Tag Archives: #bookblog

Laugh & Learn with Dr. Parikh, 2019

Title: Laugh & Learn with Dr. Parikh

Conceptualized by: Dr. Samir Parikh, Kamna Chhibber, Divya Jain, and Mimansa Singh

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Synopsis:

Laugh & Learn is a comic series conceptualized to help children navigate various social and emotional challenges that come their way.
In the first volume on STUDY AND EXAM SKILLS, join Addy and Anayka as they learn how to study better, improve their memory and concentration, help their parents calm down, and most of all, have fun with exams!

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.

So I and my brother read this book over the course of two weeks. And what a tussle we had! We wanted to go fast but since he was having his exams, I wanted him to implement some new tips every day, as well. From my point of view, I think that the inclusion of the illustrations made it a rally very interesting read. The language is quite easy so children can read it on their own. The comic book style is an innovative step! And the smell of the book was beautiful!

My brother too loved that it is so simple and yet effective. Unlike some other self-help books (and he has read a few), this one does not beat around the bush and directly points out the ways in which students (or adults even) can implement these. I myself inculcated a few from the book – for instance, even though I knew and had used the Pomodoro technique, I had fallen out of it for a few months. So I again went back to that. There are other amazing exercises as well which can be done to improve your concentration etc.

To be very honest, although this book is aimed towards the younger end of the spectrum, I think everyone can benefit from it. I did. It is just that as we grow up we forget the basic rules and tenets that helped us excel back in our schooldays!

Verdict:

Lovely book! 4/4 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 Broken Amoretti, by Sudipto Das and Aparajita Dutta, 2019

Title: The Broken Amoretti

Author: Sudipto Das, Aparajita Dutta

Publisher: Olive Turtle, in imprint of Niyogi Books

Genre: Romance

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 296

Synopsis:

“Unusually bold narrative… Almost lyrical in nature” Times of India

To begin afresh, after her broken marriage, Saoli returns to India and starts living in Prembajar at the house her grandfather had bought from Bitasta’s father. While cleaning the house, Saoli comes across an old diary, perhaps belonging to Bitasta’s mother, Panchali. The diary has a very cryptic poem written in dactylic hexameter, the archaic meter of the ancient Greek epics. Aware of the fact that Sairandhri didn’t let her son, Parush, marry Bitasta, even though Sairandhri and Bitasta’s mother were the best of friends, Saoli gets in touch with the reckless Parush, recently accused in a high-profile IP theft case in the US. As Parush tells Saoli about his heedless and shattered life, his unrequited love affair with Bitasta, his lifelong hatred for his mother, and his topsy-turvy corporate career in the US, Saoli unearths the darkest secrets 
hidden in the cryptic poem for so long. 

Why didn’t Sairandhri want Parush to marry Bitasta? Why was Bitasta the only person she wished to see on her death-bed? Why had she been nothing more than a beautiful but lifeless mural at home? The cryptic poem has the answers. 

Join Saoli and Parush in their journey to decode the past and discover their real identities, where love can never be chained by stereotypes. It’s time to set love free!

My review:

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

So I had no idea this book would contain so many Greek references when I picked it up. Anyway, The Broke Amoretti is a story told through Saoli’s perspective, a woman who has recently separated from her husband and has settled as a lecturer at IIT Kharagpur. She meets Parushni in a seminar and the story begins from then on. Parush and Bitasta had a famous romance although Parush’s mother Sairandhri never let him marry the woman he loved, despite the fact that Bitasta’s mother Panchali was her bosom friend. It had always remained a mystery and as Saoli tries to decipher the meaning of the enigmatic poem she finds in Panchali’s diary, we come to know more about this story.

The character of Saoli was with multiple layers – she is suffering after that separation from her husband. She is a brilliant scholar, and she is also a kind friend. However, at times I found that her reactions to things that were not actually right (in terms of literature) was contemptuous and I am not sure that I something I appreciate in people, to be honest.

Moreover, Bitasta was not a likeable character for me. It seemed as if she had a chip on her shoulder and I did not like the way her behaved with Parush. It was just too complicated for me.

The most important themes shown here is the LGBTQ spectrum of love and relationship, especially in India. Parushni and Saoli in fact have a common theme in their papers – lesbianism, back when they first met. This theme itself runs and weaves so many events together in the story, it proves to be an important one not just in societal aspects but in terms to the story as well.

There is an inclusion of Greek mythology throughout the book. For instance, Rikshi and Kalyani are compared to Artemis and Callisto. The juxtaposition of Greek mythology against Tagore, Kalidasa’s stories and poems abounded the book. While I appreciate the authors’ attempts at this inclusion, I am not sure if they gelled well, although they did seem to, superficially. Another thing I did not like was that there were too many characters and their interrelationships were too complex for me to remember.

However, the writing style is lovely. Literary allusions are always welcome to read about and I enjoyed them very much. The inclusion of various subplots and doing away with the Unity of action was well done.

Verdict:

I rate this book 3.5/5 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 .

June Wrap-Up 2019

Hey guys! Hope you are doing well! I have been having terrifically hectic days at my new internship and although it gets cumbersome at times, I just tell myself that this will teach me a lot. Working in a private workspace has been an enlightening experience, as I have only ever worked from home and that has been much more liberal. Nonetheless, I have made some great friends and we have been having a blast.

Anyway, I am back with my June Wrap up! I could read 16 books in June and that was impressive I think, considering that my finals were going on throughout June. I am very proud of myself. Therefore, here are the books I read:

  1. Upon a Burning Throne
  2. Reunited with the Billionaire
  3. The Third Mrs Durst
  4. City of Girls
  5. Circus Folk and Village Freaks
  6. The Right Time
  7. The Good Fight
  8. Swami and Friends
  9. Mated to the Pride
  10. Womb of Fireflies
  11. The Duchess
  12. Dangerous Games
  13. Hunting Prince Dracula
  14. Lost and Found
  15. His Errant Ward
  16. The Intelligence Trap

This was a great month and thanks to all the publishers for sending me these amazing books! I never fail to thank God for these wonderful opportunities.

Also featuring the stone I painted at the Etsy session! Loved attending it and I believe it was the highlight of the month!

Narasimha: The Mahaavatar Trilogy Book 1, by Kevin Missal, 2019

Title: Narasimha: The Mahaavatar Trilogy Book 1

Author: Kevin Missal

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Genre: Mythology/Fantasy/Fiction

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 346

Synopsis:

Narasimha, once a brave soldier, has left the war and lies low as a physician in a village. But a familiar face from his past seeks his help to stop the tyranny of the blind usurper Andhaka. If Narasimha refuses, the world might just end. What will he do? And why did he leave the war in the first place? Prahlad, the interim king of Kashyapuri, is torn between the ideals of his unrighteous father and his love for Lord Vishnu. Whom will he choose? Hiranyakashyap, the ruler of the Asura Empire, wants to avenge the death of his wife. To do that, he must go through the Trials and get the ultimate weapon – the Brahmastra. But the Trials have sent so many others to their death. Can Hiranyakashyap survive?

My review:

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

I picked up this book because I was in the mood for something like fantasy but with an Indian twist! And besides I have had this book in my TBR pile for so long, that when I remembered that this totally was a fit for my reading hunger pangs, I knew it was destiny!

Firstly, I really like the cover (Please don’t judge me; I’ve got a serious thing for covers!) and this interpretation that the author has regarding this famous character from our mythology is really refreshing. And I did not really notice his face but after I read how the author has portrayed the simha tribe, I could see the difference! Comment if you can understand my drift!

One of the most important yet underlying themes I saw was the background to Andhaka – his past basically, that has shaped him into the man he is. Child abuse is something not talked about as often in these books and I really applaud the author’s inclusion of it. it just is important in making us aware how such behaviour can scar a person for life.

Moreover, Narasimha’s character arc is very significant in this story I think and I enjoyed reading it. The other characters, although not all good, and some not very bad, are really fascinating nonetheless. There was depth to their thinking, their behaviour and their action and so I really enjoyed the web that he author has weaved around them all, to create a thrilling storyline.

The book was evenly paced, bordering on the faster side of the spectrum and it never let you get bored. The world building was also great. Also, the focus on relationships that these characters had with each other were also great for us to explore. Filled with vengeance, ambition, revenge, etc. this was a mythological thriller!

Verdict:

It was an enjoyable read and I rate it 3.75/5 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 .

Truly Devious, Maureen Johnson, 2018

Title: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publisher: HarperCollins

Format: eBook

Language: English

Pages: 288

Synopsis:

Author Maureen Johnson weaves a tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a new series.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

My review:

Truly Devious is a new YA murder mystery, the first in an upcoming trilogy (I think!) and I am so very glad that I picked it up. After having read the book, I definitely think that I will continue with this series.

Going into this book I never knew it if a part of a series so I expected it to be precise in its own way and that is why I had the thought that perhaps the author has tried to pull the events a bit, and why the pacing felt a bit slow in the beginning and major plot points happened only after about halfway through the book.

Stevie as a character was well made and I am afraid that is something I can only say for her. Nate does require a bit more depth and I hope the author will bring him into the picture more in the sequels. David on the other hand, the love interest (?) was considerably well made. A refreshing change is that this book is not very romance heavy and has only explored a little bit of attraction so far. Although romance, in the long run will not be completely unwelcome.

The world building is truly fascinating. I loved reading about this new-age school with its eclectic students. The brilliance of these students is truly worth noticing. The themes of murder, mystery, thriller as well as the generic ones of familial as well as friendly bonding, personal space and such are well explored in the story.

The dual timeline in the novel is really enjoyable to read. The 1936 plotline read great and it felt like to mysteriesunveiling at the same time. It added a lot of depth to the narrative as a whole and while I was at the edge of my seat wondering who the murderer was, I was left crazy and mad when I ended the book and realized that there is to be a sequel.  There is a game-like feel to the entire novel and I read it in really less time when you consider the fact that my semester is almost ending and I am running pell-mell to keep up during these last few days.

I am very excited for the next book and it is bound to be one of my most anticipated books of 2019!

Verdict:

I quite 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 .

Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens, 1837-1839

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Publishers: Maple Press
Genre: Satire/Classic
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
Named a “national institution” by George Orwell, Dickens offers his most popular tale, of the orphan who is reared in a workhouse and runs away to London-a novel of social protest, a morality tale, and a detective story
My review:
Oliver Twist is a book I read for my course this semester. I really liked it and will definitely be picking it up once more this year. The points that really hold me to it are as follows:

  1. Dickens has realistically portrayed the realities of London during a time when the gap between the rich and the poor was growing day by day.
  2. It also marked the ongoing Industrial Revolution and as such depicted the effects among the middle class.
  3. The themes of poverty, class, charity etc. were also explored in a descriptive manner. The plight of the orphans in the baby farms and subsequently in the workhouses was really sad but enlightening. Friendship and kindness are also two very important themes we see in the novel.
  4. The author has also created some very interesting characters involved in various occupations, and through them, shed light on the conditions of these different people as well. Overall, the cast is a full-on funny and humourous collection of various people who represent the follies of the age. Oliver Twist abounds in all varieties of humour, farcical situation, verbal twist and mannerism of speech and above all, the sympathetic laughter that acts as a buffer in highlighting these characters.
  5. The plot is well created and the twists and turns all arrive at interesting points and give a good reading experience to the reader.

Verdict:
I rate Oliver Twist a solid 4/5 stars. I also definitely recommend everyone to read this Victorian social novel as it’s quite funny, and moreover, described the nitty-gritty underbelly of London’s crimes.

The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang, 2018

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Publishers: Corvus
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Format: Paperback
 
Synopsis:
 A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…
 
My review:
I literally finished reading this book in around 5 hours so that’s saying something. The Kiss Quotient is an amazing book- one that delivers to you some toe-curling romance, sweet family moments, and your everyday office tragedies. Seasoned with just the right amount of reality, The Kiss Quotient proved to be a really entertaining and fulfilling read.
The plot was really well planned and the pace throughout was wonderfully paced. I also do think that the third person narration worked great for the story.
The characters were the centre point of this story- Stella more so than Michael. It is a character driven novel so it’s not a surprise that they were both so powerful in themselves. I also liked the way they were caring for their family members in their own ways and how supportive they were for both of them. That #couplegoals right there! Their development throughout the story is also significant as they come to terms with themselves- both emotionally as well as mentally. It was truly inspiring and enjoyable and can be rightly called an exceptionally well-written modern day bildungsroman novel.
The aspect of a female Asperger’s person was also eye-opening and showed the various problems and issues these women face, afraid of being judged. And the way the author has voiced her opinions through our protagonist as she comes to terms with her uniqueness, is awe-inspiring. The other themes of family, friendship, love and hard work were also well explored. I could feel so many emotions coursing through me as I read the book and related with Stella on various levels as well as Michael too, as they both tried to maneuver their way through the world and society in general. And as a reader of this book and desperate fan of Pretty Woman, I can truly say the author did justice to her version with the gender-roles exchanged.
The writing style was also one I loved really a lot. It was exquisite and I laughed and cried and felt like I was a part of the events as they unfolded. I honestly haven’t read such a wonderful contemporary novel in a long time. The editing and punctuation were all beautifully done and I do not have a complaint. I gushed so much about the book that my mother is currently reading it and loving it so far.
 
Verdict:
I rate The Kiss Quotient a solid 5/5 stars. I also definitely recommend everyone to read this contemporary novel that is just amazing and a must read. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read so far this year!

Chanakya: The Legend Begins (Itihasa Series Book 1), Ashok K. Banker, 2018

(Previously published at https://indiabookstagram.com/housenika/chanakya-the-legend-begins-itihasa-series-book-1-ashok-k-banker-2019/ )
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Title: Chanakya: The Legend Begins
Author: Ashok K. Banker
Publishers: Westland Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 156
Genre: Historical Fiction
 
Synopsis:
Jurist, war strategist, kingmaker. Master administrator. Author of the Arthashastra. But before the legend, there was the boy: Vishnu Gupta.
Pataliputra, capital of the great Nanda empire, is teeming with crime and corruption. Granted unlimited authority by the hedonistic emperor Mahapadma Nanda, evil mastermind Maha-amatya Kartikeya has the city in a vice-like grip.
But another name bubbles up through the chaos; there is talk of a young genius, Vishnu Gupta. When the Maha-amatya investigates the rumours, he recognises a future rival in the boy. He is determined to destroy this competition from the roots – family and all. Vishnu must gather all his wits and his formidable knowledge to protect everything he holds dear. The holy scriptures, his brilliant interpretations of the Vedas and the power of his unmatched mind: these are the only tools he has against the might of the most powerful man in the empire.
Epic storyteller Ashok K. Banker imagines the life and formative years of India’s greatest genius, a man whose influence persists down the ages. In this first instalment of a thrilling trilogy, he recreates Chanakya’s early struggles and triumphs.
 My Review:
Never having read about Chanakya before, apart from the basics in history textbooks, I was eager to pick up this book and I am so very glad I didn’t wait any longer. Chanakya: The Legend Begins, is a well-written historical fiction book that gripped me from the very first pages. It’s not long either and so I finished it under 3 hours, and I wasn’t even reading it continuously.
The plot was well-made and I feel that it will prove a good foundation for the upcoming sequels in the trilogy. The events were all well-paced and the string of connection which led one to the other, was also well held. The pacing we see was good without any rushing and it proves just as well.
The characters are all worth noticing- whether they are good or bad. In Chanakya, or Vishnu Gupta, as he was earlier known, we see s mere child, striving to be the best among people seniors to him by decades. His drive and eagerness to learn for- the thirst for knowledge, and also his intellect leave a lot to be desired in the reader. And justly so. I am eager to read more about the prodigy. In the cunning Prime Minister, Maha-amatya Kartikeya, we can also notice the shining intellect and thirst for power. In some ways, he and Chanakya are no doubt, very alike. I also feel that Chandra will play a bigger role in things to come.
The writing style was also good and the editing well done. I commend the writer for starting this exciting series and admit that I am now committed to finding out what happens next.
Verdict:
I genuinely loved the book and I rate it a 4/5 stars. Will definitely pick it up again just before the release of the second part, so that I am all refreshed and ready to delve into the politics of Magadha.

Between the Sea and Stars, Chantal Gadoury, 19 June 2018

Publishers: Parliament House Press
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I read this book in one day and let me tell you, I was left hungry for the next! Between the Sea and Stars, is a mermaid tale, a loose retelling of The Little Mermaid at bits- both have a strong and curious female protagonist.
The story revolves around Lena, who is a Merrow (a mermaid) living with her father and brother, on the outskirts of the capital city of Skagerrak. We see her as a feisty and curious young woman, deeply involved with the tragedy of their former queen who had been murdered by her human lover. As you might probably gather, she was very much interested in the life about the waters and would always imagine going up there. We see in her brother and father, Javelin and Carrick respectively, loving and supportive men, who teach her to depend on herself. And like the summary states- when Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land. With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner.
Following her new life on land, we see her fumbling with the ways of the humans resulting in almost funny incidents. Chantal Gadoury has beautifully woven a tale of friendship, love, and fantasy with an exotic thread. The importance that was given to the world building specifically, was impeccable. I honestly wish to know more about the history and lives of the Merrows under the depths of the ocean. The plot in itself was medium-paced although there were certainly some very gripping fast-paced scenes; however, in consideration of the fact that there is definitely a sequel coming out, the scenes have been interspersed with perfect timing. The narration was in the third person limited and it made me so intrigued because I wanted to know everything- in this she has preserved quite the amount of mystery element as well.
I also liked the way she has worked on her characters- most of them are as real as can be. The character growth has been of a significant factor in this novel- gradual which made it very relatable as well as realistic. I definitely am looking forward to seeing Asger in the sequel! (Want to know who he is? Well, no better way than to read the book! And it’s coming out on 19th of June!!)
Moving on to the cover, I really love it and long to have a signed copy of this amazing first book in the Lena series. I rate this a 5/5 stars, with a promise to get my hands on the sequel as soon as it is out!

Ramayana: The great Indian epic, by Valmiki

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The Ramayana is one of the two most famous Sanskrit epics of India. It’s an affirmative epic and set in the Treta Yuga. It basically follows the eldest prince of Kosala kingdom- Rama, and his familial life. Other characters are Laxmana (brother), Sita (wife), Dasharatha (father), Kaikeyi(one of the three wives of the king), and also, Ravana (demon king of Lanka).
This is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature. Ascribed to the sage Valmiki, the Ramayana is also considered to be the AdiKavya or the first poem. As an Indian myself, I have grown up hearing stories of the Ramayana from my grandparents, parents and other elders in general. The story, apart from the usual entertainment aspect, also teaches life values etc. in Rama himself, we see an idealistic character, and while many people find faults within him, I for one, do not particularly hate him. His fault perhaps was placing his own countrymen above his own as well as his family members’ personal wants and choices.
There is also politics here- so much so that a crowned prince is sent to exile for 14 years. It has fantasy as well as mythological elements as well; demons, witches, divine weapons, giants etc. abound in this grand epic.
I have been reading the translated version of this epic for some time now, and I’ve been loving it. This Ramesh Menon translated version is as close as you can get to the original one. I would definitely recommend you all to give it a read before you pick up any retellings. And when you finally pick it up, do make sure to keep a pen and paper with you, so that you can write who the people are. There are just so many characters, that a person who has been newly introduced to it may be confused!
While writing this article, I was looking up some relevant facts about the epic and I came across this: “Sing his love, sing his praise, Rama set his wife ablaze. Got her home, kicked her out, to allay his people’s doubt. Rama’s wise, Rama’s just, Rama does what Rama must. Duty first, Sita last, Rama’s reign is unsurpassed,” – Luv & Kush, an excerpt of lyrics from Nina Paley’s Sita Sings The Blues. 
 
If you finish it and like it, and are looking for something similar, I would definitely recommend you to give these books a read:

  1. The Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish Tripathi.
  2. Sita: The warrior of Mithila by Amish Tripathi.
  3. Asura: Tale of the vanquished by Anand Neelakantan.
  4. Sita: an illustrated retelling of Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik.
  5. Four brides for four brothers by Devdutt Pattanaik.
  6. Bhoomija: Sita by Anand Neelakantan.

At the moment, I can’t remember anything else but comment below if you do. Do tell me how you found reading that book.
 

  1. I shall be hosting a giveaway on my Instagram account soon, since I’m fast approaching my one year anniversary. Make sure you follow me @pretty_little_bibliophile on Instagram as well as this blog, to get a chance at winning some amazing things!