Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review #130: Different Beads of the Same String


Author: Sujay Malik
Pages: 136
Publisher: Notion Press

  • Ratings:

Cover : 4/5
Title : 4/5
Blurb : 3.5/5
Overall : 4.5/5

  • Blurb:

A delightful collection of stories spanning the past, the present and the future, ranging from villages to cities, from the mundane to the extraordinary, from external events and societal norms to internal conflicts, confrontations and catharses of characters, Different Beads of the Same String promises an interesting journey set in contemporary Indian society.

  • Review:

Different Beads of the Same String by Sujay Malik is an anthology of  10 stories covering various facets of human life. The stories are as below:

  1. And Then She Found It Again: 18-year old Anahita was struck with depression. She failed to see the meaning of continuing with life after losing her father at the age of 11 and not clearing her first attempt at the CA exam. Finally she found resort in her 52-year old teacher, Sarang, who played a key role in bringing her back on track.
  2. ‘He’, Pluto And The Incomplete Solar System: The tragic love story of Swini (Saturn) and Mansoor (Pluto) among a bunch of 9 friends called the planets of solar system by everyone at college.
  3. Feeli Jus: An experimental experiential setup made for people experience the classic tragedies of the India Justice system.
  4. Pushed Into A Corner: Molly surmised all her courage to seek justice for herself when all doors appeared closed.
  5. The Genuine Protector: A planned mishap gone wrong.
  6. Converted Language: 2 Hindu and Muslim families come at cross-roads for the love of their speech-deprived children, only to realize they were struck by the same tragedy years ago.
  7. Then and Now: A tale of justice and of a man who rose from adversity to serve the nation.
  8. The Missing Link: In the pursuit of their missing son, an old couple stricken by the Bhuj earthquake meet a documentary film-maker Michelle who guides them through their path.
  9. The Apt Time: Of beliefs, customs, rituals, superstitions, and the importance of voicing against them at the right them.
  10. The Boy Who Uttered ‘That’ Word: The story of Devang, his unintentional utterance of the word ‘shit’ in Hindi class, and the ordeal that followed.
  • Let-downs:

None at all, except that I would have loved to read more stories! 🙂

  • Appreciations:

Through the 10 stories, Sujay tried to bring forth basic ideas of incidents we face in life but royally choose to ignore. He put across thoughts of how important it is to look at things with a different perspective and I truly admire that. The manuscript was beautified with not just perfect grammar but also rich vocabulary. The characters in each of the stories were crafted to perfection, adding meaning and color in the right manner. I absolutely enjoyed this anthology and also gained a little perspective in the process!

  • Verdict:

A thought-provoking compilation of life’s hues (4.5/5)

Click here to read Sujay Malik’s interview by me.

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review #129: The Oath: When Medicine Clashes With Law


Author: Dr. Kalyan C. Kankanala
Pages: 182
Publisher: Literators Publishing

  • Ratings-

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

  • Blurb:

Dr. Krishna, a conscientious doctor, is arrested and put on trial for treating naxalites, a banned people war group. Many police officers are killed in an encounter with naxalites, and the police are looking for payback. They want Dr. Krishna to pay for helping naxalites, to pay for the deaths of their men, and to pay for their helplessness. They mount irrefutable evidence against Dr. Krishna, and the Public Prosecutor has never lost a case.

Can Dr. Krishna survive the legal onslaught? Does his old lawyer have enough in him to defend a lost cause? Set in Zala, the hot bed of naxal activity in the state of Andhra Pradesh, The Oath narrates a gripping, entertaining and intellectually stimulating tale of the clash between Medicine and Law.

  • Review:

The Oath by Dr. Kalyan C. Kankanala is a rare combination of politics, medicine, humanity, and law. It is the story of Dr. Krishna, a man of compassion and principles and the book has 2 parallel parts being narrated in parallel. The 1st part begins with details of 2 complicated operations performed by Krishna, followed by 4 hours of attending to outpatients, and how the day turns nightmarish when victims of a bus accident are rushed into the hospital for immediate care. Being unable to save a young boy makes Krishna feel guilty and regret not having paid attention to the boy’s needs as required. The story moves forward with details on Sathyam — a Naxal — and the operation performed on him by Krishna post which he had runaway, fearing arrest by the police. A month later, Sathyam visits Krishna and offers money to the latter for serving and treating the poor. The growing association between the two causes Krishna to betray his old friend Inspector Ali in tracing down Sathyam and in turn support the latter in his Naxal agenda. Before realizing what he has got himself into, Krishna finds himself arrested by the police and being charged by Inspector Ali for murder, sabotaging his medical practice, honor and respect in the society, and his future on the whole./

The 2nd part of the book reveals Krishna’s childhood history right from the time he was born to achieving highest marks in school and college to moving careers from engineering to medicine. The story also covers aspects of family influences in Krishna’s life, especially his cousin’s, and details his love life with his college crush Radha. Finally when both parts converge and provide meaning to the whole manuscript, the entire narration starts to make sense and how! I thoroughly enjoyed this roller-coaster of a book where Krishna had to choose between his duty and living by what he believed in.

  • Let-downs:

If there was one thing I could have changed about the book, it would be the elimination of detailed descriptions of every single thing. For example, I am not interested in knowing whether the rice was half cooked for whether it was mixed partially with curd and partially with pickle and how it is important for ghee to be mixed with every single rice grain for maximum palatable taste. Similarly, a simple badminton game which could have, and ideally should have, been described in 3-4 lines being dragged to 2 pages doesn’t make the reading any interesting.

  • Appreciations:

I absolutely loved the way 2 parts of the book — the childhood story and the story leading up to Krishna’s arrest — have been interspersed to lead to the climax of the script. Characters have been beautifully planted at every point, adding value to the story in the right sense. The plot moves at a fairly decent pace, except for a few detailed descriptions slowing the progress, giving the reader just enough information to make it a page-turner. All in all, the book has done justice to the various facets including medicine, law, politics, and compassionate humanity, giving it a charm of its own.

  • Verdict:

An interesting page-turner with a unique charm (3.5/5)

Coming soon: Dr. Kalyan C. Kankanala’s interreview by me.

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Book Review #128: My Friendship With Yoga


Author: Revathi Raj Iyer
Pages: 185
Publisher: Winspire, an imprint of LiFi Publications Pvt. Ltd.

  • Ratings-

Cover : 3/5
Title : 3.5/5
Blurb : 3.5/5
Theme : 4/5
Overall : 4/5

  • Blurb:

My Friendship with Yoga is a comprehensive and engaging book with a unique combination of narrative, detailed guidelines, tips, techniques and benefits. Readers will experience the joy of embracing yoga through the wide range of asana (postures) and a weekly practice regimen. From the perspective of a seeker’s journey into yoga, this illustrative book is the perfect guide for all yoga enthusiasts.

  • Review:

My Friendship With Yoga by Revathi Raj Iyer is a book for yoga enthusiasts and everyone else who wishes to make it a part of their daily life. The book is divided into three parts:

Part 1: Narrative: The first part gives readers a sneak peak into what entails yoga, an understanding of what yoga is, and helps break certain myths and notions around yoga via the story of Revathi. It also helps explain one’s body structure, the energy chakras one has in the body, and how yoga can help synergize these chakras for a healthy and fruitful living. In short, this part covers the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of yoga with a selection of topics along with interesting anecdotes.

Part 2: Asana (Postures): This section helps the readers understand the various postures in yoga — 80 to be specific — with detailed steps on how to go about achieving them, their benefits, and tricks and tips to make the most of these.

Part 3: Daily Yoga Practice: The final section comprises of a weekly practice schedule with detailed and clear instructions on things to do on each day of the week to make yoga an integral part of your daily routine.

  • Let-downs:

I found the book a bit methodical with little freedom to customize options and regimen for daily routines. Also, I would have loved to see special instructions for patients of diabetes or other non-communicable conditions as they need to imbibe yoga in their routine the most.

  • Appreciations:

Explaining the details of yoga via a story was a brilliant step in putting across her thoughts given that readers usually have less attention span for theoretical concepts. The story helps keep the readers engaged and drives home the point that it aims to. I also loved the fact that Revathi not just mentioned details and benefits, but also helped lay down a rough regimen to follow over weeks, for beginners especially, so as to make yoga an integral part of our routine. This ensured that readers sustain their yoga practice and not lose touch of it. Kudos for the idea!

  • Verdict:

A comprehensive guide answering all questions about Yoga (4/5)

Click here to read my interview of Revathi Raj Iyer.

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Book Review #127: Silent Invaders


Author: Shree
Pages: 96
Publisher: Petals Publishers

  • Ratings-

Cover : 2.5/5
Title : 2.5/5
Blurb : 2/5
Theme : 4/5
Characters : 3.5/5
Story : 3.5/5
Overall : 3/5

  • Blurb:

‘Silent Invaders’ is a mystery-thriller novel. It revolves round the life of a young woman Sana and the story involves hate crimes which were nurtured due to childhood assaults. Sana develops a horrific mental illness, which impacts her normal life drastically. She remains totally oblivious of what was happening to her and around her. But her near and dear ones finally stir the society to become aware of the reasons and the consequences of the traumatic condition Sana went through.

  • Review:

Silent Invaders by Shree touches upon the unconventional topic of childhood trauma through the story of Sana, setup in a small town of England named Durham. Sana is an adopted child of her parents Sahana and Saatvik who had a long haul in getting approval for adopting a kid and thus, when they finally could adopt a beautiful girl, she was showed and pampered with all their love and care. They empowered her to pursue all her interests including dancing classical Indian styles, learning foreign languages, and studying Biochemistry for her graduation, and working with an NGO named “Children North East” (CNE) supporting children via charity.

One fine day, a murder of a young boy’s stepfather, Nathan Brown, was reported and links revealed that the family was being supported by CNE and was troubled by domestic violence. A few days later, another murder of a man named Mike Smith came to light and was reportedly related to a young girl Pat who was one of the Spanish students of a lady from England named Nancy Ramos. Soon, a dear friend of the Lahiris — Roberto Garcia — was found dead the morning after a beautiful dinner with the Lahiris. Upon investigating, the police arrest Sana on grounds of matching fingerprints and evidence of murder weapons found in her bedroom.

Why would Sana murder Roberto? Are Sana, Nancy, and Oishi somehow linked?  If yes, why would Sana be maintaining multiple personalities? What was so disturbing that Sana experienced in her childhood to have taken on such drastic steps in her life? How do the Lahiris deal with this? Will they be able to save Sana? This amazing page-turner will not let you keep the book down until you explore the mystery behind the murders.

  • Let-downs:

A mystery thriller should have information revealed only at the right time else the anticipation with which a reader explores the chapters of the book is lost. This is what happened with Silent Invaders; the narration style was such that it perhaps unintentionally revealed a few caveats ahead of time, making me guess the plot (correctly) even before turning the pages.

  • Appreciations:

I loved the concept on which the story-line is based; it is unconventional yet an important issue that is rarely discussed. I applaud Shree for being bold enough to bring forth this idea through the manuscript. The characters compliment the flow of the script to perfection. The story has been kept crisp and short, making the book a quick yet interesting read. Except for the occasional spoilers, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

  • Verdict:

An unconventional mystery thriller (3/5)

Click here to read my interview of Shree.

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Book Review #126: The Man in the Trench Coat


Author: Ashutosh Dixit
Pages: 283
Publisher: Frog in Well
Cover Design: Vishwajeet Sathye

  • Ratings-

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

  • Blurb:

India. The world’s largest democracy. A cesspool of corruption and apathy. The people helpless, the media ineffective, the government indifferent and the crusaders forlorn. But all that was about to change… In 2014, just before India’s massive general elections, a Member of Parliament accused of being involved in multiple scams is shot right outside his residence. ACP Rajeev Shekhar, an honest, upright cop with a tragic past and ACP Digvijay Raut, a veteran legend of the Delhi Police are tasked with investigating the murder. However, more such corrupt officials begin to die throughout the country, expertly assassinated by a mysterious vigilante they call ‘the Man in the Trench Coat’. As the political pressure mounts, the CBI steps in to work with the Delhi cops. The vigilante, aided by the shadowy man known only as Control, steps up his game. As the situation escalates, the investigating lawmen find themselves embroiled in a web of scheming and deceit. Nothing- and no one- is what they seem to be… Who is the Man in the Trench Coat? Why does he do what he does? Who is the master manipulator called Control? And above all, can they succeed in their mission to free India from corruption? Inspired by the notion of vigilantism in popular culture, The Man in the Trench Coat is a story about the fight against corruption in India.

  • Review:

The Man in the Trench Coat by Ashutosh Dixit focuses on India’s state of affairs concerning politics and corruption. It all begins with the assassination of one of the members of Parliament, right in the heart of Delhi, with the Delhi Police being unable to trace any link to the murderer except for a note left on the spot — mentioning the crime and verdict of the MP. ACP Rajeev Shekhar, the protagonist, is paired up with ACP Digvijay Raut to resolve this mystery. Together they interrogate the MP’s widow who had surprisingly been rather happy with the murder but are convinced she had nothing to do with the entire episode. They then dive into information provided by the MP’s personal investigator for whom the MP was just another client. His knowledge of Rajeev’s personal life pisses off the latter while Digvijay is still not completely trustworthy of Rajeev. Amidst all this occurs another assassination of the MP of Karnataka, in the heart of Bangalore, with no trace of the murderer yet again but a similar note on the MP’s crime and verdict. Given the gravity of the situation and the intensity of the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation steps in to take over from Rajeev and Digvijay. Rajeev, for the first time post the death of his wife a couple of years back, feels something for the the CBI officer Maya. Will something sprout between the two? Rajeev’s personal backstory and ongoing interest in Maya provides a breather from the intense murder investigations while also adding context to the ongoing situations and proceedings.

Meanwhile, minor details on the assassin come to the fore with a rough sketch of his being made and a few documents of historical evidence being found. Everyone is convinced that the assassin is a highly trained and equipped player who will leave no stone un-turned in achieving what he has set out for. But he is not alone; a man who calls himself Control provides targets after targets to the murdered by the assassin who is always wearing a trench coat and hence his identity ends up being “the man in the trench coat”. A small narration on the initial days of his career and training intrigued me to the core and I literally got goosebumps when the identities of the assassin and the Control were revealed! An absolute treat of a read, The Man in the Trench Coat will not disappoint you!

  • Let-downs:

A few times the plot became too complex too understand because of the involvement of multiple characters; it was confusing as to which dialogue was being said by whom and that made it difficult to understand a few instances and the characters’ part in the plot.

  • Appreciations:

Amazing story-line coupled with perfectly crafted characters made the book a delight to read. Every page brought in new information thus twisting and turning the story-line, making it more intriguing. The vocabulary was decent and the editing in terms of parallel stories gave the book a different outlook. What I loved most about the book was that it just didn’t end at narrating the story; it left me with a thought that lingered on quite a while even after I was done reading the book — the thought of our countries state of affairs and other such matters. I believe that when a book manages to push you to think beyond the story-line, it has done its task in a way better manner! I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and wouldn’t mind giving it a second read!

  • Verdict:

A revolutionary thought-provoking narration which shouldn’t be missed! (4.5/5)

Click here to read my interview of Ashutosh Dixit.

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Book Review #125: Strangers With Known Faces


Author: Gautum Dutta
Pages: 257
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Invincible Publishers

  • Ratings-

Cover : 2.5/5
Title : 4/5
Blurb : 3.5/5
Theme : 3.5/5
Characters : 4/5
Story : 4/5
Overall : 3.5/5

  • Blurb:

Rajat, Meenakshi, Sadaaf, Amol, and Shanaya are five University students with nothing in common- who should never have met in the first place. They meet after winning a lucky draw- the prize of which was to take part in a puzzle game. Though the game was engrossing, they were unable to solve the puzzle in the stipulated time. However, this lead to the beginning of a deep friendship between them. Their friendship blossomed. But ego and misunderstanding led to an acrimonious break up. They meet again- two decades later- when Shanaya is murdered, and the other four are suspects. The four soon realize that in spite of being estranged for so many years, there were unknown ties that bound them- ties of treachery, deceit, and subterfuge. Ties that have led them to come together in circumstances that no one could have foreseen. And the game that they had left incomplete two decades back has to be played yet again – on a much bigger canvas. Now they have to trust each other, clear their names, and get to the bottom of the mystery, which threatens not only their lives and relationships, but also the fabric of democratic India. As their travels and travails continue, they discover hitherto unknown facets of the people around them, as well as their own selves. Can they succeed in resolving the puzzle this time? Or is history doomed to repeat itself? As hidden aspects of the human personality are revealed, they realize that no one is what he or she appears to be. For the world comprises of ‘Strangers With Known Faces’.

  • Review:

Strangers With Known Faces by Gautum Dutta is a mystery thriller involving 5 friends who first meet during one of their university events wherein they are randomly made to come together as part of a team and resolve clues to escape out of a mystery room — a chance encounter that leads to a deep-rooted friendship. Over the months, during university elections, Rajat is promoted by his friends and a few others to become the president of the university’s student body. As the president, Rajat finds himself entangled in the web of relational boundaries. His love interest — an older lady named Neelam — drives most of his thought process and Rajat ends up acting in her favor almost always. Although he doesn’t let power and ego get into his head, each and every decision that he takes creates a domino effect of disasters, having repercussions on his friendship with every member of the group and his relations with acquaintances. Everything together not only taints his image as the sincerest guy on campus but also puts into jeopardy his career prospects.

The hatred between the 5 friends increases to the extent that neither of them can see the other eye to eye and each one heads his own way. Years later, destiny brings them together yet again to resolve clues to escape and free themselves out of a mystery, this time a real one — the murder of Shanaya for which each of the others is a suspect. The suspense lineup of the book will definitely not let you keep the book down until you’re done with it!

  • Let-downs:

My only concern with the book is the amateurish narration style, language, and vocabulary. There is huge scope of improvement when it comes to editing as the essence of a mystery thriller lies in the fact that details are to be revealed at the right time, whereas, in Strangers With Known Faces, quite a lot of times an upcoming event was subtly hinted, somehow spoiling the fun for me.

  • Appreciations:

Strangers With Known Faces is an interesting read mostly because of the characters that have been crafted — be it Rajat’s love interest’s British boyfriend, or someone as trivial as the businessman proposing an unrealistic scam, the perfection of the characters brings color and life to the book, making it an enticing read. The story-line is amazing with all the twists and turns that keep you hooked on to the book, making you question at each step about what will happen next.

  • Verdict:

An interesting murder mystery testing friendship, love, and the credibility of the Army (3.5/5)

Click here to read my interview of Gautam Dutta!

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Book Review #124: Yama’s Lieutenant


Author: Anuja Chandramouli
Pages: 376
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House India

  • Ratings-

Cover : 4/5
Title : 4/5
Blurb : 4/5
Theme : 4/5
Characters : 4/5
Story : 4/5
Overall : 4.5/5

  • Blurb:

The inhabitants of the thousand hells of Yama have broken free from their prison and vowed to wreak havoc on the heavens, the earth and hell. With the fiendish Hatakas and Narakamayas teamed up with Naganara, a terrifying necromancer hungry for power, the universe is headed for war and destruction unless one human has something to do with it.
Agni Prakash, a debonair young man whose world has been turned upside down by the death of his twin sister, Varu, has been enlisted to stop these forces and be Yama’s very own lieutenant. As the mythical world clashes with his own, Agni discovers a manuscript left behind by his sister. Hauntingly, it draws parallels to the treacherous path upon which he has been thrust. Equipped with an acerbic wit and winning charm, Agni undertakes a battle, where the odds seem tipped wildly against him, and finds unlikely companions along the way.
Will he be able to uncover the secret behind his sister’s writings? And more importantly, will he be able to avert the destruction that seems imminent?

  • Review:

Yama’s Lieutenant by Anuja Chandramouli is an enthralling amalgamation of mythology, science fiction, and action thriller. It is the story of a young lad named Agni whose life changes completely post the death of his twin sister Varuna. Mourning in her memories, Agni stumbles upon his Varuna’s manuscript: a detailed research on mythological characters Yama & Yami, their strong bond as siblings, and Yama’s journey of being the king of hell (famously known as Pataal Lok in Hindu scriptures). Agni believes that there is a gateway to heaven, the path to which lies in Varuna’s manuscript. He is confident that if he is able to find that path, he will be able to bring Varuna back to life.

On the other hand, in Yama’s land, there is an evil named Naganara who wants to destroy the world. He is powerful enough to summon ancestral evils and even the most fearful creatures from the dungeons of hell. His ultimate motive is to destroy humanity & rule the world. Yama cannot stop the prisoners of hell from escaping owing to his weakened powers due to an ancient curse, and is hence in dire need of an assistant. Agni, armed with grit, determination, and Varuna’s research, comes to Yama’s rescue by fighting the evils, meets with Minothi — Mother Earth’s favoured daughter with divine powers, and sets on to save the world. While Gods, Goddesses, and humans together fight to save humanity, a brilliant twist changes the course of the story. What happens next, will only be best experienced upon reading the book!

  • Let-downs:

The 0.5 from overall rating has been reduced only because a lot of information has been put out there in the book but no guide or appendix to refer to when one is needs to recall a few characters or places.

  • Appreciations:

Yama’s Lieutenant is one of the very few books that I have rated 4.5/5 and fairly so. It is an enthralling mystery beautifully carved by Anuja with her weave of vivacious vocabulary. The sentence structure, character crafting, and plot planning have made a positively remarkable impact on the script as a whole. Narration has been done in a way that serves the purpose of a mystery novel — including right amount of detail at the right time to ensure that the tinge of mystery is persistent throughout. The script advanced smoothly on just the right pace, leaving the reader to guess what would happen next and that is the biggest asset of a mystery thriller.

  • Verdict:

An enthralling amalgamation of mythology, science fiction, and action thriller (4.5/5)

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