April 26, 2017

Book Review: The Flame of Anahata by Saranya Umakanthan

The Flame of Anahata
Author: Saranya Umakanthan
Publisher: General Press
Rating: 3.5/5

With the second book of the series- Come back warrior Trilogy, Saranya has aced the test. Not only have her writing skills been appreciated but her prowess to present mythology fiction to the readers has been acknowledged too. ‘Anahata’- is a Sanskrit word that means "unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten". Anahata is associated with a peaceful, calm and serene sound. The title of the book presents a contradiction, for the extreme nature of a flame is being given to the Anahata. This title not only evokes intrigue but also makes the readers understand the relation of Anahata with Hinduism and Yoga.

As said by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, ‘A civilization without mythology is not really a civilization’, mythology books are loved by all readers. The only barrier in understanding this genre is not getting to read the prequels and sequels. ‘The Flame of Anahata’ is the second book in the series. Not having read the first book, I was skeptical to pick up this book but once I started, I never felt a gap. Coherent narration and intelligible plotting are what make this book good. With fine editing and good quality of print, General Press has made a mark in the field of literature too. But somewhere the monologues and the lengthy descriptive paragraph acted as the speed breakers.

Starting with a blend of past life and the present one, the author successfully balanced the personalities of the characters. The interesting prologue and the chronological order of the events helped in not baffling me. Another drawback is the cover of the book. With such a strong title, a more meaningful cover was expected. I presume that the image of the lady is being misunderstood by the readers like me. But we review what we see, isn’t it?

The two protagonists- Suraj and Diya, are no different than our very own Bollywood actors. But there is one thread that makes their love story more interesting. In the past life, when Suraj was a warrior of Shaktipur (Inderjeet), he lost his love owing to his cunning brother. And that is what makes him more determined to win his love in the present time. The story is about how Suraj finishes the unfinished of the past and gets on terms with his life in the present.

Doesn’t this sound familiar? Having recently watched the trailer of ‘Raabta’, I found a connection between the two. And that made me pose this question: Why in India majority of the movies are adapted from the books?

Coming back to the topic, ‘Flame of Anahata’ is a finely written mythological book. The author has done much research on the topic and that can be seen in the way the events (twists and turns) are placed in the story. With a good pace and an engaging plot, this book is worth a read.

Best wishes to the author!

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Review copy: Provided by Kalamos Literary Services

April 19, 2017

Book Review: You Raise Me Up by Arjum Hemmady

Author: Arjun Hemmady
Publisher: Frog Books
Rating: 3/5

There are phases in life when everything seems to fall apart. There are things that cannot be protected from the storms and simply need to be broken off. But there are high chances that some amazingly beautiful things might fill in the gap and life would be back on the four wheels. ‘You Raise Me Up’ reminds me of a book that I once read ‘Tamanna’. The book is based on the introspection and decision-making skills. But unfortunately the former is not at all comparable to the latter. Where Tamanna portrayed mature love (situations being similar), You Raise Me Up is more about teenage romance.

‘You Raise Me Up’ is a story about a confused Aalok, who is a Chartered Accountant by profession. Reading between the lines, I think the author has tried to relieve the pressure in the lives of CA students by presenting them a fictitious account of love. The blurb is not only short but also fails to give a clear picture about the story. The story has nothing new in store for the readers, for it begins with the clich├ęd Girl-meets-boy concept and ends in Happily-ever-after. Aalok is a mess because his mind is in a conflict- the conflict to choose between Priyanka and Tanvi. Before you put on your thinking caps, let me tell you that the story is not that simple. Aalok meets Priyanka on a flight, but Tanvi has been (or was) an integral part of his life for long.

With strong characterization and smooth plot, the author’s writing skills come in focus and they are good. Lucid narration, good grammar/ vocabulary and a breezy reading are perks that this book offers. There is a reason why I called the love in this story as immature love. Having learned his lessons, Aalok is a character who should know the outcome of pedaling with both legs in different boats. But contrary to this assumption, the author inclined the focus on the intimacy between the protagonists.

“When a man is in love he endures more than at other times, he submits to everything” –Friedrich Nietzsche

The title of the book is baffling and can misguide the readers. The insipid cover and short blurb are not catchy at all. Special appreciation for the author’s ability to bring out the emotional turmoil and making the readers empathize with Aalok.

The story is fast paced. The initial few pages are stretched a bit. But gradually the readers can keep up with the flow of the story. One thing that can deter the readers from completing this book is the lack of action in it. The central theme of varied emotions might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Today, where everyone is looking for something exciting and thrilling to read, this plot might just end up being the cake not worth the candle.

Best wishes to the author!

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Book Review: Teenage Diaries by Saurabh Sharma

Author: Saurabh Sharma
Publisher: Leadstart Publications
Rating: 2.5/5

‘I have had playmates, I have had companions; in my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days - All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.’
 ~Charles Lamb

We have all had our share of happiness during our school days. Who doesn’t remember the gossip periods, naming the teacher, the PT periods, first crushes, eagerness to wear coloured clothes on special days, distributing candies to our friends, the illogical fights, baseless arguments, punishments, sharing food with everyone! And to be able to relive those memories will definitely make us grin like a Cheshire cat. But the thought of not meeting the old friends and not being able to get back our childhood days makes the heart sink.

'Teenage Diaries' has all the necessary elements of a Bollywood Drama- love, relationship, friendship, betrayal, death, disappointment. It is, indeed, a rollercoaster ride of emotions. The protagonist is Ghanshyam, who is a pessimistic realist. To give him company and to complement his personality, we have Vikram, the opposite. The author has taken care in introducing the characters properly at regular intervals so that their roles do not get lost within 319 pages.

When I first read the blurb of ‘Teenage Diaries’, I was thrilled to bits. Not only was I ready to relive the old days, but also to cherish the memories. But I was utterly disappointed when I read the first chapter. The uninteresting narration and the description of life when Ghanshyam was a little baby were boring. It was only after the first chapter that the story started making sense. A more impactful first chapter would have done the trick. Another thing I disliked was the use of language. I cannot refrain but write about the generation gap between the children of 1990s and the children of the 21st century. Where on one hand there are certain instances in the book that force me to rethink of my childhood, the language used and the desperate attempt to incorporate the western slangs into the conversations, puts me in the black mood, for we never used that kind of language. For example, “Don’t bullshit me.”

The author has neglected the use of proper punctuation, for example, on the back cover (blurb) the sentence goes like this: “Wait, what the hell am I asking you to do with deadlines to catch on!?” I cannot help but be disappointed at such misuse of punctuation marks. Another point about the book is the frequent use of Hindi words like ‘yaar’. Also, the inclusion of the intimate romantic scene makes it more like a Chetan Bhagat Novella. And having read bountiful novellas of this genre, this one failed to impress me.

Overall, this book is not a must-keep. But it might be liked by the CB lovers, for it offers a similar storyline with a different flavor.

Best wishes to the author!

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Review Copy: Courtesy Author Paradise

April 18, 2017

MY READING SHELF: #1 The Mill On The Floss- George Eliot

This book is one of the finest works of George Eliot. Being one of the classics, this story explores the complexities of a woman psychology. Maggie is the protagonist who shares a very unpredictable relationship with her family. Where on one hand her mother is always scolding her for her messy hair and is keen on comparing her with other cousins, Maggie has an impetuous father, who empathizes with Maggie and takes her side when need be. The relatives despise the father because he spent all the money in getting the education and did not care about the family. But Maggie understands her dad. But this is nothing.

There are more complex issues in Maggie's life as she grows older. Her relationship with her brother gets severed but she makes numerous attempts to sort things out.

With simple language but too much to read between the lines, George Eliot has presented a work of fiction that aces the test. I came across an extract from the same book (published in Gulmohar) and I couldn't help but read the complete book. Such simple language can have such deep impact!

An old classic worth every minute.

April 17, 2017

Book Review: So You Want To Know About The Environment” by Bijal Vachharajani

Author: Bijal Vachharajani
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 3.5/5

Fredrik Backman has correctly said- Everything is complicated if no one explains it to you. “So You Want To Know About The Environment” is an earnest attempt by Bijal Vachharajani to throw light on the elements of nature that form the niche of the ecosystem and the relationship they share with the humans. It is these fundamentals that need to be cherished and nourished so that they become stronger with each passing day. This is not a story; this is not a memoir; this is an interactive awareness program.

With simple yet effectual explanations and a lot of fun activities, this book is bound to be liked by the young ones. However, I felt the content was not too out of the ordinary for the grown-ups. No doubt the parents can educate and make their children aware of their surroundings. The activities not only help in better understanding of nature and its components but also provide the opportunity to put on our thinking hats and strive to make a difference.

With fine editing and proofreading, the book is insightful and practical. Seldom do we get a chance to understand the resources around us. Before deciding to protect these resources, it is important to understand their occurrence and function. Narration involving characters from fictitious books (especially the ones that the kids love) act as an icing on the cake.

Coming to the technicalities of the book- the cover is full of plants, animals, and waste- apt to justify the title. The title of the book could have been shorter and more precise. ‘So you want to know more about the environment’- without any punctuation mark, in the end, does not sound proper.

There are things one would have already read or known about, but there are other things that make sense and come along with a solution. The book does not force anyone to incorporate everything in their life. For the ones who have a flair for nonfiction books and are willing to contribute to nature by implementing means that will protect the environment, this book will definitely be well liked. The author has used lucid and extremely simple language ( a boon for all people, in general). Nevertheless, this book does not leave its readers like a lost ball in high weeds, for it relates to everybody.

Overall, this is a new concept. Special appreciation for Sayan Mukherjee for the way the illustrations have been put in the right place.

A quick and good read!
Best wishes!

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Review copy: Provided by RUPA Publications

April 14, 2017

Book Review: India Shining by Alcatraz Dey

India Shining
Author: Alcatraz Dey
Publisher: Author Paradise
Rating: 3.5/5

“As long as greed is stronger than compassion, there will always be suffering”. “India Shining” is a page-turner, with an engaging plot and well-crafted characters.  The author has beautifully portrayed the characters of Shantanu, Nishi, and Solomon. The blurb is so apt and catchy that it forces the reader to browse through the pages and get to know what is happening.

The cover of the book is mesmerizing (Kudos to Ajitabha Bose). The narration is lucid and the language is expressive. Time and now there are long monologues that deviate the attention of the reader. The book explores the dark side of greed, love, and hatred. Amidst a lot of secrets and shady characters, the plot has its own share of twists and turns. There are many characters in the story and their introduction at regular intervals could have been better. Nevertheless, the interest was bound by the narration. There are some grammatical errors and hence, the proofreading should have been better.

The entwining of events has been done in such a way that the author has been able to target multiple audiences at one time. Where Nishi would definitely touch the heart of young readers, Shantanu has a spark and mind that only an adult can relate with. But his positivity is compensated by the dark side of his nature- his motive to destroy the nation to achieve his own interests. Not forgetting to mention the appreciation and success of Serpentine Scrolls, this time again the author has aced the test.

Overall, a fresh and captivating plot served directly from the author’s mind!

Best wishes to the author!

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Review Copy courtesy: Banaja Prakashini

Book Review: Polite Pick-up Lines In Indian Pubs by Varun Mannava

Author: Varun Mannava
Publisher: Notion Press Publishers
Rating: 1.5/5

Barbara Broccoli once said that the world is still sexist and I believe that even today this quote means a lot. Where people, on one hand, are spreading awareness about feminism, there are still some people out there who think women are an abbreviated piece of nothing. Objectifying women and considering the inappropriate actions admissible, is what has been portrayed in the book ‘Polite Pick up lines in Indian Pubs’.

All this time we have been running behind the western culture because the grass always looks greener on the other side. But we do not realize that adapting to their culture is ball and chain. After the release of FRIENDS and How I Met Your Mother, the concept of hitting on women (in bars) has become very popular among the men. And the result is a book that gives 51 tips/ pick-up lines that can be used. But it makes me wonder whether the author has himself explored all avenues.

With lucid yet unconvincing language, the author tries different tips and tricks to woo women, not worrying about the after effects. The tips range from using an intellectual mind to impress women to using a tactic called- Brain Freeze which allows a man to take a picture with the woman without her consent. The first impression I got after reading few pages was that majority of the hacks won’t be feasible in Indian bars at all. With so much already on the plate for women, I despised the author’s attempt to share ideas on how can the privacy of the women be intruded even more.

The title of the book is contradictory to the content as I found some lines really impolite and offensive. The cover is subtle. More research and an empathetic attitude would have produced a better result.

Overall, the book might be liked by the likes of the author but the fact that the author has tried to bite off more than he can chew, cannot be ignored.

Best wishes!

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Review copy: Provided by Urbookmyreview.com

Let Nature Flow on its Own

Once upon a time, when the myths were believed to be true and the people felt peaceful in helping others, there lived David. He was a good man. Married to Virginia and a father of Joshua and John, he was employed in the factory near the town of Peltin. He was a very hardworking man, but the only problem with him was his desire to finish everything before hand and overwork himself for achieving the targets. This habit was good for his business because he never missed any deadline. But as far as his family was concerned, they despised this habit of David.

When Joshua, his elder son, was 2 years old, David spent enough time with his son to make him speak. But by the time John was born, David had become old. Also, his workload had increased and thus, he could not spend enough time with his younger kid. Unlike Joshua, John did not start speaking at the age of two and this made David panic. For him, John not speaking at that age was equivalent to missing a deadline and he could not stand the thought of it. In a fit of desperation and rage, he decided to resign from work and spend more time with his son and make him speak. He also took the doctor’s consultation but the only thing the doctor pointed out was that it was all about time; it was not necessary that all the children started speaking at the same time.

Unconvinced by what the people around him said, he decided to take the matter into his own hands and started teaching his son to speak. It was not long when little John could not take it any long and all he did the entire day was cry and become unmanageable. Virginia tried to console the child, but David would tell her that it is normal. A few days later, John started to cry at the sight of food, he started crying seeing his father around and that is when Virginia realized that something was not right. She spoke to the family doctor and narrated the whole story.  The doctor arranged to meet the parents and counsel them. She spoke to David and tried to make him understand that just like nature has a specific season for everything and a right timing, humans, too, should not interfere with the normal course of life. Sometimes in our life, we want things to happen right at that moment; it is hard to wait for the fruits of the actions. But that is not for us to decide. Just like nature, some things should be left to flow on their own.

David, influenced by what the doctor had to say, realized his mistake and pledged to not burden his little one with desires of his own. 

Book Review: Veerappan- Chasing The Brigand by K. Vijay Kumar

VEERAPPAN- Chasing The Brigand

Author: K. Vijay Kumar
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 4.5/5

“...some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
Michael Caine

Who hasn’t heard of Veerappan, the bandit who made people stop dead in tracks? While people dreaded the moment of encounter with this man, there were some people out on the field, who battled their fear and qualms and promised the civilians to get rid of all the pain and fright. Written by K. Vijay Kumar ‘Veerappan’ is the most legitimate account of the life of this bandit. Housing all the minute details of Veerappan’s life- right from his childhood to his adulthood, the book is sure to pique the interest of the readers.

From being a small time trespasser to becoming a brutal fugitive and killing many without even a fraction of guilt, Veerappan came into the limelight because of his detrimental encounters with the officers and his escapades. A lot has been printed and showcased in media, but still, a significant element of the story of his death remained a question until now. K. Vijay Kumar, with a strong nerve, has penned down the planning, execution, and encounter of Veerappan by giving an extremely detailed account.

It is very rare when books like this come out in the public domain and I am really happy to be the one to review it. The author has done a fabulous job with the narration and Rupa stands tall. With a fine quality of print and a splendid cover, this book is a must read. A word of caution: some readers might not like the genre because of the sensitivity of the content. But why would one want to miss out on a truly thrilling story?

The content organization is something that has been well thought of and pictures act like the icing on the cake.

Overall, a must-read and a must-have on the bookshelf.

Best wishes to the author! 

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April 13, 2017

Book Review: Jalsaghar by Steffen Horstmann

Poet: Steffen Hortsmann
Genre: Ghazal- Poetry Collection
Publisher: Patridge

Ghazal is an Arabic word that means ‘talking to women’. We have been exposed to Indian Ghazals already. But ‘Jalsaghar’ has contemporary Ghazals to offer to the readers. A traditional ghazal has five to fifteen couplets, basically seven and is characterized by a repeating word/ phrase which can be seen at the end of one or both lines. ‘Jalsaghar’ is no different. 

Read more here.

April 04, 2017

Book Review: Jim Morgan And The Seven Sins by Bharat Madan

Jim Morgan And The Seven Sins

Author: Bharat Madan
Publisher: Notion Press
Rating: 3.5/5

Stephen King once said that good books do not give away their secrets at once. And ‘Jim Morgan and the seven sins’ can be put in this category, for it tickles the neurons so much so that the intrigue and suspense make you do a double-take. This book is a pot boiler. It offers an amalgamation of mystery, thrill, contentment and fantasy. Unlike the mushy love tales that sell like hot cakes in the market, the plot of this book offers a different perception to the readers.

‘Jim Morgan and the seven sins’ is about Jim, who is a best-selling author of 6 novels. The story begins with his conversation with God. God makes him the part of an accord that if he is able to find out the seven sins he committed in his past life in seven days, he might not rot in hell. The ticking clock and the fervent Jim, both take the pages of the book further as our protagonist tries to reconnect the scattered dots through all his previous books.

With simple and apprehensible narration and fast paced storyline, the author has presented a good book. It takes a lot of vivid thinking and imagination to pen down a fantasy. The characterization is perfect but the idiom ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ fits best here because the abrupt introductions to so many characters were baffling. The connectivity was lost. The title points out to an inscrutable story and that is what helps in building the curiosity. The blurb is apt and the typesetting and font are also fine. Barring few grammatical errors and typos, the story is worth a read. But the errors came as a disappointment as such good story should have been proofread once before publishing.

Overall, a good plot and great work of fiction!

Best wishes to the author!

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Book Courtesy: Urbookmyreview.com

April 03, 2017

Book Review: UNNS by Sapan


Author: Sapan
Publisher: Inspire India
Rating: 3/5

Love is fire; it can burn you alive. Love is ice; it can freeze you to death. Love is life; love is death. Every religion has different definition for love and Unns is one of the stages of love. ‘UNNS’ is a captivating title as it leads to curiosity and eagerness to know more about the term. The book presents a love tale that takes you through a span of several years. With perfect blend of emotions and suspense, this story is worth a read. 

Read more here.

April 02, 2017

Book Review: The Twirled November by Krishna K. Verma

The Twirled November

Author: Krishna K. Verma
Publisher: Inked Company
Rating: 2.5/5

Love triangles are nothing new for us. When everything else fails, movies like ‘Mujhse Dosti Karogi’ and ‘Har dil jo Pyar Karega’ are released. They are entertaining but one has to be prepared to witness the drawn-out romance with a perfect predictable ending. “Twirled November” is a sweet love tale that is relatable and entertaining. The story revolves around Krish and Avantika, who come in contact by chance and are struck hard by Cupid’s arrow.

With a slightly disconnected title, the book offers a story that is not only repetitious but very much predictable. Krish gets infatuated to Avantika and it is only after some time when he realizes that he loves her cousin, Kanak. Amidst sentimental drama and compromises, the story moves further leading to the union of Krish and Avantika. The use of the term ‘A Novel’ is incorrect. The publisher should have taken notice of this and should have corrected it because there is a difference between a novel and a novella. The cover page is nice- sober and subtle. With an apt blurb, the book might be of interest to all college-goers.

I would like to compliment the author’s ability to present this piece of fiction in a language that can be understood by everyone. The organization of content is fine but the layout of the text on each page does not meet the standard.

The book has too many editing errors. Ignorance towards proofreading the text acts as a big drawback. Using simple language is fine but using correct grammar or getting the work proofread by an editor is more important. With finely tuned and paced narration, the author has done an excellent job in making the story interesting.

The plot is gripping but the major drawback lies in the extended descriptions. This book, no doubt, is a quick read and the reason for this is the presence of numerous dialogues. The plot lacks originality. For the ones who are looking for something deep and meaningful, this book might or might not serve the interest.

Another point that I would like to highlight is the abrupt ending of the book. The plot moves at a comfortable pace but suddenly the air sends across happy vibes and the story ends.

Overall, a good effort by the author!
Best wishes!

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