Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review #122: Niharika


Author: Shuchismita C
Pages: 296
Publisher: Self-published at Smashwords
Cover Design: Studio9’s

  • Ratings-

Cover : 2.5/5
Title : 2/5
Theme : 2.5/5
Characters : 4/5
Story : 3/5
Overall : 3/5

  • Review:

Niharika by Shuchismita C was formerly published under the name “Loving Sri” and is the 2nd version of the same book. It is the story of a young happy-go-lucky girl named Niharika who studied and worked in Delhi until her mother’s health began deteriorating, leading Niharika to move back to Kolkata, her hometown. With the help of fatherly figure and her late father’s best friend, Nikhil, Niharika managed to land a job at one of the MNCs.

One morning as she was late for office, she stumbled into a handsome guy in the office lobby and kept chatting with him in the lift, only to realize later that he was none other than Srijit, the Managing Director of the company. Srijit fell in love with her at first sight but couldn’t make a move as she was way younger than him. Also the fact that he was widower wasn’t playing in his favor. Niharika, however, had no idea of his history and had a huge crush on him irrespective of his age and professional stature. Eventually they ended up hanging out and got close to each other enough to reveal insecurities and secrets. But a few misunderstandings on Srijit’s part, including Niharika’s close friendship with Srijit’s younger brother, caused Srijit to ice out Niharika completely. She tried everything in her control to work things out with Srijit but finally gave up. During this time, she also learned about the relationship between her mother and Nikhil, but she was mature enough to understand and comprehend how platonic their love was. She totally supported their decisions and was happy for them.

Being unable to get together with Srijit was troubling Niharika and she decided to move back to Delhi as she could not stand to be in the same city as Srijit. Almost a year later, Niharika received a call from Srijit’s sister residing in Mumbai and learned of a grave news. She couldn’t wait back even for a second and packed her bags to fly out to Mumbai in the next available flight. What could the news have been? Was Srijit’s brother responsible for their separation? Would Srijit and Niharika ever get back together? What was it about Srijit’s past that held him back in committing to Niharika? All these questions and many more paced my mind as I read through the last few pages of the book. A few revelations intrigued me while others made me wonder as to what would happen next.

  • Let-downs:

I found the writing style to be very basic, even amateurish to some extent. There were certain typos, misplaced names (Asha was referred to as Anita in certain places and vice versa), and grammatical errors that created confusion and should ideally have been taken care of by the editors. Same goes for certain phrases and sentence structures that made the content repetitive and decreased my interest in reading. Everything combined gave the script a look of the 2nd or 3rd draft, but not the final one for sure.

  • Appreciations:

Niharika is one of the most innocent and cute love stories that have read in a long time. The emotions that one goes through at various stages of falling in love have been beautifully portrayed with the play of words. I liked the vivid descriptions of nature and the vocabulary used for the same that painted a picture and made it easy for the reader to imagine the scene. Characters have been crafted to perfection and each one of them made the right contribution to the script. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot that moved with a steady pace, giving me the time to absorb the feelings and sometimes even reminisce personal incidences. In short, the book is totally relative and the reader would enjoy Niharika and Srijit’s journey.

  • Verdict:

A cute & innocent love-story for a pleasing read (3/5)

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Posted in Book Reviews

Teaser Review: Politico


Author: MH Rahman
Genre: Political thriller

  • Ratings-

Cover : 3.5/5
Title : 3.5/5
Theme : 4/5
Characters : 4.5/5
Overall : 4/5

  • Preview:

After a really long time I was able to spare a while to read and here was a request from an author, whom I have worked with in the past, to review the teaser of his upcoming book Politico. I took it up instantly as it was a short read, just 4 pages, and trust me, by the time I was done, I wish it wasn’t the 4th page. Politico is themed to be a political thriller. The teaser lays the plot with the Prime Ministerial candidate of India’s 2019 election being shot 3 bullets in the chest and the death of USA’s President.

This being a political thriller, a large number of characters are involved in every plot, making the narration complex and confusing at times. But it could be the case that I felt so because I read only 4 pages; a prolonged read would have etched the characters in my mind leading to ease of understanding.

Rahman’s writing style complements the genre of the script; revealing just enough information to keep the readers glued and expressing thoughts in simple yet gripping words. The flair of language and emotions take the narration to the next level and arouse interest among the readers.

Politico will premier on August 25 on WritersTV — the GenNext of Entertainment.

  • Verdict:

A promising thriller to look forward to! (4/5)

Click here to read M H Rahman’s exclusive interview by me.

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review #121: There Are No Gods in North Korea


Author: Anjaly Thomas
Pages: 236
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Niyogi Books

  • Ratings-

Cover : 2/5
Title : 2/5
Blurb : 3.5/5
Theme : 3.5/5
Characters : 3/5
Overall : 3/5

  • Blurb:

Lawyer turned travel writer Anjaly Thomas takes a solo journey through the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the guise of a kindergarten This book examines the people and culture of North Korea “To be able to learn real life lessons is far greater than reading the stories one finds between the pages of a school book” Anjaly Thomas The uniqueness of the book lies in the simplicity of narration and the author’s real life experiences as she goes about her solo journeys around the world. These journeys do not dwell on destinations, but life moments which define the purpose of travel and create the richness of experience, leading her to a completeness not experienced by any other form of entertainment. Be it freezing in the cold in Turkey, capitalizing on the kindness of strangers in Mongolia, redefining the limits of individual freedom in the iron-regime of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or whether it is about learning to give, take or being humble or, most importantly, whether it is about being able to shed prejudices and being able to adapt and accept change the author’s journeys to random countries around the world will take the reader to a new level of understanding travel. It will instill a sense of responsibility and the importance of being a part of the world we live in.”

  • Review:

There Are No Gods in North Korea by Anjaly Thomas is a travel narrative of her experiences. Wanderlust led her to plan a trip to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea as the media addresses it, but her dreams were shattered when she received an email from an authority stating that won’t be able to allow her to enter North Korea for any purpose other than tourism. Anjaly had nearly lost hope and felt bad about being a writer, the category that wasn’t allowed into North Korea, but her hope was still alive and she managed to fake the profession of a kindergarten teacher to make way for her dream travel. Her family and colleagues did everything in their power to stop her from taking it forward but her determination strengthened when she finally received an official approval letter for her entry into North Korea.

Anjaly’s journey began much before her flight to North Korea, precisely when, along with the formal confirmation email of her entry approval, she received a series of documents to read and sign on, followed by numerous cross-checks, document submissions, background verification, et al. And finally when she did get on to the plane to North Korea, she was surprised to find the picture of North Korea’s king Kim Jong-un on the cover page of a magazine. Upon her arrival, she was grouped with a set of people and wasn’t allowed to take pictures, dance in the rain, indulge in a conversation with the locals, along with other restrictions. Her curiosity was at its pinnacle and she took a step to explore the story behind the mystery associated with North Korea. Thus began her tryst with her most memorable travel.

  • Let-downs:

The narration is quite exhaustive; all details of each and every experience which are surely not relevant to the script on the whole should ideally be eliminated. Also, the title is something in which more thought should have been put; I didn’t quite understand why the book’s title is so because it’s not just the experience of North Korea that Anjaly has narrated but also other countries and continents.

  • Appreciations:

Right from the first page of the book, I could feel the enthusiasm and excitement with which Anjaly wrote the book, such is the power of her words, and I was glad that it didn’t die down even as she concluded with the acknowledgements on the last page. I loved the utmost innocence with which a few minute feelings and thoughts have been shared because I am sure that it’s purpose was only to connect with the audience, to make them experience the same feeling that Anjaly herself went through during her ordeals and explain why traveling is much more than just a holiday or a vacation; it teaches you to learn, change, and adapt in a way nothing else can. Honesty and simplicity are two traits of Anjaly’s narration which have been consistent throughout the book and also the two things which will make your reading time worth it.

  • Verdict:

An honest view of a part of the world from the eyes of a traveler (3/5)

Coming soon: Anjaly Thomas’ interview.

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review #120: When I Fell in Love With Life


Author: Geetha Paniker
Pages: 234
Genre: Anthology
Publisher: Partridge India

  • Ratings-

Cover : 1.5/5
Title : 3.5/5
Blurb : 3/5
Theme: 3.5/5
Value for money : 3.5/5
Overall : 3.5/5

  • Blurb:

An anthology of writings from a cancer survivor whose therapeutic writing will guide, inspire, and heal your soul. She lays bare all the aspects of private suffering yet points out how she overcame each challenge with grit, determination, and a healthy dose of childish delight and wonder. Profound thoughts narrated in a simple language. Her words and wonderful ability to blend with her surroundings, yet stand out by absorbing the essence of it all; will challenge you to look at life through a rebel’s twinkling eye. Journey with this nature-loving, soul-searching, deep-thinking powerhouse. See what it feels like to touch rock bottom and build a solid foundation for a life made on her terms. A truthful story that continues to redefine the norm and gives you a glimpse into the life of a true survivor.

  • Review:

When I Fell in Love With Life by Geetha Paniker is a collection of 81 narratives on self-motivation that the author held on to in times of adversity, and especially during her fight with cancer. A few of the chapters in the book are:

  1. Falling in Love with Myself: A strong message on how loving and cherishing oneself is of utmost importance.
  2. A Bare Tree: Drawing inspiration from a bare tree who stands tall and strong with its fruits hanging even after its leaves fall.
  3. A Resplendent Magical Sunset: No sunset is the same; each one tells a different story. Same is the case with life; enjoy its beauty in the present moment and capture all the good memories lest they are gone forever.
  4. Is Cancer a Taboo?: The facts and perceptions that people hold about cancer are demystified.
  5. Kaleidoscope of Butterflies: Butterflies are a symbol of life and hope. They are filled with the magic of believing; believing that you can overcome all hurdles and challenges and yet emerge to be beautiful.
  6. The Twilight Glow of my Life: Wondering why the grey clouds that provide beauty to a twilight are considered drab and dull.
  7. Over the Mist of Life: Life is juts like the mist that is seen for a while before disappearing completely.
  8. A Sweet Awakening: On how cancer enlightened the author to cherish life and do things she always wanted to do but procrastinated.
  9. Love for Cancer: About cancer inducing realization among its patients that life is short, precious, and to be enjoyed in the moment.
  10. The Silent Cry of a Soul: On the emotions and feelings that women patients experience upon bilateral mastectomy.

These and 71 other narratives drawing inspiration and motivation via metaphors will truly make you cherish your life and the beauty that it holds.

  • Let-downs:

The book is too extensive; some of the chapters cover the same points via different narratives and incidences. These could have been eliminated to come up with an efficient version of the book.

  • Appreciations:

Geetha has covered almost every aspect of rock bottom that one could hit in life — be it failure in an attempt to achieve something or going through a phase you have no control over — thus catering to most of issues that people face in life. What I loved most about the book is the innocence, emotion, and intensity with which the narration has been made; I could easily place myself in the shoes of the protagonist and experience what he / she must be feeling. This, along with the beautiful poems and pictures incorporated in a few chapters, greatly helped me in understanding what exactly Geetha is trying to convey through the narratives. When I Fell in Love With Life is definitely going to be my guide to a healthy life.

  • Verdict:

A repository of motivation and inspiration (3.5/5)

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Book Review #119: From Where I See


Author: Ajay Yadav
Pages: 403
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: LiFi Publications Pvt. Ltd.

  • Ratings-

Cover : 3.5/5
Title : 3.5/5
Blurb : 2.5/5
Theme: 3.5/5
Story : 3.5/5
Characters : 3.5/5
Value for money : 3.5/5
Overall : 3.5/5

  • Characters:
  1. Ajay- The protagonist
  2. Shruti- Ajay’s childhood friend
  3. Kaniyah- Ajay and Shruti’s childhood friend
  4. Aslam- Shruti’s 2nd husband
  5. Deepti- Ajay’s wife
  • Blurb:

Ajay meets his childhood friend Shruti on a social network site. He finds her to be struggling with intrapersonal, interpersonal, inter-social and inter-religious conflicts. Eventually the conflicts killed her. Police could solve the case but will it prevent hundreds of Shrutis from getting killed? How long will we aim ‘who’ killed, more important is to find out ‘what’ killed. Till we don’t address this issue and work on it, many Shrutis will keep on getting killed. We need to cure the disease not only the symptoms.
This book is an effort of the author to find the root cause and probable remedies of these conflicts, exploration of hundreds of pertinent questions like “why in one religion it becomes so easy to get volunteers to blow themselves and others for the sake of religion? Does the religion divides or unites? What precipitates extramarital affairs? Does the immature and wrong interpretation of female emancipation the reason for 13 times rise in divorce rates in last 5 years?
It’s not only a book; it’s the path to revolution, it’s a journey towards utopian world. Accepting truth and hypocrisy is the toughest job on this earth. If you feel that you are open minded, have courage to accept truth and have a desire to change the world then be the part of change. Let’s take our first step to build a road to the utopian world.

  • Review:

From Where I See by Ajay Yadav is the story of a brave girl named Shruti and the games life plays with her. Shruti,as renamed by Ajay from Shurti, the name bestowed on her by her parents, was a fast friend of Ajay and Kaniyah since their childhood days. They were famously known as the trio. Shruti had a rough childhood; her parents had run away from their homes to get married and when the people of the village in which they settled learned that the couple belonged to the same caste, they expelled the couple from the society and the village. Shruti’s father couldn’t handle the expulsion and thus resorted to drinking alcohol and stealing, leading to liver failure and suspension followed by jail respectively. The brunt of all that he did had to be bore by his children.

Shruti had always been a brave girl. She would play hockey with Ajay and Kaniyah and together they would win multiple matches. She was also notorious and pulled pranks that gave chills to even Ajay and Kaniyah. However, her father’s demise brought out a different version in Shruti. She became more responsible of her duties towards her family and especially her mother. Helping her younger brother, Devender, study hard and seek a job in the police department, Shruti fulfilled her duties. Her family hence moved to the city and she got separated from her childhood friends. Soon, Kaniyah too joined the Army after his board exams, leaving Ajay behind, all alone. Ajay resorted to studies to find solitude and was successful in earning a degree in medicine.

Seven years later, Ajay stumbled upon Devender at the former’s brother house. He learned from Devender that Shruti was studying in the College of Fine Arts and visited the place the next day to meet her. Thus began an episode of harsh realities, including her marriage with a Christian first and then a Muslim guy, that fell on Shruti leading to her committing suicide. The police find two letters from Kaniyah addressed to Shruti in her bedroom. Ajay, when called in for questioning by the police, was surprised to know that Shruti had an affair with a guy named Rashid outside of her marriage and that her husband, Aslam, was well aware of the same. Too much to take in already? Well, From Where I See is totally worth it.

  • Let-downs:

I found the character descriptions missing; a few lines of information on the characters’ physical appearance and demeanor would have helped create a visual and made imagining the situations and plots easy for the reader. I also felt that too many trivial details and incidents have been included in the book; elimination of the same would have made the narration more effective and also reduced the length of the book by a considerable percentage.

  • Appreciations:

Ajay has picked up something very traditional and thrown light on it from a totally different angle. This is definitely a tough task to pull through because there are chances of people not taking it positively. I am glad to say that Ajay has pulled it off amazingly well by imbibing a strong message in the story. Right from character creation to plot description to smooth transitions between the situations, Ajay has crafted this book creatively. A twisted plot with interesting characters made this book a charm.

  • Verdict:

A refreshingly different take on traditional notions (3.5/5)

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review #118: Amazing Legends of India


Author: Swapna Rajput
Pages: 200
Genre: Anthology
Publisher: Quills Ink Publishing

  • Ratings-

Cover : 4/5
Title : 3.5/5
Blurb : 4/5
Overall : 4/5

  • Blurb:

The book explains true stories of Indian legendary heroes from the time of Hindu mythology to 18th century.

India has always been an attraction point in the world, millions of curious people all over the world visit here and wonders how one country could always be so glorious with so many languages, cultures, traditions? It’s all because of those ancient heroes, who created it with their knowledge, passion and bravery and magnetized the world to come and see the fame of India and follow us.

These legends flashed the light on India in the map of the world, and sparkled the glee of its richness with precious gems and metals, heritage temples, structures, books filled with the oceans of knowledge, medicines, meditation, culture and last but not the least presented it’s history of more than 5000 years.

Today we see many historical movies and television series which are manipulated to gain more popularity. Amazing legends of India tells you the true stories of those ancient legendary heroes.

It’s a single place where you can know about almost all the ancient legends of India from the time of Indian mythology till 18th century with briefing of some known and unknown facts. This book is useful for all the age group ranging from 8 to 80 years and it’s created in a very simple language, so that it could be reachable to everybody’s mind.

You will find details about almost all the legends from all over India like the brave worriers, great kings and queens, holy sages and saints. philosophers and writers etc.,

The interesting part of the book is describing the facts of our customs and traditions, why we follow them? why the new religions born and which are the religions born in India? and many more. It also explains how the world is wondering on our ancient intelligent philosophers intellectual minds, who showed us the new path of living thousands of years ago.

Its a must read book for each and every Indian and individual who is curious to know about India.

  • Review:

Amazing Legends of India by Swapna Rajput is a collection of 11 chapters covering every color of Indian history and heritage. To quote Swapna himself, “Writing on history is a big job; you have to read as much as possible about something and someone. Its difficult because you should not hurt anyone’s feelings via your script, at the same time narrating the truth.” The chapters in the book are-

  1. India: Facts on how India got its name and a few of its rich philosophical books, like the Vedas.
  2. Religions born in India: About how India came to be a secular country and details on the various cultures it beholds.
  3. Hindu Mythology: On the various gods and goddesses worshiped by Hindus.
  4. Celebrated Ancient Heroes: About the ones who have made India proud, including Chanakya and Aryabhata.
  5. Remarkable Kings of India (North): Brief biography of a few kings of North India who left a mark on the world.
  6. Royal Rajputana: On the rich culture held by India, left behind by the Royal Rajputs who rules most part of India
  7. Eminent Islamic Rulers: Details on the Islamic rulers who held the reins of India for quite a long time and also on some battles of historic importance.
  8. Splendid South: About the kings who ruled in South India and the impact their dynasty had on the making of India.
  9. Marvelous Marathas: Short significant stories on a few warriors of the Maratha clan who freed India from the clutches of the Mughals.
  10. Spectacular Saints: On the ones who left behind a legacy of philosophical thinking and enlightenment in India.
  11. Interesting Facts about India: Proof about how Indians have known everything about science since eternity, and also about the various rituals that Indians follow.
  • Let-downs:

Except for a few grammatical mistakes.

  • Appreciations:

It had been long since I got my hands on a book related to history so Amazing Legends of India came in as a fresh breath of air. It takes a lot of will power, passion and enthusiasm to write about something ancient because not much has been written about our history. Not many authors pick up this genre for fear of it not selling and / or connecting with the audience because history can get not only overwhelming but also boring after a certain point. Swapna ensured that this is not the case with Amazing Legends of India by dividing all the details into chapters. She also made the narration interesting by including stories of the legends’ lives and that kept me hooked to the script.

Every time I come across a book written on classic tales from ancient times, it only rejuvenates my mind and makes me feel proud to be a part of a nation which has such a rich culture. I can only say that Swapna has done full justice to the content and the book on the whole.

  • Verdict:

A unique must-read book to learn the rich culture and heritage of India (4/5)

Click here to read Swapna’s interview by me.

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Book Review #117: The Devil’s Prayer


Author: The Devil’s Prayer
Pages: 294
Genre: Horror Thriller
Publisher: Australian eBook Publisher

  • Ratings-

Cover : 2/5
Title : 3.5/5
Blurb : 3.5/5
Theme: 4/5
Story : 4/5
Characters : 3.5/5
Value for money : 4/5
Overall : 4/5

  • Blurb:

A nun commits suicide in front of thousands in Spain. In Australia, Siobhan Russo recognizes that nun as her mother, Denise Russo, who disappeared six years ago.

In search of answers, Siobhan travels to the isolated convent where her mother once lived. Here she discovers Denise’s final confession, a book that details a heinous betrayal that left her crippled and mute, and Denise’s subsequent deal with the Devil to take revenge. In the desperate bargain Denise made with the Prince of Darkness, she wagered Siobhan’s soul.

As Siobhan discovers the fate of her soul, she learns that hidden within the pages of her mother’s confession is part of The Devil’s Prayer, an ancient text with the power to unleash apocalyptic horrors.

And now her mother’s enemies know Siobhan has it.

Can Siobhan escape an order of extremist monks determined to get the Prayer back? Can she save the world from its own destruction?

Explicit Content Warning: “The Devil’s Prayer” is a historical horror thriller that contains brutality, rape, sex, drug abuse and murder. Readers may find its content offensive and confronting.

  • Review:

The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias is a fiction story of the horror thriller genre. The story begins in Spain with the public suicide of a nun who is later identified by an Australian girl named Siobhan Russo as her mother Denise Russo who had disappeared six years ago. In search of the truth, Siobhan travels to the convent her mother once lived in. It is secluded now and has a spooky vibe to it. However, Siobhan is able to unearth Denise’s final words which are a confession, or a plea of forgiveness from Siobhan. Apparently Denise had made a pact with The Devil wherein she wagered Siobhan’s soul to help her destroy the man she was to marry who, along with others, had oncs tortured her, raped her, and left her to die. But to get this wish of her’s fulfilled, Denise had to pay the price of her oldest Daughter Siobhan’s soul.

The book seemed too heavy on information in the initial few chapters and the narration style wasn’t helping either. Too much explanation at times decreased the charm of the narration.

Luke has connected three completely different aspects in a very unique manner to get the masterpiece that The Devil’s Prayer is, and beautifully so. Luke had researched the content thoroughly and that is evident from the depth in which the narration has been made. The book has some dark and shady parts which are definitely not for the weak hearted people. The story moves on fairly smoothly and appropriate amount of information is revealed at intervals. The mystery is sustained till the very end and the way two tales have been merged to create the climax is commendable!

  • Verdict:

A gripping tale for the brave hearts (4/5)

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