May 31, 2015

Book Review: Hurry Om Hari by Parul Tyagi

Hurry om hari
Author: Parul Tyagi
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Rating: 3.5/5

Roosevelt said,“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” and this has been proved true. “Hurry Om Hari” is all about love, hope, trust, support and relationships. The story begins with Harini’s family visiting Om’s house for “rishta”. The two families meet, the girl and the boy meet and the wedding is settled. But there is more to it. Harini is a national level Hockey player and she wants to play the last match before getting herself busy with the chores of married life. On the other hand is Om, who wants to prove himself and for this he decides that a “Reality show” is the answer. Their lives are destined to be together, but not so early. Tables are turned when the families of both the protagonists permit them to live their dreams, without each other, and then meet on the other side. Time is limited, tasks are enormous! Will Hari and Om successfully execute their plans? Or will someone cut the ground from under their feet, destroying the dreams of both? Read this novella to get the answers!

My opinion
“Hurry Om Hari” is a fast paced love story. The plot has all the ingredients that makes a good pot boiler, in a chronological lineup. We are introduced to Om, a generous groom-to-be and then Harini,  a bold and brainy bride-to-be. Both the characters have been crafted really very well, such that they compliment each other. The title is catchy and the cover is mesmerizing. The best part of the novella is its continuity and the flow that forces the readers to complete reading the book, in one go. We have a flustered mother- Rani, contrary to her extremely supportive husband- Shail, a draconian father-Dhananjay and his submissive wife- Meeraji, the everready-Bobby Bhabhi, and many more jolly characters that add to the “fun” element of the story. The author has perfectly depicted the emotions of a self made man and has also targeted the social issue where women are treated as not-fit-to-go-out. Harini is one such character who believes in calling a spade a spade and Om respects her audacity to fight for herself.
Behind the curtain of marriage, how does one cope with the dreams and desires, with the new responsibilities and all the other small nothings- this has been beautifully shown. It definitely takes the support and belief of parents and the life partner, to realize the dream and transform it into reality.
Overall, a good read! Grab this book if you are always in a hurry and can spend little time on reading.

The book lacks proofreading and there are punctuation mistakes time and again.

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May 26, 2015

Book Review: All the best, baby by Karan Singh Surana

All the best, baby
Author: Karan Singh Surana
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Rating: 2.5/5

“All the best, baby” is full of love and politics. The story revolves around Sahil Surana, the protagonist, who decides to part company from his family and join M. Tech in the Orion University. But the plot is not as simple as it seems. Love, is the main hassle in his life. When Sahil decides to teach in a coaching centre, cupid strikes him hard. He gets smitten by one of his students- Natasha and eventually succeeds in robbing the cradle. The wheels of the story move forward, with Sahil and Natasha in their respective colleges, both speaking the same language, spending countless hours on phone calls and grabbing even the smallest opportunity, to meet each other. Perhaps, life is not a bed of roses and the elders set the alarm bells ringing with their endeavours to find match for their respective children. On one hand, is Sahil’s mother, who has negative views on Inter caste marriages and on the other hand, is Natasha’s father, who is more concerned about the societal values, name and fame. The issue of Sahil getting married to Natasha, becomes a bone of contention for both the families. Sahil chops and changes all the time, but with no fruitful outcome. As if this was not enough, Sahil faces trouble at the college front as well, when Mr. Mishra, a barefaced liar, tries to ruin the future of all the students.
Amidst dirty politics in college, love being a can of worms and employment being the upcoming hurdle, will Sahil be able to dodge the bullet? Or will he surrender his dreams and hopes? Read this novella to get all the answers!

My opinion
It is true that every relationship has problems but true love is when you want to stick beside your significant other, inspite of a stormy relationship and all the hurdles that block your path. “All the best baby” is all about holding on to your love, even when the final outcome is not predictable. The author has successfully crafted the characters of Sahil and Natasha, their strict and stubborn parents, their wonderful friends and the corrupt teachers and administration in Orion (or probably every other University) University. The novella is fast paced, with short and to-the-point chapters. The ambience smells of young romance and the plot highlights the cliché (d) inter caste weddings that restricts two people from falling in love without prior information about their background, caste, religion and what not! There are some dialogues that directly target the society and are indeed delightful.
Overall, good effort by the author!

The major drawback in the book is the lack of proofreading and presence of several grammatical errors that makes the content ambiguous. Secondly, there is lack of flow and continuity, thereby failing to hold the attention of readers for long.

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May 23, 2015

Book Review: The Last Surge by Pramit Sarkar

The last surge
Author: Pramit Sarkar
Publisher: Gargi Publishers
Rating: 4/5

“The last surge” is a story plotted in the streets of Kotkata. Gabriel, the protagonist, is a dab hand at playing football. The female lead is Rimi, who is an orphan, but lives with her aunt. Gabriel falls in love with Rimi during his quest of finding out the person who hid his shoes during the final tournament of football and eventually loaded the dice against him. The elegance and the magnificence of Rimi makes him fall head over heels in love with her, at the first sight. And Gabriel is taken unawares when Rimi reciprocates the same feelings for him as well. But love is always a mystery- sometimes glorious and sometimes painful. The tables are turned when Rimi decides to marry someone else, leaving behind Gabriel, at the altar. The thorns of betrayal suck out life from Gabriel, each day, unless he finds solace for his yearning heart, by adopting a daughter (Sneha) and deciding to stay bachelor lifelong. He leaves football and instead becomes a relationship counselor. Such is the irony of life.
Probably Gabriel thinks that things will be easier after deciding to move on. But who knew what life had in store for him. When his sister, Esabelle, narrates the story of his long lost love to his beloved daughter, her daughter decides to find Rimi, for her father and get the answers from her. Lo and behold, Gabriel meets Rimi in his office but thing get heated up. He surrenders to destiny with fate accompli. And in the attempt to avenge the treason meted out to him, he meets with such an end that is blissful in its own sense.

My opinion
The novella is a bodice ripper set in the land of Bengal. The theme is appealing. The characters are crafted very well. Somewhere the climax of the story resembles the climax of the Bollywood movie, “Raanjhaana”. None-the-less the depiction of relationships is impeccable. The story gives an insight into the relationship shared by an adopted child, with her father and that is ethereal.  Love is unpredictable, it makes you realize how weak you are and how strong you can be. The love struck protagonist, Gabriel, is successfully able to grab the attention of the readers such that they feel connected to the story. It is always said that a women is the only creation of God that has the ability to fit into different roles of life, perfectly. But Gabriel proves this saying wrong. A perfect brother who caters to the needs of her sister- emotionally, psychologically and mentally; a perfect father who cherry picks the opportunites for his adopted daughter and tries to make life, a bed of roses, for her; a die-hard romantic who continues to suffer through the pangs of betrayal even though there is a chance to move on and have a life of his own. On the contrary, the female protagonist, Rimi, has been portrayed as the person who is all things to all people and believes in calling a spade a spade. The author has put forward a balancing act in sketching the character of these two people.
Overall, a delightful story!

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May 20, 2015

Book Review: One tequila, 2 tequilas... by Supriya Parulekar

One tequila, 2 tequilas…
Author: Supriya Parulekar
Publisher: Gargi Publishers
Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author
Supriya Parulekar is a published author with four books already hitting the bookstores and has written story, screenplay and dialogues for two movie projects that are under consideration. She has also worked as a script editor for TV18, History Channel. She was a columnist for ‘YUVA’, a magazine for the youth. Her passion is reading, writing and travelling to new places in search of inspirations.
Her debut novel ‘A Soulful of Life’ was a supernatural thriller which was followed by ‘Dreamcatcher’ which was romantic fiction. Her third work, ‘The Gangster’s Muse’ was a thriller and is available online and in stores. The last book was, “BFF: Best Friends Forever” and it was a great success in the category of teen fiction. Next up is ‘Darkness Within,’ a dark, psychological thriller with sprinkling of verses setting the mood for the thriller.

“One tequila, 2 tequilas…” is a story about two people who are as different as chalk and cheese but eventually they come together via the bond of love. The protagonist of the story is Kosha, who is smart, intelligent, confident, wild, rebellious, devoted tequila drinker and ‘anti-love’ person. Opposite her, is Siddharth, who is calm, self composed, health freak, eager beaver, with a personality that none can resist. The story runs in flash back when Kosha was in her young twenties and decides to elope from her engagement, leaving the groom, Harsh Sarabhai, at the altar. The sole reason that Kosha gives for ditching Harsh is that she does not feel right with him. Kosha’s beliefs on marriage and love are gloomy, which are a result of her sister’s tragic death. She confides everything to her grandmother, but lately her grandmother has been in semi comatose state as an aftershock of her sister’s death news. The story describes the chain of events that take place during Kosha’s photography expedition with Siddharth, how they become fond of each other, how they cannot resist each other’s presence and how, eventually, they fall in love. The only obstruction in their path is Harsh, the fat cat, who is Siddharth’s cousin and equal partner in his business. The shrewd and wicked cog in the machine tries his level best to win back Kosha, not because he loves her but because of some obscure motives. Will the two lovers decide their fate together or will they accept the circumstances as they are? Read “One tequila, 2 tequilas…” to unveil the climax.

My opinion
“Fate controls who walks into your life, but you decide who you let walk out, who you let stay and who you refuse to let go.” The saying fits best with the plot of this story. The characters are well crafted. The readers are compelled to enter into a parallel world of imagination where the each chapter is happening right in front, somewhere in the subconscious mind. Somewhere the book contains shades of romance that remind the readers of “Mills and Boon”. The author has perfectly mastered the task of keeping the attention of the readers transfixed such that it becomes difficult to put the book down and take a break. The personality, of all the characters, is admirable, be it daunting one or charming one.
The proofreading, use of expressions and the narration is perfect. Lucidity, continuum, drama; are some of the adjectives that fit right for the plot. The cover of the book is mesmerizing and goes with the title pretty well.
Overall, a recommended book for all those who are all ears and eyes for romance and passion. Kudos to the author for portraying the emotions so well.

There are some printing errors like Dhruv has been spelt as Dhruva. 

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May 18, 2015

Book Review: Murdered to moksha by Rohit Shetty

MURdered to moksha
Author: Rohit Shetty
Publisher: First Step Publishing
Rating: 4/5

The story begins with the present scene, where the protagonist is being sentenced to life imprisonment, accused of murdering his own wife. Following this, the story goes into the flashback, when Aarav (protagonist) and his wife (Esha) were in their college days. From the very beginning, Aarav is shown very determined to become a self made man and not rely on his father’s business. He is the person who is not afraid to call a spade a spade. When his father rejects his business proposal, Aarav decides to step out of his house and start living a life of his own. His girlfriend ditches him, his friends betray him and his father turn a cold shoulder to his miserable life. It is then when his two college fiends, Raj and Esha, come forward to lend a helping hand. Cupid strikes Aarav yet again and he decides to marry Esha. With time, Aarav becomes the one who holds all the aces and his firm becomes a blue chip company. With continuous support of his wife, he is able to come up in the world. But the odds decide not be in his favor and his wife is diagnosed with cancer. The story is a description of love, life and loss. The struggle of Aarav does not end but instead it reaches the peak when his beloved wife asks him to free her of all the pain and discomfort. Will Aarav give in to the pleas of his wife? Or would he let her suffer? What does life have in store for him? Will he ever be at peace of mind? The story answers all the questions and ends with a heart breaking climax.

My opinion
“Murdered to moksha” is a poignant tale of a young man and his wife, who struggle through the battles of life and fail, eventually. The plot of the story has all the elements of a perfect story- an arrogant- rich father, a gentle- modest hero, a love triangle, jealousy, a supportive friend, a loyal wife, a beautiful daughter and a heart breaking end. The story runs at a comfortable pace and forces the reader to finish the book in one go. Intriguing, absorbing, entertaining, relatable- are some of the adjective that I would use for describing this work. The author has tried to portray the characters uniquely and he has been successful in his attempt. Where Aarav is shown as a calm and determined character, his wife (Esha) is shown as loyal and modest character, such that both balance each other perfectly. The most gripping aspect of this story is the flawless depiction of various relationships simultaneously- father-son bond, father-daughter bond, bond between best friends and relationship between husband and wife. The end of the story, although predictable, leaves a lump in your throat. Lastly, the author has given an insight into what is euthanasia, which is commendable.

Overall, a must read with a tinge love. Good effort by the author.

Before listing out the drawbacks, I would draw everybody’s attention to the fact that the story has been written in such a winning way that all the negatives are in its favor. The major drawback in this book is that the text is repetitive. The fact that Aarav wanted to earn a name of his own, without the help from his father, has been voiced time and again. Moreover, the words of Aarav’s father have been quoted twice or thrice. Secondly, there is lack of proofreading. There is punctuation error and mistake in the tenses as well.

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May 15, 2015

Book review: An Average Guy by Kshitiz sudhakar

An average guy
Author: Kshitiz Sudhakar
Publisher: First Step Publishing
Rating: 2.5/5

“An Average guy” is a story of a young boy who believes in enjoying life to the fullest but lacks the will power and the determination that is required to grow into a better person. The background of the story is set in the state of Bihar, where Neel, the protagonist, lives. Neel’s parents badger him constantly for studying but their efforts reap no benefits. The story begins when Neel gets his comeuppance by getting detained in class 7th and as a consequence his admission is withdrawn from the reputed “Saint Joseph’s School, Bhagalpur”. But things do not change even after he gets admission in the new school. He avoids studies and the environment of the Hindi-medium school is equivalent to blowing away the cobwebs for him. Neel’s parents remain a bundle of nerves as his performance deteriorates day by day and somehow, with God’s grace and as a result of his father’s prayers, he manages to pass the final exams. During his eleventh, cupid strikes his heart and he falls for Nalini. Their love blossoms through the streets of Bihar and eventually they break up after Neel fails in his 12th class board examinations. Failed in love, failed in career, Neel becomes hopeless and indecisive. Tables are turned when Neel scores really well in his second attempt and manages to get admission in a good college. But eventually the chickens come home to roost. ‘Que sera sera’, fate cannot be controlled. The end sends jitters down the spine and leaves the reader stunned.

My opinion
It is true that you can’t make an Omlette without breaking the eggs. Similarly it is impossible to make important changes without causing some unpleasant effects. The story of the average guy, Neel, is based on the same theme. The author has taken into account the very minute details of the life of the protagonist and has portrayed them finely. The story runs at a comfortable pace but there are some awkward pauses that can confuse the readers. The cover of the book is mesmerizing enough to break the ice between the content and the readers (10/ 10 points for the cover). The print quality is also good. The author has tried to introduce majority of the characters but somewhere the strings relating to different characters, are left untied. The story is one such experience that every other person must have had at some point of his/ her life. It is relatable. The author’s efforts to connect with his audience have been successful in this regard. The climax is, however, startling. There are some unanswered questions like what happened to Nalini and how did she react to the news? Why didn’t the hostel authorities know about the boys?
Overall, a straight-from-the-heart story. Good effort by the author.

The major drawback in this book is the lack of flow in the story and inappropriate proofreading. For an instance, the story is written in a combination of first person as well as third person and this leaves the readers befuddled. Although there is lucidity in the expression, the grammatical errors nullify the advantage. The book lacks contents section and the heading and the subheading are not in a proper sequence. For an instance, the total number of chapters is four, followed by epilogue and the fourth chapter is 82-83 pages long. The epilogue is too long to keep the attention of the readers gripped.

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Link (Amazon India):                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

May 02, 2015

Emo-bots Vs Ro-bots

Did you get watery eyes when Atom was being bashed badly by Zeus? Or did you notice the heart warming feeling when Atom' s blue eyes glowed with motivation? Or did you cry your heart out when Hiro lost Baymax for a split-second? Well, if the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then definitely you are an emotional being. But have you ever wondered about the emotional and psychological state, of the bots?

In real life, we seldom see robots. But in reel life, the bot-movies are frequent. I decided to write about this argument when I realized that my eyes were all teary during the last scene of Real Steel. “Atom! Atom!”, the crowd was shouting. Zeus was smashing the steel on Atom’s body. The sight made me go down in the dumps. I was crying profusely. And then the bell rang and Atom was saved. The very next moment, Hugh Jackman was shown to play with some wires inside Atom’s circuit and when Max (the kid) called out “Atom”, the blue eyes of the bot, glowed instantly. Somewhere I felt there was a virtual connection between the kid and the bot. But the question that made me lose my marbles was- Do machines have emotions? Can they feel, like we do?
I tried recalling other similar instances and I eventually came up with two more- TARS from Intersteller and BAYMAX from Big Hero 6. In both these films, a connection between humans and the robot was depicted. In Intersteller, TARS was shown caring and understanding (may be this is what I thought) and in Big Hero 6, Baymax was shown with same feelings towards Hiro.

My take: Probably, there is a lag in scientific evidence because somewhere beneath the facade of Artificial intelligence, there is a possibility that robots or machines (in general) develop emotions, with time. Some might argue this as an aftereffect of introducing the 5th generation of computers- the concept of artificial intelligence, where the robot is given the ability to think logically. Perhaps this was the reason why Baymax decided to sacrifice himself and help Hiro get out from the teleportation portal. Or was this decision made out of love and affection that Baymax had developed, over time, for Hiro? In literal sense, even artificial intelligence is a form of intelligence. Intelligence helps us to think and feel- to develop emotions for someone, to realize what is good and what is not. Then why is the fact that “machines can feel”, not agreeable?
The fact that humans develop feelings easily, is true. Cooper was so much influenced or rather affectionate towards Tars that he tried to rebuild the robot, once he was back on earth. Not only did he restore all the setting but also lowered the humour settings which indicated towards the fact that robots can be a good company. But when it comes to robots, why can’t they give a hoot?
Very few might actually agree with what I said here. Probably logical thinking has an upperhand over emotional thinking. But then, haven’t you tried being polite with your car, when it does not start? And haven’t you experienced the sudden roar in the engine immediately after you say “Please start hoja yaar”? Or if this is not enough, haven’t you cursed your tubelight for flickering continuously and it kept on flickering as if avenging you?

If we treat the machines as beings then why can’t there be a possibility of them, treating us as their counterparts?

May 01, 2015

Do you accept the new zodiac system?

“The zodiac's twelve signs are said to represent powerful archetypes that are universal in theme.”
 Michael Bassey Johnson
But lo and behold, there is 13th zodiac sign as well and this time it has been scientifically proved. The theory behind the sun signs is based on the Sun’s yearly path. And the appearance of the 13th zodiac is not mere coincidence. Infact, it has been there all along. The 13th sign of the zodiac has been named as “Ophiuchus” and it has been described as a star constellation, around which the sun travels for a span of 19 days (of the year), before it finally enters Sagittarius from the Scorpius.

Dating back to the history, the new (rather old, but missed out) sign, “Ophiuchus”, has an alias name, “Serpentarius” or the “Serpent Holder”. The symbolic representation of this constellation was in form of a man, holding a serpent in his hand and dividing the body of the serpent into two halves, through his body. Mythologically, Ophiuchus has been identified as the healer Asclepius (who was the son of Apollo- who could bring the dead back to life). The ancient Greek God of underworld (Hades) realized that Ophiuchus held the reins and therefore, convinced Zeus (the ancient Greek God of sky and thunder) to kill Ophiuchus with a lightning bolt and thereafter, the latter was placed into the stars, in form of a constellation.

Now, the interesting part of all this theory is that this is the only sign that resembles the human being truly. Ophiuchus was named Imhotep and he resided in ancient Egypt, somewhere around 27th century (BCE). He was praised for his accomplishments and extensive knowledge and the ability to know and learn about medicine. It is also said that Imhotep is the one who brought the art of healing into the culture of mankind.
These are the personality traits of Ophiuchus, the 13th sign of the zodiac:
– Interpreter of dreams, vivid premonitions
– A seeker of peace and harmony
– Poetical, inventive nature, expanding qualities
– attracts good luck and fruitful blessings
– Overseer, supervisor of work, – fame – either grand, or completely misunderstood, – longevity, aspirations of healing the ills of man
– Likes to wear clothing of vibrant colors, and plaids in particular, – receives the favor of those in authority
– High position in life expected [depending on aspects] highest fame and legend comes after death
– Feelings of granular, wise, genius mentality
– Foresight and good fortune to benefit from hard times
– Large family indicated, but apt to be separated from them when young
– The number twelve holds great significance
– has secret enemies in family or close associations

So, if we include the 13th sign in the zodiac system, the division would be like this:

Aries = April 19 – May 13
Taurus = May 14 – June 19
Gemini = June 20 – July 20
Cancer = July 21 – Aug 9
Leo = August 10 – September 15
Virgo = September 16 – October 30
Libra = October 31 – November 22
Scorpio = November 23 – November 29
Ophiuchus = November 30 – December 17
Sagittarius = December 18 – January 18
Capricorn = January 19 – February 15
Aquarius = February 16 – March 11
Pisces = March 12 – April 18

Probably now you must be wondering why this sign wasn’t included in the zodiac system! Well, the answer that made me come down like a ton of bricks, on the astrologers, was that they liked the tidiness of the 12 zodiac signs and a 13th would interrupt the flow. But the actual reason behind this exclusion is related to the number of days spent by the sun in this constellation. The number is just 19 and according to the astrologers, it can be ignored. But the only thing that is driving me up the wall is the fact that all these 24 years of my life, I have been reading Linda Goodman and relating myself with the sign I belonged to (in the 12 zodiac system). Had I known, earlier, about the 13th sign, I would have enjoyed astrology accordingly. But all said and done, it entirely depends upon us, what we consider- 12 signs or 13 signs!
So, is Ophiuchus your zodiac sign?