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February 2019 Wrap-up!

So back in February 2018, I read a only 4 books and so this time around, I knew I had to beat myself. I have an overall reading goal of at least around 10 books each month in 2019, and so with great gusto, I went it, with quite high hopes!

And I ended up reading 20 books and I was very happy about it. So without further ado, the books I read are:

  1. The Wake-Up Girl by Niharika Jindal (Click here to check out the review)
  2. The Stalker by Sandeep Sharma (Click here)
  3. The Lupanarium by Adele Leigh (Click here)
  4. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (Click here)
  5. Shadows of the Night by Priyanka Lal (Click here)
  6. Kaalkoot by S. Venkatesh (Click here)
  7. The Perfect Drug by Chaitanya Saini (Click here)
  8. The Anonymous by Nidhi Kukreja (Click here)
  9. The Poetics by Aristotle
  10. Honey and the Moon by Kamini Kusum (Click here)
  11. Blood and Beloved by Krimson Ravyn (Click here)
  12. The Vanishing of Subhas Bose by Rajesh Talwar (Click here)
  13. Smokes and Whiskey by Tejaswini Divya Nair (Click here)
  14. Unstoppable by Gayathri Ponvannan (Click here)
  15. The Glass House by Chanchal Sanyal (Click here)
  16. Fireside Chat with a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer by Ryan Suvaal (Click here)
  17. Between You and Me by Atul Khanna (Click here)
  18. The Husband Test by Helen Bianchin
  19. Moromor Deuta/Dear Father by Bhandra Nath Saikia (Click here)
  20. Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley (Click here to check the Finding Esme Box post; click here to check the Finding Esme Unboxing post; click here to check the Finding Esme Review!)

I am really happy with my progress and hope to read some more good books in March as well!

Between You and Me, by Atul Khanna, 2018

Title: Between You and Me

Author: Atul Khanna

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Non-fiction

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 291

Recommended for: For people interested in reading about the political-social-economic scenarios of India.

Synopsis:

A young soul trapped in an old body. 

A ticking clock slower than time. 

Can this be the ironic destiny of 600 million bright and young Indians? Are we born free and yet trapped by our circumstances?

Between You and Me is a conversation that makes the reader ponder about the much-needed transformational changes for the twenty-first century. Why should we get up to act only when we are pushed to the corner? After all, a stitch in time saves nine. Could it be that the parameters of economics, administration, democracy, and social and political constitutions were all ideated and executed for another era? Will tinkering with these institutions help or are fresh ideas needed?

Encompassing an extensive discussion and analysis of what comprise our society-government, economy, education, healthcare, science, technology and so on-this book gives the reader a holistic view of India and helps in deriving solution-oriented ideas for a new societal design and structure which will ensure a thriving democracy. It presents the hope and aspiration of an ancient society that wants to break through the colonial legacy and land safely into the future. It is a gripping petition with operating models for redefining the citizen’s role-from the audience to the hero-which, if implemented, would bring societal moksha of peace, power and prosperity. 

My review:

My review:

Between You and Me is unlike any book I have come across in recent years. While strictly a non-fiction, the writing skill of the author is such that he makes the book read like a collection of stories at times. The cover does not reveal much I admit, but the book is a treasure trove on the inside.

I cannot stress enough on the importance of this book. Admittedly, it is not something that someone very young might understand; the concepts are explained in a simple way but still, the issues that the author deals with in the book, are enormous in size with just as much an enormous importance as well.

The author has an engaging style of writing that hook the reader from the very start. It happened to me – a person who really disliked non-fiction! The pacing is quite slow however, but that, I suppose, is really alright for something of this magnitude. The author has taken up a significant responsivity in writing about what he believes are wrongs done to us. The author delves in an India, encompassing every aspect of our society, be it government, economy, education, healthcare science etc. Of course, the addition of some story-like narrations of various leaders of India were a great addition to the book and really rounded it out well.

I cannot emphasize the importance of this book enough. This is undoubtedly an important book that I believe all students of the Humanities stream, as well as the Science stream too, should take up. This book is to be read in a slow manner. The various discussions and analysis that th author brings in are truly thought-inducing and forces one to ponder over them hours after being done with the day’s reading.

I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in 

Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book and I rate it a 4.5/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Fireside Chat with a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer, by Ryan Suvaal, 2019

Title: Fireside Chat with a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer

Author: Ryan Suvaal

Publisher: Self-published

Genre: Thriller/Psychological/novella

Format: E-Book

Language: English

No. of pages: 23

Recommended for: All psychological thriller buffs can go for this short novella.

Synopsis:

Seventeen gruesome killings across the United States, within a span of six months and there is one clear connection among victims. They were all writers. 
While media is decorating the murders with sensationalist stories, and law enforcement is playing catch-up, the homicidal maniac remains elusive and secretive. 
Things get very interesting, when one day she decides to appear on an internet talk show for an honest fireside chat. 

My review:

For such a short psychological thriller, this book was surely a page-turner. Despite its short length it is amazingly fantastic.

The idea that the author has taken up, is in itself very intriguing – for a person to turn a killer because of reading book which lacks the proper grammar! This idea itself of a ‘Grammar Nazi’ being a serial killer is enough to make you take a second look at the book.

What is also great is that this book seems like an aftermath of the killings, when the killer reveals what she does and why she does it. In this way, she too reveals information of the host of the show – which mind you, no one has been able to do so. In one way you cannot help but admire the acumen of this infamous lady killer. She is precise and definitely knows what she is doing – she knows her abilities and uses them to the full of her capability. The author has really carved out a character who seems very real – almost ass if she is one among us. The book reads smoothly as well. It genuinely feels like you’re listening to this show and not merely reading this in a book.


The pacing was kept on-point and the author has done a great job with this seemingly short read. The research shows through. The subtle imagery was also on point! With an amazing surprise at the end, this book comes like a punch, one that you can completely read through easily, under an hour. And a shout out to the author for the blatant message – readers absolutely do not enjoy reading books which have a ton of grammatical errors!

Verdict:

I really enjoyed reading this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars. Definitely recommend it to all crime buffs!

About the author:

Ryan Suvaal is passionate about writing page-turner psychological thrillers. His favorite hangout is a coffee shop where he guzzles in tonnes of caffeine and weaves characters pumped up with deadly intentions and worlds full of thrill, suspense, and gore.
“Fireside Chat with a Grammar Nazi Serial Killer” is one of the first in a series of Psychological thrillers which he has penned down during past few months, which will now be sequentially released on Amazon.

“A deep-rooted question always keeps broiling inside of me. This question is whether I am writing the story or the story is forcing me to write it? Am I the actor and story is the art, or story is the actor and I am the medium?”

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Kaalkoot: The Lost Himalayan Secret, by S. Venkatesh, 2018

Title: Kaalkoot

Author: S. Venkatesh

Publisher: TreeShade Books

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 343

Recommended for: Ages 13 and up!

Synopsis:

January 1944 
Holed up in a Himalayan hideout, freedom fighter Manohar Rai has to take a chilling decision – one that could mean life or death for millions of people. His only hope is a mysterious young man, who goes into hiding hours before Manohar is shot dead in cold blood. 

June 2018 
A forgotten legend from the upper reaches of the Himalayas is rearing its ominous head. 
The world will be brought to its knees. KaalKoot will strike again. 
Only three people have a clue about the horrors that are about the unfold. The only hope for survival lies buried deep in the remotest corner of Himalayas. But a terrible fate awaits those who seek it. 
Is it already too late Is KaalKoot – the primordial plague – unstoppable?

My review:

I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in

A sci-fi mixed with mythology and adventure – Kaalkoot was a perfect read for the cool nights to curl up with. Reading this book was an amazing experience and I absolutely loved every minute of the ride.

Firstly, being divided into the different parts proved invaluable in giving the reader a view into the minds of the different characters of the story. While Sameer may be the conventional protagonist, each of the characters made by the author were real in their own terms with various layers to their being. Thus in terms of character development, the author has excelled by far and beyond, for each one was round and whole.

The plot was unpredictable and one couldn’t think up on what happened next. The author continued taking the reader on the twists and turns and they were mind blowing. I have to say that the author did a really good job in keeping at least me, if not undoubtedly many more readers as well, hooked on until the very end.

The themes of deceit, the nature of man, good versus evil, are all undoubtedly very common but the author has given a twist on them, thus making the narrative very interesting. The inclusion of mythology mixed with science is also again, very innovative and made everything so much more real. Most importantly, the author made sure that all of these would remain and haunt the readers’ minds even after finishing the book.

The adventure aspect of this also was very well-written. The scenes which were worth all the nail-biting the reader goes through, are really well-planned and executed to perfection.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book and rate it a 4.5/5 stars. I believe that if you are fan of Dan Brown or Jeffrey Archer or Robert Galbraith, this book might also help you widen your scopes in the genre in India.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Tinkling of the Bell, Sonika Shandilya, 2017


Publishers: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Synopsis:
We don’t meet people by accident.
They are meant to cross our paths for a reason.
When Jai met Sakshi, by sheer chance, he couldn’t have imagined he’d one day be visiting Europe with her for a countryside fashion tour. All he heard was the tinkling of a bell somewhere in his heart. When Sakshi met Jai the next time, she barely knew their friendship would run deeper than anything she had ever wished for.
He is an aspiring police officer and she wants to be a leading designer in the world of fashion. Will their different paths take them to the same destination we call love, or will hurdles change the way love happens?
More than that, is love really enough? Join their journey as they find out in the Tinkling of the Bell… Before it Rings.
My Review:
Tinkling of the Bell before it rings is a beautiful book, interweaving love and friendship in a beautiful way. The themes of love, family, friendship, and also passion, abound this new-adult book and as a light-read, the author has done a good job with it. The various aspects of life with all its ups and downs are well-connected and the reader cannot help feel that the incidents are happening in real.
The title of the book is really apt when it comes to the story and really justifies the situations that the characters go through. These characters are also well made- they are round and make sane decisions- one thing which most characters in new-adult don’t, and piss me off. Jai and Sakshi seems like really sensible and mature persons who are really compatible. The bonus is that they have some really good friends and family who always support and encourage them both.
The cover is also going well with the book, but can be better definitely. The manner of writing was also well. I could not find any editing or grammatical errors and this just points to how well the process was carried out. There is a beautiful flow and continuation of thoughts throughout the whole novel that just puts it all together and the overall effect was quite enjoyable. The language used is also easy and lucid.
However, I think that these two overs did not have to cross hurdles in order to reach each other. It’s a personal view and I realize that many people prefer this simple style. Moreover, the inclusion of Hindi lines in between the prose, through the use of poems, songs and shayeri is a sore point with me.
My verdict:
I rate this story a 4/5 stars!