Monday, 11 November 2019

Why should you be at the fifth edition of the Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob?

Are you a literature enthusiast who lives in Kolkata and wants to go down the memory lane and deep into the roots of "Bangla Sahitya?" then mark yourself present this 22nd to 24th November at Jorashanko Thakurbari for the fifth edition of the Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob. 

As India's first Bengali Literary Festival that has been curated by Oxford Bookstore, ABSU has taken baby steps to become one of the most popular festivals among the youth of Kolkata. Recently turned a century old, Oxford Bookstore, every year, takes pride in carefully selecting the stalwarts of the literary industry to take part in the festival and grace the stage. 

The main aim of the bookstore is to build an audience for the rich tradition of the Bengali language and make it accessible and relevant to the youth of today's time. To add value to the thoughts, ABSU also opens the platform for students to participate in the event as a volunteer, giving them not only exposure but also be a witness to such a vast festival first hand.

The firsst few years of the festival took place at Apeejay Lawns, but the fourth and now the fifth year is being hosted at Jorashanko Thakurbari, a building that has an emotional value to the residents of Kolkata and literature enthusiasts. 

Over the years, eminent personalities like Sankha Ghosh, Sanjib Chattopadhyay, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Pracheta Gupta, Suman Mukhopadhyay, Parambrata Chatterjee, Rudranil Ghosh, Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta, Samaresh Mazumdar, Surojit Chatterjee, Usha Utthup, Upal Sengupta, Anindya Chatterjee, and the late Nabaneeta Dev Sen, have been part of the festival.

Swagat Sengupta, the Director of the festival commented, "I am delighted to see innumerable audiences being drawn to Oxford Bookstore Kolkata round the year as we began to focus on various facets of Bengal and its literature in between two ABSUs. Various online and offline endeavours are underway to extend the Utsob to the masses and the Theme music is a very significant initiative in the run-up to ABSU 2019 in November." 

Some pre-event activities of the bookstore and the festival authorities included a theme music launch as well. The event is in association with Patra Bharati and is emceed by Roy. 
Do Not Miss visiting Jorashanko Thakurbari this 22-23-24 November for day-long events surrounding Bengali literature. 

PS- Meet me there! FREE ENTRY.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Satyayoddha Kalki by Kevin Missal: a review

After a stupendous start for author Kevin Missal with the first book in his Kalki series, Satyayoddha Kalki,  eye of Brahma is the second book he released. A seemingly simple yet powerful cover made me pick this book up.  Not forgetting my ardent love for Vishnu! When I held this book for the first time, these 400 something pages seemed like a huge then.  Only then did I realize, not really.

About the book- After a defeat at the hands of Lord Kali, Kalki Hari must journey towards the Mahendragiri mountains with his companions to finally become the averted he's destined. But the road ahead is not without peril. Not only is he trapped by the cannibalistic armies of the pisach, he is also embroiled in the Civil War of the vanars. And in the midst of all this, he meets a face from the legends. Meanwhile, Manasa,  the sister of the late Vasuki, plots to overthrow Lord Kali by bringing a massive war to his kingdom. But naagpuri, her homeland, has been infilterated by their sworn enemy, The suparns. Not only does she need to protect her kingdom from the suparns, she must also protect her close ones from the league of conspirators at her own home. Who can she really trust? And will she be able to put and end to Lord Kali's rule?  As the plot thickens and Lord Kali sees his ambition crushed right before hjs eyes, he comes to know about his race and its history that threatens to destroy the very fabric of this world's reality.

I am sure like me a lot of people who are reading this blurb for the first time are onfused about what is happening. But take my advice,  don't be. The author takes it upon himself to give a recap of all the incidents of book 1 right before he starts this book. Divided into two parts,  you get an overdose of mythology here.

If you have taken my earlier advice,  take another. This book isn't for the weakhearted.  Or for the ones who are not that much into mythology. For hardcore mythology lovers like me,  though, this is an once in a lifetime opportunity to read and go into the depths of it. The narration is fabulous and it grips you to the edge of the seat.  But you don't need to be careful here as it doesn't let you fall off.

A bit lengthier for sure, you'll die to read the first book and the third installment of the series right after you have finished this one. Characters who we have grown up reading and listening about form the crux of the book while this fiction tale is enchanting to say the very least. It was a 1 day one sitting read for me and I couldn't just have more as I kept on reading.  The way the characters have been formed and how the author takes you through the book, you'll surely be confused on who to root about.

As far the cons are concerned, there aren't much. You must read book 1 before starting this one and you'll die to read book 3 once you've completed this. A cliffhanger at the end of the book leaves you speechless. The author has a natural flair of writing which I'd love to keep on reading.  A 4.5 out of 5, I'm looking forward to reading more from the author.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Love Knows No LOC by Arpit Vageria: a review

When I choose to look at what's beyond me,  I fail. It takes a lot of efforts from all of us to go beyond that thin line of right and wrong.  Arpit Vageria's latest, Love Knows No LOC is one such book. A cross-border saga of love, this book is much more than just good looks.  Read on to know what I felt about it…

About the book- Zoya, a twenty five year old Pakistani Popstar, meets Kabeer, an emerging Indian cricketer, while he is in Lahore to play a match promoting India-Pakistan friendship. One thing leads to another and soon the two become inseparable. As their love for each other grows, she leaves Pakistan to be with him, only to return a few months later following a misunderstanding. In Pakistan, Zoya is gloomy and sulking, thinking about the bond she shared with Kabeer. In India, a confused Kabeer is still hopeful of meeting Zoya. As their relationship is put to test in the wake of mounting tensions between the two countries, the couple unearths a long-buried truth that will forever change the course of their lives.

If a premise of a book is so strong we know what the book is supposed to bring to the table. This book was no different. One look at the title and the cover makes this a must buy for every person who has their eyes on it. Once you read the blurb,  you are sure to get intrigued regarding the book. So was I and I am not even lying. Having received this book, I straight away started reading it without a pause. Hours later as I sit to write this with still moist eyes, I would recommend it to everyone.

Kabeer,  an Indian Cricketer.  Zoya, a Pakistani popstar.  Cliché much? The story isn't so.  Just when in real life IPL ended and WC preparations are on,  this was a much needed break. The author, after publishing the book has also got a chance to work during the IPL and that is an achievement in itself. All his childhood cricket fantasies and mind you, the Author also has a great voice; has been clearly depicted in this book.  Information regarding the game and the aura surrounding the stadium has been presented beautifully and so has the story.

The first page of the book might seem a bit heavy at first but post that,  it's a clear and sorted read. Jerking your tear levels and bringing a smile,  I had faced a myriad of emotions throughout reading. Clever plot points and the shift between years,  indicated properly on the chapters are a steal. However, you need to be very careful while reading it  to keep a track of the years.

There were lines in the book that had my heart and the meaning plus motive of the book, completely transparent. I have only one glitch with the book. While this is such a smooth ride,  don't we expect a bit more left for the reader to imagine? If that were there, this book would've been the best. As of now, for me, it's a 4.75 out of 5 and hoping to read much more from the author in the future.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

The Sun Shines Down by Sankha Ghosh: a review

There are books that you love from the first glance at the cover.  Then there are those books which seem pretty basic at first but when you read them,  you get to know what they are all about. The sun shines down by Sankha Ghosh is one such book.  Here's something about the book…

About the book- Shreya Basu is a kind of politician India has hardly ever witnessed and that too from a political party which has been suffering from an existential crisis for the last few years. Within impeccable beauty and excellent oratory skills, Shreya Basu’s hot to Fame is no less than a Fairytale. But now she wishes to contest election with the powerful incumbent government at their own bastion. But little did she know about the dirty inlands of this murky game of politics. And, in this topsy-turvy right to power, she came across the enigmatic Hector Fernandes. Obscured by thousands of unanswered questions, Hector Fernandes is haunted by the Ghosts of his past. And, to put them to rest, he wants one single thing. Vengeance. And, when Shreya’s seamless ambition to acquire power meets hectares heathfield stigma of Retribution, it wrecks war.

A political saga like no other,  this book is much more than what it seems it is. First things first,  the cover is pretty simple but if you take a close look at it, you would know what it actually speaks.  The ongoing crisis faced by the nation is depicted wonderfully in the cover. Done in bright colours, it would surely capture your attention to the fullest.  Coming to the writing style, well, it needs a lot of polishing.

The narration skills were really good but the writing style and errors take it one notch down than it already is,  making it sound like a fairytale, yes, but forced one at that. I loved how descriptive the book is and how the author has managed to put across his thoughts in action.  This thriller is an edge of the seat one which will keep your nails biting and you sweating as you keep on reading it.

As for the cons of the book,  the ending and the book in its whole essence couldve been much more tighter than it already is. I took a long time to read it and probably half the credit for that would go to the errors I found in the book.  Having said that, the author has a really good potential which could be used further. Looking forward to reading more books from him, this was a 3 on 5 for me.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Dead to Them by Smita Bhattacharya: a review

This book had me at thriller.  Next, the blurb gave me goosebumps. I agree I took a long time finishing it and an even longer time to write what I felt for the book,  this book is surely there to stay with me. Yes. I'm talking about Smita Bhattacharya's Dead to them.

About the book-Moira Madhwa is the typical young, beautiful and successful urban woman until the day she goes missing. Her friends start looking for her, but quickly realize nothing is as it seems. Moira had kept devastating secrets—secrets that could wreck their lives if revealed. As days roll by, one by one, skeletons tumble out of closets, and each of Moira’s friends’ looks guilty. But did one among them hate her enough to do the worst? A nail-biting, psychological suspense thriller, Dead to Them weaves a web of deception, lies, and paranoia in the city of Mumbai, where every face hides a dark story and uncovering it can lead to disastrous consequences.

See?  Exactly. What might seem a mystery is much more than that. Those who know me would know thriller is my latest forte and this book was a pleasure to read. This does not only have a plot but it has layers enclosed within the safe confines of subplots which mesmerized me as a reader.  A regret that I'll always have is not reading this book at a stretch because of which I had to struggle to keep the feel of the book with me.

Having said that,  once I finished this roller coaster, it challenged me psychologically.  Deception, lies and everything that is mentioned in the blurb actually happens in the book in a way that you might feel it is happening right next to you. Coming to the narrating style,  this book was a crisp read so the narration had to be quick and on its toes. Yes, at certain parts it failed but there were some that amazed me to another level.

Coming to the cons, having read this book I know what the potential of the author is. Sharpening it a bit and another round of proofreading would have made this an amazing experience. All in all, this awesomeness deserves a 3.5 out of 5 from me. Looking forward to reading more from the author.  

Friday, 15 March 2019

Until Love Sets us Apart by Aditya Nighhot: a review

White covers always attract me and this book was no different.  Until love sets us apart by debut author Aditya Nighhot is not just any other book.  It is a love story that caught my attention and will be in my mind for a long time to come. To love,  with love; the tagline stole it for me. Here's what the back blurb has to say about the book…

About the book- Aisha and Rohit are like chalk and cheese.  While Rohit is completely aimless and imperfect,  Aisha is focused and a perfectionist. Just two opposites.  But don't they say opposites attract? He loves her. She loves him.  Their wedding is on the cards but their love is put to test when an unforeseen incident hits their lives.

The rest of the blurb says exactly what my feelings were.  “Can loving somebody immensely set you apart?  Can everything just change in the blink of an eye? Inspired from real life incidents,  this Best romance book of the year award winning novel is a heart wrenching tale of true love, friendship,  and destiny. And a young author's quest to find out what exactly happened… “ That's exactly what the book is all about.  What I loved the most about this book was it's writing style. The narrative was bang on which gave me enough space to imagine yet perceive what the writer was trying to tell me.  

At times,  yes, the book gave me the pleasure of thinking that it is written by a debut author. But barring those times,  the book was a delight. There was a simple yet engaging narrative about Rohit and Aisha and many more characters (which I will not talk about because it is for you to know once you read it)!  Written in an exceptionally simple language, this had hindi poems also duly translated which struck me. The impersonal tone that the author has used gave me a personal read to the mind of the characters.

Talking about the cons of the book,  I believe only the grammatical errors could summarize it.  That said, the writing needs to be a bit more polished. A great one time read from a debut author who I would love to read more from,  this one would be a 3.5 out of 5 for me. Looking forward to more books…

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Half Torn Hearts by Novoneel Chakraborty: a review

Novoneel Chakraborty has consistently maintained that his fourteenth book,  Half Torn Hearts is his most autobiographical work till date. Now, having finished the book I know how it surely is but also,  how skillfully he has knitted the story to seem fictional to the world. I asked him if he had a favorite character from the book, he's spoilt for choice,  he said. A seemingly simple cover where the title is mentioned with unassuming pictures of stone, pappers, scissors is something that is the first undertone that Chakraborty has set up.

About the book- The greatest loss in life is what love kills within us.  Life is good for Shanay Bansal-he is due to get married in a few months and has been nominated for a prestigious award by Business Right Now.  Until he receives a mysterious voice note from an unknown number one night. It's a woman's voice telling him that be is part of a story he is not aware of.  But a story whose ending only he can decide. Curious, Shanay plays along and is introduced to Raisa, Nirmaan and Afsana. By the time the story comes to an end,  his life has turned upside down. Half torn hearts is a gut wrenching story about three people who experience the unbelievable highs and the unimaginable lows that one can go through only in love…  of the rarest kind.

Okay!  So now that I have completed this book in just a few hours and have bombarded my feelings while reading this book to n number of people, here's my time to articulate whatever I felt. Half torn hearts is a personal story and that reflects in the writing style of the author.  Yes, it has a very typical Novoneel Chakraborty feel but the whole book has come from a place that is deep inside the heart. Something, only his loyal readers would understand.

Having said that, the four characters spoke to me. Once I was somewhere in the middle of the book I could feel that whatever is happening in the book is happening around me for real.  I could see, feel and touch Raisa, Nirmaan and Afsana. Tushara's poems made for a great accompaniment to the book and I'm so happy the author put a step forward and turned his poem writing skills to good use. All the characters had a graph of growth and it was well visible. As far as I am concerned, nope. I don't have a favorite character either. I rooted for all the three characters and their perspectives. But well,  I have my reasons to dislike Afsana a wee bit at times.

Coming to the story and the narration skills.  A love story coming from his fan induced title of being the Sidney Sheldon of India, can be a shocker for a lot of people. But,  if we closely follow Chakraborty and his works, a love story is something that he has to write. The narrative was smooth, engaging and entertaining. The tagline of the book,  Have you destroyed yourself for someone? Makes the book all the more appealing. The story was in a way simple. Where in a lot of places you could know what would happen in the future course of the book, a lot of places come unprepared. Do we really have it in ourselves to judge the story of an autobiographical work? I don't think I have. Wrapped in the simplicity yet competition of the game stone, papers and scissors played in childhood, the book is just that for Raisa, Nirmaan and Afsana.

The cons of the book, as usual were very few.  Barring a few typos that are blink and miss. I was expecting a more fast paced book which would be his usual edge of the seat one but the fact that I cried at a few places and smiled while the book ended mars all the criticism that I've put forward. I am not going to rate the book this time for I'll leave it to you to judge the book and rate it for me.

To end it, Don't you think love is freedom?

“Zamaane se chupke,
Ek band kamre mein,
Parde kheech ke,
Bistar pe beeche chadar ko kuchalke,
Ishq nahi hota.
Ishq,  khule mein hota hai… “

Saturday, 26 January 2019

The Code of Manavas by Arpit Bakshi : a review

Vishnu has been my dearest darling friend.  In my times of peace and anxiety he's  whom I go to.  That's  why when I saw this book,  I couldn't  help but get my hands on it.  The Code of Manavas by Arpit Bakshi is the first book of the Maha Vishnu Trilogy and the first thing that struck me was the cover.

About the book- Book one of the Maha Vishnu Trilogy, The Code of Manavas, is set some two million years past ad 2050, when earth as we know it ceased to exist and so did mankind. A new race, the Manavas, now exists on Bhoomi, the erstwhile Earth, which is divided into two cities—Madhavpur and Ayudhpur. In the quiet and peaceful city of Madhavpur, a reclusive Krishna is busy with an immense task. He has to prepare a new abode for the Manavas before an impending apocalypse destroys them. He knows something that nobody else does—the Manavas are running out of time faster than they can imagine and there are no inhabitable planets to escape to. To make matters worse, there is someone in Madhavpur who wants to destroy Krishna and subjugate each Manava. The Manavas, it seems, are doomed. Yet Krishna knows there is a slim chance of survival for the Manavas, although there is a huge price to be paid for it. Will the various factions of the Manavas unite for the greater good? Will Krishna, who saved them during the turn of the last Yuga, be able to save them now? What will be the price to pay? Enter the mythical world of Maha Vishnu and get swept up in a fast-paced suspenseful narrative.

The book has so much to tell that it becomes very difficult for me to decide where to start complimenting it.  To begin with,  the cover was something  that glued me to the book and the blurb added fire to the urge of reading it.  Written in a place where nothing is how we know it to be like,  this book ticks all the right boxes to be something  that I'll remember forever.  What remains constant throughout the book is the fact that the book still concerns Krishna to be what we know him as.

The narrative of the book is fast paced and quick.  It brings forth a fun time reading the book and at no point was I bored while reading it.  In a matter of 3 hours I finished the book and damn I won't  be wrong if I say that I am dying for the next part of the trilogy to be out in the market.  The author has done a great job at capturing the minds of the readers starting from the get go.  These books of the genre has a tendency of stretching unnecessarily  but this one didn't  do that.  Which was a saving grace.

For the cons of the book,  there are very few.  To a reader like me,  a few parts could've been avoided. There were only a few grammatical errors which could've been rectified.  But having said these,  this is one book which I would remember forever.  Waiting for the next part,  this one is a 4 on 5 for me.