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Sixteen Stormy Days by Tripurdaman Singh

Sixteen Stormy Days
Sixteen Stormy Days

Sixteen  Stormy Days is about the sixteen days of debate in 1951, which led to the controversial first Amendment of the Indian Constitution. This book was a truly well-researched treatise on the why and how behind the major change in Indian Constitutional history.

Check it out on Goodreads!

In eloquent prose, the book goes over the changes that were made in the Constitution, which had been worked on for three years prior to this abrupt and fast sixteen-day debate. With the passing of the Amendment as the Constitution (First Amendment) Act of June 1951, various changes were brought in – most of which cause heated debates even today. To name a few, the fundamental rights were qualified in favour of the State, enabled the caste-based reservation system, restricted the right to property, to name a few.

Most importantly, the book also sheds light on the support as well as the opposition that this Amendment garnered.  The author also sheds light on the various icons behind it – such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, etc. Most importantly, it depicts how the originally liberal Constitution was reconfigured in a way that would be favourable to India’s first government, which turned to be authoritarian. What started as a major move by Jawaharlal Nehru and the super-majoritarian government, radically led to a system of coercion and repression on a vast majority of the Indian people.

The narration is smooth, however, having never had political science or history as my subjects, I found it a bit exhausting to read. Perhaps that is something a few readers may face but let me tell you that the end is worth it. You will come out a bit wiser and also perhaps with more questions, which will lead you down on a path of learning. I think this was a really well-penned book by the author. It was informative and with the eloquent writing, the reader really captures the attention of the reader. It was also a really quick read once I got into it.

I rated this book 4/5 stars!

Check it out on Amazon!

An autobiographical travelogue: Dream Beyond Shadows

Dream Beyond Shadows: No Ordinary Tourist was a unique autobiographical travelogue that I really enjoyed. It was greatly introspective.

Dream Beyond Shadows
Dream Beyond Shadows

Synopsis:

If you are holding this book, there’s a chance you may be at a crossroads in your life, as once the author of this book was.
Feeling stuck and overwhelmed by society’s pressures, how can we learn, in today’s fast-paced and results-driven world, to truly dream beyond shadows?
Having touched the hearts of readers across the globe, Dream Beyond Shadows has now been published in its second edition, to celebrate the raw and compelling art of storytelling inscribed in its pages.
The book chronicles a turning point in the author’s life, a moment when he decided to turn against the current of his life and move in the opposite direction of social expectations and his own conditioned fears.

Author: Kartikeya Ladha

This was a 4 star read for me. I really fell into a thinking pit of introspection as I went over the words of the author. A few points of note:

Visually appealing!

The cover was the first thing that drew me towards this book. It was just very aesthetic and almost psychedelic. The pink and the purples in the new cover design was out of this world. On the same note, the chapter cover pages were also very aesthetic with the inclusion of the design. The book was also a visual treat along with the deep content. The inclusion of the pictures from the author’s life also gave a glimpse and made it easier to understand the life of the author and thus, his words too.

Inclusion of Poetry!

The poetry pieces were also great. I think they really brought together the narrative and gave outbursts of poetic emotions throughout, at regular intervals.

Imagery in the travelogue!

The book also has wonderful imagery. I love the way the author transitioned from the concrete jungles of the city (perhaps arguably the most famous city of the world) to beautiful Peru and then the dense Amazons. The book is also a travelogue in this sense and it gives you an amazing experience. I could almost see myself right in the center of it all.

An autobiographical travelogue

Overall, I think this was a beautiful book – a sort of a mix between an autobiography and a motivational book. However, the fact that it was a personal story made it all the more effective and thus the reader became undoubtedly more empathic while reading. I myself was sucked in. I am at a stage in my life where I am happy and confident about what I want and how I feel. But at the same time, I also have seen around me, people going through quarter-life crises regarding what they want, their future, etc. As such, it was a book I could really feel in my bones.

Verdict:

The narration is crisp and amazing and it totally gives you the ultimate traveling experience, while also making you ponder over the deeper questions of life. I really liked this book and am happy that this was my first non-fiction of the year, and most possibly the first travelogue I have ever read. I rated it 4/5 stars and recommend it to you all.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

My experience with the graphic novel

With reference to Pumpkinheads and Vyasa

Vyasa and Pumpkinheads
Vyasa and Pumpkinheads

I finally started reading the graphic novel from 2019 and it honestly has been a great journey so far. In my 5th semester, I decided to pursue a Visual Studies elective. I was lucky enough to have a great teacher under whom I explored this genre and saw what fun it is!

Graphic novel: Pumpkinheads

I recently picked up Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks and it was my first graphic novel of the year. To be very honest, I was suffering from a terrible reading slump and so I wanted to read something fun and not very intense. That is the reason why I decided to pick up Pumpkinheads, about which my bestie Gayatri had been raving about from the time she read it. and I really enjoyed it. It certainly helped me get over my slump.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

However, on that very note, it span over the time period of just a few hours. It is not a book with a lot of depth, so if that is what you are expecting it to be, you might be disappointed. I found it be a fun and flirty read. Moreover, it has great LGBT representation and it definitely broke free of the generic stereotypes of boys and girls. Lastly, I was blown away by the amazing art. The predominant colours were that of orange, burnt ochre, and all the autumn colours, which made the book an art piece to feast on. I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. It was a 3.75 star read for me.

Vyasa and Pumpkinheads: a glimpse
Vyasa and Pumpkinheads: a glimpse

Graphic novel: Vyasa

After that I was so in love with pictures that can take over your imagination, that I decided to go after another graphic novel and this time, I picked up Vyasa. This book is on the Indian epic Mahabharata, a personal favourite. The story is by Sibaji Bandyopadhyay and the art is by Sankha Banerjee. The way this book was written was amazing. I loved the recurrent jumps in time and the overall framing structure that combined the stories within the story. However, it was only the first part and I was left dangling.

Now I am eagerly waiting for the sequel to Vyasa: The Beginning. The art in this book is stunning as well and I was spellbound throughout. The fact that I finally have pictures that can accompany the stories I, and we all, grew up with, was a wonder in itself. I absolutely loved this book and I rated it 4.5 star read for me.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

Check out similarly themed books: Upon a Burning Throne, What if it’s you?, etc.

Of Craft: Embroidered Life

Embroidered Life, by Sara Barnes, follows the craft of embroidery as practiced by Sarah K. Benning. And it is the ultimate craft inspo!

Embroidered Life
Embroidered Life

Craft of Sarah K. Benning

From beautiful botanicals to bold affirmations, the work of self-taught fiber artist Sarah K. Benning gives any embroidery enthusiast, art lover, or plant fanatic a new appreciation for the craft of needlework.

I absolutely loved the art that is this book in itself. It sheds light on Benning’s embroidery process and her successful business model, while also offering behind-the-scenes insights that really inspired me to pick up the needle and thread after almost a decade.

Aesthetics of this craft

There are also some amazing pictures of the various embroidery works done by Benning and they are so lush and beautiful! A lot of her works feature nature and plants and the colour green overall, and it was no wonder I was so very attracted to it. Following each picture, the author has also included notes to explain the meanings and processes behind the stitches.

How it inspired me

It also obviously pushed me to make my own embroidery piece and so I too ended up embroidering my personal logo. I had a great time making it and I realized that it is a kind of meditation. It just feels so good to sit down in the warm sunshine every morning and do the stitching. I really felt at peace doing it.

Craft for life!

Moreover, the book is so aesthetic, and the addition of the die-cut case with actual stitching on the front cover just amps up the aesthetics! Like the embroidery which is a very physical thing, the inclusion of this stitching on the front too is iconic for emulating that sense of touch.

A smashing book!

I think by now it’s obvious I think it is a 5/5 star book, don’t you?

Check out Embroidered Life on Amazon, and Goodreads !

You might also like: DIY reading nook !

Mesmerizing poetry: The Octopus Curse

The Octopus Curse is a poetry collection by Dr. Salma Forook and I have yet to come across a more aesthetic anthology of poetry. Needless to say I loved it!

The Octopus Curse by Dr. Salma Farook is a poetry collection

The Octopus Curse by Salma Farook is a collection of powerful poems, focusing on love, heartbreak, resilience, travel, self-love, feminity and women’s issues, etc. I have read What Your Soul Already Knows by the author last year and I had found it to be the best motivational book there ever was, without sounding too preachy and such. As such, when the author approached me for her second book, of course, I had to say yes!

Click here to check out my review for What Your Soul Already Knows.

Through the vacuum.

Through the void.

Sometimes the words I write,

Fall over the heads of a heedless crowd.

But, I lay them clear,

And I ink them loud,

Because I don’t require being heard,

I only (desperately) need

To right.

-‘Catharsis’

Lyrical poetry

Like her previous book, the words in this book too continue to be just as meaningful and full of depth. I love how the execution has been made. The words are rhythmic and lyrical and thus very heart warming as well as soothing to the ears. Through these different pieces, the author has inspired the reader to confront their feelings and accept them and most importantly, to be at peace with themselves.

How stunted,

Limited,

This language is!

I have searched and searched

But, never found a word

For pain coming so surely,

That you feel it already,

Long before it

Even arrives.

-‘Visceral’

Aesthetic:

The book is a work of art and a more aesthetic poetry collection, I have yet to come across. I am so glad I got to read this book when I did because this was just the right time for me. Perhaps, if I had read it at some other moment of my life, it wouldn’t have touched me as much as it has. Many thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy.

I pray that death be kind,

Not as much to the buried,

As to those left behind.

-‘Funerals are for the living’

Here’s one poem that I absolutely loved. Check this one out!

You lift your chin up

Like the cocking of a gun

Your eyes flash the coldest fire,

Your words erupt,

The hottest ice.

I see you wear your anger

Like a bulletproof vest

Over your pain; I must say,

Even as you walk away,

It looks bloody glorious

On you

-‘Woman’

You can also check out the book here: Amazon (the ebook is free upto 5th of November), Goodreads

Between You and these Bones, by F.D Soul, 14 May 2019

Title: Between You and These Bones

Author: F. D. Soul

Publisher: Andrews McMeel publishing

Releasing on: 14th May, 2019

Genre: Poetry

Format: Ebook

Language: English

No. of pages: 194

Synopsis:

Acclaimed Instagram poet F.D. Soul (@featherdownsoul) debuts a new poetry collection,telling her own invigorating, unapologetic narrative of love, loss, and adversity. Soul’s words pulse, they are alive on the page, attesting to the significance of Between You and These Bones in the modern world.

From celebrated New Zealand poetess F.D. Soul comes her highly anticipated second collection of poetry, prose, illustrations, and wisdom. Her messages grapple with relationships: interpersonal relationships, her relationship with herself, and the relationship between poetry and the world. Unchaptered and raw, Between You and These Bones reads much like a memoir or meditation yet maintains all the musicality of poetry. “This book is a garden, a hymn, a forgiveness. A falling back in love. It is all the pieces of light you forgot you held, remembered.”

My review:

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

This collection of poems was a welcome break to the otherwise fiction reading that I had been engrossed in for a long time now. The poems were beautiful and spoke on familial love, mental health and healing – and starting to open up about it, as well as about people who help us sope with their kindness and love; human vulnerability of opening up oneself to others; hope, prayer and faith; family and the “weight of generations”; the act of consent/societal pressure and why saying ‘no’ makes us feel guilty; the difference between living and being alive; the strength and power of a mother’s love; the understanding of one’s own qualities and accepting them and subsequently working on them; being human and dealing with loss and breakups and many others. The poet also talks about growing up, falling in love, the beauty in everyday objects, chasing and living your dreams, gratitude, fighting for your life, living one’s life, self-empowerment, memoris, the power of love, the act of giving; about when we want to give up, it is the human body that goes on, and how poetry is the poet’s prayer.

The poet’s writing style is also very novel and experiments with the format of the syntax etc. and complex lines are used. There are many layers to the meanings. Also, I feel that there was also a lot of repetition in the poems. The poet often uses “which is to say” and “but God”/”God!”/:and God”, which makes the words lose their evocative power at times.

Verdict:

This was a pretty good book and I rate it a 3/5 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 .

You Will be Safe Here, by Damian Barr, 2019

Title: You Will be Safe Here

Author: Damian Barr

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Historical fiction

Format: Advanced Reading Copy

Language: Language

No. of pages: 352

Recommended for: All ages

Synopsis:

An extraordinary debut that explores legacies of abuse, redemption, and the strength of the human spirit–from the Boer Wars in South Africa to brutal wilderness camps for teenage boys.

South Africa, 1901. It is the height of the second Boer War. Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred are forced from their home on Mulberry Farm. As the polite invaders welcome them to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp they promise Sarah and Fred that they will be safe there.

2014. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider. Hoping he will become the man she wants him to be, his Ma and her boyfriend force Willem to attend the New Dawn Safari Training Camp where they are proud to make men out of boys. They promise that he will be safe there.

You Will Be Safe Here is a powerful and urgent novel of two connected South African stories. Inspired by real events, it uncovers a hidden colonial history, reveals a dark contemporary secret, and explores the legacy of violence and our will to survive. 

My review:

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

I absolutely loved reading YOU WILL BE SAFE HERE. This is a poignant story that really touched my heart and I have changed after reading it. There are 4 parts in the story.

The first part is written in an epistolary format – in the form of a diary. The ton of Sarah van der Watt is so tragic. I found – not overtly so, but in its undercurrent – I could feel it as I read – Sarah’s knowledge that the need of her world as she knew it, was near. Things would greatly change and it is as if she is deliberately and often times forcefully trying to be cheerful – why not enjoy the last few days before all hell breaks loose?

Some lines I liked were –

“There is strangely little to do now but wait.”

During this period of the second Boer War, the Kaffirs were freed by the English. The resulting chaos was a great scar on the lives of so many people – both whites and blacks. I was also pleasantly surprised by the resilience of the people – specifically Sarah van der Watt and basically everyone else.  It also talks about the feminine issues – both social, and historical – the suppression of women and the masculine power play over them, their objectification, etc.  I also loved that Samuel, the husband had been such a supportive husband to Sarah, as we learn from the diary entries. Later on, the entries make you cry – just reading of the utter inhuman situations that they, along with so many other people were subjected to. The flashback method was also great and gives great depth to the story.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the inclusion of the literary references. It made the text very relatable to the reader, as it surely did for me! 

Throughout all the different parts, the Southern Cross is a recurring motif. I interpreted it as an objective correlative for the concepts of hope and strength that it bestowed on the different characters. The use of regional words at certain places give a certain authenticity to the text and a sense of reality.

In part 2, Willem says “They wouldn’t understand, they never understand” which I think resonates among so many teenagers, when thinking of adults and authority figures.

One of the major themes that I saw throughout Part 2 is that of toxic masculinity. For instance, seeing Willem cry in desperation once, Jan had turned away – after all, boys do not cry. We also see domestic abuse scenario in this part.

Later, when Willem is at the camp and Rayna misses him. She understands that at the camp he would be forced to do what they have wanted him to do always – things that other boys do generally. “It’s these markers of his willingness to try that break her heart”.

 I really loved Rayna’s character. She is the epitome of an independent and hardworking woman. When Irma accuses her saying she could never “keep a man” Rayna says, “I never needed one… Maybe I wanted one, sometimes but I never needed one. Not like you” and that is such a powerful sentiment. Rayna is an inspiring woman just as Sarah.

Verdict:

This is one of the best books I have read in my life, let alone in 2019. I rate it a 5/5 stars and will definitely be picking it up again.

About the author:

‘Maggie & Me’ is my memoir and ‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is my first novel (out in April 2019). You can follow me on twitter @damian_barr and insta @mrdamianbarr. I host my own Literary Salon at the Savoy: www.theliterarysalon.co.uk

‘Maggie & Me’ is my memoir of surviving small-town Scotland in the Thatcher years. It won Sunday Times Memoir of the Year: “Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one’s assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting.” BBC Radio 4 made it a Book of the Week. Following Jeanette Winterson in 2012, Stonewall named me Writer of the Year 2013.

I host my own Literary Salon at the Savoy. Guests include: Jojo Moyes, Bret Easton Ellis, John Waters, Mary Beard, James Frey, David Nicholls, Colm Toibin, Taiye Selasi, Susan Calman, David Mitchell and Rose McGowan. Do enjoy our podcast!

Commended as Columnist of the Year, I’ve also been a journalist for over a decade writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Evening Standard and Granta. I’m currently a columnist for the Big Issue and High Life. My first book, based on a Times column, was published by Hodder in 2005. ‘Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis’. I’ve also co-written two plays for Radio 4 and appeared on PM, Midweek, Broadcasting House and Today as well as The Verb and presented on Front Row. I live in Brighton with my partner and our intensely demanding chickens.

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 .

Ashwatthama’a Redemption: The Rise of Dandak, Gunjan Porwal, 2018

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Title: Ashwatthama’s Redemption: The Rise of Dandak
Author: Gunjan Porwal
Publisher: Om Books International
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 263
Synopsis:
Over a hundred years after the Mahabharata War, an ancient power threatens to destroy the new Age of Men, by establishing the Age of Terror of the asuras, long believed to be extinct. The only hurdle in its path is Guru Dronacharya’s son, the mighty but accursed warrior Ashwatthama, who lost all his powers following Lord Krishna’s curse, and who unwittingly finds himself drawn into the quest of the lost bow of Lord Rama – the Kodanda.
As ghosts of the distant past return to haunt him, and the line between friends and enemies blurs, Ashwatthama must fight his inner demons to emerge victorious. He undertakes a perilous journey – across the vast plains of the gages, to the snow-capped peaks of the Himavant – where the price of failure is a fate worse than death, and death is a privilege not granted to Ashwatthama.
Is this all part of Lord Krishna’s great plan? Will Ashwatthama be able to regain his lost glory?
My review:
Ashwatthama’s Redemption is a mythological fiction book, and one of the best of its kind. I found in it, a perfect blend of all elements that have the capacity to thrust forward and make popular any book within the genre. Perhaps that explains the amazing ratings that this book has been gathering, and deservedly so.
The entire plot was well planned out and detailed – elaborate in its own scope and leaving the reader intrigued by the ending – there is undoubtedly a sequel coming out. The author has maintained the plot pace very well and it really becomes fast paced towards the end of the book, leading to a crescendo!
The themes again – war, politics, human spirit in the face of doom, friendship, kinship etc., are all very dynamic, as shown in the book and the fiction element with which the author has written this mythological tale is fluent and free-flowing. There were no jerks throughout. It all sounds like it happened, but the best part is that the reader feels like he or she is a part of the adventure. The world building was good, but I admit, could have been better. The inclusion of the map in the beginning was a great idea but perhaps it would have been preferable if the naming had been done in English and not Hindi. The mystery element is also one that needs special mention – the hermeneutic and pro-airetic codes used have truly helped in that regard.
The character created by the author are well made – they are round and multi-dimensional, except the side characters, of course. Their backstories have also been provided which truly adds great depth to any character – another good point that the author has kept in mind, clearly.
The stories and anecdotes that the author puts in, in the middle – the various references to the Mahabharata war and that world, basically, is intriguing and attracts the reader’s attention clearly, for so many of those facts and small details are unknown to the common reader and thus, interesting for them.
The editing and proof-corrections have been well done as well. The cover is nice to look at and really helps the reader to imagine how Ashwatthama may have looked like.
Verdict:
I quite enjoyed this book and as I rate it a 4/5 stars, I wait eagerly for the sequel to come out!
 
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 Godkiller, Swayam Singh Aujla, 2018

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Title: The Godkiller
Author: Swayam Singh Aujla
Publisher: And All Publisher
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 338
 
Synopsis:
The struggle between Civilization, Nation and Tries is tearing the world apart. The Gods have gotten old; they cannot hold back the chaos any longer. The only hope for the people remains in founding a God of reason. And that requires the death of the old Gods of faith.
Who will kill the old Gods?
Who will stake the entire world in the pursuit of reason?
Who will be The Godkiller?
 
My review:
Prepare yourself for an epic journey! The Godkiller is undoubtedly a huge world of its own.
The Godkiller is the first in a series of books and with the first only being so full of events with a mind-blowing sequencing, one can only wonder how great the sequel will be.
The plot of this story, when taken into consideration, along with the protagonist, can be said to be a sort of bildungsroman. We see the hero of the story – Motherkiller, or rather, Stargazer, as he should be rightly called, grow from a baby unto his old age. This bildungsroman is not a traditional sense as we can say it covers his entire life story as opposed to only certain bits of it. Nonetheless, this use only enhances the entire story. The character development especially is something to be noted. We see Stargazer truly developing from a precocious child into an ambitious and clever young man. His love and sexual conquests are also worth reading about – each is a lesson on its own for him.
The author has also included dream-like sequences before the beginning of each chapter and from the reader’s perspective, this is quite enlightening. These sequences are also of significant importance because we see that these mark important moments is Stargazer’s life – these are important lessons that he learns.
The other characters are also well rounded and truly three-dimensional. The plot was compelling and truly addicting. Although I do think that this is a truly polarizing book – there will be many who will hate it, simply because it is no walk in the park; the author has kept it quite intellectual, but then again, there will be many who will love it. I personally loved it and look forward to the next book. I do think, however, that if one pulls through the first part, the rest will be a breeze; this is a story that ensnares one’s attention from the very beginning. The epic, although a low fantasy, has an amazing blend of politics and economics, governance and betrayals etc., in it that people are bound to love. It is an elaborate and an extensive world that is shown in the book, and the hierarchies are amazing to read about. A truly utopian dystopia has been presented.
The themes are really interesting too – we see war, friendships, the importance of kinship and so on. But most importantly, we see the reversal of science and religion into Civilization and Tribes respectively. It is very amazing to see how the author has actually used inspiration from the current times and situations into making this world where ‘Priests’ teach the Tribes about the wonders of science (and not religion!)
The writing style is good. The concepts are all well researched by the author. The editing has also been well done. But talking about the cover, it is simply W-O-W ! A truly aesthetic and appealing picture presented to the eye, The Godkiller is must-read.
 
Verdict:
This was a really enjoyable book. I rate this a 4.5/5 stars.
 

Paradise Towers, Shweta Bachchan-Nanda, 2018

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Title: Paradise Towers
Author: Shweta Bachchan-Nanda
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 174
 
About the author:
Shweta Bachchan-Nanda is a columnist for DNA and VOGUE. A well-known personality, she is the daughters of actors Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan. Shweta is married to Nikhil Nanda and is the mother of two children. She has her own clothing label MxS, which launched in 2018. She lives in New-Delhi.
 
Synopsis:
Dinesh opens the door to the Kapoor flat to find Lata, the enchantress who works at Mrs. Aly Khan’s, carrying a hot case with freshly made gaajar ka halwa. On the first floor, the inquisitive Mrs. Mody wipes the dust off her precious binoculars to spy on the building’s security guard. The Singhs open the doors of their SUV, their four boys creating a ruckus – they are the newcomers, the outsiders. Through the peephole, the ever-watchful Mrs. Ranganekar observes their arrival. Welcome to Paradise Towers, an apartment building in central Mumbai. Everyone here has a story to tell. Or maybe they have stories to hide.
Shweta Bachchan-Nanda’s quirky, intimate debut explores the intertwined lives in this building – a forbidden romance, an elopement the undercurrent of tension is corridor interactions and an explosive Diwali celebration. Bachchan-Nanda’s is a dazzling voice that will draw you into the intoxicating, crazy world that is Paradise Towers.
 
My review:
Really funny and truly intimate in its writing, Paradise Towers proved to be a quite good debut novel.
The author has done a really good job with the character development in the book. The plot, I found, though quite extensive was a bit lacking – the story seemed like a telling of the everyday lives of the people except at the major climax I found. this climax started the unraveling of the threads thus letting a number of dominoes fall down, one after the other until we reach a catastrophic end (not really).
The characters are really the major focus in this very much of a character-driven novel whose developments are really interesting to note as one progresses throughout the story. The theme of conflict was a major one running throughout – as people living in such close proximity are bound to indulge in, whether intentionally or not. The others – forbidden love, distrust, gossips etc. are also commonplace in everyday life. The author has really mixed these all up in creating this hilarious story.
I truly enjoyed reading this novel – it sure is an entertaining and fun read.
Verdict:
I found the depth lacking in the story. Nonetheless, it was not lacking in the entertainment aspect. I rate it a 3.5/5 stars!

Regular Porridge, Sukanya Basu Mallik, 2018

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Title: Regular Porridge
Author: Sukanya Basu Mallik
Publisher: Word Bite
Format: Ebook
Language: English
Pages: 45
Synopsis:
Regular porridge as a collection explores the meaning of life- success and failure and how they intertwine, as well as how a person may find it difficult to balance the two, confusing one for the other. This book contains tales of how people go about their lives and the extraordinary web each life can weave, using the appreciation of art to explore the human experience. Love and human relations have been depicted in some pieces too. Love is agony, ecstasy, unpredictable, testing and perfectly serene. It doesn’t always have to be something you feel but something you do. In this collection, fiction has been used to catalyze introspection in people and instead of setting out to solely entertain readers, this poetry collection certainly educates, too.
My review:
In a beautiful and eloquent voice, the poetess has described various real-life situations. The synopsis and the preface are the first things that really attracted me and I must give full marks to the poetess for that. Wonderfully written.
In the poems, we see the use of blank verse in some and the use of rhythm in rhyming as well. The meaning of life and loss along with the daily monotonous life, are explored in a very intricate yet contrastingly, a very simple manner which truly draws the reader in. The themes of war, faith, hope, lock, and so on are on what the poetess pours her heart out. Especially regarding the effect of war on children, there is one line that truly affected me-
“If need be, we’ll frighten them with our toy guns” in War Children’s Psychosocial sssions- Child of Syria.
This line in itself says so much. The children who have seen the ravages of war are willing to protect their people by fighting against the enemy- but fighting against the enemy, that too, with the help of their own albeit “toy”, “guns” itself. This again shows the layers of the mind, even in small children.
The poet also explores patriotism, the futility of war, poverty and child labour, along with sexual abuse on children. It’s scary at times because as a reader one realizes that these are so true and actually happening.
Verdict:
A really good read, I rate Regular Porridge a 4/5 stars.