August 28, 2016

Book Review: The speaking ghost of Rajpur by Priyonkar Dasgupta

Ghost anecdotes with a Bengali touch!

The Speaking Ghost of Rajpur
Author: Priyonkar Dasgupta
Publisher: Thought Balloon Books
Rating: 3.5/5

Remember those wonderful days of Enid Blyton and Ruskin Bond books? Those were the days that successfully blew away the cobwebs. But alas! The sweet pleasures of life do not last for long. With the increase in the number of authors and their debutants, the only hope that the readers can have is to wish for a genre and a story that really is out of the box.
‘The speaking ghost of Rajpur’ is the first novel by Priyonkar Dasgupta, who hails from Kolkata. With this book, the author has successfully proved his caliber. Writing with the heart of a child is not a piece of cake. But Priyonkar has aced the test. The book appeals to the light- hearted people like me who prefer reading books that are picaresque.

The story begins with lucid and simple narration of the events. With exemplary vocabulary, the first person narration by the protagonist- Shoumo, acts like a cherry on the cake. Shoumo is a cordial teenager, who seeks solace in his brother, Shoumik’s company. Shoumik, unlike Shoumo, is an intrepid kid who seeks adventure. It is when these boys meet in the city of Rajpur and decide to spend their summer holidays in a unique way that the things change from being funny to being supernatural.

The plot is woven finely, but the lengthy descriptions acted as a speed blocker for me. The characters have been given due weight age and the chronological selection of events is also good. Amidst, minor punctuation errors and a different (not so legible) font, the story is one that helps you reminiscence the childhood.

August 25, 2016

Can I or can I not write fables?

Kavya was a good girl. Her mother was also a sweet woman, who adored and admired her daughter very much. But it was Kavya’s father, who did not appreciate his daughter’s efforts in anything. Be it studies or social activities, her father always taunted her and expected a lot more from her. Her mother had taught her to always do the right thing and that was the reason why Kavya was so helpful and trustworthy. She never lied. And this made her more determined towards her actions.

One day, when Kavya was riding her bicycle to the school, she collided with a small boy who looked famished. Her immediate instinct forced her to get down from her cycle and help the boy get up. She tried to ask him whether or not he had got hurt. Not getting any reply, she put her hand in her left pocket, took out 15 rupees that her mother had given her for food, and handed the money to the boy. “Go have some food,” she said. The boy hesitated at first, but the hunger forced him to take the money.

Kavya was happy; she had helped someone that day. She could not wait to tell this to her mother. But the scene was different at home. When her father heard about the incident, he was enraged and left Kavya alone in the room. “How could you waste money on unknown people?” he shouted, “To whom were you showing off? You won’t get an award for being this nice”. All Kavya could do, was cry her eyes out.

Next day, while returning from school, Kavya tripped from her bicycle and fell on the ground. To her dismay, the chain of the bicycle had come out. However much efforts she put, she could not put it back. It was getting dark and Kavya was afraid. There was no one to call for help as there were no shops or houses nearby. When Kavya had lost all hopes and was crying, a boy came to help her. He was the same boy whom Kavya had helped the other day. Kavya’s happiness was visible on her face. She reached home safely and narrated the incident to her mother and father. This time her father did not scold her. Instead, he patted her back and hugged her.

Moral: Do the right thing even when no one is looking.

August 24, 2016

Book Review: Kaleidoscope- Colours of Life by Inderjit Kaur

Kaleidoscope- Colours of life

Author: Inderjit Kaur
Rating: 2.5/5

Patience helps you endure all the troubles and issues that bother you. When you reach a stage, where the only remaining option is to release the things that are clinging on to you and pause your life, you feel enlightened and feel the positive impact of the change, and you no longer see yourself a victim of life.

Kaleidoscope – Colours of Life is a tapestry of inspiring stories, suggestive poignant thoughts and ideologies that serve as a guide in every stage of life. Interlaced with threads of experiences of life and the lessons learnt from them, the book depicts seven inspiring stories weaved into the magnificent array of a rainbow. Charting the various shades of life, the book further highlights the ups and downs of each of the characters, who are embedded here as a metaphor for a rainbow, in the patio of a plethora of circumstances.

By sharing wisdom, experiences and insights, Kaleidoscope – Colours of Life intends to deliver a message that will inspire and empower the readers to sense happiness and contentment, and help them to navigate life as a truly confident individual.

Grab this book to know more!

My opinion
The overall concept of the book is nice. The cover is catchy and the title also suits the purpose.

The font (size and style) is fine and the layout is neat. The blurb has such exemplary vocabulary that the readers might develop that urge to turn the pages and read what is written. The stories have an amalgamation of personal experience and an added note by the author. The attempt is to capitalize on the same idea and try to make readers understand the complexities of life.

But the positivity of the content is neutralized by the drawbacks:

·       There text is grammatically incorrect. Time and again the readers can spot incorrect tense usage, for example:
Page 4: “With spiritual songs being played in the background, the mesmerizing aroma of incense sticks encompassing the place, and sun rays percolating through the window pane like a halo, which produced a majestic setup of the tiny workshop.” Here the –ing form makes the sentence sound incomplete.

Page 5: I found his visiting card in a pocket of your bag and couldn’t help asking about it. Him here would have been the correct pronoun.

Page 5: There is repetition of the same idea and that too using the exact words: I lost my wife and my son in an accident.

·       Some lines do not send across a clear meaning: “We can’t avoid these vulnerabilities when times reflect the meetings of friendship into betrayal.

·       The colons and semi- colons have been used incorrectly and that changes the meaning the of the sentences

·       The inclusion of personal ideas in between the ongoing story or narration breaks the flow of reading. Although the message being conveyed is powerful but the words/ sentences used to put it across lack lucidity

·       Every chapter lacks editing

·       Even in the last page which has the author introduction section, the text lacks proper punctuation (Full stop and capitalization)- Following are the links)

Overall, the concept of the book is appreciable but the lack of proper editing acts as negative factor.

PS: I would have given 03/05 but the mistakes put me in a black mood.

Overall, good effort by the author!

Best Wishes!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Review Copy: Provided by ARUDHA                                                                                                    

August 18, 2016

Book Review: Promise me a million times by Keshav Aneel

Promise me a million times

Author: Keshav Aneel
Publisher: Srishti Publications
Rating: 3.5/5

“It is a complicated world. People have a hard time finding each other and when they do… they’re scared to take the risk.” “Promise me a million times” is a novella about friendship, love, trust, dreams, coping skills and the struggles one goes through. The story revolves around Charlie and Edwin,  strong, determined and conscientious protagonists, who have each other’s back and support each other through the thick and thin. When the odds do not seem in favour of Edwin’s career, he decides to move to the city. Charlie, the loyal friend that he is, follows his friend for the sake of helping him and giving him moral and emotional support. Tables are turned when Charlie is struck by cupid’s arrow. Enters Aster in his life, and he starts living a life of a happy camper only to realize a little later that he is not suited for Aster. Consequently, Charlie leaves and then begins the process of introspection, repentance and struggle to get back the love.

Grab this book to explore the deep, dark and complex cobwebs of life!

My opinion
It is not important how many friends you have but the quality of people you spend your time with is more important. “Promise me a million times” is one such book that is a blend of friendship, love and trust. The author has done justice with the characters of the story and the star feature of the story is the well-paced and focused story line. There is no diversion, unlike other stories where love is explained in terms of physical intimacy.

The narration is lucid. The dialogues are short and crisp. The first few chapters have lengthy monologues that might act as a turn off. Secondly, the proofreading and editing has been ignored. There are grammatical errors like Page 3: My life is like a house that has been defaced by a storms; Page 7: Despite of long queues. These are the examples of the incorrect usage of grammar. The plot takes the readers through a roller coaster ride, where they can feel every emotion, as felt by the characters of the story. The author has also successfully pointed out the clichéd phrase- “Friendship lasts lifelong” and exposed the dark reality behind all the struggles in life. How can love help in conquering all odds- this has been beautifully portrayed by the story.

Somehow, the story reminds me of the movies like Two States, Dhadkan and The Notebook. The plot seems to be adapted from these stories.

Overall, a good job done by the author. Best wishes!

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August 17, 2016

Book Review: Amazing Secrets of Bhagwad Gita by Ed Viswanathan

Amazing Secrets of the Bhagwad Gita

Author: Ed Viswanathan
Publisher: RUPA Publishers

It has rightly been said in Bhagwad Gita: Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is. It is also said that since Bhagwad Gita has been spoken by Supreme Personality of Godhead, one does not need to read any other Vedic Literature. But it is practically not possible for everyone to read a thick book and get exposed to the teachings/ preachings/sayings. This is because of the lack of time. And with this book, the author has successfully solved this problem.

My Opinion
The cover of the book is catchy and perfect. The blurb is good but too long. The last paragraph would have been enough. The font use for the blurb could have been better.
The typesetting, font, layout and proofreading are all fine. The breakdown of content has been done wisely by ensuring that the matter is not too much for a new reader.

Book analysis (content-wise)

Here are some of the star features of this book:

·       The content has been divided and presented in such a manner that reading becomes more interesting

·       The difficult topics like Karma, salvation, chakras have been dealt with intelligence and have been explained using a very simple language

·       The star feature is the introduction of the characters- the grandfather and his grandson. The topics have been elucidated using their conversation as the medium. And this acts as a cherry on the cake

·       Every topic is backed by a justification/ clarification and the conversation is intended to capitalize on the same

Overall, this book is worth buying because it answers some really important questions in a very logical way. Also, it is a quick read and teaches us some really meaningful life lessons.
                         Review Copy: Provided by RUPA Publishers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

August 15, 2016

Interview: Roswitha Joshi- Author of Trapped in Want and Wonder

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Trapped in Want and Wonder- Plotted with perfection and real emotions, has the potential to cater to your emotional needs. A great literary feat is what this is! And when I got a chance to interview the master-mind who put in all the ingredients together to come up with such a wonderful book, I grabbed the opportunity with bells on.

Click here to read a short interview session with Roswitha.

August 11, 2016

Book Review: Fire, Wings and Claws by Kiran Damera

Fire, Wings and Claws

Author: Kiran Damera
Publisher: Kiwi Books
Rating: 2.5/5

Meet Ian Rogers and Drake Williams of the Broadway County, your quintessential, typical American kids on a ride worth of the mighty life itself. Travel through the first installment of the series through the land of Scyrin dwelled by the wise elves, diligent dwarfs and the generous men. Witness the kids confront their destiny deep in the ruins of Schweringard, facing a mortal threat larger than that for their age, for their secret friend remains the king of all- the Scarlet dragon.

My opinion
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

‘Fire, Wings and Claws’ is a fantasy treat for the mind. The author has taken care to cater to the reading interests of the target audience. This book is suited for those who still love to get zoned out and live in a cloud-cuckoo land. Yes, this book has the potential to blow away the cobwebs, for it has elements of mystery, adventure, and magic. The inclusion of imaginary (that is what I believe) dwarfs, elfs and dragons is very interesting.

Coming to the technical details, the cover of the book is way too plain. More dramatization or animation would have been better. The blurb is short but not crisp. The main/ central idea of the plot was not conveyed successfully through it. The font (style, size) is okay. Since I was given the eBook, print quality is unknown to me.

The plot is strong and gripping but the lengthy monologues act as a turn off. There are minimal dialogues and the extensive descriptions break the flow of reading. Some ideas sounded familiar; they reminded me of the fabulous fantasy movies/ books- Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Narnia. But it is not wrong to get inspired, right?

The major drawback is the negligence shown towards editing and proof-reading of the book. There are too many grammatical errors, right from punctuation to tenses.

Disclaimer: The more you try to find logic behind the plot, the more boring the plot becomes. So, grab this book to enjoy a hearty yet magical story.

Best wishes to the author!

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Book Review: The Hilly Billy by Shivdutt Sharma

Author: Shivdutt Sharma
Publisher: India Impressions
Rating: 3/5

A mango ensures the birth of a son…
Ghosts hoot and cackle in a forest…
A tiger strikes terror in the heart of a village…
A boy experiences the first stirrings of desire…

On trips back to his hometown, memories appear, cling, and then fade away like the mist in the Himalayan foothills. Tracing the pangs and pleasures of growing up during the time of missionary schools, wind-up gramophones, hand-pulled designer rickshaws, maharanis in their imitation castles, busty film stars of the black-and-white era – a lone, all-brown boy in an all-white American school comes to grips with his coming of age.

Fast-paced and furiously funny, The Hill Billy zips up the otherwise tranquil, languid, laid-back life in a hill station that hasn’t quite got over the hangover of its British past.

My opinion
‘The Hilly Billy’ is basically a memoir/ autobiography of the author. Reading this book is more like walking down the memory lane and re-experiencing your childhood. The cover of the book is apt. The blurb is catchy. The best feature of the book is the division and presentation of content in the form of short chapters that are easy to read and time friendly.

The font (style and size) are fine. Happiness lies in smaller things- and this book proves this correct. Another positive aspect of this book is the use exemplary vocabulary. But this might come as a negative point for the not-so-avid-readers. Acting like a cherry on the cake, are the real life experiences that the readers can find interesting and relate with.

Overall, a new concept to savor the reading buds of your mind.

Best wishes to the author!

There are punctuation errors which can be spotted time and again. The use of Hindi Dialogues could have been avoided as not all find this inclusion interesting.

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Review copy: Provided by Anuj- Kalamos Literary Services

August 09, 2016

Book Review: Bharathi and Her Theory of Everything by Anil CS Rao

Bharathi and Her Theory of Everything
Author: Anil CS Rao
Rating: 2/5

To Bharathi, this was utterly horrific. If it were indeed the case then she was conceived the same way she saw Aryaraj molest older inmates in the encampment. As a result of this mischievous Roopa’s revelation, Bharathi fell into a depression for (she had counted) forty days and forty nights. In her dreams, she recalled a very ancient story Roopa had shared with her a year before: about Noah, who bought two of every living thing on his arc when The World had been flooded by God’s anger at human being’s conduct on Earth. 

Read more here.

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August 05, 2016

The Conspiracy at Meru (VikramadityaVeergatha # 2)

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Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine have fought valiantly to repel the rampaging hordes from Devaloka and Patala – but Avanti has been brought to its knees. Ujjayini lies battered its citizens are scared and morale is badly shaken. Meanwhile, the barbaric Hunas and Sakas are gathering on the horizon and cracks are emerging between the allied kingdoms of Sindhuvarta.

The only silver lining is that the deadly Halahala is safe. For now.

Bent on vengeance, Indra is already scheming to destroy Vikramaditya, while Shukracharya has a plan that can spell the doom for the Guardians of the Halahala. How long can the human army hold out against the ferocity and cunning of the devas and asuras? And will Vikramaditya’s love for his queen come in the way of his promise to Shiva?

The deadly Halahala, the all-devouring poison churned from the depths of the White Lake by the devas and asuras, was swallowed by Shiva to save the universe from extinction.
But was the Halahala truly destroyed?
A small portion still remains – a weapon powerful enough to guarantee victory to whoever possesses it. And both asuras and devas, locked in battle for supremacy, will stop at nothing to claim it.
As the forces of Devaloka and Patala, led by Indra and Shukracharya, plot to possess the Halahala, Shiva turns to mankind to guard it from their murderous clutches. It is now up to SamratVikramaditya and his Council of Nine to quell the supernatural hordes – and prevent the universe from tumbling into chaos!
A sweeping tale of honour and courage in the face of infinite danger, greed and deceit, The Guardians of the Halahala is a fantastical journey into a time of myth and legend.

About the Author

Door-to-door salesman, copywriter, business journalist & assistant editor at The Economic Times; Shatrujeet Nath was all this before he took to writing fiction full-time. He debuted with The Karachi Deception in 2013, followed by The Guardians of the Halahala and The Conspiracy at Meru, the first two books in the VikramadityaVeergatha series. At present, he is writing volume three of the series. Shatrujeet lives in Mumbai, but spends much of his time in the fantasy worlds of his stories.

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August 01, 2016

Book Review: The Seventh Cup by Nitesh Kumar Jain

The Seventh Cup

Author: Nitesh Kumar Jain
Rating: 3.5/5

‘The spiritual path is not a solo endeavor. In fact, the very notion of a self who is trying to free him/ herself is a delusion.’ ~ Tara Brach

A wholesome package of thrill, suspense and nerve-wrecking climax, is what ‘The Seventh Cup’ offers the reader. The story revolves around Avinash, the protagonist, who is head over heels in love with Verona, the Swiss student. But getting love in return is not a piece of cake. Avinash is exposed to the harsh truth- the truth that breaks his heart. Verona’s boyfriend, Kevin, is the one who turns the tables. But then Verona goes missing. Amidst the search operation, many secrets are revealed and the labyrinth of life is solved. Will the mystery be solved? If yes, how? If no, why not?

Grab this book to tie all the loose ends together!

My opinion
With the advancement in the field of technology, the techniques are also evolving. With this book, the author introduces us to a new term- ‘Mind Transportation’. The narration is lucid; the dialogs are short but precise. There are no major syntactical errors.

The blurb is interesting. In fact, the language and the vocabulary used for the same is exemplary. The use of idioms caught my attention! The cover could have been better. The title is catchy. It gives an impression of a fantasy tale. But the plot might turn out to be a bolt from the blue because the genre is not fantasy.

However, the whole approach of mind transportation and has been dealt with intelligence. This is not a clichéd love story. But this story has a lot to cater to the greedy minds of the readers. Right from chapter 0 till the last page, every chapter ends on a cliffhanger.

However, I wished the narration was more powerful. For an instance, the first few chapters lacked the use of pronouns. The repeated use of names sounded mind-numbing. Secondly, there are grammatical errors- specifically tenses and punctuation. Other than this, the layout, font (style, size) and the print quality are fine.

Nonetheless, good effort by the author. Best wishes!

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