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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ohh! Gods Are Online by George Dixon, Rashma N. Kalsie


Like my last four books by Srishti Publishers, this one was also sent to me by Arup Bose (of Srishti Publishers).

If receiving a author-signed book from the author, himself, is a treat, the book with a exclusive bookmark of the book from the publishers is equally elating.

The reviews of other books sent by Arup Bose, I reviewed:

Before I start with my review, I want to show my gratitude for Arup Bose for constantly supplying our tbr (to be read) list with books. Especially, because most of them I found interesting, like this one. Arup, thank you, man, a book from you is always uplifting...

Plot (from GoodReads):

‘Ohh! Gods Are Online..’ is an experimental book wherein the Gods move from the realm of the fantasy to the real world in the quest of solutions to the human dilemmas as they decide the fate of their creation – Mankind. 

Christ lives on his own island where the dead souls are welcomed to the afterworld. The other God, Krishna, lives in the harsh real world as a humble pantry boy employed in a hospital – easing the final journey of the people who are dying. Buddy Roy, the Buddha, sends his calming waves to the world from afar. Ati, the God of Atheists, lives on his island with his own set of followers. While Gods go about their tasks they connect on Facebook to ‘chat up’ God things.

The Gods travel between the imagined worlds – Clacton-on-Sea, Jaywick, Frinton-on-Sea, the underwater World of Mermaids and the real world. Human stories of mortals are woven within the fabric of the main story of Gods. Sunderaman is the meanness in man that Gods must confront. Nick, the God of Evil, contrives to use Sunderaman as a pawn to oust the Gods. Somdev, the Godman, wants his share of the Gods’ world. Gods watch over as human characters live out their destinies. 

A fast-paced novel, ‘Ohh! Gods Are Online..’, moves between the worlds of men, Gods, and evil forces. Men are transformed to animals and Gods live like men. The characters slide from one life to afterlife and the next life.

Humor, philosophy, fantasy, mythology, and a compelling story are crafted together to write the novel. The novel was neither discussed, nor planned. The chapters were added in a two-year-long to and fro of the script between the authors. The story took many turns and twists as the writers played a game of challenging each other with new characters and plots. The story was neither planned, nor contrived, it was allowed to flow.

About the authors (from the jacket):
Rashma is a writer and playwright. Her recent play, The Lost Dog, was produced with the Australian government's assistance and successfully staged in Melbourne, Australia. The play received international media attention and critical acclaim. Also, she was invited to talk about the play to women's writing organization in Cincinnati, Ohio, US. Rashma has been involved with many NGOs and is the founder of Indian Disapora Dramatics Association, Australia.

George Dixon has been writing short stories for ten years and has published five books on Kindle. George lives with his wife and two dogs in a bungalow in a small village in England.

My take of the book:
Cover design:
If compared to the title, cover design is one of the apt. In fact, 'to some extent', it is also apt for the story. All the lead roles of the story are depicted in the cover picture - Chris, who is Christ; Buddy Roy, who is Buddha; the Old Nick, the God of misfortune, the devil of the story; Krishna, who is Lord Krishna, himself.

Why do I say apt to the story to only some extent? Well, being online and the actual core of the story differ to a major extent. Of course, there was a tiny part of the story, where Gods join Facebook and send few friend requests here and exchange few messages there, and that's about it. The soul of the story rests in higher aspects. In fact, the introduction of Gods going online and all, is just to inject humor to the already philosophical and an enchanting story.

Overall, the cover design is witty and attractive. The animated-look of the cover would be intriguing for many readers. After reading the description of the book, many would carry it on to the cash counter! If I am asked to rate the cover design on the scale of five, I would rate it 4!

Srishti Publishers. Like I have mentioned many times before now, Srishti Publishers have always been a well-worth for me. It is a fact that there were quite a few novels that are letting-down, but the gems - like I too had a love story, the novels of Durjoy Datta, et al - are from this publishers. Not to mention, all the novels lately published by them are worth checking. Most of them were even worth reading over and over again.

I guess this is the first book from Srishti, co-authored by a foreign author. I am not sure, though.


Not to mention, I already have the same bookmark...

Story and other aspects of the story:
When I started reading the book, the very first awkward facet of the book is the name of the author. Well, there is no doubt with Rashma N. Kalsie, but the non-Indian, co-author. On the jacket - on both front and back - his name is printed as George Dixon. But inside the cover, at two places - at the Dedication and Acknowledgements. In Dedications page, there are two dedications made by both the authors. On top, Rashma dedicated her book to her parents for various reasons. And below that was mentioned a dedication by a guy named, Phil Cherry. In Acknowledgements page, there were two mentions of this name. To top it, there is not a mention of a person named, George Dixon. However, I don't think it could be a major deal. Perhaps, its his pseudonym. It is just that I take pride in my findings and use this platform to exhibit them.

Well, I was astonished to know that there is a God for atheists, too! And he is named, Ati...

The reason I have imported the plot of the book from GoodReads, rather than the jacket of the book, is that the description on the back cover of the book length at maximum 9 lines, which do little to deliver the meaning and details of the stuff the book holds. I rather recommend people to follow the GoodReads version of the plot of the book. I suggest the authors change the description of the book in the next edition of the books. A new blurb which is more attractive and more detailed about the story of the book.

The language is one of the many pluses of the book. It is just the way I love it. Simple, yet complex. The sentence formations, the conversations, the descriptions, everything is formed using simple English words. The occasional touch of complex words, for which I don't know the meaning, just adds up to the beauty of the book. I would say, the editor has done a great job with the manuscript. Even then, there were few quotation marks either missing or misplaced here and there. I even recollect spotting wrongly spelled 'Krishna'. I don't remember the exact mistake, but it was something like this, 'Kirshna' or maybe, 'Krihsna'...

With every aspect of the book covered, I finally reach the story of the book. Well, there is not much to comment about the story of the book. It is very unusual to come across a story about Gods who walk the Earth and send message through Facebook! Perhaps, that is what called as 'Surrealism'. The two best facets about the book is that the story was, in authors' own words, 'neither contrived nor planned' and the authors never met! I still wonder that how come they came up with such a fascinating story, for not even once meeting in flesh and blood. To top that, the story is equally compelling and intriguing. Of course, there were parts of the book which were doze-boring, but overall, the story is well-above average. The very idea of the story is intriguing enough to encourage readers to keep going on with the reading...

There is one aspect of the whole story that I still wonder about. More than once, there was a mention in the story of Jesus eating fish. My insight into the voiding depths of Christianity is very meager, a clarification from one of the readers whether Jesus really ate fish or otherwise, would be courteous!

Final Verdict:
It is a aberrant and interesting story that is worth a read. Though, there is a hint of philosophical insight into the book, for some readers, it might sound absurd and far from reality. This is anything but serious stuff. It has got everything a good book must contain.

To all those readers who welcome surrealism. Worth a read for everyone...



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Romi & Gang by Tushar Raheja


Exactly seven months ago, on this same date, I have posted my review of Anything For You, Ma'am by Tushar Raheja.

I could recollect enjoying it very much. Though it lacked romance and a appealing story, the humor and the narrative style kept me going.

I think that is one reason for publishers of this book to contact me for reviewing.

One day, when I was lost somewhere in South India, exploring the amusing beaches and girls of Goa, the Books Reviewwala's mail box got a mail from someone named Pirates. They inquired whether we would review Tushar Raheja's new novel - Romi & Gang.

I first came to know about this book from HomeShop18.com. It was featured in the 'upcoming releases'. The cover design and the big fonted name of the author made me open the details of the book impulsively. I was to buy the book, when I decided to read the description of the book. Well, post that, I gave up the idea to read the book. The word 'cricket' stopped me. I know that it must have the otherwise result with other guys, but, for your information, I am not much of a crickets' person. Other than that, I was more than willing to read the book.

When I received the review request, I readily accepted to review it. Lemme give it a try, I thought.

It is only after I received the book and checked it cover out that I came to know that Pirates are the publishers of the book.

After quiet some days after the request from the publishers, I have received the book from Snapdeal.com. It was rare for me to receive review copies of books through a commercial online shopping portal. Worst of all, when I received this book, it had a crease in the middle. The book was bowed inwards and my heart literally bled. I mentally resolved to never shop any book from SnapDeal. Resolve taken, I read the book and am writing the review, finally. Happy reading...

Plot (from the jacket):
Unruly and reckless, thirteen-year-old Romi is the hero of his universe. His great affinity for adventure and the unknown is shared by his gang - the rascal Sukhi, the deadpan Sunny, the naïve Golu and his blood brother, Kim.

When legendary Kim disappears from Mauji, it is left to the four to conquer the maidan with cricket and the world with their wits. Of course, they must prepare for responsibility in between and, one day, go after Kim.

My take on the book:
Cover design:
About the cover design, this book gets a thumbs-up from me. The animate kids running with bulging school-bags is more than apt to the story. In fact, it depicts the four lead characters of the story. The colour and the portrait-like texture just adds to the awesomeness of the cover. I am sure any person who comes across this book, will surely pick it up and reads about it. Once if he ruffles through the book, he should definitely take it with him to the cash counter. The illustrations are too tempting to overlook.

When I first browsed through the pages of the book, I was reminded of my non-detail text book back in my schooling days. If I am not wrong, it was either 'Hound of Baskerville' or 'Prince and the Pauper'. Every chapter had one or two illustrations of a scene from it. Though, they were of little help for the narration, the illustrations just adds to the thriving to read the book.

At every illustration, I used to spend a whole minute or two and then carry on with the narration. The fact that the illustrations are seldom found in the now-a-days novels just intensified my love for this book.

Above all, I loved the logo of the publishers...

Already having the first of the author, I was aware of his complex and witty use of words. Though, I knew not the meaning of many words used by the author, I was able to understand and enjoyed his witticism in his first book. I was expecting the same type of narrative style in this book, too. But surprisingly, I was proved wrong. This book had a simpler narrative style. Not too simple, nonetheless. Just simple enough to make it an enjoyable, breezy read.

Pirates. It was a wierd name for a publishing house, I thought. Well, neither does Penguin nor does HapperCollins sound much like publishers. I guess this is the first book they ever published. There ain't any other books from them. Not that I am aware of. However, I was pretty satisfied with the book, want to share the submission Email ID for to-be-authors. The last line of the last page of the book read, For submissions contact - captain@pirates.ind.in. Well, a hearty congratulations for the publishers and hoping to read more good books from them.

Story and other aspects of the book:
The major turn off I faced about this book is that of various things, it vitally revolved around the sport, cricket. Not that I hate it, but the terminology used in the book is no better than Greek and Latin to me. I couldn't decipher much out of the description of the match. This drawback could be purely personal, because most of the Indian men love cricket and would be more than elated to read this book. Again, FYI, I don't hate cricket. If going by the words of my words, I am a pretty good batsman. Its only that I prefer playing than watching.

I couldn't help but sense an unannounced raging trend of writing stories of teeny kids about their adventues - like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The other book about which I felt the same was, The Virgins.

The book was smaller in size, when compared with other typical paperbacks. Even the font size is bigger - or rather, typical. The white space in a page is good enough to not scare the shit out of the reader. In simple words, it is supposed to be a quick read, with 237 pages thick. But it took me two full days to read and write the review for this book. It is that kind of a book, which is very intriguing but you are can't read it too fast out of fear of completing it faster.

It was rather a nostalgic read. I have seen my reflection in many parts of the story. In fact, any average middle-class Indian would be able to relate himself with one of the four lead characters.

The climax of the story has disappointed me no end. I think there could be a better ending. Perhaps, the better ending would be what every reader would be expecting so the authors turned the entire story around. Maybe, he was trying to put some practicality or truth into the story, but I think the end was pretty letting down. Worse for the book, the end is the last impression that leaves any spectator - in this case, the reader.

Final Verdict:
It is totally upon the reader to decide whether to read this book or not. I couldn't exactly settle upon one option about this book. But I could say, it is a very enjoyable read for people with minimum knowledge cricket. A enjoyable, nostalgic, sporty read...

I would like to recommend this books to all those cricket-lovers and who want relive their school days of cricket, friends and adventure, again.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Complete / Convenient by Ketan Bhagat


On GoodReads, I have received a message on GoodReads from some person, named Subhasis. It read somewhat like this,

I read your reviews and find them
really interesting and genuine. Contact me
at *some e-mail ID*

I had no idea what he was talking about. Anyway, I had decided to mail him, at least to know the subject of the deal. To know about the person, I clicked on his name, which directed me to the GoodReads page of author Subhasis Das (the author of Mom Says No Girlfriend and The Bowled And The Beautiful). That got me curious. Authors usually contacted me to get their books reviewed, the mysterious message from him suggested something completely different. Filled with curiosity, I mailed back him.

The basic summary of the exchange that took place through the mails and phone call, which followed that, is that Subhasis Das, other than maintaining a never ending profile of artistic value - like reading, writing, travelling, writing scripts for stages, directing, acting in plays and the list continued on with no end in sight - is also up for blogging (http://subhounplugged.blogspot.in/) and is going to post a interview of 'Chetan Bhagat' talking about his new book. I was taken aback. I was a hard-core fan of Chetan Bhagat. How is it possible that I didn't come to know of his new book? I asked him the same. He replied that it wasn't 'Chetan' but 'Ketan' Bhagat - the younger brother of 'Chetan Bhagat'. That was very curiosity-evoking. But I was still unaware of my role there.

He went on to explain that the authors he interviewed gave him a signed copy of their book and wanted his review. Being a close pal, he can't express the pros and cons (the latter mainly) without any inclination, in case there were any. "So that is where I come in," he had said. "I send you a signed copy of the book and you post a Honest and Unbiased review of the book on our behalf." Then, my role in the whole was made crystal-clear. Well, I was not disappointed by the deal. Instead, I was very happy for signed copy part. So I readily agreed. Post that incident, there was no communication between both of us since a long time, because he was out of town for a very long time and I was too busy reviewing other books to mail asking about the whereabouts of my copy.

You can read Ketan's ever first online interview over here: http://subhounplugged.blogspot.in/p/ketan.html
Trust me, it is not half as much as you are thinking it to be. Subho's witticism added spice to the otherwise monotonous interview.

A few days later, I received a message on Facebook from the author, Ketan Bhagat, himself. I was stupefied at how the author got to my FB profile, because I nowhere mentioned about my FB details - Neither on my blog, nor on my GoodReads reviews. However, with Subho's copy nowhere in sight, I accepted the author's offer on FB. Though he said that it was not possible for him to sign my copy, he promised to sign it whenever he visits Hyderabad. I didn't think the chance would ever tap at my door, but when it did, I was rejoicing myself with my friend at Goa!!

However, there was no news about the book from author either. Like thrice before this, the publishers himself contacted me to get the new releases of Srishti Publications to get reviewed. Again, like thrice before this, I readily accepted this. I knew, from this source I was sure to read the most awaited book of the season. I had really high stakes from the brother of the Legend (at least for me) - Chetan Bhagat.

Finally, I recived my copy of Complete / Convenient only after returning from my South-Indian rendezvous, by which time I had lost the chance of getting my copy of the book being signed by the author. Anyways, the exclusive bookmark had made up for the signature of the author.

This is how book holds the first record of having multiple names in the Reviewed for section. That's enough of blabbering for now. Let me get on with the actual review. ;)

Plot (from GoodReads):

How is life outside India? Like they show in ‘Karan Johar’ type of Bollywood movies!

How is life in India? Like they show in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ type of Hollywood movies! 

Have you ever wondered why NRIs long for India? Sitting on their pile of dollars, freedom, cleanliness and convenience, they often talk about the land full of scams, jams, crowds and corruption. 

Just like a real life is full of fantasy dreams, can a fantasy life be full of ‘reality’ dreams? 

What is it about an Indian life that fascinates those living outside it… even those who voluntarily left it themselves? 

Welcome to the world of Kabir, a twenty-something software sales professional aspiring to relocate overseas. Charming, humorous, street smart and interesting, Kabir is a typical boy who loves life. The kind of boy usually Ranbir Kapoor plays in movies. Living in Mumbai with his best friend, who is his complete opposite and a walking-talking ‘excel sheet’, and in regular touch with his forthright girlfriend and family in Delhi, Kabir’s life is full on. 

Elated on being transferred to Australia, Kabir quickly gets married and hops onto the next flight to Sydney. Dazzled by the glamorous free-spirited Aussie world, the newly-married honeymooning couple soon find themselves living a life beyond their rosiest imaginations. A quick professional success acts as a further icing on the cake. 

But as time flies and the humdrum of married and professional life take over, realizations of loneliness and helplessness underlying an envious NRI life begin to surface. Worst come, the relationships left behind are beginning to wither. As his best friend and family battle through unexpected crisis and Kabir himself gets embroiled in professional challenges, balancing between the two worlds – Australia and India – becomes a stressful lone battle. 

Based on emotions that every NRI and people related to NRI go through, “Complete / Convenient” sensitively journeys through characters and situations that the author, like every NRI, personally experienced during his stint out of India (including four years in Sydney).

About the author (from the book):
Ketan Bhagat is a thirty-something common man, who stands out as uncommon to his mastery with words, smart sense of humor and lively demeanor. The art of storytelling seems to be in his genes.

Ketan joined Satyam Computer Services (the company that Mr Ramalinga Raju made famous and infamous) post his MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute in 2001. After a year and a half of trying to learn programming and Tamil, destiny finally took mercy on the young, frustrated North Indian and made Satyam show him a little bit of the world - Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia.. Now back to India, this erstwhile NRI is brimming with emotions, struggle and anecdotes. Creative at heart, Ketan has done stints in television (anchor, script writer) and print (articles in national dailies) during his college days. Few years ago, he helped his brother Chetan Bhagat script a Bollywood movie too.

My take on the book:
Cover design:
Though the name of the author created a great hype in the Indian literary industry, the cover design of this book was a complete put off. The orange colour is peculiar enough to attract some attention, but then the mixed sceneries in the cover picture seems pretty messy and disappointing. Nonetheless the design held a close association with the story inside the covers.

there is more to men than bromance
Well, I don't know the very meaning of the word, bromance, up until now (I just Googled it). Even after knowing the meaning I am still hazed at what the title actually was inclining to. I tried hard but couldn't draw a conclusion of the connection between the tagline and the story.

Srishti Publishers. They have been supporting this blog since some time. Since this blog has received recognition, they have provided us with five books till date. I am very thankful for that. I could even be generous with my reviews about their books, but as per the policy, I can't do that and have no intention of doing that for the next coming decade, either. Not that, they have asked me for that. They have contacted only asking for the shipping address and gave my space till I posted the reviews of the book. In simple words, I like them.

On the other hand, I was shocked to notice that the author has published his book in Srishti Publishers, other than Rupa, which are his brother, Chetan's publishers. Well, after reading the online interview from Subho's blog, I got the answer for my question.

The best thing about getting a book from the publisher is that they send you a exclusive bookmark of the book!

The book being close to 400 pages thick, the number of words were thicker, too. Many of which meaning I didn't even know. First of them being, leitmotif, followed by many other words, which I am sure will never be understood by my little brain.

Story and other aspects:
From the plot and the description from the backside of the book, the story was pretty clear to me.

The protagonist gets a job in Australia. Like any other average Indian would, he pounced at it readily. During his stay there, he realises that he had done a mistake by leaving his loved ones and friends back in India and returns back to India.

Well, in short, that was it. The story could have been this simple and, maybe, also interesting if the book isn't 400 pages thick and the font size is so small, with an average of 33 lines per page! To top that there were no  chapters in the book. Instead it was divided into different parts - five, at most. It was distressing to a read something in such a huge stretch. Not even the change of scene were indicated with a period. It was a torturous read. Add to that, the small font which squeezed the life out of time. I always hated the petty descriptions. It was more of a Australian guide to people who are going to visit Sydney. It was only in the last part of the book it felt more lively. There were more emotions. It also had descriptions, but overlooking that it had emotions, a good pace and some intriguing aspects.

The title of the book was also a disappointment. I always think that use of symbols in a book's title is not recommended because it is how people read it, "Complete slash (or worse, forward slash) Convenient," when it actually meant, "Complete or Convenient." Even then I couldn't find a concrete reason for the selection of the title until came across this line in the story, which read something like this,

Living there (outside India) it feels convenient, but being here (in Indian) feels complete.

Another aspect I disliked about the book is that the author used many phrases - note that it is not words but phrases - in the narration. I don't know whether it is a major aspect to make a note of, but it was bothering me since the very inception of this read. Few words like bhai, ji, etc were acceptable and also some expletives could given a green flag, but the entire phrase in Hindi could be disturbing. At least, it disturbed me. What if the reader doesn't understand Hindi?

Other than that, the book needs a good deal of editing. There were many quotation marks missing throughout the narration.

Final Verdict:
I don't know. It was kinda average read with a best part boring and little part intriguing. Anyway, Ketan's trial at witticism was doing good for the book. Indeed the opinion differs from person to person.

I would definitely recommend to all the NRIs and also those who are planning to go abroad for work. This could help you solve some dilemma, which is referred in this book as, 'The Peak' - the dilemma choosing countries - India over other country - for their livelihood.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Identity by Milan Kundera

What is Identity?

Our identity is the way we dress, we express, we are shown to this world. What about other self that lives in us? This identity which strives us to improve ourselves, craves us for love and so many other things that make what we are.

Where is our Identity? Is it lies what we do? Do the emotions define our Identity? Why one’s Identity necessary to define the person?

As kid we have an Identity is totally different from the Identity while we are growing up. In teenage, we have another Identity, rebel type.  In adolescence, in between rebel-understanding Identity. When we complete our education, got a job, professionally we create another Identity. In old age we have an Identity which is an accumulative of all our Identities. Then which identity is true and ours to define ourselves?

Milan Kundera
When we began to build up our Identity, do any factors affect our Identity? If then what are they? Parents, family, friends, colleagues, society etc. Of these Society provides much influence on our Identity than others. If our Identity is shaped by society, how far it is true and it’s ours true Identity.

For me, Kundera’s works are always something revealing and reading about myself. Same with his book “Identity”. I was reading this book; I was trying to gathering information on myself. So this small book of somewhat 150 pages took me whole day to read and another day to write about it.

While writing this review, I know this not a review as far concerning a book-review; I am brooding on what's my Identity? Reading, writing, my work-designing being a designer, living far from family, longing for this girl I love. Are these only concocted my Identity? Are these only part of it or anything else is there, I don’t know, for me to say this is “me”. This is my Identity.

All I can say read Kundera. If you can, re-read him (which I will do again in my life). Still you can manage, have a long discussion about him (Kundera’s Identity is his words).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho


It has been a long time since I have read a book of my choice. Courtesy my regularly fed to-be-read (tbr) list.

I always had a thing for Paulo Coelho's work, ever since I read his The Alchemist. It was my first read from him and it was exactly my type. Those were the days when I started reading. That book really mesmerized me. Well, let me stop it here or else I might slip into writing a review for The Alchemist.

After that, he has released his book Aleph, which I have bought and read and gave up in the middle. The Alchemist and Aleph were two different beings entirely. The fiction, the adventurous touch, they differed in every aspect possible. Most of all, the latter bored me, unlike the former one.

And then came this book, Manuscript Found in Accra. The title of the book, itself, has a mysterious stroke to it. I never would have bought the book if its not for the tempting offers and discounts the online book-selling portals provide you with. However, I bought this book long back and arranged in such a way that, whenever I lifted my head off my laptop screen, the front cover of this book soothed my eyes. I don't think I can come across a more enchanting cover design in the next 100 years!

Anyway, it hardly took a day for me to complete reading this book and write a review on it.

Plot (from the jacket):

'Only he who gives up is defeated.
Everyone else is victorious.'

After lying undiscovered for over 700 years, a manuscript holding the answers to a city's final questions is unearthed from a cave in Cairo.

Centuries before, on the eve of the invasion of Accra, the citizens gathered. A man stood before them and invited the people share their fears that he might offer hope and comfort.

His extraordinary insights on courage, solitude, loyalty and loss were transcribed and passed on.

A timeless and powerful exploration of personal growth, everyday wisdom and joy.

My view:
Cover design:
Like I have mentioned earlier, I don't think I would come across a better cover design in the next hundred years! The use of extreme shades and the textural picture on the background of the entire cover is just awesome. To top that, the golden letters and details in the design was just out of this world.

Let me try to depict you the awesomeness of the design...

The golden part of the entire cover design glisten when light is bestowed on it. A small heart-attack is triggered inside me, whenever I notice a minute damage to the cover of this book.

I so love the cover design of this book!!

Harper Collins. They are one of the largest publishing houses in the industry. When I say that I don't mean nationwide, but international industry. They have published many highly notable books. Their imprints make a huge list. If you read foreign - non-Indian - authors, you know these publishers. And that's it.

Well, I don't see that I could give much credit to the author about this aspect. Because I don't know that his words were exactly translated. In the same way, I can't blow the credit to the translator - by name, Margaret Jull Costa - since I don't know whether she had added her creativity to the language. Either way, the language used in the novel is just fabulous. It is simple and gripping. There is almost no, a couple of them at most, difficult words which I don't know the meaning of. It was amazing how use of such simple words could be so gripping. I learnt that it is not the complexity and the complicated use of vocabulary but the narration that counts. Hats off to you, Margaret Jull Costa...

Story and other aspects of the book:
Actually, the book holds no such mysterious story that I most awaited. To be frank, I didn't even go through the other reviews of the book. I only read the description, which gave the impression of a mysterious historical fiction with a state-of-art cover design (damn, why can't I stop mentioning, moreover praising, the cover design!).

The book is indeed should shelved under self-help. It is a series of philosophical explanations for various aspects of life. Almost all the aspects are covered in the book - like loyalty, duty, sexy, love, future and the list extends for quite some length. The scroll, manuscript and everything else is just a way of rendering the philosophy.

Though the book is around 200 pages thick - precisely, 194 - it hardly takes an hour or two to completed reading it. It could be completed in one-go. The size of font was bigger. Eventually the spacing was bigger. Many pages were resigned empty. And what else, the book is not the big book as it seems. But is the typical Paulo Coelho stuff. It has a great deal of philosophy which cannot be handled in such a large amount. Trying to read the book in one-go might be possible. But trying to understand the book in one-go will leave one with a skull-cracking headache. For every few pages, I had to take a break. The lines in there are really heavy and extensively philosophical. There were many instances which I could relate with the incidents in my life. Really serious stuff.

The whole book is the exchange between a person called as the Copt. Accra is under the invasion of the crusaders under a century ago. All the people gather in a group and pray to their respective Gods to overcome the disaster that lay in the following morning. That is when a person, the Copt, appears in front of them offering them 'extraordinary insights on courage, solitude, loyalty and loss'. Every chapter starts with a question from the spectators and the Copt continues to answer their respective questions with a depth only acquired through philosophical insight.

If you have a habit of underlining some awing lines in a book, then you better get a whole box of pencils, because every line in this book is worth under-lining. Each line of the book will leave one in a awe of wonderment.

Final Verdict:
WARNING! This book has some serious stuff! Philosophy at its fullest. If I love it, after all, philosophical books are not just for oldies.

I would recommend it to every philosophy, self-help book lover out there. And also, to those who are contemplating the idea of trying those genres. And also all those Paulo Coelho fans out there.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seven Days Without You by Anmol Rana


TheTalesPensieve.com i.e., Reshmy Pillai, have been very generous with her giveaways. This book is one that I have won that way.

Actually, this is the first book I have won from the giveaways of Tales Pensieve, but it is the last book I've received in the number of books that I have won from them.

After quite some time, I started to lose hope that I will ever get this book and got on with reviewing other books. But, out of the blue, this book landed at my doorstep. By then, I had a whole lot of books to review and then, I was off on a trip. Eventually, the reviewing got delayed and I really am sorry for that, Reshmy.

The other reason for my delay is the book itself. It was so big; it took this long to get on with it. I can't digest the fact that the book is just the story of seven days!

Plot (from the jacket):
‘Seven Days Without You’ is a story of two childhood friends that finds its destiny only when they live seven days away from each other. What the joyous life of years together couldn’t unearth, was dug out by the heart breaking realities of seven days that were no less than a new life for him– one where his child hood friend was not with him.

The protagonist, Vishwas is all set for his first job. Enthralled with excitement the small town ‘mummy-papa’ boy leaves for Delhi and would return after seven days. His seven days without Shailja do not happen as he thought they would. His dreams ruined, expectations shattered and fantasies turned into nightmares, he realizes that life isn’t as simple as it looked from the balcony of his room. 

Fun, joy, excitement, sorrow, disgust, embarrassment, deception and then LOVE… Seven days teach him the perfect definition of every sentiment. The battle of emotions and confessions that lasts for seven days transmutes his years old relationship into something else and his heart overflows with the love he thought Shailja would never kindle inside him. 

What happened in those seven days that gouged his love out of friendship?
Will Shailja still be waiting for him after these seven days? 

And will she reciprocate his love...?

About the author (from in between the covers):
Anmol Rana, 35, was born in Dehradun, and completely his education from Mussoorie and Dehradun. A Postgraduate in science, he is currently working as a scientist in Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), in Dehradun. His native people is also Dehradun and he is settled there with his wife, parents, and two kids.

He belongs to an orthodox Indian middle class family where dreams are only restricted to sleep. He dared and turned his dream into a reality. 'Think Different' - is the rule of his life, even if it is thinking alone. A son, a husband and a father now, he lives one portion of his life for himself as well. The portion where he listens to only one choice - the voice of his heart. Right and Wrong have no count there.

Writing was like a hidden treasure he discovered only recently. But when discovered he invented himself into a completely new person in the form of a writer. The English language scares him, but call it an irony of the education system that he can write only in English.
Slightly introvert by nature, he believes in understanding rather than saying. A scientist by mind and a writer by heart, he loves playing soccer and chess. Music comes naturally to him, and if you were to believe his friends, they say that he is a far better singer than a writer.

This is his first book, but no the last.
You can reach him at:

My take on the book:
Cover design:
The cover design is a huge let down. I mean, I don't know how much about how authors/publishers decide on the cover design of the book, but I think it is equally author's responsible to see that his book gets a good cover design. In this world of technology, I don't think it is very difficult to design a better cover design. In fact, I think, with Photoshop in handy, one could design a cover design for himself. Is it that difficult? Is it that Herculean of a task?

Well, what ever it is the cover design of the book is very disappointing. It might sound harsh, but I don't think a reader would throw a second glance at this book. Let alone, picking it up and reading the plot.

It felt like a work of self-publishing. All simple and amateur to the core. As far as the cover design is concerned.

Frog Books. When there were no promotions of the other books from the publishers on the front and back covers of the book, I came to a conclusion that they are new to the industry. On close inspection, I noticed that this is - just like Platinum Press, which publishers books like Arjuna and Asura - another imprint of Leadstart Publishers.

I couldn't reckon why, while their others books had a great cover designs, this one had such a inferior design. Whatever could be the reason, I didn't like the injustice showed by the publishers to different authors.

On the other hand, I noticed the same style of imprinting the prose, like in Arjuna. There was a double space between the paragraphs and  no space at the start of each paragraph, which is seen typically in any other books. I guess, and I take great pride in my observation, that it is the publishers' signature of printing.

It is kind of the language I most admire. The use of simple words by author is just awesome. Though the language was simple, the author littered just exact amount of complicated words to the prose which is more knowledgeable than hitches. The metaphors used were just brilliant. I always admired the authors who use witty metaphors because they, metaphors, don't come to me, however hard I try.

Story and other aspects of the book:
First of all, it came as a shockers to me that there are in total only seven chapters in this book - Day one, Day two ... Day Seven! The book is a whole 340 pages thick and weights good, courtesy: the good paper quality, and there are just seven chapters! That is when I realized the actual weight of the title of the book - Seven Days Without You. The story is of only seven days.

How can someone write 340 pages only about 7 day, I wondered before reading this book. Well, the author has just done it and you are reading the review of the output.

It is the of a common guy, Vishwas, who belonged to a conservative middle-class family. He embarks to Delhi, to report for his first ever job as a well-paid Software Engineer. He has a childhood friend named Shailja. During his journey to Delhi and back, which take seven days, the story plays. On his way back for the weekend, he was not only returning to his hometown, but also to the love of his life.

The most of the story deals with his encounters over the journey, the mishaps, the adventures and the likes. To some extent, the story is interesting. The witticism of the author is enough to intrigue the author.

On the other hand, I felt there is too much shit in the book. Even the poor editing adds to the poor-quality of the book. Considering the quality of narrative style of the author, the book could have used a great deal of effort on cover design and the editing.

Also the book lacked the reality quotient. Though it is a complete work of fiction, it must contain reality all the way. However conservative a man is, he will loose control over his hormonal surges. In this story, there is a scene where the author is seduced by his female boss, who is unquestionably sexy as per the story, but the protagonist simple evades her. And when provoked further, slaps her. I am very disappointed at this turn of events. Okay, yaar, the protagonist maybe from a middle-class, conservative family, but come on, he has hormones, too. Didn't he feel sexual feelings for other girls like Nishika and Vaijanthi (other girls in the story). After all, he is not that conservative and I don't think a ordinary guy in his right mind will ever overlook a chance of banging his boss, even when she takes the first step. Very absurd!

Some might argue that the book is all about emotions, love and feelings, I think that the book contained too much stuff to bore any reader. A great deal of details could be cut down to interest the readers. After all, the readers shouldn't be scared at the very size of the each paragraph, should he? Though the story is really exciting and could a page-turner, the monotonous details spoil the very thrill in the story.

Final Verdict:
I say, the book needs a better cover design and a good deal of editing/trimming.

I would recommend it to those romance lovers who love reading story Indian contemporary stories. They will enjoy this book very much.

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

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Virgins by Siddharth Tripathi


They were the days when there were many mails flooding my mail box from authors, publishers and marketers, alike, asking to review so and so book. One of those mails contained a mail from Bharti Teneja, Marketing Manager of Prakash Books. It read,

Hi Sudeep,

I got your reference from a friend and would love to get views on our latest release The Virgins by Siddharth Tripathi. Enclosed is the brief and a presentation which the author has done. Do let me know if you would like to review it and send me your postal address.


Those days The Virgins was one of the best in the market, considering the critics. I had a very bad time trying to refrain myself from right away accepting the offer. That would have been so unprofessional. So, instead, I sent a short reply asking Bharti to go through our review policy and contact me if they are okay with the terms mentioned. I secretly feared, what if Bharti didn't contact me back. I mentally made a note to wait for four days, if Bharti didn't contact back before that, I would order the book. Such was the liking the plot of this book developed in me. Fortunately, Bharti did reply back saying, something like, "I have gone through your review policy already. Tell me the shipping address so that we could ship you the book."

Well, I was more than happy to accept.

Plot (from the jacket):

How does one become a man?
Three young friends are about to find out.

With six unmarried sisters and a perennially drunk father, Pinku, a 19-year-old school dropout, has only one dream left: to marry the plump girl who’d caught him stealing flowerpots. His friend and confidant, 17-year-old Bhandu, is not faring any better — his parents are divorcing, his father has abandoned him, and the American tourist he is infatuated with doesn’t even know he exists. Bhandu and Pinku seek solace in the distracting shenanigans of their friend Guggi — a pampered rich brat who can do anything for a thrill. Guggi’s reckless hedonism lands the threesome in a series of 'sexpot' escapades — each adventure weirder than the one before.
But their seemingly innocuous joyride is about to end.
With their Class 12 exams around the corner, Guggi, restless to leave a mark, takes over the school’s notorious protection racket in a violent coup. The fallout drags the trio into a murky world of heartbreak, betrayal, and bloody vengeance . . .
Fast, funny, and earthy, The Virgins is a coming-of-age novel that marks the debut of a promising writer.

About the author (from the jacket):
Siddharth Tripathi was born in Allahabad and schooled in Banaras. He is a B.E from NIT Trichy and an MBA from MDI, Gurgaon. Siddharth currently lives in Gurgaon and works as a consultant for a business advisory firm. He also writes a blog on music and films. The Virgins is his first novel.

My view of the book:
Cover design:
If you have read my LWCITCT post of this book you could have understood the fondness I developed for the cover of this book. It is the perfect cover design material. It has one of the best cover design in the market, so far. It has the exact colour, the colour of radium, which will not only draws one's attention, but makes the person go through the text on the front cover, description on the back cover and carry it all the way to the cash counter.

The ace aspect of the cover design that invoked the highest degree of admiration from me is the pencil-sketch of Dashashwamedh Ghat of Varanasi.

A perfect-ten. My most favourite Cover Design yet!

What could I say about the language used in the story? It was excellent. It was simple. It was crude. It was true. The conversations were as exact as the character would use if they were flesh and blood.

About the narration, it was in third-person. Of course, it was the story of three young boys - Pinku, Bhandu, Guggi - who are in their teens. Usually, teen guys, when talking among themselves, add a expletive at the end of each sentence addressing his friend, like chutiya, low lying bastard, et al. They were brilliantly used in the exchange, which added the realism to the characters.

Characters of the story:
The crazy mentality of the funny characters of the book are so wittily represented that they remain etched in one's mind for a very long time to come. I completed reading this book a couple of hours back and I have already laughed at the recollection of the funny characters for the umpteenth time.

If you are a regular reader of my book, you would know my fascination for exclusive bookmarks. If you are a first-timer, its high time you know it, because I feel exclusive bookmarks are one of the best marketing strategies ever invented in the industry. Apart from that, there are some obsessive people, like me, who are very much into collecting these bookmarks. Also, maybe some such reviewer will add an extra star to their actual rating. However, I am not one of those few (I want you to believe that).

The bookmarks in this case is same as the colour of the cover of the book - bright and attractive. The bookmark also inherited the brilliance of the cover design. If ever I write a book (which I am doing) and get it published, this designer is whom I am going to contact to design the cover of my book.

Fingerprint Publishers. This is indeed the first book I read from these publishers. On the backcover, it clearly indicates, An imprint of Prakash Books. I didn't hear of them, too. However, I am in love with these publishers and looking forward of reading more books from these publishers.

Story and other aspects of the book:
Most of the books in the market are mostly written with the backdrop of a high-five city like Mumbai or Delhi. It was a warming change to read a story with the backdrop of Varanasi. Yeah, Chetan Bhagat's Revolution 2020 was written in the backdrop of Varanasi, but The Virgins book described the city so vividly, very far from the other book.

I tried very hard to draw a pattern of the story and present a sensible plot so that the readers might have a before-hand idea of the story. But the harder I tried, the naked become the truth that it was impossible. The story can't be described in a short, 500-words plot. I think, even the description of the book doesn't portrays the weight of the story the cover of this book contains. Maybe that is the reason, there is a take-a-peek depicted on the front cover of the book, description on the back cover and also a tiny blurb on the bookmark.

Every aspect of the book - cover design, story, narrative style, marketing, et al - is at its best. That is why I started to admire these publishers. Maybe, one day, I would get my book published by these publishers.

Final Verdict:
After a long time, I liked a book so much that I am thinking re-reading this book once I am done with the tbr list. Awesome story, with great, funny characters and a equally mesmerizing narration.

Well, I would recommend it to every one. I don't see a reason why someone wouldn't like reading a book like this. I say, it is a masterpiece in the books that I have read till now.


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