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The Super Secret Book: A fantastic adventure!

Today I am sharing my thoughts on THE SUPER SECRET BOOK, a fantastic adventure full of superheroes and supervillains!

The Super Secret Book, by Tian En

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(This blog posts also contains a review copthat was sent to me by the author. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external parties)

synopsis

Violet Vivien is your not-so-typical seventeen-year-old girl. Better known as the sharpshooting superhero KOOLARA, she has dedicated her life to defending Diamond City alongside the city’s teenage crime-fighting team, the SUPER SECRET! These six young superheroes have always made taking down bad guys look like a breeze with their high-tech gadgets and unparalleled combat skills, but when a powerful, mysterious diamond falls into the hands of a vengeful supervillain, the Super Secret is forced into the biggest fight of their lives and must reconsider what it means to be a superhero before it’s too late…

Check out my reading vlog for this book!

my review

The Super Secret Book was truly an amazing sci-fi, fantasy read. I loved how innovative and yet at the same time, realistic the author was with all aspects of it – the superb high-end gadgets, to the various nuances of human relationships among the heroes themselves.

The writing was great as well and I was hooked from the very beginning. With the turning of every page, it just got more and more thrilling and it is therefore, no wonder that I finished it so soon!

My favourites!

I have to say that my personal favourites were Lady Damage and The Mystery and I look forward to seeing more of them, and learning more about them in the next book! (I am so happy this is going to be a series!)

Overall, I think it was a wonderful middle-grade fantasy read. I rated it 4/5 stars and will probably pick it up again!

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

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Title: Ashwatthama’s Redemption: The Rise of Dandak
Author: Gunjan Porwal
Publisher: Om Books International
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 263
Synopsis:
Over a hundred years after the Mahabharata War, an ancient power threatens to destroy the new Age of Men, by establishing the Age of Terror of the asuras, long believed to be extinct. The only hurdle in its path is Guru Dronacharya’s son, the mighty but accursed warrior Ashwatthama, who lost all his powers following Lord Krishna’s curse, and who unwittingly finds himself drawn into the quest of the lost bow of Lord Rama – the Kodanda.
As ghosts of the distant past return to haunt him, and the line between friends and enemies blurs, Ashwatthama must fight his inner demons to emerge victorious. He undertakes a perilous journey – across the vast plains of the gages, to the snow-capped peaks of the Himavant – where the price of failure is a fate worse than death, and death is a privilege not granted to Ashwatthama.
Is this all part of Lord Krishna’s great plan? Will Ashwatthama be able to regain his lost glory?
My review:
Ashwatthama’s Redemption is a mythological fiction book, and one of the best of its kind. I found in it, a perfect blend of all elements that have the capacity to thrust forward and make popular any book within the genre. Perhaps that explains the amazing ratings that this book has been gathering, and deservedly so.
The entire plot was well planned out and detailed – elaborate in its own scope and leaving the reader intrigued by the ending – there is undoubtedly a sequel coming out. The author has maintained the plot pace very well and it really becomes fast paced towards the end of the book, leading to a crescendo!
The themes again – war, politics, human spirit in the face of doom, friendship, kinship etc., are all very dynamic, as shown in the book and the fiction element with which the author has written this mythological tale is fluent and free-flowing. There were no jerks throughout. It all sounds like it happened, but the best part is that the reader feels like he or she is a part of the adventure. The world building was good, but I admit, could have been better. The inclusion of the map in the beginning was a great idea but perhaps it would have been preferable if the naming had been done in English and not Hindi. The mystery element is also one that needs special mention – the hermeneutic and pro-airetic codes used have truly helped in that regard.
The character created by the author are well made – they are round and multi-dimensional, except the side characters, of course. Their backstories have also been provided which truly adds great depth to any character – another good point that the author has kept in mind, clearly.
The stories and anecdotes that the author puts in, in the middle – the various references to the Mahabharata war and that world, basically, is intriguing and attracts the reader’s attention clearly, for so many of those facts and small details are unknown to the common reader and thus, interesting for them.
The editing and proof-corrections have been well done as well. The cover is nice to look at and really helps the reader to imagine how Ashwatthama may have looked like.
Verdict:
I quite enjoyed this book and as I rate it a 4/5 stars, I wait eagerly for the sequel to come out!
 
About the reviewer
Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .
 
 
 

2 Day Down, Dr. Nikita Lalwani, 2018

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Title: 2 Day Down
Author: Dr. Nikita Lalwani
Publisher: Redgrab Books & Anybooks
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 192
 
Synopsis:
2-day-down is a compilation of stories of 5 women from different walks of life. Each story digs into one of the five period related problems: Pain | Staining | Sexual Inhibition | PMS | Taboo, through each one’s journey. The title signifies the second day of a woman’s period, which is said to be the toughest of the five days. The stories are a reflection of the less acknowledged society around us. Through menstrual problems as a window, the book is an attempt to bring light to the intriguing yet briefly understood aspects of womanhood in different age groups.
 
My review:
With a well-planned story structure, 2 Day Down was a good read and something that I found was truly unique. The entire collection, as divided into 5 different stories on 5 different women proved to be a really good technique as it really separated out the different stories, while also laying them side by side, parallel to each other to compare and contrast them.
The stories individually however could have seen more development in terms of plot and character. I feel that the stories were not very well-paced or very lucid and coherent. It was not very easy to understand at some points.
In terms of the title, the subtitle to be specific, I did not see much of the ‘freedom’ aspect as written. Nonetheless, the author has really shed significant light on women health issues, especially pertaining to periods that are not very well known. In that effect, it proved quite enlightening. In this way, I think this book is perfect when it comes to gaining consciousness and awareness about women especially in regards to their monthly ‘womanly problems’. The society has reached a point where it is ready enough to acknowledge and pay attention to these issues and not just disregard them as something very frugal. The ways in which these stories are presented are also significant as they have been heavily influenced by a very realistic tone.
Overall a very much enjoyable and at times, a bit depressing (because of its realistic portrayal of these women)
 
Verdict:
I enjoyed this book and I rate it a 3.5/5 stars.

Minuscules, Priyanka Bhatt, 2018

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Title: Minuscules
Author: Priyanka Bhatt
Publisher: NotionPress Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 142
Synopsis:
When I asked him to be the poetry I could write about,
he kissed me softly and left.
Since then, my words have been oozing pain.
Today’s instant make-up, instant break-up generation have no time to spare time at all. They prefer enjoying eternity in moments to waiting eternally for that moment. Hence, these micro tales have become the latest fad.
Minuscule is a collection of unique micro tales and short stories that are spread over various themes. From horror to social issues to romance, these tales leave no topic unwritten about, no emotion unexplored. Though told with brevity, the impact of these stories can be more lingering than that of novels. To-the-point, poignant, relatable – this micro fiction book can be read by anyone in today’s time – a teenager and an adult alike. Its varied range of themes is the cherry on the cake.
Minuscule is a book that is sure to bring a smile to your face and tears to your eyes – and stay with you for a very long time.
May the stories make a home in your heart!
Don’t leave me the way you leave others.
Some things are permanent indeed.
Like love, like regret.
And trust me honey,
I’ll be your both.
My review:
A collection of poetry that truly touched my heart, Minuscules was a grand piece. The pieces were all wonderful and I can only gush about the writing.
Bhatt has done an amazing job with the book. The blank verse seen in the pieces really relate to the modern individual with the fragmented state of mind, grasping from one idea to another. They are also very precise, and thus easy to relate to,  for the fast-paced current generation.
The most common themes seen here are that of love, and longing interspersed with some creepy pieces just as well. The author has done a good job with the collection.
Speaking about the cover – it is simplistic yet so very elegant and attractive. The colour theme also works wonders. Inside, it is just as nice. With the editing job well done, Minuscules is a perfect little book to gift to your loved ones.
The inclusion of short one-shots along with the poetry is also a welcome change I accepted as a reader as well as a reviewer. It binds the entire collection into one composed whole that is truly good enough to warrant quite a few dog-eared pages and flagged ones as well.
Verdict:
I loved this book and would definitely recommend all Rupi Kaur lovers to read this one. Well written, and poignant enough to induce emotions in the reader, I rate Minuscules a 4.5/5 stars!

An Assortment of Sorts, Ajay Ramanathan, 2018

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Title: An Assortment of Sorts
Author: Ajay Ramanathan
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 140
Synopsis:
The book ‘An Assortment of Sorts’ is a collection of 109 poems that the author Ajay Ramanathan has written & compiled so far. A majority of the author’s work is personal in nature as they are a reflection of author’s personal experiences during various periods of his life and they predominantly deal with life, love, rejection, joys, and anecdotes etc. Inspired by realistic themes in art, the author would best like to classify his writing style as a whole under the genre of ‘realism’. Ajay truly means it when he says this book is an ‘Assortment’ due to the different kinds of flavour and variety in this book with regard to themes and topics.
My review:
An Assortment of Sort is a great collection of some very good poetry pieces. The themes covered are very diverse- one can read some very heart touching and musical pieces on love, life, rejection, with some added anecdotes as well. As such, it can have a varied range in the readers’ ages. People from different age groups are bound to enjoy it.
The language used is simple but also very lucid as such there is a nice flow to the words. It is contemporary though, so keep that in mind. The combination of both rhyming scheme and blank verse in the poems adds a nice spice for all. Classified under the genre of realism, many are realistic and I feel drawn from the author’s own life experiences. As such it also adds certain authenticity and relatability to the work. As a reader, one can connect to the author’s feelings that pour out from the page into one’s own heart and soul. The titles of the various poems are well named and striking.
One thing that I think can be worked upon and improved ids the author’s tendency to elongate certain points that could have done without it. But I also cannot deny at certain other poems, it worked in the author’s favour and only enhanced the reading experience. There are also some errors in the punctuation that must be corrected in the future editions. The cover and title are very modern and in its abstractness, the reader is compelled to think and introspect themselves.
Verdict:
This anthology was one that I truly enjoyed and will be picking up soon again. I also rate this a 3.5/5 stars!
 
 

The First Word, Husain Ali, 2017

 
 
 
 
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Title: The First Word
Author: Husain Ali
Publisher: Blue Rose Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 148
Synopsis:
Poetry is the language of romance and philosophy. It conveys the words of an angry breeze. It is written on the foundations of mountains. And it can be the voice of a silent man. Husain Ali brings you his collection of poetry, where the words sing happy songs on lush green hills under a yellow sun, waft across cafes in Paris, carry the aroma of cinnamon and coffee, lament over the loss of friends and lovers and take you across Mongolian landscapes. There are words that weave a world free of hatred and chaos, tensions and wars. There are words of dreams and intergalactic travels. These poems simply ask you to connect with your feelings and let your imagination run wild.
My review:
Let me first talk about how beautiful the cover of the book is! Had I not got it as a review copy, I most probably would have bought it simply as a cover buy! Getting into the review, I found this collection of poetry very diverse, and delightfully so.
It is important to realize that poetry is something that everyone interprets differently, so kindly do understand if my understanding is different from yours. The difference need not imply that one is right and the other wrong.
The First Word was an enjoyable experience, and it’s a book that I shall pick up again soon. There is a recurring theme of death, loss and coping with it, throughout the book, however, so keep that in mind if it is something that upsets you. Memories and dreams also play a significant role in this collection of poems. Nonetheless, it also celebrates and counteracts all these sad facts of life through the indomitable human spirit, interspersed with hope, faith, and love.
Although there are a vast number of themes in the poem, we often see those of separation, isolation, the inevitable human end, as the poet ponders over our degenerate human situation as we move towards destruction through wars.
The one significant thing that really put me off as a reader is the utter absence of punctuation in the poems. The enjambments were too much for me and it is something that surprised me and kind of was a sore point for me. Despite that, overlooking that fact, this is a collection I love. Some poems that I liked were- Winters of Wait, Judgement Day, Celestial Nights, Hang Around, Lost Cause, Reticence, Gift Wrapped, My Empire of Dirt, Something Strange, among a few.
Verdict:
This anthology was one that I truly enjoyed and will be picking up soon again. I also rate this a 4/5 stars!
 

A Quest for Spring, Monica Mujumdar Dixit, 2017

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Title: A Quest for Spring
Author: Monica Mujumdar Dixit
Year: 2017
Publishers: Notion Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Format: Paperback
 
Synopsis:
Raehan and Amolika come from two very different worlds. And for the time that their worlds overlap and stick to one path, life seems beautiful. Between projects at college and hanging out with friends, the two of them come to a startling revelation that involves a bond of love between them.
Unbeknownst to the both of them, there lies a leviathan of espionage that eventually consumes the bond they share, driving them apart by force.
Sixteen years pass, when fate decides to rekindle their bond – only this time, the challenges are exacerbated by the unresolved baggage of the past. Do the two of them find each other? Does the dull, grey, long-standing spell of winter rise to give way to spring?
What I liked:
 
A Quest for Spring was a really interesting book, especially when I did not have high expectations from it. But it quite positively blew me away. The plot was quite long and while it may polarize many reviews, it worked in the author’s favour for me and thus, really pleased me. The themes of hope, religious and political strife, love, friendship, responsibility abounds these pages and interweaves a really intricate and detailed plot. ‘
 
The character of Amolika Nath has become an almost favourite for certain reasons- very much like my love for the similarly serious and career-oriented Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter world. Amolika’s drive and determination, as well her devotion to Kaka is worth mentioning and worth applauding. She is a person not afraid to give up her all for the people that he loved and also, is not afraid of risking her life for these ones. However, here I would also like to mention that at some points I really did find Amolika very self-centered and selfish, basically.
 
Raehan, on the other hand, as I found out later, us also a shy albeit focused person who really wants to repay what he considered dept. I front of the front rooms. Both of these characters were very likeable and real and thus, relatable. The author has also done a good job with Vikram. While there is a positive change in the protagonists, in case of Vikram, we see the opposite and this contrast is very interesting to observe.
 
The themes of friendship is the best explored in the book, I feel, apart from the obvious political unrest in the Valley. I would love to be a part of Millie, Sameer, Radhika, Amolika and Rehan’s group. The subtle romance added in the book is also worth reading about and enjoying. The allusions made to the famous persons and events in the book is also worth watching out for.  These were really nice and easy to read about. The language used in pretty intermediate and I think everyone will enjoy it.
 
Verdict:
I have really loved this experience, and A Quest for Spring has been one of the most interesting contemporary fictions I have read this year. I rate it a 4/5 stars!
 

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.