Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Treasure of Kafur by Aroon Raman (Book Review- 4.3/5)!!!

       There's always a wonderful feeling after completing a book with more than 375 pages. I am done reading one of the latest releases- THE TREASURE OF KAFUR. It's the second book of the author, Aroon Raman, after The Shadow Throne. I haven't read the latter one but what I have heard from people around me that it is an excellent and thrilling story. I got a chance to read his 2nd and the latest book which I did without thinking twice. The book is published by India's one of the leading publishers- Pan Macmillan. The first thing about this book that would attract you is its cover page. It itself has an essence and ambiance of Mughal era. It shows a king riding on his horse with the flag of his kingdom. Even the synopsis does justice to the story as its exactly what's in the book unlike few of our Indian books which has brilliance in the synopsis and depression inside the book. :-) Talking about the publishing quality, the book is well bound with strong pages and wonderful fonts. 


Hindustan, 1580 AD. The Mughal Emperor Akbar is at the height of his power, seemingly invincible. But twenty years of war have earned him many enemies and rebellion is brewing, led by Asaf Baig, the tyrannical ruler of Khandesh. Baig has stumbled upon the knowledge that the whereabouts of the fabulous lost treasure of Malik Kafur, which will guarantee victory to Akbars enemies, is known to an old woman called Ambu. Baig kidnaps Ambu to wrest the knowledge of the treasure from her but her twenty-year-old grandson, Dattatreya, escapes and flees across Hindustan to enlist the help of the one person who has the most reason to stop Baig the Mughal Emperor himself. Staying one step ahead of capture and death, Datta is swept up in a world of kings and warrior princesses, of uncommon friendships and an implacable evil and a desperate race against time to save his grandmother and the Empire.

About the Author:-

Aroon Raman, national bestselling author of The Shadow Throne, now brings us a riveting saga of action and adventure set in Mughal India. Aroon Raman is a Bengaluru based entrepreneur and author. His research and innovation company works in the area of materials science and has won critical acclaim for developing scientific talent at the grass-roots level. His debut novel, a spy thriller called The Shadow Throne, quickly became a national bestseller. The Treasure of Kafur is his second novel. He divides his spare time between trekking, advising and supporting NGOs and travel.

          The Treasure of Kafur, for me, reflects the thoughts of the author. A fluid language in which this book is smoothly written makes it a wonderful read that it is. The command of language that the author has and the set of vocabulary that he possesses makes it possible for him to state the story exactly the way he wants to. The good thing is that the story reaches directly to the heart of readers. Aroon Raman has done a great research in making it sure that he doesn't forget to mention any fact about the Mughal emperor and empire. I have already read many books on Mughal and while in school, it was my favorite topic in history. Hence I loved this story because it is a level upper than all the book that I have read previously based on Mughal. 

             Each and every character is well defined in the book which helps us to understand them from their base. The protagonists- Ambu, Dattatreya and Emperor Akbar were well-defined and executed. None of them were under-stated in the book. The animal characters and the others from the protagonist's team were very interesting. I loved Manas, Aditi, chief, Shukracharya, Jeta friends and Sheherazad has been my favorite. Even the entry of parrot in the story was entertaining as there was conflicting between it and a protagonist. I also liked the interactions that had Mughals involved among each other. Later on, when Mughal Emperor, Akbar comes into the story, the book reaches a totally different level altogether. Book starts with very fast pace, gets slow in between and in the end, it starts screaming BESTSELLER BESTSELLER BESTSELLER with each sentence as the book reaches its end. I would rate The Treasure of Kafur 4.3/5. RECOMMENDED!!! 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

An Interview with Author, Arjun Shekhar!!!

AN Interview with author Arjun Shekhar who has recently come up with his latest flick- "End of Story".

1. Hello Mr. Arjun, what’s it like being an author? And after written two books, how do you feel?
Not very different from being a reader actually. Except a little more confident because people have respected my writing.  Having already been an integral part of the corporate and NGO worlds, my learning frontiers needed expanding and the publishing business has given me that challenge and taken me out of my comfort zone like nothing else would have.

2. When you saw your first novel for sale on a bookstore and online, what went through your mind? Describe the emotion.
My first emotion was relief because it isn't easy getting your first one published as many other authors will tell you. But quickly that relief turned to anxiety because it didn't make so much of a difference to anybody else. So what if i had worked really hard to write my first novel, the world had moved on and not enough people were reading books anymore, even good ones. I can also remember the frustration of low sales in the early days. 

3. Before we head towards discussing your book, we would also like to understand what you exactly do? And how do you balance your writing and your work? 
I am a partner in a boutique consulting firm that helps people and organizations to come into their elements. Its called Vyaktitiva. Also i am a founder of an NGO that works on youth leadership with my wife and friends. Its called Pravah and I spend a minimum of two days a week there. And we take immense pride at being one of the sources and the tenders of the flow of active citizenship among NCR youth over the last few years that the whole country is watching closely.
My writing stems from my experiences in the corporate and NGO sectors and i snatch whatever time i can from real life to pen down my fictional works. 

4. What is your latest book - End of Story all about? And from where did the idea of this book emerge?
The novel starts with a bizzare yet plausible proposition: All TV networks have closed down as a consequence of a Supreme Court ban on electronic advertising. The ban has been decreed, pending an enquiry into a new neuro-auditory technology that creates compelling subliminal ads.

As a result Shukrat Ali, a senior journalist in a tabloid TV channel called Khulasa is out of a job. Even as he grapples with this tragedy, he gets a summons from a criminal court to testify in the trial concerning the killing of his ex-boss, Satya Sachi Sengupta, who is the inventor of the sublimnal advertising technology. To clarify his mind and to anticipate the prosecutor’squestions, Shukrat decides to write down his testimony. The main body of this testimony revolves around a story he had been asked to follow by his boss in the tribal hinterland within Naxal territory. This story within a story has gripping twists and a stunning climax.

Now the second part of the question. Where did the idea come from? I could make up an interesting story (as in part truth) but let me be honest instead. My daughter, who is the muse for one of the characters, has this innate curiosity which i am so envious of. She has a million questions tucked away in the attic of her mind, another thousand questions up her sleeve, and a hundred on her lips. At one time we had to censor her in front of our friends because she was embarrassing us in public all the time. 
She made me realize how few questions we asked as adults; we seem to be embarrassed to let on that we don't know something. On the other hand, we are being told billions of stories today - ad folks, media, lawyers and ordinary people are pulling out all the stops to convince us to influence us. We always were Homo-narrans the story telling species but suddenly there is an explosion of words. In this Age of Expression, we have all become word merchants and the internet, the Tower of Babble, is our market place where we come to trade and swap stories everyday. Now, this is a dangerous scenario, because we need to be sure of the stories we are buying. We need to have better narrative literacy; we need to be probing, punching, and struggling with the stories before internalizing them. 
Hence End of Story? is an attempt to wake up the reader to the need to ask questions which are a natural antidote to the indigestion or rash that a wrongly ingested story might give us. Questions are the Crap-O-Meter that allow us to unearth how much truth and how much bull shit is there in any story.
To get this idea across, I purposely decided to use a kind of mental judo, viz. use a gripping story to expose the structure of stories in this thriller like novel.

5. How long did it take for you to write this book and get it published?

About a year and a half in calendar time but since i wasn't giving the book my full attention i would say a total of nine months of hard work at the computer. 

6. Indian Publishing scenario is very competitive. How long did it take for you to find the right publisher and how did you go about it?
I was lucky since this is my second book and my first, A Flawed God, had done pretty well. The same publisher, Hachette, signed me up at the time of the first submission itself.  

7. What is in the pipeline for End of Story? Are there any plans that you would like to share with us? 
Well we have done a pretty extensive online promotion and discussion on my books page We had also got a nice promo made ( ) Apart from that we have had great events at Jaipur and Kolkata. Plan to do one in Mumbai on 10th jan at marine plaza hotel, on marine drive (where Kalki Koechlin is coming to launch the book) and in Bangalore on 22nd at Srishti school of art and design and at Atta Gallata, a store, in the evening. 

8. What exactly is your objective from writing a book- 1. Getting most copies sold out, 2. Getting the love of readers or 3. You just wrote it because you wanted to write a book once in your life, hence you have no targets?

I think the most important reason i write is to reflect and get more insights into the topics i am covering. And yes communicating those insights in an interesting way - design - has always gives me a high.

9. By when are you coming up with your next novel? And if possible, do give us an idea about what it would be.
I have almost finished the second of what i am calling The Homo-Narrans or Story Telling Species trilogy that is set in a trek to the Nanda Devi Base Camp. Its an account of a fascinating quest of two researchers - a blind Norwegian woman and a Kumaonese prince - with their Bhotia guide, who are trying to search for a mystery village where people are said to have found the secret of happiness. They are following in the footsteps of  a Norwegian anthropologist explorer in the late '50's had made a chance discovery of the village but had never been able to find it again. He had reported it in an obscure text that falls in the hands of the blind Norwegian woman during her stint as a researcher in an institute in Bergen, Norway. No one has ever found the village again or indeed has any knowledge of this tribe of perennially Happy people. 

The book is tentatively titled One for Sorrow, Two for Joy and looks at the question, What's not in the Plot of the Happiness story/ quest that all of mankind is on today or has been on for a long time. The book is told in the voices of the three trekkers who themselves go missing, but their diaries are found. 

10. In the end, tell us in 5-7 lines, what speech will you give if you win a Major Award for the Best Indian Author for your books?
I might just stand there silent for two minutes to emphasize that words are great but silence can be even more powerful. In this Age of Expression we are all talking at the same time - wonder who is listening?

Karma Kurry by Jeroninio Almeida/Jyoti Nanda (Book Review)!!!

    There are some publication houses that publish some amazing wonderful stuffs only. One publishing house that I find perfect in this matter is Jaico Publication. All the books that they have published till now except the commercially popular fiction are some terrific life changing stuffs. I love the way they select books that have immense material to change anyone's bad soul into Mahatma's. Once, I purchased 6 books of Jaico and seeing their synopsis, I said to my mother that if I'll read books by this publisher only, I will leave all the dreams of buying house and earning lots of money; instead I will go to Himalayas and convert myself into a Mahatma. :-) That's the power of books by Jaico Publication. The only problem I find in them is their publishing style of books. All of them looks like school's textbooks. They will have to change their binding and cover page style, even fonts to make their books look like interesting journeys than a burden. 

          I have just completed reading "Karma Kurry" published by them recently. The tagline says,"for the mind, body, heart & soul". The book features some wonderful inspiring stories that tells how qualified and unqualified people sacrificed all their life in helping the poor, needy and all sorts of people who need support and a little bit of concern for others. The book starts with the foreword of Nelson Mandela. Yes- Madiba. Now tell me- if a legend and revolutionist like him recommends this book to the people, a negligible reviewer like me shouldn't even review it. 

         It's very hard to make a book interesting by writing short stories of how few people thought of something new for humanity in spite of being in some other professions. I will not reveal my favorite stories nor will I give any example but I can tell you that the editors have done their job wonderfully. The way they have kept each story short and crisp tells how desperate they were for sharing these amazing stories with us. It seriously inspires you when you read how a man finds a technique of forming glaciers, how someone else opens a school and several similar incidences. Initially, I started noting down some of the stories that I liked but later on, when I realized that if I'll mention all of them here, this blog will itself start looking like one with inspiring one liner messages. Haha! In all, I would say a lovely book if you like reading short inspiring stories. If not, still give a try may be you'll realize how few people are changing this world for good even when they are full of money and satisfaction.

Karma Kurry for the Mind, Body, Heart & Soul is a decade-long journey of discovering soul-stirring narratives that celebrate the triumph of the human spirit. 
“Together as One we can Right every Wrong”. In this energizing book the founders of the Joy of Giving, KarmaVeer, KarmaYuga and REX movements bring together enthralling life stories of Karmaveer award recipients. 

We believe that every human has a hero within; a courageous, compassionate being who has the power to create a better, more humane world. The compelling stories in this book are of ordinary citizens who have unleashed the spirit within, with extraordinary consequences, radically changing society for the better. Their ideas for action and their stories will inspire you at a profound level. They are everyday women and men who have taken their defeats and adversities and turned them into laudable actions for transformation. 

The list includes globally eminent names like Meera Sanyal, Michael Norton, Arun Maira, Bill Drayton and Kumi Naidoo as well as unsung heroes like Lakshman Singh, Thangsingh Chinkholal and many others. Irrespective of their field, these are people who have reached out beyond their own life to help others, to be and to lead the change by practicing Individual Social Responsibility. In Karma Kurry, their stories have been gathered to inspire all of us to recognize the power of one: our own power to be a champion of change, reinforce the positive in society and leave an imprint on the sands of time.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Life and Promises by Pulkit Gupta/Ila Garg (Book Review-2.8*/5)!!!

           There is a different feeling while experiencing the work of someone whom you have seen from the moment the person was a "nobody". I have been talking about books from a long time which has made me friends with many Bloggers and I cherish my relations with them. One of my blogger friends, Pulkit Gupta, is associated with me from a long time. I have accepted writing Guest Post only once in my life and that was because he asked me to. Hence the moment he told me to read the PDFs that has chapters of his upcoming novel, I read it in excitement. Then he asked to send a review of it. Later I saw a cover page been released on his Facebook page with my review printed on the cover page. One needs enough courage to publish a non-author's review/comments on the cover page of his debut novel and Pulkit did it for me. Now its time to review his book in description mentioning the drawbacks too. :-)

           Coming to the authors, I would say that Pulkit Gupta and Ila Garg have done a good job in writing a book collectively. While reading you won't find differences in the writing style which is effective and interesting. I also appreciate the easy language, little twists and powerful poems in between. Well, for the poems, Rachna Sheth has to be complimented as she has scripted all of them according to the demands of the story. Talking about the publishing quality, I would say that Moments Publishers have given a nice treatment to this book with good quality of cover page, white and fresh pages, nice fonts and wonderful binding. In short, if you will ask me to define this book, I would say if you are traveling a short distance of 2-3 hours by bus or train, carry this book. It would be a delight. :-)

           The way story begins is a wonderful way to start a romantic tale. Keeping the book short is another USP of it as the story doesn't have much to speak. When you know that your story is a simple love tale, you shouldn't write it in more than 175-180 pages. It irritates reader. I loved the fact that even when this book was co-written, authors managed to keep the book short and straight without dragging it for 250-275 pages. The whole description of CA and how tough the course is wonderfully done. Even the situation of how he has to leave IIT and join CA is clearly defined. The emotions of father is depicted well. The climax part is an amazing treat to the readers. That's when the story gets life and it goes to an upper level than its normalcy. I will give all the marks to the climax.

           Coming to the drawbacks- I didn't like the usage of double question marks (??) instead of one(?). Then there's another disappointment when I found "lol" written during face-to-face conversations within inverted commas. Authors, now can you please tell me who laughs uttering "lol" in real world? Then, there are few grammatical errors but I can ignore them as they are avoidable. Radhika's diary had a better role than her in the story. In all, I would say that it's for the people who have just got into reading love stories and for the age group between 13-20. I will give the book- 2.8/5.



SACHIN A HUNDRED HUNDREDS NOW by V. Krishnaswamy (Book Review-4*/5)!!!

      There are plethora of books that have been written on Sachin Tendulkar. If one stands in front of a Sports section in a bookstore or book stall, his head will start rotating seeing the amount of books available on the life and career of the Master Blaster. But how do you decide which one to pick? Well, I would suggest you to wait for some more months as he is in process of publishing his autobiography with the help of Professor Boria Mazumdar who has already published some great books on sports. But till then, if you really want to read about Sachin Tendulkar, I would suggest to go with the biography written by Vaibhav Purandhare. And if after that, you still want to read about THE GOD, it's the book that I am going to talk about now- "SACHIN: A Hundred Hundreds Now" written by V. Krishnaswamy. It is one of the most selling books that has been written on the Legend. This book becomes eligible to be purchased because it has "Introduction by Rahul Dravid" and "Foreword by Ramakant Achrekar". Do I need to say more? 

The wait is over. For the world’s finest batsman and for a nation of cricket lovers whose hopes and ambitions accompanied Sachin Tendulkar every time he stepped out to bat.

On 16 March 2012, at Mirpur in Dhaka, after opening the innings for India, Sachin nudged the ball to behind square leg in the forty-fourth over to cross the final barrier: a hundred centuries in international cricket. In this account of the master batsman’s incredible journey, sportswriter V. Krishnaswamy takes us through every hundred, every peak scaled on Sachin’s way to the top. With an introduction by former India captain Rahul Dravid and a foreword by Sachin’s first and most famous coach Ramakant Achrekar, this is a book for every cricket and Sachin fan.

About the Author:
V. Krishnaswamy was born in Kolkata and brought up in Delhi. He has been a sportswriter and commentator for thirty years now. He has followed cricket tours to various countries and has written extensively on the sport, as a reporter with the Times of India and then as the sports editor of the Pioneer and the Indian Express. He is a regular guest expert on cricket and other sports on television and radio.

         Talking about Tendulkar's career, the first thing that people mention is 100 Hundreds that he have scored in the career that spanned more than 23 years. It is been said that no one else can achieve this feat ever or say, at least in 20 years, seeing the kind of Cricket young lad like Virat Kohli is playing. As most of us didn't even start going to school when Tendulkar scored 20-25 centuries of his career, we missed lot of memorable moments. If you are really a great fan of Tendulkar and wish to know about each and every century that he have scored, blindly purchase this book and read it slowly because only then will you unleash the excitement the book holds. The book does not tell about how Tendulkar practiced and became a great player but only describes each of his innings respectfully. 

         I loved the way author gave minute details about how Sachin scored his initial runs, how he reached his 50, how he hit that final ball to touch 50 and 100, who were the bowlers when he touched the landmark, who was the runner at the other end etc. He also tells the situation of the match before describing the innings of Tendulkar. After narrating the innings in a wonderful sport writer's way, he tells us about the records that Tendulkar and others achieved in that particular match in "Did you know?" section. He has divided the chapters according to the years. And then he discusses the number of centuries and half-centuries that Sachin scored in that particular calendar year. After he covers all the centuries, he describes what the two other sporting stars achieved in that particular year, Vishwanathan Anand and Leander Paes. A wonderful job done in letting us know even their development from just a player to a legend. And after that author discusses all the major events that took place in world and nation in the year. Amazingly written. If you loved jumping on each of the centuries scored by Master Blaster, go for this book. I rate it 4 out of 5.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan (Book Review-3.25*/5)!!!

      I don't know why but 2014 does not seem to be exciting the way the first week has been for me- slow and boring. I am such a reading freak and I ended up completing a novel in a week. Ashamed. There are some books in which I get stuck. E.g. I read Meluha in 1.5 days, Nagas in another 1.5 days but as soon as I picked up Vayuputras on the 4th consecutive day of reading this trilogy, I got stuck to it for another 2 weeks. That was the first depressing moment for me. And this has been another. Well, let's move further. I am done reading "Those Pricey Thakur Girls"- one of the most recommended novels by Crossword last year. Anuja Chauhan is known as one of the few sensible writers in the popular commercial fiction hence this has been my first attempt in reading her book. I am not fully impressed but I didn't even hate her. 


The new novel from the bestselling author of The Zoya Factor and Battle for Bittora. 

In a sprawling bungalow on New Delhi s posh Hailey Road, Justice Laxmi Narayan Thakur and his wife Mamta spend their days watching anxiously over their five beautiful (but troublesome) alphabetically named daughters. 

Anjini, married but an incorrigible flirt; Binodini, very worried about her children s hissa in the family property; Chandrakanta, who eloped with a foreigner on the eve of her wedding; Eshwari, who is just a little too popular at Modern School, Barakhamba Road; and the Judge s favourite (though fathers shouldn t have favourites): the quietly fiery Debjani, champion of all the stray animals on Hailey Road, who reads the English news on DD and clashes constantly with crusading journalist Dylan Singh Shekhawat, he of shining professional credentials but tarnished personal reputation, crushingly dismissive of her state-sponsored propaganda , but always seeking her out with half-sarcastic, half-intrigued dark eyes. 

Spot-on funny and toe-curlingly sexy, Those Pricey Thakur Girls is rom-com specialist Anuja Chauhan writing at her sparkling best.

About the Author :
Anuja Chauhan wrote ads for colas, chips and chocolates for seventeen years before deciding to do something healthier for a living. She now writes novels, movie screenplays, news articles and her children's Hindi essays. Her bestselling novels The Zoya Factor and Battle for Bittora have been optioned by major Bollywood studios. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband Niret Alva, two helpers who bang the doors a lot, a Lhasa Apso who thinks he is a German Shepherd, and three adolescents who give her attitude.
     Anuja C's writing is wonderful when she is about to crack a new twist or turn in the story otherwise it's very slow. I have heard that her previous books are in the process of getting adapted into a movie. But if I will have to talk about this very book, I would say a TV series would be a better option than going for a movie. If this story could have been shrunk in just 250 pages, it would have been really a never-to-miss-out stuff but currently, I would say, it's not a very extra-ordinary novel. In fact, it is like a snail that crawls slowly but produces gum with each step. The characters are awesomely defined, I agree. Some incidents does make you laugh and jump off your seat but still, this book lacks the fun that you expect from a book that's based on family drama. 

            The political part that's been focused in the later part of the book is something that excited me. The whole issue of Motla generated my interest. The book really starts from 250th page or so for me. Before that, it's just like water that randomly flows in any direction without knowing where it has to particularly reach. The protagonists- Debjani and Eshwari are wonderfully depicted and they would become your favorite without any great effort. It seems as if author has given her best in characterizing these two protagonists. The role of the Thakur parents are also funny and humorous. I didn't enjoy a bit that's based upon the family of Chachaji and those small kids. Even the segments where Anjini played her role seemed as an interruption in a lovable story. In the end, I would also like to applaud the designer for designing a very beautiful, attractive and exciting cover page. I will give this book 3.25/5.


About Me

My photo
Book Reviewer | Movie Reviewer | Bibliophile | Business Analyst