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Adity Kay's Emperor Chandragupta & Emperor Vikramaditya

Title: Emperor Chandragupta, Emperor Vikramaditya

Author: Adity Kay

Publisher: Hachette

Genre: Historical fiction

Format: Paperback

Synopsis of Emperor Chandragupta, 2016:

Building an empire is not easy, especially when there are enemies everywhere and no one you can trust. India, 326 BCE. The world’s greatest conqueror, Alexander, the Greek emperor, is at its doorstep, having arrived at the Indus seeking to establish his dominion over the entire known world. In the east lies Magadha, ruled by the Nandas, a dynasty driven by greed, lust and hunger for power.  From the embers of that lust and avarice a boy has been born, raised by a tribe of peacock-tamers – a boy named Moriya forced by the Nanda clan to be on the run. Aided by Chanakya, a political strategist at odds with his former rulers, who trains him in the ways of the world and christens him Chandragupta, the young man ventures across the vast Magadhan empire to form an army of his own and seek out the foreign invader. But being a warrior prince, he finds, comes at a heavy price – assassins appointed by the Nanda kings will stop at nothing to eliminate him, a rival prince seeks revenge through cruelty and friends are no longer what they seem… 

This is the story of a youth who must fight against all odds – within and without – to become one of the greatest emperors ever known. This is the story of Chandragupta Maurya. 

Synopsis of Emperor Vikramaditya, 2019:

Love. Family. Home. Chandra has sacrificed it all at the altar of duty. now, he has to choose between duty and justice. India, fourth century CE. Peace reigns in the land of Magadha, under the rule of Emperor Samudragupta. New alliances are made every day, trade and the arts flourish, and Chandra ? the young prince ? leads his father?s horse across the length of Bharatvarsha as a part of the ashwamedha yagna, cementing the emperor?s influence. The kingdom is at its peak, but Chandra?s thoughts are clouded, his heart heavy. As his elder brother, Ramagupta, prepares to take their ageing father?s place on the throne, Chandra, bound as he is to obey the future king, wrestles constantly with his brother?s decisions ? decisions he believes are inimical to the stability of the empire. And so begins a tale of conflict between two brothers: one drunk on power, buoyed by the unmitigated support of the Pataliputra court, the other a seeming outsider in the palace, who yet commands the people?s loyalty and love. And when an enemy unlike any before rises to challenge the Guptas? might, Chandra must overcome his demons in order to protect his people and become a king in his own right ? he must become Vikramaditya. 

A brilliant new historical fiction series by Adity Kay, Emperor Chandragupta and Emperor Vikramaditya, is filled with action, adventure, battles, politics, and family drama! I had great fun curling up with these as the heavens poured outside, and even as the sun shined on. 

Disclaimer: I received review copies from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

My review for Emperor Chandragupta:

In Emperor Chandragupta, we follow the young Moriya, as the eponymous  ruler was known back when he was a child, growing up in a tribe of peacock tamers, from his childhood to his mighty reign over the great kingdom of India. This journey from such obscurity is a long and arduous one and  the author has successfully touched upon most, if not all, of the important events from is life.

The atmospheric sense is amazing. The description of the world is enough to make you feel as if you are part of the India of those times, and the events are happening in your own lifetime. The ambience is glorious and encompasses the extravagant courts at Pataliputra and Alexander’s camp, as well as the natural scenes of the dry deserts of the west.

The characterization of Chandragupta and Chanakya was profound. Aided by his mentor, Chandragupta ultimately overpowers the great Magadhan Empire. The interrelationships among the various other characters were also well explored, although a few could have seen more depth. The political aspect, which is undoubtedly one of the most important in a novel of this type, was also well portrayed through the various glimpses into the administrative system, the perception of dharma and how it influences human actions, the search for allies etc was on point. There is adventure as well, and action, that is bound to keep you in the edge of your seats.

My review for Emperor Vikramaditya:

A prequel to Emperor Chandragupta, Adity Kay’s Emperor Vikramaditya was a well awaited book for me. I had picked up the first book and was mesmerized by it. So after finishing that one, I was absolutely very excited to pick up the sequel as well.

Vikramaditya is the younger son of King Samudragupta, he was also called the Chandragupta II. Throughout this book we see the constant struggles he faces – it is a lot about people facing their fears I suppose. Chandra does not at all agree with his elder brother Ramagupta’s viewpoints. Like Dumbledore once said, it is easy to rise up against one’s enemies, but the greatest courage lies in standing up against one’s friends. Likewise, as Ramagupta starts making decisions, which are harmful for the country in the long term, young Chandra has to plunge headfirst into trying to stand up against what he believes are wrong views of his profligate brother.

With a lucid writing style, Adity Kay has again managed to drown the readers into the story of this legendary figure in India’s history. The gripping narrative is supported by a great plotline, full of emotions that are real and so very relatable, with characters that feel so real you could probably touch them, and dialogues. Filled to the brim with action and adventure, Emperor Vikramaditya was a stunning sequel to the first book in the series – Emperor Chandragupta.

Verdict:

I had an amazing time, reading the books. I rate them both 4/5 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 .

The Case that Shook the Empire, 2019

Title: The Case that Shook the Empire

Author: Raghu Palat and Pushpa Palat

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Non-fiction

Format: Hardcover

Language: English

No. of pages: 187

Synopsis:

30 April 1924.

At the Court of the King’s Bench in London, the highest court in the British Empire, an English judge and jury head the case that would change the course of India’s history: Sir Michael O’Dwyer, the former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab – and the man whose policies led to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre – had filed a defamation case against Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair for having published a book in which he referred to the ‘atrocities’ committed by the Raj in Punjab.

The widely-reported trial – one of the longest in history – stunned a world that finally recognized some of the horror being committed by the British in India.

Through reports of court proceedings along with a nuanced portrait of a complicated nationalist who believed in his principles above all else, The Case that Shook the Empire reveals,  for the very first time, the real details of the fateful case that marked the defining moment in India’s struggle for Independence.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Case that Shook the Empire tells us of the real truth, we hardly find in our history books. I myself had been unknowing of so many facts surrounding the infamous Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and this book was critical in informing me of the great man who dared.

When it comes to the writing, the book reads like a story. Beginning with a section on Sir Nair’s life, we slowly are introduced to the Punjab section, where the authors tell us or rather show (such is the vivid imagery) the atrocities inflicted on the Indian people. Leading up to the massacre, and the aftermath as the court proceedings take place, this is without doubt one of the most important events that marked a defining moment in India’s struggle for independence. The court proceeding scenes were just as intriguing to witness as well. It is a horrific tale that details the facts we have never read in our history books. I love how the writing flows smoothly, making it a good read. The authors also ensure that the reader is not bored – not that the events covered will let anyone rest. It is a tumultuous read that left me teary-eyed at some points, while at others, with gooseflesh at the back of my neck. However, I did find the text a bit repetitive at times.

The authors have also pointed out the differences in opinion between Nair and Gandhi. Gandhi and Anarchy is a book I intend to pick up soon. One of the things that was shown was that Sir Nair was a real character – he was a bit flawed at times, if you have certain perspectives – but he was unapologetically loyal to the principles he had for himself. He always strived to live up to those standards and ensured that he did his best at all times. His character is truly an inspiration for so many of us.

Verdict:

This was an informative read that I really felt genuinely while reading. I rate it 4/5 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 .

The Monsters Still Lurk, by Aruna Nambiar, 2019

Title: The Monsters Still Lurk

Author: Aruna Nambiar

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Published on:  20th July, 2019

Genre: Post-Independence

Format: Paperback

Language:  English

No. of pages: 260

Synopsis:

We were an ordinary family, with conventional lives. We were mostly happy, but always cautious of too much happiness. We were hardly religious, just pious enough to keep us on the straight and narrow. We bickered a little but would never have thought to be estranged. We feared illness and anticipated eventual death, but we expected life to follow a certain path, a particular schedule. Until…

It is 1991. As Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated and a new government comes to power, setting in motion a process of economic reforms that will transform India, an ordinary family is about to experience detours from the traditional middle-class script of their lives. Over the next quarter century, as the world around them changes in ways unexpected, their lives too wind along uncharted trails, sometimes sunlit, sometimes shadowy and forbidding. 

Funny, perceptive and moving, The Monsters Still Lurk is a bittersweet saga of love, loss, ageing and shifting family dynamics, and a keenly observed portrait of post-liberalization India that captures the zeitgeist of a rapidly evolving society.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Monsters Still Lurk, although fiction, gives a great idea of how life had been post-independence, when India was just learning to function as a sovereign country of her own. Through the eyes of Vivek, we are taken on a journey across a quarter of a century as India changes and people have to change along with the times. It is not easy, rather very turbulent and filled with highs and lows.

The major themes covered in this book were family, the fear and acceptance of responsibility as we all grow up in the face of various events that happen around us, war, crisis, friendship, the sibling bond etc. The American Dream is also another theme – it is basically the dream that so many people belonging to the third-world countries have – that America is the land of dreams and opportunities. As such, so many people wanted to migrate there and it was a driving force behind the actions of many people, across various economic levels.  

The political scenario of this period was not a very calm one. As such, the book also portrays the major events in our history as perceived through the eyes of a normal middle class family. The Kargil War, the Babri masjid demolition, the Indian Depression, 9/11 etc are some of the periods the writer mentions in the book.

It was a great read overall. Although a bit bland at times due to the political aspects, the author has weaved together good writing, interesting characters and significant portions of inida’s history to make this a deep and insightful read.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book and I rate it 4/5 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 .

Elt-Duk and the Company of Gold Hunters, by Yash Sharma, 2018

Title: Elt-Duk and the Company of Gold Hunters

Author: Yash Sharma

Publisher: Invincible Publishers

Genre: Fantasy

Format: Paperback

Language: Language

No. of pages: 150

Synopsis:

Tigun, Misarel, and O’blame decide to embark upon the biggest hunt of their age in Elt-duk (a mystical mountain) with Tigun’s son Asto. They start out bigger and stronger than ever before, but a chance encounter with a mysterious man on their journey reveals to them that something horrible is underway at Elt-duk. An unknown terror is spread all over the Earth, and all of humanity is unaware of it. Evil is growing, angels are falling, men are confused and scattered, decisions are tough to make and makes men cry, but the angels say, Let men try. With the agreement for the hunt survive? They only wished to hunt for gold, but this turn of events has brought them face to face with the biggest enemy himself, evil incarnate. How will they cope? Will help come in time? Elt-Duk wants its ruler and the evil is ready for It.

My review:

I received a review copy from the author in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Elt-Duk was an interesting fantasy read. I assume this is the first in a series the author intends to do. However, without giving a spoiler, I felt that the synopsis did not do justice to the story. I went in expecting a different pace, but while the story was good, it seemed only as a back-story to the events described in the synopsis.

The narrative was gripping and the mystery and adventure element was replete in the story. The author has done well in representing various types of behaviours and human values in the characters as we see such variety in their natures. For instance, the author shows the issue of friends fighting among themselves under pressure, albeit verbal. The blame game is common in our lives and the author uses it here too. Like, when O’blame and Misarel start to blame Tigun in the beginning, before the trip even starts. The themes of good over evil, bravery, war and universal and as such, I believe, easily relatable for the readers.

However, I think that perhaps the author needs to use more pronouns as the use of names for so many times makes it a bit cumbersome to read through. There are also a few grammatical errors…

Verdict:

I enjoyed reading this book and I rate it 3/5 stars.

About the author:

Yash Sharma was born in Kota, Rajasthan – the city renowned for its medical & engineering studies, but he didn’t follow suit. Instead, he choose commerce and carved out his path in this field, not wanting to continue with Maths and Science as his subjects of study. He has been working in the real-estate sector for the past five years, but has gained experience in various domains and areas of work before, not wanting to be tied down to just one.
He loves outdoor sports, football being his favourite. He holds a special interest for writing and has penned down multiple short stories and poems before.

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 .

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!

An Assortment of Sorts, Ajay Ramanathan, 2018

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Title: An Assortment of Sorts
Author: Ajay Ramanathan
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 140
Synopsis:
The book ‘An Assortment of Sorts’ is a collection of 109 poems that the author Ajay Ramanathan has written & compiled so far. A majority of the author’s work is personal in nature as they are a reflection of author’s personal experiences during various periods of his life and they predominantly deal with life, love, rejection, joys, and anecdotes etc. Inspired by realistic themes in art, the author would best like to classify his writing style as a whole under the genre of ‘realism’. Ajay truly means it when he says this book is an ‘Assortment’ due to the different kinds of flavour and variety in this book with regard to themes and topics.
My review:
An Assortment of Sort is a great collection of some very good poetry pieces. The themes covered are very diverse- one can read some very heart touching and musical pieces on love, life, rejection, with some added anecdotes as well. As such, it can have a varied range in the readers’ ages. People from different age groups are bound to enjoy it.
The language used is simple but also very lucid as such there is a nice flow to the words. It is contemporary though, so keep that in mind. The combination of both rhyming scheme and blank verse in the poems adds a nice spice for all. Classified under the genre of realism, many are realistic and I feel drawn from the author’s own life experiences. As such it also adds certain authenticity and relatability to the work. As a reader, one can connect to the author’s feelings that pour out from the page into one’s own heart and soul. The titles of the various poems are well named and striking.
One thing that I think can be worked upon and improved ids the author’s tendency to elongate certain points that could have done without it. But I also cannot deny at certain other poems, it worked in the author’s favour and only enhanced the reading experience. There are also some errors in the punctuation that must be corrected in the future editions. The cover and title are very modern and in its abstractness, the reader is compelled to think and introspect themselves.
Verdict:
This anthology was one that I truly enjoyed and will be picking up soon again. I also rate this a 3.5/5 stars!
 
 

War in My Town, E. Graziani, 2014

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Title: War in my Town
Author: E. Graziani
Publishers: Second Story Press
Genre: Memoir/War literature
Format: EBook
 
Synopsis:
Teenaged Bruna’s life is turned upside down when her small Italian village becomes the centre of fighting in the last months of the Second World War.
Bruna is the youngest of seven children, living an idyllic life in a small village in Italy in the 1940s. As the Second World War unfolds Bruna’s life remains largely the same. By 1943, her biggest disappointment is that food rationing means there is no cake to celebrate her fourteenth birthday. The Italian leader Mussolini’s allegiance to Hitler and the distant reports of fighting seem far away from their lives.
But when the Italian people turn against their fascist regime, war comes to their region. Bruna struggles to cope as Nazi soldiers descend to occupy their village, and she must help her mother and sisters stand up to the occupying soldiers. Her peaceful life is turned upside down by the fact that her beloved little village is now the centre of the final stage of fighting between the Allies and the Germans, the only front left defended by the Nazis in Italy.
Including photographs and maps, War In My Town is a true story based on the experiences of author E. Graziani’s mother and her family.
 
My review:
 
I will begin by stating that I loved this book so much that I read it twice. Yes, twice! Over the course of a month.
War in my Town is a memoir. It is about the author’s mother, a then young girl, a mere teenager and her experience in the small village of Eglio, which was on the Gothic Line, which was again, one of the last Nazi strongholds towards the end of WWII. It was no surprise to me when I learnt that this book has been taught in schools as well. At a considerably short length, this book is a truly touching and harrowing read.
The themes of war and survival strike out the most from this piece of war literature about a certain chapter from the history of WWII that is not much known by all. Being an Italian household, we also see elements of friendship, the importance of family and love, sharing, human bonds that defy all odds as well as the human spirit that stands strong in the face of all adversity. War In My Town has beautifully combined these elements to provide an unforgettable experience for the reader. What keeps you aware throughout is that, the book is true in all its totality. Like the author says, it is 100% real. And knowing that, I couldn’t help but cry at so many points. This book has truly touched my heart.
The plot spans throughout the war years- and we see the household grow and support each other. The sisters and brothers of the protagonist are all loving and beautiful and the mother is such a strong and brave soul, truly.
Verdict:
War In My Town was a really wonderful read and I suppose y reading the first line in my review, you will clearly believe me. Nonetheless, I reiterate that I loved this book and shall recommend it to all. I rate this a total 5/5 stars!