Friday, March 27, 2020

The Vault of Vishnu by Ashwin Sanghi (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!

11th Book of 2020!

Before reading “The Vault of Vishnu”, I had read 4 books of Ashwin Sanghi and I have considered him as the best writer in India who writes only after researching and verifying a lot. Unfortunately, I had missed few of his books in between but during this lockdown phase, I committed myself to read his latest release in the “Bharat Series” named “The Vault of Vishnu” which is published by Westland in about 315 pages. This book again brings for you multiple plots like all the books of Ashwin and makes you create the whole chart with connecting arrows for yourself to be able to remember the characters and their relationships and roles later on in the story. I believe, I end up making the similar kind of connecting diagrams at my end while reading Ashwin Sanghi’s books the way he must be creating while drafting the story. Haha!

Ashwin Sanghi’s writing style remains to be top-notch even here. The narration is soft-paced which shall ensure that you don’t get lost more often regarding which plot or era you are currently reading about. I like how the author has chosen regular words to describe this over-the-top story without making it sound richer by adding unnecessary English words for which readers have to run behind the dictionary.

The book is a mixture of a lot many things such as Politics, India-China relationship, ancient China tales, Indian culture, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Spirituality, Mythology, Religion, Action, Murder, Love, Family, History, Temples etc. There are basically two plots running simultaneously- One is about the journey of Xuanzang from 627 to 645 CE whereas another one is about the India-China relationship in the current scenario where Paramjit Khurana is the protagonist who is trying to connect the dots to reach to a conclusion to a lot many things including her father’s murder case.

I must say that the book carries a lot of information and knowledge that you could get only while reading fiction stories as none of us are going to go into historical books to know about such minute details. Similarly, how Sanghi connects the mythology with history and current scenario makes you get up and read the book little more seriously in the 2nd half. The climax is a fine finish to this story.

I have never rated any of the 4 books that I have read of Ashwin Sanghi’s below 4.5 stars out of 5 as he never disappointed the reader in me but this time I just got disappointed with few things. I felt that the book is written in a very slow-paced manner which this story didn’t deserve. You start getting bored after a while as nothing great happens in either of the two plots and there’s not enough twists and turns to keep you awake. Similarly, the characters aren’t introduced very well due to which you are unable to empathize with them most of the times. Even the climax is not very actionable which is not what I was expecting after such a long story. The book could have been easily 60-80 pages less than what it is and that would have made the story crisper and tight. This time it felt as if we are reading a script of a web-series and not a novel – may be if author had that in his mind while writing the book.

Except these few points, still, for the kind of research author has made for this book- and the connection author makes between history and mythology, this book is worth reading- just that it is not of the standard Ashwin Sanghi has created for himself in all these years. I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.



Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Patriots Legacy: Forbidden Treasure by Apurva Bhuta (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!

10th Book of 2020!

Finally, I have completed 10th book this year and it has never taken me this long the way 2020 has made me wait. Thanks to this isolation period that I am getting chance to pick all those books I had kept aside considering their complexity and subjects and wanted to read them all at one go on a  ong leave. One such book that I had kept aside which I am done reading today is “Forbidden Treasure” which is 1st book in the series of “The Patriot’s Legacy” written by the 1st time author- Apurva Bhuta. The book is self-published by the author in around 300 pages and belongs to the fantasy fiction genre.

The book is about the team of 7 people out on search of a treasure kept in a secret place by the Patriots 400 years ago. The search is not easy because the clues of the treasure is kept in countries lying in different parts of the world which can be found out only when gone in the series one after another. One more challenge out here is that the adventure is sponsored and initiated by the Secret Society hence this has to be executed without the world noticing it. And finally comes the twist in the book when the Underworld gets involved in this and demands the treasure from this gang of Patriots. Now, the group has two difficult tasks in hand- to find out the treasure by applying their logic and genius through the clues and be safe from the Underworld gang who is two steps ahead than them.

The writing style of the author is captivating and keeps you hooked. The story is written in a very intelligent manner which tells you the amount of effort the author has put in drafting this. Similarly, as the book involves mention of many real location and spots in the world – the research work gone into the same by the author is commendable. There are several historical and cultural mentions too which makes it an interesting read. Author has nicely included history, geography, mythology, science, fiction together with lots of other elements. There are too many characters in the book which author has been able to give equal attention throughout the story without missing out on anyone.

I liked how the background of few characters are also connected with this search of treasure. The last 70-80 pages of the book are just mind-blowing and keeps you thrilled. The book makes you imagine a lot of things and thus, navigates you to a world of yourself. The climax is very well-done and even though the end is open for 2nd part of the series, there is no incomplete feeling in you as a reader and you are satisfied on completing this 300-pages book.

Now talking about the drawbacks- The book starts with mention of all the characters at once which makes it very difficult for you as a reader to keep everyone’s personality in mind. What author does later i.e. giving description of each one’s background should have been done initially itself by slowly taking us through each character. The 1st half of the book is very slow and there are too much of conversations involved which brings the matter to any conclusion only after 4-5 pages of it which irritates you as it goes nowhere. The book could have been easily kept under 250 pages. The cover page of the book needed more efforts for readers to pick it up attracted by it.

Overall, this book is thrilling, high on imagination, exploratory, well-researched and a nice adventurous story. The 2nd book in this series shall be filled with more excitement as now, all the characters are made friendly with the readers. I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.



Friday, March 20, 2020

Enjoy Success, Relish Failures by A.D. Padmasingh Isaac (Book Review: 4*/5) !!!

9th Book of 2020!

Well, staying at home in self-isolation due to Coronavirus spread is a tragedy if you are doing nothing and only scrolling your mobile and checking latest updates out of curiosity whereas it is a boon for the people like me who love reading as I am getting time to read books which were lying in my shelf since long. I have just completed reading another non-fiction book named “Enjoy Success, Relish Failures” which is written by the entrepreneur- A.D. Padmasingh Isaac who is founder of the company named Aachi. The book is of around 185 pages published by Rupa Publications written in a very humble manner. You will just not agree that this has been written by a person who is running an organization. This itself gives you a kind of positive vibes throughout your reading experience.

The cover page has the image of Mr. A.D. Padmasingh Isaac in a very well-dressed avatar which is what he also discusses in a very start of the book about how dressing good is one of the key factors for him that he has analysed is essential for growth. The author starts writing his autobiographical story right from his birth to make us understand the background he comes from and that is how every autobiography should be written. Reading about his humble beginning gives you a lot of confidence to dream more and do impossible as the way everything has been described by the author tells you the importance of having good values, right idols and positive and dedicated approach.

Generally, whenever I have read an autobiography of an entrepreneur, the author generally speaks about the greatness of their father but this is the first time when I have seen an entrepreneur talking about his mother and the kind of skills and values he inherited from her which helped him in forming, running, managing and growing the company. It was so great reading about author’s view about his mother, wife and other women which makes you understand how important women are in our society whom few people still consider as 2nd grade. This book is an eye-opener for such people.

Author, then, focuses in the 2nd half of the book on his entrepreneurship life and the challenges involved in the same. The way he left his job to start his own organization with no much capital to put in makes this story a great read. How Aachi Masale became famous and what all Padmasingh Isaac underwent to keep it running is a wonderful story in itself. I liked how author, rather than praising himself, regularly keeps giving references of other businessmen like Dhirubhai Ambani, Narayana Murthy or say, a Bollywood personality such as Amitabh Bachchan shows that he is still grounded and learns from other personalities in the same game.

Now talking about the drawbacks, I must say, that author doesn’t discuss much of the internal challenges that he must be facing on daily basis while running the company such as one discussed in the book where an employee used to steal from the company premises. There was a need of many such scenarios and how author fought against it. This helps the readers in understanding how an entrepreneur takes decision.

Except one point discussed above, this book is written in a very simple language with a message in the end of every chapter to make sure you have Take-away pointers with you after completing it. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.



Thursday, March 19, 2020

Chanakya Neeti by Radhakrishnan Pillai (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!

8th Book of 2020!

Since childhood, I have always been given reference of Chanakya and the words he has spoken on several topics to convey a message to me. I don’t know how many of them were even said by Chanakya or the elders just wanted to convey what was in their heart in the name of Chanakya. Haha! When I first got to know about the author, Radhakrishnan Pillai, and his specialty of using the verses or words spoken by Chanakya and then moulding it in his own way to deliver its relation with today’s lifestyle- I just wanted to read all the books written by him but could only read two till date and I have just finished the 3rd and his latest book today which is named “Chanakya Neeti” itself and I believe is his deepest book on Chanakya until now.

The book published in around 325 pages by Jaico Publishers is one of the great books which everyone must go through at least once. The commendable part about this book is that it is relevant for individuals belonging in every age group and of any class. There is something for everyone in this book. Author, Radhakrishnan Pillai, has very beautifully designed the whole book which makes it easier for you as a reader to read it. You can directly open any page and read that one section and that shall make you learn something new. The book, though, mentions in the beginning that every verse is written in a series but I believe you can read any page as per your convenience and still enjoy the same.

Each section initially mentions the verse written by Chanakya which is not in a very reader-friendly language but is then summarized by the author and then broken into parts and explained to us. Author has taken extra efforts here to sometimes explain the same to us in relevance to today’s nature of society. This is one of the few books where you just can’t highlight one or two sentences in a page but every word and sentence has deep meaning and insights which can change your outlook towards things. As I have read many such books, not everything was new for me, but still there are few things which I do in life considering them moral as per me but when I read Chanakya warning against doing that and through the explanations, I kept realizing the kind of mistake I have been committing. Many verses in the book were like an eye-opener for me.

Now, talking about the drawbacks of the book- I must say that author should have skipped the verses or modified them extensively which are subjected only to women as - as already mentioned by author himself that Chanakya belonged to an era where women were treated as 2nd to men hence reading those verses and their explanation infuriated me some times. Secondly, the book could have been edited for one more round as I found many grammatical and spelling errors which are skipped. Also, there are few verses which are contradictory with one another where I felt author should have given little more explanation as to why it is so which has been skipped thoughtlessly.

Overall, this book is empowering and gives you different insights than any other self-help or self-improvement books. I give this one 4.25 stars out of 5.



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Irrationally Passionate by Jason Kothari (Book Review: 3.75*/5) !!!

7th Book of 2020!

Reading books of autobiographical accounts of entrepreneurs and successful people in the Hardcover format is the ideal moment for me as a bibliophile. I have always found such books where I didn’t know the man writing his story and after reading the book, I understood what kind of success stories run in our country and world which we have not even touched yet which can transform your life altogether just by reading their life challenges. One such book that I finished today sitting at home in the wake of Coronavirus is named “Irrationally Passionate” written by Mr. Jason Kothari. It is his own story of his turnaround from being a rebel to becoming an entrepreneur and then heading several companies as CEO and turning them towards success.

In this 230-pages of autobiographical account, you get to learn a lot from the life of Mr. Jason Kothari as he starts the story right from one of his childhood events where he is able to negotiate with a seller and get the chessboard at just Rs. 30 which makes him realize that he has the quality of negotiating and turning things in his favour which makes him get into the entrepreneurship space at just the age of 19 where he is raising funds to save the company named Valiant which he followed since his childhood. How he is able to go through the whole phase whereas his peers were getting great job tells how dedicated and passionate he was towards his passion of being an entrepreneur and doing what he believes in.

Similarly, how he saved by taking tough decisions such as closing the renting module to concentrate on buying-selling module where people in the organization believed that the renting module was The Thing. How he had to take tough call of laying off employees is also an essential read to grasp the kind of toughness one needs to go through this. How he had to keep a security agency look after him as people in India went ahead and involved a local politician tells us how difficult it is to do business in India and take calls where employees can lose their job. 

The author then spends his time in explaining as to how he got involved in Snapdeal and Freecharge with no prior interest of such industry and still managing to understand which all sector to sell to ensure that the company is not losing money on things not necessary to the core business. Between all this, author also discusses how girls ditched him for marriage which made him weak yet made him learn his lessons. Also, he talks about spirituality in the end how it helped him control emotions and lead.

Author’s writing style is very simple considering him to be one of the top league players which tells about his intent of spreading as much positivity to youth as possible. The book is not stretchy anywhere which makes it an easy read otherwise this could have also been stretched for some 400 pages and more.

Talking about the drawbacks- I felt that author didn’t go in much details in each of his adventures discussed in the book which doesn’t give you complete picture as to how he fought against small issues in organization which can create big impacts. He only discussed things on strategical basis. I was keen to know how he dealt with petty issues of organization etc. Also, at many places, how the profit started initializing is not mentioned which doesn’t give much clarity. Due to these few factors, it felt as if we have read the book by fast-forwarding it even when you have ensured that you are reading in between lines.

Overall, this is a great book if you wish to be an entrepreneur or stay in Top-managerial position in the hierarchy. I give this book 3.75* out of 5.



Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Deception of the Meek by Sunny Heerekar (Book Review: 3*/5) !!!

6th Book of 2020!

So, my Holi was celebrated in a corner of my bed in my sweet little bedroom reading a 270-pages book and luckily, completing it on the same day itself as there was complete silence at home as everyone was out to play Holi. Yes, there was some disturbance of DJs playing around in mine and neighbourhood society but for a reader, reading is meditation and nothing else matters when there’s a book in hand. The book “The Deception of the Meek” written by Sunny Heerekar is the book on the life of a character who has great interest in Cricket and manages to get into the School Cricket team but lands up in a controversy which is what all this book is all about- and that is where the book has got its title too.

This self-published book seems to be an ambitious project of the author the way it has been written which seems to be quite influenced and rest of it creatively shaped to form a fiction story that should entertain the readers. I loved beginning of the book where author is shaping his characters which are going to stay throughout the story. I liked the backdrop and set-up chosen by Sunny which makes you imagine each and every scene. How a boy from slums get an opportunity to continue his junior college and further studies in an esteemed school is a good start and then the way whole section of the protagonist meeting each character and growing his friendship with them keeps the story moving. Also, the characterizations are wonderfully crafted where you can understand each person’s character very well such as Jayesh, Ramakanth, Atul, Vikram, Rohit, Suhas, Tanaji etc. 

The book is very slow in the first half and finally picks up the pace in the 2nd half. But most of the 2nd half is again filled with description of the matches played in the tournament between different school teams. I liked how author has described each and every match in the interval of 5 overs which makes it easy for you to imagine it as one of the spectators yourself. Anyone who is new into reading and has great interest in Cricket will love to read those sections. Another thing I would appreciate is the way author kept things practical and not heroic where the protagonist is making his team win every game and things like that. I also liked the way character moves back to academics and outperforms even there.

Now, coming to the drawbacks- I must say that the book has unwanted detailing in many sections which could have been easily avoided. Also, the 2nd half is too much about matches which could have been given good short-cut. The book could have been edited such that it could have easily been 80-100 pages less. Yes! Also, there are few grammatical errors here and there which becomes disappointing if you are a regular reader. I liked the climax which is quite different than what I had predicted but just that one twist didn’t do justice to the title of the book completely. There should have been many such instances throughout the Cricket matches segment. As the book is based in college, a little touch of a love story could also have been added to add excitement to the young readers. The cover page has been given green background may be depicting the Cricket ground but it is quite dull which shall make it very tough for the readers to choose out of many books on the shelf.

Overall, the book is an average read which I can rate around 3 stars out of 5.



Friday, March 6, 2020

The Winning Sixer: Leadership Lessons to Master by W. V. Raman (Book Review: 3*/5) !!!

5th Book of 2020!

It doesn’t take time for me to select certain types of books due to the way they are presented. I recently picked up the book named “The Winning Sixer” written by the former Indian cricketer, Mr. W. V. Raman. No, the book is not about MS Dhoni’s final six in the World Cup Finale which gave us our 2nd World Cup but about the Leadership lessons given by Mr. Cricketer to all class of people. This book is not written in a manner which impresses only the business or top-management class of people but which shall provide inputs to almost everyone- a student, a salesman, a fresher, a new joinee, a manager, a CEO or even a person who is never going to lead any kind of team. Mr. Sachin Tendulkar’s testimonial on the cover page is enough for any reader to trust and pick this book.

This book published by Rupa Publications and published in about 175 pages consists of ten different chapters where each chapter speaks about one aspect of leadership which is then described briefly by the author- who with his experience in playing sport of Cricket and also serving as a Coach- mixes both of them and provides us real life examples to explain his points.

The book is written in Robin Sharma’s style where an individual is asking questions related to the topic of leadership whereas the person in charge is giving all the answers to the same and ensuring it is explained so swiftly that the reader reading it should feel that it is being communicated directly to him/her considering his/her current situation in work or life. The book is narrated in a very interactive manner and gives you various insights. I like Sports and therefore, I enjoyed reading about real examples used by the author of the sport personalities such as Saina Nehwal, P. Gopichand, Sania Mirza, Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Rahul Dravid, Jeev Milkha Singh etc.

I liked how author along with giving the traditional way of 5 Cs and 5 Ts and several such pointers on Leadership combined it with great sense of humor that makes you smile and even laugh at times. The chemistry between both the main characters in the book is portrayed wonderfully with the nature of pulling each other’s leg through the conversations. It makes the narration interesting.

The book is very informative. It is a guide to learn and understand the integrities of leadership which shall help you improve your way and style of working- even if you are not working on a leading designation. In case you are a leader, this book is going to serve you nicely.

Talking about the drawbacks- I can only say that this book has nothing new to offer in terms of pointers. If you remove the real-life incidents of sportspersons mentioned in this book, it has nothing for which I can refer you this one.

Overall, I give this book 3 stars out of 5.



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