Tag Archives: Indian literature

Book review: Krishna’s Sister by Priyanka Bhuyan (#BIRTHDAYBLOGHOP)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external forces.

synopsis

This is the story of a woman who had everything yet who lost everything and rose when everyone gave up to finally lead the empire of Bharatvarsha. For the first time, take a sneak peek into the life of the sister of the God who shaped Mahabharata to become the progenitor of the Kuru race after everything was reduced to nothing in the battle of Kurushetra.
Krishna’s sister is a mythological fiction of the life and story of Princess Subhadra in the backdrop of the great Mahabharat war and the sacrifice and pain that she went through. It also explores the relationship she shared with her brother and mentor Lord Krishna as well as her husband Arjuna and co-wife Draupadi. Subhadra is also worshipped as a deity in the Jagannath Puri, one of the holiest shrines in India.

my review

KRISHNA’S SISTER is the story of Subhadra (sister of Krishna and Balaram, and wife of Arjun). The reason that this book is interesting is that it brings forth a story and gives a voice to this (yet another) lesser-known woman from the Mahabharata. Recent mythological fiction novels have become a popular source and stronghold for the feminist viewpoint, with the help of which, the female characters are given a chance to bring their stories to the forefront. We all know that the Mahabharata is full of a multitude of related stories, but often they are ignored so as to not confuse the reader. However, this was a great attempt by the author to share the story of Subhadra, a sister of a God, but also a warrior and an independent and strong woman, on her own terms, as well as a goddess herself, worshipped in the Jagannath temple at Puri.

Krishna's Sister (ebook)
Krishna’s Sister (ebook)

The story was an emotional one that tugged on my heartstrings. It is about Subhadra – her life, her struggles, and the utter tragedies that befell her. But most of all, it is about how she overcame them all to emerge victoriously.

The author has written the story in a fluid way – we see the elements of family brought in, along with the love shared among brothers and sisters, the romantic love and subsequent pining she finds with Arjuna, and her later strife as a woman in society. The narration was on point, because despite the fact that all of this happened in the epics, thousands of years ago, the reader cannot help but relate with Subhadra. I cried with her, her pain, and her sacrifices. And like her, I too questioned the ways in which women have to sacrifice so much.

The author also explored her journey from being a Princess of the Yadav clan to being a queen in the Kuru dynasty, her relationships, and the dynamics among the Pandavas, with Draupadi and Kunti. Her relationship with Krishna was an adorable one and I loved the glimpses we got of the Lord.

Like all epics, the theme of destiny and fate is very powerful and prevalent here. Just like in the Greek dramas of West – of Sophocles, Homer, and Euripides – the inevitability of fate catching up to you, or the human strife (and further inevitable failure) to outrun it and escape it is very powerful in the Mahabharata as well. Especially if you consider the end of the Yadav clan but the fateful continuation of the Kuru clan with the help of Krishna’s intervention.

The author with her concise writing has kept the reader intrigued and engaged until the very end. I truly enjoyed reading this book and I hope the author comes up with the rest of the books in the series soon! I rated it 4/5 stars!

Nika with Krishna's Sister
Nika with Krishna’s Sister

Corporate Communication professional, an avid travel blogger, foodie, and movie buff all rolled into one, Priyanka Bhuyan has been doing freelancing since her college days. Her debut book-Kaleidoscope of Love, a collection of short stories is on the varied emotions of love was published in the year 2019 and was adjudged among the top 100 debut authors by Literature Light. She hails from the beautiful green state of Assam and Guwahati is where she calls her home. Currently in a workaholic phase, she has her parents, brother and her dog as her family. For more info you can follow her on girlsliketotravel.com

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This post is part of #Birthdaybloghop by Vidhya Thakkar and Neelam Sharma should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. Hosts are not responsible for any infringement caused.”

Glorious Shadows, by Krishna Sawant: A Review

Glorious Shadows
Glorious Shadows

Glorious Shadows is a collection of poems by Krishna Sawant which touched a wide variety of topics ranging from self-love to hope, with tones ranging from realistic to tragic as well.

While blank verse has become very common nowadays and you can find a poet around every corner, I do believe that Sawant has the special something in her writing. I felt her poems through me and although I cannot say I have personally experienced each and everything here, the emotions were portrayed in such a way that I could relate and empathize. Therein lies the quality of a poet, I feel and hence, I can truly say that Sawant has done a great job.

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon!

There are also tiny illustrations at the bottom of every pg and the titles of the poems are added at the bottom as well, a style which is becoming more and more popular everyday.

There are various pieces that I personally loved and adored and I shall mention a few here:

  • Stop Selling My Soul
  • I Destroyed Myself
  • Sigh
  • Disguise
  • Nicotine
  • Silent Spectator
  • Atelophobia
  • Curdled Love
  • Maya
  • Rigid
  • Waxing and Waning
  • Writing of a Suicide Note
  • Flatlined
  • I

I rated this collection 4/5 stars.

A tale on Kashmir: The Tree of a Thousand Apples

The book The Tree of a Thousand Apples is set in the beautiful valley of Kashmir and it is a beautiful book diffusing the full Kashmir feel!!

The Tree of a Thousand Apples

The Tree of a Thousand Apples
The Tree of a Thousand Apples

‘A few white petals of Jasmine have found their way out amidst the bushes. Their narrow stems and delicate leaves grapple against the sputtering raindrops. The old gardener must have had an illicit affair with the flowers; their love refuses to die.’

-pg126

A tale on Kasmir

In The Tree With A Thousand Apples, we follow the three friends Safeena, Bilal and Deewan as they grow up in the beautiful land of Kashmir. It is all smooth sailing until the night of 20th January 1990, when everything changes. Militants start attacking the Kashmiri Pandits, in their convoluted plans and desire for ‘Azad Kashmir’. It is an intensely poignant story of love, revenge, insurgency and the way it shapes the lives of those affected, etc.  Based on true events, this book really makes you ponder on the lives of the people who have really been affected by the inhuman acts of the insurgents.

Vivid Imagery

The major highlight is definitely the amazing imagery because you can simply paint it in your mind’s eye! The author has been really able to bring out the essence of the Kashmiri life – with his description of the food, the culture, etc.

Narration and Language

With an awesome narration, the author has really been able to convey the feel of the book. The language of this book was so so poetic and good! The author has also used local Kashmiri words, which make the experience just more real. You feel as if you are living it yourself as you read it too.

The characters have also been shaped well. Their depth was explored throughout the book. It was a well-paced read overall.

Plus points:

The book cover is also very aesthetic and so very eye-catching! The poems inscribed in between, also touch your heart.

What I did not like

What I did not particularly like, was the repetitive lines – it is something that I do not like in books, myself. The sudden jumps in scenes also made it a bit difficult to grasp the tale.

Verdict:

The book was a great read overall. I rate it 4/5 stars.

Check out the book on Amazon and Goodreads!

You might also like 99 Nights in Logar, Suncatcher, An Atlas of Impossible Longing etc.

A Bibliophile’s Dream!

The best books are the keys to life. Bibliophiles will delight in adding these tiny illustrated classic novels to their collection!

Isn’t this keychain the most cutest ever? I am so in love with it that I want to keep it swaddled up in cotton! Hah!

Illustrated by Jane Mount, this is basically an enamel keychain which I love with the entirety of my heart!

As for other updates, the giveaway books are all here! I have 3 hardcovers, 2 (quite thick) paperback novels, and 3 more regular-sized paperbacks! And I know I am being very cryptic here. There’s also a cute notebook to be won! I just have to click the pictures now and after that, I’ll formally announce the giveaway! And boy, there are already more than 100 entries so far!

In terms of reading, I finished The Catcher in the Rye and The Hate U Give – both for college. I have American literature and I am also doing a presentation on racism, hence these two books, respectively. Have you read either of these? What were your views on these books?

Adity Kay's Emperor Chandragupta & Emperor Vikramaditya

Title: Emperor Chandragupta, Emperor Vikramaditya

Author: Adity Kay

Publisher: Hachette

Genre: Historical fiction

Format: Paperback

Synopsis of Emperor Chandragupta, 2016:

Building an empire is not easy, especially when there are enemies everywhere and no one you can trust. India, 326 BCE. The world’s greatest conqueror, Alexander, the Greek emperor, is at its doorstep, having arrived at the Indus seeking to establish his dominion over the entire known world. In the east lies Magadha, ruled by the Nandas, a dynasty driven by greed, lust and hunger for power.  From the embers of that lust and avarice a boy has been born, raised by a tribe of peacock-tamers – a boy named Moriya forced by the Nanda clan to be on the run. Aided by Chanakya, a political strategist at odds with his former rulers, who trains him in the ways of the world and christens him Chandragupta, the young man ventures across the vast Magadhan empire to form an army of his own and seek out the foreign invader. But being a warrior prince, he finds, comes at a heavy price – assassins appointed by the Nanda kings will stop at nothing to eliminate him, a rival prince seeks revenge through cruelty and friends are no longer what they seem… 

This is the story of a youth who must fight against all odds – within and without – to become one of the greatest emperors ever known. This is the story of Chandragupta Maurya. 

Synopsis of Emperor Vikramaditya, 2019:

Love. Family. Home. Chandra has sacrificed it all at the altar of duty. now, he has to choose between duty and justice. India, fourth century CE. Peace reigns in the land of Magadha, under the rule of Emperor Samudragupta. New alliances are made every day, trade and the arts flourish, and Chandra ? the young prince ? leads his father?s horse across the length of Bharatvarsha as a part of the ashwamedha yagna, cementing the emperor?s influence. The kingdom is at its peak, but Chandra?s thoughts are clouded, his heart heavy. As his elder brother, Ramagupta, prepares to take their ageing father?s place on the throne, Chandra, bound as he is to obey the future king, wrestles constantly with his brother?s decisions ? decisions he believes are inimical to the stability of the empire. And so begins a tale of conflict between two brothers: one drunk on power, buoyed by the unmitigated support of the Pataliputra court, the other a seeming outsider in the palace, who yet commands the people?s loyalty and love. And when an enemy unlike any before rises to challenge the Guptas? might, Chandra must overcome his demons in order to protect his people and become a king in his own right ? he must become Vikramaditya. 

A brilliant new historical fiction series by Adity Kay, Emperor Chandragupta and Emperor Vikramaditya, is filled with action, adventure, battles, politics, and family drama! I had great fun curling up with these as the heavens poured outside, and even as the sun shined on. 

Disclaimer: I received review copies from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

My review for Emperor Chandragupta:

In Emperor Chandragupta, we follow the young Moriya, as the eponymous  ruler was known back when he was a child, growing up in a tribe of peacock tamers, from his childhood to his mighty reign over the great kingdom of India. This journey from such obscurity is a long and arduous one and  the author has successfully touched upon most, if not all, of the important events from is life.

The atmospheric sense is amazing. The description of the world is enough to make you feel as if you are part of the India of those times, and the events are happening in your own lifetime. The ambience is glorious and encompasses the extravagant courts at Pataliputra and Alexander’s camp, as well as the natural scenes of the dry deserts of the west.

The characterization of Chandragupta and Chanakya was profound. Aided by his mentor, Chandragupta ultimately overpowers the great Magadhan Empire. The interrelationships among the various other characters were also well explored, although a few could have seen more depth. The political aspect, which is undoubtedly one of the most important in a novel of this type, was also well portrayed through the various glimpses into the administrative system, the perception of dharma and how it influences human actions, the search for allies etc was on point. There is adventure as well, and action, that is bound to keep you in the edge of your seats.

My review for Emperor Vikramaditya:

A prequel to Emperor Chandragupta, Adity Kay’s Emperor Vikramaditya was a well awaited book for me. I had picked up the first book and was mesmerized by it. So after finishing that one, I was absolutely very excited to pick up the sequel as well.

Vikramaditya is the younger son of King Samudragupta, he was also called the Chandragupta II. Throughout this book we see the constant struggles he faces – it is a lot about people facing their fears I suppose. Chandra does not at all agree with his elder brother Ramagupta’s viewpoints. Like Dumbledore once said, it is easy to rise up against one’s enemies, but the greatest courage lies in standing up against one’s friends. Likewise, as Ramagupta starts making decisions, which are harmful for the country in the long term, young Chandra has to plunge headfirst into trying to stand up against what he believes are wrong views of his profligate brother.

With a lucid writing style, Adity Kay has again managed to drown the readers into the story of this legendary figure in India’s history. The gripping narrative is supported by a great plotline, full of emotions that are real and so very relatable, with characters that feel so real you could probably touch them, and dialogues. Filled to the brim with action and adventure, Emperor Vikramaditya was a stunning sequel to the first book in the series – Emperor Chandragupta.

Verdict:

I had an amazing time, reading the books. I rate them both 4/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

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

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

Title: Love in the Time of Affluenza

Author: Shunali Khullar Shroff

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 292

Synopsis:

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

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

My review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict:

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

About the reviewer:

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

The Monsters Still Lurk, by Aruna Nambiar, 2019

Title: The Monsters Still Lurk

Author: Aruna Nambiar

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Published on:  20th July, 2019

Genre: Post-Independence

Format: Paperback

Language:  English

No. of pages: 260

Synopsis:

We were an ordinary family, with conventional lives. We were mostly happy, but always cautious of too much happiness. We were hardly religious, just pious enough to keep us on the straight and narrow. We bickered a little but would never have thought to be estranged. We feared illness and anticipated eventual death, but we expected life to follow a certain path, a particular schedule. Until…

It is 1991. As Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated and a new government comes to power, setting in motion a process of economic reforms that will transform India, an ordinary family is about to experience detours from the traditional middle-class script of their lives. Over the next quarter century, as the world around them changes in ways unexpected, their lives too wind along uncharted trails, sometimes sunlit, sometimes shadowy and forbidding. 

Funny, perceptive and moving, The Monsters Still Lurk is a bittersweet saga of love, loss, ageing and shifting family dynamics, and a keenly observed portrait of post-liberalization India that captures the zeitgeist of a rapidly evolving society.

My review:

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

The Monsters Still Lurk, although fiction, gives a great idea of how life had been post-independence, when India was just learning to function as a sovereign country of her own. Through the eyes of Vivek, we are taken on a journey across a quarter of a century as India changes and people have to change along with the times. It is not easy, rather very turbulent and filled with highs and lows.

The major themes covered in this book were family, the fear and acceptance of responsibility as we all grow up in the face of various events that happen around us, war, crisis, friendship, the sibling bond etc. The American Dream is also another theme – it is basically the dream that so many people belonging to the third-world countries have – that America is the land of dreams and opportunities. As such, so many people wanted to migrate there and it was a driving force behind the actions of many people, across various economic levels.  

The political scenario of this period was not a very calm one. As such, the book also portrays the major events in our history as perceived through the eyes of a normal middle class family. The Kargil War, the Babri masjid demolition, the Indian Depression, 9/11 etc are some of the periods the writer mentions in the book.

It was a great read overall. Although a bit bland at times due to the political aspects, the author has weaved together good writing, interesting characters and significant portions of inida’s history to make this a deep and insightful read.

Verdict:

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

About the reviewer:

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

Love is for life and beyond, Yashwant Kanodia, 2018

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

Tarikshir, Khayaal Patel, 2018


Title: Tarikshir
Author: Khayaal Patel
Publisher: Westland
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 332
Synopsis:
A small princely state in Rajasthan is the last bastion of resistance against the might of the British Empire. While unrest surrounding the sudden death of the king of Devangarh grows, young prince Rudra Pratap Chauhan prepares to ascend the throne.
But the kingdom is in turmoil. The Devangarh army is outnumbered and the British forces are closing in. To make matters worse, Rudra discovers the king’s death may not have been accidental after all. The strange appearance and disappearance of a mysterious hooded stranger and a series of ritualistic murders in which the bodies have been drained of blood, spread panic across the realm.
As Rudra struggles to manage his new responsibilities and investigate his father’s death, dark secrets will be uncovered that will disrupt life as he knows it.
My review:
I am so happy to have discovered this book. Tarikshir is a wonderful mixture of mythology, adventure, romance, and well as the supernatural.
The thriller element was fully explored in this book. From the very first page, I was hooked and once I had started reading it, I could not put it down. The pace just keeps on increasing in a steady manner and that is what I think really keeps the reader so addicted until the very end. It is full of action and adventure and the author has really done well with those scenes too. There is never a dull moment with this extremely engaging plot. The plot has so many wonderful twists and turns that the reader is continually spellbound under the magic weaved by the author through his words. The plot, in all, was really well paced, well planned- so much so that the end result was an unputdownable book.
The themes we see in this book – that of war, friendship, romance, family and kinship, along with those of the supernatural, deceit, etc., are well explored and the content surrounding them are also very engaging. No matter how many times I will write the word ‘engaging’ in this post, you will never understand it as long as you don’t read it. So please do. This is a wonderful book based on indian myths and legends. The historical fiction element is also there for the historical-fiction lovers like I, myself.
The characters were also well rounded and we see different facets through their words, and thoughts (of Rudra, especially). We see the queen mother as a peace-loving woman, as a queen who loves her subjects, a disillusioned wife and a supportive mother. We see Rudra as a son who like every other son wants to please his father, as a man caught between following his father or leading on his own, his feelings for Nafisa. The other characters also play very important roles in the novel and everyone’s actions are either a result of or stimulant of someone else’s action.
I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in
Verdict:
Tarikshir is a book I am truly happy to have picked up and I am very eager to get my hands on the sequel as well. I rate this a 4/5 stars and definitely recommend it to all.

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!

Bahir, Monisha K Gumber, 2018

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Publishers: Becomeshakespeae.com
Synopsis:
A tale of utter desperation and fierce hope. And a fight for honour. Meet Sawera. A beautiful and sensual woman. Born in Pakistan, raised in the Middle East and abused wherever she goes. Struggling to find acceptance, which eludes her over and over again, she ends up being an outcast. Who belongs nowhere and to no one. Used and manipulated by the men she loved, from the depths of her soul she claims her self-respect, along with the faith to overcome her pitiful circumstances. Where does she find her strength? What is the breaking point? How does she get over the demons of her past? Follow the story of Sawera, a child born of midnight into the dawn of new hope. Uncover the secrets and conspiracies that make her the woman she is. Read her story, a story of survival.
 
Reviews: 
“A gripping page turner that didn’t leave for a moment, a phenomenal story showing the brutal realities of life in the author’s signature light-weight style ” : Mahesh Bhatt
“An engaging, sensational story with deep thematic resonance” : Gulf Weekly
“Perturbing, piercing, yet able to warm the heart” : Rohini Bakshi (Author, Oxford Alumnus and Sanskrit Scholar, UK)
“An enthralling social satire that makes you introspect” : Sumit Agarwal (National bestselling author)
“A saga that haunts the reader until the last page. Unput downable”: Rohini Sunderam (Author & Founder member of Bahrain Writers’ Circle)
 
My Review:
One thing that really influenced me and made me pick up this book was the collection of reviews by actual critics and well-renowned persons. The synopsis pulled me in more.
The plot of the story is well made, and the narrative of the first person, through the protagonist Sawera was very engaging. The author has done a really good job with it- she has been able to keep he reader interested till the very end. I was one such hooked-on reader, who could hardly keep the book down once I picked it up. The autobiographical way in which the majority is written, has a very convincing tone and at times one forgets that it is, although inspired by many such women, merely a fiction novel.
The characters incite a multitude of different feelings in the reader. There is firstly pity and sadness- seeing the condition and pity to which Sawera is subjected; there is anger at all the people who afflict such cruelty upon her, and lastly, there is shame- for one comes upon different versions of themselves, and it is not a pretty picture, that the characters reflect in the reader.
The themes of social justice, reality in those tmes, poverty, female subjugation, orphans, depression, rape etc., all are showcased in a very raw and real manner and you cannot help but cringe at some points – not because of the writing, no – but because of the real situations that the author puts into words. The entire story is raw and cruel and pulls at your heartstrings, and as a reader, I too couldn’t help but curse the bad-luck of Sawera. However, it made me realize that life is not always roses – there are so many such women who are suffering every day, every hour and every minute.
Although the book is not set in the exactly same time as today, so many of the events and situations are still relatable- because so many of these heart-wrenching things are regular occurrences even today. Nonetheless, Bahir was a beautiful book and I am determined to recommend it to each and every one of you.
My verdict:
I rate this story a 5/5 stars!
 

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 Conqueror, Aditya Iyengar, 2018

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Publishers: Hachette publishers
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
Kingdoms are built by men. Legacies are built by emperors.
It is 1025 AD. The mighty Chola empire that controls much of southern Bharatvarsha is helmed by Emperor Rajendra Chola I – a man as enigmatic as his kingdom is renowned. Known for his might and vision, he has now set his sights upon the southern seas, governed by the powerful Srivijaya empire.
But his victories also bring forth stories of those affected by his ambition. Of an unnamed princess forced to fend for herself among enemies after everything she has ever known is destroyed by the ravaging Chola forces. Of Maharaja Sangrama, captive in an alien land, who is torn between his enmity tempered by an unusual friendship with the elusive Rajendra Chola and his fierce determination to return to his kingdom.
Told through the eyes of a prisoner of war and a princess without a kingdom, The Conqueror is a magnificent narrative – of war and conquest, of loss and death, of kingship and legacy.
My review:
The Conqueror is the second Indian historical book that I have read in August and I am not disappointed. The author has done well in mingling history with romance, friendship, war and the human spirit that rages on even in the face of hardships.
The beginning was quite exciting and reading historical accounts is a favourite pastime of mine and as such, it was a delight. Moreover, even though some bits have been fictionalized, the way the author has tried to bring to life the way of life of these people is commendable. We come to know so much about their daily activities, the parleys between the different ministers, war, and in general the workings of a kingdom.
The plot was well written- from the beginning to the end, the author weaves a lovely tale, the ends of which are comfortably wrapped up towards the end. Nonetheless, I hope for a sequel. The two different point of views provided in the first person are very contrasting, yet so very similar in the situation of both the people as they are displaced from their world. However, felt the story a bit dragging and slow paced towards the middle, but the author again commendably picks it up soon.
The characters are again very diverse and yet very inspiring. Inspiring because they had faced various hardships and had come out only stronger than ever before. It is really nice to read about the indomitable human spirit that refuses to break in the face of adversity. Their developments are also evident- they grow mentally and emotionally to reach the apex of their beings.
The themes of war, hardships, survival, friendship, love, family, and diplomacy abound in this book and provide bittersweet relief to the readers, with completely satisfaction as the story finally ends. This was a really nice read for sure.
Verdict:
The Conqueror was a really good read and fans of historical fiction should definitely give it a read. I rate it a 4/5 stars and truly recommend it to all.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman, 2017

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

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.

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!

Seductive Affair, Rishabh Puri, 2018

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Publishers: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Genre: Romance
Synopsis:
Prisha Khatri is a regular college graduate, focused on her career, desperate to finally move out of her parents’ house… and freshly dumped by her successful fiancé. When she lands a job at a prestigious media house, she’s glad to have something to take her mind off her heartbreak.
What she doesn’t expect is to be landed on a business trip with a famously fiery reporter Rajesh Lagheri. He’s travelling to a business conference for a story, and doesn’t seem impressed by her involvement. But as soon as they’re out of the office, things change, and it becomes clear that there is more to Rajesh’s trip than meets the eye.
As Prisha is drawn into the story he’s trying to hide from their editor, their hunt for the story grows more intense, and she finds herself growing closer to Rajesh. As their chemistry threatens to overwhelm them and Prisha is pulled deeper into the Seductive Affair, she must decide what matters most to her – matters of the head, or of the heart.
My review:
Seductive Affairs was the second book I read in August and I have not been disappointed. Now there have been many negative reviews regarding this one, but I would like to point out that although it wasn’t a serious read, Seductive Affairs was a perfect romance book. I love the fact that it was kept short without any parts that dragged unnecessarily, and a very Mills and Boon-esque vibe.
The plot was pretty simple and the way the author went about it was great too. I found the pacing well-proportioned and subsequently, the flow of the whole story was very pleasant. It is to be noted however that Seductive Affair is quite literally a light read- a mindless one. It’s very easy-peasy and hardly evokes any strong emotions in the reader. This is the type of book that would do well as s slump-reliever.
The characters were also very well made; I found Prisha a true woman of the world- she’s not willing to be suppressed in the face of an ultimatum to either choose the guy or her dream. I found her to be an independent and amazing girl- worth being an idol. Rajesh was also worth admiring- his drive and determination show that hard work with passion truly leads you to the past of success. The cover was also very alluring and I do believe that it portrayed something very much related to the title of the book. The synopsis shown was also very good!
Verdict:
I rate this book 3/5 stars. It was a truly fun read.

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.

Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar, Kochery C. Shibu, 2015


Publishers: Niyogi books
Synopsis:
A Hydel project in the remote HImalayas- three people brought together by fate.
Nanda an engineer from Kerala at the dam construction site, hiding from his past, from the law, torn between the love for his dear ones, and the kalari code of revenge.
Khusru, a youth displaced from his native village in Kashmir, a gambit in the terror plot that threatens to blow up the dam, working as a labourer at the site.
Rekha, a kathak dancer at heart, a doctor by profession, arrives at the campsite as the consort of Khusru.
A village that accepts the dictates of modernity with a heavy heart, its population steeped in superstitions and religious beliefs.
All throng the campsite like moths to a flame, some escape untouched,successful;some miss a step and perish. each has a story to tell and a dream to realise. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is about the aspirations of these people, with their cares and worries woven to the site life. The fury of nature and hardships of project life have no mercy for the weak and no time for the dead.
Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk their lives and limb in the quest to fulfil their dreams.
My review:
The first thing to be noted and applauded, is the amount of research that has gone on for the construction of this book. It is clear that the author has done a lot of study and research data analysis for this. There are a lot of details regarding the construction process, the lives of the men associated with it as well.
The author has also beautifully brought in the natural aspect as well, offering soothing calm to the readers. It’s a travel book at times and I felt as if I myself was there amidst all the cool beauty.
The characters were well made as well. Nanda was a realistic and round figure portraying all the factors of his life, and of so many others- be it in his past trials and tribulations, or his present apprehension. When we see his journey throughout the novel it is clear that it is so much of a bildungsroman in one- his realization that in the end it I only love that is healthy for us- that vile ideas of revenge and such are not only repugnant but also harmful. His relations with his family was also beautiful. When it comes to Khusru however, I found his emotions all over the place. He was too flighty a character for me and definitely not a likeable one. Moreover, being very much career oriented myself, I did not like Rekha’s decision of leaving everything behind for her true love. Yes, it’s personal and that’s why perhaps, it irked me so much. Especially when the revelations were coming up. There were also a lot of characters overall, and the author’s introduction of them was too early and I was flitting back and forth, confused with who was who.
In terms of plot, I felt that it was a bit dragging in some places and some parts were very monotonous- when the author describes the machinery and the processes and such. It was too technical and too long at times. Without giving a spoiler, I personally felt that the end was not to my taste. Definitely was expecting something different. The language used was pretty easy and the jargons were explained which was a plus point. The narration was compelling as well, overall.
The cover was really great and apt- relating to the story and that in itself is great. I personally don’t see the point of having a cover that does not resonate with the story inside.
Many thanks to the author for providing me with the book in exchange of an honest review

Verdict:
I rate this a 4/5 stars. However seeing as to how it is quite an intense read, I would definitely recommend to pick it up at your own expense.

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!

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.

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.

Scattered Constellations, Ankita Singh, 2018

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Publishers: Amazon
Genre: Poetry
Synopsis:
Words tumble out, with no pause;
From the pen, my anelace,
That I hold so graciously,
(In awe of its majesty, its power)
In my hand.
They form thoughts, hopes and musings;
Reflect my soul, my entire being,
And spread across the page,
Like scattered constellations
Across the sky.
(Scattered Constellations is a collection of 50 Free Verse YA Poems.)

My review:
Scattered Constellations was a great read firstly. It is a poetry book following the common free verse pattern nowadays. Ankita Singh has done a good job with this book.
Scattered Constellations contains poetry on a vast number of themes such as love- romantic, familial as well as platonic; friendship, family, appearances in terms of racial distinctions etc. I found them really eye opening.
The book was also very finely edited and proofread, as I hardly noticed any errors. The whole format was pretty nice in the ARC but I am eager to see how the actual paperback turns out. I think that this book makes a good gift- the poems are bound to touch every other reader.
My personal favourites in this collection are quite a few, some of which are Tell Me, Taboo, Our Kinda Love, Colour, It Wasn’t Just Sadness, Sisters, Trophy Girl etc. I enjoyed the book and it took me less than a day as I read and stopped to think, and then resumed, again and again.
Verdict:
I rate it a 4/5 stars as I wait for the paperback to come out.

Not Worth Living For, Shreyan Laha, 2018

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Publishers: B!gfoot Publications
Synopsis:
Ishita Singh, a student of St. Pierce’s College, Mumbai was living a pretty normal life with her group of friends, a caring senior and scarily enough, a creep who followed her. Shweta wakes up in the unknown planet of Isthenope and sets out with Alexander Ishutin, a former spy of the RSV, to discover more about the unknown planet which was built for a future civilization. Underlying the lives of the two in completely different worlds, there lies a dark secret which was partially blacked out in some corner of Shweta’s memory and unknown to Ishita. Will they ever come to know about the secret or will it be so chilling that it won’t be worth living for?
My review:
I quite enjoyed this novel and would like to describe it as a utopian novel, along with elements of fantasy and adventure. It definitely keeps you hooked.
In terms of the plotline, the events were very well related to each other and one can see that the author has given a lot of attention to detail and planning. The outlandish elements as well as interesting to read and well-crafted. The space-time differences between the chapters were also very well maintained I feel like. Written in the third-person perspective, the language used is quite simple and easy to understand for non-native English speakers, even people not having English as their second language. The transitions in between the two worlds are amazing and gradual- not at all sudden and disjointed.
The characters were also very real and easy to connect to. You feel as if they are close to you as you read through. I found the flabbergasted Shweta a very interesting character- as she wakes up in Isthenope- a world far away from our solar system. Her romance with Alexander also blossoms beautifully and gradually. Ishita, on the other hand, tries to build her new life in Mumbai as she enrolls in an esteemed college. Her love story with Vivek, her classmate is also cute and wonderful to read- making one feel nostalgic about their own college days. Towards the end, you just cannot help but question Ishita’ sanity. And for the record, I hate Jay.
The themes of rape, the role of media in social life as well as of the police, were well explored. The overall story kept me hooked throughout, except for some parts in the middle. In terms of the cover, I think it could have been much better and I think that it matched with neither the story nor the title.
Verdict:
I enjoyed the book but I wouldn’t read it more than this once. I rate it a 3/5 stars.

A Cage of Desires, Shuchi Singh Kalra, 2018

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Publishers: Penguin Random House India
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 . . .
My Review
A Cage of Desires was a welcome and very pleasant read for me. I didn’t expect much and I have been gladly proved wrong. Shuchi Singh Kalra has done an amazing job in writing this story of a typical Indian woman of a middle-class household, and her dreams and desires.
We follow Renu- our protagonist, as she meanders in her relatively boring life- full of duties and responsibilities towards a cranky father-in-law, an absentee husband, and her loving children- Aneisha and Avi. The author, through the character of Renu, explicitly portrays society’s expectation of women and how quickly it clusters to judge those who do not fit the mold. In Renu, we find a woman who is tired of all these expectations society places on her while snatching away her own dreams and desires. There is also her husband- Dev, and also a poor example of a man- quick to judge her for voicing her own opinions.
In terms of the plotline, the author has intricately plotted the events and the actions that all connect them and has left me, as a reader and a reviewer spellbound. The story of a woman as she breaks free of all the bonds that hold her and chain her down- is undoubtedly the type of book the Indian society needs today and this book will surely help in that reform.
Apart from the plot, the narration was interesting as well- we have strong characters- all round, showing myriads of emotions that make humans human. Although the pace seems a bit slow, I think it worked perfectly keeping the story in mind. The themes of freedom, writing, intimacy along with sensuality as well as sexual desires, love – both romantic and platonic, were beautifully depicted in various ways.
Verdict:
I loved this book and can certainly call it a women-centric masterpiece. Definitely, a 4/5 star read for me!

Indeliberate Deliberations, Shivansh Umatt, 2017

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Publishers: pblishing.com
Indeliberate Deliberations, as the synopsis says, is a collection of heartfelt poems, on the four broad themes of Latency, Abyss, Frost and Froth, and, Gory Musings. Like most poetry, these days, the pieces in Indeliberate Deliberations are seen following the free-verse poetry, without a fixed structure.
In terms of quantity, there are a total of 21 poems in the book and they are all very heartwarming. The editing/proof-reading has also been done in a very good manner, because of which the quality truly shines through, despite the small size of the book.
Keeping in mind that everyone interprets the same author’s same works differently, I would like to state that I found Abyss focused more on the harsh realities of life, Latency on the perception of self, Gory Musings on guilt and other such emotions that eat away at a man’s soul, and Frost and Froth on the comparison between nature and human life. The poems were very relatable and the author has written very well- I believe he will go a long way. I finished reading it thrice now, ever since I got it from the author’ it’s that good!
Considering the fact that I have been hungering for poetry books for quite some time now, I would also like to say that I liked this book a lot- 4/5 stars by me.

You are still the one, Nancy Prajapati, 2018

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

Unlocked Silences, Mukhpreet Khurana, 2018


Publisher: Notion Press
I have been on the lookout for poetry books for a while now and was glad when I got the chance to receive a review book for Unlocked Silences. This book is pretty new and came out only in 2018, and has been widely accepted.
I finished reading this in just one day, and if you can see the number of tags I’ve attached then you won’t be surprised when I say that I really liked it. Unlocked silences is a book of not only poetry, but also musings and abstracts that touch your heart. They are not however romance centric and I for one, was quite happy with the change in the scenery. There is also an air of spirituality in the write-ups in this book and they have truly touched me deeply.
Here I’ll add a few lines from Kindled, pg 103, and tell me if it doesn’t stir something in you:
Oblivion boils in me,
Burning the strongest of my desires;
Here I am, reborn in faith,
Kindling the fiercest of fires.
This is just one from among a multitude of beautiful thought-provoking abstracts that gave me goosebumps. It revolves around the themes of emotion, empathy, acceptance, healing as well as the deepest and innermost thoughts that haunt man.
I do believe that it can however do with a bit of proofreading and editing, in a manner that will further bring out the meaning of the words the author is trying to convey. This, in no way, means that I did not like the book- on the contrary, I truly loved reading it. It was a spiritual experience for me, as I am sure, it was for many people. There aren’t really optimum times to read a book; however I do think that reading a few pages from Unlocked Silences in the mornings will definitely give you a certain peace of mind that will surely help prevail your goodwill throughout the day.
I rate this book a 4/5 stars and definitely recommend it to those looking for non-romance centric poetry.

The Secret of the Sculptures, Monika Thakur, 2017


Published by: Notion Press
I was very happy when I got the chance to review this book- I’d heard wonderful ravings about this novel and it had made my expectations very high. When I finally picked up the book, I was delighted from the very first page. The action is slow towards the beginning, but trust me, as it builds up it gains tremendous momentum.
Since I myself am enjoying my holidays, I was very much contented after I saw that our protagonist Maitreyi was, too! You could say, I bonded with her on some level. I found the character to be very realistic in this novel and as such relatable. I understand that in some books it is impossible to make very realistic characters, but having relatable characteristics- if only some, is a great way for the writer to garner points. I loved the wonderful camaraderie between these two girls, as they fight through the unfortunate circumstances that befall them. In Rakesh, and Siddharth, I found genuine gentlemanliness that almost restored my faith in males. Monika Thakur has very intricately weaved the plot around very complex characters; I still cannot make out of Mr. Seth is the antagonist or not. The thing that I really liked in the characters is that they all displayed various shades of gray in them- it’s a very post-modern way of making your characters as real as possible with their own faults.
As for the plot, I found a few loopholes that I hope the author will tie up in the next book- yes, I am wishing for a sequel. It would be lovely if we could see what happens to the characters next. The plot, although it was a tad bit slow in the beginning, I believe that it only worked well since the climax had to be reached a certain way and the author couldn’t have done any better. The thriller/crime aspect of the novel was great and I was very much mesmerized with the plot. The themes of friendship, the supernatural element, as well as the allegory was beautifully relayed in the plotline. The symbols were obviously also very well planned.
The editing was very well done in this novel and I could find very few grammatical/editing mistakes. However, I do feel that some parts of the story could have done with more description that was provided. Specially the intense almost-action scenes. In spite of it all, I honestly liked reading this book and only wish that the author soon releases a sequel. I would probably be the first to grab that copy. I rate this a 5/5 stars and look forward to the events that the future brings to these two girlfriends.

Wedding Pickle, Neha Sharma, 2017

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Publisher: Grapevine India
So recently, I got this book from the author. Wedding Pickle has been pretty hyped and I was worried that the actual read may not be worth it. And so, I picked it up a bit apprehensively. However, the author has very beautifully weaved the tales of the typical Indian way of life. At the center, it is a story of emotional and mental growth and development as the protagonist learns to let go of her fears- mostly commitment issues, and grow to be her own happy and self-satisfied person.
The writing is very beautiful- the author has creatively mixed both the dialogue as well as descriptive forms in equal measure. It was a perfect blend. The third person limited narrative is used here and I do think that it has done justice to the story- preserving the necessary suspense as well as romance, wherever needed.
The plot is actually covering a very limited amount of time, despite what the size of the book may tell us. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable read, never dragging or boring the readers, instead, it made me laugh out loud so many times, that my mom decided to give it a read as well after I finished. She is currently still reading it, about a half-way in, and so far she says it’s beautiful and nostalgic for her. I feel that this book is both, a character-driven as well as a plot-driven story as the ultimate goal is marriage. The story as a whole progressed very gradually and made it relatable for most of us, I’m sure.
As for the characters, Neha Sharma has taken the typical qualities and conjured up multiple characters who are so very relatable. In Avni, our protagonist, we see an independent and happy girl trying to safely navigate around her family as they try to get her married. Along with her troop of friends Roshni, Kitty and Ria, I was reminded of my own intimate girl gang and as such this proved relevant on a personal level as well. The parents and aunts are all the aunts and parents we meet every day- be they our neighbours or cousins even. In Ansh, I also found a very understandable and mature young man, successful and determined in his own rights.
Lastly, I would like to point out the cover- it is simple and yet it portrays the whole concept beautifully. Being wedded is truly a pickle-like situation! It’s funny at the same time while also giving to us a chance for introspection about the different roles women play in our lives.
In all, I really enjoyed this book and rate it a solid 5/5 stars. I would also definitely recommend it to everyone I know, who loves a bit of comedy, chick-lit, familial relations/drama, and romance. Wedding Pickle is a mélange of all those genres and more!