Tag Archives: books

The Conspiracy Unknown, Abishek Babu, 2019

Title: The Conspiracy Unknown Book I: The Vengeance of the Fallen

Author: Abishek Babu

Publisher: NotionPress

Genre: Fantasy

Format: Paperback

Synopsis:

The story starts with the birth of a prince and the series of events that follow. Fifteen eons ago, the ‘Great War’ was fought between the Anndas and a group of revolutionaries, in which the revolutionaries came out victorious. The Anandas were chased out of the empire and were made to live in the forest like nomads. The revolutionaries named Ragupta Moriya as their king, and thus the Great Moriyan Empire was formed. Great songs and stories were written about Ragupta Moriya and his ten war generals who fought out the evil Ananda Empire. After fifteen years, a plot is made to overthrow the Moriyan Empire. And it all falls on the shoulders of Ragupta to win the battle.

After nearly 2300 eons, the life of Dr Sebastian Stein is under peril. A mysterious man in a black suit is in pursuit of capturing Dr Stein, but Sebastian is saved by his father’s old friend. When Sebastian starts to learn about the death of his father, he realizes there’s no other way to escape but to run for his life.

What exactly happened in Before Clearance Existence (BCE) for it to affect the life of Sebastian Stein in After Clearance Existence (ACE)?

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.

The Conspiracy Unknown: The Vengeance of the Fallen was quite a heavy read. With two different narratives, from two starkly different eras, weaving in and out, it was a story with a great plot, and great storytelling.

So basically, there are two different storylines – in an eon way back in the past, there is the majestic Moriyan Empire. The monarch is King Rasabind, who’s son Hisoka possesses the famed third eye! After he is attacked during his naming ceremony and the attackers surprisingly do not remember any of their action, the king goes on his own hunt to know the truth.

Eons later, in a future quite distant, we have Sebastian Stein who is trying to figure out the mystery surrounding his father’s death. And out of nowhere, he finds himself chased around with threats on his life.  these are two seemingly unrelated things and yet, w strive to understand the root relationship between these people from eons between them.

With this interesting premise, I jumped headlong into the book and it didn’t really disappoint me, but to be honest, I felt like there was a certain something missing. While it is well packed with wars, the thirst for vengeance (as the title suggests), conspiracies etc., I felt that the narrative lagged a bit in parts and may have simple been filler material. Apart from that, the presence of the multitude of characters confused me for a bit in the beginning but then they do not really have much presence later on, so that threw me off a bit. The overall effect could have been a bit more polished. 

Verdict:

It was a good read overall and I rate it 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 .

Nasha: From the land of Kamasutra, 2019

Title: Nasha: From the land of Kamasutra

Author: Maya Balsi

Genre: Erotica

Synopsis:

It’s common knowledge that Kamasutra originated from India – the “how-to” guide of how to pleasure each other. Many centuries ago they thought deeply into the subject of erotic love. Though in modern India sex is always a hushed subject, something happens behind the closed doors, something never almost never publicly spoken. What can you expect from a society where now also most marriages are arranged by family, where most people have their first sex after marriage, where so many people never even see the naked bodies of their partners?
There are a plethora of stories to be told from every nook and corner of this big country. Stories around love, lust, frustration, despair, loathing – stories around real man and woman and the complications of life.
Nasha is the first compilation of Maya Balsi`s stories. The stories include are :
Red Earth , Blue Sky, Green Sea
The light I see Through Darkness
Never Deny Me Your Laughter
Have A Nice Journey!
We walked in the woods

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.

The last time I read erotica was when I  tried reading Fifty Shades of Gray. Keyword : Tried. And I couldn’t do it. The details were sort of too explicit for me – it’s not that I am uncomfortable reading about sex, but rather the sex in the book made m so. So for quite some time, I stayed away from them. But then, I also came across books by Alexa Riley and Penny Wylder, and I was quite happy.

A few days ago, the author approached me and asked if I would be willing to review her book. Since I have not read any erotica by an Indian before, and since the synopses of the stories seemed quite good, I decided to say yes. I thought I would pick this book up for some leisurely weekend reading but when I read the acknowledgement, I knew I had to dive right in. Sex is surely a paradox in India because like the author says, and is corroborated by statistical data, there is a huge market revolving around it. And with a rapidly growing population, we know it is not cranes that drop off brand new babies into the arms of eager parents.

In the first story, Red earth, Blue Sky, Green Sea, there was a good buildup of the story and it was quite atmospheric. It is about the sexual awakening of two girls, a silent rebellion against society’s rules, norms and the taboos.  Although short, the characters in this story are well fleshed out.

The second story The Light I See Through Darkness, is one told through the point of view of a prostitute. Her helplessness in well shown here and in a few words, the author has described her mental agony. At 42, the protagonist says that she feels and looks like a grandmother, which in itself shows how difficult her life has been. As she scouts for potential customers, we understand that her main aim is to collect enough money for her daughter’s education. There was one remarkable line said here, and I quote, “Little do they know, we are keeping them safe from the clutches of rogues who would do anything to satisfy their lusts”.  This is more of a magical story with a very unexpected, yet nice, ending.

The third story, Never Deny Me Your laughter, aptly showed the restlessness of our modern lives. Apart from the obvious, there are a lot of human emotions and feelings contained in all of these stories.  Very dynamic in its entirety.

The fourth story is Have A Nice Journey. It featured infidelity so I am not sure how comfortable I am with that because cheating is a big NO for me. This was an okay story, and not one that I enjoyed much, unlike the others.

The last story was We Walked in the Woods. This story did focus a bit on mental health, I felt. It was apt in depicting the moral dilemmas we often face because of our own feelings. Pritha is one such person. There is such an underlying connection between sex and the multitude of emotions that come with it. the ending was open-ended and I was thought of various ways it could have ended.

Nasha was a good read overall. I do think that a bit more editing can be done regarding the typing errors, and some grammatical refining. I also did find certain discrepancies. Nonetheless, this is a book I can easily recommend to you all. If you want to explore the erotica genre more, then this is also a book you can pick up.

Verdict:

I rate this book  a 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 .

July 2019 Wrap-Up!

Hey guys! Hope you’re doing well.

My university opened today and we had a creative writing workshop with Mr. Dhruba Hazarika. It was a wonderful event and I was inspired to write a fantasy piece! I was struck by inspiration and I really loved how I sudden the idea was. I’m hoping to work more on it.

Anyway, July was my summer vacation and so I had a splendid time reading some great books! I read a total of 33.5 books and it was great!

Review Books

  1. What Mina Did by Geeta Menon
  2. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  3. Secret of Palamu Fort by Razi
  4. Narasimha by Kevin Missal
  5. Let’s Hope for the Best by Carolina Setterwall
  6. Love in the Time of Affluenza by Shunali Khullar Shroff
  7. The Monsters Still Lurk by Aruna Nambiar
  8. The Dark Side of the Moon Vol 2, by Shubham Arora
  9. Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer
  10. Silence Between the Spaces by Abir Sinha
  11. The Kosher Delhi by Ivan Wainwright

Reading Rush 2019

  1. By the Brahmaputra and other poems by Srutimala Duara
  2. Africa’s Tarnished Name by Chinua Achebe
  3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  4. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  5. Lips Touch by Laini Taylor
  6. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (also a review book)
  7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K.Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay

Personal Choices

  1. Escaping from Houdini, and
  2. Becoming the Dark Prince by by Kerri Maniscalco
  3. Friends with Benefits by Kelly Jamieson
  4. Just Friends by Jenika Snow
  5. From Friends to Lovers by Mia Ford
  6. Bride by Contract by Kendra Riley
  7. Virgin Wife by Alexa Riley
  8. Wife for Now by Penny Wylder
  9. Back to Her by Dani Wyatt
  10. Best Friends, Secret Lovers by Jessica Lemmon
  11. Restored by Alexa Riley
  12. Pretty Virgin by Alexa Riley
  13. Stay Close by Alexa Riley
  14. Perfect Boss by Penny Wylder
  15. Dangerous Love by Penny Wylder
  16. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven

How did your reading go in July? How many books did you read? While compiling this list, I have noticed that I love reading romances during the summer! Do you have any such preferences as well? Is your reading preferences affected by the weather?

July Book Haul 2019

Hey guys! I just wanted to thank you all for your wishes! My 21st was what I expected. I was actually doing #adult works – cleaning the house and stuff. Lol. Anyway, it was good as I did spend some time with my family and cousins and I also did some reading. It was like every other day but your love and wishes made my day! Thank you so much! Also, the haul picture is coming up soon!

Moving on, here is my July book haul, although these are only review copies and books i have otherwise bought. The books I was gifted for my birthday, although acquired in July too, will be shown in another post.

  1. The Broken Amoretti by Sudipto Das and Aparajita Dutta
  2. Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky
  4. Love in the time of Affluenza by Shunali Khullar Shroff
  5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  6. Spelbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowly-Doyle
  7. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  8. Emperor Chandragupta, and
  9. Emperor Vikramaditya by Aditya Kay
  10. Birdy Flynn by Helen Donohoe
  11. Silence Between the Spces by Abir Sinha
  12. The Monsters Still Lurk by Aruna Nambiar
  13. Celtic Tales
  14. Well-Read Women
  15. The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters

As for my reading, I just finished my second book of august – Reign of War. It is the second book in the Oremere Chronicles trilogy by Helen Scheuerer. I had love the first book Heart of Mist and I rated it 5/5. It is no surprise that I loved the sequel too and rated it 5/5 stars. It is just so complex and a really well-written series. If you have not yet read it, I definitely recommend you to pick it up as soon as possible!

#qotd : what is your current read? Are you enjoying it?

May 2019 Book-Haul, Part-2!

Hey guys!

Like I said in the earlier haul post, let’s continue with the health-chat. So currently, I’m working out everyday, and have a proper 8 hour sleep every night. I admit I have been seeing results – I do not feel lazy like I used to earlier and I am so happy that my productivity has risen. As for food, I have cut down a lot on sodium, fast food and thus totally removed MSG from my intake. As for drugs, I take Omega fatty acid pills and Vitamin-C supplements. I have also seen a great development in my skin and I’m ecstatic.

Moving on, here is #part2 of my #maybookhaul . Here are some of the books from the 14 that I acquired this month.

  1. Panir Majot Hema Malini by Ira Das
  2. Ananya by Tridip Goswami
  3. Wake Up, Life is Calling by Preeti Shenoy! (And it is signed!)
  4. 100 of the World’s Greatest Poems by FingerPrint Publications
  5. Mehboob Murderer by Nupur Anand (I really enjoyed reading this book!
  6. Give Your Heart a Break, by Anuj Tiwari

I am so happy these beautiful editions are mine now! Aren’t they a sight for sore eyes?!

Rituals, by Lorcan Black

Title: Rituals

Author: Lorcan Black

Illustrated by: Tim Durham

Publisher: April Gloaming

Publishing date: 31 May, 2019

Genre: Poetry/Arts and Photography

Format: E-arc

Language: English

Synopsis:

In the search for truth, for meaning, for purpose, Black’s poetry illuminates the wonder in all of us. With petrifying portrayals of mental institutions, doctors, nurses, Egyptian mythos, all intertwined in a mixture of natural visions and harbors, this collection fortifies our nature to hunt for a life worth living.

The ritualistic aspects are dismal, at best, and speak to the monotony of the modern world and that hopeless feeling of being part of the herd. Readers will find themselves clawing their way through the muck and grime of the everyday, finding that maybe only love can save them, or at least, the hope for love.

My review:

I received a review copy from the Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Please do keep an open mind while reading my review – everybody interprets different texts differently.

“Pale stars wink jealousies at my feet and I walk godly.” Lorcán Black’s Rituals is the restless, roaming lovechild of Neruda and Trakl, with some fiery genetic material borrowed from Plath, as well. These poems walk toward and through wreckage at once ordinary and surreal—a family, an asylum, a body learning fraught desires, the “eerie / whiteness” of Antarctica, and a “window suck[ing] its slice of moon / in the mirror of its mouth.” Piercing in its vulnerability, this book often achieves a magical authority at the same time. Black dares to speak in the voice of a sorcerer, an oracle, a god: “Watch: I shall the call the elements, / I shall cast sacrilegious circles in sand.” This is a collection of dark yet gleaming marvels. – Chen Chen.

I recently read Rituals by Lorcan Black and I was blown away by his writing. There is an ethereal undertone to all of the poems and it gives a magical effect to the entire narrative. The poet talks on various issues like innocence, religious supremacy, judgmental attitudes, forgiveness, of mental health and illness, suicide and self-harm, of being trapped inside one’s own mind, our changing personalities, war and its effects, gender roles, motherhood and parenthood as a whole, about the unknown, etc. Among all the poems, there is such a vast diversity in the themes that I believe each reader will take away something from reading them. There is a unique writing style and coupled with the unique lines, I think this is a beautiful collection – utterly profound and deep. I shall surely be returning to this one again.  And I recommend this one anyone – fans of Neruda, Trakl, Sylvia Plath, and Shirley Jackson definitely go for this one.

Verdict:

I rate this one 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 .

Masquerade, by Cyrus Parker

Title: Masquerade

Author: Cyrus Parker

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publishing Date: 7 May, 2019

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-Arc

Language: English

No. of pages:  178

Synopsis:

Non-binary poet Cyrus Parker returns with an all-new collection of poetry and prose dedicated to those struggling to find their own identity in a world that often forces one into the confines of what’s considered “socially acceptable.”
Divided into three parts and illustrated by Parker, masquerade grapples with topics such as the never-ending search for acceptance, gender identity, and relationships, and the struggle to recognize your own face after hiding behind another for so long.

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.

I believe that including Poe’s lines in the very beginning is a brilliant stroke in itself. In hindsight, it really says a lot about the poetry the reader will be delving into as she flips the pages.

The poems deal with various topics such as abandonment, alcohol abuse, death, gender dysphoria, harassment, as well as intimate partner abuse, lost innocence, identity, chasing your dream, and the masks that people wear. Self-care also is explicitly stated by the poet to be practiced after reading the poems and it was real advice, because I did have to do it in the end. The reason behind this, I believe, is that the poems are so real and vivid and so reflective of our own lives that it is impossible for a reader not to find atleast a couple of poems with which she can absolutely relate. The poems are raw and poignant, and that furthers this cause.   Moreover, the illustrations also provide a nice yet related break.

Verdict:

I enjoyed the poems and I rate this collection a 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 .

Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo, 2012

Title: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Square Fish, an imprint of Macmillan

Genre: Fantasy

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages:

Recommended for: YA and above

Synopsis:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

My review:

Super happy that I finally picked it up in January. I buddy-read Shadow and Bone along with Faguni from @fannatality . I am happy to say that although we decided to read it at the rate of 3 chapters per day, we ultimately rushed through and finished the book way before the estimated end date. I really loved reading this book and Faguni and I are back with the schedule for buddy-reading Siege and Storm (the sequel to Shadow and Bone) this February. 

The plot was amazing firstly, and kept me hooked on until the very end.

The Darkling who although does not really appear in the first few chapters, is mentioned, enough times in these, for us readers to create a mental image on him and oh my! I’m not sure if I should expound upon that here.

Alina also displayed an innate goodness of character, with her innocence and determination to stay strong. Her relationships with all the people around her, especially Zoya is quite interesting to note. Speaking of Zoya, she is another figure, intriguing and with great depth. All of the characters, with their various back stories are truly amazing to read about.

However, having read the Six of Crows duology before this book, I do know roughly how this might turn up but nonetheless, I am excited about the sequel. Moreover, I also noted that Leigh Bardugo’s writing has greatly improved in the duology, without saying that it is not good in this trilogy.

The magic system is also well-explained in this one, considering that this one revolves around that itself. The themes of magic, fantasy, friendship and kinship, along with love, physicality etc. are also quite well proportioned throughout. This world itself is amazing and I am in utter love!

Lastly, I ship Alina and Darkling, don’t you?

(please note that I have only read Shadow and Bone, so NO SPOILERS!!!)

Verdict:

I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to reading Siege and Storm. I rate this one a 4.5/5 stars.

About the author:

Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of fantasy novels and the creator of the Grishaverse. With over two million copies sold, her Grishaverse spans the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, and The Language of Thorns—with more to come. Her short stories can be found in multiple anthologies, including The Best of Tor.com and the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer and the forthcoming Ninth House. Leigh was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Southern California, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and even makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Los Angeles, where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

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 .

September TBR 2018!

 
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I’m so happy to say that out of these books, I’ve already completed a few!😊
SO ANYWAY, HERE ARE THE BOOKS IN MY TBR!
1. Tinkling of the Bell @sonikashandilya@srishtipub
2. Bahir @monisha_k_gumber@becomeshakespeare
3. Zidd @hetanshdesai @half_baked_beans
4. Tarikshir @kyakhayaalhaiaapka@westland_books
5. Inkredia @sarangsmahajan
6. Broken @bhavini_vijayanathan@notion.press
7. Shatru Kronikles @authorvadhan
8. A quest for Spring @monica.dixit@notion.press
9. First Came Forever @anniewoodsauthor
10. Forever Disguised @anniewoodsauthor
11. Animal Farm
12. Midnight’s Children
13. LITTLE WOMEN (JOIN US IN THE READALONG!)
14. Vicious @veschwab
15. The Remains of the Day
16. Asura
17. Blinding Night by @chantalgadouryauthor
I’m also going to continue reading these books for my academic readings-
18. A Portrait of the artist as a Young Man
19. Oliver Twist
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Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, 1847

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Publishers: Maple Press
Genre: Gothic fiction/Classic
Format: Paperback
 
Synopsis:
 Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
 
My review:
 I had Wuthering Heights assigned to me for my 3rd semester reading list, and I am so very glad that I could revisit this classic once again this year. The first time I read Wuthering Heights, was way back when I was in middle school, class 6 to be specific, since a favourite teacher was gushing about this, her favourite novel. Hungry for some romance, I picked it up, and I’ve been continuously picking this book up again and again.
The whole plot was confusing  to me the first time I read it, mind you- the English isn’t so very modern and hence it was quite difficult to a mere class 6 student, the entire background was gloomy and tragic and I felt the pervading sense of alienation in the windy moors of Yorkshire. Now, as an English major, I appreciate this literary work so much more and can understand the undertones better, of course. The themes of love, revenge, man versus nature, the Divine Providence, abound in this novel, and Emily Bronte, writing as Ellis Bell, masterfully carved a perfect plot, swathed with the events that eventually lead to the anticlimactic end.
The characters are well defined and I find the protagonists to be quite deserving of each other. While the romantic in me admires the ruggedly “tall, dark and handsome” Heathcliff, and his passionate love for his Cathy- so much so that he strives on and on for revenge, I cannot help but shirk away at his inhumanity at points. Cathy, misguided as she was in her hopes, which led to her disastrous actions, I found her a very impulsive and selfish as well as manipulative person, sweet enough not to make other realize her intents. Like was quoted, “It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.”
The writing is exquisite nonetheless, and although in Wuthering Heights we find one of the most dysfunctional couples of all time, there are also some of the best romantic quoted lines of all time. A masterpiece in its own, Wuthering Heights is a novel which at all persons interested in literature should definitely pick up at least once in their lifetime.
Verdict:
I rate Wuthering Heights a 4/5 stars, specifically because although I love the book, there are some points which don’t work for me at all.

She Stoops to Conquer, Oliver Goldsmith, 1771

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Publishers: Peacock Books
Genre: Laughing Comedy/Drama
Format: Paperback
 
Synopsis:
 This comic masterpiece mocked the simple morality of sentimental comedies. Subtitled The Mistakes of a Night, the play is a lighthearted farce that derives its charm from the misunderstandings which entangle the well-drawn characters. Mr. Hardcastle plans to marry his forthright daughter Kate to bashful Marlow, the son of his friend Sir Charles Marlow. Mrs. Hardcastle wants her recalcitrant son Tony Lumpkin to marry her ward Constance Neville, who is in love with Marlow’s friend Hastings. Humorous mishaps occur when Tony dupes Marlow and Hastings into believing that Mr. Hardcastle’s home is an inn. By posing as a servant, Kate wins the heart of Marlow, who is uncomfortable in the company of wellborn women but is flirtatious with barmaids. A comedy in five acts by Oliver Goldsmith, produced and published in 1773 and 1771, respectively.
 
My review:
 She Stoops to Conquer is a really funny drama and I truly love it so. The points that really hold me to it are as follows:

  1. It is a really short play and thus is perfect for a single-seating read, and readathons.
  2. It marked a change in the dramas of that time because sentimental comedies had been preferred back in the day. However, it was Oliver Goldsmith who came up with this laughing comedy and revived the audience.
  3. The play also follows the three classical Unities perfectly.
  4. The cast is a full-on funny and humourous collection of various people who represent the follies of the age. As such, She Stoops to Conquer is also a comedy of manners.
  5. The plot is well created and spans only the duration of a single night, wherein the events take place.
  6. The subplot is also a romantic and funny one and is bound to incite laughter in the audience.

 
Verdict:
I rate She Stoops to Conquer a solid 4/5 stars. I also definitely recommend everyone to read this drama as it’s a funny and short read, and moreover, marked a considerable revolution in the field of play at the time it first came out.

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!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman, 2017

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Publishers: Hachette Publishers
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mental Health
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes . . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart.
My review:
Eleanor Oliphant was a completely heartwarming read and I for one, am simply glad that I finally picked up this book as a part of my August read in the Dr. Snob’s Book Club.
“These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted.”
The plot was truly well made- and though I felt that it dragged for a bit in the middle part, it had an overall heartwarming touch to it. The ending was truly not one I had anticipated and the twist that you get, will truly twist your mind. It is, I admit, not a very climatic scene- do not expect The Woman in the Window kind of revelation- for it is not a thriller. Nonetheless, at certain other parts, it surely felt like it was.
The central character- our protagonist- Eleanor is like every other woman- except that she’s not! She’s the type of person that I personally classify as a highly functioning sociopath- very much like Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) puts it. As a reader, you can’t help but relate with her, at least on some points; I know I did. And at times, you can’t help but feel pity for this amazing woman who has had to suffer so much.
The themes in this novel are also very relatable in modern day life. At times, this book feels like a very casual and toned down Modernist novel- featuring the bleak regularity of everyday life. Apart from this monotonousness, we see the elements of friendship, and humanity- both within the spectrum of human relationships.
The writing style is very free-flowing and gradual and the overall effect is beautiful- it reads delightfully. The grammar and editing was perfect and while I type this, I feel so much like Eleanor- always preferring to use the correct English over colloquial slangs and short forms.
Verdict:
I honestly cannot believe that Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was a debut- it was exceptionally well written. I’m looking forward to reading more books by the author. I rate this a 4/5 stars.

Stalking Jack the Ripper, Kerri Maniscalco, 2016

 
 
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Publishers: Hachette Publishers
Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller
Format: Hardback
Synopsis:
Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege, stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
My review:
I had heard quite a lot of good things about this book- it was after all very much hyped about in the bookstagram as well as the booktube community. And so when I got the chance to pick it up as a part of a book club reading list, I promptly did so.
The lead characters in the book Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell. And I found them both very well rounded. Audrey Roe isn’t a conventional Victorian lady- in her spare time, she loves to study dead bodies and human bodies- something that otherwise grossed out women of her era. While she also loves shopping for new clothes and shoes like every other woman, she loves science- forensic science to be specific. While I admire her spirit, I sometimes felt angry and justly so. Why antagonize the enemy at the cost of your own life? I mean to say, at a time when a killer is on the loose, slashing away at women, why would a sane one go out alone at night in the dark when you might not even possess perfect fighting skill? Audrey Rose was very impulsive and reckless at times.
Thomas Cresswell is a rich young gentleman of the society and he too is a student of Audrey Rose’s Uncle Jonathan, just like her. Thomas gives some very Sherlock Holmes vies sometimes- he is great at deduction and he knows it. He also knows he is handsome to look at, and this combined knowledge make him arrogant at times. Nonetheless, he is admirable and likable. I also like how flirtatious he is with Audrey Rose, how sincere and hardworking he is with his studies. In short, I am smitten. He also gives me some Rikkard Ambrose vies if you know what I am talking about.
Jack the Ripper aka Leather Apron aka the Whitechapel Murderer is grossly fascinating. The way he kills and then tortures the body is thought-inducing and you can’t help but actually mull over the real murderer who ran rampant years ago. Like most of you all already know, that even though various arrests were made and various theories were also theorized, no one was actually framed as the real Jack the Ripper.
The background to the story was very gothic I feel like- what with all the gore, and murders, the visit to infamous Bedlam, the nightly adventures and the whole theme as a whole.
Including the pictures was a good thing- it made the story all the more real and tangible and the entire effect was gruesome and something of the macabre. They really enhanced the reading experience. The writing was on point and I almost finished the book in one seating. The research that was done by the author is definitely something to be applauded. It’s a really unique book and the plot was definitely very original.
Verdict:
I honestly cannot believe that Stalking Jack the Ripper was a debut- it was exceptionally well written. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I rate this a 4.5/5 stars.
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I got the picture on the internet.
 

Some Very Dignified Disclosures, Anumita Sharma, 2018

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Publishers: Pratishthaa films & Media
Genre: Magical Realism
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
It is an ordinary summer evening in a remote village near India and Nepal border; Roli’s mother and grandmother are quarrelling beside the well of their dilapidated feudal mansion. Roli is lurking in the courtyard; no one from her joint-family pays attention, and suddenly her father appears and clasps his wife’s throat. Roli watches in horror and envisions her mother’s spirit releasing from the dead body. Her future gets haunted by the twin spectre – mother’s ghost and father’s crime. The narrative moves to a small town, in the large household of a village acquaintance, where Roli shifts for higher studies, and encounters various fascinating lodgers, including an eccentric priest, who collects sundry items on streets to construct a house, and catches an exotic bird which dazzles the neighbourhood, a perplexing night watchman, whose mysterious doings make the priest lose his mind, a bored wife of a sailor, who dabbles in occultism, a scholarly librarian, who convinces Roli to accept her troubled past, and the unhappy wives of her landlord play an intriguing role in her attachment to another of the tenets- a temperamental young man, who becomes Roli’s love interest. The protagonist is an imaginative teenager. She loves reading and is attracted to people with mysterious backgrounds – very much like the characters of her favourite novels. A sympathetic village woman gifts her amber necklace, which smells like ambergris, and details many supernatural incidents involving it. Does the necklace hold magical powers? Will the fragrance of ambergris capture the man she loves? Can Roli find success on the treacherous winding roads of adulthood? Anumita Sharma is the author of The Curse of Yesterday. Inherently a poet, a wordsmith, and voracious reader, Anumita loves telling stories set in the rustic environment of Eastern India.
My Review:
I can easily classify this as the first Indian magical realism book I’ve read and I truly loved it. The overall effect was exquisite and I was hooked from the very first pages. The fact that it was written in poetic prose, made the effusive paragraphs almost lilting and soothing to me. The imagery that the author has created through the patterns her words create, is very picturesque indeed.
The writing style of the author is something that I have fallen in love with. The language used is beautiful but somewhat of a higher level and hence may not be easily understandable to beginners. The poetic tune that the author has inlaid the words with, are beautiful and exquisite and I have found no fault with them at all. Although the pacing isn’t fast, it is definitely well-matched with the narration and the actions taking place. The whole experience was something dreamlike and ephemeral and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now, I do feel that while I was hooked from the very first pages, there will be a few who may find the beginning a bit slow, but fret not! Once you think it catches speed, you’re in for the ride of a lifetime. A lack of dialogues may also put off some people but the autobiographical way of narration is a personal favourite and moreover, I think it did great justice to the story.
When it comes to the characters, the author has done well to let the readers interpret for themselves, the protagonist, as the story unravels through her own eyes. Roli as a protagonist was a beautiful person and I will be lying if I say that I do not relate with her at all. Apart from that, her own self is admirable. The other multitude of female characters were all nice to read about- the author has nuanced upon different qualities through each of them.
I also especially loved the way the author has kept the ending- it’s not close-ended but it’s definitely something close. The open and kind of an ambiguous ending left the scope for many possibilities afterwards and keeps the reader reeling long after finishing the book.
Verdict:
I have really loved this experience, and Some Very Dignified Disclosures has included itself into my most-loved books list and I shall definitely recommend it to others as well! I rate it a 5/5 stars!

Pi Agency, Neelabh Pratap Singh, 2018

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Publisher: Self-published
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 313
Blurb:
Rashmi Purohit is a failed CBI aspirant. With no future in Indian law enforcement, she turned to working alongside the law. Now running her own agency out of her claustrophobic basement, Rashmi is dying for a notable case and a big break.
A wealthy entrepreneur with a troubled, drug-addicted son seems like the perfect client. But when Rashmi and her impetuous, barely-competent employees stumble into a Dark Web-based investment conspiracy, the detective knows she has kicked a hornet’s nest. Rashmi might just solve the case – but only if it doesn’t kill her, destroy her agency, or make her betray her father’s legacy one last time.
My Review:
The book was a gripping story, nail-biting and nerve-wrecking at multiple instances. The concept was really unique and the concept itself was not something that I have ever come across before. The gradual flow towards the climax and then the subsequent descent to the denouement was knee-jerking without being abrupt.
The characters were well—built too. We could see different aspects of their lives- Rashmi with her hidden and suppressed feelings of hatred and guilt, Diksha with her frustration, and Akshay with his resourcefulness. The bond of friendship which kept them together was also well shown, especially the dependence they had on each other.
I like the themes that are there in the book- the main among which is, addiction and its effects on our youth today. The other theme, of the ease, which the internet has provided us, is also a thought-invoking one.
The cover was something else that I liked as well. Faces on book covers is a personal preference and so it’s not surprising that I loved it. The dark and eeriness with the grain effect also gave a mysterious vibe and conveyed the utter essence of the story. However, at times, I felt like the author used too many technical and boring dialogues, including many jargons. Apart from this one point, I did not find any problems with this story.
Verdict:
Definitely a must-read for beginners in the mystery genre. I rate it a 4/5 stars. This is a book that will definitely entertain you!

The Blue Umbrella, Ruskin Bond, 1974

(Previously published on indiabookstagram.com as ‘The Blue Umbrella, Ruskin Bond, 1974‘ )
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Blurb:
‘The umbrella was like a flower, a great blue flower that had sprung up on the dry brown hillside.’
In exchange for her lucky leopard’s claw pendant, Binya acquires a beautiful blue umbrella that makes her the envy of everyone in the village, especially Ram Bharosa, the shopkeeper. It is the prettiest umbrella in the whole village and she carries it everywhere she goes.
The Blue Umbrella is a short and humorous novella set in the hills of Garhwal. Written in simple yet witty language, it captures life in a village – where ordinary characters become heroic, and others find opportunities to redeem themselves.
My Review:
A delightful read, that can be finished in one seating, The Blue Umbrella is a must read in children’s literature. With great illustrations by Trevor Stubley, this book is entertaining while also educating as it tends to impart real-life lessons in a non-preachy way. The humane aspect was brought out vividly in this simple yet surprisingly beautiful and profound read.
The fact that this edition has beautiful illustrations, works wonders. And will especially be great since they will attract the children and in turn make them interested enough to read. The language used is really simple and easy to understand and I also really like the real life teachings of the importance of feelings and values and relationships that this book portrays. Moreover, since it is only of 83 pages and that too, including the illustrations, it was a really quick read and will definitely encourage children to pick it up.
Definitely for primary schools students as well as early middle-grade students as well. Can also be easily enjoyed by adults as well, wishing to reach back to the simplicity of childhood.
Verdict:
I rate it a 4.6/5 stars

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, 1818

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Often regarded as the mother of modern science fiction, Frankenstein is a chilling tale of man’s quest for dangerous knowledge and the wish to gain the power of the laws of nature. This novel is a compilation of Romantic and Gothic elements combined into a singular work with an unforgettable story. It follows Victor Frankenstein, a student of natural philosophy, as he creates his greatest creation- the Frankenstein monster, made from the part of 7 other male dead bodies. Just the thought of raising the dead is gruesome enough. Shelley takes full advantage of this literary device to enhance the strange feelings that Frankenstein generates in its readers.
The themes of dangerous knowledge, sublime nature, monstrosity and creation. An aspect of Gothic literature, the search for illicit truth and magical mysteries is seen in the character of Victor Frankenstein as well as Robert Walton. Victor Frankenstein, of course, engages in a quest to push the realms of science to their limits and even go beyond by his creation of the monster. Nature, on the other hand, is used to depict the moods and situations of the characters in the novel- as a mirror of their innermost thoughts and feelings. Particularly in Frankenstein’s narration, the description of scenery often reflects his mental state at the time of the scene. Nature as a force is often personified in the text.
Gothic novels also have multiple levels of narration, which is done by using a framing device. We see this in Frankenstein, where the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creation is framed by the story of Walton. We hear Frankenstein’s story told Walton, who is narrating the story to his sister Mrs Margaret Saville and through these letters, to the readers. At times, the narration is even further removed, such as, when the monster tells Victor Frankenstein his story. Foreshadowing is ubiquitous and throughout his narrative, Victor uses words such as “fate” and “omen” to hint at the tragedy that has befallen him.
Also known as The Modern Prometheus, Frankenstein is a reference to the Promethean hubris. The story is true to this moniker: in Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity; he was subsequently bound and punished eternally for his crimes. Similarly, Frankenstein discovered how to give life to things — a power thought divine — and is subsequently punished by the endless tragedy delivered unto him by his creation.
I will end this long review by stating that I truly loved this book and grant it a 5/5 stars! Marvellous work!

7 Books in 7 days!

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So a while back, a group of my friends decided to do the #7days7books challenge. This is a 7-day long read-a-thon basically, where one tries to read and complete 7 books. This is also the first time that I have participated in a read-a-thon and I have been pretty excited about it as well! So, without further ado, let me list the books I have decided to read over this period.
Book 1- Finding your G-spot in Life
Author: Geetika Saigal
Publishers: Invincible Publishers, 2018
Synopsis:
The Probability of your parents’ meeting: one in a million. The Chance that they had you and not another genetic version of you: one in 4 million billion. (yeah, that’s a number too!) The Number of moments you have lived (knowing that any of us could pop-off any moment): ~9.4 million in our lifetime.
You, Yes YOU, are a miracle.
Do you not then deserve to lead a miraculous life?
A life that you know is meaningful to you, that doesn’t leave you feeling like you are simply running, not knowing where to and why so. So go on, give yourself and your life the best shot.
How?
By ceasing this race to ‘somewhere’ for just a few hours; Re-discovering Your Real Self, Re-aligning Your Thoughts, Revamping Your Life – All in (nothing worthwhile is simple!) 4 STEPS + 15 Do-it-for-Yourself EXERCISES.
This book is written for all of us, whether you’re just starting out your life or wishing to change it.
Book 2- Call Me By Your Name
Author: Andre Aciman
Publishers: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
Synopsis:
Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.
The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman’s frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion. Call Me by Your Name is clear-eyed, bare-knuckled, and ultimately unforgettable.
Book 3- Not Exactly Love
Author: Anindita Sengupta
Publishers: Vishwakarma Publications, 2018
Synopsis:
Not every love is smooth sailing and not every love has a magical ending and yet, without a generous dose of ‘Love’, life would certainly be devoid of its most thrilling experience.
A tumultuous trip, an inevitable attraction, a passionate kiss, magical memories, beautiful chaos, taking a risk, giving a chance, holding on and letting go all define this strange animal we call love.
Everyone craves it but is the definition of love the same for all?
‘Not Exactly Love’ is about 10 different women navigating through the sea of love and attraction. Ten stories about adventures of the heart and the games that it plays with the mind! But still… should we give love a chance?
“NOT EXACTLY LOVE”
Book 4- In a Cult of Their Own
Author: Amborish Roychoudhury
Publishers: Rupa Publications Pvt. Ltd. 2018
Synopsis:
‘Cults become cults, they are not made. It’s the becoming that is interesting, not the making.’
There are some films that sure fizzle out of the theatres in a heartbeat, but figure out a way to survive. Through a torrent leaked online, on an old bootlegged DVD or VHS, or YouTube upload and then in the hands of the omnipresent Twitterati—the films form a ‘cult’ of their own.
This book is a tongue-in-cheek ode to these cult movies of Hindi filmdom, ones that despite not having made moolah at the box office, still made it to viewers’ memories for reasons—good or bad. Drawing from his own reminiscences of growing up on these delectables and also face-to-face interviews with actors and directors such as Aamir Khan, Pankaj Kapur and Deepti Naval, the author celebrates these underdogs in a manner that is extremely readable and relatable.
Book 5- Flying Without Wings
Author: Rishabh Puri
Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers India and Black Ink, 2017
Synopsis:
For Milli Bajwa, life is at a stand-still. Grounded in the Chandigarh airport where she works day after day, she watches flights leaving for destinations she knows she will never visit. Loveless and luckless, she would rather bury her nose in a book than face her grim reality. And then, on a whim, she swipes right on a new dating app, and finds the man of her dreams- someone who can sweep her off her feet and teach her how to fly. But the mysterious and charming Karan Singhania has secrets of his own, and a heart damaged in more ways than one.
This is a story of two people about to find out how far they’re willing to go for the promise of true love. Will Karan take a chance and dive- blind-folded and headfirst- towards his dreams? Will Millie be willing to stand by Karan’s side in sickness and in health, just for a glimpse of his smile? This is a story of hope and joy in times of heartache and trial =. Of finding the perfect person in imperfect situations. And of love’s power to carry us through our darkest times.

Book 6- Till the End of Forever
Author: Vivaksh Singh
Publishers: Srihti Publishers & Distributors, 2018
Synopsis:
The past is always mysterious. It neither leaves completely, nor stays fully. Who would know it better than Ayaan. He was its victim. And so was Avani. When these two crumbled souls met, they realized in their togetherness that only a broken piece can complete another. Together, they start fighting the pain of their past, feeling the bliss of the present and appreciating their lives.
But just when they thought things were perfect, life played its cards.
Ayaan, who was trying to put life’s pieces together, broke down when he was held responsible for a closed one’s murder.
And Avani… well, her life was going to take such sharp turns that she would crave for death.
Alas, this was just the beginning of what destiny had planned for them!
Will Avani wait for the scars to heal or will she fight with her bruised soul? Why does the truth keep going deeper as she chases it?
Deeply sensitive and brutally thrilling, Till The End Of Forever is a romantic thriller that takes a dig in the dark sides of god, nature of human pain, power of selfless care, and proves how true love can make you live till the end of forever.
Book 7- A Cage of Desires
Author: Shuchi Singh Kalra
Publishers: Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd., 2018
Synopsis:
There’s a kind of love that makes you go down on one knee, and there’s the kind that brings you down on both. You don’t need the latter, because no matter what you do, you cannot make anyone love you back.’
Renu had always craved for love and security, and her boring marriage, mundane existence somehow leads her to believe that, maybe, this is what love is all about. Maya, on the other hand, is a successful author who is infamous for her bold, erotic books.
What do these two women have in common? How are their lives intertwined?
Renu’s thirst for love and longing takes her on a poignant journey of self-exploration. The answers come to her when she finds the courage to stand up for herself, to fight her inner demons and free herself from the cage of desires . . .

You are still the one, Nancy Prajapati, 2018

You Are Still The One is a story of love, but it is also a story of hope and how time is the best healer. I would like to thank the author for giving me a review copy of this book; it was a great favour.
This is a book of hope and sacrifice, of courage and heartbreak, and most importantly of family and friendship. We see our protagonist Ali, undergo a great mental and social development and as such, in this regard, I will term You Are Still The One as an epistolary novel. We see him grow up just like every other kid, except that a tragedy befalls his family and changes him drastically. It is his situation for many days. However, it is only friendship that pulls him out of that shell he had pulled close over himself. In Shruti, we find the epitome of grace and innocence, and it is her efforts primarily that help Ali in his growth process. The other characters we see are that of Vishal, a doctor by the day and a writer at night, his wife Sushmita, Shruti’s sister Aparna and so on.
The plot was very well developed. The framing specifically, was great and helped to relay the story in a more realistic and relatable manner for the reader. I honestly really loved it. We see Vishal firstly and through him we are told the stories by Ali, with his diary, then Shruti’s own story through the letters. We also see Aparna’s story and the overall effect of this intricate framing is poignant and raw. The plot also showed the different themes of love, friendship, family and how each of them so greatly affects our lives every day.
This book also touches upon various aspects of our day-to-day lives. I am truly happy with the way Nancy Prajapati has shown the women- some work, some are housewives while some juggle both worlds- and are none the less for it. Women have been shown in a very realistic manner. I personally saw my own relatives in a few of the characters. It has also touched upon some important negative aspects as well- like that of inter-religion marriage, the institution which we can say to be one of the major issues even today in modern life. The way how people are still reacting against it is not at all shocking (because it’s ‘normal’) but it shouldn’t have to be that. Moreover, when Aparna related to her mother that she was having troubles in her marriage, her mother’s advice was to just ‘have a kid!’. These are very shocking things, despite the fact that it’s an advice that has been advised for a long time.
The one thing that I did not like about this book was the editing. I think it could have been a lot better. Like another book I have recently reviewed, I find that this one too is lacking on that front. I would definitely recommend the writer to use beta-readers to proofread their books before publishing. Keeping all of that in mind, I rate this book a 4/5 stars.

An interaction with Devika Das about the upcoming release of the revised edition of her bestseller The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success

The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success is a self-help book by author Devika Das. With emphasis on emotional intelligence, stress and other related mental health issues, it has been widely read and deeply loved by its audience. It also been sold out in many occasions, the most recent of which include the NBT Imphal Book Fair, 2018. So on the 14th of June, Thursday, I had the opportunity to talk with Devika Das about the upcoming release of the revised edition of this book, coming July.
NS: Good afternoon, ma’am. Hope you’re having a great day.
DD: Good afternoon, yes, thank you. How are you doing?
NS: I’m doing well, ma’am thank you very much. I would like to say how  grateful I am for this opportunity.
DD: Of course, you’re welcome.
NS: Ma’am since we’re talking about the The Mind Game today, can you please tell me a bit about it?
DD: The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success is a self-help book, stressing basically on emotional intelligence, one’s awareness about it and how this can help in tackling different situations one faces on a daily basis.
 
NS: What inspired you to write this book?
DD: I have come across many instances where people end their lives because of trivial reasons. And it affected me deeply, because the thought itself of ending your own life is so harsh- it’s cruel to your own self. The important thing here, is the reason behind the actions – why are you feeling like that? What is making you feel so pressurized that you think that suicide in the only solution to get rid of your problem? Why are you in that state of mind? All these questions made me very curious and played a major role in making me write the book.
NS: I’m sure a lot of people will benefit from this book ma’am.
DD: Yes, I have got a lot of positive feedback; many of my readers have read the book twice or thrice and love the tips I’ve provided. All of these tips are based on my personal experiences, as well as the scientific research I have done- talked with various psychologists and general people as well.
NS: Of course, I have seen two of my cousins commit suicide, and it’s unfortunate-
DD: I’m sorry to hear that.
NS: Thank you. So yes, we cannot deny its presence in society today- there are many people who do it- who think that suicide is only way.
DD: Yes, and with that view you lose any interest in life and that is something which is either due to self-created pressure or external, and sometimes both. So it is very necessary that people become aware and realize, as well as face the challenge. Suicide can never be the way out. That nobody except you, yourself can help you in tackling such situations and dealing with pressure.
NS: Can you please tell me, when this book came out?
DD: The first edition came out in October 2016 and the revised edition is coming out next month, i.e., July.
NS: I hope my followers will also love to give your book a read. I myself, having been affected from the consequences of suicide, in the family, feel very personally about mental health issues. And I know that so many people have been affected by it as well- either indirectly or directly- and so, your book will be a great help.
DD: Thank you so much.
NS: Well, thank you ma’am for this wonderful opportunity. Best wishes for the upcoming release; I will keep an eye out, myself!
DD: Thank you. Have a great day
NS: Have a good day!
 

Take by heart forever, by Arpit Agarwal, 2018

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Blurb:
“Meet Siddhartha, a good lawyer but a bad human.
Meet Rahul, a good human but a bad doctor.
And meet Shuchi, a good human, and an exceptionally well doctor.
Shuchi tries to make a good human out of Siddhartha and a good doctor out of Rahul, but a bomb blast transforms their lives.
Read this revolutionary tale to know how Siddhartha will get a unique PIL passed in the courtroom and Rahul will perform a life-changing surgery, to save the girl they love.”
In the plot, there is a great mixture among the different aspects of thrill, romance, friendship etc. The love triangle like I have said before, is engaging. The story at the end becomes almost tragic and while completely captivating. At its heart, I feel that this book is a romance, with a distinct impression of it being an epistolary novel as well.
The characters were very well built. In Siddharth, we see a ruthless winning machine- a lawyer who intends to win his cases by hook or by crook, most often the ones which are not perhaps on the legal side. It is only towards the end that we understand his childhood as a factor that drove this need for such power and hunger. He perhaps never knew that there was something apart from winning as well- until he met the heroine of our story. On the other hand, Rahul is a carefree young fellow who returns from the USA after getting his medical dree and joins the hospital where our heroine works, back home in India. Shuchi, the heroine in question, is portrayed as a dynamic force throughout the story- whose actions and views greatly determine how the story goes indirectly, as she greatly affects directly, the ways of the people around her, specifically Siddharth and Rahul. We see the classic trope of the love triangle in this novel and I cannot say that I didn’t like it.
The problems however that I had with the story are firstly the cover; I do not think it portrayed the idea well. Other than that, I truly believe that the editing was rushed through, so much so that I was frustrated and skipped over a few bits. I would really suggest the author to use a beta-reader and then a subsequent editing process after that so as to attain a refined nature about his future works. I also feel that the dialogues should have a bit more a editing done to them, other than that the overall dialogue aspect can be worked on. Keeping in mind all of these, I rate it a 4/5 stars.

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng, 2014

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Everything I Never Told You, is, without doubt, one of the best out of the 11 books I read in May. It’s an exquisite novel about the Lee family, in 1970s Ohio, and how the apparent suicide of their eldest daughter Lydia, affects the relations among the rest. It’s been a profound and revealing experience- reading this moving story of family, love, longing, and secrets, and how delicate the equilibrium that balances them are.
I finished this book within 3 days while I do believe that it would have taken me less than a day, should I have not been in the middle of my finals. This novel is not just revolving around the crime itself; in a way it follows the stream-of-consciousness method when it jumps back and forth in time giving us a view of the world through not only Lydia’s but also the other characters’ eyes as well, until it culminates in that one point where the story really ends.
The plotline was very well thought out- and the execution, flawless. This is my first Celeste Ng book and I am looking forward to reading the rest. Like I have stated before, the way of writing is beautiful and the magic she has woven in this tragic yet hopeful tale, is astounding. As I read and flipped the pages, I could almost sense the feelings Lydia was undergoing as if it was truly happening to me. The characters were very round and well-developed, in the sense that we were given an intimate view of their mental mechanisms and why they acted the way they did. It’s a harrowing experience and boggled my mind as I reached towards the end. Everybody has a story- this novel is not simply concerned with the suicide and the whys behind it. It also deals with the hows, whens and whys in the lives of the other characters as well- dissecting the events in their own life that had shaped them into their true selves.
I have truly enjoyed this piece of literature and I rate it a 5/5 stars for making not only me- laugh and cry, but my mother as well. When asked, her rating was also, not surprisingly, a 5/5 stars!

Sita: Warrior of Mithila, Amish Tripathi, 2017


I loved Scion of Ikshvaku so much that immediately after finishing it, I picked up Sita. It was a good enough read, but I do prefer the first book over this. I gave this book a 4/5 stars.
This book, like most of you already know, covers Sita’s journey and it converges with Book 1 at the swayamvar for which Ram is deceptively brought to Mithila by the cunning Vishwamitra. This book also clears a few doubts we may have had regarding the mysterious characters we were introduced to in the previous one.
Sita is an indomitable character and a round one at that. Her raging temper is something that is perhaps never seen in young princesses, or girls belonging to the nobility, whether adopted or biological. This fact in itself lends a certain originality to her character; she is more real than any prim and proper princess- she has a fighting spirit. She is beautiful and brave and the Prime Minister of Mithila! She is intelligent, pragmatic and tactful, and we see how wonderfully she complements Ram. (Fun fact: Sita is older than Ram by 5 years in this book. It must be noted that I have no idea whether it is so, in the epic itself, or not).
There are other characters as well like Samichi who is Sita’s right-hand woman and also the Police and Protocol Chief. She is a strong character in herself- a formidable one at that and that fact that she was from the slums meant everybody respected the hard work she had put in to reach the high post she was in. We also see Queen Sunaina, Sita’s adopted mother and King Janak’s wife. She too is a bold and kind character and it is from her that Sita inherited her burning fighting spirit.
However, the fact that stopped me from giving it a solid 5/5 stars, unlike its predecessor was that it simply felt repetitive in so many parts. I know that it is inevitable since the events in the book are taking place simultaneously with that of Book 1. However, it was a thing I did not like. The story was good overall, the characters enthralling and the plot ensnaring, however structure that the author adopted to write this story is not something I am a fan of.
I am looking forward to the third book in the series i.e. Ravan, which will converge with the other two, mainly with Sita’s kidnapping, apart from possibly the battle at Karachapa, and Sita’s swayamvar.