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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Age Of Hiblisk by Sumukh Naik


I have received this book from Reshmy Pillai (of thetalespensieve.com) for reviewing this book. She had given me 10 days to review this book from the day I received it, which I have broken a week back. For that I want to apologize to Pillai and whoever she is responsible to.

Anyway, I am not going to further bore you stating around about my time spend in vacations and all. Let me hop back to the review of this book.

Before I move on with the review, for the final time in this review, I want to apologize again for the delay.

Plot (from the jacket):
It is the journey of Prince William and Princess Sara, the protagonists,through the magical and spiritual worlds of Pantolis, Hiblisk, and Ikra. As their voyage unfolds, they realize the true motive behind the terror employed by the dark forces of Dushtt to claim supremacy over the lands of Pantolis and beyond. Every new revelation brings to light the methodical madness employed by the dark forces and secrets of Mother Nature, which have been safely guarded for ages by the various civilizations of the secret worlds.

Their journey also introduces them to the divine forces that monitor the functions of the world and gives them access to legendary, mystical weapons and advanced spiritual knowledge which illuminates the flow of their understanding and actions towards various aspects of life. They use the knowledge gained, to try and bring peace, to their war ravaged lands and fight the ever-growing might and influence of the mysterious dark forces that haunt their kingdoms.

Will the light of all that is divine, fighting under the banner of Prince William and Princess Sara, flicker away into oblivion against the might of the dark forces under Dushtt, or will they survive? ...Only time in her womb holds the answer, potent enough to change the outlook of the very world we live in.

About the author (from the jacket):
Sumukh Naik is a Hotel Management graduate (B.Sc. Hospitality and Hotel Administration) from IHM - Goa. He also holds diploma in IATA and PGDBA. He is human resources professional and stays in Mumbai.

My take on the book:
Cover design:
The very first impression I grasped when I first saw the cover design of this book is it perhaps is a self-help book. The pyramid and the glowing circle in the middle of it depicts one of enlighten or illumination. Also here, in Hyderabad, there is a new field of meditation in rounds, known as Pyramid Meditation. It was like the typical meditation, but in this case, they meditated under a pyramid-shaped object. The pyramidal object would be hanging overhead. I never had the intention to dig out more detailed information, though. Probably, they would be having their theories and explanation powered by some real-life examples and myths.

To some extent, the cover design is apt for the story. But only to some extent.

On the contrary, though the book drags attention due to the mystic blend of colours, it doesn't encourage many to pick it, read the description and carry it on to the billing counter. The cover could have used a lot more effort.

The language used in the book is one of the best I came across these days. It is both simple and complex at the same time. There was a intense use of simple words and expressions with occasional touch of complex words and expressions.

I have come across many editorial mistakes across this book. There are quiet a few dialogues by single person that stretch pages-long. In that case, many a paragraph missed the quotation marks. Other than, there were minor spelling mistake, like listed below.
  • Page 19 - 'Tell' was spelled as 'Tel'
  • Page 30 - 'Crisis' was spelled as 'Crises'
  • Page 34 - 'The' was spelled 'They'
There were quite more - like in the pages 38, 40,44,46,48 - till some point I was circling the mistakes, post 48th page I started to overlook the mistakes. It was spoiling the very enjoyment of reading a book. Hope author gets the book properly edited before the release of the next edition.

After editorial mistakes come senseless expressions - or rather, sentences. At least, they didn't make sense to me. Let me name a couple of them, I noticed.
  • On page 297, there is a sentence, 'William and Sara saw a young man standing about fifteen feet wearing a white kurta, a dhoti and golden armour'.I was dumbstruck to visualize someone wearing a golden armour with a simplest attire of kurta and dhoti! But then, it is a Fantasy and anything is possible in Fantasy.
  • On page 301, there is a description and explanation of importance of Pyramid depicts its spiritual details. A sentence reads, ' "Also note that the pyramidal structure looks like an hour glass when viewed from the top" ', and goes on to explain the importance of time and all. When I came across this line, I put the book aside and started to wonder, in what world does a pyramid look like an hour glass when viewed from top! After an hour of pondering over the topic and detailed examination of different hour glasses on the web, I came to the conclusion that, maybe, author meant to say, 'Also note that the pyramidal structure looks like the topper - bottom, in actual - half of the hour glass'. I still doubt he meant that, though.
APK Publishers. Age of Hiblisk is the first book I read from these publishers. The inner side of the front cover of the book depicts many other fictional works from these authors, but I never read, or rather never heard, of those books. Maybe the publishers are new. In that case, I wonder they bagged so many books. Maybe, they are small time publishers, but then, AOH holds the story and language worth for bigger publishers. Anyhow, I am unbiased in the case to judge the publishers. Hope to read some more books from these publishers, soon.

Story and other aspects:
To carry on further with the review I have to come to the conclusion whether the book is shelved under 'Self Help' or 'Fantasy'. If both, I am in a huge mess. Because there are pages and pages of lessons, teachings and secrets of illumination and enlightenment. It was a hell, at least for me, to read all those dialogues passing on the torturous lectures about being happy and all. I would swear on anything, there is a 10-page conversation on the message from Mahabharatha. Though, I am not a meditating kind of a person, I have my share of interest in such stuff. But here, in the case of this book, I was expecting a thrilling, adventurous story of war and magic, and lot of word of Fantasy, but these enlightening facts were very depressing and boring. This is where the tagline comes in, A story with a soul. Soul depicts spirituality, which in turn points to meditation, enlightenment and eventually Nirvana. If the core aim of the book is self-help, then why the whole cover of wars, kingdoms and magic? Well, I am not enlightened yet and that is beyond my comprehension.

I have to say that the author is not eligible to write a Fantasy novel. He lacked the power of imagination. Maybe he could imagine world and setting but he failed in creating new names. There are two maps or rather two rectangular, funny-looking images printed on a single foldable page glued inside the back cover. The depict the maps of Pantolis and Hiblisk - two different worlds, I came to know later in the course of reading the book. There is a village named, Ooty. Come on, can't you be more creative in naming the villages? And then, the name of the capital, Rajdhani. Rajdhani in Hindi literally means capital. I don't see any creativity in it. A new, at least pathetic-sounding, name could have done a great deal of good to the story.

In short, the concept of the book was awesome, but the author's effort in adding mysticism to the story had ruined the very basis of attempting to read this book. Another added advantage to the book is the unanticipated twist in the end. The twist messes up everything and at the end of the story, the reader is left with the dawning of the realization that hit him so hard just then.

I loved the exclusive bookmark, also.

One side of the bookmark.

The other side, depicting the name of the book and when inverted, a ink bottle with a writers' feather dipped.

To those who have the caliber to understand the spiritual stuff and wanted to experience spirituality through fiction.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Let's Talk Money by Akhil Khanna


I received this book from Reshmy Pillai (of thetalespensieve.com) for reviewing.

Reshmy has been very generous with me. Perhaps, this is third or fourth book - I have a very bad memory - that I received from/through her. Even her IQR challenge has made me a star book critic overnight. Hats off to your idea, Pillai! On the same note, I want to apologize publicly, if not personally, for my delay on submitting the review of the book. I know that I have crossed your 10 days deadline. But please do understand that the student, as I am, don't get many holidays and I've got a month of it now, so I was lost myself somewhere in South India. I strolled quiet a few places, so it took this long to come back. Anyways, I want to make up to it and read this book in a record time of two days. At least, it is a record time for me. The review of the other book will be up soon. So if there is anyone to whom you have to answer for the delay of the review, direct them to this page. Once again, thank you, Pillai, for considering me eligible to judge and review this book.

Description (from the jacket):
Never forget Rule No. 1. Let me add a Rule No. 3: Know how to apply Rule No. 1. For, neither our upbringing nor our education gives money any significant place. Money is the least discussed topic within a family. Formal education about it is absent.

The aim of this book is to help people from non-financial background to become aware of the world of money. In a simple, jargon-free language, it tries to acquaint us with this world — the various options one has of investing and the things one should bear in mind while choosing an option. We come to know of the complexities of the global investment climate we live in today and the dangers to our investments.

Remember: It is not important what one earns; true wealth is what one manages to keep.

About the author:
An MBA from the University of Sheffield (UK), Akhil Khanna specializes in Financial Management. He left his illustrious corporate career to run a business of trading in industrial and electrical consumable goods. In 2009, he developed a keen interest in financial markets. Since 2010, he has acted as a consultant to a number of high net-worth individuals. He has researched the role of derivatives in the modern-day world of finance and published a number of papers and articles on the global financial crisis.

The author may be contacted at letstalkmoney2012@gmail.com.

My take on the book:
Cover design:
There isn't much to be told about the cover design. The entire cover - front and back - consists of majorly white and a image with a woman (don't ask me how knew that it is a woman) holding a piggy bank in one hand and crediting a coin into the piggy bank with the other hand. It is perfect for the subject of discussion in this book. There is no need of a comical character or a design with higher artistic value because this isn't a work of fiction but some serious research. The cover picture and the design can't be more apt, if you ask me.

Times Group Books. This is the first time I heard of a publishing group belonging to one of the top newspaper of India - THE TIMES OF INDIA. I didn't know they published book. All the while I was under the impression that their publishing was restricted till newspapers and magazines. Later, I came to learn from Srinivas - the other author of the blog - that these people print and publish books, not recently but since a very long time. He also told me that all the works they published were non-fictions and dealt more with serious research and stuff. Then, it was obvious that I never heard about this publishers. I never read anything serious. No, not even my text books!

Content, story and other aspects:
It has been a long time since I've read something serious. In simple words, I haven't read any non-fictions lately. It is justifiable considering how much fun and entertaining - two of the many positive aspects non-fictions lacked - the fictions were.

If non-fiction was so boring, why applied to review it in the first place, you ask me? At first, I wasn't interested in the book. Let's Talk Money. Can anything get more boring, I thought. But then, my eye caught the name, Warren Buffet. Then I went on to read the description which was anything but boring. The very next moment I found myself applying to review the book.

Though I voluntarily applied to review this book, ever since I received it, I felt a strange laziness whenever I thought of reading it. Even when the size of the book and the number of pages is considered, it is indeed a small book. Then, I decided to read it. Dutifully, if nothing else.

From the very first page to the last page, I was glued to the book. Believe me, it came as a vibrant surprise to myself even. How can a non-fiction be so interesting? I was expecting a text-book like prose. Perhaps, it depended on the author and his style of putting front the view. The examples and illustrations used by the author in the book were entertaining and teaching at the same time. I badly wanted the authors of my text book to be at least quarter as good as Akhil Khanna.

But there was part of the book when it became very monotonous and boring. I experienced it at around the middle of the book. The first part and last parts were interesting, but the middle part bored me. Maybe, being an engineering student is one reason. Or maybe, the fiction read, as I was, could be the reason. On the contrary, during the first part of the story, I was elated that I right away wanted to invest my monthly allowance in shares. Yeah, being the typical reluctant youth of 21st century, I knew nothing of shares, but this book, the words of Akhil Khanna, sparked up the confidence that with the knowledge from this book, I could multiply my money. In simple words, I would like to call this book, The Handbook of Investment. Every option of investment - like shares, properties, banks, et al - is explained to the very scratch of a detail. Each option is divided into different chapter and dealt in explaining briefly about investment in that option, in the modern, jargon-free language which is understand by everyone; from a 'high school student to a retired person'.

As I have told earlier, the middle part of the book felt a bit boring. But then, I am a engineering student and it is unmistakable that I lacked interest in economics. I am certain Commerce student would love it and understand it more. Perhaps, it could enhance their academics.

Overall, though the book wasn't as entertaining as an fiction novel, it fulfilled its purpose to the rim.

All commerce-pursuing students and people who are planning in investing their money in something should definitely go through this book. It is of great help to everyone!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Love is Vodka by Amit Shankar


I have received this book from Nimi Vashi (of http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/) for reviewing. Though she was the one to contact me for reviewing this book, I know that the book is originally dispatched by the publishers. None other than the publishers could send a exclusive bookmark of the other book of the author, named Chapter Eleven.

All the while, I was thinking that the author was a debutante, but to know that he already authored two other books came as a surprise to me.

Plot (from GoodReads):

If love is all about freedom and honest expression then how can one associate it with loyalty?

Being a love child; Moon, the protagonist is anything but a conventional teen. With a leading TV news anchor as her mother, an aspiring entrepreneur as her boy friend, the word LOVE baffles her. The whole idea of having one partner and love being eternal is beyond her comprehension. 

Life turns upside down when she falls for the CEO, who happens to be her mother's boyfriend too. Destiny further complicates things by blessing her with a big time modelling assignment and she becomes famous and popular overnight.

A war starts waging between her head & heart on a lot of issues exposing her to various forms of love online & offline. 

Will she decipher the true meaning of love? Embark on an exhilarating rendezvous with Moon and discover love like never before.

My take on the book:
Cover design:
The cover design was a good one. Unlike, many disappointing designs these days. It is subtle and darkly coloured, enough to attract quiet some attention. On the contrary, I think the cover is too darkly coloured. Though it attracts some attention, the dark colour might turn some people down. Other than that, the cover design is pretty much acceptable. In fact, the colour is pretty apt for the story. The story, itself, is dark. The behaviour, the character of the protagonist is dark.

I came to know from the back cover of the book that author is not a debutant. (That is the reason you won't see ‘About the author’ part in this review.) It states that Amit Shankar has already authored two books, apart from this one. Chapter Eleven and Flight of the Hilsa. The bookmark provided with the novel is used to promote the book named, Chapter Eleven. The idea of the bookmark was the most brilliant yet I've come across.

As you all know I have a special liking for exclusive bookmarks. Though, the bookmark can't be called an exclusive one, but it is indeed used for the promotion of the author's other book - Chapter Eleven. There is a dual message in a blurb. The hidden message is readable only using the red, transparent paper cover provided attached to the bookmark, itself. Check out the visual provided below.

One side of the bookmark.

The other side - without the cover of the red paper.

With the cover of the red paper. It reads, Find your own path.

If you yet didn't decipher the mechanism behind the creativity of the bookmark, let me help you here. If you notice the blurb without the cover of the red paper, all words, except four, are printed in red colour. When aided by the red paper, all red coloured words are made invisible and the four words, which are non-red, are left, revealing the hidden message in the blurb.

The foolish, as I was, didn’t notice it until the moment I completed reading this book. All the while I was thinking the red paper had some artistic touch to the bookmark. It is only after I completed reading this book and had nothing else interesting to do during the train journey that I noticed the significance of the bookmark with the brilliantly designed secret blurb.

Vitasta Publishers. This is the first time I came across these publishers and the only one book I came across from these publishers. The cover design, the language and narrative style used in the story, the quality of the paper, all of them suggest that the publishers are a good one. Hoping to read more books of these publishers.

The story and other aspects:
The story was written in the first-person narration of someone, who addressed themselves, I. Since I had a very bad habit of not reading the description/plot of the book before reading it, I wasn't aware that the story is of a girl. The story is written by a guy, the author, in the perception of a girl, the protagonist of the story. It was least expected by me. It took some time to decipher this truth and understand the story.

For once, I could say that the story is the result of a guy's fantasy of a girl. In many parts, I felt that the protagonist was a girl, who has the character of a boy. Maybe, that’s the idea. Maybe the story is about a girl who had the mind-set of a boy. The line, 'Love is freedom. Loyalty is just another form of slavery', was used more than once. Commonly it is the policy used by guys to use girls to fulfil their material needs. But a girl believing in such a line was really against the routinity. Perhaps, they are what called, 21st century modern girls.

There is one part of the story where the protagonist had some disease called PCOD. Then after, there was not a mention of the disease in the entire story. Maybe it is not such a vital disease to be mentioned again, but it sounded serious to me at least.

The tagline, 'A shot ain't enough', is also witty and catchy. But the real, inner meaning of the tagline is understand in the last chapter. The author ensures that you notice its significance in the last chapter.

Overall, it is a metro read. Not enjoyable by everyone equally.

I suggest people to go through the plot and take the necessary action. Because not everyone enjoys metro reads. But then, this book isn't entirely a metro read. It also a spread of emotion and true love. That is the reason I, who hates metro reads to the core, enjoyed this read to some extent. My final verdict would be read it at your own call...

This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Review Program. To

get free books visit thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Arjuna by Anuja Chandramouli


I was contacted by the author, herself, for reviewing her book. I readily agreed without even throwing a glance the description of the book. Born and brought up in the urban area, there was no one to tell me stories of Mahabharatha, Ramayana and various other Indian epics. Ramayana, I have seen it in a cartoon series, but I have heard that Mahabharatha was a very lengthy story and it was best experienced when told by ones grand-parents. That's how many epics are retold in India - one's grand-parents narrate the story during bed-time or in the early morning.

I didn't have a epic-narrating grand-parent. Both my grand-fathers passed away, even before I was born. My maternal grand-mother passed away half a decade ago and my paternal grand-mother doesn't know Mahabharatha herself. So, this book was treat for me.

All the while, I came across bits and pieces of short stories, which are part of the main story, the very thought getting to know the entire story was very much thrilling. And finally, the book proved its worth.

Plot (from the jacket):
Arjuna is the immortal tale of one of India's greatest heroes. These pages retell in riveting detail the story of the Pandava Warrior-Prince who has captured the imagination of millions across centuries. This is the intense and human story of his loves, friendship, ambitions, weaknesses and follies, as well as his untimely death and revival, his stint as a eunuch, and the innermost reaches of his thoughts.

Told in a refreshingly modern and humourous style and set against the staggering backdrop of the Mahabharata. Arjunas story appeals equally to the average, discerning reader and the scholar. It spans the epic journey from before his birth, when omens foretold his greatness, across the fabled, wondrous landscape that was his life.

About the author (from inside the book):
Anuja Chandramouli is a full-time mother of two lovely girls, as well as a part-time writer. Her academic credentials include a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master;s in English. Having started out as a freelance writer with articles published in Women's Era, Lonely Planet and The Hindu, she currently works as an e-reported and columnist.

Anuja is a self-confessed, big-dreamer, who is driven by an inner passion to contribute her mite to great pool of human endeavor, thought, and wisdom. An ardent admirer of Veda Vyasa's Mahabharata, Anuja holds the Great Epic to be one of a kind, the Homers and Virgils of the world notwithstanding. Drawing her creative inspiration from the epic's timeless track record of sustenance through centuries of retelling, Anuja chose to debut as a storyteller with the immortal and eternally captivating saga of Arjuna, the non pareil hero. Putting together episodes from Arjuna's life (some well known, others relatively obscure), gleaned through years of painstaking research and then presented in a seamless narrative with the uninhibited panache and style of a 21st century writer, has been an immensely satisfying and self-actualizing endeavor for this New Age Indian classicist.

Chandramouli can be reached at: anujamouli@gmail.com

My take of the book:
Cover design:
I don't see any significance of the cover design to the story. On the whole, the cover design in woody is texture. And then, there is a tree like design on the front-cover. I don't have any idea, nor the knowledge, of the link between the tree and Mahabharatha. On the contrary, I can't be sure that it is a tree. It could be something else.

Other than that, the cover design is good. Of course, it didn't have any significance as far as the story is concerned. But the look is classy. Ultimately, the cover design is good.

Leadstart Publishing. Lately, I have come across quiet a few books from these publishers. Even Asura by Anand Neelakantan, the book Srinivas - the other almost non-existent author of this blog - is reading, is from Leadstart Publishers. There are few books depicted in the inside of the back-cover of this book. I must say, most of them seem native, deep-in-thought and classy.

Looking forward to read more the books from this publishers.

The language is one aspect of the book that gives the retold epic an impression of a historical fiction. Meanings of many words expressed in this book are even unknown to me. I only understand the meaning of those words under the pretext of the sentence. It is both a positive and negative point at the same time. Negative because some readers might not decipher the actual meaning of the word and might start hunting for the meaning in the dictionary. Positive because some readers might like those kind of complex words. Also the pretext makes it easy to understand the instant meaning of the word and I didn't find much trouble deciphering their contextual meaning.

Overall, the prose included few unusual words, which you might have not come across before, if you are a vivid reader. If you are vivid reader, you won't be having much trouble with the prose, I assure you.

Story and other aspects:
The book contains typically the story of Mahabharata revolving around the untold hero of the epic, Arjuna. The story of pandavas, especially Arjuna, from the very birth to the moment they all died getting transported to the other side of the world.

The language and prose used makes it sound more of a story than a great Indian epic. It is one reason to keep you going on and help you from the monotony of the story.

When I turned pages to the first page of the story, I was shell-shocked. Right after the page of contents, is the page of Select Cast of Characters. It literally, meant the names and relations of characters from the entire story. The dreadful matter is that it four whole pages! Just imagine, reading a story which has characters of four whole pages! Firstly, it would take a week or two to even memorize the names of those characters. I am sure the very impression is discouraging of a reader to pick up this book. But let me tell you, reader, this aspect is least discouraging. Later, during the time of reading the story, I came to know that the author has tried her hard to make the characters as vivid as possible. This clears any hitches to memorize the names of the characters. And the page of Select Cast of Characters just plays as a guide to refer to the relation of the character during some point of reading the book. Though, I never had a need to refer to that part. Author has well-planned the whole story to such an extent!

I don't know whether Mahabharata has any more story than this, but I am content with this much of story. It is exactly as I have been expecting - witty, touching, historical and magical. Every part of Arjuna's life is explained in such a vivid detail as if the author, herself, has witnessed the happenings and came up with this masterpiece.

I don't this holds much significance, but I couldn't help but notice these couple of coincidences. 

  • The author's first name - Anuja - is so rhyming to the lead character's name Arjuna.
  • From the way she described Arjuna, it clearly evident the author's love for the superhero. Even on the dedication page, she had written, "For Veda Vyasa ~ the finest storyteller this world has ever seen and the who gave me the great love of my life." When she mentioned about the great love of her life, probably, she was referring to Arjuna.
And yeah, Veda Vyasa is indeed the finest story teller ever!

I would like to thank the author for her signature with a lovely message on the dedication page of the book.

Thank you, Anuja...

Overall, the novel was very delighting for me. Every little tale was so well narrated that the reader would want to read the book over and over again in days to come. Once I am done with To Be Reviewed, I would love to re-read this book again. Awesome story. Well told. Very interesting.

To all those epic lovers and ones who never got a chance to hear Mahabharata from their grand-mothers.

Thank you, Anuja, for being my grand-mother...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Delhi Is Not Far by Ruskin Bond


I don't usually give up a book mid-way and start reading another book. Of course, there were cases when the book was very monotonous and the progress was so painstackingly slow and I  had to put the book aside and start another book afresh. I would neve commit such a feat, even if the book was so boring. I would in the least skip a few paragraphs and complete the book in some way. But I never stop a book in the middle and start  another one because I believe that it is the worst degree of disgrace any book might have earned from me. And yeah, there quiet a few books that earned such a degree of disgrace from me. It depicts the torturous path I went through during the course of reading the book. The books which I gave up midway - or the moment I complete the first few pages of the book - are never touched. Once a bore, always a bore. That's what I believe when it comes to books. When I stop reading a book, I put the book aside, write a review describing how torturous the book was and start readinganother book. Neither do I read mutiple books at a time. I have this deformity in my mind, which, when multipe books are read at once, will mix up the stories of the books and the outcome of the review is not just confusing to me and readers, but also authors. To save you all this misery I don't read more than one book at a given instance of time.

That is the quality of my reading for you. And this book is an exception.

Actually, I was midway through the book, Arjuna, when I started and completed reading this book. The discontinuation of the former book is not because of any negative aspect, but due to circumstance. The reason for that case is a story in itself. Readers who are uninterested in the story but the review, can scroll down past the 'My story' part to read the remaining review. Others, read on!

My story:
When I was about 60% through the book, Arjuna by Anuja Chandramouli, I was boarding a train to Chennai from Hyderabad. I was going there for my summer vacations, for paying visit to innumerable maternal uncles based over there. The number of maternal uncles and aunties I had always fascinated me. My grandfather must have been a man of stamina. (Note: Girls, who are reading this review. I am the direct grandson of him. If you know what I mean. ;) )

Anyway, it was a full 12-hour journey and I was determined to complete reading Arjuna. The moment stepped into the train; I extracted the book from my bag and started reading it. Though the train is of 12 hours, I had only about 4 hours of reading time, because after 11 PM lights are switched off and I was sure to not wake up until the train reaches its ultimate stop and some co-passenger would wake me up, out of mere pity, if not helpfullness.

As I have said earlier, I started reading the book the moment I got into the train, paying little heed at the petty jokes cracked by the ill-jovial co-passengers. Noticing that I am not paying any attention to their jokes and was immersed in the book, the hefty aunty to my side asked me what I was reading.

I, who was interested by anything related to books, said with enthusiasm, "The book's name is Arjuna by Anuja Chandramouli. It is the story of Mahabharathha narrated in the English used in 20th century." Just then, my mom called me to have dinner. We had dinners early during train journeys. The hefty aunty borrowed the book and I went for dinner. After I returned from dinner, the aunty wasn't ready to part with the book. I hesitated to mouth the request.

After sometime, maybe aunty sensed my hesitation, she said, "I will read this last chapter and will give you. You are heading Chennai only, no?" Noticing my frustration, she said, "Don't worry. I will return the book before you get down the train for certain." That is when all the hope of completing reading that book shattered. I thought, I had to spend the rest of the journey with only one companion - boredom.

That is how I came to read this book. The reason: To evade boredom. Why this book: Because its thickness is about 3 needles kept side-by-side.

Plot (from GoodReads):
In dull and dusty Pipalnagar, each day is like another, and 'there is not exactly despair, but resignation'. Even the dreams here are small. Adrift among them, the narrator, Arun, a struggling writer of detective novels in Urdu, waits for inspiration to write a blockbuster. Meanwhile, he seeks reassurance in love, and finds it in unusual places: with the young prostitute Kamla, wise beyond her years; and the orphan Suraj, homeless and an epileptic, yet surprisingly optimistic about the future. this is a memorable story about small lives, with all the hallmarks of classic Ruskin Bond prose: nostalgia, charm, underplayed humour and quiet wisdom.

My take of the book:
I don't think Ruskin Bond, the author, needs an formal introduction. Even people who don't read book should be aware of him as many of his stories are included in English textbooks all over the country. Even I had one story of his when I was in my sixth grade. Due to the long years between then and now, I don't much remember the story. (I had to ask my friend in which we had his story.)

Ruskin Bond has a special haven inside my house. Why, you ask me? Even I can't answer that question. In fact, I don't know the answer for that question. I developed a liking for him even before I read any of his books. In fact, if you can believe, this is my second book from him. The first one being Road To Mussoorie. It was was joyful read. I always had a heart for hills and hilly regions and this was just the book to rejoice my heart. Perhaps, it is his narrative style that rejoices one's heart.

Ever came across a book by Ruskin? Not the omnibus kinda books, but the other ones. The novellas. My jaw literally touches ground when see the size of one of his novellas and the price printed on its back. Even this book was a mere 111 pages, double-spaced - or maybe, triple-spaced - and costs 150 rupees! If you consider other books, you will recognize it is pretty expensive. Even the matter inside the cover is worth the price. But, that is for me. I guess this does not apply for all the readers.

As a reviewer, the right to judge a book lies in my hand. And that is what I should being a book reviewer. I have to judge the book. On the other hand, my reviews should be genuine. I shouldn't show partial feeling about the authors or the publishers. But very often I am thrown in a turmoil, where I myself am not sure whether the book I like will be of everyone's interest. This is one of those cases. Now I have decided to review and rate this book on the basis of my point of view. Let me push all the thoughts of likes of others aside and present you what I have experienced when reading this book.

Like I have said before, it is perhaps Bond's narrative style. It is like a pleasant, heart-warming melody from a violin. Frankly, I don't think the story holds much fascination about itself. It is the style of narration and the author's vivid imagination of a character, who itself is an author but a poor one. Also, the protagonist's, who is an author, story also interested me to some extent. That could be maybe because I am aspiring to be author, too. Or it could be mutual with other readers alike. I can't say.

I want to end the review here itself. There is not much I could recollect that fascinated me about the story. Yeah, I noticed even in this book - like the one I previously read - Ruskin Bond, the significant effect hilly regions have on man's brain. I couldn't agree with him more. Also the blurb mentioned on the front cover of the book can't be more true. 
"A small gem of a book" - Outlook

Final verdict:
Based on the description of the story and your hope and understanding of Ruskin's story's go for the book. If you haven't read any of his books, then you must certainly pick one of his book. You will be happy, I assure you.

All those readers who want a tiny refreshment. All those readers who enjoy Ruskin's novellas. All those experienced readers who are capable of enjoying deep-narratives style of thoughtful authors like Ruskin Bond.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

MBA is not about Money, Blazer, Arrogance by Krishna Kranthi


If its not for Reshmy Pillai's (of thetalespensieve.com) new giveaway system, I wouldn't have come across this book ever. So all the courtesy goes to Pillai (thats what I prefer to call her). I would like to thank her for believing me worthy enough to read, understand, enjoy, jugde and put front a honest review of the book.

Krishna Kranthi, as far as I could reckon, lives in Hyderabad. I came across very few - almost zero - authors from Hyderabad. Being from Hyderabad and aspiring to be an author myself, it came as a shocker that a Hyderabadi authored a book and I didn't even come to know of it. (If it wasn't by Pillai, I wouldn't have come across this book ever. Let alone checking the information about the author.) At least for this sheer aspect, I want to write a full-fledged review that flatters
both the book and the author alike. Praising every tiny detail and encourage few people to go pick this book up.

But I can't. Considering the prime rule of BooksReviewWala's Reviewing Rule of providing a Honest and Unbiased view of the book, here I go with the review.

Plot (from the jacket):
Like many, Revant has dreamt of getting that fancy and highly regarded MBA degree. After working hard, finally he gets an admission to one of the top Indian B-schools. His excitement is short lived as the overwhelming pressure and the vague definitions of management boggle him down, He gets frustrated with the eople around him who see MBA as a purpose of earning higher ssalary and getting superior designations and indulging in unneeded arrogance. He thinks this is not what he wanted to learn out of his MBA.

But inside story of MBA graduates, the book helps one realize that real purpose of a MBA degree is not confined to money, blazer, arrogance but it is more than that.

About the author (also, from the jacket):
Krishna Kranthi is a management professional from Hyderabad. He has pusued his studies from CBIT, worked with Infosys, Amazon before pursuing his MBA from SPJIMR, Mumbai. In his own words, he describes himself as "Eccentric, Honest, Optimist and Passionate". This is his first novel. [www.krishnakranthi.com, hello@krishnakranthi.com]

My take on this book:

This letter was enclosed in the courier in which I received this book. First of all I was disappointed that there was no mention of my name in the book. Perhaps, it was same copy that was send to other reviewers, too, I thought. Then I wondered, the author at least could have autographed the book. This question has been disturbing me since some time. If I was going to receive a review of the book, why is it not autographed by the author? I don't see there is much effort needed to sign the first page of the book. After all, I am asking to autograph each and every page.

The NGO message:
At the most bottom side of the back cover, just below the price of the book is printed, there is a message. It read,

A part of your money from this purchase goes to the NGO - Vigyan Ashram in form of educational scholarship to the Students

That was pretty inspiring. Maybe some kind heart would pick this book for the very reason of that message.

Cover design:
It is one of the most unattractive cover design I've come across. It is pretty dull and the first impression one gets of this book is, A boring book about education, studies and MBA. I am certain a closer look at what is written on the cover is not spared either.

Also the the background pattern of the front cover disappears on the back cover. The background of the back cover is simple white and pretty boring.

Apart from these the cover design is witty. It depicts a name card written on it, Revant, M.B.A. not Mean, Blunt, Arrogant. That is another abbreviation of MBA from this book.

After reading this book, I think the cover design was apt for the material side the cover. Boring.

I think to some part title is witty. MBA is not about Money, Blazer, Arrogance (an witty abbreviation of MBA). Also, to some extent, it is apt to the story. 

Apart from this, I think, the line is pretty cheesy.

Story, narration and other aspects:
Author's language was one simple one. Though, he tried using many complicated words, it was simpler to the core. But I think he should have avoided using those complicated jargon. Definitions were given as if they were in a text book. Yeah, I felt like I was reading text books at many points of time.

Another irritating detail about the story is that of the conversations. Each line of conversation is considered from each person, save for in rare cases. But in this book, there were various instances where two lines of conversations were said by the same person. This is very irritating because every time it was essential to read the whole line to understand who said that line. It was very time-taking and irritating.

The second irritating aspect was there were many exceptionally dumb statements. Let me mention one here from the book,

"One more thing, the breaks are also meant to be used to finish assignments
given during the class," we smiled as she (the professor) said that.

I don't think there would be any student in the entire face of this planet who would smile at that. Come on, Krishna, please make some sense. There were many other instances like this which we forcing me to put this book down. It took all the energy I could muster to complete this book.

Though the text on the back cover shouts that this is a fiction, I am certain it is non-fiction. Of course, various scenes where Foreign girls, or Indian girl for that matter, wooing around Revant, the protagonist, seemed far fetched.

Story was good. Actually there were two parts of the story which really seemed to interest me. The NGO part and the Europe trip due to student exchange program. But the whole concept of detailing the education system and the management lessons the author learnt in Europe made it boring enough. I didn't in my wildest dream guessed that such an exciting part of the story could be written so monotonously.

On GoodReads, in the description of this book, I came across a line - Educational and Entertaining. Educational, of course it was. But entertaining, I would have give that a second thought.

Overall, the book was no for fiction-seekers. Maybe people who are interested in more education than entertainment would like it. Maybe, author could have put some effort in developing the plot to add some entertainment to the story. Even the narration should be developed to not sound it like a text book.  

I would like to recommend it to no one, unless they are management lovers; seeking for educational insight into the MBA education narrated with dry humor.

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra


Due to the premium reason that the author, himself, has contacted me to review this book, I readily accepted to review it. I somehow knew it is going to be author- signed. And alas, it was! Though this aspect was enough for me to rate it a perfect-ten, I restrain myself and remind myself, Honest and Unbiased review.

Again, I set out reading the book unaware of its plot. Or any other detail dealing with the story, for that matter. From the very first paragraph of the novel I felt like it is written by some international author as Indian authors seldom venture to mold mentally unstable person the protagonist of their story.

Plot (from the jacket):
"Autistic. Schizophrenic. Psychotic…" 

"They" use these words to describe Babloo - the doctors, his family, his teachers everyone... except Vandana. She treats him the way he wants the world to see him. 

Mumbai... the city that defines his ultimate desires. Will it allow him the love and normalcy he so craves? 

Vandana... yearns for a soul mate to rescue her from the confines of the Railway Colony they all live in. Is she looking in the right place? 

Rail Man... a fearless, real-life hero who succeeds in doing all that Babloo secretly wishes to do... is Babloo his inspiration or... is it the other way around? 

A random twist of fate on Mumbai’s endless, serpent-like, jangling local train tracks ties all these characters together in a complex weave of love, heartbreak, and courage. 

Babloo draws the reader into his fascinating, heart-rending journey through the twisted, choked lanes of Mumbai, into an open space where he can finally exhale, be born again.

About the author (from the jacket):
Rishi Vohra recently relocated back to Mumbai after completing a Green MBA from San Francisco State University and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law, prior to which he has had a successful career in the Indian entertainment industry.

Having been a guest columnist for various newspaper in India, he currently writer for delWine and is a Certified Specialists of Wine. This is his first novel.

For more information, visit www.rishivohra.com

Some critics inked on the cover:
"A man who lives in the wild fantasy of his mind... until fantasy and reality collide... You'll find bits of yourself in this book." - Prahlad Kakar, Ad Film Maker

"A fresh, well plotted, human story about love against all odds in middle-class Mumbai, with a "hero" for whom you care deeply. It's an entertaining read!" - Kabir Bedi, International & Bollywood Actor

My take on the book:
First of all, I would like to thank Rishi Vohra, the author, immensely for the signatured-copy of his book.

Man, that would definitely invoke some positive points from me. ;)

Cover design:
Starting with the very first aspect of a book that anyone comes across - the cover design. The cover design of this book depicts the love story of a couple and somehow related to the railway tracks of Mumbai. The rhombus behind the title of the book, which had the name of the author printed on it, is similar to the boards at Mumbai local train stations that announce the name of the station. If examined closely one notices a small kid holding a kite, the outline of which are in unclear sync with the station name depicting board.

It gave me a basic impression, The story must be dealing majorly with the trains and railway tracks of Mumbai. However, it is true to some extent.

After reading the book, I think the image of the couple, who were posing about-to-kiss, was unnecessary. That gives the false impression of the book as a love story. Of course, it contains love story of the protagonist, but it is not all love story. In fact, love story is about 40% of the story. I think any further details would spoil the excitement that the book holds, so I refrain myself and go on with the review.

Off the record: Is it my bad or does the guy on the cover seems like a twin brother of the author?

The publishers:
Jaico Publishers. I couldn't recollect reading of the books by these publishers. They can't be new to industry. The last page of the book contained the details of the publishing house quoting, "Established in 1946". (And that was even before India got its independence!) Hoping to read some of its book in near future.

Narration and language:
Both narration and language were the best aspects - other than the story - of this book. The author has this magical power of narration that seems both complex and simple at the same time. Its like a fluid. Every word flows in a calm, unglitching fashion.

But there is a huge narrational anomaly. The entire story is narrated in first-person narration, where I is the protagonist, Balwant Srivastav a.k.a. Babloo. But there are parts of the story which doesn't contain the involvement of the character. That is one major flaw in the story. In fact, that is one restriction faced when the story is narrated in the first-person fashion. The exact inner feelings of the other characters and the scenes not involving the protagonist cannot be narrated.

Story and other aspects of the story:
I have revealed earlier that the protagonist, Balwant Srivastav a.k.a. Babloo, is a bit mentally unstable. Actually, he was very much like any person, but only his way of thinking and communication skills gave him away. This, the readers realizes from the very first chapter. Strangely I started to pick similarities between Balwant Srivastava and Christopher Boone - the protagonist of the novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Both of them are more dwelling inside than out. Both have the same logical, almost mechanical, type of thinking. I think that is till where the similarities spread out to.

Frankly, the novel was pretty boring at the start. From the moment I learned that the protagonist is not normal, it started to feel foreign for me. Finally Indian authors are experimenting with the characters.

Vandana is apple of Balwant's eye. A person with his mental capacity, who is more than often avoided or bullied at, finds a sweet heart in a girl, Vandana, who talks and shows some warmth to him. Those tiny actions of affections were enough to make him fall in with her. The possibilities of a girl loving a person like him were out of his unlikely mind.

It is the latter part of the story kept me intrigued. I kept on reading the first quarter on the mere urge to complete this book, but the latter half of the book was real hooking. The last fifty pages or so were real page turners. Believe me, Rishi had just transforms a monologue to a full-fledged thrilling read.

I would recommend this book to them who are looking for a fresh kinda novel from an Indian author.

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