Tag Archives: contemporary

Love in the Time of Affluenza, by Shunali Khullar Shroff, 2019

Title: Love in the Time of Affluenza

Author: Shunali Khullar Shroff

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 292

Synopsis:

A novel that probes the norms of marriage, love, and adultery among the urban super-wealthy, Love in the time of Affluenza is a hilarious social satire set in Mumbai. The story explores the lives of three women as understood from the eyes of its protagonist Natasha, a happily married mother of three. She begins to ask some difficult questions about her own life after she stumbles upon her closest friend Trisha’s affair.

‘Finally an immensely enjoyable story about Mumbai’s rich that, like all good stories, rings so true, with its adorable and suspiciously familiar characters.’ – Manu Joseph

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.

A book that provides a glimpse into the lives of the ultra-rich in urban Mumbai, Love in the Time of Affluenza was a fun, and witty read. While most may simply categorize it into the light and frivolous, this book comes with its practical depth – one so many women across the country will find similar!

Natasha Singh is a woman who is very relatable. As a mother, she shows us (who are not mothers yet) the point of view from a mother’s side and it is definitely not so easy. Kids can be really annoying sometimes (I am definitely experienced as I have a younger brother) but most of all, placating the kids after a fight is the worst. I loved how the author has made the book so very relatable! When Ria puts on more waterworks as the father (Natasha’s husband, Prince Varun) arrives, it is a scene out of my everyday life. I am a daddy’s girl too and well, to b honest, for a daughter, fathers are way easier to manipulate, aren’t they?

We see Natasha grappling with the sudden scenario of cheating and infidelity when her friend Trisha’s affair is discovered by her. So many times in life, we find ourselves struggling between two rights – whether to respect the confidences of a friend or to tell the truth outright to the people they are hurting. Even without the exact same scenario, this is a dreadful situation we have found ourselves in time too many, to be honest!

 And then comes the mother-in-law! That is one serious Hiroshima-Nagasaki situation in itself. Natasha’s interactions with the Rani are funny, and sometimes really frustrating. It really makes us think about the age-old adage – a woman is another woman’s worst enemy. Is there any truth to it?

In the very beginning of the book itself, Natasha, as she is being ordered about by the cook, wonders if she is working for him or vice versa. Now that situation is one we all are suffering from! And well, men are such chauvinists sometimes! Even when they love you, that streak of caveman attitude seems to erupt and take over their otherwise oaky-ish thinking.

Being an avid fan of Sex and the City, I did find similarities between Carrie Bradshaw and our Natasha. The beginning of every chapter is a writeup by her, as she works as a columnist. These writeups are quite impactful and make us think these words over. The writing was full of humor and irony, and I for one (among many others) am a fan of Shroff’s writing. The literary (and other references) to Anais Nin, Sylvia Plath, Anna Karenina, Picasso, Lalu Prasad Yadav (you so need to read this book!), Uri Geller, etc. were on point! Shroff has masterfully blended the wit and philosophy, displayed them through various (almost) stereotyped characters and provided a work, which is light, and funny and relatable, but at the same time, full of deep and impactful thoughts.

Verdict:

It was a great read, and now my mum is reading it too! I rate it 4/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

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

Give Your Heart A Break , by Anuj Tiwari, 2019

Title: Give Your Heart A Break

Author: Anuj Tiwari

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Published on: 15th May, 2019

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 208

Synopsis:

When is it enough, really enough? 
In love, never! In abuse, forever. 

Written flawlessly with tenderness and fury, heartbreak and acceptance, give your heart a break is the story of Addya, a flamboyant, confident woman, leading a carefree life. That is, until the day she gets married, and her life suddenly takes a turn for the worse. Caught in a steadily deteriorating relationship, Addya is stretched to her limits as she tries to cope. Through it all, she has her brother Agastya standing by her side like a rock, vowing to avenge his sister. Will Addya be able to survive unscathed? Will Agastya succeed in seeking justice? Or will he succumb to the wounds of his past? Can the love of his life, Tarjani, provide him succour? Inspired by a true story, this is an incredible tale of abuse and vulnerability, of the exhilaration of romance, of an unshakeable sibling bond that is at once unique and universal. Above all, this is Anuj Tiwari’s unsparing account of love and loss, capturing the grit and courage of a woman trapped in a loveless relationship.

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.

If I could use just one word to describe this book, it sure will be ‘inspiring’. Or ‘motivational’. And all the other synonyms that go with it.

Give You Heart A Break is a story of love, rather than a simple love story (although there is one such major romantic angle to it, it does not feature at the fore). Words of wisdom pepper throughout the narrative in the voices of Arjun, Agastya and Addya.

Through Addya’s story the author has shed light on the plight of many women in our society. A topic we do not talk about much – a topic considered too impossible a scenario crops up here. Marital tape is still not considered a crime in our country. After all, the husbands owns the wives, don’t they? It is their prerogative – how they treat them ; it is this business not to be poked into by others. Addya has to unfortunately undergo a lot in her married life, – be it sexual, mental or physical abuse .

After her escape from what seems to be horrifying fate, it is a shock to see the reactions of her parents who are archaic and old-fashioned in the truest sense. It is her brother Agastya who is a true savior. Their relation is sweet and so ideal – it is the way in which one would expect loved ones and family members to treat them. The book also deals a lot with people’s mentality- like how we care so much about societal expectations – about ‘what will the neighbours say?!’

Arjun is also a great brother to Addya. The author partially employs the story within a story format through the narrative – involving firstly Arjun and then through him, Addya and Agastya. I also interpreted this novel as a sort of bildungsroman as we see the growth of Agastya through the narrative.

However I did find the narrative confusing at times and the execution could have been a bit better. It also felt a bit stretched at times – the philosophical sequences to be exact.

Verdict:

I quite enjoyed reading this book and I rate it a 3.75/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

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

The Voice of Silence, by Rishaj Dubey, 2019

Title: The Voice of Silence

Author: Rishaj Dubey

Publisher: NotionPress

Genre: Contemporary/New Adult/Mental Health

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 284

Synopsis:

“Bestselling author and a ‘diagnosed psychopath’ Aarav Roy has gone missing”
Four years ago.
Aarav is not a normal college kid. From a blurry, abusive childhood, to his severe anxiety and the horrible voices in his head, he is fed up with life. Driven by the belief that his past is everything that defines him, he ended up posting his suicide note online. But, the kind of silence he fantasized never came true. Nikita, who suffered from PTSD and depression, sees her own tragic secrets reflected in him, and she is not going to let the past repeat itself—no matter the cost.
Where is the controversial writer? Who is she? Who does she remind Aarav so much of?
What are the voices in his head? And how much hate can love fuel?
In his debut novel, Rishaj Dubey explores the depths of trauma, corruption, loneliness and what is it like to suffocate in your own breath. 

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.

One of the books I read recently was The Voice of Silence and it was quite a surprising read. The beginning was a bit slow for my taste, but overall, it was a great build-up. Covering a myriad of human emotions, The Voice of Silence in a book that is necessary for us to read because of the important topic that the author has chosen.

The entire story felt like an interior monologue of Aarav and his story with relation to Nikita is gradual and very realistic. The book is a lot about mental health and reading such a book in the Indian context is great, and definitely a first for me. Trigger warning for PTSD, Dissociative Identity Disorder etc. This aspect of the human mind or psychology was a bonus and I found it refreshing to read about in the Indian context.

I think that the characterization is also on point – be it Aarav, Nikita and also Ashish, who is Aarav’s best friend. Their character arcs have developed throughout and it makes for real fleshed out characters.

The author has adopted a simple and easy to understand language, which is relatable and most importantly, very realistic. The way the narrative has been split, with breaks at suitable points, and the addition of the various quotes at the beginning of each chapter was also great. The author has also employed a sort of stream of consciousness method; it is non-linear and jumps back and forth across time.

However, it rather has a complex plot so it might get a bit too heavy at times, but it is an overall great read.

Verdict:

If you love reading psychological thrillers and also books on mental health, this might be the one for you. It is not like every other love story that floods our literature. It is very different from them all and I definitely recommend it. I rate it a 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 .

Happily and Madly, by Alexis Bass

Title: Happily and Madly

Author: Alexis Bass

Publishing date: 21 May, 2019

Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge

Genre: Teens and YA

Format: Netgalley e-arc

Synopsis:

Alexis Bass’ Happily and Madly is a mature, twisty, compulsively readable YA suspense novel about a young girl who embraces a fate bound in love and mystery. 

Maris Brown has been told two things about her destiny:

1. She will fall happily and madly in love.
2. She could be dead before she turns eighteen.

The summer before that fateful birthday, Maris is in the wealthy beach town of Cross Cove with her estranged father and his new family–and the infamous Duvals. Since the youngest member of the Duval family, Edison, is back from college and back in the arms of Maris’s new stepsister, her summer looks to be a long string of lazy days on the Duval’s lush beach.

But Edison is hiding something. And the more Maris learns about him, the more she’s given signs that she should stay as far away from him as possible. As wrong as it is, Maris is drawn to him. Around Edison, she feels truly alive and she’s not willing to give that up. Even if it means a collision course with destiny.

My review:

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

I think that Happily and Madly was a great psychological novel. In one way it really reminded me of WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart. I found the protagonist – Maris a very sharp girl with lots of potential. Like Sepp (another character that I absolutely loved) said, she does not ever “miss a thing”. The characters in this book all have their own secrets and the way the author goes about them is manifested in some very fluid writing. Chelsea is also a person I liked – she is so unlike what one would expect a stepsister to be… the author has made some really great female representations, where not everyone is trying to one-up the other and it is refreshing. George, Trisha, Pheobe, Edison,Oswald, Warren, Sepp, Karen as well as Michael and Katherine Ellis, Richard and Linda Ellis, and also Gloria and Renee, form the background feel. The backdrop of the  novel is very relaxing and juxtaposed with this thrumming mystery. I was so glad I read it when I did – in the beginning of summer. The book deals with many themes such as putting oneself out there, with the chance of being completely rejected, and to turn the vulnerability out on oneself. It also shows what it is like – the unexpected closeness we sometimes feel for people we have just met – like Maris and Finn, or even Maris and Chelsea. When Maris is once thinking in retrospection, of when she was in the fortune teller’s bathroom when the women client was afraid she was dying, the fortune teller had told her to do whatever was necessary for her to feel alive. Maybe that is why Maris takes risks – not only because she does not want to have regret but also because she wants to feel alive.

Although it was a really enjoyable read, I felt as if the ending was a bit rushed.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 3.75/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

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

Tied Hearts: Lust, Love, Longing and Rajveer, by Vikram Singh, 2018

Title: Tied Hearts: Lust, Love, Longing and Rajveer

Author: Vikram Singh

Publisher: Partridge Publishing India

Genre: LGBTQ+ / Romance/ Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 200

Synopsis:

After Veer begs a handsome stranger to give him a lift to the Gateway of India in Mumbai on New Years Eve, he inadvertently leaves his cell phone in the mans car. Moments after the clock strikes midnight, Veer calls his phone and is relieved when the driver answers. After they agree to meet the next day, neither has any idea that fate has just intervened in both of their lives. Veer is a graduate student pursuing his MBA. Raj is a native of Amritsar. Although the two men are vastly different in terms of their family backgrounds, values, thought processes, and beliefs, it is not long before they fall in love. Still, no matter how hard he tries, Veer cannot shrug the apprehension that haunts him from within. No one has a simple love story and neither do they. But when one of the men takes the other for granted, their bond is jeopardized. Will anything or anyone be able to save it before it is too late? In this romance, two Indians intertwined in a web of forbidden love must attempt to overcome several obstacles in order to move forward in their relationship. 

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.

Tied Hearts was an enjoyable read. With a gradual and steady buildup, the author is able to portray that love is love. Writing about a homosexual love story is not easy in India – after all, like the character Ranjit from Mahesh Dattani’s On a Muggy Night in Mumbai, it is impossible to be both “Indian and gay”. I applaud the author for daring to write on this still precarious topic.

The plot has been well constructed and the characterization on point. The romance between Veer and Raj is just like any other romance with a heterosexual couple and the author simply wants to say that it does not matter if a boy loves a girl or if he even loves another boy, but that their love is what matters. Love does not see any race, colour, creed or gender. A person’s sexuality is in no way a factor to determine who he/she falls in love with.

The social constructs surrounding the two men are very realistic thus making this story more relatable. With mentions of their differing family backgrounds, values, thought processes, and beliefs, the author brings in various aspects of a person’s life that determine the way he acts in society and his personality.

The concept of the ‘forbidden’ is seen in this book as well as the concept of the ‘other’, and the poet does this through the two protagonists – Veer and Raj, who just because of their ‘not-normal’ lifestyle, normal implying the majority of the heterosexual subjects in the book. I think this work was really well done.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed reading this book. I rate it 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 .

Woman of the Hour, by Jane Lythell, 2016

Title: Woman of the Hour

Author: Jane Lythell

Publisher: Head of Zeus Ltd.

Genre: General Fiction

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 351

Synopsis:

StoryWorld TV brings ‘real life stories’ to its viewers. But it’s at the station where the true dramas are played out…
Liz Lyon is Head of Features at StoryWorld TV. It’s exhilarating and sometimes glamorous work, but as a single mother with a demanding career, her life is a constant balancing act.
Then simmering tensions erupt at the station, trapping Liz in a web of rivalry, manipulation and deceit. If she trusts the wrong person, she could lose her job. But with everything she thought she knew crumbling around her, can she even trust herself? 
A twisty drama of secrets and lies in a London TV station, this is the first book in the StoryWorld series from the acclaimed author of The Lie Of You.

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.

Woman of the Hour was a very gripping tale once I started reading it. It has such realistic elements set in the world behind what we know as the TV world, that one cannot help but just flip the pages and devour the happenings – real ones which are worth the reality shows one might see on TV these days anyway.

The book also deals a lot with competition of the workplace and dealing with it. Liz Lyon is an admirable character and the way she deals with the pressure and the backstabbing etc is a motivational factor. However, the author has made sure that she has not placed Liz beyond our touch and on a pedestal; she is still human and we can mostly see it in her home persona. She is another person at home, or rather, she is her true self only at home. The dynamics of a person’s personality with its varied shades is prominent in the actions of all the characters in the book. Honestly, I still haven’t figured out Julius.

One thing that Fenton says in page 75, really stuck in my mind – “… God, we’re all expected to be perfect all the time” and I related that with a book that I had recently read, namely, Brave, Not Perfect, by Reshma Saujani, where the author argues that society has build this pressure on women to be ‘Perfect’ all the time!

Her relationships with the rest of the characters in the book like her coworkers, her friend, her daughter etc is really another factor that makes her humane and so much more relatable. Parent versus child issues are also shown here and the author has given us both the parent’s point of view as well as the child’s too. On one hand, the need to be free is profound in very teenager and it is indeed a driving force, and on the other hand, Liz’s need to protect her child and her love is an universal theme. Human inter-relationships, whether familial, platonic, formal, or even romantic are very complex and there is not stark line dividing the black from the white. It is blurred, the black shading away into the grey. Sexual harassment has also been portrayed in this book and in Liz’s thoughts, the author has brought in the guilt factor, which is very much common in all victims – “I must have been giving off mixed signals”. Of course, it does not help that that is what society implies as well. 

Verdict:

I absolutely enjoyed the book and I hope to get to the sequel soon! I rate it 4/5 stars!

About the author:

I live by the sea in Brighton, East Sussex, UK. 
My debut novel THE LIE OF YOU has been translated into seven languages and will be released as a feature film later this year starring Tuppence Middleton, Lydia Wilson, Rupert Graves and Luke Roberts.
My two psychological thrillers THE LIE OF YOU and AFTER THE STORM were published in 2014 and 2015 and were USA Today bestsellers. 
My next, WOMAN OF THE HOUR, reveals life at the TV front-line through the eyes of producer Liz Lyon. It came out in July 2016 and the follow-up BEHIND HER BACK was published in 2018. My publisher is Head of Zeus and my agent is Gaia Banks of Sheil Land.
I love to hear from readers and I’m on Twitter: @janelythell and Instagram: jane_lythell_writer

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 .

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 .

Silent Defiance: An Open Refusal to Everything That Hurts the Soul, by Sonia Motwani

Title: Silent Defiance: An Open Refusal to Everything That Hurts the Soul

Author: Sonia Motwani

Genre: Poetry

Format: Ebook

No. of pages: 114

Language: English

My review:

Reading poetry is a very personal experience for me and as such, I hold it in very high regard. In the case of Silent Defiance, the poet has been able to retain my interest for the entirety of the book.

I enjoyed reading the poems very much – many were so very relatable on various levels that I was deeply touched and at times, after reading a few poems, I had to just stop, deliberate and think about it. These poems have been very thought-inducing as well.

I am very sure that a lot of the readers have been touched just as well. The delivery and the writing style of the poetry has been good but can be developed furthermore. The imagery produced at times was also beautiful in their entirety. The poems, all aroused emotions in the reader and I applaud the poet in this regard.

I do think that the poet should possibly publish another book and I shall be delighted to but that one too. The cover is dark and yet there is this certain elegance in it. The length of the book too is actually very short and thus proves quick to read. Again, although very short and would require very less net reading time, I cannot guarantee the thinking time the reader will probably use, poring over these works.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars. Amazing!  

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 .

99 Nights in Logar, by Jamil Jan Kochai, 2019

Title: 99 Nights in Logar

Author: Jamil Jan Kochai

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Coming-of-age, bildungsroman

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 276

Synopsis:

A coming-of-age story about one boy’s journey across contemporary Afghanistan to find and bring home the family dog, blending the grit and immediacy of voice-driven fiction like We Need New Names with the mythmaking of One Thousand and One Nights.

Twelve-year-old Marwand’s memories from his previous visit to Afghanistan six years ago center on his contentious relationship with Budabash, the terrifying but beloved dog who guards his extended family’s compound in Logar. Eager to find an ally in this place that’s meant to be “home,” Marwand approaches Budabash the way he would any dog on his American suburban block—and the results are disastrous: Marwand loses a finger and Budabash escapes.

The resulting search for the family dog is an expertly told adventure, a ninety-nine-night quest that sends Marwand and his cousins across the landscape of Logar. Moving between celebrations and tragedies, deeply humorous and surprisingly tender, 99 Nights in Logar is a vibrant exploration of the power of stories—the ones we tell each other, and the ones we find ourselves in. 

My review:

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

Trigger warning for violence and animal abuse.

Set in contemporary Afghanistan, 99 Nights in Logar is a splendid coming-of-age novel which encapsulates elements of childhood innocence, curiosity and adventures worth remembering even after finishing the book.

Having grown in a well-connected and extremely large family myself, I love reading about Marwand and his relationship with his many cousins, the love and also the many fights they shared. In many ways, this book may prove to be a nostalgic read for many of the readers.

The narrative is written in this unique voice which had a very conversational style, and that is also seen in the story itself. The plot itself is very interesting to behold. What I loved is the literary device – the text within the text – the inclusion of the various stories within the story lends a certain originality to the voice. Moreover, the author has also included some very local words, as well as words which are essential to the Islam religion as a whole and that also gives another layer to this deep read. Inclusion of these various diverse elements makes this book a beautiful experience, authentic and real in its being.

The plot is also well made. The use of the flashback methods, and thus moving back and forth in time is crucial in providing both mystery and thus curiosity, and also, the moments of realization as we come to know various events.

While some may categorize it as a middle-grade book, I find that apart from that tone, it also has many different layers of meaning that will be clear to the reader in accordance to their understanding (and not necessarily just age).

The characters were all very well portrayed and really reflect characteristics we find in one or the other cousin in our own families. The familial bond is an important character in itself and we see it entwining all the different characters in the book. The author also delves into the political side of things but I shall not dwell on that. He has done well in trying to show a different point of view of things.

Verdict:

It was an enjoyable read and felt like a real adventure I might have been going on with my cousisn, in fact. I rate it a 4/5 stars and commend the writer’s style. For a debut, this sure is a wonderful piee of work. I look forward to more of his works in the future.

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 .

Until Love Sets Us Apart, by Aditya Nighhot, 2018

Title: Until Love Sets Us Apart

Author: Aditya Nighhot

Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 232

Synopsis:

Aisha and Rohit are like chalk and cheese. While Rohit is completely aimless and imperfect, Aisha is focused and a perfectionist. Just two opposites. But don’t they say opposites attract?
He loves her . . . She loves him. Their wedding is on the cards but their love is put to the test when an unforeseen incident hits their lives. 
Can loving somebody immensely set you apart?
Can everything just change in the blink of an eye?
Inspired from real-life incidents, this ‘Best Romance Book of the Year’ award winning novel is a heart-wrenching tale of true love, friendship and destiny. And a young author’s quest to find out what exactly happened . . .

My review:

Until Love Sets Us Apart is a contemporary romance book with various shades of true love, friendship, destiny as well as darker shades of harassment, murders, rape etc.

While the book really begins on a light note – with a new life in a new college, it soon moves forward to more grisly situations. The author uses the flashback method to tell the journey and it provides an enrapturing story.

The cruel twist at the end really shocks the readers. It really explains why the story begins as it did with the just as cruel murders. While the author clearly states that he does not condone taking the law unto one’s hands, we cannot deny that there are many who do so. Again, there are many who would support this kind of thing and many others too who will not. Well, each to his own – but I believe that taking up the legal actions especially when one is not qualified to do so, is not justified.

The issue of rape is another significant theme in the novel and the way the author includes it in the story is heart-wrenching. Nonetheless, this sad and terrible thing is something quite common in our society despite the various measures taken up to stop it. I applaud the author for wrenching away the readers’ la vie en rose attitude and thus replacing the rose colored glasses with real ones that throw light on the much more darker and grim situations in life.

The plot is well planned out; the characters are also well rounded. However, what really challenged my reading is that I could predict what would happen and that, unfortunately dampened my reading experience.

Verdict:

It was an enjoyable and a book with depth. I rate it a 3/5 stars.

About the author:

Aditya Nighhot is pursuing his MBBS degree from a renowned college in Pune. He is a professional photographer, an avid reader and fond of music. As a twenty-year-old student, he feels that he can connect to the emotions of the youth and express this through his books. With social messages being the crux of his books, his writing has proved to be a boon to his audience; as a result, he has been interviewed by various radio stations. 
Aditya’s debut novel U n Me . . . It’s Complicated!!! was originally written as a hobby with limited copies printed for friends, family and a few readers. But the positive reviews he received encouraged him to write another novel. His book Until Love Sets Us Apart, previously titled In the Blink of an Eye, won the “Best Romance Book of the Year” Award and has inspired him to write more. He is currently working on his next novel.
Aditya enjoys interacting with his readers via his book and social media and always responds promptly. Connect with him on social media. 

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 .

Right From the Start… She Stole His Heart, by Prachi Gupta and Sanchit Garg, 2018

Title: Right From the Start… She Stole His Heart

Author: Prachi Gupta and Sanchit Garg

Publisher: Finger Print Publishers

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 223

Synopsis:

Who says best friends can’t be cruel, they are angels with horns.
Radhika Gupta has always lived a peaceful life. Until she enters college and befriends a few crazy people. Nishi, the short and confident girl who soon becomes her best friend; Siddharth, the crazy, happy-go-lucky guy, always desperate for a girlfriend; Sameer, the college hunk and Manas, who is simple, shy and secretive.
While Siddharth has challenged Nishi that he would find a girlfriend for himself before she can find a boyfriend, Radhika’s life is turned upside down by Sameer’s proposal. For he is the guy she never wants to go out with, while he is determined to date her.
Following a series of amusing events, endless proposals and accidental cupids, who will end up with whom? Will the love stories have a happy ending or will they be doomed?
Witty and riveting, Right From the Start She Stole His Heart is a pacy romantic comedy. It will make you believe in the fact that opposites attract each other.

My review:

Right from the Start… She Stole his heart is a contemporary romance novel with elements of family, romance, comedy, and friendship as well as more serious shades of reality and its contrariness to hopes.  

When I first picked up this book, I did not expect to have the ending it did. In that, I really applaud the author for the unexpected ending. While a few may disagree, I am really satisfied with the ending. Are you intrigued to know what the ending is? In that case, do make sure to pick up the book.

The characters were well fleshed out and seemed very real. It is very easy to imagine that friends like them are ones we also have in college or school. Siddharth is the real fun element in the book and it was hilarious reading about him going about trying to get a girlfriend for himself. We all know a guy like that. Or a girl, even! Nonetheless, he is a truly good friend to her and I liked him. His bickering with Nishi in fact reminded me of the many fights I have with my own brother and made me laugh hard. Nishi is another well rounded character and seems quite mature except when she is in one of her fights with Siddharth. Sameer and Manas also provide a great background to this friendship and give depth to it as well.

The plot seemed a bit common to most contemporary romances. But nonetheless, it was entertaining to the reader. The cover is also pretty cool and goes along with the theme. The title of the book is a bit long and does also cover the essence of the book. It was a fun read overall. I finished the book in just one day and it was very entertaining.

Verdict:

I rate it 3/5 stars.

About the author:

She is a bestselling author of Novel, Accidentally Cupid. Written 3 novels in the span of 2 years, she left her job as a project manager to explore different career opportunities. It was the freedom of a freelance job which gave her the time to explore her talents and entered into writing. She now works as an editor and has started reviewing books on request. She is born and brought up in Ghaziabad

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 .

Ping, by Rashi Dubey, 2018

Title: Ping

Author: Rashi Dubey

Publisher: Half Baked Beans

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 146

Synopsis:

Fasten your seat belts, and get ready for a high voltage roller-coaster ride!!!

Era of Yahoo chats, 2004. Riddhi desires nothing more than an average life. but a ‘Ping’ from Aarush changes the course of her life. Although both are poles apart, yet unknowingly seeking one common thing – ‘their life path’. And the journey begins with falling in love.

But will they make it to the end? Are two highly incompatible individuals capable of filling the gaps in each other’s imperfect lives to make it perfect? Is being in love much more than ‘forever togetherness’? Can love help you realize and fulfil your innermost desires?

Begin your ride with ‘Ping!’ to know more.

My review:

I got a free review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review.

Like the name of the book suggests, a great portion of the book is shown through messages – after all, it is set in a time when there was no Whatsapp, or Snapchat. In this regard the book is very nostalgic for all the 80s and 90s kids. Being a 90s kid myself, it also induced nostalgia in me. But now, gone are the days when we had to wait for emails to contact people and some were still using letters as a means.

Set in those times, the book also perfectly portrays the problems Riddhi and Aarush have to face as they get tangled up in the crazy web of love. Ping is set in 2004, an era of Yahoo chats. Our protagonist Riddhi is a college going girl, who simply wants an average life. But a Ping from our male protagonist changes the course of their life. From being acquaintances to good friends, to falling in love, Riddhi and Aarush have a rollercoaster ride forward.

This book also addresses the issue of long-distance relationship and how to tackle it. It is inevitable that they get frustrated at times, but Riddhi and Aarush overcome that and their love only remains strong. When the time comes for them to get married, of course life interferes. Read the book is you would like to know what happens – will they make it to the end? Are two highly incompatible individuals capable of filling the gaps in each other’s imperfect lives to make it perfect? Is being in love much more than ‘forever togetherness’? Can love help you realize and fulfil your innermost desires?

The author uses a simple language and everyone can understand it. However I found that the beginning was a bit boring because it use the same concept that is also available in so many more books. Perhaps including a twist may have been helpful in capturing the reader’s attention. Some parts were also stretched thing and unnecessarily elongated the narrative. The story become predictable towards the middle and that really affected my reading. I think that the plot overall, is quite common.

Verdict:

It was a good read but there is scope for development. I rate it 2/5 stars.

About the author:

Rashi Dubey is a software engineer by qualification, but her heart lies in reading and writing. She was brought up in India, in the city of Uttar Pradesh known as Aligarh. Currently, she is residing in Gurgaon with her husband and a five-year-old son. 

Apart from being a passionate reader and writer, she also enjoys travelling to new places, enjoys solitude, and loves trying different cuisines. She loves listening to fast beats and grooving on them. 

She has following books in her name as follows:

‘What Will People Think?’
‘The Heart Affair: A short story’
‘Ping!’

You can contact her at rashi.dubey811@gmail.com

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 .

Smokes and Whiskey, by Tejaswini Divya Naik, 2018

Title: Smokes and Whiskey

Author: Tejaswini Divya Naik

Publisher: StoryMirror Infotech Pvt. Ltd.

Genre: Poetry

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 150

Recommended for: Lovers of contemporary poetry

Synopsis:

Titled Smokes and Whiskey, the book is a collection of 42 poems on relationships, the ups and downs that come along with it, falling apart like rubble, but then finding oneself, gathering that strength back and building yourself up, back from that same rubble. I hope that this book makes everyone feel what I felt while writing it, and that love is a universal thing, and my story is not unique. And I hope that this makes them see that there is a beyond and that they can come out happy and clean. And, that this makes them braver than they already are, and gives them that little extra push and strength that they probably need

My review:

Armoured with just 42 poems, this book surprisingly launches a punch at the reader. The poems are written in the contemporary style, made popular by many poets such as Nikita Gill, Rupi Kaur, and Amanda Lovelace etc. Smokes and Whiskey was a quick yet impactful read and I loved going through the poems.

The reader should go in with a trigger warning however – there are mentions of rapes, domestic violence, abuse, mental harassment etc. all of these are so relevant and the way that the poet uses her words makes sure that the end product is raw and poignant, and still relatable. They touch the reader’s heart and makes for an impactful read.

There is a certain rawness in the poet’s words; certain tinge self-destructiveness that peeks through as the poet writes:

I give hearts out away for free

Maybe there’s something wrong in me.

Or maybe the way the poet states this bittersweet statement makes the reader feel so. I personally loved many of the individual poems and marked quite a few of them. I shall definitely be going back to reading these ones soon. They are so sad at times – leaving me utterly despondent, but the poet is successful in showing a ray of hope to the reader and this is perhaps what also makes this collection one worth remembering.

This is definitely one collection I won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

Verdict:

I really enjoyed reading this anthology and I rate it 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 .

Blood and Beloved, by Krimson Ravyn, 2019

Title: Blood and Beloved

Author: Krimson Ravyn

Publisher: Self-published

Genre: Poetry/Gothic

Format: E-Book

Language: English

No. of pages: 88

Recommended for: YA and above

Synopsis:

Blood and Beloved, India’s first Gothic horror poetry collection, includes abstract, horror, and Gothic themes such as darkness, psychological horrors, child-rape, death, etc. Each poem from the book showcases elements of melancholy, depression, mania, occult, a darker philosophy of life, and the like. With a vivid, dark imagery, the book aims at being a fusion of the horror and poetry genres. 

My review:

This certainly was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. And like the synopsis asserts, this was my first Gothic horror poetry collection. Blood and Beloved has also been released just some time ago, on the 8th of February in fact.

The theme of this anthology of poems are a myriad of issues like darkness, psychological horrors, child-rape, death etc., and the author’s grasp over the English language is commendable. The utter visual imagery – stark and raw – that the words invoke are well written and resonate with the reader.

With great depth and meaning, the poems are truly one of a kind, and never have I read any such poems in the Indian context before. I personally think that the author has done a great job with the poems.

With a total of 45 poems in 88 page, the poems have a rhythm and song-like quality that I enjoyed. My very personal favourite was THE CURSE OF PERSEPHONE which I enjoyed reading multiple times, so far. There are also others in this collection that I enjoyed. I think that this is one collection that requires a reader’s patience to continue with. And while I love it, I do also feel that this is a polarizing book – while I may love it, someone may hate it too. But that cannot be much deliberated upon. I enjoyed the book in its entirety and I hope I can read more of the poet’s work in the future.

Verdict:

I quite enjoyed this collection. I rate it a 4/5 stars and would definitely recommend it.

About the author:

Krimson Ravyn, aka Kashish Kaur, is an award-winning short story writer, who writes in horror and fantasy genres. A gothic darkling deeply interested in the subculture, a poet by nature, and a writer by avocation, she loves fusing her two favorites together- horror and poetry. 
Blood and Beloved is her debut book. 

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 Perfect Drug, by Chaitanya Saini, 2018

Title: The Perfect Drug

Author: Chaitanya Saini

Publisher: Pakshi Publication

Genre: Contemporary/Sci-fi/self-help

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 454

Recommended for: All ages

Synopsis:

Buddha meditated for six years, Shiva had his mountain, Could there be a drug that could induce enlightenment? A drug that could make you attain a heightened state of consciousness, gaining of a perspective that perforates through this veil of Maya, revealing the divine in you and others a well. Making you perceive that the problems of the world aren’t global warming, air pollution, overpopulation, it is this global demented state of consciousness, the demon of ignorance that has ingested this whole wide world.
Ananya synthesizes this divine drink with immense difficulty and tends it with great care but with the attainment of power brings its use and abuse. In an attempt to beat the demon outside, he mutes all the voices contrary to his ambition including his much revered intuition. He fails miserably but his torture endures. Does his indulgence keeps Ananya entangled in the web of illusion or he emerges a true conscious being devoid of all attachments?
He has to discover the answer for himself.

My review:

Revolving around Ananya, the protagonist, The Perfect Drug is a modern take on a sci-fi novel, with also interspersed themes of self-help, spirituality, motivation etc. It is very much of a character driven novel, with some great characters with depth and wholeness.

We follow Ananya as he grows – firstly as a student of chemistry in St. Stephen’s College, and then his journey as he passes through the highs and lows of life. We see Ananya as a person full of ambition (and not in a bad way, at all), wishing to do something that would mark his name in the annals of history. We see him fall deeply in love, and in due time too, get his heart broken. But instead of feeling low, what is worth applauding is that he takes himself up and tries to invest all of himself in work – to create the perfect drug.

The characters of the novel with their own appropriate backstories, also gave much insight to the way they were and their actions. However, the only problem I found was that it was a long novel and maybe the author could have cut out some bits – the beginning was a bit long and boring, but I think if one can power through that, it won’t be difficult in enjoying the read. Also, the author tried to show the family picture but I think the many portions on the three sisters especially Guddu was unnecessary and a bit too much.

Having various themes like that of motivation, self-help, sci-fi etc. one may find that certain qualities of this book may endear it to a wide variety of readers. Again, there are many paragraphs on self-introspection and thus, spirituality, which I was not a fan f und=fortunately. But that is only a personal estimate.

The epilogue was quite interesting and makes the reader excited to see the story of Anushree. The author has done quite a bit of research for this book and it clearly shows. The writing style is easy and engaging, and easy to understand.

Verdict:              

It was quite a good book and I rate it 4/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

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

The Anonymous, by Nidhi Kukreja, 2019

Title: The Anonymous

Author: Nidhi Kukreja

Publisher: Blue Rose Publishers

Genre: Mystery/Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 180

Recommended for: YA and above

Synopsis:

“As I sat down, my eyes rested on the envelope lying on the doormat, For Natasha, the writing on it said. I panicked, this cant is him again! I hurriedly opened it and his words made me cry out loud.” 
The Anonymous is the story of Natasha, a victim of sexual violence, assault, harassment, and rape, who was a happy, cheerful girl, but she is now cold, heartbroken and weak! During her recovery, she was dragged into a vicious cycle of nightmares by the letters, that just wouldn’t let her move on. 
“Dreams are woven and seamed when the bloodsheds” 
But the path we move on is always not easy; Hurdles, difficulties, issues, problems bring you down, but the inspiration and spirit to go ahead keep you focused and determined. It is not easy, sometimes we get lost and trapped. 
Is she trapped by it? Or is she forced into a cycle of self-harm and depression? Is it a fight to survive? Is there really no escaping the past? 
“Hello. Don’t put the book down just yet, pick it. You are welcome to my world.” – The Anonymous 

My review:

I got a review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

With such an exciting synopsis to the book, I was very much excited going into it and I can now say that I was certainly not disappointed.

The Anonymous is the story of Natasha, tortured and raped to the point of no return, and yet we commend her strong spirit for not bending and her enduring resilience in the face of such grotesque odds. The author has worked on Natasha’s character. From the beginning of the book, until the very end, we see her change and her evolution as a person of her own rights is gradual and startlingly, very real.

With a strong narration, and just as many twists and turns, this story only extends its strong base on the other characters, who are just as dynamic as the protagonist, and vary on the spectrum just as much when it comes to their characteristics. The way the author has depicted the different types of people in society, is amazing to see.

The chapters which spoke about the trauma that Natasha had to go through, as she recounted the incidents or even lived them, were utterly vivid and draws a picture in the reader’s inner eye. As such, in this respect, a little rigger warning for rape, torture, mental harassment etc.  It is not a pretty picture, but it is a real picture nonetheless. With a great narrative and a must as great, if not greater, narration, this book was one I really enjoyed reading this book a lot.

Verdict:

I quite enjoyed the book and it left an indelible imprint on my mind for sure. I rate it 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 .

Honey and the Moon, by Samini Kusum, 2018

Title: Honey and the Moon

Author: Kamini Kusum

Publisher: Redgrab Books & Anybook

Genre: Contemporary/feminist

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 152

Recommended for: New Adult and above

Synopsis:

A novel to set your heart on fire! Love, lust, career, ambition, drive for success, failure, marriage, infidelity. Honey and the moon is the story of an ambitious career woman – Srishti. A woman who doesn’t blink to participate in a man’s world, but a woman who is also equally needy inside for a man to be there to support and love her. Conflicts of career success, relationship highs and lows and even infidelity enter Shrishti’s journey as she finds love, finds success, loses them and tries to find them again. Shrishti has courage to deal with life. But will she finally have it all drawn together in her maverick heart? Her story is a racy kaleidoscope of non-conformity and adventure. 

My review:

  1. Srishti, the protagonist is shown as a bold and self-assertive woman who is not afraid to live life on her own terms.
  2. Her characteristics were well pondered over by the author definitely and her journey throughout the book was interesting to read.
  3. The author has been able to include some very good and round characters in the book, albeit, her exploration of them is left wanting.
  4. Contrarily, some points have been elongated too much, and this stretching out has made the narrative seem boring at times.
  5. The pace at times, goes to fast and this makes the relativity quite less for the reader.
  6. The beginning was a bit slow but if you just go through with it, the pace picks up considerably.
  7. However, the book turned out not like I expected it. Where I was expecting a contemporary feminist story, the story turned out to be too mainstream for my taste.
  8. The protagonist’s search for love and a suitable man was not likeable for me. But I cannot disregard the societal norms and reasoning that the author has portrayed in the book – so realistically.
  9. The book definitely had a lot of potential but the execution has been left wanting.
  10. Certain mistakes can be corrected through a round of editing and grammar checks.
  11. The language overall is quite simply and can be understood by beginners.
  12. The cover, I feel, does not do justice to the book. It can be better. Also, the page quality can be so much better.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 3.5/5 stars.

About the author:

Author of “Honey And The Moon”, “A New Dawn” and “Secrets,Sins and Struggles”. Loves food, travel and yoga!

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 Stalker, by Sandeep Sharma, 2019

Title: The Stalker

Author: Sandeep Sharma

Publisher:  Redgrab Books & Anybook

Genre: Mystery

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 135

Recommended for: 16+

Synopsis:

Randhir Kamat, a name famous for his regular mentions on page 3, was being stalked on social media by a girl named Deepali. He took it casually and enjoyed the attention from media but soon things went on to become ugly when his girlfriend, Rupali, started receiving death threats. 
Keeping everything on stake, Randhir chose to involve the police to catch the Stalker. Inspector Suraj, started digging in and soon found that ‘Here everyone’s a liar’. 
Whom to trust? 
Whom to blame? 
There were no answers, just one question. 
How far will you go for the sake of your dream?

My review:

  1. A psychological thriller that is full of various twists and turns.
  2. A short and engaging read.
  3. Can be finished in one sitting.
  4. Fast paced and quite a page-turner.
  5. The language is simple.
  6. However it needs work – there are a few grammatical mistakes.
  7. Editing can also be done on this book.
  8. It is also a typical movie-like story – and reads as such.
  9. The inclusion of modern entertainment media like web-series etc. makes it relatable.
  10. I haven’t seen the stalker concept in contemporary Indian works yet and this was a great surprise.
  11. The themes of power, popularity, jealousy, success, etc. are all well explored and well-portrayed.
  12. Rupali, Deepali, Randhir, Devendra, Inspector Suraj etc. were all multi-faceted with great depth, thus making them quite the round characters.
  13. Overall, it was a fast-paced read and was enjoyable.

Verdict:

It was an okay read. I rate it a 3/5 stars.

About the author:

Sandeep Sharma is an Amazon bestselling author of The Coin. He has also written Let the Game begin, Hey Dad! Meet my mom and Just a few lies that sold around 10000 copies collectively.

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 .

Wake up, girl!, by Niharika Jindal, 2019

Title: Wake up, girl!

Author: Niharika Jindal

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Chick-lit/Contemporary 

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 220

Recommended for: New adult

Synopsis:

Naina is back from America, after four years of living on her own. A natural rebel, she has had some fairly life-altering experiences which Mum and Dad would not approve of at all if they get to know. But will her spirit and her stand be enough to fight the forces of parental pressure and heckling aunties baying for her nuptials?

Back in the bosom of her conservative family, Naina cannot even begin to imagine the turn her life is going to take. It’s wedding season, and she must now be married. Because every self-respecting upper-middle-class family in India do that, right? Marriage at the ‘right age’ to the ‘right family’…whether she likes it or not.

Naina’s worst nightmares are about to come true. What hits her within a week of being at home completely changes her world and her life as she embarks on a journey that will define her and provide her an education that only life can. 

Ayaan, Rohan, Akshay, Shiven. Who will it be? Will she even have a shot at romance, being with someone she loves, irrespective of his caste, respectability or bank balance? She will have to summon all the chutzpah within to fight for herself. For her notions of love and living. 

Will she succeed? Like a chrysalis unfolding, will Naina, too, emerge with her wings unscathed?

My review:

A light and humourous read, Wake Up, Girl! was a refreshing read and I finished it in a day.

The author has made the story quite realistic with the use of stereotypes (so warning: if you do not like stereotypes, then this might not be the book for you. Through the use of these characters, the author has been able to portray a general peak into the lives of mainstream Indian people. Of course there are always exceptions, so please take no offense).

Naina seems to be a pretty mild kind of person in the beginning – one might even say, a pushover. However, as the story progresses we see her grow into her own person. As such, it might not be wrong to call it a bildungsroman novel, albeit not a traditional one. The changes that she goes through are nice to read about and we see her evolve into her own being. She finally stands up to her elders – to tell them about what she wants, rather than always blindly following them despite her contrasting views.

A portrayal of the Indian society is given in this story and it so relatable to so many of us belonging to the “marriageable age”. The entire idea of societal expectation is such a burden and despite that, many elders are still not acknowledging it and instead, are themselves implementing it on others.

The issue of homosexuality also comes up here. Despite the 377 issue, elders are still not accepting it. However, the fact that a majority of us youngsters do, shows great promise for the future of India.

Wake up, girl! is also full of themes of friendship, family (or family drama, if you like), love, lust, societal expectations and so on. The title of the book seems just like what Naina would say to herself when she has had enough of these. The cover is pretty cool as well.

Verdict:

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

About the author:

Niharika Jindal is a 26-year-old writer from Ahmedabad. After spending four years studying Psychology in Claremont McKenna College, California, she returned to India clueless about what to do next. She started out with a few stints in HR, during which time she met her husband on a coffee date, and it was love at first sight. 
After many drives and dinner dates, Niharika is happily married. However, her fairy tale was cut short when she developed a chronic back condition-which she has been battling ever since. Constantly pestered by family and friends to do something in order to take her mind off the pain, Niharika’s saving grace came in the form of reading, her favourite childhood pastime. She decided to give writing a shot. Penning Wake Up, girl! has been the most pleasurable experience, and made her realize her true passion in life. 
In her free time, Niharika can be found reading, listening to romantic songs, having cold coffee, shopping online, catching up with old friends, doing physiotherapy, and watching TV shows on repeat with her husband.

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 .

Love is for life and beyond, Yashwant Kanodia, 2018

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Title: Love is for Life and Beyond
Author: Yashwant Kanodia
Publisher: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 212
Synopsis:
“Love is like a storm. It hits you without a warning and it affects you till your last breath.”
Nikhil is relishing a perfect life – a family that loves him beyond measure, a dream that he is sure to fulfill and the love of his life Shanaya. The day he thinks life couldn’t have been better, it unravels its plots one by one, cracking the very foundation of his perfect life and breaking his heart into a million pieces.
Just when he decides to give up, he crosses paths with Ridhima – a girl with a stained fate, who finds in him her fulfillment.
Will Nikhil forget his first love, whom he promised to love for life and beyond?
Love is for Life and Beyond is a story of love, destiny, and dreams, which will wobble your perceptions about love and will coax you to taste the holiness of love.
In an era where love can be just a swipe away, can true love find its way back?
 My review:
Shanaya as a character is very immature and irritating. And I found Nikhil to be a very immature person as well. And very impractical at some point because for instance, this guy refuses to go to a very good university since his mother is diagnosed with stage I breast cancer. She undergoes a successful operation for this though, mind you. And in the words of Nikhil, he would rather “spend the entire life with [his] family”. He is too dramatic at times, and although the plot was pretty good, these characters made it impossible to read through the story. I will not be wrong when I admit that these two characters literally spoiled the plot. Both of them were so illogical and impulsive at times, and super dramatic, I hated them.
The poems included in page 160 and 188, which Shanaya sends as a text message and then as an email to our male protagonist was actually nice. However, at a point I felt that Nikhil had a very fatalistic viewpoint and a stark either black-or-white view on life. He seems to not take into consideration at all, that life has unexpectedly multiple shades of grey at times as well.
Nonetheless, the themes explored on love, friendship, the betrayal aspect of a relationship as well as family dynamics. The pace was also well-adopted and carried the story forward without any jerks. The grammar and editing was also done well and it was good overall.
 Verdict:
I quite enjoyed this book except that the protagonists made me want to tear out my hair at times. I rate this a 3/5 stars.