Tag Archives: english literature

A FANTASY and sci-fi gem: Lost Transmissions

Lost Transmissions is a lavish storehouse on lost or under-appreciated works of sci-fi and fantasy, in various fields like fashion, music, literature, etc!

Lost Transmissions
Lost Transmissions

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

Sci-fi and fantasy storehouse!

This book is an amazing collection of essays, interviews, etc. If you are into sci-fi/fantasy, this is definitely a book you need to pick up. It also has been specifically divided into segments of Literature, Film & TV, Architecture, Art & Design, Music, Fashion and Fandom & Pop Culture.

Why pick up this sci-fi/fantasy book

I personally have been interested in fantasy for quite some time now. However, sci-fi is a genre that I need to explore more, and so this was a perfect revelatory starting point for me. Whatever your interests might be, it covers the wide ground. That is why, I believe, this book has something for everyone! The content is very expansive and since it covers a myriad of different topics, it also throws light on how sci-fi has affected broader culture. Not only is this a very informative book, but it is also really fun to read.

My likes and dislikes:

While the literature segment was my favourite, I skimmed through the fashion and music segments. I am sure that for some others, those two might be interesting. One of the pieces worth mentioning is ‘On Fantasy Maps’! A mention by me about a piece on the Voynich Manuscript was enough to make Dad eager to read the book too!

A superb cover and apt title!

The cover, as well as the whole presentation of the book, is superb. The illustrations also help make this a definitive book in the genre. The title was also very apt – as the book does talk about forgotten sci-fi related stuff – “transmission” is a really well-chosen word.

Verdict:

I rate this book 4/5 stars!

Check out this book on Goodreads and Amazon

Check out my reviews on Aurora Rising, Skyward, The Day That Nothing Happened, etc.

Intertextual retelling: The Sleeper and The Spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle is an intertextual retelling comprising both the tales of Sleeping Beauty as well as Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The Sleeper and the Spindle
The Sleeper and the Spindle

An Intertextual Retelling

This is a new retelling, combining the fairytales of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. I did not really know that going into it; I just thought that it was a Sleeping beauty retelling. However, the author has given an entirely new spin to it!

Female empowerment in intertextual reads

However, sleeping beauty, as it turns out, is not actually who we think she is. This is where the author brings in a delicious and dark new twist and it is quite interesting to see the turn that this story takes. This story however, does establish the two women as independent women with their own rights, pursuing what they want to, whether good or bad. They do not depend or long for a prince to save them and are neither pawns at the hands of others. They are makers of their own destiny and that was a good point added to the story.

Illustrations

The Sleeper and the Spindle
The Sleeper and the Spindle

I think that this is a good fairytale on its own rights, to introduce kids to – not everything is as it appears and not everyone is as helpless as they might seem to be. The artwork was quite different from the one I am generally used to but I loved it. I came across Chris Riddell’s illustrations once before in Summer With Monica by Roger McGough.

What I did not like

However, I would have liked the book to be a bit longer than it was. Because of this reason also, I think that it was a bit overhyped. It could have definitely provided more and I just think like there was something missing.

Verdict:

Overall, a really interesting read and I rate it 4/5 stars.

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon!

Recommended reads: The Near Witch, Crown of Oblivion, The Raven’s Tale, After the Flood, etc.

Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo, 2012

Title: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Square Fish, an imprint of Macmillan

Genre: Fantasy

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages:

Recommended for: YA and above

Synopsis:

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

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

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

My review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict:

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

About the author:

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

About the reviewer:

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

Life is the Flower, Love is the Honey, Surabhi Sharma, 2018

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Title: Life is the Flower, Love is the Honey
Author: Surabhi Sharma
Publisher: Self published
Format: EBook
Language: English
Synopsis:
‘You are so much more than what you think you are. You are infinite. You have the power to achieve bigger things.’
This is a story of a dream; a story of every dreamer.
Shubh is a dreamer. He wishes to become a nature photographer but submits to his parents’ wishes who want a secure future for him. He fears he will disappoint his parents and gives up on his dreams.
Monica is a dreamer. She is a painter who paints the canvas with the inspirational colors of life. She let go of her fears and inhibitions one day when someone helped give her paintings a purpose.
What happens when fate brings these two dreamers together?
A unique tale of love and life in the form of tiny tales about the dreams and challenges we face.
My review:
The concept that the author has used to go about the entire narrative is quite interesting. We have one or two chapters, followed by a sort of monologue or just some thought by the author. While reading the story, I think it really helps the reader think and introspect about themselves as well as the characters. I also think that using this formula of short chapters is really beneficial.
The characters are also well formed. Monica and Shubh are two very real and thus relatable individuals. We find so many such people in our everyday life, and so many of us will be able to find some of our own values and qualities in them. The other minor characters also reflect some very modern and individualistic traits.
The themes explored are mostly on human dreams and desires, hard work and love as well as friendship.
One thing that I think could have been more developed was the literary style. I found it very simple for my liking and would have preferred something of a more sophisticated and advanced style. The editing, I feel, was rushed through, as I came across quite a few grammatical errors.  There is a scope for improvement for the author, considering it is a debut book.
Recommendations:
This book was a really short and inspiring book. I recommend it to those looking for romance as well as inspiration. I rate the content a 3/5 stars!

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, 1847

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

She Stoops to Conquer, Oliver Goldsmith, 1771

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

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

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

The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang, 2018

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

All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven, 2015

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Publishers: Penguin Random House
Genre: Young Adult/Mental Health
Format: Paperback
 
Synopsis:
 The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
 
My review:
All the Bright Places is a modern day literary masterpiece- a beautiful YA fiction that touches upon and revolves around so many important issues that teenagers today, face. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and it’s certainly a book I shall be picking up again and again. It is one of the best books I have read in 2018 and I am so glad that I finally picked it up. Now that I have read it, I cannot simply imagine myself living without having read this book.
Plot wise, I love the format that the author has taken up, separating the entire story into small chapters so that it is easier for the reader. The actual plot, is in itself a heartbreaking one- loss is always a loss, and like a particular someone said, “Sometimes things feel true to us, even if they’re not.” This is the first Niven book I have read and I am absolutely in love with her execution- the deliberate care with which she has birthed Finch, Violet, Amanda, Charlie and so on. It is a bittersweet tale of love, loss, friendship, family, mental health and our inner demons.
The character of Violet undergoes a beautiful journey- we see her develop from a bad place to a good one. On the other hand, it is the exact opposite for Finch. He spirals from bad to good to worse. It is tragic and yet so true. The portrayal of the characters and their feelings, whether peaceful or not, is apt and really touches one’s chords.
The allusions made in this book are also wonderful- especially those related to the famous novels and literary works. I found a really good list on Shmoop and shall link it in here: https://www.shmoop.com/all-the-bright-places/allusions.html
The theme of mental health was the centre hogging one and just as well- fiction is the medium through which we are no spreading the awareness, and opposing the age-old taboo about mental illnesses and depression and suicide.
Verdict:
I loved this book and rate it a 5 star! I definitely recommend all to read it.

Stalking Jack the Ripper, Kerri Maniscalco, 2016

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

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

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

Super Women, 2016, Super Couples, 2017, and Super Siblings, 2018, Prachi Garg.

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Publishers: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Genre: Non-fiction
Format: Paperback
 
Synopsis for Super Women:
This book brings forth the stories of twenty women entrepreneurs who have struck a perfect personal-professional harmony, and a chord with their immediate consumers. Their innovative ventures encompass a varied range of services – from supporting victims of acid attacks, to providing free skin care solutions; from online retail of lingerie, handmade bags and fashion accessories, to eco-friendly products of everyday utility; from pet care products, to quirky merchandise; from empowering folk artists, to providing clinical assistance to those going through tough times; from image consulting to house hunting; from arty solutions, to innovative marketing and corporate communication; from creating happy readers to making religious ceremonies simpler – these entrepreneurs have opened avenues formerly unexplored. Superwomen is an interesting journey of how they played all their roles to perfection, aligning their families with their ambitions, showing the world their true mettle
Synopsis for Super Couples:
In an era booming with the ‘Startup’ trend and loving this new attitude of breaking boundaries and   conventions of a career, one also faces the challenge of being able to partner up with the right people. In lieu of reliable and trustworthy partners, real life couples in relationships have started exploring   the idea of partnering up in business too! Speaking to various couple-preneurs, one realizes that the myth about mixing work and home is just as misty as the one about needing a stable and conventional job for an ambitious career. These dynamic startups break stereotypes and cover a varied range of services: ecommerce, innovative gifts, eco-friendly products, health care solutions, social responsibility ventures, event management, digital solutions and many others. SuperCouples brings out such lovely stories of enterprising couples. After all, when great minds come together to produce something built on conjoined dreams, the result is eminently successful.
Synopsis for Super Siblings:
In a world where relationships make or break the deal for a lifetime, it is imperative to be able to have equations that are reliable, compatible and accessible. Luckily enough, sometimes it doesn’t take too much effort to find the right set of people, perhaps because nature has its own way of providing them. From childhood to adulthood, siblings share their environment, principles and interests and are naturally quite compatible. Gone are the days when siblings only gave the best ‘what car to buy’ advice or approved the guy you were dating. Today, brothers and sisters are travelling together, taking up hobbies together and to add to the latest trend, building enterprises together. Varying from tech start-ups to trendy fashion wear, from utility applications to artsy expressions, siblings seem to be partnering up with each other to break away from conventional career choices. SuperSiblings encapsulates the journeys of twenty siblings who have broken away from conventions and supported each other to start-up their dream ventures.
 
My review:
I really loved this series. Prachi Garg has done a great job with all three. Keeping this short and simple, I’ll state the things I really liked:

  1. All the different accounts were written like different short stories. And the brevity was always maintained.
  2. The author has been able to make each story very entertaining without the use of such statistics and numbers.
  3. As such, all three proved to be quick reads, which can be finished in one sitting.
  4. The most important thing, perhaps, is the fact that all of these were so very inspiring and motivating.
  5. Adding a face to each story was a good move- it made the accounts all the more personal and easy to relate to.
  6. Apart from all these, the paper quality was also really good and emitted a very nice smell. As a reader, I’m sure most of my followers will love that.
  7. The fact that these copies came signed was a great deal in itself.
  8. These are some books that I shall definitely be going back to every now and then when I feel the need to look for some motivation.
  9. The covers are also quite catchy although some more work can definitely be done on them.
  10. The themes are quite varied the most striking of which I think were those of perseverance and hard work. Apart from that, there was also love, friendship, trust and also teamwork.

Verdict:
These were really good books and I rate all of them 4 stars each!

Some Very Dignified Disclosures, Anumita Sharma, 2018

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

Hope and Sunshine, Debasmita Nath Ghosh, 2018


Publishers: Power Publishers
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
Naina Grover has an imperfectly perfect life, or is it perfectly imperfect? A Punjabi kudi from Delhi working in the city of joy, Kolkata is joined by her crazy cousin, Arjun and his sober friend Aditya to come of age while at a long – distance relationship which seems to be going nowhere. She knows it is a recipe for disaster but should she let go or not? Should she hope for the best? Hope she will be accepted?Hope she can settle down? Hope she can come to terms with a family secret bothering her for years now? Just hope. Keep hoping? And then, Hope welcomes a ray of sunshine. Naina welcomes you to look at life from her perspective. ‘Hop’e On!’
My Review:
While Hope and Sunshine proved be a quick and mindless summer read, enjoyable and of the chick-lit vein, the overall output was average. The plot was nicely prepared however, its elaboration needed a bit more effort. Not to say that it isn’t a good book- Hope and Sunshine made for a good enough debut. The characters, were also very realistic in the fact that their emotions were nicely structured. However, I found Naina definitely as a very flawed person, without being too literal of course. I also liked the themes that the author has brought in to this book, which mostly are friendship, the work culture, family and of course, love. I think they were explored fantastically. However, there are certain portions where I felt that the storyline dragged and that really slowed me down a bit. Moreover, the grammar and the editing needs to be worked upon- the language used is very much colloquial, i.e., too informal for a book and I would have appreciated a much more streamlined approach.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3/5 stars. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particularly captivating either and although I did moderately enjoyed it, I do not think I shall be picking it up anytime soon.

Catharsis and Beyond, Alpana Srivastava, 2018

(Previously published as ‘Catharsis and Beyond, Alpana Srivastava, 2018 in www.indiabookstagram.com )
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Publisher: Pblishing.com
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 83
Synopsis:
These are the delicate yet strong strings of a sensitive soul. Mostly they are cathartic but sometimes they are beyond that… the moods vary from spiritual currents to a passive resistance of the inner struggle through a female heart or from the balanced harmonious life to the ecstasy of complete freedom. The absurdity of social culture finds the satiric tune in a few verses and some are the quiet expedition into the agitated mind.
My Review:
The word ‘Catharsis’ literally means an overflow of intense feelings. Catharsis and Beyond has a really related synopsis that reflects the content of the book.
The 44 poems that were in the book, all covered different themes and each one was reflective and introspective in its own. Some of the themes were of hope, innocence, contentment, the idea of perfection that we have and that we strive for, simplicity in everyday lives, desire, the peace that everyone seeks, nature and its pollution, humanity, letting go and contrastingly, holding on to name a few. Some other significant themes were chauvinism and love, lust, the strife everyone faces to reach their goals, along with hard work and determination; impermanence of our everyday lives, our existence, freedom, and so on.
I loved the idea of inserting photographs between the poems and it’s quite novel compared to most poetry collections. I also liked that in the beginning, the author has devoted a poem to her Guru. The whole book is very concise and can be finished in only one seating and I like this aspect a lot. There were some grammatical errors that I think may be jilted me out of the trance I was in while reading the poems. I definitely recommend it to all beginners who wish to foray into the world of poetry. This is a good book to start with.
Verdict:
I rate it a 4/5!
 
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Pi Agency, Neelabh Pratap Singh, 2018

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

My Love is Away From Mortality, Vansh Arora, 2018

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Publishers: Kalamos Literary Services
Synopsis:
What will you do if the love you nurtured with utmost care walks into the territory of evilness?
TheManav, an atypical sleepyhead cares about nothing but his sleep. Life is good for him as long as he is in the premises of his bedroom.
Aditi, a pro-level pessimist boasts her proficiency in envisioning worst possible consequences of every situation.
After bumping in to each other, the course on which their life was previously treading begins to witness a complete transformation. The tender age pushes them to believe what they shared was more than a mere comradeship. They try to repel the feeling at first, but it intensifies to such an extent that both of them end up getting swallowed by it.
However, they must keep an out for the lurking danger as there is a person who is on the quest to bereave them of something which will certainly put their and whole world’s fate in jeopardy.
How will their destiny unfold?
My Review:
The plot was pretty well prepared by the author even though I felt that it was being unnecessarily dragged at some points. The themes of friendship, love and other emotions such as apathy, anger, faith etc., showcased the humane factor and made the story more relatable as well as the characters themselves. The little snippets of the horror story also lent quite the mystery to the whole book, and I think we will only know more about the entire story in the sequel. The twist at the end was something I did not expect at all!
The characters were somehow very likable to me. To be truthful, I wasn’t entirely fond of either Manav or Aditi as I am completely opposite to what they are, but then as the story slowly progressed, I did start to accept them as human beings and like them too. The other characters were also complex in their own ways, especially Kusha. Without revealing much, I shall just say that you’re in for a ride! The blurb was also a plus point as it attracted me for sure. And that’s why I decided to give it a chance.
My verdict:
I rate this story a 3/5 stars and look forward to the sequel.

Yoddha: The Dynasty of Samudragupta, Rajat Pillai, 2018

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Publishers: Jaico Publishing House
Genre: Mythological fiction
Synopsis:
AD 379. The Gupta dynasty is stepping into its golden age.
But the past holds many dark secrets… After long and bloody wars, Samrat Samudragupta sits on the pinnacle of an empire. Yet, close to his throne are hearts filled with revenge, scheming to bring him down.
Into this gathering storm arrives Chandragupta, the king’s long-lost son. As he settles into his new life devastating family secrets surface, old wounds are reopened and Chandra can no longer trust anyone – least of all those closest to him. Bizarre and sinister incidents abound as palace conspiracies unravel plunging Rajgriha into a pit of chaos.
Will the son pay for the sins of his father?
Yoddha: The Dynasty of Samudragupta unfolds the murky loves and lies of one of the most illustrious clans in history.

My review:
I’d like to begin by stating how very thankful I am to the author for giving me a copy of this book, albeit a review one. Nonetheless, my review is hundred percent genuine and comes straight from my own self.
The plot has been fictionalized (as expected in a fiction novel inspired by real life personages), but the words and the tune they weave ring almost true in the readers’ hearts. The author has been able to beautifully capture the essence of the time period, revolving around the ‘loves and lies of one of the most illustrious clans in history’. The plot has been well paced and I was fairly enjoying it all the while. The twists and turns that the author added were also placed well within the themes as we see in the ceremonies.
The themes of love, friendship, bravery etc., have been shown vividly in the book. Moreover, the action sequences were well written. Overall the editing has been very well done; I could not find any grammatical mistakes. The characters were also complicated and human and thus more believable. It was a good read, overall.
My verdict:
I loved this book and shall definitely recommend it to wherever I go. Rate this a 4/5 stars.

Agniputr, Vadhan, 2016

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Publishers: Bloomsbury
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Mythological
Synopsis:
When ace lawyer, Raghuram Surya, received an order of requisition from the Government of India for his ancestral castle, he was unaware of the Sutram beneath it or his own legacy.
He will have to choose between the world’s end or his own.
Before long, the lawyer takes on India’s most powerful politician, Kiromal, a man utterly obsessed with power. Kiromal and his sinister Tantric advisor intend to use the evil beneath the castle to play God.
Raghuram finds an ally in Sheila, a scientist who is tasked to investigate the Sutram. Using Quantum science to interpret a Vedic verse, they have to unravel the secrets of creation to stop the destruction. Through it all, they have to be one step ahead of Kiromal just to stay alive.
Now is the time of final reckoning. Will Kiromal harness the evil to rule the world?
Or will the Sutram break free to eradicate the planet?
Or, are Raghuram and Sheila merely pawns in an even deadlier game?
My review:
Agniputr was a completely riveting read, and I finished it in one day. The author has doen a great job with the book, beautifully combining the thriller as well as the fantasy/mythological elements. I read this book as a part of the #indiabookstagramreadathon under Prompt 1, where one has to read a fantasy/mythological book.
The plot was well planned and flowed beautifully, and although I found the first bit a little slow, I loved the overall effect. The themes of mythology, friendship, kinship etc. were well explored. The love angle was, however, a sore point for me. The romance between the two lovers seemed sudden with an abrupt beginning.
The characters were all also nicely portrayed—displaying all human emotions and feelings. The author has clearly given his time to the foundations of the various characters in here. I especially liked the cunning of Govind as well as Raghuram, and found both of them worth the awe.
The writing style was beautiful and cohesive and the tone was lilting and I personally found it gripping enough for me to finish it in one day itself. The editing was done well and I couldn’t find any grammatical errors.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 4/5 stars and will definitely recommend it to others.

When Broken Hearts Meet, Arushi Vats, 2018

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Publishers: Notion press
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Romance
Synopsis:
Avanti meets Suhaas. They become friends. Avanti is a conflicted girl, shattered in the tussle between her past and present and Suhaas is the typical prince charming who has two sides, one which he keeps to himself and the other which he shows to everyone. As their story proceeds ahead, both of them begin to feel affinity for each other. But deep in the realms of their hearts dwells chaos that occurs because of their past relationships. Avanti and Suhaas’s friends make efforts to unite them as they know that they love each other. Eventually, it’s up to Suhaas if he will confess his love or not but the important question arises here is, will Avanti find the courage to leave behind her tumultuous past and embrace her love story?
My review:
The story is basically of two people who try to overcome various hurdles in their love for each other. That being said, the plot was pretty well developed, however, the author’s approach to it can be changed. The twists and turns introduced were pretty fair although some bits were overly dramatized and the pace was abrupt all the while.
Now, I honestly didn’t like the protagonist- Avanti; she was just too weak and spineless and also too confused all the time. Moreover, she hardly takes a stand for herself. She is also too negative and stubborn, and that too not in a good way either. The pace of her budding relationship is also too fast with Suhaas, who for that matter, was a pretty petty and immature boy himself. The author would have done well to have invested some more time building the foundation of their relationship. The friends of Avanti as well seemed to be too interfering and considering their age, too inappropriate.
The editing could have gone better and I just had to drag myself in the second half of the book. But that’s a personal opinion. Although this is a book I won’t be picking up again, I would recommend light romance lovers to go for it.
Verdict:
I rate this a 2/5 stars for the plot, and the intricate twists and turns added by the author, especially the ending. The author definitely has the capacity to produce better works than this in the future.

The Blue Umbrella, Ruskin Bond, 1974

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

Child of Paradise: Listen to your dreams, Pratibha R DH, 2017

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Publisher: Flugel Publishing House
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 340
Blurb:
Life takes an unexpected turn when Tia meets the boy whom she secretly had a crush on all through her school years. Not only does Ron steal her heart but he seems equally besotted in a true blue sense of the word. Tia’s friends who had always known about her infatuation are more than thrilled as Ron is absolutely a girl’s dream come true – a stunner with a heart of gold.
Everything seemed just so perfect and it looked like the universe finally heard her wishes…if not for one person who didn’t want her to be with Ron. And it was none other than the person Tia loved most in the world – Rianna, her sister. The bizzare part of it all was that Rianna was no longer alive! Tia was continuously haunted by dreams of her sister who kept warning her off Ron.
Her sister’s case being closed off by the police as suicide was something that had left Tia deeply perturbed even years after her passing away. As Tia follows her instincts and tries to solve the mystery surrounding her sister’s death she comes up with evidence that might just open up a can of worms and shatter her whole family.
Will she be able to fulfil her sister’s last wish? Will she make the right choice between love and justice? This story is a journey of corporate ambition, greed, lust and betrayal. A paranormal crime novel that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and family drama while at the same time leave you twitching to unearth the mystery of a death, unresolved.
My Review:
Child of Paradise was quite an interesting read and I have never read a paranormal crime fiction of this type before. The author has obviously done quite a lot of research before writing this book and it is evident from the first chapter itself- from the medical stuff to the psychic/spiritual ones. That was commendable in itself.
The plot of the novel has been well laid out and it is clear from the different twists and turns we come across as we keep on flipping the pages. Different forms of the novel such as an epistolary, a bildungsroman, and also, of course, social novel, could be seen. The framing devices, though a few, used by the author through the use of the emails, text messages and letters, works really well and binds the story together. We also see the mental growth of not only the protagonist but also of the dead sister herself. The social aspects that the reader brought in through the different conversations, meetings in the story as well as the work lifestyle were very well portrayed, keeping in mind the real situation in India. The themes of love- familial, platonic as well as romantic; friendship, and mystery were very well planned out. The writing was beautiful and very well edited and I hardly found even a single grammar/editing error. The way of writing was also very relatable and the author could incite laughter from me as I read the funny interactions among the characters in the novel. The events are also very nostalgic at parts without being monotonous.
The characters were well formed and the author has taken pains to make them as believable as possible- they are round, displaying a number of emotions for a number of various situations around various people. The relatability that the reader can share with the characters in the book is very high as well. The author has also subtly invoked the image of the independent women, one that I love.
The one thing that I didn’t like was the introduction of so many characters because it made me very confused. Frankly, I was lucky since I always sort of take notes or make family trees when I read a book. The cover was nice in a simple sort of way, but there is much scope for it, especially the spine of the book. I honestly have no other issue beyond these.
Verdict:
This book was a great read, and I really enjoyed it a lot. Definitely recommend for fans of thrillers, mystery and romance books. Would rate it as a 13+ book and I personally shall be picking up again. I rate this a 5/5 stars.

The Blue Moon Day, Santhosh Sivaraj, 2017

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Publishers: Invincible Publishers
Genre: Short Story collection
Synopsis:
Things were never the same for five ordinary individuals who got struck at cross roads and there was no way they can run back. They had no other choice but to take a plunge into their deepest fear and leave the rest to destiny. Their characters was tested out of their comfort zone and it witnessed abstruse results; a PhD scholar fights to win a pizza making contest and a tennis prodigy running for his life in a war torn, bloodied Island. Extreme circumstances and their consequences made these ordinary individuals extraordinary . Was the test imposed on them by someone? Or did they invite it on themselves. The Blue Moon Day is that Once in a Blue Moon day story which questions an individual’s priorities, ridicules the worldly routines and finally redefines happiness.
My Review:
This book is basically a collection of 6 interrelated short stories and like many other reviewers have said before, it has been wonderfully executed. Considering the fact that it is the author’s debut novel, it is par excellence.
There are different plots in all these stories, exploring various aspects of human life. They are all very true and relatable- and makes one introspect at times. Other than that simple fact, there is the entertainment factor too, which the book fulfils very well. The characters are so real and almost tangible. As one reads, it feels as if one is truly living the experience. In short, I loved the character arcs.
The writing style is above average- it is not something very simple, but nonetheless, it is really good. The epistolary form – with the letters are always very revealing and adds the emotion to the work. And the mystery element makes you turn one page after another. The cover is beautiful and very much related to the stories in an abstract/metaphorical way. Despite the fact that it is purely fiction, in one way or another it is a self-help/motivational book for everyone. It teaches through the help of examples. However, at times there were excessive exclamation marks or the use of symbols to write profanities, which I think was absolutely unnecessary. The language was too simple at some points though.
This book really inspires and gives hope to the reader that it is never too late to turn your life around- you just have to find it in you to do so.

Verdict:
I rate this book a 4/5 stars and recommend it to those looking for a short but meaningful read.

The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success, Devika Das, 2016

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Publishers: PepperScript
Synopsis:
Crests and troughs, ups and downs, joys and sorrows are a part of everyone’s lives. While many choose to simply succumb to bad times, the winner is the one who remains strong, successfully wades off negativity and rises, unbound.
All of us, at some point of time, have experienced situations involving emotional outbursts where we have, albeit unknowingly, hurt others or even our own self and have only ended up regretting our actions. Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow become mindful of our current emotional state and maintain equilibrium in our personal and professional lives? Moreover, mindfulness helps us realize what we really want from life. It helps us to first think, then act and not vice-versa.
The Mind Game is a self-improvement guide that talks about how to manage emotions wisely, and lead a powerful, but stress free life.
Reviews:
“As a Career & Life Coach, I’d rate the book 5 stars. It is a brilliant piece of work! Devika Das was able to take an everyday subject which is generally taken for granted by us and turn it into a compelling read. I definitely recommend ‘The Mind Game’ for all, and especially for the participants in my workshops.” -Aditya Sisodia (Co-founder- Recruit Wheels)
“Devika really writes things from a practical point of view. She is one of the most evolved woman I have met who thinks of life deeply. We all are following the heard, without questioning the reasons to what we do and why we do. She finds the right answers. Devika’s writings always give you a sense of freedom while reading. This is one amazing book I have read!” -Sahiba Sethi (Founder- Hello Meets)
My review:
I would like to begin by giving a spoiler: this is the best self-improvement book ever. The author, in a previous interview with yours truly, has spoken quite extensively on her project. Click here to see the author’s interview.
The Mind Game is a self-improvement book no doubt like so many others in its genre, but what it contains inside, is perhaps like no other. The first thing that really affects a self-help book is, I think, the mode of narration. This book has mastered that, but what’s more important is that it is not at all preachy. Using a very factual and matter-of-fact tone, tinged with empathy at times, this book will prove really very useful for those who wish to know their own selves as well as for the various counsellors all over the country. I may be even bold enough to say that this can also be used as a guide for basic classes such as Behavioural Science, Communicative English etc.
Separated and grouped into different segments, the author speaks about relevant issues of everyday life, right from those one faces at home- to the workplace, ranging across the feelings and issues one faces within oneself, and with others in a social environment as well. This book also covers anger and stress management, depression and how to recognize that one may be depressed and so on. I also truly advocate for parents to read this book as well. It has truly opened my eyes. A self-help book like no other, The Mind Game: Mastering your emotions to achieve success is a masterpiece and one that is very informative as well as interesting enough to keep the reader gripping till the end.
Verdict:
I personally rate this a 5/5 stars. Wonderful work!

First Breath, R. Kumar, 2018

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Publishers: Self-published
Genre: Poetry
Synopsis:
“First Breath” is the collection of poetries which are not written, they are lived; which are not on papers, they are in hearts. This book is result of author’s passion towards writing which he started unintentionally at the difficult verge of life. This book is example of fulfilling one’s goals, fulfilling one’s passions. This book contains poetries about LOVE, BETRAYAL, TRUTHS OF LIFE and PERSONALITIES WHICH INFLUENCED LIFE.
My Review:
First Breath is the debut work by its creator, R. Kumar. It has four sections containing poems about love, betrayal, influencing personalities and the face of truth. These four sections are named as Rain of romance, Ember of love, Thunder of magnificent creature, and, Cloud of screwing truths.
Now I have to admit that the subjects the poet has chosen are very relevant- like depression, family, relationships etc., he the overall work needs a lot more finesse. However the execution has left a lot to be desired. There are a lot of editing and grammatical errors. For instance the name of a poem- the title itself is wrong- ‘decesion’. And the words become very repetitive at times as if the poet is actually writing a song. And yet, I found no tune or flow in the words. The author is obviously an amateur however it doesn’t have to imply that the work is bad- though a lot of editing and proofreading nod drafting have to be done. The poet also uses some very strange comparisons at times, and they hardly make any sense. There was a poem ‘Be Mine’ where I was wondering if it was a poem or rather a song.
Verdict:
I didn’t really enjoy this book unfortunately and can’t say that I will recommend it to anyone else. For the value of the subjects only I give this book a 1/5 stars.

The Woman in the Window, A. J. Finn, 2018

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Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers
Synopsis:
What did she see?
It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?
My review:
The protagonist is almost like an anti-heroine and that’s the one thing that really attracted me- the unreliable narrator aspect is one trope that is very often used in case of women in psychological thrillers. In this novel too, I really like it. Moreover, the fact that she being a psychologist is undergoing a psychological problem herself is quite poignant- though she has been trained to help such children, she is unable to help herself. The agoraphobia theme is also something new that I have come across and in this way definitely learnt something new. Anna Fox is a really likeable character despite her many flaws. She is so realistic and relatable that you just cannot help but almost reach out to her as she despairs her situation and the believability that people have when it comes to her authenticity.
The other characters too I feel were well developed, though none as well as Anna, obviously. The whole story took quite an unexplainable turn in the end as anyone can expect in a novel as such, and yet this twist is completely twisted and not something that one could have even imagined. It’s wilder than wild horses running in your dreams.
The whole book, though seeming quite long, was actually very easy to cover- probably because of the short chapters. The reader is kept reeling as the shocks come, one after the another. However, I have to admit that I found the beginning very slow and I hardly ever favour slow-paced books. I had put down the book I admit, but somehow decided to take it up again because of the fact that I hate to DNF it.
This psychological thriller was really an interesting one for me. Having read The Girl on the Train as well as Gone Girl, I loved this opportunity to be able to read another such exciting and fun read.
Verdict:
This was a 4 star read for me undoubtedly. The one star I do not give- it’s only because of the unsatisfactory and slow paced beginning.

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, 1818

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

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. And with this, perhaps the most famous ironical sentence ever, begins Austen’s masterpiece. First published in 1813, it achieved instant success and its popularity has endured till this date. With a working title of First Impressions, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has remained an evergreen favorite among all in the literary world. Every English major has read it and moreover, there are so many others who aren’t majoring in English, but are still among this classic’s ardent lovers.
Pride and Prejudice follows the trials and tribulations of the five Bennet sisters- Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, with all their various quirks and mannerisms. It is a truly funny and satiric novel in the sense that it subtly pokes fun at the various stereotypes in Regency Era England.
We see the irony in appearance and character- for instance, in the fine-bred Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her condescending manners, Mrs. Bennet with her silly and loud ways as well as Mr. Collins who surely loves to hear his own voice. There is also a comparison made between simplicity and intricacy in between Jane and Mr. Charles Bingley, and Elizabeth and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. The novel’s title may be a reference to Mr. Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice against him; however, it goes both ways.
Since Pride and Prejudice can be classified as a novel of manners, we can also see quite a few social themes that haunted every action and thought of people in 19th century England. Reputation is one major theme in this novel, but it comes into prominence with Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. At the base of the story, we can say that Pride and Prejudice is a story of two young people coming together, as love inexplicably binds them together. It is thus no wonder that love should be one of the major themes of this novel. Financial status or class is another recurring theme- it is what drives Mrs. Bennet with the threat of the entail hanging of her head, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh when she visits Elizabeth towards the end, and expresses how unfit any union of her and Mr. Darcy would be. In the same vein, social appearance, humility and prejudice are also among the few other themes.
Personal growth is quite a major theme throughout the novel- it takes place in the two major characters of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Taking this factor, Pride and Prejudice can also be classified as a bildungsroman. A lot of the storyline is also taken forward through the medium of letters- among Jane, Elizabeth, Caroline Bingley etc. thus we see an effective use of the epistolary form as well.
I remember that that first time I read this, was back in 2012 when I was perhaps in the eight standard. I had loved it then and I loved it as I possible read this for the hundredth time this semester. It truly is a wonderful experience every time I read it and one of the obvious choices when people ask me for classics recommendations. I rated it, as usual a 5/5 stars; I do not know anyone who would grant it any less!

Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, 1726

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First published in 1726, Gulliver’s Travels was an immediate success and as a powerful satire as well as an adventure story, continues to ensnare readers of all ages. Categorized into four parts, Gulliver’s Travels follows Lemuel Gulliver, (Gulliver is a word play on the word “gullible”) as he travels accidentally to four amazingly strange and exotic places. The first is the country of Lilliput where people are 5-6 inches tall, and then he travels to Brobdingnag where the people, this time, are giants at 60-70 feet. On his third journey he ends upon the flying island of Laputa which is inhabited by the absurdly impractical scientists, and lastly, perhaps also the strangest, he goes to the land of the Houyhnhnms- the civilized horses and the filthy, uncivilized human-like Yahoos.
Although this is a satire, Gulliver’s disgust for humans is scant in the first two books but increases in the third and becomes extreme in the fourth. It is a commentary on mankind, and Swift uses this exotic imagery to mock the hypocrisy and underhandedness in the morals, social habits political events and ideas, of the people. He is portrayed as a man who loves to travel and meet new people and connect with them, but the apparent uncaring attitude he has for his wife Mary is very unsatisfying to read about.
However great this book may be, there were points when Gulliver was rambling on and on about futile things. But nonetheless, it is a book that I would greatly recommend to all lovers of travel. This book is so resplendent that I would even dare to suggest parents let their children read it, albeit an abridged version. This is the first time I read this book and I cannot say I hated it, but I did not love it either. So I rate it 4/5 stars and hope future readers will only grant it more for in this regard, I do not think I did it justice.

You Cannot Have All The Answers and other stories, Deepa Agarwal, 2018

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Publishers: Niyogi Books
Synopsis:
Some stories begin at the beginning and some at the end. And in some, it’s hard to say where the beginning is and where the end.’ You Cannot Have All the Answers, a collection of fifteen short stories, offers a glimpse into the conflicting emotions that define the human condition, and portrays characters who attempt to seek answers to a variety of existential questions. Including The Asian Age short-story competition winner, Cradle Song, these narratives deal with issues like trauma, sexuality, prejudice, family relations, and the recklessness of youth.

My Review:
You Cannot Have All The Answers came as a beautiful surprise to me. It is a collection of 15 short stories- set in India, mostly during the late 20th century, and it powerfully describes certain incidents in the protagonists’ lives.
Foraying into the areas of societal pressures and expectations, hidden desires, sexuality, love etc., this book makes the reader inevitably introspect about similar incidents in their lives and in this, one finds the realistic element twined with the intangible, almost illusionary thoughts. And like the title of the highlighted story, there are many questions that are still left unanswered in our minds. This book was a beautiful journey for me- one that I shall recommend other people on too!
Verdict:
I rate this book a solid 5/5 stars. Really loved it.

Raw Silk, Anne Mather, 1994

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Publishers: Mills and Boon Limited.
Synopsis:
Virgin or wanton…?
Oliver Lee is a man with a shadowed past. He is suspicious of everything and everyone…so when he meets Fliss, he thinks her innocence is an act. Fliss may be innocent, but when Oliver’s around she can’t help behaving as if she is a woman of the world. Fliss is tempted to throw caution to the winds, because life with Oliver seems to offer such exciting possibilities. The passion he inspires in Fliss is just like raw silk–beautiful, unique and desirable. But like raw silk, it is fragile…. Only love will help it survive.
My review:
As far as a Mills and Boon goes, I believe this one was pretty well constructed. The author has nicely embedded an intricacy through the mystery element in what is otherwise a bland plot line. I think this is the one thing that actually kept me stuck till the end.
Fliss as a character is not someone I admired; I found her too weak-willed and without a spine. And her reaction whenever Oliver was near was too overrated; I know certain things have to be a bit overrated in any romance novel but this, I believe, was just too much. I did enjoy Oliver’s character as well as Rose Chen’s. They were both powerful personalities worth admiring.
Verdict:
I rate this a 2/5 stars. It’s not something I’ll pick up anytime soon!

65 Colours of Rainbow, Smit Kapila, 2018

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Publishers: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Synopsis:
There is a wonderful saying: “The happiest people in the world are not t65 Colours of Rainbow was an interesting read. As a collection of several short stories- extended anecdotes really, it provided laughter, and also introspection. The main vein is that of humour however, and in that the author has succeeded quite well. People in the IT sector will definitely love this book and I’m sure will easily relate to them. Other non-IT related people will also, for sure, find certain instance which may have happened to them too- I certainly did.\nHowever, there were a few storieshose who have no problems, but those who learn to live with things that are less than perfect.”
In this highly competitive world, life of corporate work-force is full of all kinds of strain and stress. There is no way we can escape from our jobs and its work pressure, but we can certainly counter it by enriching the fun and laughter quotient at work.
65 Colours of Rainbow is a collection of sixty-five short stories and caricatures based on real life, work-related incidents. This pleasingly warm collection writes with terrifying compassion about the things that matter most. The distinctive narrative caricatures demonstrate how extraordinary the ordinary can be!!
My review:
65 Colours of Rainbow was an interesting read. As a collection of several short stories- extended anecdotes really, it provided laughter, and also introspection. The main vein is that of humour however, and in that the author has succeeded quite well. People in the IT sector will definitely love this book and I’m sure will easily relate to them. Other non-IT related people will also, for sure, find certain instance which may have happened to them too- I certainly did.
However, there were a few stories which did not make sense to me, unfortunately. I also do not like the cover- it’s too childish and hardly conveys the content of this story. But nonetheless, its quit pleasing to the eye in a cute and childish way. The caricatures were of an entirely different level- very funny while also adding authenticity to the stories. And they have been made by the author himself!
The language used was very simple and error-free. This book has surely been edited well. I could hardly find any grammatical errors, let along any typing errors.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3/5 stars for the laughter I spent!

Corridors of Life: A Talk with your own Soul, Ajay Kumar, 2018


Publishers: Invincible Publishers
Genre: Self-help
Synopsis:
Life is full of hurdles, so we need to retain the artistry of overcoming the issues of life. No one is here to entertain you, everyone is working for themselves and the POWER OF CHOICE arbitrates every possible situation. This motivational manual will take you on a journey which will describe the basic hiccups of life and the effortless way to tackle it. Remember one thing always that:
“You are only the reason for the future version of yourself.
It’s your choice which can upgrade or degrade you”
Ajay, founder of Pephour.com , a blogging website which points out the problems existing in society. Being a motivational speaker and a Life Coach, he’s on a mission of empowering millions of youths across the nation. Also with a keen interest in poetry gave him a way to inspire number of people by his words. His dream is to be alive in millions of hear by his words.
My review:
A motivational book which touched upon quite a few different aspects of life, Corridors of Life was an enlightening read. The advice was very easy to understand, and relatable as well. It was positive and also constructive at the same time. Each chapter was something of its own and you can understand it even if you start at a random chapter and not in the order as given in the contents page.
The addition of anecdotes by the author make the whole point come across very easily; these examples make the subject matter very understandable as they are certain instances we have all seen but seldom introspected upon. The subject matter of this book was very diverse as well, covering topics such as the power of the mind, anger management, the willingness to learn from others, the 3 worries in life, the 3 rules for success in life, the 3 pillars in a positive relationship and so on.
However when it comes to the editing- grammatical errors, syntaxes etc. there is much scope left. It’s one thing that leaves a bad aftertaste in most books. Otherwise, the language used was pretty simple without the use of jargons or any technical terms.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3/5 stars and hope that further editions will completely do away with the errors.

Spirits in a Spice Jar, Sarina Kamini, 2018

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Publishers: Westland Publications
Genre: Non-fiction
Synopsis:
For Sarina Kamini’s Kashmiri family, food is love, love is faith, and faith is family. It’s cause for total emotional devastation when, ten years after her Australian mother is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, unaddressed grief turns the spice of this young food writer’s heritage to ash and her prayers to poison. At her lowest ebb, Sarina’s dead Ammi’s typed-up cooking notes become a recipe for healing, her progress in the kitchen marked by her movement through bitterness, grief and loneliness—the daal that is too fiery and lumpen; her play with salt that pricks and burns. In teaching herself how to personalize tradition and spirituality through spice, Sarina creates space to reconsider her relationship with Hinduism and God in a way that allows room for questions. She learns forgiveness of herself for being different and comes to accept that family means change and challenge as much as acceptance and love.
My Review:
Spirits in a Spice Jar is a story of personal growth and understanding- that of the author mostly, but also of myself as a reader. Noted as a non-fiction, this book also dabbles in the various genres of autobiography, epistolary, a cookbook, and philosophy/spiritual. It has been an enriching read, that certainly must not be missed by those seeking the meaning of their lives.
We follow the author as she explores her rich heritage, almost a decade after her mother has been diagnosed by the Parkinson’s disease. Food serves as a medium to help her come to terms with her grief and denial, as she tries to understand herself by cooking through a set of recipes her Ammi had used. It is a spiritual journey for her as she comes to terms with who she is as a person in herself, as a wife, a mother and a daughter, and accepting and loving that; her experience in discovering her own faith is also awe-inspiring. The mother-daughter dynamic is also realistically portrayed here and I applaud the author’s bravery in doing so- baring her deepest feelings. There is this magnificent web of emotions juxtaposing the author’s role as a daughter/child for her parents and as a mother for her own children.
The naming of the chapters was also an interesting thing- for food marks milestones in our lives; so much so that it would be sad to disregard their importance in our lives- even those of the smallest of cardamom pods. As the blurb of the book says, “food is love, love is faith, and faith is family”; food is cathartic, while cooking can be an anti-depressant for so many revelers. The book also covers the social impact of what the exodus of her ancestors, who were Kashmiri Pandits, did to the later generations. The language used is comparatively easy and understandable, often recessing into philosophical meditations by the author. When it comes to the book cover, I feel that they are very essential as they convey the depth of the story and also attract the readers. Spirits in a Spice Jar has a beautiful rustic themed cover, that resonates with the Indian in me, personally. Artfully placed bay leaves, peppercorns, and star anises almost produce a mirage of an almost tangible fragrance for me. It is a soul-stirring.
However, I do think that adding more family scenes would have been preferable- especially those of the author’s life as a small child living with her two brother and happy parents- of the happy times, basically.
Verdict:
I had a heartwarming, heart-stopping time reading this book. There was an instance of a full-on sob fest as I made my way through it. Not a book I will be forgetting anytime soon, for sure, I rate Spirits in a Spice Jar a 5/5 stars.

ABC Calling, Vineeth Menon, 2017

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Publishers: self
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Synopsis:
Meghana, who is about to leave to the US for pursuing her Masters.
Adithya, an Assistant Manager at Syndicate Bank.
August 15, 2015: India celebrating her 69th Birthday.
Set in the ‘state with many worlds’, ABC Calling is a tale enveloped with love of two persons from different pages of life.
Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book by the author in return for an honest review.
My review:
The whole plotline of the novel was truly well- planned out especially when one takes into consideration the cliff-hanger one is left with, in the end. It sings out for a sequel as it has a lot of loopholes, which I feel are entirely left loose by the author intentionally- the ending asks for it. the whole suspense aspect is a joyride and it spices up the story in the parts where it drags a bit. The narration is very engaging and keeps the reader hooked.
Meghana, and Shivani are amazing characters and the author has put in a lot in their acute realistic portrayal. They portray the real women of today with their perspectives on life, their views, and emotions as well as their sensitiveness and empathy. Nebessa is a mystery altogether. Adithya is also another such round and intricate character. The humour element brought in by the author through these characters are also great.
However, there can be quite a bit of proofreading and editing to be done on this book. The punctuation and the errors at some points leave a bad aftertaste. The dialogues can also be improved.
Verdict:
I rate this a 3/5 stars.

Safran, Aishwarya Nir, 2018

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Publishers: Virgin Leaf Books
Genre: Poetry
Synopsis:
I had a dream
where god asked,
If you were to leave suddenly
what would your legacy be?
It is then Safran was born out of me
To remind you as you read;
To live
To love
And to imagine
The words in it are less,
for they’ve been difficult to confess.
And have taken a lot of time
to come to my awareness.
A fistful of precious threads,
A collection of experiences
So ,here it is,
I hope you’ll make space for this.
 
My Review:
Safran is another poetry book that has taken me by surprise. Separated into three specific sections- Live, Love, and Imagine, the author begins to spin a beautiful trap with her musical words. There in vivid imagery in her work and it has the ability to truly enrapture the reader. Provided with an introductory poem to each section, Safran has poems covering many issues and themes which are relevant to the current times and also to the reader, be it a he or a she; tones of freedom, love, friendship, feminism, self-growth etc. shed light on the genre of philosophy as well.
The individual poems have a tilting musical tone to them, even though they are written in almost the current trend of blank verse without rhyme, which can be said to have been made famous by Rupi Kaur. There is a softness yet an underlying strength to her words and it flashes throughout the entire collection. Safran is a book which I have truly enjoyed on a personal level as well. However, keeping that aside, I would like to point out the old-world quality of the poems, almost as if the author has reflected the classics of yore themselves.
 
Verdict:
I have been left speechless by the utter beauty of the work and as I thirstily wait for more of the author’s work, I rate this current one, a 5/5 stars, for indulging me while shaking me to my core, and fulfilling me.

Coffee Date, Saravana Kumar Murugan, 2017

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Publishers: indiaauthor.in
Genre: Romance
Synopsis:
Read and cherish this tale of love from the Undisputed King of Romance on Blog-o-Sphere. Coffee Date, the real taste of love!
❤ RATED FIVE-STAR BY VERIFIED PURCHASE READERS ❤
Siddhartha Abhimanyu… People call him Sid, a techie, a beard lover, an ardent reader and a big fan of Nicholas Sparks, loves reading stories with happy endings. And when he’s not reading he write poems; which helped him impress a long list of girls.
Isha Reddy, the queen of his little heart. The first time Sid saw Isha, he couldn’t blink even for a second. She, being a writer, director of three award winning short films, hates men with a stubble and, has a different opinion on life.
Sid falls in love with Isha. Isha could not escape from Mr. Charming. They date over a cup of coffee. Sid also acts as the male lead in Isha’s new short film.
Niharika, Sid’s direct report in office falls in love with Sid. He rejects her proposal, but destiny has different plans. They have to fly abroad to execute a project.
Shivani, Sid’s reel life heroine, is introduced to him by Isha. Shivani kisses him during a shoot. This along with a series of incidents hurt Isha.
Isha breaks up with Sid. Both Shivani and Niharika waiting for this opportunity, what will happen to Sid and Isha’s love? Will Sid and Isha reunite? Will Niharika get what she wants? Or will Shivani succeed in her masterplan?
My review:
Coffee Date is the second book I’ve read that has been written by Saravana Kumar Murugan.
The plot is very compelling and overall hooks the reader until the very end. I admit that I myself completed this in one seating. The themes of friendship, love, and jealousy etc., are very well explored. One thing that I have observed in the author’s book is the beautiful way in which he incorporates the family life within the personal-romantic relationship one. For instance, apart from the romantic love, the reader can also see the parental love coming into the picture. It’s a welcome recurring theme.
The protagonists Siddhartha and Isha are characters of the real world- with their heads revolving around their careers too and not just mere love life issues. The understanding that was displayed between them implies the depth of their characters. The friends involved are also well-plotted characters and the element of jealousy was brought in well through the actions of Niharika.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all. However, I do think that more time should have been spent on proof-reading the manuscript so that the errors in punctuation, grammatical issues etc., could have been avoided.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3.75/5 stars.

Till the end of forever, Vivaksh Singh, 2018

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Publishers: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Synopsis:
The past is always mysterious. It neither leaves completely, nor stays fully. Who would know it better than Ayaan. He was its victim. And so was Avani. When these two crumbled souls met, they realized in their togetherness that only a broken piece can complete another. Together, they start fighting the pain of their past, feeling the bliss of the present and appreciating their lives.
But just when they thought things were perfect, life played its cards.
Ayaan, who was trying to put life’s pieces together, broke down when he was held responsible for a closed one’s murder.
And Avani… well, her life was going to take such sharp turns that she would crave for death.
Alas, this was just the beginning of what destiny had planned for them!
Will Avani wait for the scars to heal or will she fight with her bruised soul? Why does the truth keep going deeper as she chases it?
Deeply sensitive and brutally thrilling, Till The End Of Forever is a romantic thriller that takes a dig in the dark sides of god, nature of human pain, power of selfless care, and proves how true love can make you live till the end of forever.
My Review:
Till the End of Forever was a read that I was very excited about. However, I have to say that it was too hyped.
It begins with a vacation when two girls- Luvleen and Avani plan to spend it with Luvleen’s family. We are also introduced to Livleen, who is Luvleen’s brother and also a friend of Ayaan, our male protagonist. Avani and Ayaan connect over the mutual feeling of pain and loss, finding friendship and solace in each other. Both of them have had various painful experiences in their past and it had greatly affected the way they were.
Ayaan as a character was quite likable in the beginning when he gives his speeches which are quite interesting, I have to admit. But later on, his whole aura seems to degenerate. The ending is left very unclear. Avani, on the other hand, seems like a very impulsive and irresponsible person- she decides to go to Venice with a person she has just literally met and then, later on, does not say anything even when she believes that her partner is a potential rapist. These sorts of shifts seem very sudden and unexpected.
One thing I did not like was how unspecific the writer was with the dialogues. I understand that the element of mystery was tried to be brought in through here, but it only results in confusion. I feel that the continuous change in the points-of-view was not only very sudden but also unexpected and unheralded and as a result greatly decreased the quality of the story.
The entire plotline, the first half specifically, was very rushed, I feel like, without giving any definite conclusions to the scenes. The editing and proofreading in this regard could have been done in a much better manner. There were also several grammatical mistakes and other inaccuracies that just didn’t add up.
My verdict:
With more proofreading and editing this could have been a good read, however, seeing how it is, I rate it a 2/5 stars.

Flying Without Wings, Rishabh Puri, 2017

Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers India and Black Ink

Synopsis:

For Milli Bajwa, life is at a stand-still. Grounded in the Chandigarh airport where she works day after day, she watches flights leaving for destinations she knows she’ll never visit. Loveless and luckless, she would rather bury her nose in a book than face her grim reality. And then, on a whim, she swipes right on a new dating app, and finds the man of her dreams – someone who can sweep her off her feet and teach her how to fly. But the mysterious and charming Karan Singhania has secrets of his own, and a heart damaged in more ways than one. This is the story of two people about to find out how far they’re willing to go for the promise of true love.

Review:

I’d like to begin by saying that most Indian romances are too stereotypical and too lovey-dovey for my taste. They have so far never been able to overcome the love I have for my Mills&Boons. However, Flying without Wings was an exquisite read and I truly loved it with all my heart.

In terms of the plotline, I found it truly very believable and the common trope of poor-girl-meets-rich-boy had its very own twist making it a very enjoyable read. It also explored the various other aspects of life apart from love- like addiction, loss, friendship, family etc. and these themes were well written and portrayed in the actions of the characters. Milli and Karan are the protagonists of this novel and as we see their evolutions throughout the story, we can understand the different needs and wishes that drive people. Both of them are so different from each other in terms of their job, their salaries, their familial backgrounds and their ways of life. And yet, the one thing that pulls them together is the realization that despite their busy schedules, they are such lonely souls. I must admit that Rahull was not a favourite of mine and yet I found him very relatable- he shows his own shades of grey as a human.

The characters, though few, were very believable in all their true colours- with their feelings of grief, love, etc. The fact that they were shown as all-round characters also help a lot in this sense. For instance, it’s not just the search for love that drives the people, unlike in so many Indian rom-coms; they have their own careers thus managing all the various facet of life. In terms of the editing and grammar, I was delighted not to have found any errors as they are so common in most Indian romance novels.

Some things that didn’t add up made me a bit discomfited, however. For instance, the fact that despite the lower-middle class household portrayed (or even third-class, one could say), Milli seems to have a sedan. It was a bit difficult to digest that considering the fact that they hardly had any money to repair the sink when it broke. Moreover, I was wondering if opiates aren’t costly since the mother seems to be popping them like candy, along with her alcohol addiction as well. These were a few inaccuracies that just didn’t add up at all.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 4/5 stars and recommend it to, all those who are ‘suckers’ for romance- a must read.

Not Exactly Love, Anindita Sengupta, 2018

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Publishers: Vishwakarma Publications, 2018
Synopsis:
Not every love is smooth sailing and not every love has a magical ending and yet, without a generous dose of ‘Love’, life would certainly be devoid of its most thrilling experience.
A tumultuous trip, an inevitable attraction, a passionate kiss, magical memories, beautiful chaos, taking a risk, giving a chance, holding on and letting go all define this strange animal we call love.
Everyone craves it but is the definition of love the same for all?
‘Not Exactly Love’ is about 10 different women navigating through the sea of love and attraction. Ten stories about adventures of the heart and the games that it plays with the mind! But still… should we give love a chance?
My review:
I would first begin by speaking about the characters. I found them displaying various shades of gray- implying that life is not always stark black or white. They were round- and could display their emotions on a relatable level. I found that I personally loved all the ten short stories and the fact that they all belonged to common Indian people like us, made this experience much nicer.
The themes explored were also very apt- there’s love, loss, infidelity, friendship etc. – and once can realize that these are things that we work with every day. The way the author has built up this story is also very gradual and thus plays well with the reader. The length of the book isn’t that much either and at a mere 115 pages, prove to be a quick yet entertaining read.
The way the author has created these stories with such resonant themes in our lives is wonderful indeed. They have undoubtedly been thought-provoking as well- with the relevant themes and perhaps certain characteristics of the characters that we see in all of us.
I also loved the fact that the women portrayed here were all ‘power women’- they are independent, career-oriented, have a strong sense of self without paying attention to partners who cannot validate that, they are feisty and they are human. The author’s portrayal of these women lead us to believe that we are only human and as we try to live life day by day- we can oft stumble.
I did not find any grammatical errors, however, the editing was lacking- I found a few typos. Other than that, the writing style was fresh and contemporary- something we perhaps need in today’s world. My top 5 favourite stories were– Smells Like Custard, Weekend Dhamaka, Turbulence, Lets Do It Right Night, and Vanishing Act.

Verdict:
I rate this a 4/5 stars.

Call me by your name, Andre Aciman, 2007

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Publishers: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
Synopsis:
Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.
The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman’s frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion. Call Me by Your Name is clear-eyed, bare-knuckled, and ultimately unforgettable.

Character development:
When it comes to character development, I did not find it lacking in any manner. The gradual way in which the author inserts newer facts about the character is very sublime and makes the overall effect a thousand times thus. A lot of time has certainly been given to this masterpiece of a book and Aciman has done a spectacular job with the book.

Plot development:
Another aspect in which the author has given intimate attention would be undoubtedly the plot as a whole. The streaming of time from Elio’s perspective gave it a certain rustic and lazy view, all the more relatable and heart-warming. The gradual buildup is beautiful done and the compartmentalization into the 4 part by the author has in a very poignant way classified the different feelings Elio feels.
Quality of writing
Call me by your name is a masterpiece and it can be verified by the uncountable tears, readers, among which I too can be classified, have shed continuously. It can be verified by the galloping heartbeats that the author has rendered in us. The whole story was well paced and even though the first three parts are very close in terms of time, compared to the flashbacks in the fourth, the overall effect was very soothing and apt.
Thought provoking
The themes explored in this novel were also very thought provoking. We see the overall theme as love, along with homosexuality and friendship. Travel has also been included in the book along with the love for books/poetry and it excited the bibliophile in me as well.

Verdict
Call me by your name is the second ever LGBTQ+ book I have read and its left we shattered and in love, happy but forlorn and yet, with a certain unexplainable calmness in me. I rate this a 5/5 stars and will keep it close to my heart, to be revisited time and time again.

Finding your G-spot in life, Geetika Saigal, 2018

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Publishers: Thomson Press, India
Synopsis:
The Probability of your parents meeting: one in a million. The Chance that they had you and not another genetic version of you: one in 4 million billion. (yeah, that’s a number too!) The Number of moments you have lived (knowing that any of us could pop-off any moment): ~9.4 million in our lifetime.
You, Yes YOU, are a miracle.
Do you not then deserve to lead a miraculous life?
A life that you know is meaningful to you, that doesn’t leave you feeling like you are simply running, not knowing where to and why so. So go on, give yourself and your life the best shot.
How?
By ceasing this race to ‘somewhere’ for just a few hours; Re-discovering Your Real Self, Re-aligning Your Thoughts, Revamping Your Life – All in (nothing worthwhile is simple!) 4 STEPS + 15 Do-it-for-Yourself EXERCISES.
This book is written for all of us, whether you’re just starting out your life or wishing to change it.
My review:
For being the second self-help book I’ve ever read, Finding your G-spot, sure was an unexpected joy and delight.
Firstly, I really love the way of writing the author has adopted. At times though, I did feel like it has been influenced by another book called Man’s Search for Meaning. The language was quite simple and therefore very easy to understand. Again, however, I feel that there could have been a more polishing possible regarding the editing. Moreover, the anecdotes the author has included makes it very relatable for the reader. The letters and quotes made the entire experience very wholesome.
The book is about 200 pages long- very short when you actually get down to read it because you simply fly through the pages. The compartmentalization into the four parts was also done very methodically for a person who seeks to know more about himself. There are also sixteen “Do-It-for-Yourself’ sections that will surely help one to know and discover more about himself as they are very hands-on and compel the reader to introspect. Self-evaluation is something that you will be forced to do in this book and all for the better I believe- it will prove quite fruitful in a person’s self-discovery.
Verdict:
This is truly a self-help book unlike any other and for the help, it has given me in my life as well, I rate it a 4/5 stars and would definitely recommend all to pick it up as well.

7 Books in 7 days!

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

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

Bitter Betrayal, Penny Jordan, 1989

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Before I begin, I would like to state how very lucky I consider myself to have found out about BookChor, and if you haven’t, let me tell you-you are missing out on the best steal deals on books that there ever have been.
I bought Bitter Betrayals from BookChor for less than 100INR, and I am very glad of it. Mills and Boon’s books have been my guilty pleasure, ever since I started reading them at 17. I like that they are quite lighthearted and fluffy to read- often short enough to complete in one seating. Bitter Betrayal is one such book.
I think the author has very tragically described how rejection can change a person like we see in our protagonist Jenneth. This brings to light also the bitter side of the real world- something one does not always see in books of this genre. The various issues or themes, this brought up were very thought-provoking- trust, self-esteem, friendship, and of course love. The author has also brought in the real-life issue of sex- sexual relationships without the entanglements of love, especially in Eleanor. This perhaps will help to slowly dispel the “virgin” concept, so much prevalent in the Mills and Boon series, especially of the 20th century. Brotherly/familial love and concern is also another theme seen here- we have Nick and Kit, and then Angelina, all of whose love for Jenneth is clearly seen in the book.
Apart from the characters, I saw a few irregularities in the plot. The whole way that the marriage came about- the reason, which everyone had so easily accepted, seemed too far-fetched to me. It felt like the author was trying to just get Jenneth and Luke, her male counterpart, to tie the knot, in any way that was possible. Like in most Mills and Boon books, the man is always arrogant and dominating, and Bitter Betrayal is no exception. However, we were given glimpses into Luke’s point of view at times, and I found it a refreshing take.
I have read a Mills and Boon after a long time and truly enjoyed it. However, it was a light read nonetheless- something I picked up one night when I couldn’t sleep. As such, I rate it a 3/5.