Saturday, 8 October 2016

Anya's Lyric -Review

AUTHOR: Nikhil Kumar
ISBN: 9781530307210
GENRE: Fiction
PUBLISHER: Create space Independent Publishing Platform

EXCERPT: (Credits: Goodreads)

A story of one girl's courage in the face of our society's worst offences. Anya's Lyric is the critically acclaimed new book by Nikhil Kumar, that tracks the journey of a young girl's self-discovery and the roads that lead her from a turbulent childhood to peace. We see the world through Anya's eyes - a girl who suffers from a learning disability - and discover places, incidents, and people through her. A girl born on an unlikely day to an unlikely couple, Anya stumbles through her chaotic life that gets undone at every step because of her inability to communicate what she wants to say. Follow her journey of courage, self-discovery, and empowerment as she gradually finds the hidden path to peace.


Sometimes when you read something, it stays with you for a while longer. Both to ruminate it and then process it. The longer you sink into it the more mystic it turns out to be. To me this book came across as that; mystical yet linked  together in a very mysterious manner leaving a profound impact on the reader.

There are very few books that compel you to think, to delve deeper. This novel begins that right at the start and takes you through a series of events linked together hooking you till the end. At times it may seem a bit confusing but that's the beauty of it, reading between the lines. 

The novel sticks to the main character Anya, exploring life through her eyes, through her memories. What I liked the most was, even though there were multiple characters none of them crowded the space, the book at the crux was Anya's story and it remained that till the very end. The non-usage of other character names but depicting them by their features, profession et al. was ingenious. 

As the tale unfolds you try to find a pattern, and it is there but just not that obvious. It's not just multi-layered but one story is connected to the other. eventually tying the lose knots at the ends. 

We come to know how Anya came to be, what is it that makes her special? Her journey of being a simple naive child in a ruthless world, who is so very different from others. Is being different bad? was the one question that kept on haunting me all throughout this novel. Perhaps, it is because the world chooses to ignore you, to mock you, to not understand you. But it is after all, the 'power of one' your own self to evolve or to suffer. Even though Anya was different, she was courageous in her own ways. 

The writing style is lyrical, the imagery and setting brilliantly graphic making you feel like you're in the moment. The language is crisp and the words artful. The novel has the power to transfer you to an alternate universe where Anya lives and you're just a spectator. Reminded me of the pensive experience from Harry Potter. Although the novel is short and can be finished in one setting, it took me time because of my over hectic schedule. And even though I read it three slots it didn't feel like I needed to begin from the start, I could connect to it even then, that's the beauty.

Read it to cherish it. Simple, poignant and deeply touching. Do give it a try.

PRICE: Rs. 564| $ 7.54
BINDING: Paperback
PAGES: 182

P.S: You can also check out the review here,
Amazon India

I got this book from The Readers Cosmos as part of their Book Review Program.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Curtain Call - Review

AUTHOR: Various authors
ISBN: 978-93-84315-375
GENRE: Fiction/Anthology
PUBLISHER: Half Baked Beans

EXCERPT: (Credits: Goodreads)

We live our lives like the ceaseless flow of a river, but we remember it only in pieces, pieces we like to call memories, memories that are shared in the form of stories. What is life if not a number of stories tied together like an anthology? The Curtain Call, compiled and edited by Rafaa Dalvi, is one such anthology that brings together stories from different walks of life, stories that would make you pondering upon them for days, stories that make you think, and stories that will leave an imprint on the souls of the readers. From historical fiction to fantasy fiction, this multi-genre anthology contains thought-provoking stories that will take you through a delightful journey beyond time and reality.


Part I: Beginning 
This book begins with an editor's note, outlining every facet of his journey. Starting from conceiving this idea to actually implementing it; the trials and tribulations that came along to publish this anthology.

There are books and then there are books! The thing that sets one apart from another, is not just the writing or the author but the way the book is put forth to the reader. The element that sets it apart from the numerous other anthologies is the concoction of multiple genres in one single anthology.  

Part II: Delving Deep
This anthology comprises of 20 short stories each of varied lengths and genres. Since each story is from the a different author, each has its set of positives as well as negatives. Since the number of stories is quite high, I am reviewing only a selected few in the order that I read them.

1. F.L.A.M.E.S by Amrit Sinha (Romance) 
Amrit and Romance always go hand in hand, and it was no surprise that he wrote on romance. This is one genre where you can experiment from being cliched to innovative. The story is a cute teenage love story where emotions run raw throughout the 7 pages. The language is simple yet poignant and the writing fresh. What I liked the most was, the brilliant use of metaphors coupled with simplicity. It is a light read and explains the working of a teenage mind in the first spell of love.

2. A Crimson Affair by Rafaa Dalvi (Historical Fiction)
I've been reading this author's work for almost a decade now, when he wrote play scripts and articles for the college magazine, his initial dark themed blog and the recent ones too. And through these years, just like everything else his writing too has changed. Evolving from being a novice to a professional.
Coming to the story what I liked was; some of the characters are well known and it is a simple yet a very layered story. The narrative is detailed, the plot crisp as well as the characters strong. The story glues you till the end. As the tale enfolded I felt like I knew the end but it took me by surprise. Overall I felt that the author did justice to the genre as well as managed to recreate history.

3. His Leela by Kartik (Reflective)
Everything in our life, happens for some or the other reason. Some experiences leave our hearts elated while others urge us to embrace life. This short story paints the picture of a man lost in the outcomes of his past. And he lets this past of his to affect his present. A wonderful story that makes us realize everything is not as it seems to be. There is always a back story, layers upon layers that make a person and to know someone deeply to connect them, we first ought to peel those layers off; sometimes patiently.
What I liked the best, was the flow of the story, it flows like a river, bumps and bruises yet steady in its own pace.

4. Ablaze Within by Sanhita Baruah (Prostitution/Reality)
This is one of those genres where faking is not the key, you bluff and create imagery that is not relate-able and poof the story goes down the drain. The author managed to avoid all these loopholes flawlessly. The texture in terms of emotions was coarse just like how it should be. The characters though you may not connect to them on a basic level given the theme, you connect to them, feel for them. What I liked was, the portrayal of grim reality and the end (you got to read it to know the end).

5. Time after Time by Aniesha Brahma (Fantasy/Sci-Fi)
The story starts off nicely, the characters seem relate-able and the plot promising. It circulates around time and how it rules us in a way. And even though the plot is intriguing, I felt it was rushed. Rushed especially towards the end, what the author could have done was atleast add a paragraph or two more for it to look natural. The thing that makes a story, more than just a fiction story was missing. What I liked was, the unique idea.

6. My Fair Husband by Renu Sethi (Rom-Com)
One of the most amazing and cute stories in this book, to me. This is a simple, cute story, filled with lots of love and laughter. And yet it has so much you can take from it, the meaning of love, companionship and how sometimes even after things end, they have a way of coming back to us. Not necessarily haunting us. What I liked was, the light banter that seamlessly progresses with the story.

7. Another Chance by Ketaki Patwardhan (Fantasy/Sci-Fi)
Time-turner! By the time I was done reading this story, that's the only word that striked my mind. There are always consequences with meddling with time, and no matter what you do the outcome always remains the same though the nature of execution might change.
Coming to this story, though it was on similar plot lines as that of 'Time after Time' where Time is the common entity, this one is different. More than the positives, there were a lot of loopholes. The plot seemed hay-wire, the conversations unreal with no concrete structure. I as a reader, though found the conflict in the middle of the story but there was nothing done to it, it was just there like a silent statue. Neither was I able to understand the purpose nor I would be able relate to the places mentioned, if I am not a Mumbaikar. What I liked was, just the language.  

8. Boys will be Boys by  Dr.  Roshan Radhakrishnan (Humour)
The premise is simple, the plot not at all layered or mysterious and yet it holds tightly. By the time I started with this story, I wanted to read something light and this one did it for me. I had a grin right from the beginning till the very end. The protagonist as can be guessed are boys, and when you read it, it's like no doubt about the title. What I liked was, the usage of cartoon characters and animals to describe people, that was the most hilarious of all things. This is by far my favourite story above all else.

Part III: On an End Note
The anthology is amazing, the hardwork that everyone has put in it, is forthcoming. And yes, the hardwork pays off. Although there were slight grammatical errors and typos, they do not as such hinder the flow of the story, however, they could have been avoided. Then again, there were stories that were amazing and I loved them while some did not appeal to me. Overall, this one was a power-packed book and I wish the authors success for both this book, and future endeavors too.

PRICE: Rs. 299 | $9.90
BINDING: Paperback
PAGES: 197

P.S: You can also check out the review here,
Amazon India

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Painting That Red Circle White - Review

AUTHOR: Mihir Vatsa
ISBN: 978-81-7273-859-4
GENRE: Reflective Poetry
PUBLISHER: Authorspress

EXCERPT: (Credits: Goodreads)

Divided into four parts, and prefaced with a personal essay where the author
explains his relationship with the English language,
Painting That Red Circle White is the debut collection containing thirty seven poems.


I had this book with me from 2014; in fact I completed reading it back then itself and decided to write a review. But then I drifted apart from writing, I did not wish to write, something that's been happening with me from the past 2 years, on and off. Finally I decided it's high time I return to writing and what better than to start with penning down a review that was in drafts for two long years and is finally seeing the light today.

I have always wondered why classic literature is amazing. Over the years I've come to a personal conclusion it might be so because much of it is not fabricated like fiction. The authors and poets felt the emotions they penned down.

We don't see writings like that these days, even if it's there it's rare.  On such example is Mihir Vatsa's poems. The first time I read him dates back to almost around 2012. Back then I had no idea that four years later I would be reviewing his work in paperback. 'Painting That Red Circle White' is a collection of poems divided in four parts each having a theme and a personal essay at the opening.

The poems they talk, they talk of him and through him. They talk about the places he grew up in and how they moulded him. I have never been to Hazaribagh yet I feel I've traversed through it like an invisible ghost eyeing the things hidden behind words. The subtle undertones that weave the words and takes the reader to a surreal realm where none but the words exist.

"To love 
is to be in a battlefield
after ceasefire"
- In Other Words

There are no two poems that are comparable to each other, you cannot compare one to another. Each one has its own essence and the more you read the more intriguing they become. It is neither the language that is mysterious nor the plot, it is the feeling the diverse emotions they evoke in you every time you read them. Some you relate to while some leave you in awe.

There are some poems that captivated me compelling me to read them over and over; 'Ice', 'Things Which Aren't Ours', 'In Other Words', 'The Thing about Silence', and 'Touch'.

Words and poems are simple, just like life and Vatsa makes his point clear with his marvellous debut! All you need is a taste for the simpler but good things in life.

A must read if you long for good modest and gripping Indian poetry.

PRICE: Rs. 195 | $ 8
BINDING: Paperback

P.S: You can also check out the review here, 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Kafka On The Shore - Review

AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami
ISBN: 978-0-099-45832-6
GENRE: Speculative Fiction


Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophecy. 

The ageing Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down.

As their parallel odysseys unravel, cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghost-like pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since World War II. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle- one of many which combine to create an elegant and dreamlike masterpiece.


You read one book by the author; you either get hooked to them or vow to not read them again. Murakami has me mystified, my first was Norwegian Wood and this is my second. To say that both the books are out of the world and amazing would be an understatement. Partly because they both are so very contrasting in the way they've been written. The former having a taste of realistic-ness while this book is all metaphysical, illusory and self-bounding transporting you to a world of dreams.

"Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”  - Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore follows the parallel plot that moves towards a common goal at the same time, interlinked together. It's a story of a 15-year old teenage boy Kafka Tamura hailing from Nakano Ward who runs away from home from his self-absorbed father to Takamatsu, Shikoku; seeking shelter in a quiet private library. At the same time an ageing old not so bright man named Nakata who has the unique ability to converse with cats, goes on a mission to finding a missing cat and eventually predicts fishes and leeches falling from the sky. Weird isn't it?

The novel is inspired by the Oedipus mythology, or rather the dark Oedipal Curse that Kafka's father inflicts on him. 

"The term Oedipus complex (or, less commonly, Oedipal complex) denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrates upon a child's desire to have sexual relations with the parent of the opposite sex ."

Like every other Murakami novel there is beer and sex with the addition of blood, lots of blood in this one. The journey of Kafka and how he shifts from his conscious to unconscious mind with a lot of theories, philosophies, Japanese literature the Soseki haiku's  and concerto music like Schubert and Schumann accompanying us. It takes you to a magical realm full of depth that forces you to think.

The best thing about the novel is the way it is written, it flows seamlessly transporting you to a land of illusions and dreams. It's compelling in the most primal form and pulls you within. And despite being so addictive you cannot read this in one sitting, you need to read re-read and sometimes take a break. 

Now comes the cons, they are not cons in the real sense but they are, if you know what I mean. The book is full of riddles. No doubt riddles are fascinating but these they left me in a lurch. An excerpt from the writer's own words goes as,

"In an interview posted on his English language website, Murakami says that the secret to understanding the novel lies in reading it several times: "Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren't any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It's hard to explain, but that's the kind of novel I set out to write".
A complex novel no doubt, there are things that I re-read (I could not read the whole novel again 505 pages you see). It's the kind of novel that stays with you, for a long long time. 
A must read if you love quality fiction !

RATING: 9.5/10
PRICE: Rs. 349
BINDING: Paperback
PAGES: 505

Sunday, 2 November 2014

God is a Gamer - Review

AUTHOR: Ravi Subramanian
ISBN: 978-0-143-42139-9
GENRE: Bitcoin Thriller

EXCERPT: (Credits: Goodreads)

What happens when you cross gamer, banker, politician and terrorist with virtual money? 

Aditya runs a gaming company that is struggling to break even. A banker slips off a
highrise building, plunging to her death. The finance minister has made some promises
that he is finding hard to keep. The LTTE has unleashed terror in America that sends
the FBI on a wild goose chase, bringing them to Mumbai.

Enter Varun, parttime drug dealer and fulltime genius. He turns around the gaming
company before disaster strikes. Meanwhile, the investigators plunge headlong into
the shady world of bitcoins and the Dark Net, websites that only exist for illegal
transactions—drugs, sex and money.

God is a Gamer is a world where money means nothing, martyrs are villains, predators are prey, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems. 


So I've been on a reading spree or rather I still am, three novels at once and this I had to complete within a week's time. I was worried even before the book arrived from Blogadda "Will I or Won't I be able to finish it?" was the question of the hour. But Alas! here I am a week later penning down this review.

The tagline of the book goes as, "Is Revenge a Crime?" and a heavy bet is placed on money. Join the two together and the instant reaction is god please let it not be another mundane money laundering fiction. Good thing is it's not. It is surprisingly refreshing with a mix of corporate conversations with a blend of complicated liaisons, multinational banks, the US Senator and Indian politicians and the crux of it all - Bitcoins in other words Virtual Money. You're in for a ride, a total roller coaster.

As like all other books of the author, this one too follows the parallel plotline. Each chapter is different and you're like what's the connection? why the sudden jump? But then suddenly when you don't even expect they unite. The best part being despite having multiple characters like a thriller usually does, it is not at all confusing. No ambiguity towards the character development nor termination.

The emotions run heavy in this one, the family bonds both loose and tightly bound are explored. At least I was questioning myself how much do things change when one comes to power, be it some change in how we see our loved ones or how the world sees us. Does being a powerful person in a top notch organization or the government really gives you freedom to do anything or it curbs it as your every move is scrutinized in the eyes of opposition and the media.  

Unlike many thrillers that are poorly researched or a complete new set of fiction set up is created, God is a Gamer is wholly researched right from WikiLinks to Satoshi Nakamoto the said founder of bitcoins. 

There are names like DDOS attack, phishing scams, firewalls, malware attacks and so on. I literally remembered my third year project on Intrusion Detection Systems and Honeypots. And I wondered, somethings that are mentioned are usually not taken lightly especially if the organization is big, there is a whole IT department dedicated to it. So, was is it a loophole or done on purpose for the story to shape up the way it did, is still a question mark to me.

So the end? Well read it to find out what happens with all the picturesque build up in the most fascinating way. No spoilers here, no way. I loved the book, makes me want to recommend it to everyone who loves reading. (Okay I did recommend it to a lady in the train yesterday, and she said she'll surely check it out.)

RATING: 8/10
PRICE: Rs. 299
BINDING: Paperback
PAGES: 310

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