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!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Infin-Eight by Prajeet Budhale: a review

Whenever you're going through a book, you  always do so with the thought that something or the other will be learnt by the end of the book. When you're reading a business or self help book, you're so sure of that fact. Prajeet Budhale’s Infin-Eight gave me the very same feeling just as I held the book. The eight principles for infinite professional success has been mentioned very strongly by the author with extensive examples of situations and activities that provide the same.

About the book- What is worse than not having the ability to bring success in one's own life? It is having the ability and not being able to use it! Infin-Eight is designed as an intensive practical “work with self” guide for professional success. It brings alive the power of your strengths and synchronizes them to your professional goal.

These days I've been reading a lot of non fiction and self help books and this one, undoubtedly has been the most exhaustive. It makes you uncomfortable with the truths and findings mentioned and it also brings your life to a halt, shaking you up to real life. Before I say anything else, I would like to recommend this book to every single person who is a part of any kind of company or business, so that they can make this book a part of their lives.

Now, coming to the book. This one is meant for everyone but as a reader I feel, not everyone would find this book nice. That's because of the pace of the book and the fact that the book would need a lot of thought. It is essential to pick up a paper and pen whenever you're reading the book. The book would give you enough places to scribble down inside the book itself. Treat the book as a guide, if you may because it's meant to be that way.

The author, also a certified coach with experience in leadership for 22 years has put in a life time of experience in 8 principles that give you a path for heading towards infinite success. A very positive and important book in today's time. A few cons I felt about the book was its pace. Only if it were made a bit more quirky and more enriching, I would've rated this a great book. Such wonder of a book should have been made keeping all audience and their favorites of reading in mind. A tell-tale way of saying whatever the book had to say would've made it for everyone to love, not just the businessmen. For me, looking forward to more, this rich with experience book was 3.5 out of 5. 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

From Ideas to Iconic Brands by Giles Lury: a review

We always read books that fall heavily on the scale of fiction to nonfiction. For nonfiction, we mostly feel safe around self help and motivational books and biography or autobiographies. But it is also not uncommon for us to be around everyday objects and places and think about their origin. What if, you have a non-fiction book that speaks to you about the origin of such places and things written in an almost story like format with a moral? Interesting. Isn't it? From Ideas to Iconic Brands by Giles Lury is heavily that very book. It has, as claimed, inspiring stories of 101 amazing brands that changed the world.

About the book- A cross between a business book and a story book, From Ideas to Iconic Brands is a collection of 101 accessible, enjoyable and revealing tales behind the creation of some of the world's greatest brands, including Mercedes, Apple, Disney, KFC, WWF, Guinness world records and Coca-Cola. The stories are arranged into sections covering brand Origins, brand naming and identity, marketing strategy, communication, Innovation, repositioning and renovation, with a moral at the end of every story. For each story, the author has drawn a marketing principle that can be applied to many brand and marketing challenges businesses face today. Packed with compelling anecdotes illustrating how to gain increased visibility, cultivate a loyal following and establish a reputation of being the best in the market, this book provides the reader with a fully equipped Toolbox for building a winning brand!

This book, written by the Executive chairman of The Value Engineers puts forth exactly what is claimed by them. As a contributor to marketing press, the author knows his job. The first thing that I would like to mention when I talk about the book is the fact that the book has been researched thoroughly with backup and a lot of time has been spent in writing and making the book. Collecting 101 stories isn't an easy job and kudos to the author for coming up with this book. The 101 stories in the book are divided into moral worthy ways under specific terms using which they became what they are, since the time they were founded.

The way the narration has been done in the book, doesn't make it seem like a business book at all. It feels like you are reading their own stories and learning something from your own brand. Also, for the reader who doesn't own a business of their own, this book serves as the best general knowledge book which makes you learn (and be able to boast to your friends for knowing) certain things about their favorite brand. Think about a Mercedes or a KFC!

Knowing their inner stories and the stories of how they were founded, you can immediately connect to the brands and that is something great about the book. At 335 pages, this doesn't seem like a huge and daunting book to read and you'll sail through it easily. Another thing that I loved about the book is the fact that after ending the stories there are a few pages that has a list of all the morals of the stories along with the brand name. A perfect read for entrepreneurs, I wouldn't be surprised if they make this book a part of the curriculum extra reads at B-schools any day soon.

The easy way with which the narration has been done makes this book all the more worth it. Lovely illustrations make it a wonder read. If I have to speak about the cons of the book then probably the only con that comes in my mind is the fact that not many Indian known brands are mentioned. While some, not so familiar brands to the Indian audience are mentioned. That apart, I would really recommend this book to the audience who wants to know about these brands and set up their own. Looking forward to more, this book for me is 4 out of 5. 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

What was my fault by Aziz Padiwala: a review

In the midst of all the flashy covers and good looking books, once in a while you come across one which has a title that intrigues you and how! What was my fault by Aziz Padiwala is one such book. The reason I picked this one up was because of the blurb that made me question what was in this book that made it all the more special- as the blurb suggests and trust me, I wasn't disappointed to say the least.

About the book- Set in the year 2014, an experience of a young man in his late twenties who has lost every emotional war in his life. He blames himself and his always on edge. He is losing the last remaining shred of hope of finding true love, when he comes across a girl who changed everything. Suddenly, his entire world turns upside down and his happiness knows no bounds. But like every other aspect of his life, his relationship is twisted in more ways than one. This time, however, he has to decide whether he was to be blamed? Or had there been something else ruining it all along?

There are somethings in the society that has us. We are unable to exactly pinpoint what or even if we do, we can't change that and that's why I say, somethings in the society has us. The lead characters of the story: Farhan and Zoya goes through something similar. Giving no spoilers: I won't say what do they go through. You'll have to yourself go through this gem of a book to know that.

What I can rather say is, the characters are wonderfully etched. You will immediately connect to a person around you (or even yourself) when you read the book. The ups and downs of this limited character book is something that makes this book a very simple yet clever read. The author has done his best at making this book one which is read worthy for all kinds of audience. You can be someone who reads any genre but this book will catch you out of the blue and complete it in one sitting itself.

Another thing that I liked about the book was the simplistic writing. There are very few people who can capture the essence of a book in a few characters while giving everyone their space, something the author has almost mastered. About the cons of the book, I guess a few mistakes here and there and the length of the book was a problem. Also, something that might be a problem for avid readers like me can be the over-use of italics. I guess this book has the potential which could have been great if it was sharpened a little more. The cover, again could've been much better. For me, this was a 3.5 out of 5 waiting for much more from the author. 

PS: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Vinfluencers! 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Spirits in a Spice Jar by Sarina Kamini: a review

If there are a few things in my life that I can't live without; food and books surely fall under the first two spots. When I first saw the promotions and then the cover of the book, I knew, there was no return for me. I had to read it. One fine morning, the publisher presented me with the book and I couldn't hold back my temptation. Sarina Kamini’s Spirits in a Spice Jar has, as I like to say: sugar, spice and everything nice about the book.

About the book- For Sarina Kamini’s Kashmiri family, food is love, love is faith, and faith is family. It's cause for total emotional devastation when ten years after her Australian mother is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, unaddressed grief turns the spice of this young food writer's heritage to ash and her prayers to poison. At her lowest ebb, Sarina's Ammi’s typed-up cooking notes become a recipe for healing, grief and loneliness- the daal that is too fiery and lumpen; the raita, too sharp; her play with salt that pricks and burns. In teaching herself how to personalise tradition and spirituality through spice, Sarina creates space to reconsider her relationship with Hinduism and God in a way that allows room for questions. She learns forgiveness of herself for being different, and comes to accept that family means change and challenge as much as acceptance and love.

For this long a blurb, all you need is a great book to follow. This one, was no different. I would like to first comment on the cover of the book. Wait. Let's take a moment to adore the cover first. Adorned with spices in a dark blue background, the cover is soothing to the soul. One of the finest covers of a book I've received in 2018, I must say. Then, you go to the contents and being the food lover I am, the names of the chapters made me fall in love with the book.

As I went through the prologue and the book chapter by chapter, I could feel myself to be a part of Sarina’s life. The best part I liked about the book was the descriptions of every spice. I could feel that I am using those spices in real time as I went through the book. Claimed as nonfiction and rightfully so, this book was more of a story/autobiography if I can call it. The book is a journey from how Sarina evolved as a human being, most of all, because of her relationship with spices.

Her relationship with salt and the other spices matches with mine and that made the book all the more worth it. I had a smile at the corner of my lips throughout my time of reading the book. The book, also, has recipes that are milestones for her life. Kashmiri recipes, cooked her way made me itch to cook. (Check my Instagram for a picture of this book along with a picture of aloo paratha that I made using the recipe mentioned inside). I feel that I was a part of seeing her children grow up, her relationship with her family and husband.

For the cons of the book I felt that I shouldn't comment on it since it was a personal account. But then again, keeping the review free of any kind of biasness I feel that the book should've had a bit more on the family scene (about the brothers) and of her husband. Also, a bit more of recipes and the connection with food. Barring these two, I loved the book and will go back to it from time and again. Looking forward to more from Sarina, I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Let's talk about guys, girls and sex by Swati Shome: a review

Some books attract you with their blurb. Some, with the title. While some, with their cover. Then again, there are books that attract you at first glance for the reason they are being written. Swati Shome’s Let's talk about guys, girls and sex is one book that formed the latter for me. Sex education is something that is a very pressing and important issue in today's time and I couldn't help myself after seeing a book that handles the very same issue.

About the back cover- Sex is never an easy subject to talk about. And that, perhaps, is why most people know so little about it. Let's talk about guys, girls and sex takes a light hearted yet illuminating stance and start a very important dialogue. The journey from teenage to adulthood is often the most daunting. And to make it even more complicated, there is heaps of seldom verifiable information online. Can you catch AIDS by having lunch with a HIV positive friend? What is an erection? Is this love or just lust? What are the different contraceptives available in the market? How does one get pregnant? Targeted at young adults and their parents, each chapter starts with a story that makes the topic easy to relate to. Author Swati Shome use her years of experience with young adults to open the channels of communication. Everything you need to know about the mystery That surrounds sex lies within these pages. So come on, let's talk!

One misconception that anyone can have after reading the title of the book is that the book is about porn. The very same misconception is disregarded by the author in the author's note itself when she says it is not porn and whoever will think that will be disappointed. It is about a modern approach to sex education, which is much needed in today's time. Divided into 7 parts and dealing with the most important issues of sex education this book is a much needed one in today's time.

Every chapter of this book starts with a story which forms that premise of the following chapter. That apart, every chapter deals with significant issues. As far as the book blurb is concerned, it just gives an idea of what the book is about. It is when you open the book, you get to see that the book is covering all the basics according to how you should breach the topic of sex with your parents, your students and how does it look and what are the troubles that you may face, the hormonal issues and it's about the people, about what happens and how the internet is responsible about it.

This gives a fair understanding of sex education in a very modern day possible way. One of the best things I felt about this book is that the motive of the author is very clear out here. The author never wanted to preach about sex education. She wanted to start a debate topic and a discussion amongst people and she became very much successful, according to me. The way the book has been written is very lucid and every single kind of a person will be able to read it without having a problem.  

If I have to speak about the cons of the book, then there aren't many. One of the few things that I felt missing in this book is probably a bit more stories or a bit more definition or rather examples of situations which would've made the book a more interesting read. I love the fact that there are illustrations at some places in the book and that is why it attracts my expectations more that if a few more illustrations could have been used then some places would have worked more. All in all I love the fact that there are helpline numbers at the end of the book. For me, hoping to read more from the author, I would rate this book, 4.5 out of 5. Also hoping, the book reaches where it should and makes the mark.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Nagin by Mayur Didolkar: a review

For everybody in today's time this is not a topic which has not been used. Starting from movies and carrying forward to television serials the stories of ichadhari Naags and Nagins are well known. Mayur Didolkar, in his book Nagin deals with exactly that; the most sought-after topic in today's world. When I first saw the book Nagin I actually thought that this would be a complete novel, had I not read what the back cover says about the book. So, here's what the back cover says, for you.

According to the back cover- Loving wife, obedient daughter, loyal friend. But if you provoke her, she will raise her hood and spit poison. A woman is stalked by a man she had once rejected. A housewife discovers a plot to kill her husband. A blind young girl is chased by an underworld gang. But these are no ordinary women. Some of them aren't even women. You have been warned.

The tagline of the book reads her love is fierce, her Venom is fatal. What is also exactly what the nine short stories in the book portrays to the audience. My thoughts with disrupted when I completed the first chapter and the understood that this is going to be a racy anthology. I usually do follow a rhythm but with this I wouldn't anymore as I used to with other anthologies so I will not comment on each and every story but would give a generalized review of the whole book. The first thing that I would like to talk about the book is that every story is extremely fast paced and not lengthy at all.

Once a story ends you would not feel that something was left amiss, as all the parts of the story are covered and then it ends. Every story also is not written on a random whim and fancy of the author. With a specific interest kept in mind, this book is for all kinds of audiences. I love the first story and trust me when I say the choice of making the story The first story couldn't have been better for the author. It creates a field for all the other stories that are to follow and a very strong field at that.

All the stories have presence of ichchadhari Nags and Nagins and even though set in the modern day world, it might also come as straight out of a folklore. What makes the book interesting is that every story is made believable to the audience. What makes the book a bit tedious for me at times is that, also along with ichadhari Naags and Nagins, there is the mention of other shape shifting creatures. Sometimes even those are the shape shifting creatures are the highlight of a particular story. That is something that put me off the book at times, because when you are reading the book knowing that it is all about Nags and Nagins you really would not want to know about any other shapeshifting creatures being the limelight of the story.

Apart from that if I have to speak about anymore cons of this story then I would like to say that I did not like the cover. The cover, to begin with, could have been a lot more better because the content of the book is not really what the cover depicts the content should have. If the book had rather a simple cover then I guess it would've been accepted more by a wider audience which would have worked for the favor of the book. All in all a very good read, I would like to read more from the author and rate this book 3.75 out of 5. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Brahmin by Ravi Shankar Etteth: a review

What do you do when you get from one of your favourite publisher, a book that catches your attention at first glance? Of course you read it! And that is exactly what I did with Ravi Shankar Etteth's The Brahmin. Exceptionally done in greys and black, the Brahmins shines as an individual cover amongst the many. One look at the book and you surely want to read this Masterpiece and so you go to read what the book is all about.

About the book- It is the time of violence as well as calm. Men of Peace are spreading the message of the Buddha even as monks are being tortured in the Dungeons of Patliputra. In Magadha, all task is about the impending war against Kalinga. While King Ashoka plots the movements of his ships and cavalry, Queen Asandhimitra broods over the growing unrest in the kingdom. There is only one man we can both trust to take them through this period of uncertainty and looming danger there is only one man they can both trust to take them through this period of uncertainty and looming danger: the enigmatically named Brahmin skillful spymaster and custodian of Magadha’s best kept secrets. Lush with historical detail and unforgettable characters the Brahmin  is an intricately plotted novel that seeks to recreate a near mythical period in India's past.

Yes, Oh yes who does not like to read about historical fiction. Especially among the very different kind of historical fiction present in today's market when you get something about King Ashoka, who I should mention has been one of my favourite people to read about in childhood in history textbooks, this book is surely a not miss. So with all these Expectations in my mind, I started this book and god this book didn't disappoint. We all know King Ashoka to be a ruthless king who changed, yes of course who changed but what happen during those times, and probably in the mythical way what exactly was the reason for sudden change? What triggered all these effects that you like only on history books, The Brahmin is sure that we take a different side of the story back with us.

Talking about the flow of the story, I would have to say that this is one of the best written historical fiction that have read off late. It maintains a steady flow throughout out the book, from the first page to the last and of course in the last pages the page quickens as the mystery throughout the whole holds solved. In such a historical fiction book which is lengthy, you are sure to have a lot of characters. These characters, you have to take a lot of time in remembering and understanding.

Tell me about the characters, I loved the portrayal of all of them. The best part about this book is that if you have to talk about One character then automatically another character comes. So to speak about all the characters specifically it would make this review very lengthy. To shorten that I would like to say that the entries and exits of the characters were exactly one point, barring a few which I feel could've been handled in a better way.

The way the author has dealt with history and fiction and mythology in this whole book is commendable, in turn, giving full justice to every single word that is written. Speak about the cons of the book, I will have to say that this book was too long for my liking and that is why I personally took so much of time in reading this book. If this book would have been a little shorter and crisper then I guess this would have gained all my accolades. For now, looking forward to more books from the author in the future I would give this 4.25 out of 5. 

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Kilings in November by Rajesh Talwar : a review

There are books and then there a few books that keeps you wondering what it is all about. Rajesh Talwar’s The killings in November is a play based on well, killings in November. But trust me when I tell you this the book is not what you think it is. The small play (well yes, it's not a novel it's a play) has in itself a lot of things that is being said and being unsaid at the same time. Here is what the blurb says about the book.

About the book- A killer is on the loose in New Delhi. He is no ordinary killer, and for the past few years, for some unaccountable reason, goes on a relentless killing spree, with murders mounting each day, particularly in the month of November. Always elegantly dressed in a grey suit and a red tie, he is a stylish, soft-spoken man, who appears to be fond of Western music. He carries a guitar with him and performs to an often unwilling audience. On occasions he has been spotted by witnesses inside a steel grey Mercedes near the site of a killing. The killer is merciless. No one is spared it seems, be it a pregnant mother, a young boy, an elderly man or even a baby. The Delhi Police are at their wits end and seek outside help. India’s leading detective, Col Ranjeet teams up with the famous Herlock Holms to try and crack this case. It is the biggest case that has come to either the Colonel or Holms in each detective’s illustrious career. Will they catch this elusive killer, or will he catch them? This is a heart-rending tale of life – and death – as it exists in one of Asia’s most important capital cities. No spoilers here, the story will keep readers guessing till much the play is over, when slowly all is revealed. The play ends with a shattering climax.

And God, the play delivers what it promises. In the wake of whatever is happening and the situation in Delhi currently, placed is set up in the modern day setting where the killer is left on a loose. The play, as they usually do, have a lot of characters where you can get confused as on what is happening in which scene. Personally speaking, since I have been dealing with theatre for quite some time now I got used to the characters very soon.

Every character has been wonderfully placed and so has the whole format of the play being written. The dialogues and the actions that the characters are making and delivering has been well thought of. What can strike you, though, is the pace of the play. For the people who are not used to reading plays and love reading novels, this can be a bit lengthy read even if it cut shorts in hundred and something pages.

After few scenes you actually get to know about what is happening but the playwright keeps you guessing till the end and that is something that I liked about the play. I loved the way the killer has been described. From his whole attire, to the way he makes the killings, even the superficial element added to the murders adds up to the play as a whole.

If I have to speak about the cons of the play, then I would say on the path of the unnecessary lag in the play, which I feel would not matter much if it is staged at all, there have been too many characters to think of. Some characters according to me warrant given the proper ending while some could've been ignored if that is the right word. The ending to bring forth a very important issue and the way that the subject has been handled is commendable according to me. For me, though, wanting to read more such plays from the playwright, I would like to the give this a 3 on 5. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Rainbow Jelly: a review

“....bhaabo toh, rotation na holey, ki hoto?”

I finally get to watch the film that I have been willing to watch for a long time: and I mention long because it's been a huge wait from the time the teaser has been released or rather from the time I first got to know about such a film being made till date. As I type this, hours after I come out of the movie hall; the Jukebox of the film still plays on my YouTube in the background. Soukarya Ghoshal’s Rainbow Jelly.

I kid you not, the film had me at first go. Technically (and I seriously don't know if this sounds technically to you or not) the whole concept of the beginning credits of the film written in the way it is, catches the attention. Then comes our loved, Ghoton. Finally, a whole journey is lived through the duration.

In this world where we present everything in such a complicated matter, this movie deals with the basics in such a free flowing manner. Dreams. Yes, our inner child never fails to dream of a world where we will be the king/queen, have everything that is ever possible and live happily ever after. Ghoton’s story relives those dreams through the seven tastes brought to him by PoriPishhiiiiiiii…

Young Mahabrata Basu’s real life story is as big an inspiration as his reel life story. Sreelekha Mitra’s PoriPishhiiiiiiiii (okay! I'm sorry I can't just say Poripishi because that is the effect the character and the song has on me) as a ray of hope with her box of wonder, brings the much needed layer in the film. Kaushik Sen’s Gondaria mama is terrific in his accent and his antics. Complimenting them all is cute Poppins (Anumegha) and Anadi Da (Shantilal) who play their parts beautifully.

Metaphors fill up the film in many ways than one but what strikes a chord is the subtlety of it. Like Ghoton, I would also love to believe when PoriPishhiiiiiiiii says that if you wish for something real hard and an aeroplane flies just then, know that your dream would come true. And I turned, for those minutes inside the movie hall, to my inner child. Crying my heart out and wondering how intimate it is to gift a dream, to get gifted a dream, to loving a dream, to living a dream. And all dreams aren't just dreams. As the movie says, shob roopkotha mitthey hoy na!

Adding to the film is the music and it deserves a separate paragraph. The Jukebox, as you have already figured, has been a part of my daily playlist since the time it was released. While watching the film though, the songs made so much more sense. They speak of a journey of its own and it depicts the film exactly how it is. Moushumi di’s Ei chheleta and young Totini’s Koshto Tumi steals the show. The combination of Soukarya Ghoshal and Nabarun Bose I've been a fan of since the time I had watched Loadshedding and they seal a fan in me through this film. The title track of the film (not to be heard in the film) deserves special mention as do the Power Puff girls who have sung it. The other 3 tracks adds a certain dimension to the film.

I wish and I can solely wish that this gem of a film gets its fair share of accolades and the motive behind the film gets sown in everybody's mind in due course of time.

Rainbow Jelly has the power to transform someone; so be it… Let's all focus on resting those odds and cruelty of life and being a better human being in life. Let's all sow the seven flavors of life in everybody's heart…

“...rainbow jelly bhastey thaak khaali, maakkali!”

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Mother in the Presence of the Sacred Feminine by Rajesh Talwar's: a review

Usually what happens for me to read any book is that I have to be attracted to what the back blurb has to say about it. But this case was different. Here, I was attracted to the very title of the book and then I went on to the blurb. Rajesh Talwar’s Mother in the Presence of the Sacred Feminine. I know, right! You have a smile and want to know what's in the book too. So here's the blurb and of course the cover, for all you people.

About the book- This little volume contains the words of the Mother Goddess as heard by a disciple during a visit to Her holy shrine in northern India. The Goddess addressed eight devotees who were together in a cave towards the end of their pilgrimage while She gave them Her darshan. She spake with them as a group but also addressed those present individually. In the gathering were present a Merchant, an Aged Man, a Childless Couple, a Prostitute, a Scientist, an Artist and a Seeker. She spoke for as little as two minutes the time allotted for the darshan yet miraculously Her words were heard all at once like a symphony in which the music is one organic whole but the notes played by each individual instrument can be picked up, if attention is paid.

This 107 page book reflects on life in so many lines than one. Reminds me of the time back in ages when I had gone with my family for a trip to Vaishno Devi. Somehow things weren't right. I and my brother made the first walk super fast and we waited at Adhkuwari for a longer time than it should be for our family members. Then, they took the rest of the climb while I and my brother couldn't really make it. We went half way but couldn't see the Goddess. Was it that, it wasn't her calling? Does she really call her devotees? Will I ever go back again. Of course I will.

Post completion of the book, you are sure to feel a renewed sense of energy as the devotees who the Goddess speaks to, feels. The devotees are from various factors of life and that is probably one more reason why you will feel connected to the book at first go. The book combines myth and truth perfectly. All the major myths about Vaishno Devi are brushed off again for the people who already had heard about it and for the people who are yet to know.

But is the truth really said? From the myth's perspective, I felt that the truths mentioned are completely a point of view of the author. Of the rise and rise of Vaishno Devi to Bhairon Nath, everything is explained. Throughout the journey that you make, in this short compilation, you can feel the journey to rejuvenation. Easy language and good flow adds up to all the more reason you would read the book.

For the cons, understanding the fact that the book is a nonfiction, spiritual, I would have preferred, personally for the author to write more on the pain and the hurdles the devotees have to cross on their way up to Vaishno Devi. It is explained, why but it is not explained how. For the people who have visited, the picturization is clear. But for the ones who haven't, they would have to rely on the stereotypes that they must've heard about the arduous journey. Which not always is true. For the book, I would've wanted to read a bit more. Looking forward to more from the author, this book is a 4 on 5 for me. 

Friday, 11 May 2018

Let me go by Shriram Iyer: a review

There are certain books which as a reader, entices you enough to pick them up. Especially when they come from one of your favourite and close to the heart publisher, you surely do pick them up. Let me go by Shriram Iyer is one such book and truth be told, I have been delaying reading this book for reasons unknown for quite some time. Finally when I actually sat with this book, I finished it in one go. What makes the book all so special? Its tagline: To friendship… With love. Here's what the back cover says for you to understand more about the book.

According to the back cover: When Anshuman Kale first meets Indira Kelkar, all it takes to bring them close is a lost school bag, a missed school bus leading to a walk back home, and a few cutlets to beat the after school hunger. As the now best friends grow up together, there is nothing that can come between their friendship. Or so they think! At the climax of their teenage years, as Indira falls in love with a guy five years older, she finds herself caught between friendship and love- neither of which she can let go. But as their lives begin to take a turn- for good, for bad, and for the worse- Anshuman is forced to rethink one of the things he had considered a given: 'he and Indira would be best of friends forever.’ Now estranged for years, Anshuman is looking forward to marrying the love of his life, while Indira is waiting to hear back on her euthanasia appeal. What could have gone so wrong that she wants to end her life? As their lives intersect once again, how far will Anshuman go for Indira?

While typing out the blurb for you guys, trust me when I say that I have goosebumps. The whole story came back to me and I am trying 100% to control my tears or my smiles right now. And why not? Friendship is one of the most sacred of relationships that one can be in their lives and there are very few people who have the same best friend from their life to their deathbed. While certain friendships are hard to understand and interpret by the common man who are everyday around you, those feelings are only yours to keep.

Anshuman and Indira: best friends since school (or rather from the time Anshuman’s family came over to Indira’s house to stay as a tenant) have been inseparable. The fact that they lived in the same house and went to the same class, same school and ended up having the same friends made them even more closer. Through the years of their togetherness and how they grew up, they shared everything and by everything I mean EVERYTHING. From Indira’s mountaineering habit to Anshuman's new ride. And then Indira meets Kapil. Rest, as they say, is history.

In a perfect situation like this, it is very natural for things to go haywire. As they usually do in our real life. The story flow and what goes on in the story is so similar to real life that at times you might think that you would surely know a Anshuman or a Indira in your lives. Kudos to the author for making it possible. The writing style of the author is beautiful and so is the representation of the characters.

Talking about the characters: how I hated Indira and loved Anshuman. I cannot even explain. Alisha and Kapil were the two other characters for whom I had a mixed bag of feelings and I'll sure the author wanted that to be this way. Incorporating the title of the book in such a way was a beautiful exception in the book which I really liked. The ending… the ending is tear and smile invoking and I can guarantee that this book is here to stay. The story remains with you long after you're done reading the book.

Now the cons of the book. To begin with, I didn't much like the cover of the book and felt that something more could be done. In the market when there's so many other books and this book being such a wonderful storyline, the cover might make this book unnoticed by the many who would've loved it if noticed. Next, I felt that the character of Alisha was not too well formed. Understanding the fact that it is essentially Anshuman and Indira, Kapil was a much more well made character than Alisha. Also, Indira’s euthanasia appeal didn't have that much impact. All in all, this book was a 4.5 out of 5 for me and I'm so looking forward to so many more books from the author. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Vengeance of Indra by Shatrujeet Nath: a review

Being an ardent reader of Shatrujeet Nath’s books by now since the time I started reading him way back in 2016, I can safely say that any book by the author (and especially if it is the Vikramaditya Veergatha series) you would easily get transported to another world. By this another world, I mean a world of history and mythology blended together with fiction that can help you relate to the characters you've learnt all this while and yes! Oh yes it's been wonderful. The third book, The Vengeance of Indra doesn't disappoint.

According to the blurb- In their greed to possess the deadly Halahala, the devas and the asuras have employed every dirty trick against Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine. But the humans are still standing, bloodied but unbowed. When the wily Shukracharya discovers the secret to breaking the Council's unity and strength, he forges an unlikely alliance with his arch enemy, Indra, to set a deceitful plan in motion. As cracks emerge between the councilors and their King, ghosts from the past threaten to ruin Vikramaditya and Kalidasa’s friendship, signalling the beginning of an eclipse that will cast a long shadow over all that Vikramaditya holds dear. And into this shadow steps Indra, bearing an old grudge- and a devastating new weapon. How much longer before the Guardians of the Halahala finally fall apart?

Phew! Yes. That's exactly the reaction one has after reading this hell of an adventurous book. There are a few things that are common in all the books of the Vikramaditya Veergatha series.

  • You can read the book from any part of the series and not worry about being unknown to the characters. The author provides enough data for everyone to understand what has happened. The books also hold a map of the whole place for better understanding. (Of course, reading the books in a series can never be compared)
  • Okay! The characters. I'm again not going to comment on any character because, I really need to reach the end of the series to comment on them. For now, I am being so neutral. You can root for one character whereas hate another character with utmost vengeance. Oh yes, as the author says, “Vengeance is a cage, forgiveness is freedom”
  • The covers. God the covers. It is so good to feel and the touch of the book makes you feel like you're one with the book from the time you hold it.
  • Adrenaline. You cannot get enough of the book and the wait for the next in the series kills you. And I know, you'll surely be left broken after you realize that the series has ended. The threshold at which the author leaves the book makes you feel for it even more.

Now that all is said and done, I can speak about the rest. The story flow is beautiful but at places I feel it is a bit dragged. Once you get used to the characters and their behavior, the whole idea of the book sinks in and it helps you sail through the book. Without a proper knowledge of the characters, you wouldn't know what you're reading.

Through book 1, 2 and finally 3; the author's growth as a writer is very visible and as a reader and admirer of his work: I couldn't be happier. Only if the book wasn't so long (which at times might tend to get tiring too), this book series would've been perfect for me. But wait! Another book is soon to come. A 4.5 out of 5 for me, I'll be looking forward to the many more books from the author. 

Friday, 30 March 2018

The Buddha of the Brothel by Kris Advaya's: a review

You know you're in for a good read when from a favorite publisher you get a true story. The cover catches your attention at first glance and then the name of the book sends you to a frenzy! Kris Advaya’s novel “The Buddha of the Brothel” does exactly that! Done in beautiful pastel colors and featuring a beautiful artwork every time to mark the beginning of a chapter, this 333 page book captivates you from the moment you pick it up.

According to the blurb- When Kris made a trip to India to study Ayurvedic massage he never thought he would find love, adventure, and heartbreak. Traumatised by the loss of his friend and army abuses, Kris came to India practicing meditation and chastity, but both efforts were turned head over heels when he caught sight if Radha, a sex worker in Pune’s notorious red light district. Before he knew it, Kris was wrapped up in the world of Pimps and crime Lords, losing his hold on the life he had been pursuing and all dreams of stability he had once built in his head. To be with the woman who had stolen his heart away, a life altering decision awaited.

The book is exactly what the blurb states and so much more. I started off with this book not knowing what to expect. The flow of the book (just because it's a non fiction) is a tad bit slow and that is mainly because it is someone's life story. You would need to know that person and develop your feelings towards him. Know what's going on in his life and how you can relate to it. Once that slow start fades off and you know what is going on and you get acquainted with the characters of Kris’s life: you get the feel of the book.

It traces Kris’s journey in India. He comes to India to study Ayurvedic massage but what goes on in his life is much more beyond those massage classes. The Buddha of the Brothel: the title itself sheds life on the story and what the whole book is all about. On an unexpected day, Kris meets Radha (yes!) Who is a sex worker (if that's the way to put it) and then his life takes a turn.  The book or shall I say, Kris’s life is nothing short of a good film with everything mixed in it.

What I liked most about the book was the writing style of the writer. Not even for a moment would you feel that this is a non fiction and a true story because it is written in the form of a prose. A Literary memoir in its truest sense, I also loved the way the sarcasm, puns, hope and so many mixed reactions were put forth to the audience to read and react. There comes a time in the book where you actually feel that you're living Kris’s life.

The amalgamation of Buddha and the Brothel makes for a great mix and a great read. Coming to the cons of the book (because, trust me there's not much to say about the book and it is for you to read, understand and decode) would be the fact that it is too lengthy a read and can get tiresome. Having said that, this book is not for the masses but whoever reads it would end with a very renewed sense of energy. For me, this book is a 4 out of 5. Looking forward to more memoirs in the future. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Malhotra Bride by Sundari Venkatraman's: a review

Romance has been one genre that has refused to leave my heart even after my area of reading has expanded far and wide. Even after all these years, there is still a place where one good romance book can make me sit up with a tub of ice cream under a comforter and soft music throughout the day/night. One look at Sundari Venkatraman's The Malhotra Bride and I knew I had found, after ages, the best romance book. One look at the cover and it had my heart...

According to the back cover- When Akshay and Sunita's horoscopes perfectly match, announcing them as made for each other, there is little they can do except meet to honour their parents' wishes. Though Akshay becomes curious after one look at her photograph, Sunita has set plans of her own. And when they come face to face, she is absolutely determined to get rid of him. But will getting rid of one prospective groom help her get rid of this getting married business altogether? Equal parts tense and passionately romantic, this tale of love and arranged marriage will not only keep you hooked but will change the way you consider marriages.

We all are simple romantic by the heart, aren't we? No matter how much we are surrounded by the complexity of life, simplicity never fails to leave our side. And when out of the blue moon you find those few characters who redefine simplicity then you can't help but fall for them. This book, at first glance, told me that it would be a Mills and Boons story to the core but somewhere the hardcore reader in me wanted to think otherwise. It was probably my mistake: expecting something that every other author does these days. This book was: extraordinary out of the ordinary.

The book didn't have an overdose of characters. The families of the bride and the groom and the bride and the groom. That's it. The book also doesn't deal with the complexity of a family. The families out here are rich and yet both the families have that startling difference between each other. The book starts off with both the families trying to coax their rebel daughter, Sunita and their handsome son Akshay to agree to the marriage alliance with each other. And both, refusing to get married to the other.

They do meet, yes. The story that follows is so sweet that it might give you diabetes. (Okay! just kidding). The perfect book to read in one go, it deals with their 'courtship!' Well, the reason for the quotation marks being used out here will surely be clear to the readers of the book (and I urge every single romantic to read it!). A very simple story, weaved in a very simple way, it took my heart. I won't lie, with a fixed smile on a face while reading it, I kept hoping against hopes that the book will not be so simple. It cannot be such a fairytale but I guess the writer had other plans. This simple, neat and clean story touched all the right chords and satisfied me.

It had everything any story could've had. The characters had their depth. The story had it in it. But I still have a few complaints. The first one being: grammatical errors. The book could've been revised for proofreading one last time before publishing. The second: such fairytale exists I agree but I expected more from the end of the story. There was something that was missing. There was a time in a story where a hiccup happened (I'm not gonna mention what) and I wished it didn't. Even though the writer managed the hiccup with ease I was left thinking, was it really necessary? The families could've had more layers in them strengthening their difference of upbringing (what I mean is, more details could've been used).

All said and done, this book is surely a must read from the writer and I would encourage more people of today's generation of going back to such simple romantic stories and feeling what love is all about. I would love to read more from the writer and for me the book is a 3.75 on 5.