October 20, 2017

Book Review: Inside the Heart of Hope by Rishabh Puri

Author: Rishabh Puri
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Rating: 3.5/5

“Where there is no vision, there is hope.”
― G. W. Carver

The conflict between heart and mind often results in a no-win situation. Working complimentary to each other, these two often confuse and conspire against each other and lead to bad decisions. ‘In the Heart of Hope’ by Srishti Publishers is a light read that not only teaches the readers the importance of self-love but also ensures that the message sent out is vivid and clear.

The story revolves around Rick, who is very ill. The disease starts to take its toll on the mind of the protagonist but he believes in looking for the light at the end of dark tunnel. Instead of being sick at heart, he puts the scattered pieces of his life in place and strives to live happily. He finds love and companionship and starts reliving.

Unlike the other fiction novellas, where there are mushy love tales and everything ends in the cloud cuckoo land, this book offers different and enriching content. The book has a personal and emotional touch. With subtle narrative, the story offers many moments of genuine anguish. It inspires and galvanizes the heart to start hoping.

The title of the book is fine. The blurb is apt. Overall, the simplicity of book is what makes it a marvelous feat!

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Book Review: A Lot Like Love by Sumrit Sahi

A  Lot Like Love
Author: Sumrit Shahi
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 2/5

It has been rightly said that love is a rumour, everyone talks about it, but no one truly knows. Though it is sublime, yet it is difficult to understand the antagonistic side of it. There came a movie titled ‘A Lot Like Love’, starring Ashton Kutcher, in 2005 that made all the lovers go crazy behind the plot. However, ‘A Lot Like Love’ by Sumrit Sahi fails as a perlocutionary act. It fails to impress or leave a lasting impact. With the bountiful use of full stops (pauses), the hurdles in reading seem never-ending.

The story revolves around Arnika, who is attractive and diligent. She joins Shadab’s school and on the very first days gets a chance to meet plucky and amorous, Shadab. They say infatuation is a drug and our two protagonists get addicted to it. The story moves forward owing to several dialogues (rather one-word dialogues) and with literally no twists or turns and ends up in a clichéd climax.

Shadab’s suave or affable personality doesn’t strike the right chord and his chemistry with Arnika lacks the strength. There is no doubt that the narration is simple and understandable, but the use of too many contractions and colloquial language acts as a turn-off.

It comes as a disappointment when a nationally acclaimed writer pens down something as frivolous as this piece of literature. With almost nothing to ponder upon and absence of freshly brewed content, this story is a setback. Nevertheless, Rupa doesn’t fail to impress with fine-tooth comb editing.

Apparently, it is the need of the hour for all the aspiring authors to think out of the box and write on something other than college romance before the genre becomes redundant. They should realize that writing a book is an art and not compulsion. How bluntly they mention in acknowledgement that they are grateful to the readers for making them rich! Is this what all it takes to inscribe your thoughts on a piece of paper?

Overall, the narration type is definitely not my cup of tea but it may be liked by new readers or by those who are on the lookout for short- light romance.

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Book Courtesy: Rupa Publishers


October 15, 2017

Book Review: The Elephant Chaser's Daughter by Shilpa Raj

The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter
Author: Shilpa Raj
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 4/5

There is something incredible about the coarse honesty- it is a perfect blend of bittersweet- arousing pleasure with a hue of pain and sadness! It takes a lot of courage and confidence to relive your past publicly and the authoress has earned my respect through this book. Engaging and interesting- this is what comes to your mind when you finish reading ‘The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter’. This book is a good work of reality. Fluid and careful narration incarcerates a story that reeks of genuine emotions and sleek characterization.

With near-to-perfect technical details, the writing style of the authoress doesn’t fail to impress. The memoir is strong. The way the authoress has divided the content into different scenes is commendable. However, the lack of consistency in certain sections might act as a turn off. Where one chapter describes the emotional trauma the protagonist goes through as an after effect of a sudden death in the family, the very next chapter talks about the life-changing and unprecedented opportunity the protagonist gets that turns out to be a benefit in disguise for her. In the process of absorbing the sudden demise of her sister, the reader soon loses the connection with the character because of abrupt change in scenes. Characterization of the protagonists is balanced. The language is lucid and narration is flawless. The authoress has succeeded in making the readers live every scene of the book. The twists and turns are sure to give you jitters.

The story pokes various societal issues like atrocities against girl child and Untouchability. With so much going on in her life, Shilpa finds herself between the devil and the deep blue sea. The choice between soaring high or getting buried under the orthodox notions of her family/ neighbours tears her soul apart and forces her to take the reins in hand and control her life. She makes a life-changing decision that not only helps her strike a balance with her chaotic mind but also leads her onto a path of self-discovery.

Overall, a good book with lot of intense emotions which offer moments of heartache and sadness!

Best wishes to the author!

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Book Courtesy: Rupa Publishers

Book Promotion: Children's Classic Stories Volume I - Retold by Aniesha Brahma

About the Book:
This gorgeous treasury of ten classic stories is guaranteed to delight and entertain young children, bringing the magic of traditional stories to the new generation of children. Aimed at 8-12-year-olds, each favourite fairy tale or story has been sensitively retold for young readers.
The series 'Children's Classic Stories' contains total 100 stories in 10 volumes. The stories in this collection show the consequences of greed, pride, and vanity, but also tell of the love that grows from a kind heart and a cheerful nature.

Volume 1 includes the following stories:
01. Little Red Riding Hood
02. Cinderella
03. Hansel and Gretel
04. Sleeping Beauty
05. Snow White and Rose Red
06. The Emperor's New Clothes
07. Rumplestiltskin
08. The Wise Little Girl
09. Goldilocks and the Three Bears

10. Rip Van Winkle

About the Author:

Aniesha Brahma knew she wanted to be a writer since she was six years old. She was schooled in Dolna Day School and went on to pursue B.A., M.A., and M.Phil in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. She currently lives in Kolkata, with her family and five pet cats. She is the author of All Signs Lead Back to You, When Our Worlds Collide, The Guitar Girl and The Secret Proposal. She compiled and edited the 10 volumes series, 'Children's Classic Stories' with love and great efforts.

October 09, 2017

Book Review: Army Girl Steals Civilian's Heart by Oswald Pereira

Army Girl Steals Civilian’s Heart
Author: Oswald Pereira
Publisher: Oswald Pereira
Rating: 3/5

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
― André Gide, Autumn Leaves

Love is outlandish, love is traditional; love is precious and love is imperfect. There are too many definitions of love, but we believe in the one that applies to our life. ‘Army Girl Steals Civilian’s Heart’ is a fictitious romance that revolves around Oscar and Amrita. With a predictable plot, the story can be classified as a mushy love tale with a happily-ever-after.

The problems faced in inter-faith marriages have been the talk of the town lately. People are opting their way out of the idea of arranged marriages as they have realized the importance of choosing a right partner with whom they are most compatible. Suave and affable, Oscar is a media person; he is a journalist in one of the leading newspaper. Proud of his personality and achievements, he seems less interested in finding the right girl for himself. Instead, he is an opportunist who burns the midnight oil to become successful. Cupid strikes his heart when he least expects it. The female protagonist, Amrita, a trainee, enters his life and love blossoms.

The plot seems simple till here. It is only after some time that we are made aware that Amrita hails from an Army Background. Not that she is an Army woman but her father and his brothers had the honour of wearing the prestigious uniform.

The title of the story is ambiguous; the word’ army’ in the title can mislead the readers as they might be forced to believe that Amrita is an Army woman. With lucid narration and exemplary vocabulary, the book will impress voracious readers. However, the clichéd plot, anticipated storyline and the humdrum climax fail to leave a lasting impact.

With well drawn-out emotions, the book offers many moments of genuine heartache but the meek development of characters nullifies it all. I did not like the underdevelopment of characters; it was difficult to associate and empathize with them.  

The cover of the book is dull and the title is too long to be catchy. The blurb gives out too many details. The grammatically incorrect title with missing articles could have been made shorter and more precise. Overall, ‘Army Girl Steals Civilian’s Heart’ is a light read that portrays emotions but misses out the essence.

Best wishes to the author!

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October 04, 2017

Book Review: Let's Have Coffee by Parul Mittal

Let’s Have Coffee
Author: Parul Mittal
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 3/5

If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.
~Margaret Thatcher

Love is incredible yet confusing. What lies ahead in the path of love is a deep unfathomable chasm! When in love you cannot decide what is right or wrong. But you can definitely decide who should enter and who should exit your life. ‘Let’s Have Coffee’ is a mushy love tale filled with desire, ambition, desperation and happenstance. It revolves around Meha and Samir and their internal conflicts.

Boiterous and wild, Meha is a wedding planner who aspires to become famous and become as rich as Croesus but nothing goes as planned in her life. Her constant battle with her mind and the crooked lines of her destiny force her to make erratic decisions which she regrets later. Snazzy and suave, Samir is an engineer turned into a freelance photographer. He dreads the idea of marriage but believes in the concept of ‘Friends with Benefits’. While numerous bimbos drool over his personality, he savours each moment and believes in living life to the fullest. Meha and Samir are opposites- not only in terms of likes and beliefs but also in terms of physical appearance. But isn’t it true that opposites attract?

When they first meet, their exes become a medium of introduction for them. Love blossoms and ends up in a one-night stand. Five years later, they meet again just like the protagonists met on the sets of ‘Na tum Jaano Na Hum’- arms in arms, blaming the circumstances and the creator. Love blossoms again. With a little twist here and there, the book concludes with a happily ever-after. This is the gist of the plot. It is more like serving old wine in a new bottle.

The flow of the story is as smooth as silk. I finished reading it in merely 3.5 hours. No doubt it is a breezy read, but still the language is a major problem. Written in present simple tense, the author has goofed up the tenses so much so that the comprehension becomes difficult. The latter part of the story is fine but the initial 4-5 chapters have copious mistakes.

This book is another of ‘Chetan Bhagat’s’ type with Hinglish used as a means to enhance emotions and inclusion of intimate scenes just to spice up the content. Though the authoress has definitely worked hard in the field of plotting and arranging every event sequentially, yet I found something amiss. I felt I had read stories that began when the protagonists had alcohol and the stories that narrated how confusing love is. It was all very clichéd.

The cover is subtle but the title is ambiguous. I like the way the authoress has played with the words throughout the story. Some ideas are admirable but some seem directly plagiarized from Bollywood movies. Yes, the book offers an insight on how the young generation plays around with the concept of relationships but it was nothing that we don’t know already.

Overall, ‘Let’s Have Coffee’ offers brewed romance that can be enjoyed with a steaming cup of coffee!

Best wishes to the author!

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Book Courtesy: Rupa Publishers

October 02, 2017

Book Review: One Last Time by Anubhav Shrivastav Shreevastava

One Last Time
 Anubhav S. Shreevastava
Publisher: Write India
Rating: 3/5

Recently, a story shared by Dan Asmussen about a rich Dad who takes his son to see how poor people live and is floored by the wisdom and compassion his son develops, is doing rounds on social media. On the same note, ‘One Last Time’ is based on the similar idea; Nakul (in early teens) is born with plenty filthy lucre. But his roots belong in the village. Owing to chance and circumstance, he visits his grandmother’s place and is overwhelmed by the life led by people there. He befriends the son of a cultivator and begins an unexpected journey of friendship that looks promising.

Like any other story, a female character is introduced in the story, Aakanksha, who joins the journey. The story takes you through a roller-coaster ride, making you reminiscence the good old days of childhood. The narration and the description makes you relive each and every memory you have of your friend (s). This part of the story is, indeed, good.  
Just like how in the movie ‘Swadesh’ the character transformation plays a major role, here too, a similar theme is targeted. Nakul learns to appreciate the happiness that one gets when time is spent with the loved ones. He learns to value love, time and people. He acknowledges and learns to help others. Owing to Prakash’s strong narratives, the ideas and thoughts are conveyed unmistakably. A round character, Nakul doesn’t fail to impress the readers.

Unlike other mushy love tales, this story maintains the innocence and the essence of friendship in the right sense. However, the role of Akanksha was not justified. Either it should have been completely eliminated and a new angle could have been implemented or her character should have been given more importance.

With a subtle and non-interesting cover, ‘One Last Time’ offers the old wine in a new bottle. The blurb is fine. Often one can encounter incorrect vocabulary usage (Eg. Pg. 44 There was hardly much time left before the cab would arrive- hardly any should have been used here). A breezy read, this book can be given a chance.

Best Wishes to the author!

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Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Smart Shopping by V. Rajesh

Author: V. Rajesh
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 3.5/5

A Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I couldn’t agree more with this statement when I got the chance to read ‘The ultimate Guide to Smart Shopping’. With a hyperbole in the title itself, the book not only looks promising but also delivers what it preaches. Though it is definitely not the ‘ultimate’ guide, yet it addresses some of the most common apprehensions of mind and abates the crusading anxiety. The author’s motive of making the readers read between the lines and understand the consequences of their thought process is successfully accomplished.

Through this book, the readers are made to realize the after effects of their actions; the author tries to link every chain of thought to the origin and then result. At times, one might feel embarrassed when similar instances or situations are narrated.

The language is simple yet some terms might make the readers go crazy (some new terms used in context of marketing). However, the book has the potential to keep the readers glued. The author has explained various marketing strategies and the ways in which the shoppers are lured into buying items that value the least (say for eg. Tazos). Not only this, but the author also showcases his prowess in making his content interesting by concluding each chapter with a list summarized points.  It is, indeed, a class act to first make the readers understand what they have been/ are doing and then giving them a clear-cut solution to the problem.

With fine editing and a catchy cover, this is a light one-time read that can be purchased to adorn the non-fiction section on the bookshelf.

Best wishes to the author!

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September 29, 2017

Book Review: Riding God's Axe by Siva Sadasivan & Kerala- The Divine Destination by Lalitha B.

Riding God’s Axe & Kerala- the Divine Destination
Author: Siva sadasivan & Lalitha Balasubramanian (respectively)

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

I got my hands on these two books as review copies and I am glad I chose them. A treasure of information and perspectives, these books offer immense knowledge and minutiae of God’s own country- Kerala. Written in different narrative styles, each one has a beauty of its own.

Riding God’s Axe
With a plain and non-appealing cover, this book has author’s narratives about his journey by train within the state of Kerala. With long descriptions of feelings and emotions, the content gives the readers a feeling of being physically present and experiencing the same. Lucid and understandable, the vocabulary is not that difficult and time and again typos can be seen. Even the monologues become dreary at times, but still the exquisite descriptions of the magnificent tea estates, lush green carpets and the magnificent mountains win the heart over.

Kerala- The Divine Destination
This book might be savoured by the spiritual neurons that are in the constant urge to resolve the ethos of life. Covering the minutiae of religious places spread across the land of Kerala, it serves as a comprehensive guide for the travelers. Though pictures are amiss, yet the details and the beautiful descriptions of the temples appeal the readers. Not only does this reflect the amount of effort put in by the authoress but also projects her prowess in penning down a travel guide in form of a novella.

I liked the subtle cover too. The language is simple and understandable. I only longed for some nice colourful pictures as that might have enhanced the overall impact of the content.

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Amazon (Riding God's Axe)
Amazon (Kerala- the Divine Destination)

September 28, 2017

Book Review: Before the Sunset by Lakshmi Menon

Before the Sunset
Author: Lakshmi Menon
Publisher: Notionpress
Rating: 3/5

Love is an uncanny emotion as it is ever evolving. Once in love, the troubles of the world appear minute. But fate has a different plan; it either turns the tables upside down or makes the life a bed of red roses. ‘Before the Sunset’, set in Southern India, is a poignant story of love, trust, and revelations.

Read complete review here

Book Review: Tell Me Your Real Story by Savita Nair

Tell Me Your Real Story
Poet: Savita Nair
Genre: Poetry collection
Publisher: Leadstart Publishers (Virgin Leaf Books)

‘Tell Me Your Real Story’ is a lyrical journey of living, loving, and losing. With this poetry collection, the poetess has thrown light on various aspects of life- it complexities and pleasures. This is a collection of 57 poems. With simple and easy-to-understand language, the poetess has demonstrated her prowess in expressing emotions with influential and impactful words. Weaving enjambment in most of her poems, the poetess focuses on conveying the message rather than maintain a proper rhyme scheme. Hence, most poems end up being a free verse.

Some of the most basic topics have been touched upon in this book and it is delightful to read and relate to the situations. The poetess has done a commendable job in portraying all the emotions of the human mind. However, I wished for a proper and shorter title and a more captivating cover design.

The use of vocabulary and language is simple yet influential. The poetess’ selection of words to describe the emotional turmoil is remarkable. Some of the uncommon topics touched by the poetess are an Average individual, boiling tea, revenge, pride, mean and impolite people around and cautious mind.

The book is a good read because of the simplicity with which the emotions were expressed and fomented.
Best wishes to the poetess!

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Book Review: Principles of Success by Roopleen

Author: Roopleen
Publisher: Macmillan Publications
Rating: 3/5

Success comes to those who strive for it. But I also believe that constant support and guidance are equally important to tread on the right path. Walking through the labyrinth of life, trying to decode every possible problem is like walking through a dark tunnel. The distant light can be seen but the distance is unfathomable. Success is that light; you cannot determine how far it is!

‘Principles of Success’ is a self-help book that streamlines the process involved in attaining success. The authoress has divided the process into 14 steps, namely:

1.   Draft the Blueprint of Your Life
2.   Believe in Yourself
3.   Build Yourself Up
4.   Let Confidence Be Your Hallmark
5.   Never Give Up
6.   Visualizations and Positive Affirmations
7.   The Tripod of Success- Hard Work, Perseverance and Discipline
8.   Identify Your Achilles’ Heel
9.   Skills You Need to Master
10.                     Get Tough With Stress
11.                     Organize Yourself- Declutter Your Life
12.                     Acknowledge and Celebrate Your Success
13.                     Be a Winner
14.                     The X-Factor

Each step has been described in clear and simple language. However, the commonness of the central idea and the availability of content in various forms by various authors might be one of the reasons why the book is not well-received by everyone. Though the presentation and organization have been done skillfully so that it is understandable by a layman also, yet the redundancy of the material acts as a drawback.

With a simple cover but precise blurb, the book looks enticing and is a quick read. The facts shared in the book are the known ones- only that the ink acts as a reminder for the brain. 

Overall, the book has something fruitful to offer and is a light read. Give it a try.

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