Thursday, 13 September 2018

Sniper's Eye by Mainak Dhar: a review

15th September 2016 : that was the day when I wrote a review for Mainak Dhar’s 03:02 and it is 13th September 2018 today when I write for the same author's latest. To begin with, I loved the precision with which he writes. Such coincidences are hard to find. Next, just as I received this book, I HAD TO go back to my bookshelf comprising of more than a thousand books now and find 03:02 and I smiled and flipped through the now yellowed pages of the black beauty back then. Why I mention this? Because, Mainak Dhar’s Sniper's Eye brought back a lot of memories.

About the book- I was out on a date. Everything was perfect… Till that shot .. a high-calibre one, no apparent sound. And, the man in front of me fell. A rifle with a suppressor? A sniper in the middle of a Mumbai mall? As the body count mounted, I was soon sucked deeper into the chaos unleashed by that shot. To survive and save those whom I care about, I have to become the man I left behind. I have no choice but to tap into a bloody past that has put me on the terror kill list. I may also have no option but to join hands with the sniper terrorizing Mumbai. The problem is that the man has sworn to kill me. In a world where the young and poop kill and die in conflicts started by the old and rich, I and my unlikely companion finally discover the thin line that separates a mere killer from a hero. This is our story…

I don't think I have mentioned this earlier but I really am fond of the way the author ends his blurbs with “this is our story”. After sitting for unputdownable 3 hours of the book, I remember the satisfaction I had felt when I had finished the earlier one and now this one remains the same. I smiled and that made me proud of the book. Proud of the fact that the author has managed to keep this consistency over the years. This book was a smaller one to the other, if compared but then, a different story made it all the more worth it.

The protagonist, Aaditya Ghosh instantly became a favorite and I have no clue why I could feel at ease with the character as if I've been knowing him for quite some time now. Also, Aman is someone I know I will remember forever. Set against the backdrop of India Pakistan relationship and politics and power play at the helm, the book was a smooth ride for me. Narration skills on point, as usual, I could visualize every single point of the book quite efficiently. Every character got their closure by the end of the book and the promise of return of a few characters in the next book of the series (oh yes it's a series) made me hopeful for an even better book coming up.

For the cons of the book, well, again as usual, there weren't any. The book was quick and crisp and gave only the information that the book was supposed to give making it a smooth ride, as I have already mentioned. The only critic I had for the book was that, it ended too soon. A few places here and there I wondered what if there was more written in the book? Also, given that I had read 03:02 and loved the cover, this book's cover didn't allure me so much. The cover, if made a tad bit more better, would've done the trick. This goes for 4.5 out of 5 for me, looking forward to the next book of the series. 

Note: This book was sent to me by Writer's Melon in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Hope and Sunshine by Debasmita Nath Ghosh: a review

When there's love there is hope. When there's hope there has to be sunshine. And only my closest people would know that I'm saying this from a very personal perspective. Debasmita Nath Ghosh’s debut work, Hope and Sunshine made me go back to a lot of memories. The cover is bright and chirpy and it attracts the readers to the book.

About the book- Naina Grover has an imperfectly perfect life, or is it perfectly imperfect? A Punjabi kudi from Delhi working in the city of joy, Kolkata is joined by her crazy cousin, Arjun and his sober friend Aditya to come of age while at a long-distance relationship which seems to be going nowhere. She knows it's a recipe for disaster but should she let go or not? Should she hope for the best? Hope she will be accepted? Hope she can settle down? Hope she can come to terms with a family secret bothering her for years now? Just hope. Keep hoping? And then, Hope welcomes a ray of sunshine. Naina welcomes you to look at life from her perspective. 'Hop’e on!’

As you might have realized from reading the blurb of the book, this is a happy go lucky story. Or is it? To begin with, I loved the characters. Naina, Arjun, Aditya, Ved. My favorite though, has to be Arjun. His protectiveness for his sister and love for his friend is something that every person should achieve. What makes me love the characters is that the author has sketched them very well. You would feel a part of the story through the character graph throughout the book.

Coming to the story. Well, for a one time read was a very sweet story. I, being an avid reader could guess what's coming and how this book is going to end. But having said that, I would like to commend the writer for weaving out such a story in a beautiful way. I finished this book in 3 hours flat and didn't move an inch while I was reading it. This, should be self explanatory.

I love the books where the title is explained in the story. What I mean is, why this book is titled hope and sunshine is mentioned in the book and that makes me happy. I liked the way the author has written the whole book but I'd like to point out a few flaws. To begin with, there were grammar errors and I expected a bit more crispness in the story. At places, I missed a few details here and there which could've made the scenes more vibrant. I could relate to the book in more ways than one and that is why, probably, this book would remain special. All in all, a sweet debut in the form of this book gets 3.5 out of 5 for me. 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

For the love of Harry by Courtenay Merchant: a review

If there's something that attracts me to a book at first go, after the cover then it has to be the content of the book. When I read a few reviews of Courtenay Merchant’s For the Love of Harry and I saw it is about a father and a son, how could I have missed reading it? Reading it, though, proved to be a very good decision of my life.

About the book- We have all done things we regret, but what if we are responsible for something, we know we could never recover from? How do we and those whose lives that are so brutally invaded, survive such needless and senseless change? For some it is impossible, for others, they just have to live. John Shaw is a single father with a secret, a secret steeped in guilt, which he’s forced to remember every day. Gary Cole is a young successful IT engineer from humble beginnings with the opportunity of a lifetime; one selfish mistake could cost him everything. Having already suffered so much, John loses the only thing that keeps him in touch with reality and life itself. No matter how hard his friends try, John struggles to find a way back.
Gary Cole must start again, but how do you come back from this, how do you live with yourself? Every ounce of his fatherly devotion becomes the unending source of John’s desire for revenge, as he grips obsessively to an irrational memory that he carries with him tirelessly in the physical world. John knows full well his desperate need for revenge could end his very existence. Will he see it through to the end? Can he see it through to the end? Or will a chance encounter help John find a way to put the past behind him? As John and Gary’s worlds collide, can forgiveness ever be an option?

Fathers are the most precious thing that can happen to any child and I can say this in written. Mothers surely give birth but fathers keep both the mother and the child going. Every father can do anything and everything for his children. John Shaw was no different. When I started reading the book there were too many characters to process and it took me a bit of a time to hold on to the character names and getting a complete picture of the situation.

But when I did, there was no looking back. The writing style of the author is such that the incidents of the book remain etched on your mind for a very long time. You can visualize every single thing in the book. The narration was on point and that made this 190 pages book a very smooth read for me. Even now if I close my eyes, I can visualize the scenes from the book.

That set aside, I loved how this book was conceived. The whole idea of the book. How far can a father go when it comes to his child? The topic is a very close to my heart topic and I could feel every ounce of pain felt by John. Having said that, Gary Cole was a character I sympathized with. Ho, after all, can you live your life with the torment of doing something irreversible?

I love the characters of the book and my favorite was Richard (for reasons you would know when you read the book). If I have to speak of the cons of it, I feel that the beginning could've been a bit stronger and the end was a bit predictable for me. For all those moments where I had a lump in my throat while reading this book, looking forward to more from the author, I would give this one 4 out of 5. 

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Music Diaries: Som & Mates at What'sUp Cafe LIVE

It's the city of joy and what better to rub off your midweek musings than a beautiful evening spread across the 6th floor of a Southern Avenue building, with a rooftop view and a live Bollywood musical band. Alcohol, breeze, a cloudy but full moon, friends and loved ones for company surely makes it all the more enchanting.

29th August 2018 saw such an evening for What's Up Cafe at Southern avenue where the stage was set by city based band, Som & Mates.

Som & Mates © Antaheen Partha

Som & Mates is currently a 4 member band with members who excel in what they're doing for the past n number of years. Imagine a mix and match of guitar, flute, keyboard, percussions and soft romantic songs for company.

Soumya Ghosh © Antaheen Partha

The frontman of the band, on vocals Soumya Ghosh (erstwhile band Inferno fame and the Som to his mates) was on fire. He let his hair loose (and quite literally at that) to make the audience croon melodies such as Guncha Koi, Chhu Kar mere man ko, Bhindeshi Tara etc…

Saptarshi Roy © Antaheen Partha

On Keyboard was Saptarshi Roy (Sappy, for people who know him) whose expertise over the keys that he has honed with his knowledge won many hearts. Him, making a comeback after all these years of rigorous practicing and in such a great form made every music lover happy.

Ayan Mukherjee © Antaheen Partha

The guitar and flute was helmed by Ayan Mukherjee. The introvert but the most interesting of the lot, he made sure that with every note of the flute every single person in the audience lets out an audible sigh of nostalgia and a connection with the roots we are losing with time.

Kingshuk Chakraborty © Antaheen Partha
Kingshuk Chakraborty (aka Pickloo of Parashpathar and Sahar fame) took charge of the percussions. Dare I say he nailed it? In a note of a thoughtful gesture remembering Paraspathar for what it was, the band performed the infamous, Icchedana and I saw everyone with their eyes closed, singing out loud and him being in his zone. Getting the loudest woots for his percussions.

Having said all that, the biggest achievement of the band for the day was when, after a non-stop hour and a half when the band wanted a small break, no one in the audience wanted them to have one. Requests after requests followed and the break never came till the time the band promised to be back in 5 short minutes. The night ended with a beautiful medley at 11pm but the crowd didn't want to disperse. Such, is the beauty of Kolkata and Som & Mates.

Som & Mates LIVE © Antaheen Partha

The backbones of this band, credited duly, has to be Tanushree Goswami and Abhirup Sen who work day and night for the love of music and with the thought of celebrating life through it. Without whom and I quote the band members here, “Som & Mates would've been nothing!”

Antaheen Partha, their official photographer, deserves a hearty and singular highlight for being the one reason that we all can cherish the evening and much more to come from them through his pictures. All the pictures mentioned here are shot by this man who, I have seen, have legit hung through staircases in uncomfortable positions to get that one special shot that we all take to heart.

Here’s wishing Som & Mates all the love in the universe. Thanking them, for a wonderful and well curated set and evening that we all witnessed. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Into the Great Heart by Kamla K Kapur: a review

In the whirlwind of what life is all about these days, how many of us do have enough time in our lives to sit back and relax and find the time to read a good book on spiritualism? Let alone spiritualism, how many of us get the time to even wonder how the “God” we bow down to, became what they are? That's where Kamla K Kapur’s Into the great heart comes in the picture.

About the book- Legends and Adventures of Guru Angad the second Sikh Guru. From the bestselling author of Classic Tales from Mystic India, The Singing Guru and Rumi: Tales to Live By, comes the second book in the Sikh saga series about Bhai Lehna’s journey from being Guru Nanak’s constant disciple to becoming Guru Angad (1504 – 1552), his successor and the second Sikh Guru. Into the Great Heart carries forward and concludes the stories of Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana, his favourite minstrel, from the first volume of the Sikh saga, The Singing Guru. History, legend and fiction merge to populate this book with fascinating personalities from Sikh history. Pivotal to this narrative are forgotten female luminaries such as Guru Nanak’s wife, Mata Sulakhni, his sister, Bebe Nanaki, Bhai Lehna’s wife, Khivi and daughter Amro. Brought to the foreground, their wisdom and insights as they overcome obstacles to spiritual growth embody the basic tenets of Sikhism in everyday living. They enhance Guru Nanak and Bhai Lehna’s tale with their diverse approach to life. Filled with captivating characters that enrich the tapestry of this compelling narrative, Into the Great Heart is a must-read for anyone who loves a rich story about human nature in its search for spiritual awareness.

Taken from the author's first book in the Sikh Saga, this story continues Bhai Lehna’s journey from being what he was to being Guru Angad, the second Sikh Guru. What I loved about the book has to begin with the cover. For I, personally, have always been a constant lover of the religion and have always wanted to know more about it, the cover of the book gave me a sense of peace that the rusty covers these days don't usually give me.

One of the best parts of the book is the fact that even though it is a second installment of the book, it reads like a standalone novel which is not so much found in the other series as such. The narration that the author has used took me aback because such wonderful narration is often not found in other books. The story went on seamlessly and for a moment I couldn't take my eyes off the book because it had that blinding effect on me. Every single page has notes at the end of it explaining the terms and terminologies for the people who would not understand it.

There's nothing to talk about the characters, though because real life characters are a different tangent all together. I'm not too adept to decipher it is a real story of parts of it is fictional or not but even if I were, I know that I had gone deep into the story and I couldn't fathom when did I start being one with the story. So, that deserves a standing ovation from me. For the cons, the story was a bit lengthy for me and that's all I can say. This one book deserves 4.5 out of 5 from me. 

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Invisible Ties by Nadya AR: a review

There are books that leave you dumbstruck while there are some books that leave you speechless. This book left me with a feeling that is indescribable. It's been a few hours I finished the book and only now could I make myself write even a word for the book. Today, as Nadya AR’s second book has it's 1st anniversary, I couldn't help but write what I felt about Invisible Ties…

About the book- As Karachi burned in the 1990s, the painfully shy Noor Kamal found refuge in an antique jade mirror stolen from Daisy, her social butterfly mother. One fateful day, the violence hits home as a motley crew of burglars storm the Kamal residence, killing Joseph, the faithful driver who tried to shield Noor and kidnapping Daisy in the process. Traumatized by the turn of events and succumbing to familial pressure, Noor reluctantly agrees to start life afresh in Singapore as the wife of Meekaal Kalim, an investment banker. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Noor finds succour in studying psychotherapy. Her attempt to heal others brings her close to Ella, her neighbour and Jake, a handsome American who is struggling to deal with his emotional breakdown. As she tries to exorcise ghosts from the past and break free from the shackles, where will Noor’s longing for love take her? Would she be able to liberate herself from her strong cultural values and ties? A saga of love and trials, against a rich contrasting background, Invisible Ties is sure to appeal to the readers.

To begin with, I am in love with the cover of the book. This book surely falls under my top 5 favorite book covers of the year. Also, the handmade paper'ish feel that the book jacket has, makes me fall for the book all over again. The blurb speaks a tonne about the book but it surely does injustice to what the whole book is about. There are very few authors or books read by me who has so distinctively mentioned the intricacies of life in such a wonderful way.

Based in Karachi and then, Singapore the book traces the life of Noor Kamal and I would be lying if I say that I didn't connect to the character. I found a piece of me in Noor, also because I want to learn psychotherapy and I love talking to people and helping them in their lives by counselling them. The other characters in the book were Noor’s parents, husband, aunt and her mother in law apart from her friends, maid and driver. Well, the book has a character for everyone. My next favorite characters has to be her mother in law, Jake and Ella.

Talking about the writing style of the author, this book took me by surprise. To readers like us who are habituated in reading on a regular basis lightly written monologues and write ups, this was a heavy read. Not heavy in words but heavy in emotions and narration skills. The subtle way through which the author has described everything brings to me, as a reader, a relief that I'll probably not be able to explain through my review out here.

I remember certain points in the book that felt oddly familiar with my life and certain places where I felt the tear at the back of my throat and mind you! This doesn't happen all the time with me. The way the author has handled the whole book and the heaviness of it is a mammoth task and she deserves all the accolades that is possible for me to give. The only con that I felt about the book is the fact that it is not for everyone. The book will not be liked for the YA audience or the light readers for a quick read. You need to savor this book and understand every page of it. Only then, the Jade mirror will talk to you! Following this one, I guess I'll love to read the author's future and past works too. For me, this one's a 4.8 out of 5. 

Monday, 20 August 2018

Pizza Religion by Khushwant Singh: a review

Well, as human beings have gone through this one phase of life when we sit back and think about our religion. Many of us come up with a proper conclusion welcome office still stumble by the end of it. Khushwant Singh's Pizza Religion is one such book that acts as an eye opener for every such individuals.

About the book- Pizza religion is the future religion which understands today's youth, who are way smarter than what we were. They don't have any double standards, they don't take any bullshit in the name of religion, they believe in humanity and the practice humanity. This book is essentially for those who are innocent and truthful at heart and do not practice religion under whose cover the commit every possible sin under the sun. So be a part of this living religion that believes in moral integrity and in following the straight and narrow.

If you are wondering what the book has to say then let me tell you right now this book is exactly what it says it will be. One of the first things that attracted me to the book was the title itself. Quirkily done, this will grab the attention of all the youth who comes across this book once in his or her lifetime. The tagline of the book says finally a religion that lets you breathe and the book is really that.

The cover is also very minimally done yet has a beautiful range of colors that brings life to the book. Now as you flip through the pages of this book written by the motivational expert professional, you are bound to see pearls of wisdom in the writing and are sure to take back something or the other from the book. The book deals with aspects that are underlying in our country and still unspoken about.

The author takes a bold step into mentioning words like, 'bullshit’ in the back cover and also comparing 'the restaurant to the temple’ which might anger a set of people but then again. That's the whole point of the book! I liked the flow the writer has while writing this book. It brings in a sense of wanting to know and read more of the book.

One of the cons of the book is the fact that the book is too thin and small for the content it carries. Alternatively, you can also take it as a pocket book if you want. Also, among the cons, there were a lot of grammar errors in the book. How I wished, by the time I ended it, that the book would've been a more crisper and fine tuned version. Having said all of that, I would love to everyone to read this book and find out what's in store for them in this new journey called Pizza religion. For me, this was a 3.5 on 5.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Hounds of Shiva by Preetha Rajah Kannan: a review

Two years back when I was reading Shiva in the city of Nectar, I remember falling for the book head over heels. Today, as I wrap up reading Preetha Rajah Kannan's latest offering- Hounds of Shiva I cannot help but sit and marvel at the wonderful way the authoress describes the deity and his stories. Shiva, as my readers and friends might know, has a very special place in my heart and this made me pick up this book without any thought. The blurb, strengthened by feeling.

About the book- As its mahout goaded the mammoth royal elephant to the open space where Navukkarasu was held, the beast trumpeted in fury, knocking down walls and ornamental arches in wanton aggression. The earth shook under its tread and the crowd surged back in fear. Navukkarasu fearlessly stood his ground asserting, “The Cosmic Dancer who wears a garment of elephant hide will protect me” The animal charged forward - only to stop short before the saint. In an instant, all aggression leached out of the beast. As docile as a lamb, the elephant circumambulated Navukkarasu, clumsily fell to its knees and raised its trunk in homage to him. Lumbering to its feet, it then carefully backed away from its intended victim. Hounds of Shiva is a treasure house of tales with impassioned, heroic acts of sacrifice, devotion and service in the lives and times of the Nayanmars – the sixty-three Shaivite saints who were exemplars of bhakti. Kannappa gouges out his eye to heal Shiva’s wound; Punitavati renounces her youth and beauty to follow the Lord as an emaciated ghoul; Siruthondar sacrifices his own son at Shiva’s command; Iyarpahai gifts his beloved wife to another man; Samandhar raises a boy from the dead; Poosal builds an intricate Shiva temple in his heart. But the book’s hero is Lord Shiva, who assumes myriad disguises to sport with his devotees, blessing and testing them. Filled with astounding miracles, Hounds of Shiva is an untold tale of the Blue-throated Lord and a feast for the mind and soul.

These stories are taken from mythology and are very similar to reality. Thus, making the whole journey of the book all the more worthwhile. It brings in a sense of calmness throughout the mind of the readers. Divided into chapters that tell the story of each Shiva bhakt and their tyrsts with people, further uniting with God himself, all of then has a moral to teach.

One of the key things that I've consistently liked about the author's books is the way she writes and narrates. Her narration is completely up to the mark making it all the more a smooth ride. This book is for the current generation as well as the bygone generation because the stories and the way it connects can bind both the generation together.

There are very few to no grammatical errors which makes this book a wonderful read. Also, at the end of the book is a glossary of all the terms that might be unknown to you while you're reading it. Speaking of glossaries, you also get small information boxes in almost all chapters that explain you the meaning of the bigger unknown words. What did not work for me in the book was the fact that it is too long a book! If it would've been cut down to a few less chapters then this book would've been my personal partner for a long time. For me, always looking forward to more from the author, this was 4.5 out of 5. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Iridescent Life by Sonal Bharija Singh: a review

Every single book is a part of somebody's life. Iridescent life by Sonal Bharija Singh is one such book. This piece of nonfiction has my heart in many ways than one. It has the power to change everyone's outlook towards themselves and being in a relationship. It changes the way you look at yourself and that is what makes the book all the more worth it. Here's a snippet of what the book blurb is all about…

About the book- this book is a story of life by a person's Outlook that everyone can relate to. It is about every individual who has been in a relationship. It's about anyone who has ever been happy or rejected. This book is just a small effort to help people recognise the answers and then life as it is essential to understand life before acting on it.

The blurb ends with the line “There are more colors to life than just black and white” and rightfully so. That's something I personally believe in and this made the book all the more worth it. To begin with, the cover of the book had an effect that will soothe your mind, at least for me. Then what follows is series of incidents that shape the author what she is today.

The chapters in the book touches every single aspect of life that it may face. For example, being healthy, divorced, love, God, rebellion, chaos, calmness and much more. The book is narrated in first person where the author describes her life and draws Morales from it. Even, she explains how in different ways she can be motivated to write on different topics.

There weren't much grammatical errors in the book as such and the chapters weren't that lengthy. Also, unlike other non fiction books in the market these days, the book isn't boring and that makes this 106 page book worth that one read that everyone should pick up once in his/her lifetime. The takeaways from the book are diverse and everyone is sure to learn something or the other from it.

As for the cons, for an avid reader, this book doesn't suit the bill. Also, it is targeted to almost specific group of people. It is surely interesting but somehow I felt that the book couldn't touch me the way I wanted it to. There was lack of compactness in the writing of it which, if there, could've made this one more than just a one time read. For me, this one was 3.5 out of 5 and I would love to read more from the author. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

In a cult of their own Bollywood beyond box office by Amborish Roychoudhury: a review

Wait. What did I just complete reading? This book is pure genius and a wonder book for all the cultmongers and film buffs out there present in the youth of today's time. A compilation of 23 chapters- each about one particular movie of their time, this book is a must read for everyone. In a cult of their own, Bollywood beyond box office by Amborish Roychoudhury had a surprise within itself for me and I couldn't have been happier for picking this one up.

About the book- 'Cult become cults, they are not made. It's the becoming that is interesting, not the making.’ When we hear iconic dialogues like Amitabh Bachchan’s 'rishtey mein toh hum tumhaare baap lagtey Hai, naam Hai Shahenshah!’ or 'Aap purush nahin… mahapurush hai’ from the insanely humurous Andaz Apna Apna, not many remember that these films did not stir the box office. A tongue in cheek ode to the cult movies of Hindi filmdom, In a cult of their own is unique in that it celebrates these underdogs. Drawing from his own reminiscences of growing up on these Delectables, and also face to face interviews with actors and directors such as Aamir Khan, Pankaj Kapoor, Deepti Naval and Rajkumar Santoshi, the author lucidly inks a kaleidoscope with films like Mera Naam Joker, Chashme Buddoor, Chameli ki Shaadi, Jo Jeeta wohi sikandar, Gunda, RGV ki aag, among others that are pulled out of obscurity to have their time in the sun all over again. As film critic Mayank Shekhar writes in the Foreword to this book: 'Movies are how we also collectively laugh at ourselves. This book is a welcome addition to the running joke.’

If you're done marvelling at the super awesome colors of the cover of the book (which I clearly amn’t yet), we can go talking about it. The cover of the book and it's blurb convinced me that this book is worth the try for a film lover like me. When I started reading it, the dedication page of the book sealed it's fate: this book was already 5 stars for me. Now, the author has, through the interviews and his critical analysis of the cult movies made sure that there isn't a single dull moment here. Whenever we are reading a chapter, the author has the power in himself to transfer us to the time when this movie was made.

This power of the author made me fall for the book all the more. The movies mentioned in the book have achieved cult status over the years and the author explains exactly why with the help of anecdotes and sneak peeks into what the director or the actors thought of while shooting the movie. The chapters and the facts are complete inside the book with citations which we usually do not get in such books. Not for even a second did I feel that I am reading a nonfiction.

The lucid writing style is another plus point of the author along with witty remarks that held me as a reader. And I would hate the author this one time and mention it here, rather complain here because his book made the inner writer in me and an aspiring filmmaker in me, feel like visiting a feature film set and working behind the scenes (like I always wanted to). For all the movies mentioned in the book, my favorite has to be No Smoking because it gives me exactly the feeling that the author has as written.

For the cons of the book. Well, there are so few that it is negligible to even write about it. To begin with, I missed a certain 'Dasvidaniya’ and 'A Wednesday’ in the book and I'm sure the author knows what I am talking about. Next, no doubt the author has chosen those cult movies for the book but I, as a reader felt that if the book caters to a certain age of audience then along with these movies, a few more closer to years movies could've done no harm. And that's that. For a moment I felt that I am sitting face to face with the author and discussing these movies with him. That's a feature not many non fiction writers could achieve especially in his/her debut work. Also, I'll end with requesting the author to write more books on cult movies, underrated movies, overshadowed movies and the likes. This book was surely a 4.75 out of 5 for me. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

First Breath by R Kumar: a review

Poetry has my heart. I try writing them and I try to read them too and that's when R Kumar’s First breath was offered to me with such a beautiful cover, I couldn't refuse. A lovely cover had the promise of a lifetime in it and I happily picked up the book for reading.

According to the cover- Not all the  time,  you are  at  place  is  made  for you.  You  have  to  find yours  by yourself.  Everyone  is born  with  their  unique  personality  and  ability.  A little  spark  is  needed  to  ignite  a  fire  of  passion  in you. Passion  is  the  only  thing  you  have,  to  make your  identity  known.  Just  emphasize  on  the  passion and  work,  you  will  get  sure  result.  Power  of  passion is  ultimate. In  this  collection,  some  poems  will  touch your  heart,  while  some  will  fill  your  breath.  Some are  clear  like  crystal,  while  some  are  hazy  like smoke.  But  by  the  end,  I  hope  that  you  will  get  the spark for  the  fire,  you are  in  search  for.

That is exactly what is written on the cover and I copy it word by word. Barring the grammatical errors, I went ahead to read the book. A very small one with only a few poems in it, I could finish it in less than an hour. That is the best part about the book. Another thing which I really liked about the book is the fact that the book is pure and unadulterated. The feelings that the author has, is mentioned wonderfully in the book.

Now, coming to the poems itself. I am at a loss of words. Certain poems are written in a very conversational manner. While that is one way which is currently in trend when writing poetry, the words used are very amateurish. While dealing with sensitive topics, while I understand the need of writing in a simple language, I feel that writing sense matters more.

Certain poems didn't make any sense to me. More like nonsensical verse. They didn't rhyme (not that it had to) but were forced to rhyme. Certain words (and I know I am using certain a lot of times but then, for the lack of a better word) felt misplaced and forcefully used to somehow rhyme. Poetry is an universal language. But here, I was forced to read it in an accent or pronunciation that the writer must've used while penning it down, which doesn't account to good poetry.

Were a few poems, poems or were they songs? I wouldn't ever know. That's because I don't understand the usage of 'hmm’ in a poem or the overuse of 'Hey Girl’ while penning one down. I tried my best and trust me when I say this, to connect to the write-up but the errors that caught my eye throughout the book (as an instance, writing 'decesion’ instead of 'decision’ as a title of a poem), caught the grammar Nazi inside me by surprise. The poems that were about family could only make sense to me from afar.

This collection is perfect for a specific type of people (read: yesteryear youth) who would like to read nonsensical verse (maybe after a heartbreak? And I'm so sorry for stereotyping) and not for the mass. And that's I guess all I can say about the book without going deep in it. Urging the author to read more poetry books and then writing it, I wouldn't really rate this one. 

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra: a review

There are moments in life when after reading heavy books, you crave for an easy breezy ride. A simple book with less complications and something that'll be over in one sitting. Vibha Batra's Glitter and Gloss gave me one such escape. I found my way breezing through the pages and laughing through the major part of the book. Written with a specific audience in mind, here's what the blurb says about it.

About the book- Misha is a make up artist who, after a series of mishaps and twists and turns, falls madly in love with Akshay who reciprocates her love with ardour. The only hitch in this perfect romance is her prospective sister-in-law who thinks Misha is everything a Bahu shouldn’t be: garrulous, geeky, gawky, gainfully employed (especially the last bit). The questions is will Misha win Didi (and the Kha-Pee Panchayat) over with her Stepford Wife Act? Will she continue to be the poster child for the inherent evils of the Bahu Brigade? Or will she learn to ‘lau’ herself before the whole world and its wife can do the same?

See the way the blurb has been written? That's exactly what you'll be finding in the book itself. Written in Hinglish (Hindi+English) this book is surely for the audience who adores chick-lit ! Right from the get go you're introduced to Misha, the makeup artist who's clumsy and sassy, also working at M.A.C, having a dream of doing bridal make-up and the present generation owner of Agarwal Jewellers, Akshay Agarwal. They have this sweet chemistry and everything gets going from the start.

You're also introduced to an unorthodox atmosphere around the whole story. Misha sharing an apartment with a guy (Sammy), Akshay’s Didi and Jiju living at Akshay's palatial bungalow, Misha’s parents separated and her mom dating a guy only a few years older to her. All this makes for a great premise of a story. But somewhere I felt, it lacked the punch. Written mainly in a conversational format with either two or more people or the protagonist and her mind, this book falls short at that.

Okay! I give in. I am a makeup enthusiast just like Misha but the whole book seemed like a paid advertising by M.A.C cosmetics where every second page had a reference to it's products with specific shade names and range titles by the company. I do understand that it hits home for the makeup enthusiasts who would have a great imagination if they're told that Misha is wearing a M.A.C lipstick in the shade Ruby Woo, but for the people who have no idea about that, it might feel kiddish to even mention what kind of a makeup remover Misha uses.

Then, the language of writing, Hinglish as I mentioned, wouldn't hit home for the non-hindi speakers. They wouldn't understand half the dialogues mentioned in the book. Innuendos which were unnecessary (or, necessary given that's how Misha was portrayed) filled the book. There wasn't any strength in the book. Also contradicting myself I would say that the book had the necessary storyline. The drama and the plotline but the author could've made it much better if not written in a rush (so it felt).

Grammatical errors were there in the book. But all in all, this was a fun read and a good book for light readers who also likes a social dose in their reads. I would recommend this book to young adults and be sure that they'll like it. Oh, by the way, I loved the cover of the book. It's so pretty and girly! Looking forward to more from the author and expecting even more from her, this was 2.5 out of 5 for me. 

Friday, 3 August 2018

Rakshasas by Rajiv G Menon: a review

Whenever there is a series that I read, it always leaves me with questions and more questions. Rajiv G Menon’s Vedic Trilogy was no exception. Then there are series that no matter where you start from, you can always read as a standalone book. Rakshasas the show warriors, was one such book. Done in an uncommon green color for a cover, the second part of the trilogy had everything that you'd want to have in such a book.

About the book- 'Rise, O mighty rakshasas! The time has come for us to give these warriors of the light a good reason to fear the dark.’ The world is in a turmoil. Naraka and his formidable Asura warmachine March unhindered across it bringing once great nations to their knees. They have now set their eyes on the ultimate prize- Bharata, the land of the seven rivers. Indra and his Devas struggle to contain this threat, even as they battle their own differences and the temptations of Swarga. In Bharata, Jayanta, the son of Indra, is the new ruler. But as he prepares for the Asura invasion, a potential threat is rising in the vast forests if Dandaka. Vidyutkesa- the only survivor of a genocide perpetrated by Jayanta- has journeyed into his heart and made contact with the Order of Sarpa, an accent and powerful secret society headed by Queen Manasa. With the blessings of Raksha, the Earth Spirit, the Sarpas transform Vidyutkesa and his companions into supernatural beings called Rakshasas. Their mission: to protect their land, forests and way of life. In this second installment of his Vedic Trilogy, Rajiv G Menon weaves a rich and vibrant tapestry of the epic struggle between earth worshipping feminine cultures that live in harmony with nature, and the patriarchal forces that seek to tame her.

This book is so much and much more when it comes to the content of it. How I love when maps are given in such fantasy books. Where you'll be very much acquainted with the characters if you've read book 1, it might take a bit of a time to get so with book 2. But what I know is the fact that these characters won't be able to leave your mind once you're through. For me, personally, I can't wait for book 3 already.

The book is a lengthy one with so much happening in every single page that you need to have your own sweet time in reading this. Hurrying up won't help your cause. The trick to reading books by Rajiv Menon, as I've noticed, is to read slow and steady and savor what every single page has to give you. The wonderful narration skills by the author takes you on a journey through what he has created as a world and that is commendable.

Coming to the characters and the story. As you all might already know, since it is a series I won't be discussing them as much as I'd like to because “spoilers” but then, you'll love your favorite characters and root for them, this much is a guarantee. For the later part in this 400+ pages of the book, you might feel that it is dragged and that it could've been more crisp and could've ended earlier. But then again, in contradiction to what I said, the actual end of the book makes you have a smile on your face.

Coming to the cons of the book, the first con that I felt was too many characters. When on one hand I understand the need of so many characters, I also feel that a few characters were unnecessary. Next, the length. For a person like me who juggles reading with a lot of other things, the length of this book can be a bit of a hindrance especially because of the last few parts where I felt it was dragged a bit. I, anyhow, needed just two sittings to finish this one book. Grammatically and narration wise on point, eager to read book 3, this one was 4 out of 5 for me. 

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Seductive Affair by Rishabh Puri: a review

Okay! When you receive a book titled Seductive Affair there are a lot of things that goes on in your mind. That too, when the book cover suggests that there is a possibility of the whole book revolving around seduction and the game it plays. The blurb, also, does very little in changing the way of thought that the book cover has implanted. Once you start the book, you know what you're up to. Also, the author, Rishabh Puri's bio made me pick up the book against all odds.

About the book- Prisha Khatri is a regular college graduate, focused on her career and freshly dumped by her successful fiance. When she lands a job at a prestigious media house, she's glad to have e something to take her mind off her heartbreak. She lands on a business trip with a famously fiery reporter Rajesh Lagheri. He's travelling to a business conference for a story, and doesn't seem impressed by her involvement. But as soon as they're out of the office, things change, and it becomes clear that there is more to Rajesh's trip than meets the eye. As Prisha is drawn into the story he's trying to hide from their editor, their hunt for the story grows more intense and she finds herself growing closer to Rajesh. As their chemistry threatens to overwhelm them and Prisha is pulled deeper into the Seductive affair, she must decide what matters to her- matters of the head, or of the heart.

Now that I have written what the book blurb has to say, let me get on with how I felt about the book. To start off with, the first few pages of the book promised a lot of punch to the readers. I loved the narration of the story and how it is for all kinds of audience. Also, the descriptions were on point. I liked the way the author described and put forth every situation. It was as if I could visualize the whole thing but then that's that.

The story had nothing substantial to offer, for me. It was an ordinary Mills and boons story which could've been a lot more if added with more punches. Prisha, the female protagonist according to me could've been a stronger character than what is shown. Everything that happens in the story just fell in place at the right time and we all knew what's gonna happen by the end of it. It wasn't an “erotic” novel as such but the few scenes there were was written to perfection.

I couldn't find any such grammatical error in the book and that made it a smooth read for me. It took me one sitting to finish the book and I'm glad it did. The book ends up being a decent one time read not meant for heavy or avid readers. The story had the potential of being much better than what it is now and that disappointed me a bit while reading. That is probably why I am having a bit of a trouble in mentioning more about the book. All in all a nice read, this book was 3 on 5 for me. And I really expect more from the author given his writing and narration skills. 

Monday, 16 July 2018

Half the Night is Gone by Amitabha Bagchi: a review

There are millions of book present in the market and then there is this one book that catches your attention at first glance. Half the Night is Gone by Amitabha Bagchi was one such novel for me. Judge me all that you can but it was the cover of the book that attracted me to it in the first place. Done in shades of blue with a palatial bunglow on the cover, this hardcover book gave me feels right as I held it. The blurb of the book, sealed it's fate- I had to read it.

About the book- The celebrated Hindi novelist Vishwanath is heartbroken by the recent loss of his son in an accidental. The tragedy Spurs him to write a novel set in the household of Lala Motichand. It follows the lives of the wealthy Lala and his three sons: self confident Dinanath, the true heir to Motichand’s mercantile temperament; lonely Diwanchand, uninterested in business and steeped in poetry; and illegitimate Makhan Lal, a Marx loving school teacher kept to the periphery of his father's life. In an illuminating act of self reflection, Vishwanath, the son of a cook for a rich Sethji, also tell the story of the Lala's personal servant, Mange Ram, and his son, Parsadi. Fatherhood, brotherhood and childhood, love, loyalty and poetry, all come to the for as sons and servants await the Lala’s death. By writing about mortality and family, Vishwanath confronts the wreckage of his own life while seeking to make sense of the new India that came into being after Independence. Spellbinding and penetrating, Half the Night is Gone raises questions of religion, literature and society that speaks to our fractured times.

Tragic. Yes! That's the word to describe this labyrinth of human emotions called a book. It is said that books are a way of life and it is rightfully said so, all thanks to this one. I've read a lot of books till date across varied genres but not many that records a family like this. Equally balanced and a wonderful way of storytelling, the author traces the journey of Diwanchand and his story (within the story) to perfection. Starting off with Mange Ram and his association with Lala Motichand, the story takes a wonderful turn throughout the book.

Truths are always bitter and the faster we recognize the fact, the more successful and satisfied we remain. The characters of the story are no special people with special thoughts or powers, they are who you find in real life and that makes the story all the more worth it. I loved the way the narration made this book what it is. It shuttles between Diwanchand's remorseful letters to his loved ones after he received the blow that unsettled him to the core and the story he writes of Lala Motichand and Mange Ram and their families.

The book takes time to grip in and at times the truth of life mentioned in the book might make you feel like closing it but then after a while all these characters make you feel at home and you feel like knowing what is to happen next. I loved the fact that the book is for everyone. Every character has been given their dues and have played their parts to perfection. The questions raised in the story are answered and loose ends tied.

The end brings upon an all knowing smile on your face which is sad as well as sarcastic at the same time. What didn't work for me is the fact that I felt there were to be a few places where the author could've made it better. Whenever one reads a prose of excellence, they expect more and that applauds the writer in many ways than one. For this book, I felt that a few characters could've made better of the space that had been given to them. The way that Vishwanath reflects upon his life through the story he writes is commendable. Kudos to the author for attempting such a bold book. For me, this was 4.75 out of 5. And yes, goes without saying, I'll be waiting for more from the author. Did I mention? I love the cover. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Chanakya by Ashok K Banker: a review

I love historical fiction. Whoever knows me, knows this fact about me. So, when I was presented with Ashok K Banker’s latest, titled Chanakya, I couldn't stop myself. We all have grown up listening to the stories of Chanakya (and good Lord, a few days back I, myself read a story of this mighty person) and I couldn't help but read what the book has to say about how Chanakya became Chanakya. One look at the blurb and I knew I had to read this.

About the book- Jurist, war strategist, kingmaker. Master administrator. Author of the Arthashastra. But before the legend, there was the boy: Vishnu Gupta. Pataliputra, capital of the great Nanda empire, is teeming with crime and corruption. Granted unlimited authority by the hedonistic emperor Mahapadma Nanda, evil Mastermind Maha-amatya Kartikeya has the city in a vice like grip. But another name bubbles up through the chaos; there is talk of a young genius, Vishnu Gupta. When the Maha-amatya investigated the rumours, he recognizes a future rival in the boy. He is determined to destroy this competition from the roots- family and all. Vishnu must gather all his wit and his formidable knowledge to protect everything he holds dear. The holy scriptures, his brilliant interpretations of the Vedas and the power of his unmatched mind: these are the only tools he has against the might of the most powerful man in the empire. Epic storyteller Ashok K. Banker imagined the early life and formative years of India's greatest genius, a man whose influence persists down the ages. In this first installment of a thrilling trilogy, he recreated Chanakya's early struggles and triumphs.

In this thrilling journey what catches your attention at first glance is the prodigy Vishnu Gupta is. Let's not call him Chanakya straight away. The thin form of the book made me wonder what could be there in the book and once I finished it, I didn't want it to end. For the umpteenth time, reading about Chanakya made me feel proud. The blurb says it is an imagined story and kudos to the author for writing this down.

Okay! It would be a mistake from my end if I have to actually comment on the author's capabilities because he's just THE BEST but I'll try my level best to emote what I felt. Coming to the storyline, I loved the pace of the story and how every character was formed. Barring Chandra, how I wish I had more of him in this book. Vishnu Gupta has been formed wonderfully and everyone can connect to this prodigy from the time he is mentioned, so much so that I felt like meeting the kid upfront.

Only if it were reality. Now, every single descriptions made in the book were wonderful and that is one of the best parts of the book. Narration done to the point where you can imagine every single thing that is happening in the book. Dialogues on point. The book has everything it was needed to make the readers stand on a cliff and wait for the next part. I loved the cover of the book too. But if I have to speak of the cons then one biggest concern I had for the book was the length. Only if it was a bit more longer than it is. But having said that, I know why the author ended it where he did. Looking forward to the next part of the series and knowing about Vishnu Gupta, this book is 4 on 5 for me as of now. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Yours Forever by Nimmu: a review

Love stories: something that I love yet don't find time for reading. Something that makes me feel good. A good love story is hard to find and when I picked up this red beauty by Nimmu titled Yours forever, I didn't know what to expect. Another cliched story? Something underwritten with a lot of potential? I didn't think of anything yet had a lot of questions before starting this red beauty. The blurb of the book made me pick this up earlier than I was thinking of.

About the book- What happens when you fall in love with someone who has vowed to never love again? Sneha’s luck is cursed. What she had anticipated to be a joyous rde into her Residency, turns into the scene from Hell when the man she had done altercation with on her first day, turns out to be her supervisor- Dr. Shiva a.k.a Dr. Hothead a.k.a the Ice King. And just as she thinks life can't get any worse than this, the unthinkable happens. She falls in love with him! From a man she loathes, Shiva turns into the love of her life. But he has had enough of heartbreak to last him a lifetime. Even though enamoured by the endearing and beautiful Sneha, he is still resolved to love no more. As Shiva coldly casts Sneha out of his life, will Sneha meekly listen, never to appear in front of him again? Or will her love manage to melt Shiva’s impenetrable heart? So begins Yours forever, a heart wrenching story about passion, heartbreaks, and love that crosses paths with long buried truths and unexpected tragedies. Battered at every turn, will Shiva and Sneha's love last forever?

Phew! That was a long blurb to type out and the book is that. A lot of emotions packed into one, I immediately could relate to certain feelings of the book. The theme of the book is very realistic and that makes it all the more read-worthy. You fall in love only to be rebuked and then what? While reading the book I'm sure you'll fall for the characters who have made the book what it is.

For me, one of the first things that catches my attention when I read a book HAS TO BE the narration of it. This book by Nimmu scored well on the narration part. There weren't doses of extra dictionary words which would need a lot of thought. Simple words in a simple language makes the book what it is. Next, the way the characters have been written. The whole growth graph of the characters has been wonderful throughout the book.

Sneha and Shiva (oh Shiva I love him) has been very well thought of and their relationship has been shown wonderfully. Rajesh also, turns to be one of my favorite characters. Good part about the book is that, it deals with very few characters are lives the whole story with them. The relationship that Sneha and Mithra share also adds up to the book. No unnecessary drama, to the point storyline. And yes, I cried while reading the book.

Coming to the cons of it, I believe that Rajesh could've had a larger role to play and his book space time was limited to what I call cameo appearances. The story could've had a bit more depth that would make this book all the more better. Also, the ending could've been much better rather than being what it is. The book didn't disappoint me but I expected a lot from it while I was reading it. For me, this book was 3.5 out of 5. Looking forward to more from the author!