Thursday, February 28, 2019

Book Review - Once Upon a Reunion: A Romantic Suspense Novel

Almost 3 months back Nithya reached out to us to make us aware of her upcoming book "Once Upon a Reunion: A Romantic Suspense Novel" We checked the book details and found it interesting. On inquiring we found out that the book was under editing at that time. Two weeks back we saw a notification on social media on social media as we have tagged that author for book release. We got our hands on the book within a few hours and started reading it.


Book blurb
Have you ever sat late into the night, going over hundreds of 'what-if' scenarios? 

Have you loved someone to the point of losing your mind? 
Like most Indian women who have loved, lost, and settled for an arranged marriage, Nirmala secretly pines for her ex, Suresh, even as she leads a happy, mostly peaceful life with Sreenivas, her husband. 
Memories of her first love resurface occasionally, disturbing her present life. 
Unable to fully love Sreenivas with the insane intensity she had felt for Suresh, she is conflicted and living in a parallel world, always tormented by the probability of a what-if!
It is at this time that her school friends plan a high school reunion, which Suresh would also be attending. Nirmala sees this as an opportunity to bring a closure to that chapter of her life. But she is torn by the uncertainty and the upheaval this might cause. She fears that her meeting with her ex-boyfriend might ruthlessly tear apart the delicate fabric of her marriage. 
And at the reunion, her world turns on its head.
Suresh is found dead.
Was it suicide? If not, who was the murderer?
Nirmala is crippled by the shock. But blame quickly falls on her as the ex with a motive and before she realizes she is in the police net. 
As mentioned in the blurb, the story is about a married woman, Nirmala, who was living with his husband Sreeniva in Chennai. Her life was going properly when the story started. But later on, 2 major issues happened with her, which is the plot of the story. First 40-50% portion covers her hearlty-nasty ups-downs with her husband. (Her mind kept going to her college time lover Swamy). It was during their new year party she experienced something shockingly. Whether her experience will stop her to attend reunion or not is written in the second half of the book along with mystery solving around her experience.

The story is written with just 5-6 characters. It is visible that writing was done with a clear mindset. A character of Nirmala takes you to an emotional roller-coaster. She is portrayed as a woman who is devoted to her husband but mentally slipped out to Swamy time to time (she would come back to present with guilt)

Some highlights apart from Nimmu a.k.a. Nirmala
  • I like the way mysterious party event was added, that part converted an emotional drama into a suspense drama
  • I like the concept of "The Ritual Stool" It shows a way to avoid conflicts in married life.
  • Easy to follow language and medium pace story ideal for beginners.
  • The only issue I found was the way Sreenu and Swami treated Nirmala during fights. I am not sure but such treatment is not acceptable to the class of people they were shown. Showing woman a trash bag was not liked by me.
Overall a nice short read to lighten your mood. A good companion on trip

Ratings
  1. Cover - 3/5 (Though the author has taken our advice of changing the cover, we feel it can be improved)
  2. Characters - 4/5 (1 less for random behavior of male)
  3. Overall - 3.5/5
  4. Concept - 3.5/5
Book can be found at - Amazon IndiaAmazon USA
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Discussion with Sweta Samota - Author of Nine

Those who have read our review of "Nine - A Gripping Tale of Ila Sharma", today we have the author of that book with us. Yes, we have Sweta Samota with us today to discuss more of her book.

Welcome to our blog Sweta. Thank you for giving us chance. So before we proceed can you brief our readers about your brief background.



Educational Background
  • 23rd Merit in 10th
  • 3rd Merit in 12th with 100% in Physics, Chemistry, Maths
  • B.E. Computers
  • PGDMM Marketing
What were you like at school/college apart from studies?
I was an all-rounder in school - active in sports, arts, cultural activities, speaking skills.
What are some day jobs you have held?
13 years in software industry - worked as software engineer at several MNCs and also dabbled with my own tech startup. Won excellence awards at work too.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspire you the most?
When I read, I read until am finished. I take breaks only for daily chores and do nothing else. I hardly sleep when I am reading. Even in college days, my night outs were with books - awake entire night to read the novels. 

Every book I read inspires me - in some stories, the characters inspire and in some the plot. Some tell me what I want to write, while some warn me to not write like that. 
When did you start writing?
My first article was in school days when I was in 7th std I guess. I have been writing poems since then and some short stories. Blogging on and off after I started working.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Around 2.5 years back, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I always wanted to be one but couldn’t follow my passion because I was tied up chasing other career option.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want my stories to reach every household.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
I start to work (included reading/writing/promoting my work) after my breakfast. My morning is reserved for my well-being and for my family. I get time to work after breakfast till evening to work on my projects. I also like to work during the night time when I am free of all the duties and know that the next day is free.  
What have you written?
I am 1 novel (Nine), 1 novella (Kiss of True Love) and 2 short stories (Radha in a Jinx 1&2) old in the publishing world.

Won the Story Award by SheThePeopleTv.
What genre are your books?
Mystery, Thriller and Romance, Contemporary Fiction.
Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
All was going well for Ila, solving puzzles, gambling small things, defying Dad’s warning to not solve puzzles for strangers, until her photo is flashed in the media as the national puzzle champion. And then her world gets toppled upside down when she gets to know she is being hunted. She finds something shocking from the history of India and in one moment, everything changes. Betrayed multiple times, trusting anyone is no more in her nature. And falling in love is out of question!

Now, Ila has a chance - to become a part of something she has never thought of. 
Nine is one such journey that will have you biting your nails or gasping for breath but one that you cannot abandon till all the pieces of the jigsaw fall in place.


Give us an insight into your main character(s)
Ila Sharma is a brilliant teenager who is also stubborn and defies her father’s warnings. She is carefree and wants to achieve her dreams no matter what. At the same time, she has this obsession with numbers and codes that lands her into trouble - and then one moment comes when the damage done due to her obsession is irreversible and irreparable.
Where did you get idea for this book?
I cannot recall how I got the idea for this book but when I started writing it, my goal was clear - I wanted to give something exciting, thrilling and entertaining yet wanted the reader to take home facts of Indian politics and monuments. Much like a Blockbuster movie.

Dan Brown's books inspired but me being a techie and having dabbled with numbers for more than ten years, I knew how I was going to use that in the plot.
How much research did you do for this book?
This book 'Nine' required a lot of research (like over a year was spent in research and gathering facts) as it shows the current political scenario as well as the rich history of India. When I was scouring for information, some of that info startled me. And I knew what I wanted to show to the readers. 
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? (If applicable)
My favorite character is Ila Sharma - she has surprised me how she has come alive on paper. I have spent most time with her and she makes me feel the thrill everytime I read her story.
Who is your least favorite character and why? (If applicable)
I don’t like Kyra. She is mean, untrustworthy and a friend you would never want to have. Whenever I read Ila’s story, I loathe Kyra.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
When I wrote this novel, there were so many eye-opening facts. I had put them into the draft. But while editing, I had to remove them - either they were too controversial or were not required for the story.
Do you have teaser of your book?

When was your book released?
25 December 2018
What are you working on at the minute?
Three books are in the pipeline. One of them is on real life experiences of women in India - a book that sends a chill down the spine - stories of shocking experiences Indian women are going through. Cannot reveal much about the stories right now. All I can say is readers will love them.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
Writing book series demands a lot of hard work - not just writing it :)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read more.
Links for your book readers

Monday, February 25, 2019

Press Release - Jack Dawkins: The Artful Dodger is Back!




Jack Dawkins: The Artful Dodger is Back! New Novel, Hailed “Brilliant”, Takes Over Where ‘Oliver Twist’ Left Off…

Terry Ward’s ‘Jack Dawkins-being the further adventures of the Artful Dodger’ pays homage to Dickens, perfectly, by continuing the story of the Artful Dodger in an unofficial sequel Charles would be proud of. Reintroducing many of the book’s original characters, readers can prepare to join Jack Dawkins on a perilous quest to France, where war is about to erupt, and at the same time, enjoya profound love story.  These and many other thought-provoking and exciting events come together to continue literature’s most timeless classic.

Contact:
Terry Ward
Telephone: 01634 404528

United Kingdom–It may have been written in 1837, but ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens, remains one of history’s most cherished stories.

Now, almost two-hundred years after its original release, British writer Terry Ward picks up where Dickens left off, with an imaginative, meticulously researched and spellbinding unofficial sequel.

Synopsis of ‘Jack Dawkins’:

After Oliver Twist intervenes to save Jack Dawkins - the legendary Artful Dodger - from transportation to Botany Bay, Jack embarks on what proves to be a perilous quest to discover his roots. Before he can say ‘Fagin’ he is battling to survive a devastating flood and rescue beautiful Lysette Godden, the girl of his dreams, from the hands of murderous villains.  When the search for Jack's parents takes them to France,where war might erupt at any moment, Lysette’s personal ambitions, and unexpected events, test their mettle and mutual love to the utmost; changing their lives for ever. Brilliantly and evocatively written, ‘Jack Dawkins’ is a worthy sequel to Charles Dickens's immortal masterpiece ‘Oliver Twist’.

“The Artful Dodger, Jack Dawkins, is one of Charles Dickens most popular and best-lovedcharacters,” explains the author. “Where he came from and how he came to be living on the streets of London, had always intrigued me, so I decided to provide him with both a past-and, after fighting for it, a future better than the one that was in store for him after he was arrested for stealing a silver snuff-box.  I have not tried to re-invent the Artful Dodger, by and large he remains his inimitable self, but Jack’s true nature is gradually revealed during his quest to discover his roots.  Aware that I was treading on hallowed ground, I have paid due homage to the style of Charles Dickens.  I am convinced that if you loved the Artful Dodger in ‘Oliver Twist’, you will not be disappointed with him in my sequel to it.

Continuing, “Initial feedback has been extremely positive, and it appears the dignity of this sequel is resonating with readers. I’m sure Mr. Dickens would approve.  He loved happy endings, too!”

Indeed, reviews have been glowing. One reader comments, “"JACK DAWKINS" is a stirring tale of derring-do, which follows on seamlessly from "OLIVER TWIST". One meets once again some of the memorable characters from Charles Dickens' book. Terry Ward has not only meticulously researched these characters, but also many historical personages and the very impressive events of the early Nineteenth Century. It will appeal to an entire age-range of readers and the end lends itself open for a sequel.”

In America, author Anthony Avina, wrote:  ‘This is a breathtaking and beautiful story that readers need to have in their lives.  The writing is amazing.’

Kelly adds, “Ever wondered what happened to the Artful Dodger? Follow the exploits of Jack Dawkins in this well-written and entertaining novel. Terry Ward’s writing style is a joy to read, with a storyline that will keep you turning pages. It’s a must read for fans of Dickens’ Oliver Twist.”

‘Jack Dawkins’ is available now: https://amzn.to/2t80Q2B.


About the Author:

Terry Ward describes himself as being a life-long bibliophile and scribbler who likes nothing better than discovering what s beyond the next hill. He has won two creative writing awards, is married, has two sons and lives in Rochester, Kent, near Gad's Hill Place, where Charles Dickens spent the last years of his life.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Book Review - 10 Success Secrets - Kumar Mangalam Birla by Drimi Chaudhuri

Being a post graduate of business & operations non-fiction based on business success stories or business tycoons were always our personal favorite. ABG (Aditya Birla Group) used to come to NITIE for placements and at that time it was one of my dream jobs, due to its dynamic work culture. Well, I didn't get that chance but I didn't want to lose a chance to read about the guy who made that or I would say brought that culture of the company.


Book Blurb
Famously shy and unbelievably humble, Kumar Mangalam Birla is not one to talk about his achievements, whether in private or in public. That’s why this book is invaluable to anyone who aspires to reach the heights the Birla scion has attained.

Author Drimi Chaudhuri expertly combs through the rise and rise of Kumar Mangalam from the day the 28-year-old took over the reins of the group and weaves a splendid account of how the young heir managed to revamp the corporate culture at AB Group and elevated the company to the level of a conglomerate it is today. With the help of the industrialist’s close aides, associates and family members, Chaudhuri unearths what makes Kumar Mangalam Birla a successful mogul. 
Read on to know more about the man who leads one of India’s biggest multinationals and his business mantras.
Talking about the content, the author has created magic by combining 3 different genres in the same book which are biography, self-help and business case. If a reader is comfertable with any of these three can easily gulp it down. The book is divided into ten chapters, as given in subtitle, each chapter dedicated to one success mantra that Aditya Birla used. He entered into business at a very early age of 28 with little or no business experience. But they said 'You don't need to color eggs of peacock" Young Birla had dream and conviction for the business direction. He brought many innovations and 360 degrees changes in on-going practices. Results of his efforts are in front of us, Aditya Birla Group is now leading conglomerate of India.

Two gems of the book are
  1. Dialog/quotes of Aditya Birla given throughout the book
  2. Success mantra based quotation given at the end of each chapter
All and all following points make this book ahead of other reads
  • Easy language & straight narration style
  • Light read
  • Full with inspiration with practical tried examples
  • Give food for thought
  • Fertilizer for corporate guys for their better organizational strategies
  • The best material for management students for their placements and corporate career
I would give 4 stars out of 5 to the author for his efforts.

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

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Book Review "Don’t Understand" by Paresh Bhandari

A hunter taking aim at an open book on the cover and a colophon that stressed the title in a cross. The very first impression of the book lay in the title itself and it was enough to pique my curiosity.

“Don’t understand” is Paresh Bhandari’s take on life, its aspects, the common perspective and his unique view on each of them.


Book Blurb
DON’T UNDERSTAND is a life changing book covering multiple dimensions of living. It is a new approach to address social, cultural, psychological, philosophical, scientific and spiritual topics like STUDY, MARRIAGE, COMMUNALISM, AUM, TIME, LOVE etc.This book motivates to do pioneering work in designing a spiritual index that can show at
which rate mankind is making or destroying lives. The book talks about learning, understanding, experimenting and experiencing, and defines success. With a sense of urgency, the author tries to promote meditation and love so that life gets its essence. This book will provide completeness to not only disoriented lives but also
libraries especially the personal libraries.
From the very start itself the author ensures that we stop applying common logic to life. He takes in the calmer topics first and allows the randomness to set in.  Like a roller coaster ride, the pace kicks in we slowly get the context of the book , the book is not meant to be just soaked in and gives you something to think about.

The book is written in first person perspective. Each and every one of the thirteen topics is short, sweet and summarized well. The incidents and examples chosen by the author feel real and relatable. However, I did feel that for most of the part the book I was not able to find that powerful impact after a good build-up. One might agree or disagree with the author’s view, but nevertheless expression “Penny For Your Thoughts” comes to life.

Personally, I liked the chapter that talked of “Self”. It successfully breaks the conventional thought process and feels the most unique. The chapter of “Don’t understand” feels too chaotic. But nevertheless the book delivers its message to stop making sense of everything, stop trying to find the connection and enjoy life as it comes.

For Paresh Bhandari’s unique philosophy on life as we live it, my overall rating would be 3.5.

Overall Verdict:- Interesting, Thoughtful And Random

Book can be found at - Amazon Paperback & Amazon Kindle Copy
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Tiny Tara and the Tree of Life by Nishika Bajaj

Tiny Tara and the Tree of Life by Nishika Bajaj is one book which made me realized "Don't Judge". When I first saw this book on the internet, from the cover & title I thought it is a bedtime story. That impression changed when I got the copy in hand, at that time I thought the book is "Middle Grade Only" Finally when I read the book, I realized that though written with child-centric characters and story it is written with a greater goal and broader mindset.


Book Blurb
Can trees talk? Rustling leaves and crackling barks apart, doesn’t it sometimes seem as though the trees around us really do have something more to say? What if it’s not the trees talking, but the tiny creatures that live inside them?

Let’s see the world around us through the eyes of Tiny Tara, the princess who lives in the trees with all her friends and her family. The Tiny princess knows more about trees and animals than our mind could possibly absorb, or our imagination encompass. Riding cats and climbing trees are other favorite activities, as Tara would tell you, once you get to know her better. Oh! And she also loves yoga.
Come along with Tara on this amazing adventure, in which mythology and fantasy come together to make your ride on the Tree of Life even more exciting.
Let me start with the book design. The broad width and attractive glossy cover will attract any kid or parent to pick this book. But the book doesn't contain artwork apart from cover and last page, which may dishearten kids. But I am sure parents won't feel the same, once they read it out. I am not sure whether to put this in a point of improvement or positive category.

The story is about a fantasy fairy clan called tinies, who are around 3-5 inches in height, they exist on earth unknown to human (why unknown is discussed in the book) They live with natures harmony, or you may say many times they help nature to keep the harmony. Among these tinies lives our protagonist Tara from a light fairy house. Tinies are divided into 4 houses. Two of Tara's close friends Sameer belongs to Air Fairy & Neera belongs to water fairy. Another important character of the story is Parthiv, an earth fairy. The daring trio had found out that man-made machines are just a block away from their tribe. Their concern for the existence of fairies became their quest for readers. Though it is considered taboo or I would say prohibited for tinies to go close to human, Tara had made a friend with a human child. Read the book to know more. Hope we haven't revealed much.

Coming to our observations
  • Wonderful storytelling to glue kids to the book.
  • Nice conceptualization of tinies. I think those who have seen Disney's "Tinker Bell" movie series can relate it more.
  • The nice naming convention of characters based on the house they belonged
  • Good amount of learning & a good message to kids about nature
  • Wonderful character description.
  • Situational funny lines to lighten read
  • A light read, easy language & straight narration style
  • The only point I observed could be negative is too much description at some places which has reduced the pace of the story. I am not an expert on Middle-grade genre so I am not sure whether it should be considered a weakness or not.
Ratings
  1. Cover - 5/5
  2. Concept - 4/5
  3. Content - 4/5
  4. Character - 4.5/5
  5. Overall - 4.25/5
Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Meet Jonas Salzgeber - the author of The Little Book of Stoicism

Those who have read the review of "The Little Book of Stoicism", we are back with more information about the book and the author of the book.


Before we proceed to the actual interview let us give you a brief of the author:
Jonas Salzgeber is the author of The Little Book of Stoicism and writes for a small army of remarkable people at njlifehacks.com. On his quest to be the best he can be he stumbled upon Stoicism – and got hooked. At the core of this applicable philosophy lies the goal of leading a happy life even (especially) in the face of adversity.

His practical rather than academic writing style helps people with the most important step: to put the wisdom from book page to action. Jonas shares Stoic strategies so people gain back their confidence and feel ready to deal effectively with whatever life throws at them.
Can you brief us about your educational background?
I studied Sport Science and English Language and Literatures at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
What are some day jobs you have held?
As long as I can remember I’ve been working different jobs. As a child, I mowed the lawn for the neighbors and did a paper route once a week.I worked in an institution for mentally handicapped people and in a gas station shop during high school. At university I organized student parties, did different kinds of promotion jobs, and during semester break I worked as a building worker. I worked in a home for people with dementia and with mentally handicapped children. Also, I’ve been working as a fitness instructor for several years now.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Which author inspires you the most?
Yes. I believe in learning every day. Books are my favorite medium.My favorite authors are Eckhart Tolle, Ryan Holiday, Dave Asprey, and Steven Pressfield. I think Dave Asprey inspires me the most. He might not be the best writer, but he’s radiating energy and he’s my biohacker idol.
When did you start writing?
I started writing the moment I decided to start the njlifehacks blog with my brother Nils in 2015.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve been writing about Stoicism for a while on the blog, the readers found it interesting, and I thought there’s a book lacking in the modern literature. I wanted to write this book.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
At the moment, I want to establish myself as an expert in Stoic philosophy. I want The Little Book of Stoicism to become a go-to book for people interested in this wonderful philosophy.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
Early in the morning works best for me. I get up, do my morning routine with some yoga movements and a short quiet meditation. Then I start writing.
What genre is you book?
It’s a non-fiction book.


Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
It’s about Stoicism. Whatever you’re going through, there’s advice from the Stoics. Despite the philosophy’s age, its wisdom often feels surprisingly modern and fresh, and its value in the quest for a happy and meaningful life is undeniable.This compelling, highly actionable guide shows you how to deal more effectively with whatever life throws at you and live up to your best self. A mix of timeless wisdom and empowering advice, The Little Book of Stoicism will point the way to anyone seeking a calm and wise life in a chaotic world.
Where did you get ideas for this book?
From different books and articles. Mainly: A Guide to the Good Life by Will Irvine, Stoicism and the Art of Happiness by Donald Robertson, The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.
How much research did you do for this book?
A lot. I read and reread countless books and articles on the topic. Overall I did six months of research.
What was the hardest thing about writing The Little Book of Stoicism?
The fight with my inner resistance monster. Every writer knows this feeling: You want to sit down to write, but something is holding you back. It’s telling you you’re not good enough, your structure sucks, and you won’t sell any books anyway. I’m glad I persevered and fought this monster. I had to go through this.
Official release date: 
January 28, 2019
Books sold and feedback: 
At the moment of writing, we’ve sold 5710 copies. The feedback we’re receiving is phenomenal. One of my favorite reviews comes from David:

“It is a truly wonderful, direct and digestible explanation of the ancient philosophy. It is refreshing and rare to read philosophy without developing a bald spot from excessive head scratching. Part 2, addressing the application of the philosophy in the quotidian world, provides invaluable tools to transform the abstract in reality.Reading this was not only a pleasure from which I benefited greatly, but also, thanks to your concise distillation of the stoic concepts, I feel more confident in sharing some nuggets of wisdom.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The inner resistance that’s holding you back is something all creators experience. Everybody needs to go through this fight between their ears. There’s no way around. “What is to give light, must endure burning.” This quote by Viktor Frankl has helped me in countless moments of darkness. It’s supposed to be hard.
Links for your book readers

Check out the book review of a Legal Thriller - Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.

Just like Vishnu I also started exploring newer genres and foreign authors. I try to grab as many opportunities as possible for the same. I first time heard something called a legal thriller when Vishnu told me about "Justice Gone" by N. Lombardi Jr. As I wanted to read something like this I grabbed the opportunity before any of our teammates give their concern.


Book Blurb
When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran's counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa's patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield's dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars.
The protagonist of the story is Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran counselor at New Hope Clinic who stand in support for Donald Darfield who is brought to trial for the murder of three cops. All of this fiasco started when a bunch of cops killed unarmed ex-veteran Jay Felson. Nathaniel Bodine was a blind lawyer for Donald Darfield and his future rest on his shoulders.

I have never read anything like this. Every character is written with finesse. From this book, two characters have become my favorite. One is Dr. Tessa Thorpe for her quick wit and the kind of aura she carries. Her dedication to saving the veterans suffering PTSD made her stand out. And the second character is Nathaniel Bodine. He reminded me of Harvey Specter from series suits. They both are different personalities but when it comes to the law they'll bite prosecutor so flamboyantly that you'll fall in love with the character.

This book also shed some light on prejudice for our PTSD veterans for lack of support towards them and carelessness of the law enforcement unit. This book will give you a ride emotionally and mentally, the twist and turns in the second half of the book are written craftily and I find this book sitting in various categories like a legal thriller, psychological thriller etc. 

So all and all if you like reading a thriller and you haven't read this book then you're missing big time. My advice is to grab this book right now. I cannot give anything less than 4 star to this wonderful book.

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Book Review - Satyayoddha Kalki - Eye of Brahma

If you ask me to give 5 best Indian Mythological fiction title that I have read, the Kalki has made it place the moment I read part 1 (Dharmayoddha Kalki: Avatar of Vishnu). So along with Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi, Vikramaditya Gatha by Shatrujeet Nath, Ajaya by Anand Neelakantan, and Sangram Sindhu Gatha by Vivek Kumar, Avatar of Vishnu by Kevin Missal is part of my personal favorite and must-have & must-recommended category book. We waited almost 1 year for this awaited sequel. So here I am discussing book 2 (Satyayoddha Kalki: Eye of Brahma)


Book Blurb
After a defeat at the hands of Lord Kali, Kalki Hari must journey towards the Mahendragiri mountains with his companions to finally become the avatar he is destined to be.
But the road ahead is not without peril . . .
Not only is he trapped by the cannibalistic armies of the Pisach, he is also embroiled in the civil war of the Vanars. And in midst of all this, he meets a face from the legends.
Meanwhile, Manasa, the sister of the late Vasuki, plots to overthrow Lord Kali by bringing a massive war to his kingdom. But Naagpuri, her homeland, has been infiltrated by their sworn enemy, the Suparns. Not only does she need to protect her kingdom from the Suparns, she must also protect her close ones from the league of conspirators at her own home. Who can she really trust? And will she be able to put an end to Lord Kali’s rule?
As the plot thickens and Lord Kali sees his ambition crushed right before his eyes, he comes to know about his race and its history that threatens to destroy the very fabric of this world’s reality.
Kalyug has begun.
Can Kalki become the avatar in time before it finally unfolds?
Will Manasa fight through the internal politics to bring an invasion against Lord Kali?
Can the secret that changes everything change Lord Kali as a person too?
This part started with multiple subplots.
  1. Kalki's travel towards Mahendragiri hills - He was accompanied by Kripa &  Padma. As usual tragedy and adventure followed them. They met some ancient tribes.
  2. Arjan's Imprisonment - Capture by Kali's force, Arjan was imprisoned & forced to entertained royals by means of the duel. He was mentally harassed by Kali.
  3. Kali's sister's attempt to reveal her assistant's true motive & in that process met with a new ally, daughter of Indragrah. She also wanted to help Arjan.
  4. Manasa's entry into the Naga Kingdom. She found her country in turmoil of civil war. Her brother's family was assassinated by Suparnas. She needed to overcome this obstacle if she wanted to take revenge on Kali.
Above are just a portion of the first half of the book, "The Coup of Indragrah". The second part "The Dandak Rebellion" has its own subplots. In short, you cannot put down the book before finishing it.

Rarely you will find a story woven with multiple important characters and their part in it. The author has wonderfully portrayed his imaginary world and glued readers to the same. Each story flows so smoothly and merged with another story that you hardly felt ripples. It is very difficult to create so many characters and let them play their part. And if you can do it properly your work will be revered, same is the case here. Wonderful characterization, smooth flow, clear progression, easy to follow language and pack with action mystery what else you would need from a book. A book story worth having cult or fan following.

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

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Check out book review of Kavach of Surya by Surendra Nath

This is the first time we are publishing a review of the same book twice. But with due respect, if I see the mammoth efforts the author has given to bring out the best/most reader preferred book, we are providing another review. Seriously you will find many authors (best selling one) who publish books every 3-6 months, sometimes even with flawed plots. Surendra Nath has actually published a beta book, through beta reviews, he made necessary changes to the book and almost after 2.5 years of hard work, he came up with the actual book.


Book Blurb
Karna could never have lost the final battle to Arjuna had he not given away his Kavach (armour) and Kundal (earrings) that were a gift from his father, Surya. The armour rendered Karna invincible against any foe. 

We are in the 21st century. What if someone can find that armour today? 
Vasu, a resolute man, sets out to retrieve the Kavach-Kundal. To guide him Karna himself turns up from the past. The hunt takes them to the Himalayas in the North, Dwarka in the West, Rameshwaram in the South and Konark in the East. And at each leg, they have to surmount hurdles of catastrophic proportions. 
And Vasu is not the only one interested in this quest. A dubious character gets on Vasu’s trail and casts traps on his path. The young and charming Sahar, a marine archaeologist, joins Vasu to help him in the race. 
Join Vasu and Sahar in this thrilling adventure to know why the armour was all that potent, and if it still exists.
Coming to the story part, the book started with the quick recap of Karna's alter ego then it's focus shifted to the main theme of the story. We all know that Karna lost his celestial armor (Kavach and Kundal) to Indra by deceit. Karna never regretted losing it. We don't know what happened to Kavach and Kundal after that. Our story is based on the finding of these Kavach-Kundal. Our protagonist Vasu wanted to locate this magical parts and use it for the greater good. Vasu ventured out for this treasure hunt with Karna's spirit. Armour belongs to Mahabharata time so Vasu had to find the connection with that era. Cholangitis or Immortals became guiding stones for Vasu in his missing. He met few Cholangitis and learned good things from them. During his search, he found out that he was not the only person looking for Kavach-Kundal. There are few people who knew these facts and wanted Kavach-Kundal for their selfish purpose. Well, Vasu will succeed at the end directly or indirectly but how he will do it is all about the book. Read this book to know more.

The book is written in easy language and medium pace. Treasure hunt parts were written with slow pace & action thriller parts were written with a fast pace. Minor drawbacks that we found in mythological facts and plot in the previous edition are corrected in this part. I was able to turn page after page without getting bored or disinterested even for a moment.

If you compare this review with our previous review, you will find that all/most of the weak point discussed in the beta edition are corrected. I have mentioned the point of cover design which is also changed and the latest cover is eye-catching, sure shot pick for thriller buffs.

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

Friday, February 15, 2019

Timeless Wisdom to Gain Resilience, Confidence, and Calmness - The Little Book of Stoicism - Book Review

Every year while making resolution of reading activity, we specifically give % of books/pages to be read for different language/genre than our comfort zone. We also give certain % books/slot assigned to foreign authors as variation/diversity brings new ideas/information for us. Till now we have tried biographies, parenting, memoirs, business cases/concepts, even, and semi herbology, but philosophy is the first time for us. Frankly speaking, I was not aware of the word (subject) in detail when I first saw the cover & title. I did Google to get more idea. Description of the word was related to philosophy so I said yes as with just one book I can tick mark non-fiction and foreign author both. So this is how I landed up to this book.



Book Blurb
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”

– Epictetus, Stoic philosopher
Where can you find joy? Gain strength? How should we face our fears? Deal with the death of a loved one? And what about those reoccurring depressing thoughts?
While traditional schooling doesn’t address such questions, it’s exactly what ancient schools of philosophy were all about: They taught you how to live. Even though these schools don’t exist anymore, you and I and most people are in as much need of a philosophy that guides us through life as we ever were.
This compelling, highly actionable guide shows you how to deal more effectively with whatever life throws at you and live up to your best self.
A mix of timeless wisdom and empowering advice, The Little Book of Stoicism will point the way to anyone seeking a calm and wise life in a chaotic world.
Another reason why we selected this book was the word "The Little Book" I thought it would be a quick read. But I was proved wrong, just like the time of "Art of War" by Sun Tzu. 

The first part (15-20%) covers the basic idea of what is stoicism. And why one should read this book. Those who are not sure what the book is all about can make a judgment by checking the first chapter. This section covers some ancient (Roman/Greek) preacher (yes because they observed the same values in life). It covers how the concept came into existence and how it evolved and declined during the spread of the Christian religion. Follow by that comes basic concepts explanation of some fundamental stoicism fellowship. Largely divided into two parts, what is good (positive) and bad (negative energy) and how it effect us. The gem of the book is 55 practice of stoicism. I personally liked this part most. Well, I did not agree or cannot observe all these practices, I have listed down few which I liked and would not mind following as well.

  • Accept and love whatever happens
  • Consider everything borrows from nature
  • Negative Visualization - Foreseeing bad stuff. I somehow follow this from a very young age
  • Win at what matters
  • Blame your expectation
  • Othr-ized This is something new I learned from this book
  • What do you have to show for your years?
  • Pity rather than blame the wrongdoer

These practices actually talk about real-world behavior (rather than plan theory). Many of them are situational practices as well. This part covers around 60% and I think its justified. Without them, the book might be plain philosophy 1.0 class reference book. A good point is you may skip practice if you are not comfortable with it (I skipped a few), they can be read in random order. You may skip earlier chapters and directly take these.

Overall, ignoring the slow beginning of the book is a great read. I would give

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

Author website: www.njlifehacks.com

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Last Avatar - Age of Kalki - Multi-genre Action Packed Thriller - a Must Read

If I am not wrong then we have more than 5 books on Ashoka & his secret cult, we have more than 5 books on Kalki avatar. That doesn't mean we are done with the subject/genre, we keep looking out for more books on those topics. Among the books we have seen, "The Last Avatar - Age of Kalki" by Vishwas Mudagal is the first book we encountered which is an amalgamation of Kalki and Secret cult of Ashoka. So we were bound to get this book. Frankly speaking, leave aside plot, we were thoroughly impressed by just cover art. We belonged to a group of bookworms who still select 70-80% books by its cover and title. So that is the story of how the book landed in our hand.


Book blurb
FROM THE ASHES OF THE WORLD, A HERO MUST RISE
In the not-so-distant future, India has fallen and the world is on the brink of an apocalyptic war. An attack by the terrorist group Invisible Hand has brutally eliminated the Indian Prime Minister and the union cabinet.
As a national emergency is declared, chaos, destruction and terror reign supreme. From the ashes of this falling world, rises an unconventional hero – a vigilante known only as Kalki. Backed by a secret society called The Rudras, Kalki, along with Nushen, the Chinese superhuman spy, must do the impossible to save his country, and the world.
But who is Kalki? A flesh-and-blood crusader with a mysterious past? Or the Messiah the world has been waiting for? The future of human survival depends on a single man. Will he become the living God prophesied as the last avatar of Lord Vishnu, or will he fade away as an outlaw?
Coming to the story part, our protagonists are Neel known as Kalki a shadow warrior, a savior of modern India, and Nushen known as the goddess of China, born as an experiment, hardcore war-machine, genetical superior human. In near future, where advancement was spread in all field, a terrorist group, Invisible Hand, wanted to enslave the whole world under their knees. They had expanded their roots in almost all countries. They possessed some deadly knowledge stolen from an ancient cult and it's scripture. They wanted to capture something called "War Chest of God". The book started with a semi-chaotic situation of global politics. China was being ruled by a maniac & puppet of Invisible hand. Name of the maniac was Jian, who followed the principal of Genghis Khan. Possible threats to his plan were Kalki & Nushen, who ran away from his clutches the moment he came to the ruling position in China. Read the book to know more.

You might think why I am talking about the only antagonist, well I want to give vibes of interest & challenges that protagonist going to face. You can say that I am deliberately hiding the protagonist. :)

Coming to my take on the book
  1. Awesome imagination - Be it the technology of drones, nuke shield, Ashtra group or Rudra
  2. A sure-shot page-turner - The book is packed with action, thriller & technology
  3. Amalgamation of mythology, technology, and war thriller. A unique combination
  4. Character building - Be it Kalki (Neel), Nushen or Jian. A proper thought process & psychological support is provided
  5. Easy to follow language & straight narration style
  6. An ideal pick for 16+
  7. The chemistry between Kalki & Nushen. And Neel & Arya
Recommended for readers who explore Indian authors. An action-packed thriller based multi-genre concepts.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Book Review - Mahakavi Kalidas - Ek Ankahi Katha

After going through a series of countless books, I decided this time to actually checkout something in Hindi. A fresco made in water colour like painting of Kalidas with Vidyotama and Malini behind him and a colophon which sort of gave some perspective over his life and a lot of suspense over his death got me eager and I decided to checkout this book.



Book Blurb
महाकवि कालिदास एक ऐसा नाम, एक ऐसा व्यक्तित्व है, जिनके बारे में सारा विश्व सदियों से जानने-समझने के लिए उत्सुक रहा है। समय-समय पर विद्वानों द्वारा उनके महाकाव्य, उनका जन्म काल, उनके जन्म स्थान एवं उनके व्यक्तित्व के बारे में चिंतन, मनन एवं लेखन किया है। जिस तरह सागर के गहराई में छुपे मोतियों को हर मनुष्य पाना चाहता है, उसी प्रकार महान व्यक्ति के व्यक्तित्व एवं जीवनी जानने की लालसा हर मनुष्य के मन में ज्वार-भाटा की तरह हिलकोरें खाती रहती है। महाकवि कालिदास की जीवनी जानने से पहले उनके जन्म काल एवं जन्म स्थान संबंधित रहस्य का पर्दा उठना अत्यन्त आवश्यक है। विद्वानों द्वारा चिंतन मनन करने के उपरान्त उन्हें अलग-अलग प्रांतों एवं अलग-अलग काल का बताया है। मैंने अपने तीन वर्षों के परिश्रम एवं प्रयास के उपरांत अनेकानेक साक्ष्य के अनुरूप उन्हें गुप्तकाल का एवं मिथिला देशवासी प्रमाणित किया है। मैंने साक्ष्य कल्पना एवं अपने अनुभूतियों के माध्यम से उनकी पूरी जीवनी को उनके व्यक्तित्व के अनुकूल एवं अनुरूप अपनी लेखनी में व्यक्त करने का प्रयास किया है। उनका जन्म-स्थान, जन्म-काल, बाल्य-सखा, माता-पिता, गुरूजन, उनकी मूर्खता विद्योत्तमा संग विवाह, उनका अपमानित होना, माँ काली का वरदान, महाकवि का सम्मान,राजनीति इत्यादि। साथ ही उनके जीवन से जुड़े पात्रों की ममता, स्नेह, आर्शीवाद प्रेम, अहंकार, ईर्ष्या, त्याग, क्रोध इत्यादि ने उनके जीवन में किस प्रकार उथल-पुथल मचा दी, इस पुस्तक में वर्णित है। और आरम्भ से अंत तक वो कौन थी जो दूध में जल की तरह थी और उन्हीं के हाथों महाकवि की हत्या? कब? कहाँ? कैसे? क्यों?
“Mahakavi Kalidas...” is a documentary-cum-biography of one of the greatest poets of India, Kalidas. This books is sort of a cinematic summary of his life, his major works, his achievements and ultimately his untimely death.

The initial part of the book focuses on Kalidas’s birth place. The author researched into Kalidas and others to arrive at a conclusion about his birth and life. The next part focusses on scripts from his major works and a brief history behind them. To some extent, we are able to catch the richness of Kalidas’s creation and marvel at the ease with which the author lays it out for us to enjoy. The next major part of the book is his visual biography which narrates Kalidas’s story using creative liberty to set a good plot and give us a mesmerizing inside-look of this life.

The book’s initial part is written in second person perspective and the biography is written in third person narrative. Kalidas’s journey from his days as the dim-witted Matrugupt to the blessed, talented and famous poet and king is portrayed superbly and is kept in focus for most part of this book. Every character is given sufficient detail in the story. The author successfully captures the beauty and mind-set of Vidyotama and Malini and their every emotion ranging from grief, arrogance, penance, love, suffering is penned superbly.  Hemchandra as a repenting and supportive friend is given proper portrayal. King Kumardas’s attachment to Kalidas is depicted superbly. Other characters such as Varruchi, King Viramaditya have been given sufficient space and depiction. 

Personally, I loved the use of original works from Meghdoot, Raghuvansh and Abhigyan Shakuntalam.  I felt the initial focus on his birthplace felt like a drag, but once the story starts the pace sets and plot moves seamlessly. 

In all, Madhu Jha delivers an engaging work that is rich in research and content

Overall Verdict:- A treat for Kalidas fans

My overall rating would be 4/5

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

Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Book Review - The Curse - A Dystopian Thriller by Randeep Wadehra

I found the details about this book in the mail by TheBookClub. They were conducting book tour for "The Curse - A Dystopian Thriller" by Randeep Wadehra, and that made me check the book in depth. Well, I didn't find many reviews as the book was recently released, but the description was eye-catching. Though genre, dystopia, and blurb were looking out of sync, I decided to take a chance. And finally, here I am discussing it. (Though I am 1-2  weeks late by the schedule, I think it's better late than never)


Book Blurb
Through peace, it’s justice we seek!
The hunter will meet the fate of the hunted
And the mighty will serve the meek!
Twenty years ago, a corrupt President, a greedy industrialist, and a sycophant policeman uprooted the tribal people from their own land and burned their houses. Twenty years later, the Republic of Bodh is in danger from a similar evil troika.
The curse uttered by a frail tribal woman during the carnage twenty years ago has inspired Jwaala, the only female leader in the senate, to reform the Republic of Bodh.
But the same curse has turned Saaya, once an innocent victim of the massacre, into a relentless killing machine with a mission to prey on the predators.
Even when the Republic spirals into a storm of scandals, the greedy and corrupt President Chaupat is torn between his lust for a dancer and his unrequited passion for his wife Kaamini.
Will Saaya succeed in his mission or will Chaupat thwart his efforts?
Will Jwaala, orphaned in a violent attack, be able to turn the curse for the greedy into a blessing for the poor? Will she succeed to save the Republic from another ensuing bloodshed?
The Curse is a gritty political thriller about people who have lost much to greed but want to transform their nation. 
As per blurb, the book was more of a political thriller. So words like corruption, politics confused me. Once I started reading the book, I got cleared. Though the author has used today's India's burning issues in the plot, he had shown them as a part of an imaginary country. A country where the system was in complete jeopardy, where corruption had reached to its roots, where money and power spoke and ruled with ironclad. Amidst that system, rose a savior (for common people) known as Saaya. His ways were extreme, and he claimed that the need of the hour was violence. Then there was a greedy ruling couple (Kind and Queen) and his minister (the most corrupted one). Read the book to know more.

Though the language used is in control, I would recommend that 16+ should read the book. The story is fueled with emotions, it shows how personal gain of few is fulfilled by sacrificing thousands. Saaya in many terms shows those ignored people who needed proper attention. The story is a bit dark and bold, you will find less number of such content, especially in Indian literature. One should read this book if he or she would like to understand human behavior and political dramas.

I would give 4 out of 5 stars to this bold story of love, lust, and greed.

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

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