through no fault of his own. And on the other, it is a story of a Guru, seeking vengeance after the slaughter of his students before his very eyes. It is the story of a battle against the prime forces of power, of greed and lust that rule our world today
Before I start, let me tell you Daitya Diaries is not a simple Mythological Fiction using Indian Myths. The author has taken freedom and made many modifications. So don't get confused while reading.

Coming to the story part, there are two major characters who shape the plot. Mallikarjuna, a Srisalem's temple guide, and Daitya guru Shukracharya. Mallikarjuna was given a task to take three mysterious guys to a nearby forest. These mysterious guys were none other than Indra & his companion Devas. In the forest, Mallikarjuna was supposed to guard the area and stop trespassers, failing to which he was sent to a prison in Yamaloka. On another end, Shukracharya is trying to bring an Asura to life, who can destroy thousands of lives. Mallikarjuna survived his punishment, freed Yamaloka from the grip of greedy Devas. And now he was given the task to stop Shukracharya. The Shukracharya part also covers some historical characters/incidents, like Genghis Khan/accident of Chernobyl disaster. Read the book to know more.

My points / observations about the book
  1. Easy to follow language usage
  2. Jumbled flow, which creates interest to readers to know what next.
  3. Part action, part thriller, full of entertainment
  4. Light in size. Good for a short trip
  5. Ideal for beginner. That doesn't mean season reader cannot enjoy it.
  6. Nice cover. That is the main reason why I am writing this review
  7. Characters of Mallikarjuna & Shukracharya are really portrayed well.
  8. Good choice for your mythological bookshelf (and nice color shade if you are arranging shade wise :) )
Recommended to YA as well. A person above 14 can read this book.

I would give 4 out of 5 to the book.

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

Book Review - Prisoner of Yakutsk: The Subhash Chandra Bose Mystery Final Chapter by Shreyas Bhave

Death of Subhash Chandra Bose was, is and will be one of the most controversial topics of India. A global leader who was declared dead one fine day. And the investigation of the same was kept secret for 50-60 years. Even the details provided were leading to more conspiracy, in such cases a rightist (not exactly but less believer of Congress propaganda) I wanted to read a book on this topic. One fine day I saw a post of Shreyas Bhave about "Prisoner of Yakutsk: The Subhash Chandra Bose Mystery Final Chapter", a book dedicated around Subhash Chandra's death. The book series  "Asoka Trilogy" by Shreyas is one of the favorite series of mine, so I simply grabbed the opportunity.

Book Blurb
What exactly happened to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose? In 1945, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Leader of the INA leaves Singapore to take a series of flights, and dies in Taiwan after his plane crashes near Formosa. Or so it seems. In 1947, Mr & Mrs Singh, an illustrious army couple, both veterans of the Indian National Army, are last seen in Delhi, and then never again. In 1949, the plane carrying the first deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, mysteriously disappears for seven hours. In 2012, following the fall of WikiLeaks, a female hacker of the notorious X group is on the run as most wanted by everyone from Interpol to the KGB In 2015, the millionaire CEO of a Fortune 500 company suddenly resigns and vanishes from the public eye. A set of seemingly unconnected disappearances emerge to be woven into a single fabric as the answer to one leads to another… In this riveting narrative, bestselling author Shreyas Bhave, takes the reader on a thrilling adventure to solve the greatest mystery the Indian nation has known.
I won't reveal more details of Netaji's death or surrounding facts given in the book. But our story started with 3 generations. The first generation was Mr. & Mrs. Singh, who directly served under INA (India Nationa Army - conceptualized by Netaji to fight against Britishers). They were later on given the task to do the detailed investigation by Nehru, Gandhi, and Sardar. The third generation was Jay (maternal grandson of Singh couple). He came to know about her missing mother. The second generation, the daughter of Singh couple, Azadi had left Jay with her lover and then didn't come back. In short, three generations went after one mystery, would Jay succeed in finding truth or not. Read the book to know more.

The book is an amalgamation of 3-4 writing styles. The documentary, Historical fiction, Drama and Mystery. The major portion is written as a mystery. Some points/observation
  1. Fast-paced story
  2. Jumbled plots in different generations at different timelines
  3. Good use of broken facts and controversies
  4. Nice conceptualization
  5. Awesome cover (it's good to see my upvoted cover in print)
Advice for next reprint - Try to work on better word spacing. Current text settings were giving stress on the eyes.

4 out of 5 stars to this wonderful book.

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

Friday, March 29, 2019

Book Review - The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

I don't have to tell why I chose this book. "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" is written by one of the most praised and read woman author, Agatha Christie. Also, the book is a mystery thriller which makes it a better proposition. When I discussed with Vishnu about which book I start with, he selected this book as in general people like such books. So I went with his advice.

Book Blurb
Poirot, a Belgian refugee of the Great War, is settling in England near the home of Emily Inglethorp, who helped him to his new life. His friend Hastings arrives as a guest at her home. When the woman is killed, Poirot uses his detective skills to solve the mystery.
Talking about story brief: A mysterious murder of Mrs. Inglethorp recently married Alfred 20 years younger than her. She had been poisoned with strychnine. She is a wealthy woman sho got the manor and large portion of wealth from her first husband Mr. Inglethorp. Her household includes her husband Alfred Inglethorp, her stepsons John and Lawrence Cavendish,  John's wife Mary Cavendish, Cynthia Murdoch, the daughter of a deceased friend of the family and Evelyn Howard, Emily's companion.

Mr. Poirot, a refugee retired Belgian officer of the yard and Mr.hastings (writer) who came to visit styles in his sick leave.  Mr. Poirot asked to investigate the case by his old friend Hastings. 

Mr. Poirot comes to know that before the murder of Mrs. Inglethorp had an argument with either suspect john or Alfred. even the case where she kept all her important documents are opened and all the documents were missing. Mr. Poirot also comes to know that John has inherited manor as per his father's will whereas the money will be distributed as per Mrs. Inglethorp will. Mrs. Inglethorp changes her will every year. Recently the will is in favor of Alfred.

The prime suspect Alfred has left early the manor and stayed overnight at the village. he denies that he purchased the strychnine even though his sign was present at chemist register. Mr. Poirot found that the signature was not matching with Alfred's handwriting.

The second suspect John who's handwriting matching with the signature made at chemist register. Also the beard same like Alfred found at the manor.

A must-read book for the ones who like detective suspense stories. It is well written to keep you attached to the story. A book which gives you thrills to know the murderer at every moment. It is a story of a murder mystery with so many characters which makes you keep guessing the suspect. Agatha Christie has justified each character and flow of the story to keep momentum.

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Book Review - Yoddha: The Dynasty of Samudragupta by Rajat Pillai

The first time we heard about Rajat Pillai when we read the review of his debut book, "Chandragupta - Path of a Fallen Demigod", by Sheetal Maurya on Halo of Books. We were thoroughly impressed by the review. And that book is still part of my wishlist. So when we saw the author's post about the giveaway of "Yoddha: The Dynasty of Samudragupta" we participated that moment itself. (Due to book we are getting, we have not participated more than 4-5 giveaway in last one year). We were lucky enough to get the review copy. So here I am to present the review of the book.

Book Blurb
AD 379. The Gupta dynasty is stepping into its golden age

But the past holds many dark secrets... After long and bloody wars, Samrat Samudragupta sits on the pinnacle of an empire. yet, close to his throne are hearts filled with revenge, scheming to bring him down.
Into this gathering storm arrives Chandragupta, the king’s long-lost son. As he settles into his new life devastating family secrets surface, old wounds are reopened and Chandra can no longer trust anyone – least of all those closest to him. Bizarre and sinister incidents abound as palace conspiracies unravel plunging Rajgriha into a pit of chaos. 
Will the son pay for the sins of his father?
Yoddha: The Dynasty of Samudragupta unfolds the murky loves and lies of one of the most illustrious clans in history.
The story started with Samudragupta. He was the emperor of Magadha, the biggest empire of Aryavarta (Ancient India). Due to security issues, he had sent his sons to undisclosed locations for upbringing. His elder son Ramagupta was raised in military camp as a normal soldier, where in his younger son Chandragupta was raised in a village as a farmer. Ramagupta was brought to the public by Samudragupta ceremoniously. He was announced as future king - Yuvaraj. But Chandragupta's entry was rather unplanned due to his foster mother's (guardian) death. King welcomed him well and decided to give the responsibility of the army and intelligence. Chandra also got engaged with two ladies. And when things were supposed to get good, it became sinister. Chandra started hallucinating and got insane. On the other hand, an assassin entered into Royal guards, his motive was to kill the king or Rama. Read the book to know more.

Good points about the book
  • A flawless and fast-paced story
  • Awesome characterization (Chandra, Samudragupta, and Ramagupta)
  • Light read (even though 330 pages long book didn't fell heavy)
  • A clear understanding of the plot
  • Awesome cover art
  • Easy to follow language usage
  • Good for beginners as well as experts
  • Fewer characters and concentration on the storyline
I would say a sure shot page turner. I don't mind reading other books by the author. Once again sorry for little bit late review.

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Book Review - The Heist Artist by Vish Dhamija

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Verdict:- Light, Interesting and Uncomplicated Heist

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

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

Friday, March 22, 2019

Book Review - In Love with Simran by Kulpreet Yadav

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would give 3.5/5 to efforts of Himadri.

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Meet Sudhir Ahluwalia - Author of Natural Solutions for Cancer

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

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

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

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

Meet Nithya - Author of Once Upon a Reunion

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

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

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

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Life's Amazing Secrets by Gaur Gopal Das - Book Review

It was a Saturday evening around 5:55 PM, my daily office closing time, when my mobile pinged. That mobile notification brought mail with two great news for us.
  1. We got mail from Pengium India to offer us a chance to review a book
  2. The book was none other than Gaur Gopal Das, who's videos are being viral every now and then, referred by many of my friends on social media.
So it was obvious that we were not gonna say no to such a golden opportunity.

Book Blurb
While navigating their way through Mumbai's horrendous traffic, Gaur Gopal Das and his wealthy young friend Harry get talking, delving into concepts ranging from the human condition to finding one's purpose in life and the key to lasting happiness. Whether you are looking at strengthening your relationships, discovering your true potential, understanding how to do well at work or even how you can give back to the world, Gaur Gopal Das takes us on an unforgettable journey with his precious insights on these areas of life. Das is one of the most popular and sought-after monks and life coaches in the world, having shared his wisdom with millions. His debut book, Life's Amazing Secrets, distils his experiences and lessons about life into a light-hearted, thought-provoking book that will help you align yourself with the life you want to live.
Though we had said yes, we were a little bit tensed as the book belonged to a spiritual/mental self-help genre, which I personally not prefer. But I was proved wrong just like his videos. Gaur Gopal Das has used a unique concept. He has narrated his incident from his personal experience. The story started with Gaur Gopal's visit to an elite (super rich) couple's house. Harry (husband) went to drop Gaur Gopal after lunch. They stuck in traffic during the trip, at that time Harry confessed his situation to Gaur Gopal, that was when the story started. From there started a series of serious thoughts bundled with amazing short stories or narrations that one can correlate. Gaur Gopal has wonderfully used the object in which they were traveling to explain things. The content was divided into 4 sections, just like 4 tyres of a car, which according to Gaur Gopal Das makes our life easy and satisfied. These 4 tyres are
  1. Personal life
  2. Relationship
  3. Worklife
  4. Social contributions
Even if one tyre gets punctured one cannot drive safely or survive the good drive. Our life depends upon the balance of these tyres. With each section, Harry's doubts were resolved by Gaur Gopal by proper reasoning and spirituality.

Good points
  • Easy to follow language and medium pace
  • A wonderful amalgamation of self-help and short stories
  • Applicable to each and every person, especially in India where people judge first and act later
  • Question provided at end of each chapter which can help to learn yourself and align yourself with the logic
A sure shot must read for anyone and any age group. I must be the lucky one to get a chance to review such a book.

No need for separate rating 5/5 to the book.

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

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Meet Shweta Taneja - Originator of Anantya Tantrist Mystery Series

We would like to welcome Shweta Taneja on our platform. It is a proud moment for us to publish an interview with the best selling author. We have already read and published her book's reviews.
She has recently published 3rd part in the series, which is "The Rakta Queen: An Anantya Tantrist Mystery". So without wasting time let me give you brief of our conversion. 

What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I was always the backbencher, the slacker, and the one who would make trouble for the teacher. In college, I was the one who bunked frequently and headed to see movies.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspire you the most?
Reading is essential to learning the art of writing. Each and every author I read has taught me something or inspired part of the way I write. I’m a voracious reader and pick up anything from fantasy, science fiction to romance or high literary or non-fiction. My favourite though, remain in the realms of fantasy: Masters like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Ursula Le Guin and Octavia E Butler. I’ve learnt so much from each of these writers and keep learning everytime I pick their books up again.
When did you start writing?
As a career I began writing in early 2001 which means I’ve been writing for 18 years now (wow, did not realise that). My first article was a 1,000-word interview for a fashion magazine. At that time, I was wowed that I could write that much. Since then, I’ve written a 1,20,000 word novel and more than 300 articles.
When did you decide to become a writer?
It wasn’t a conscious decision, just something that I kept on falling into again and again. In school, at college, I happened to be the default writer and editor in all team assignments. When I graduated from college, I found myself with an assistant editor internship with Pearson Education publishing house. I didn’t know it was to become something that would consume my life and make a career for me. It just happened that way.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to constantly challenge myself in the stories I create. I want to bring stories to life and to entertain my readers, make them laugh and celebrate the lives they lead.

Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
My week’s usually structured around my writing, if I’m in the middle of a novel or a short story deadline. I divide a novel into chapters and write one chapter a week. There might be days that I can slack off in a week (which I happily do), but if I haven’t finished the chapter, my weekend turns into a working one.

This schedule works well as I can take breaks during the day if I want go to a lecture or generally twaddle about.
Can you share books you have written/publish till now?
  • Fantasy > The Rakta Queen, an Anantya Tantrist mystery (YA-adults, HarperCollins India, 2018)
  • Fantasy > The Matsya Curse, an Anantya Tantrist mystery (YA-adults, HarperCollins India, 2017)
  • Mystery > How to Steal a Ghost @ Manipal (YA, Juggernaut Books, 2016)
  • Fantasy > Cult of Chaos, an Anantya Tantrist mystery (YA-adults, Harper Collins India, 2014)
  • Mystery > Ghost Hunters of Kurseong (tweens, Hachette India, 2013)

Graphic Novels

  • Mythology > Krishna: Defender of Dharma (graphic novel, Campfire India, 2013)
  • Noir Mythology > The Skull Rosary (graphic novel, Holy Cow Entertainment, 2012)

Short Stories./Comics

  • Fantasy > Granny Garam's Kitty Party: Part of Magical Women, an upcoming anthology by Hachette India.
  • Comic > My Zombie Babe: Part of Necrobaba, an upcoming anthology of comic shorts by SyenaGiri.
  • Science fiction > Bhaisaab’s Bespoke Brides Boutique: Part of India 2049, an upcoming anthology by Mithila Review.
  • Fantasy > The Daughter That Bleeds: Part of The Best Asian Speculative Fiction (2018), an anthology by Kitaab, Singapore. The story won the Editor’s Choice Award and has been translated into French, Dutch and Romanian.
  • Comic > Obsolete Baby: Part of Ground Zero Fourth Volume by MetaDesiComics (2018).
  • Comic > It’s a dog’s death: Holy Cow Entertainment (2012)
  • Mystery > Terror Strikes back: Children’s anthology Celebrate! Holi (2013) released by Hachette India.
Frankly speaking, we have published more than 80 author's interview. And your's is a longest list of published work. It is indeed an awesome journey. Can you tell us about awards / recognition that you have received?
  • Invited Talk on ‘Asian speculative fiction trends’ at FedCon, Germany (2019)
  • Editor’s Choice Award in Asia for short story The Daughter That Bleeds (2018)
  • Invited Talk on ‘Rise of Indian Fantasy’ at Eurocon (2018)
  • Writing Fellow with British Council and Charles Wallace India Trust (2016)
  • Invited Talk on ‘Trends in Indian Comics’ at Cartoon Museum, London (2016)
  • Krishna Defender of Dharma is part of Must-Read List in government schools (since 2015)
  • Best Writer Award nomination at ComicCon India for The Skull Rosary (2013)
What genre are your books?
So far I’ve tried speculative fiction (urban fantasy, science fiction), mythology, mystery for adults, young adults and children.

Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
The Rakta Queen, a third adventure in Anantya Tantrist Mystery series, is a tantrik thriller based in Delhi and Banaras. At its helm is 23-year-old Anantya Tantrist, a tantrik detective who solves supernatural crime.

The Rakta Queen starts when a tantrik is brutally murdered by his chandaali slave. The same night, a group of university students lose their minds and perform an orchestrated orgy in front of the Vidhan Sabha metro station. To get to the truth, Anantya Tantrist, who is the unofficial consultant with the Central Bureau of Investigation, must navigate her way past murderous sorcerers, deadly chandaalis, an underground betting scam run by jinns, and a renegade aghori teacher.
Give us an insight into your main character(s)
Anantya Tantrist is 23 years old, a tantric detective by profession, living an independent, single life in Delhi. She takes on supernatural crime cases and solves them using mantras, potions, sass and magic. She’s a colourful, adventurous, reckless, expletive-spewing, beedi-smoking character who roams the streets of Delhi at night, dealing with whatever may come her way, human or not-so-human. Needless to say, she’s quite fun to be with J
Where did you get idea for this book?
The Rakta Queen’s sketch has been with me since I began the series. Book 1 of the series, Cult Of Chaos, was about Anantya facing her father’s legacy, while The Rakta Queen is about her facing her mother’s legacy. The ideas for specific scenes and the wacky plot it became came to be in bits and pieces through newspapers (a perennial source of inspiration), life and neighbours.
How much research did you do for this book?
It took me a year of research to inhabit Anantya’s world with tantrics, supernatural creatures and paranormal spirits, which are taken from Indian myths, folklores, oral stories, and songs. Creatures like dasyus, rakshasas, daityas, danavas, kiratas, etc are all taken from mythologies or local folklore and embedded into the world. This playing with characters and species from Indian myth and folk ecosystem, layering them with our modern world and trying to see what kind of a conflict arises between humans and others, is something that was a creative spark for Anantya Tantrist series.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
After writing two books in the genre, when it came to The Rakta Queen, though I knew the world and the character much better, it was a challenge to explore the world in a way that hadn’t been done before. Bringing in something new, from a new perspective, though you’re with the same old characters and the world, can be quite a niggle.

What was the hardest however was to let Anantya and her world go. Though I’m writing Anantya’s stories in short story and comic format as I give this interview, I won’t be working on a new novel. Not sometime soon, anyhow. I think that was really hard for me to do. To move on. The emptiness almost feels like there’s been a breakup. You might have new relationships, but it’ll never be the same as your last one.
Release date. 
2018 November
What are you working on at the minute?
I’ve started a new novel that could turn into a series. It’s a science-fiction novel for young adults. I’ve also recently finished a novel for kids, which is now trying to find a publisher. Other than this, I’m working on a few short stories in the science fiction genre.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
After spending four years of my life in one world, I can say it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You need to be sure that the world and the characters they inhabit will entertain you, will be able to sustain you creatively and emotionally for a few years. Writing series is not easy but it’s rewarding as with each work, the world you’ve created becomes deeper and richer.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
My advice would be not to think about writing or publishing or whether you’ll find readers or whether you’ll make any money or if you’re wasting your life or if the book will sell. Don’t buy a software or take too many classes about writing.

Just write. Everyday. A little bit of the book you want to write. Put it down into a blank document. Type it. Note it down. That’s how books happen. You write a sentence, which follows a sentence, becomes a paragraph, a scene, a chapter and before you know it, your first draft is over with.
Author bio
Shweta Taneja is a bestselling speculative fiction author from India. With seven published novels, she is a leading voice in feminist science fiction and fantasy, most known for her series, Anantya Tantrist Mysteries, which will be soon adapted to the big screen. Her short story, The Daughter That Bleeds has been awarded the Editor's Choice Award and is published in the recently released anthology The Best Asian Speculative Fiction 2018. It has also been translated and published in SF magazines in Romanian, French and Dutch.
She’s a Charles Wallace fellow and her graphic novel Krishna Defender of Dharma in a Must-Read for government schools in India. Shweta prolifically voices her passion for Indian, feminist and diverse science fiction and fantasy. She has given talks at Cartoon Museum London, Eurocon 2018 and will be talking about SFF in the upcoming FedCon 2019 in Germany. Find her most places online with her handle @shwetawrites



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