Sunday, December 8, 2019

Umeed India with Virender Sehwag - A Book Review

I have read 3-4 books by Rupa publication which was compiled by the Epic Channel team. Basically, these books are text edition of some of their best series/episodes. I loved them. Previous ones were more on Bollywood, but this time I got my hands on inspirational figures of India who are raising the bar in various sports that are played internationally. How can I say no to such a book? So here I am giving you a brief of what Umeed India is. 


Book Blurb
He lost both his arms at a very young age. He went on to qualify in the Paralympics and is India’s ace para swimmer! He is Suyash Jadhav. She had only nine seconds to turn the game in her favour at the Olympics. And she did it! She is wrestler Sakshi Malik. He had a perennial fear of water. He went on to become India’s only rower to qualify in the Olympics finals! He is Dattu Bhokanal. His patient’s wheelchair hardly moved when he started playing. He went on to become India’s champion para shuttler! He is Sanjeev Kumar. Umeed India: Guts, Glory and Gold talks about groundbreaking stories of not just these iconic men and women but of many more like them. Based on a popular show on Epic Channel, Umeed India: Inki Jeet Hamari Jeet, where host-cricketer Virender Sehwag travels through the country and interviews these stars in their villages and training bases, capturing exciting moments in their home environment and meeting their family and friends, in order to discover their real story of grit and determination. This book features inspiring stories of thirteen such athletes who are our hope for the 2020 Olympics.
As I just mentioned, the book covered sportspersons who have given hope to Indians for medals in upcoming Olympics or International Sports games. 15 years back India has known only a few sports where they can show their prowess, in other sports they were just giving showing their attendance. The environment has started changing and now people are looking for more options than just Cricket. Still for the majority of the encouragement of the sport for proper sports body is missing in India. But the personalities discussed in the book had overcome those limitations and shown their true caliber. The book is in an interview format, where the host is none other than Virender Sehwag. Questions cover how they got inspiration for these sports, what difficulties they faced in earlier days, the role of their parents in their achievement. Almost every personality had faced something unique and inspirational that will give you goosebumps. 

The language used is simple. I would say beginners can easily understand it. And those who don't like stories but would like to learn English then this will be an ideal pick. I hope I don't have to give more weight to the inspiration quotient. They have already brought glory to India in their respective fields whether they will medal or not. But I hope all of them achieve their dream of winning medals.

A nice read indeed.

I will give 4/5 to the book.

Book Links - Amazon, Flipkart & GoodReads

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Book Review - Smart money Moves by Vinod Desai

I selected "Smart money Moves" by Vinod Desai because of the subtitle "For Grown-Ups a.k.a. Kids with money". I have read fewer books in self/personal finance genre books. Reading books in personal finance is like adding actual knowledge about your better future. So I was damn serious while reading this book. I have noted down few important tips as well.


Talking about the content, the author has started with breaking a few misbeliefs in the Indian context. It is always assumed in India that security is everything. So when it comes to financing the first option people go for is Fixed Deposit. And when it comes to policy in India, LIC is synonymous with policy. Still, the majority chunk of Indians believes whatever LIC gives in return is a blessing. People simply calculate what they gave and if the return is slightly more they are happy. They don't know how much it would have been if they had invested properly. Later on, the author has explained various ways that a normal person can take for better savings. It is like "the more you bleed in peace the less you sweat in war". It's better to start planning at a younger age then afterward. As money only understands compounding. In the shorter run, we only get the principal back. If we want an actual income longer run is the only option.

Good points about the book

  • The author has avoided extreme mathematics. I have read a few books on personal investment and they were so full of equations that layman may find it difficult to grasp. But this book is low on equation and more on practicality
  • Use of simple examples to explain concepts. The author has avoided using plain theories. He has given ample example of how to persons made or lost money by investing or not investing in a particular instrument
  • A simple explanation of complex investment products


A good guide for salaried & small-time investors. I will give 4.5/5 for this wonderful guide.

Book links Amazon & Goodreads

Friday, December 6, 2019

Book Review - Immortal by Krishna Udayasankara

I have read Govinda (the first book in Aryavarta Chronicles) twice by Krishna Udayasankara. And after that, I read the Beast by her. Looking at writing style she has exceptionally proved her skills by delivering complete two different kinds of writing styles & genres. Where the first one was mythification, the second one was paranormal fiction. So when I checked Immortal by her was republished again by penguin, I thought of not missing it. I checked the blurb and found it was again a different style, a histo-thriller. I simply took it. But due to my survival spondylosis, I was not able to read it on time. Well guilty of not writing a review was greater than not reading a book, so I took out a special time during my physiotherapy and finished it.



The protagonist of our story is professor Bharadvaj, a 40-year looking man assisted by Manohar. He was approached by a lady called Maya to find out the elixir of immortality. But the professor tried his best to deny the task claiming it to be a fairy tale. As professor himself was Ashwatthama, legendary warrior & son of Drona. In his long life span, he tried to locate that potion but never found a clue of it. But somehow after Maya had approached the professor, he started finding hard to find that elixir was just myth. So that is when Ashwatthama started one and the last trial to find out what was the truth behind missing artifact. 

Coming to the writing style, the tone has changed this time. You may feel the difference between Govinda & Immortal. Govinda was written lavishly at ease as the author had the option to write it in 3 parts. Where in here she had only one book to compile things that to multiple historical incidents (wars after great war) where Ashwatthama was present. So the pace was generally medium to fast. Krishna's control over words is visible throughout the book. Again based on the type of reading you prefer your opinion may change for the storyline as few find it flawed and few find it flawless. For me it is mixed or I would say slight flawed but still far better than upcoming mythification writers who are trying to race in the league.

Overall a nice read. I would give 4/5 to the book.

Book links - Amazon & Goodreads

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Book Review - The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi

When I had compared my yearly, quarterly & monthly book read logs, I realized that compared to 2017, year on year I was/am reading fewer books. From 70+ in 2017, I am around 40-45 books now. At the same time guilt of not able to read kept increasing, to cover the lost/missed pages I needed an option.


Around that time I came upon a mail by "Kelvyn Fernandes" about his book "The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi Volume I: Homecoming". I had little time and about to decline a request when I saw the audiobook available. So I took that as a sign from stars and downloaded the first chapter. I gave a try during my morning cycling time. I liked the experience so much that after coming back I downloaded all chapters and also worked around audiobooks from other authors. I know I am mixing up my first audiobook experience with this book's review but I cannot separate them as both are linked.

Coming to the actual story, it is about two characters Peter and Fi. The first one is a magician and the later one is from the mystical beast clan. The story started when Peter for his magician qualification took a quest. On the way or I would say to reach his goal he went through various situations. Fi was an orphan raised by Peter. She joined him in his quest in return for the promise that Peter would take her to her hometown. Description & adventure are filled with the fantasy world and its creature. Read the book to know more.

Though written for middle grade, it can give satisfaction fantasy readers as well. There are parts in books which brings smile to your face and there are parts (like condition of prisoner, punishment to people around city wall, attack on Phi's village) will make you feel emotional. The story is divided into multiple short ones, side characters of each stories are well thought of keeping Jack & Phi as mains.

The book is written with simple language for the targeted audience. The plot is simple. Voice artist has done a good job. He has maintained the difference between different characters which has given uniqueness to the narration. Overall a good book/story. I will give 3.75 out of 5 to this book.

Book Link - Amazon & Goodreads

Monday, November 25, 2019

Book Review of Vineet Bajpai's Latest Book - Mastaan: The Fallen Patriot of Delhi

I have recently read the Harappa series by Vineet Bajpai. I was completely fascinated by his writing style. He got placed in my favorite Indian author. Just like Amish Tripathi or Ashwin Sanghi Vineet has brought a gripping tale in and around Hindu Mythology & other conspiracy theories. When I first saw the cover release of Masaan, a thought occurred to me how a Mythology-action style would blend in historical action. But the job was nicely done.


Book Blurb
An imperial monster masquerades as a mercantile company. From gunpowder to opium, the East India Company uses every weapon to bring an entire sub-continent to its knees. Even Tipu, the fearsome Tiger of Mysore, falls prey to British military might.

As a century of deceit and cruelty unfolds - the oppressed thirst for retribution.
Delhi is the first to drown in blood, as a violent sepoy uprising engulfs all of Hindustan. The seat of the crumbling Mughal empire emerges as the epicenter of the ghadar.
An unforgettable poet laments the destruction of his beloved city and a senile Badshah’s eyes gleam with unreal hope, as both sides of the Laal Qila witness terrifying bloodshed and historical battles.
And amidst all the cannon-roars, brutal duels, intoxicated mushairas, ravishing courtesans, haunted treasures and bloody battles – unfolds the immortal love-story of the magnificent Mastaan & the beautiful Fay.
Did one man really change the course of history’s greatest war for freedom?
The story started with the mysterious death of Tipu Sultan and curse related to his treasure. Then it switched to Mastaan and his troops. Working under the East India Company's infantry, Mastaan was a hero of his region. Known as Bandookbaaz, Mastaan was true to the name given, can alone take down a gang of thugs easily. He was loyal to company Bahadur (East India Company) till he came face-to-face with atrocities of the company done on India. Things became bitter when his cousin Mangal Pandey was hung for revolting against his senior. But at the same time, Fay, the sister of his superior took his heart. How would he maintain his revolt along with his love life? What was the relation of Mastaan's story with Tipu's treasure & its curse? Do read to know these facts.

The good parts of the book
  • Gripping storytelling
  • Focus on storyline & characters
  • Wonderful linking of historical events
  • Easy language usage
  • Good for any age group
  • Nice cover
I have to wait for the next part though, that's the only sad part. Ratings
  1. Cover - 4.5/5
  2. Concept - 4.5/5
  3. Character - 4/5
  4. Overall - 4.25/5
Book links - Amazon, Flipkart & Goodreads

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Book Review - The Warrior God: Ayyappa of Sabarimalai

I have read 3 books by Preetha Rajah Kanan. Her words remind you of those religious stories told to you by your grandparents. Stories that are short but full of spiritually and divinity with a touch of asura / danava / rakshasa / bad people. The stories of victory of good over bad. Same way Preetha delivers a collection of short stories dedicated to deity(s). These stories are usually connected with famous places or incidents related to Hindu mythology or history.


Book Blurb
Suddenly, the silence of the jungle was shattered by the crash of branches. The prince froze. Some large animal threshed through the thick undergrowth. Manikanthan silently followed the trail of destruction. He emerged from the jungle onto the banks of the Azhutha.

There before him stood a huge she-buffalo, muscles rippling as she lapped the water. It was none other than the wicked Mahishi.
Sensing the intruder in her domain, Mahishi raised her head. A young boy stood by the forest edge. He held a bow in his hand; a sword hung in the scabbard by his side.
The asura and the boy stood motionless, locking eyes.
The Warrior God: Ayyappa of Sabarimalai depicts the epic confrontation between good and evil. Mahishi, the buffalo-headed asura princess, wreaks vengeance on the devas for killing her brother, the mighty Mahishasura. She subjugates the gods and unleashes a reign of terror on the three worlds.
A series of divine events culminate in the birth of Mahishi’s nemesis, Hariharaputra – the son of Shiva and Vishnu, later known as Ayyappa. The baby, raised on earth as a prince of the Pandalam dynasty, awaits his tryst with destiny.
Here is the story of Sabarimalai, where legend and history meld into one tidal wave of devotion. Discover why five crore pilgrims annually ford rivers and trek through forests and hills to pay homage to Ayyappa.
This time she is back with Ayyappa Swami that is what we call in our place. This book is dedicated to "The Warrior God: Ayyappa of Sabarimalai", a god born out of love locks of Shiva & Mohini (female incarnation of Lord Vishnu). If the parents' duo is so strong then what else you expect from their kid. After the death of the mighty Mahisashura demon, her sister Mahisha had spread havoc. Devas & Manavas were praying God to release them from clutches of that cruel demoness. One of the major reasons behind Lord Ayyappa's birth was to bring down Mahisha and bring back peace. The stories in the book cover how god was born to how he defeated mighty Demoness along with other great deeds by Ayyappa swami. 

Good points
  1. Easy to read the language
  2. Simple & straight narration style
  3. You can give it to your kids to know our religious root
  4. The richness of mythological & historical values book covers
A nice read for any age. Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 4/5
  2. Content - 3.5/5
  3. Overall - 4/5
Book Links - Amazon, Goodreads

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Thoughtfully Written Poems - Wake Up Oh! Indian Wake Up Please - Book Review

When I first checked the cover of "Wake Up Oh! Indian Wake Up Please" I thought the book would be based on the political situation in India. But the blurb of the book made it clear, from the blurb I got to know that the book is dedicated to the ground issues that India faces India. It took me not more than 3 days to finish this book. 


Book Blurb
A collection of easy to read understand, book of inspirational poetry on India that you can enjoy, mull over, reflecting the everyday reality and solutions. Not long ago, it took blood, sweat, tears & countless sacrifices to achieve freedom enabling us to manage our own affairs. But, haphazard planning, gross mismanagement, lack of genuine accountability, corruption, cronyism, nepotism, lack of a uniform education system, bending rules, and the bribing, have become a part of our everyday reality. This is endured silently by the faceless millions and are slowly & steadily becoming the accepted norm. Introspection without justifications and the ability to swallow one’s pride and pretensions can help one comprehend our reality of today, and also realize that it is possible to cure our present state of affairs. Here is a sample of book of inspirational poetry Garbage bins are not maintained With litter, scattered all around Civic sense we seem to have lost Because most, to it, are blind. We must re-educate our people The only way to achieve our goal We must do it ourselves Our efforts are required, not dole. Will we remain as one? To rebuild and fix our land And maintain what we rebuild To be proud of where we stand.
"Wake Up Oh! Indian Wake Up Please" is a collection of poems that inspire, involve the reader with it's use of simple words elegantly written. Each dedicated to a major issue affecting India. Covered issues: poverty, education, sanitation, communal violence, poverty, corruption, politics, transportation, infrastructure, employment, etc. Forty poems, each start with a depiction of the current condition of the said topic, followed by an appeal by the author to the general public to become aware of the situation. The poems aim to raise awareness and patriotism from children to adults.

Frankly speaking, we all are aware of these situations, but we are so used to them that we take it as just part of our life. We understand the gravity of the situation when it happens with us like in case of corruption, violence, etc. Sometimes we see the stark contrast between our culture and other countries' when we visit them, in terms of infrastructure, sanitation, cleanliness, etc. It is not that we don't have a system for it, but stakeholders are not active. Even we don't consider ourselves as active participants. We always think such things won't matter, and that's what the author has pointed out. Readout poems yourself to get the feel.

Coming to the working style, it is plain and to the point. Language usage is simple. The author has concentrated on message delivery than impressing readers by flaunting words.

I would give 4.25 out of 5 for this wonderful work.

Book links - Amazon & Goodreads

Friday, November 8, 2019

Healthy Dog, Happy You: Secrets to a Thriving Life with Your Best Companion by Dr Juliet Decaestecker

Neither my family nor I have ever taken any pet under shelter and we do not believe in adopting and caging one. But that doesn’t mean I cannot read a book on how to raise a healthy pet if my kid decides to take one in the future. When Dr. Juliet Decaesteckere to two reasons, attractive cover and proper blurb of the book.


Book Blurb
India, a land of over 1.3 billion people is also home to many dogs and pet parents. After three years of being in India and having travelled all over the world, Dr. Juliet Decaestecker believes that creating awareness is key to prevent disease. India can be an ideal place to raise dogs, if you apply Dr. Juliet’s 5 secrets, as the country has a rich history, culture, food and medicine. With her expertise in both Traditional medicines and allopathy, this integrative veterinarian discusses good practices that will help you raise healthy and happy dogs
As Dr. Juliet has worked as a Vet for more than 15 years with multiple specialties she has seen the dog’s world with a completely new perspective. You might have come across people who treat various ailments without medicines but by changing daily diet or lifestyle. Dr. Juliet is the same kind of practitioner who believes in Naturopathy & lifestyle habits than medicine. Each chapter or topic she has covered in the book will be a real eye-opener for owners. Let me give you an example, I have heard that if you are pure vegetarian and want to feed your pets only veg food don’t adopt one. The author has mentioned the same with proper reasoning. On top of it, she has also shared that the way we avoid our kids to have excessive packaged foods, we should follow it for dogs. The chapter that touched me is about street dogs, since our childhood, we have been taught to stay away from street dogs to avoid bites. The author has explained possible scientific reasons for both sided behavior. (As I had been bitten by a dog in past, the explanation seems logical to me). The book not just discussed dietary & lifestyle habits, it has also discussed the way pets can be beneficial to their owners, by making bond on physical, mental & psychological level.

The book shows the author’s authority or knowledge of the subject. Her experience as a vet & a dog owner is really visible when she has discussed various topics with proper real-life examples & scientific background. Pictures that she has shared from her life (related to dogs) make reading lively. Her writing style is simple & straight. Though the book falls under self-help, you won't feel bored while reading it. If I being non-pet lover can read the book with great interest then I believe pet lover/parents may find it helpful.

Ratings
  1. Cover - 4/5
  2. Content - 4/5
  3. Overall - 3.75/5
Book can be found at Amazon - Paperback  & Kindle
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Book Review - First Installment of The Aryavarta Chronicles - Govinda by Krishna Udayasankar

I think I have shared earlier in the review of Beast by Krishna Udayasankar, but let me share it again. I have bought Govinda by Krishna along with Auth of Vayuputra when Vayuputra was released. But I read Govinda much later (in 2015). And by the time I decided to buy the next two parts of the series they were out of the shelf. So I didn't get a chance to read the 2nd & 3rd part. Recently I saw a post by Krishna that the Govinda series along with Immortal are adopted by Penguin India and they are re-published. And as a Diwali gift, we were provided copies of the first part of Govinda & Immortal in exchange for an honest review. As Govinda is the same as the previous copy I bought, I went through the book to revise important points that can be covered in the review.


Before I go to plot discussion, let me give you a brief comparison of two editions.
  • Cover - Though both editions are paperbacks, the first edition cover was more elegant than the latest one. :)
  • Page - I think yellowish pages with a golden look of the title was giving regal look to the first edition. The latest edition is having proper paperbacks look.
  • Font settings - Here the latest edition has won the race, where the first edition has smaller fonts this edition has adequate sized fonts for the better reading experience.
Well, the first edition is no longer available, so you don't have a choice to select an edition of your likings. But I have both editions, so I gave details as per my experience.

Book Blurb
Aryavarta – the ancient realm of the noble.
For generations, the Firstborn dynasty of scholar-sages, descendants of Vasishta Varuni and protectors of the Divine Order on earth, has dominated here. For just as long, the Angirasa family of Firewrights, weapon-makers to the kings and master inventors, has defied them. In the aftermath of the centuries-long conflict between the two orders, the once-united empire of Aryavarta lies splintered, a shadow of its former glorious self.
Now, the last Secret Keeper of the Firewrights is dead, killed by a violent hand, and the battle for supreme power in the empire is about to begin.
As mighty powers hurtle towards a bloody conflict, Govinda Shauri, cowherd-turned-prince and now Commander of the armies of Dwaraka, must use all his cunning to counter deception and treachery if he is to protect his people and those whom he loves.
But who holds the key to the fantastic and startling knowledge of the Firewrights, which in the wrong hands will bring doom upon the empire? And does Govinda have it in him to confront the dark secrets of his past and discover the true meaning of being Arya, of being noble?
As name suggests the main character of our story is Govinda Saury, a cowherd who became general of Dwarka's military. The next main character is Panchali, princess of Panchala. And as it is the story of Mahabharata all major characters of actual Mahabharata play a major/minor role in this book as well. To bring a unique angle to the story, the author has shown the world with mere mortal without any divine powers. Aryavarta, as we know today, was led by firstborns sages & his followers through kings & lords. But way before that time, another entity had given a tough time to firstborns and they were known as Firewrights, a clan/group of people who work on machines, weaponry & alchemy. But they were almost wiped off by firstborns & kings. The book starts with the death of Ghora Angisara, the last known Firewrites of Mahabharata time. With his death, a bigger plan of powerful people brought into a crumble. On another side, a cowherd Gopala took it on himself to bring Pandava to the front runners of Aryavarta. Pandava, five brothers, who themselves were not sure of their heritage due to mystery behind their birth, were supported by Govinda achieved many unreachable targets which they may not be able to if Govinda was not present with them. They got a marriage alliance with Panchala, Dwarika; they decimated the Khandavprasth forest with its secrets to start a new kingdom, they killed and subdued the mighty Jarasandha & his kingdom Magadha; and finally able to hold Rajsuya Yagya. Panchali witnessed all means Govinda took to achieve this, for which her husband & his brothers didn't protest even once.

As the already mentioned concept is unique and so was the delivery of the content. Unlike Amish Tripath or Anand Neelkanthan, Krishna's writing style is more lavish. You will get a good amount of description to enhance your experience. It is up to you to decide whether you are okay with lengthy narrations or not. Coming to the content part, I have just read part one, but Mahabharata is vast and writing story till Rajsuya in just first part in around 400 pages, which I found a little bit fast. She might have taken it slowly. Having said that, there are places where the pace of the story was medium, and there are places where the pace was fast enough to keep turning pages. I found a few factual things misplaced, apart from that a nice read.

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

Retelling of Mahabharata - Heroes of Wars - Men from the Future by Virat Vilas Pawar - A Book Review

I have read many versions of Mahabharata. But Sci-fi was the first of its kind for me. Well, I have read a version where gods were shown as an advanced/technological race but Pandavas from the future, that was a completely new concept for me. So whatever blurb conveyed I was impressed, and I did not let the opportunity go. Here I am to give you a review of "Heroes of War" by Virat Pawar.


Book Blurb
Inspired by the greatest epic the world has ever known comes the dystopian sci-fi thriller "Heroes of War".
Where a God from the past travels to the future, to ask for a favor from its own final incarnation.
Summoning 5 Super Warriors from the future, to win a war that could forever change the course of history.
A War against 100 Princes; Inspired by the greatest epic the world has ever known comes the dystopian sci-fi thriller "Heroes of War".
Where a God from the past travels to the future, to ask for a favor from its own final incarnation.
Summoning 5 Super Warriors from the future, to win a war that could forever change the course of history.
A War against 100 Princes;
A War against Adharma.
It is the beginning of a war; anachronistic-technology against the primitive.
Primitive beings who know more than fighting with just weapons
Before I discuss the plot, let me tell you the author has taken the liberty of his imaginations. He has used the background of Mahabharata but at the same time, he has combined his creativity to bring this saga. To make sure people's feelings don't get hurt, the author has not used the exact lineage concept or even names. He has renamed characters & places, they are close enough to relate though.

So let me tell you how different things are, the story started when Kison (from Dwapara Yuga from Prithvi) observed the disastrous end of the great war. He went to the future and asked the help of Kalki to give her the best five men to his aid. Five best warriors of F.A.T.E. were selected for this mission. These warriors were: Yudhraj, Bheem, Arjun, Deva, Nakul. Each having their unique traits & history. They were under impression that mission would be a small & short one as it belonged to the bronze age era. When they reached their destination (after distance & time travel) they were welcomed by a bluish skinned Kison. They were under impression that they were invincible. But their assumption was proved wrong when Kison checked their capability. With their full strength when they attacked Kison together, they were beater like Kison was playing with dolls. Later on, Kison explained to them their mission, not in detail but just outlined or I would say only partial one. They were to defeat adversaries of that time Diyohana & his 99 brothers, who were born by evil methods. Kison made Yudhraj & his team challenge Diyohan just before Diyohan's ascendance to the throne. It was during these challenges that the traits of each member of Yudhraj's team were shown. When Diyohan & his counsel thought they cannot defeat challengers in a fair fight they took help of Chausar (Dice Game). With their sinister plan of mind game would they be able to counter future warriors. Also, these future warriors found their trainers Bhishmaji & Dronaji in a completely different situation, what were they doing in his pre-historic era? To know more I recommend you grab your copy.

Well, while reading the book the title was in my mind, and there was no indication of whether this is the first installment or single book, so I was confused about how Virat will give justice to the epic Mahabharata in just 250 pages. I was relieved to see "To Be Continued" at the end. And the author has ended a series on a high tone. Coming to personal observations about the book
  1. The proper thought process has been given. I didn't find any glitches in the plot.
  2. I know we have read /watched Mahabharata, so we usually feel that we know what is going to happen next. And for the author, it is challenging to write something on the same plot and still deliver unexpected twists & turns throughout the book. Virat has done a commendable job.
  3. Nice knitting of characters & plots of future & Mahabharata era.
  4. Character building - Many authors focus on the plot so much that their main character plays the only role as per plot. But you need to give extra space to the character to build their say in your story. Especially each member of Yudhraj's team was shown with proper background and traits. Again a nice job.
  5. Reading experience - You need a fast pace, easy to cope with language & to the point story for a concept like this. If you divert from this you may miss the bus. I feel Virat has done a good job but building excitement at full pace.
  6. Wonderful artwork - You may visualize each major-minor character by the description given by the author. Or you can simply check them in drawing given throughout the book. I liked them.
  7. Cover of the book - I know I have just praised artwork, but the cover needs more than just character. I feel it could have been better.
Overall a nice read for YA, millennials, Mythology and/or Scifi lovers.

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

Thursday, October 17, 2019

HDFC Bank 2.0 by Tamal Bandyopadhyay

During one of my electives (corporate strategy) in NITIE Mumbai, we were taught by visiting faculty how technology usage (mind its usage, not availability) had changed two banking entities in the private sector. Faculty told us that government banks had computers way before ICICI & HDFC banks had. But they used IT only for record-keeping. The utilization of computers in Indian banking was done by these two giants which had brought government banks in the current state from their earlier "Jamai babu" attitude. I was fascinated by that fact. And ever since I wanted to read a proper case or book on such transition. And this book gave me that opportunity. So here I am discussing the book on the success story of HDFC 2.0.


I thought the book/story narration might have started from the age-old method driven banks. But it started with Aditya Puri's visit to silicon valley and what he had gauged from the visit. From there book switches between different timelines of bank covering how in the last 25 years Aditya & his team have leveraged technology & innovation to achieve new heights of success. In the Indian market, where people don't trust private banks, it was an extraordinary journey for the bank to give tough competition to public sector banks. If you have an educational & business mind, you will find many important lessons to implement them for your business.

Now coming to the writing style of the book
  • Language is easy
  • Flow is haphazard. A proper flow could have made the book more interesting
  • Every case is supported with proper reasoning & practical implementation by Puri & team
  • As the book is nonfiction you will find a certain percentage of writing covering people who helped Aditya achieve the dream bank
  • Covers not just IT implementations but marketing, finance, human resource, etc.
The book has an attractive cover & prompt title. If you are a management guy and/or savvy, you should read it.

Ratings

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

Book Review - Venus with a P*nis - A Tale of Love, Sacrifice and Betrayal

I don't need a reason to explain why I selected this book. It's the catchy name and attractive cover page was more than enough to add "Venus with a P*nis - A Tale of Love, Sacrifice and Betrayal" by Almas Hussain in my collection. And I am happy that I selected the book. 


Book Blurb
Meet Rajan, the irresponsible younger son in a family of doctors. He’s reckless. He’s rebellious. And he’s dressing up like a woman these days.

No. He’s not a cross-dresser. Nor is he transgender. He thinks he’s a murderer. It all begins with a mother-to-be dying on the young gynaecologist’s watch. And to atone for her death, he banishes himself to the boondocks.
He arrives at the remote village of Kaatgram, where pregnant women have been dying left, right and centre. But the Kaatgrami men are not about to send their women to a male gynaecologist. So Rajan does the next best thing—he disguises himself as a lady doctor.
Rajan feels it is okay to deceive the people about his gender, so long as he gets to save their lives. Damini, the local MLA’s daughter, supports him in his dream of setting up a maternity clinic in their village. Rajan falls for her. But she doesn’t even know he’s a man.
Will Rajan manage to woo his sweetheart and marry her? Or will the villagers tear him to pieces when they find out that their lady doctor is actually a man?
As suggested in the blurb, the story covers problems existing in rural India, where primary medical help is not available. Due to a lack of medical facilities 1 out of 10 pregnancy fails with the death of either mother or child. The protagonist of our story is Rajan, a gynecologist who hailed from a well-known gynecologist family. His careless & womanizer traits had kept him away from his family managed the clinic. An accident or carelessness from the Rajan side resulted in the death of a mother & her child. That lady's two girls were abandoned by her family. Guilty stricken Rajan had taken it seriously and taken two girls under his parenthood. That was just the tip of the iceberg, that incident had changed everything. Rajan has started taking things seriously. He came to know the situation of women in Rural India, how lack of female gynecologists endangering the lives of women. He thought about the solution, and when he cannot find the solution outside, he thought of doing something out of the box. He decided to crossdress and pretend as a woman for a greater cause. But what will happen when this pretending woman met another woman in the village and end up having feelings for her. Read this super funny story to know more.

I have read many comedy styles but this has touched my heart. With social message & comedy sequences, this book has delivered stories that of Ayushman Khurana's movies. Good points about the book
  • Full to funny
  • Entertaining social story
  • Easy language usage
  • Straight narration style
  • Characters with reasoning
  • Cover & title
  • New concept
Ratings
  1. Cover - 5/5
  2. Concept - 4.5/5
  3. Characters - 4/5
  4. Overall - 4/5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Book Review - Nobody’s Child by Kanchana Banerjee

I am a Twitter follower of Kanchana Banerjee for the last 2 years. I liked her bookish status and updates. Ever since she has published a scary cover photo of "Nobody’s Child", it has left an imprint on my bookish mind. I would like to thank Writersmelon for giving me a chance to drench my curiosity. 


Book blurb
I’m Asavri Bhattacharya. I won the Indian Koel 3 years ago.’
A young woman, dazed, covered in wounds, mind addled by drugs tells a TV journalist on the streets of Mumbai. Soon she breaks into a song, leaving everyone mesmerized by her melodious voice.
How can she be Asavri? Asavri died in a car accident 3 years ago, soon after her win. Her body was cremated; her death mourned by the whole nation. Is the woman an imposter or is she telling the truth?
News spreads like wildfire, the press and public begin clamouring for answers. If this is indeed the real Asavri, then who was cremated three years ago? And who is responsible for these macabre circumstances? Is it Tanya, the first runner-up who wore the victor’s crown after Asavri was declared dead, or Rudra – Asavri’s ex-husband? Or is it Kamini Devi – the glamorous MP with a sinister plan? Or Avniel – the film journalist – who shot to fame by writing Asavri’s biography soon after her death?
The main characters of our story are
Asavri Bhattacharya - Winner of Indian Koel reality show.
  • Avniel - A flop journalist who got into writing and became a bestselling author overnight. 
  • Kamini Pratap Singh - A business tycoon turned politician who's daughter was second in Indian Koel and crowned first after Asavri was declared dead.
The story started when Asavri who was declared dead 2 years back suddenly came on the news. The malnourished and abused lady that police and news channel found was in critical condition. But shocking part was her physical and mental condition which made Avinel find out culprit who did this to Asavri and punish them. The person who was most benefited due to Asavri's death was Kamini and her daughter. So are they involved in the case? Check out the book to know more.

Good points
  • A unique narration style
  • Thriller and suspense are nail-biting.
  • A new concept to read
  • The amalgamation of multiple facets of human nature
  • The complex and dark character of Kamini
Could be better - Lengthy description. Well, the description is needed but certain sections, especially those where interest quotient was building up and description brought it down.

Ratings
  1. Cover - 4/5
  2. Characters - 4/5
  3. Concept - 4.5/5
  4. Content - 3.5/5
  5. Overall - 3.75/5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Dark Humor on Stock Market - Dalal's Street by Anurag Tripathi - Book Review

I have read many fiction styles, romance, thrillers, suspense, motivational, even corporate fiction. But they say there is no end of creativity in literature. Two weeks back I stumble upon this wonderful genre which was based on the stock market. The first thought that came to my mind when I saw the title "Dalal Street" by Anurag Tripathi was that the book may be based on Harshad Mehta or Ketan Parekh kind of scam. And that thought gave me a strong reason to check the book. Apart from its genre & title, the eye-catching cover got my attention. I think one way or another I would have taken this book on my shelf for sure.


Book Blurb
A group of young Indian business school graduates are attracted to jobs in a high paying trading company. This batch of hardworking, intelligent and ambitious friends is focused on success in the fast paced, hyper competitive world of stockbroking where greed, use of cunning and wealth are the stepping stones to survival and success,. The survivors are the winners.

A satirical thriller of dark humour in which superfast action to tip the scales of finance and fortunes to one’s favour and achieve quick wins are the order of the day, Dalal’s Street explores the complex interplay of human relationships and etches out the rise of the protagonist through a test by fire.
The protagonist of our story is Varun Agarwal. His friends Pooja, Devika & Anil played a good role in the story. Varun's father had lost substantial money during Harshad Mehta scam. Though strictly forbidden by his father, he saw a good opportunity in the stock market. So when in campus placement a company appeared with the opportunity all 4 joined the company, though each had different reasoning behind so. The company they joined was working on a cut-throat competition model. It was an extream reward & penalty driven company. So their rush to survive made them go through extreme pressure. They made some wrong choices in the process. At a point, Varun lost a good amount of money from his relatives invested in the market. Things became tough and Varun left his parent's place as his relations with his father deteriorated. On the other hand, a business tycoon wanted his company's share price get increased to meet his business objectives. Varun and his friend were entangled in this cycle. Anil was badly impacted due to this turmoil. Can Varun turn the tide & correct things? Read the book to know more.

The book covers some interesting details about exchange & broker houses. Starting from intra-day trading, delivery, future & options to the settlement. Many such informative details were given with the proper context of the story. The story shows how can someone inflate prices of shares without even having any solid financials. It shows how the sentiment of retail investors put them into mostly loosing end of the game. I would say an eye-opener even for a first-timer.

The combination of love, lust & greed made the book/plot a fun read. Each character is portrayed with clarity. You will feel like watching a stock market-based movie. The dark humor covered by the story will keep you engaged. The best part is the climax, that has put the book on my top favorite list. I am not going it to open the secret, you need to read to know that. 

Ratings
  1. Cover - 4.5/5
  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

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Brief Discussion with Roshmi Roy about Climbing the Beanstalk - a Self-help Book

These days it is difficult to spot a self-help book, that can accompany you till the last page. Roshmi Roy did a wonderful job by delivering one such master piece. Three days back we reviewed "Climbing the Beanstalk: It’s Up to You to Reach the Top" by Roshmi. We approached her to know how she has conceptualized the book. And what turned out was a brief interview. So without wasting time, let us take you through points we discussed.
So ma'm can you tell us about your educational background?
I did my schooling in La Martiniere for Girls, Kolkata. This is a school founded by Major-
General Claude Martin, a Frenchman. This accounts for my interest in the French language.In those days we took the Senior Cambridge Examination when passing out of school. I won a Rotary International scholarship to study in the U.S. and my first year in college was spent at the School of Ozarks, Missouri. I returned to India to complete my studies, and went on to do M.A and Ph.D  in English from the University of Calcutta.
What were your other activities during school/college?
I was never much of a sportsperson. But I always participated in the dance and theatrical programmes. I also enjoyed painting. I did not continue my dancing beyond the student years, but taking part in theatre and directing plays has been a lifelong passion.
What are some of the day jobs you have held?
I started my career as an English teacher quite early in life and steadily gained seniority _ from schools to colleges, and lastly I was Professor of English and Business Communication in management institutes. I have also worked as educational co-ordinator and content writer. After I did my certification as a Personality Development and Soft Skills Trainer, I switched over to training.
Do you read much, and if so who are your favourite authors?
I have always been fond of reading. I became a member of the British Council Library and the American Center Library, from where I would borrow books.I was a member of a book club called Bookpeckers, which meets every month to discuss a book that has previously been decided upon. During my schooldays I was fond of P.G. Wodehouse and George Bernard Shaw. Now I read a variety of authors like Paulo Coelho, Margaret Atwood,  Amitav  Ghosh and Arundhati Roy. I found the books of Mitch Albom inspiring.
When did you start writing?
I started writing articles for my college newsletter. I also wrote about my travels and sent them to newspapers along with photographs. I contributed to college magazines wherever I have taught. I also wrote poetry in my spare time, but that was kept strictly private.
When did you decide to become a writer?
The desire to be a writer has always been there, but this book happened recently because I felt I wanted to share my knowledge about personality development and soft skills  with others. I think the best way to share is through a book.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would like to venture into short stories, or maybe a novella. The novel is on the faraway horizon. It is always better to start with achievable goals.
Is this your debut work? If not so, what have you written?
Since I am into theatre, I have mostly written plays. These were not for publication, but were performed by the students of the drama groups in various colleges. I have dramatized two novels_ Right  Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse and Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, which we were going to perform and there was no drama script available. What I have published is my Ph.D  thesis on feminine consciousness, which is entitled ‘Sisterhood of Women’.
In what genre are your books?
They come under different genres. The current book is in the motivational category, and the previous book can be classified as literary criticism.

Can you describe your current book in a few lines? What is it about?
This is a motivational book to make you realize it is within your power to realize your dreams. You must be willing to seize the opportunities that come your way and take the risks involved. You also need to discover where your talent lies, and find the career that you are best suited for.
This book will guide you by showing the ways in which you can improve yourself, and acquire the skills required to shine among your peers.
Where did you get the idea for this book?
This idea came to me while teaching soft skills to students. I found that many students who are brilliant in their subject area are totally lacking when it comes to soft skills, which includes communication skills, interpersonal relations, building self-esteem, leadership skills and others. So I thought a book that sets out everything in a very simple way would be useful for career –seekers and even those who are planning to make a career change in mid-life. Actually, there is no particular age when you can decide to take up the career of your choice.
How much research did you do for this book?
I did read books by the motivational masters like Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale, and also current authors like Robin Sharma, but I have given my own personal take on the topics.
Have you planned on a book release?
The book launch is planned for the 18th October at Atta Galatta, Koramanagala, Bangalore, 5.30  _ 7pm.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Make a habit of writing _ start with a journal where you jot down your own observations. Remember, the best writing is authentic, based on your own experiences. Read a lot, but write in your own style.
If you have missed the book's review you can check here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Self-help Book Review - Climbing the Beanstalk : It’s Up to You to Reach the Top by Roshmi Roy

What is the first thing you do when you encounter self-help books? Well, for me self-help is a unique genre which requires manual screening to make sure that I am not going to venture into a wrong book. I check the clarity of the author, Not just pages and pages of long theories, I prefer proper examples, steps & diagrams. I know you might think, how will one know all these before reading the book. Well, I give at least 10-15 minutes for screening before zeroing down a book. When a friend at the publishing house recommended this book to me, the first thing I did was a little research on available reviews. As the book was just published, there were no reviews on Goodreads / Amazon. So the second thing I did was added the book to Kindle shelf (as the book was available free of cost for a limited duration). I checked randomly a few pages. Once I was sure and impressed by the content I started reading it. So here I am going to discuss my take on "Climbing the Beanstalk: It’s Up to You to Reach the Top" by Roshmi Roy.


Book Blurb
Whatever you want to achieve in life, whatever you want to become, the power to do so lies within you. You must be willing to seize the opportunities that come your way and take the risks involved.
Climbing the Beanstalk is the path you need to take to reach the top. This book outlines the changes you need to make to your personality and the skills you have to enhance. Soft skills is a major area to focus on for your career development. You will find here a practical guideline not only on how to develop your personality but also on the soft skills required to make your way in the professional world.
Before I go to the content, let me tell you the author's idea behind the title. She has used a reference to the story ‘Jack and the Beanstalk", where a boy exchanged his cow for 3 magical beans, which led him to the house of a giant. Due to this adventure boy found the hen that laid golden eggs. So the author’s idea is until we explore or go for an adventure to discover our true self how will we know our true value.

The book is not focused on particular traits or habit. Instead, the author has covered many areas and domains. Starting from personality development, leadership, change management, professional etiquette. In short, it is a jack of many soft skills. Again the author has not bored out readers by giving too much technical & philosophical information. Instead, she has divided each topic into mainly three parts.
  • Introduction to the topic
  • Example, supporting stories, excerpts
  • Steps to follow the same in life
The author has touched around 15-20 major topics. Almost on each of them, you will get dozens of books. If you find it boring to read such books, then you may try this one.

I liked the way quotations or lines from various literature & supporting materials were presented. Ample usage of examples and stories has raised the interest quotient. To make the complex procedure simple, at many places advice is given in bullet points and steps. Overall a very useful book.

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

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Book Review - Beast by Krishna Udayasankar

I have read & loved the first book in Govinda series by Krishan Udayasankar. By the time I finished it and wanted to buy the next books in the series they were off the shelf. Surprisingly only second-hand books are available currently. Even Kindly version is not available. So this time when the opportunity arose I grabbed it. I know I am a bit late to review Beast, but it is better late than never.


Book Blurb
It was always the same dream, a dream that began with darkness and blood.'
When Assistant Commissioner of Police Aditi Kashyap is called upon to solve a gruesome triple homicide in a Mumbai suburb, she is dragged into the terrifying world of the Saimhas-werelions-who have lived alongside humans, hiding amongst them, since ancient times.
Faced with the unbelievable, Aditi has no choice but to join hands with Prithvi, an Enforcer called in to hunt down this seemingly otherworldly murderer.
But can Prithvi overcome the nightmarish burdens of his dark and violent past to unravel the mystery hidden deep within this secret world of werelions? Can he be trusted to save lives, or will he choose to serve a different, more powerful, master?
Read on, as Aditi and Prithvi race through the dark underbelly of Mumbai-from quiet suburbs to gritty brothels, from forgotten colonial tunnels to the lights and glamour of the inner city-in search of a dangerous truth.
The protagonist of our story is Prithvi. He belonged to a supernatural race called Simhas (or werelions). For a human, they were ordinary persons. And Prithvi was one of the persons who worked around to make their kind hidden. The story started when a mysterious murder took place in Mumbai. Prithvi was called upon to find out the murderer. He found out the person related was linked with his part. This takes the story to his childhood and then his upbringing. Read the book to know more, how is the murderer is associated with Prithvi's past.

The tale is fast-paced in current times, but slow-paced in time during a flashback. The language used is simple. A good read for fantasy, action, thriller lover. I found flashback a little bit boring, it took me more time to finish that part. Overall a good read. I will give 3.5/5 for the book.

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

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Chakravyuh - Through the Eyes of the Young Warrior by Aniket Sharma

With Chakravyuh I think I have added one more feather in our collection of mythological fiction based on Mahabharata only. I have around 25 books in the said category but our hunger for more has never seen an end. With Chakravyuha I got to read yet another dimension from none other than Abhimanyu's point of view.


Book Blog
CHAKRAVYUH is a modern adaptation of the greatest epic ever written in the history of humankind; MAHABHARATA. This is a retelling of a part of the epic from the perspective of a young warrior who was descendant of Kuru dynasty; born to lead; but destiny had some other plans for him. A loyal son, a loving brother, a caring husband, a disciplined disciple and a true warrior defied all the odds to be decorated in history for many generations to come. His skills and intellect were no less than his forefathers, but he was not bound to the dogmas followed by his ancestors. His judgement of situations was his own, and he didn’t follow the dynastic parlances. In many ways, he was ahead of his times and definitely more mature than his age.
Well, Chakravyuh in the title is meant for war strategy used by Kaurava in Mahabharata, so it is obvious that the protagonist of our story is Abhimanyu. The story started from Agyatvas (incognito exile) of Pandava. The end of the Agyatvas brought Abhimanyu in the story. His entry came with his marriage proposal. Unfortunately, the lad took part in the war soon after his marriage. Once the war started the author has focused on fight happened around Abhimanyu, how he made his first kill and victory over fearsome warriors, how their side collectively lost some great allies. One third or fourth of the portion covers the last day of his life, 13th day, which has made Abhimanyu hero for the years/millennia to come by. Read the book to know more.

Well, the book is written with either 3rd person or 1st person only for Abhimanyu. I got a little bit confused initially. Things are written in the present tense.

The writing style is simple and lucid. You can easily finish it Good book for beginners t increase or cultivate reading habit. The most attractive part is the cover design. With the look of semi hardcover, it looks posh. Only complain is font settings. They were not properly chosen. You may feel like reading report due to font selection.

I would like to thank "Author's Channel" for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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

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