Tag Archives: reviewer

A coming-of-age: Suncatcher

An absolutely beautiful and poignant coming-of-age,  Suncatcher is set against the political unrest in the 1960s Ceylon and it is a coming-of-age which I definitely recommend to you all!
Suncatcher by Romesh Gunesekera

An absolutely beautiful and poignant coming-of-age, Suncatcher is set against the political unrest in the 1960s Ceylon and it is a coming-of-age which I definitely recommend to you all!

A coming-of-age novel!

This was my first Gunesekera book and by god, am I a fan now! Suncatcher was a beautiful and poignant coming-of-age novel, or a bildungsroman, as we lit grads like to put it.

Setting and background:

The story is set in the 1960s Ceylon, erstwhile Sri Lanka, and it is a time of great political change all around; the reverberations of these political happenings resonate throughout the book and control how the adults act or what they say.

Themes of illusions and traps

One of the important themes that I could figure was that of illusion. Be it the adults or Jay himself, everyone seems to be deliberately altering the way he or she perceives reality and moreover, an entire section on the construction of the cage and the way how Jay perceives it towards the end is reminiscent of the way the system has caged the people. Society, class, economic situation, language, etc are all dividing lines.

Coming-of-age: The protagonist

At the center, we have the protagonist Kairo, a pretty much normal guy whose life takes for an exciting turn when he meets the worldly and confident Jay.

The similarity to The Great Gatsby

For all his dreams and hopes, Jay reminded me of Fitzgerald’s famous character Jay Gatsby. Jay is a boy whose personality greatly mesmerizes and influences Kairo and he comes off as an idealistic visionary, a talented naturalist and a rebel. There are many layers to his personality, however, and as the story progresses, we learn more about him.

A coming-of-age: Jay and Kairo

However, as Jay seems to be oblivious to the unstable situation all around him, Kairo seems to be a more emphatic and emotionally intelligent boy who takes stock of the things going on around him, although at the time he may not understand their significance. Jay and Kairo as a pair, seem to be a juxtaposition of two vastly different worlds; where Kairo belongs to the bourgeoisie, Jay can be said to belong to the ‘landed gentry’, for lack of a better term.

The similarity to Rhett Butler!!

Another character who was very interesting was Uncle Elvin. If Jay reminds me of Jay Gatsby because of his visionary ways, Elvin seems to embody Rhett Butler in his manner of living. I do not know why, but I somehow saw Clark Gable, more specifically his persona as Rhett Butler as Elvin, which is full of fast cars, girls and his extravagant ways.

A realistic writing style

As for the writing, the language is descriptive and so wholesome! The author has been able to well portray the thinking of youngsters burgeoning in their pre-adult years. There is a sense of rivalry that seems to be present, the need to be the leader and to dominate, etc. The use of the native words adds a very original flavor to the book.

Verdict:

I absolutely loved this book and I hope I can pick up more from the author’s milieu. I rate it 5/5 stars. Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book. Also, the postcard is so aesthetic!

Recommended reads:

  1. An Atlas of Impossible Longing
  2. City of Girls
  3. The Dutch House

Links:

  1. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48348802-suncatcher
  2. Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/Suncatcher-Romesh-Gunesekera/dp/1526621584/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3U20JYQ6SXBVS&keywords=suncatcher+by+romesh+gunesekera&qid=1574268544&sprefix=suncatcher+by+romesh%2Caps%2C456&sr=8-1

Indistractable : A disappointment!

Indistractable is a self-help book on how to reframe and improve your focus, attention, and relationships. It basically teaches you to be indistractable.

A self-help book on how to reframe and improve your focus, attention, and relationships.
A self-help book on how to reframe and improve your focus, attention, and relationships.

Synopsis:

International best-selling author, former Stanford lecturer, and behavioral design expert, Nir Eyal, wrote Silicon Valley’s handbook for making technology habit-forming. Five years after publishing Hooked, Eyal reveals distraction’s Achilles’ heel in his groundbreaking new book.  In Indistractable, Eyal reveals the hidden psychology driving us to distraction. He describes why solving the problem is not as simple as swearing off our devices: Abstinence is impractical and often makes us want more.  Eyal lays bare the secret of finally doing what you say you will do with a four-step, research-backed model. Indistractable reveals the key to getting the best out of technology, without letting it get the best of us.  

Why Indistractable was a disappointment

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

So I tried reading the book. The first few pages went well. However, it is definitive to say that Inditractabke was just not the book for me. I had put it down multiple times. I tried picking it up multiple times as well. But in the end, I think I only read about three-fourths of the total book, that too, with me skipping and skimming a few pages.

For the most part, I felt that towards the second half of the book, the author was simply putting in material to increase the volume of the book and as such the content started to drag, and it could not retain my attention.

For the most part, it felt like a series of anecdotes. I do not personally like that in self-help books and as such, this was again a disappointment.

As such, I have to rate it book a mere 1/5 stars. This book was just not it, for me. I could not relate to it much except for the first few pages.

Links to buy the book

Amazon and Goodreads

Other Self-help book reviews

What Your Soul Already Knows, The Intelligence Trap, Brave Not Perfect, The Holy Sh!t Moment, Never Again, The Superhero Soul, Fluid, The Mind Game, etc!

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 .

June book haul 2019!

Hey guys! How’s it going? I have been having a great time reading books for the #readingrush challenge and I have already finished 3 books and am halfway into the third. Currently reading King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo for the challenge to read a book with a non-human main character. And I am loving it! How is Leigh Bardugo this good with her words?!!! On the same note, have you seen the Crooked Kingdom collector’s edition? It is so beautiful.

Moving on, in June I acquired 17 new books and they are:

  1. City of Girls
  2. Perfume
  3. The Right Time
  4. The Good Fight
  5. The Duchess
  6. Funny Boy
  7. Dangerous Games
  8. Just Rewards
  9. Unexpected Blessings
  10. Narasimha
  11. Lost and Found
  12. The Intelligence Trap
  13. The Secret of the Palamu Fort
  14. Aurora Rising
  15. What Mina Did
  16. Let’s Hope for the Best
  17. After the Flood

Thanks to all the publishers for sending the review copies to me! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them!

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 .

After The Flood, coming out on 19.9.19!

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‘[A] brilliantly imagined novel about love and desperation, set in an astonishing new world … utterly gripping’ Karin Slaughter, International bestselling author of The Last Widow

This book just sounds smashing! It’s also coming out on September 19th and so I’ll be surely picking it up a week from then and will be sharing my views! One of my most anticipated book from the latter half of 2019 and I am pumped for it! The proof cover itself looks so very beautiful, so you should definitely check out the astonishing finished copy as well! I have it added to my ‘Want to Read’ shelf on Goodreads! It is amazing and I love that one too! I honestly cannot choose any one from between them both! Read on, to know more about this book!

Also thanks a lot to Natasha Bardon and Gayatri for this opportunity!

The world is mostly water when Pearl is born. The floods have left America a cluster of small islands with roving trade ships and raiders.

Pearl knows little of her father Jacob and elder sister Row, who left her mother Myra when she was pregnant with her. Between them they make do, with Myra fishing and trading to make ends meet, travelling from island to island on Bird, the boat Myra’s grandfather made before he died.

Whilst their life is a tranquil one, Myra still aches for the daughter she once lost. When a chance encounter reveals that Row might still be alive, Myra packs up six-year-old Pearl and together they begin a dangerous voyage to The Valley, where rumours of violence and breeding ships run rampant.

Along the way they encounter death and strangers, finally finding solace on board Sedna – full to the brim with supplies and an able crew – where Myra feels like she might be closer to finding Row than she has ever been. But to get to Row she will have to deceive everyone around her, betraying the trust of those she’s come to love, and ask herself if she’s willing to sacrifice everything and everyone for what might be nothing at all.

Give Your Heart A Break , by Anuj Tiwari, 2019

Title: Give Your Heart A Break

Author: Anuj Tiwari

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Published on: 15th May, 2019

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 208

Synopsis:

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

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

My review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict:

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

About the reviewer:

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

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, by Baigent, leigh and Lincoln

A nineteenth century French priest discovers something in his mountain village at the foot of The Pyrenees which enables him to amass and spend a fortune of millions of pounds. The tale seems to begin with buried treasure and then turns into an unprecedented historical detective story – a modern Grail quest leading back through cryptically coded parchments, secret societies, the Knights Templar, the Cathar heretics of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and a dynasty of obscure French kings deposed more than 1,300 years ago. The author’s conclusions are persuasive: at the core is not material riches but a secret – a secret of explosive and controversial proportions, which radiates out from the little Pyrenees village all the way to contemporary politics and the entire edifice of the Christian faith. It involves nothing less than… the Holy Grail.

Originally published on 1st December, 1982, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail is a really interesting book. I first learnt of it when I read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and then subsequently watched the book. I loved them both so much that I so wanted to get my hands of this book. Really grateful to Sankalpa for lending me this book!

If you are a lover of conspiracy theories then this is for you definitely! Having read The Da Vinci Code which was explosive on its own, I was surprised that I never knew about it and about this book too. However, it is not to be taken as the ultimate truth. The authors do claim that this is a hypothesis they have put forward. However, reading such ‘scandalous’ matter may make the reader forget about the disclaimer put at the beginning. Nonetheless, it is an interesting read, so to say.

(This edition was reissued in the United Kingdom by Arrow Books in 2006)

I am hoping to pick up some more books on such matters – lesser known facts in the religious or philosophical areas. Have you read this book yourself? What are your thoughts about it?

Daredreamers: A Start-up of Superheroes, by Kartik Sharma and Ravi Nirmal Sharma, 2018

Title: Dardreamers: A Start-up of Superheroes

Author: Kartik Sharma and Ravi Nirmal Sharma

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Genre: Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 296 pages

Synopsis:

India’s first start-up of superheroes with a mission of saving lives is here to kick ass. 
Rasiq is riding the highs of life thanks to his successes as an investment banker. But his arrogance soon gets the better of him and he ends up losing everything he holds dear. Managing to salvage only his grit from the wreckage, Rasiq reboots his life and teams up with five uniquely talented superheroes to start a rescue venture 
– DareDreamers. These superheroes Nick: a crazy inventor; Halka: an inhumanly strong man; Arjun: a champion shooter; Natasha: a Bollywood stunt-double; Dr. Vyom, a medical Sherlock Holmes; and, of course, Rasiq: the mastermind combine their unique talents to deliver spectacular rescue operations. Their skyrocketing success, however, comes at a price an enemy hell bent on tearing down their fame and reputation.
Will DareDreamers defeat its wily adversary? Or will it become yet another failed start-up?
Treachery, action and adventure come alive to make DareDreamers a page-turner.

My review:

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

Daredreamers was a really interesting book with a just an interesting start. Being such a workaholic myself, I could deeply relate with Rasiq. While it is harmful, yes, the sense of high one gets when one does the thing one loves, is incomparable. But in the case of Rasiq, we see how worthless it can be, when one is slogging day and night, doing something one does not enjoy at all.

The theme of hard work and passion reign supreme throughout the book and I really like that. I believe that the book was really inspiring, as will most other readers feel.

The plot is a really interesting one and the writing style is just as engaging. One might think, considering the fact that there are two authors, there might be clashes with the combination of both, but I could hardly differ the two authors’ style – such is the elegant mixture of the writing.

The start-up is a common enterprise we see in the modern world but the way in which it has been portrayed is a new concept. The characters show that with the zeal and hard work, along with smartness, one can achieve what people say is impossible. The characters are all also great ones – Rasiq, Halka, Vyom, Natasha, Arjun, Nick and later, Asylum, etc. are all the best ones in their field that this too is an inspiring fact. The strive for excellence is one we should never give up.

Verdict:

I quite enjoyed the book and I rate it a 4/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

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

Amma and I, Trishna Damodar, 2018

Title: Amma and I

Author: Trishna Damodar

Publisher: Frog Books

Format: Paperback

Language: English

Pages: 204

Synopsis:

You are unique in your own existence Kripa and Maya live in a small town in Kerala. Surrounded by greenery, streams, a vast rubber estate and a palatial home, they had it all. Maya enjoys listening to the radio and reading books and magazines as it offers her a chance to connect to the world outside. She wanted to do so much more in her life, but a sudden marriage proposal from a man based in France gets her anxious at the possibility of her dreams fading away like smoke.

Kripa has been the dutiful daughter, wife and mother. All she knew was her life and family in Kuttiadi. But she wants more for her daughter, Maya. So, when a proposal from someone in France came along, she jumped at the opportunity, hoping that this would give her
daughter a chance at a bigger and better life.

Maya, so lost in her own world, was unaware of certain shadows that lurked in her own backyard. What hides behind the constant smile on Kripa’s face? Read the journey of Kripa and Maya, set in the 1970’s, as they struggle to be heard in a society that is fixed in its norms.

My review:

Amma and I proved to be a great read and I reveled in its beauty. At only 263 pages, this book was a beautiful one that may also be the perfect gift for your friends this new year.

Speaking of the cover, it is simple, but the elements have really been able to convey the meaning and the overall themes in the book.

The plot line is also well constructed, and the pacing well set. The flow is smooth and proves really natural as the reader reads on. The introduction of new topics into the main narrative was also done in a smooth manner without any abruptness and that is another plus point.

The themes seen in this book are quite a few- ambition, love, family, jealousy, friendship, and so on. The growth or development of the self is also another significant aspect that the author works upon in the book.


The language used is simple, but that in no way reduces the quality of the book. It is utterly pleasing and a great warming experience.

The language used is simple, but that in no way reduces the quality of the book. It is utterly pleasing and a great warming experience.

Speaking about the characters, the protagonist Maya’s character grows throughout the book and towards the end we see her emerging as a confident and bold young woman, who knows what shew wants and will not let anyone convince her otherwise. One thing that I really liked was how Maya was someone who realized the importance of a career and ambition; I loved that she was practical and not at all stupid or restless like other female characters in love. The mother Kripa’s character is also one of much self-growth and we see her finally getting to live life on her own terms. Ashok was also a character of great understanding and he is every much the ideal boyfriend, I felt like.

The other characters also are well made with depth and round figures. What I also love about this book is that the author has not made this a simple love story. Every character is undergoing some thing or the other and develops themselves by the end. In this manner, it would not be wrong to say that in some manners, this book, while highly entertaining, is also didactic, without being boring and at the same time, an unconventional bildungsroman at times.

Verdict:

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

About the reviewer

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

Winterdream, Chantal Gadoury, 2018

Title: Winter Dream

Author: Chantal Gadoury

Publisher: The Parliament House Press

Format: eBook

Language: English

Pages: 237

Synopsis:

This Christmas Eve… no creature was stirring…
Except, maybe, a mouse. 
At long last, can true love break the Nutcracker’s curse? 
For Clara Stahlbaum, this Christmas means the end of her youth. A daughter of the aristocracy, Clara is expected to give up her dreams of adventures and the extraordinary for more normal days as the wife of a cruel Viscount. 
But when magical Uncle Drosselmeyer returns with his wondrous, dancing contraptions, and one…special gift for Clara, she is beckoned to the land of Winter Dream, where she is thrust into the greatest adventure of her wildest dreams. But will she be able to break the Nutcracker’s curse? 
Uncle Drosselmeyer’s apprentice, Anton, is handsome as he is mysterious. But what is it about him Clara finds so alluring? 
Winter Dream is a phenomenal retelling of The Nutcracker from the eyes of Clara Stahlbaum with all the magic of the Holiday season. If you loved S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong, you’ll fall in love with this stunning tale of love, war, redemption, and Christmas magic. 

My review:

I truly believe that I read Winter Dream at the best possible time of the year – its winter and Christmas is just a couple weeks away. This book really geared me up for the festive season ahead.

As is clear from the synopsis, Winterdream is a retelling of the original Nutcracker story and oh what a retelling! I really enjoyed reading this book and I love that Chantal has such a penchant for creating these amazing retellings of fairytales that we all know.

With her classic elegant style of writing, that is smooth and reads like the classic caramel custard my mother makes this time of the year, Chantal has infused the very spirit of Christmas into the book, or the book has infused the festive spirit into me. Words cannot do this justice. The beginning was a bit slow, I found, but only the pace picked up, I could not put it down. This book really took me very less amount of time to finish – I could hardly put it down once I started reading it, despite that fact that I am going through my last week of classes before winter break and we all know hoe very tiring and hectic that can be.

The world building was amazing – the lush and wonderfully evocative words made it all so very real. Chantal’s words have a vivid imagery that sucks the reader right in. The description of the magical Sugarland, and Winterdream as a whole was magical really – I cannot find enough words to describe it, except say that you should definitely pick it up this December. The character development – be it emotional or mental, was well written and explored, especially in Clara. Everything was natural and smooth flowing – the reader goes along and there are no abrupt jerks in the development of the characters and that really builds a strong structure for the story. The characters have depth to their beings and in this manner the author shows both strength and vulnerability in them.

I read to Tchaikovsky’s music while reading the book and I definitely recommend you all to do that too as it gives you a really magical feelings.

{I received a review without any guarantee of a favorable review. The opinions expressed herein are unbiased and my own.}

Verdict:

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

About the reviewer

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

Gift of Confidence, Rohit Narang, 2018

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Title: Gift of Confidence
Author: Rohit Narang
Publisher: Partridge India
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 148
Synopsis:
Everyone, in a family of reputed professionals of the town, has been successful in cracking the World’s toughest exam in their first attempt but Pancham is unable to maintain the legacy. Father is furious at Pancham’s failure. Pancham thinks if he dies, the society won’t trouble his family. Before the thought could take the shape of reality, an affectionate mother calms him down and sends him to the Sikh temple, where he meets a weird looking stranger with whom he takes an emotional roller coaster of conversations. Based on actual events, the story is influenced by the author’s life who refused to believe the crowd and made his path for an unbelievable achievement.
 My review:
Gift of Confidence was an enjoyable read as it was so very realistic in its essence. The plot in itself is something that is common to every student’s life, be it in part or its entirety. The protagonist, along with his troubles was very relatable and his tribulations more so.
The themes of success and hard work resonate throughout the entire story and in its way this story proves to be a very inspiring read. There is however just one mention of suicide that may be a trigger warning for some. The character of Vandit ji was also a very inspiring one as he is the one who really made the difference in Pancham’s life. He is the one who basically lifted Pancham up and delivered him from the hole he had fallen into following his unwelcome result. In that I think it is really relatable- we all have someone who really builds us up and helps us move forward in life and that is really important.
Pancham’s mother was a very lovable and inspiring character too who always had the belief and trust in her son and never failed to make him feel supported. Pancham on the other hand, goes through a great transformation and his metamorphosis is eye-opening. With the right amount of will-power and determination, everything is possible. Pancham really shows that and epitomizes that. His character development is apt, where others’ is not really visible and lack depth.
The story was overall very enjoyable. However, the writing style is too simple and could do with a bit more refinement to it. It is a good work though for beginners to start with, and despite the simple writing style and plot, the story is worth reading.
Verdict:
I quite enjoyed this book and as I rate it a 3/5 stars.
About the reviewer
Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .
 

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!

My Lady Jane, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows, 2016

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Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Ebook
Language: English
Pages: 330
 
Synopsis:
Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?
My review:
A book that had been on my TBR for quite some time now, My Lady Jane turned out to be a really enjoyable read. I read this book as a part of a book club and I am so very happy that we chose this book.
I was actually dreading to read this book because even though I knew that artistic liberty had been taken with the actual story, I was dreading the death of the titled figure because as we all know, the actual Jane Grey was beheaded after simply 9 days of ruling. Nonetheless, I picked it up and I actually loved reading it. Gracie, Bess, even Jane are all really intricately made characters as well as Edward, and Gifford themselves.
The characters were really well made and with the introduction of the Eðian factor, they had a bit more depth than ever. Certain aspects of their characters were revealed in a much starker manner and I liked that.
The themes of war, friendship, self-development and growth, love etc., were really well placed and the events really did justice to them. The pacing is good and the twist in plot was expected and also delightfully welcome. The writing of these three authors weaved together into a really very well-read product in totality.
Verdict:
I really enjoyed reading this book and I am also looking forward to reading My Plain Jane, the sequel to My Lady Jane as well. I rate My Lady Jane a 4/5 stars!

Just Missed, Himanshu Bhatia, 2017

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Title: Just Missed
Author: Himanshu Bhatia
Publisher: Petals Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 232
Synopsis:
While we try to arrange marriages by matching horoscopes and compatibilities, we forget at times that “marriages are made in heaven”. We all love to say that Bollywood romantic movies are silly, and that they go overboard in their depiction of love, we actually secretly fantasize to be characters in them. Siddharth Gupta (lovingly called Sid) is an ISB alumnus, who is an ambitious perfectionist. He wants to go up the corporate ladder at a faster pace than his age, and is doing pretty well. In his matrimonial search, Sid meets Shreya Malhotra, who herself is an IIM graduate and very career oriented. He finds Shreya the epitome of the “Beauty with Brains” tag and develops a crush on her almost instantly. Shreya and Sid are going steady towards what looks like a ‘soon to be married’ state, but when has life been that simple! On her way to Bangkok for her friend’s bachelorette party, Shreya meets Shivam Malhotra, an IITian, with a living flirting tiger inside him. While Shivam’s cheesy lines ignite hatred in Shreya, it’s only the beginning of a story that doesn’t end in Thailand. “Just Married Missed!” is the journey of a practical arranged crush, chased by crazy filmy love.
My review:
In this portrayal of an almost Bollywood style of an Indian love story, we see the typical interference of the family when it comes to matters of love between two individuals. For instance, we have our female protagonist Shreya who is torn between her husband-to-be Siddharth and her friend Shivam. This confusion is written so realistically and as a reader we could feel the dilemma she was in, unknowingly in the beginning whereas it became starkly clear. The Indian match-making online business is portrayed is a really funny way and this book aptly described it. The author has been truly able to put into words the hectic surrounding of a typical big-fat Indian wedding which is even enough to make the groom get cold feet.  Although predictable, the plot and the way of writing was really engaging and keeps the author hooked on until the end.
Shreya’s character along with the subsequent character growth is remarkably well written and developed. It all seems natural which many an author fails to do. Shivam and Siddharth serve as foils to each other and also to Shreya because we see her panicky as well as affection, and friendliness towards them and how it morphs into something else later on.
Verdict:
Just Missed was a delightfully easy to read book, almost like a movie. The family drama makes it very realistic. It was a really enjoyable read overall. Definitely recommend. I rate it 4/5 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!
 

Inkredia: Luwan of Brida, Sarang Mahajan, 2017


Title: Inkredia: Luwan of Brida
Author: Sarang Mahajan
Publisher: Gloryburg Publishing LLP
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 387
Synopsis:
In Fal Doram, also called as the great empire of Inkredia, a conspiracy begins to unfold. The first step is an easy one – kill a simple, villager named Luwan. When Luwan suddenly faces an enemy straight out of the folklore, he is left dumbfounded by the mystery why they are after him. As he makes a daring run to survive, journeying through the unknown world outside his village, new mysteries emerge, some closely concerning him. Riddled with questions and hunted by legendary assassins, and by the nonhumans made of the darkest element in the nature, Luwan makes a dangerous journey through the incredible empire of Inkredia.
My review:
If there is one series I am glad I picked up recently, it is this! Inkredia: Luwan of Brida is the first book in the Inkredia series and I hope to pick up the second book The Castle of Tashkrum, already! And it is not even out. I’m straight up going to state here that if you haven’t picked up this book- pleased do so.
Replete with themes of adventure, friendship, sibling love and the indomitable human spirit, Inkredia: Luwan of Brida is a fun and nail-bitingly exciting adventure story. Each page is a success and the pace keeps on increasing gradually until we reach the climax. The adventure element though is the most prominent one in this book and it does not disappoint. The magic system is also something that I like- the presence of supernatural and paranormal elements also make the narrative much more interesting. The mélange of magic as well as technology was a very aptly mixed structure in the book.
The plot is a really good one and the author has done the narrative excellently. The rising action leading to the climax and then subsequently the falling action until the resolution is a truly well planned out effort and it is clear once you read the book.
The characters of Luwan and Meg are really wonderful. They were both so brave and courageous as individuals, but most importantly, their love for each other – the sibling-bond – shone through and was portrayed very realistically. Their fighting, the making up, the support and love, it is all well-executed. The author obviously put quite some time on it.
Gloryburg Publishing is a house I did not know of before, but I applaud the great editing done on the book. I found no errors either in the editing or the grammar or even the printing. It is clear that a lot of time has been given to this book both from the publishers’ side as well as the author’s.
Verdict:
I rate this book a solid 4.5/5 stars. It was a simply a very amazing read. If you are looking for something magical with elements of fantasy and adventure, without further ado, simply pick up this book.

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.

The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang, 2018

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

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.

Some Very Dignified Disclosures, Anumita Sharma, 2018

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

Hope and Sunshine, Debasmita Nath Ghosh, 2018


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

Catharsis and Beyond, Alpana Srivastava, 2018

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

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

My Love is Away From Mortality, Vansh Arora, 2018

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

Yoddha: The Dynasty of Samudragupta, Rajat Pillai, 2018

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

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

Agniputr, Vadhan, 2016

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

When Broken Hearts Meet, Arushi Vats, 2018

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

The Blue Umbrella, Ruskin Bond, 1974

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

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

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

The Blue Moon Day, Santhosh Sivaraj, 2017

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

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

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

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

Looking Through a Telescope for Love, Himanshu Goel, 2018

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Publishers: Self-published
Genre: Poetry
Illustrated by: Arushi Gupta
Synopsis:
“I’m just
a little boy
looking through
a telescope
trying to find
love in the sky…..”
Looking through a telescope for love is the second in the poetry collection series A Rational Boy in Love. There is more than one path to love and the rational boy tries to use the tools of science to deal with questions of love he can’t understand.
My Review:
The book is a collection of 50 poems, all about love and its beauty. Divided into four sections- Looking through a telescope for love’, ‘For love’, ‘Daughter of the moon’ and “Runaway star’ this collection is a beautiful and calm read. These short poems are accompanied by some simple and minimalistic illustrations by Arushi Gupta.
The language used is pretty simple and I could hardly find any grammatical errors. Despite this, I found the overall subjects very simple. Written in the modern style of blank prose without rhyme, like Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav’s works, Looking Through a Telescope for Love is a decent read for any reader’s initial forays into modern poetry. The poems also revolved around women and I personally liked that.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3/5 stars and shall definitely recommend it to others.

First Breath, R. Kumar, 2018

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

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

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

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, 1818

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

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813

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

Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, 1726

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

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

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

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

Raw Silk, Anne Mather, 1994

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

65 Colours of Rainbow, Smit Kapila, 2018

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

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


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

Spirits in a Spice Jar, Sarina Kamini, 2018

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

ABC Calling, Vineeth Menon, 2017

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

Safran, Aishwarya Nir, 2018

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

Coffee Date, Saravana Kumar Murugan, 2017

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

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!

Till the end of forever, Vivaksh Singh, 2018

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