Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Madhumati by Anshuman Rai - Book Review

The blurb

In pre-colonial India, a land of empires ruled by the Simhas, the Ashwas, the Chandras, the Suryas and the Meenas, a beautiful young girl Madhumati blossoms and learns music, dance and various other arts from her gurus. She is not alone in her journey, for she is blessed with learned sisters who are skilled in the various arts of magic, illusions and lovemaking. When Sibu, the charismatic dancer, dances his way into their hearts, a battle ensues to win over his love. Will Madhumati succeed in winning her love? As the story unfolds, a parallel tale entwines with the saga, the story of the majestic Pashupati, his passion for Ritu and her sisters, and their trials and tribulations as they try to placate the enigmatic Prakriti. Lose yourself in the torrents of antiquity, on an enigmatic epic journey into the past to witness how creation itself unwinds, time ages and love germinates.

About the Author

Anshuman Rai teaches computer science and dabbles in software consultancy, where he puts to use a decade of experience acquired writing software for various firms in India, America and Europe.  He  holds  a  Bachelor  of  Technology  in  computer  science and  engineering from  IIT  Kanpur  and  a  Master  of  Engineering  in computer technology and application from C.S.V.T.U. He is also pursuing his Ph.D. in digital image processing from C.S.V.T.U. In  his  spare  time,  he  likes  to  make  some  noise  with  his  guitar  and a harmonica. Writing is a hobby and an acquired talent, developed in the spare time he gets away from his laptop.

My Take

It is a huge feat to have written such a brilliant story in a poetic fashion. It takes lot of courage and enormous efforts to do justice to the task taken.
With the language so beautifully handled, the author sure has woven magic in bringing out the story with all the unique characters. It is one thing to have taken up so strong a story line but to tell with poems is a brilliant idea of experimentation.
The little nuances in describing the events, bringing out philosophy between the lines and the portrayal of the characters and their feelings have together contributed to the amazing storytelling.
Besides the powerful characters and a happening storyline, the
book flaunts a rich vocabulary, which adds to the beauty of the entire story.

Book Sniffers Verdict

A literary treat for poetry lovers and fans of historic fiction


Blurb: 3.5/5

Description: 4/5

Writing style: 4/5

Overall rating: 4/5

Book details

Title: Madhumati

Author: Anshuman Rai

Genre: Historic fiction

Type: Paperback/e-book

Publisher: Invincible Publishers

Language: English

Pages: 438

Year of publication: 2017

Price: Paperback - 399 INR
Buy paperback: Amazon

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book review : A Twisted Tale - Story of Manipal

The Blurb

Akash, a.k.a. The Love Guru, has had the best of his days in his undergrad years as the heartthrob of college, popular for his skill in acting, directing and romance making, known for his poems and for his loyal friendships. Despite being a little lazy and mediocre in studies, he was the centre of everyone's attention. However, everything changes when he joins the masters program in the same college. No longer Mr. Popular, Akash feels like an outcast amongst his new batchmates. Having broken off with his college sweetheart, his own confidence has taken a blow. He misses his old days, old friends and old life. Inspite of being at the same campus, he feels lost and lonely. Every now and then, his mind and soul drift back to his undergrad days. Then one day, Simran walks into his life and it changed forever. Did she change his life? Did they become good friends? Did Akash correct his ways after meeting Simran? Did he start taking his life and his studies seriously? The book captures the journey and transformation of an ignorant teen into a mature man through a rollercoaster of emotions of love, friendship, responsibility, maturity, dignity, pride and above all self belief. Flip through the pages of this book to enjoy the story of an ordinary guy Akash, who found himself in extraordinary situations.

About the Author

 N Y N Anand was born on August 16, 1980, in Patna. He now lives in Mumbai, with his wife. Post Graduated from Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Manipal University) in 2007, he got married in 2013. He is a marketing professional and has worked for various Pharmaceutical companies like Macleod’s Pharmaceuticals, Pharmed Limited, Aurobindo Pharma etc. Currently he is working as Therapy Manager with Innovcare Life Sciences. Despite being a hardcore marketing professional for the last ten years, he invests his lone time reading (literature, history and motivational books) and writing (poetry and novels). He is a die hard fan of cricket and seldom misses a live match on TV.  “A Twisted Tale” is the first fiction novel by Anand Kumar, who has captured the essence of a student’s college life in his book. The protagonist, after completing his undergrad  education,  decides  to  pursue  a  post-grad  degree from the same college. However, the transition is not as easy as he had assumed. The place which he enjoyed to the core during his undergrad years, becomes agonising for him later. He is no longer the same person, neither is his approach. Things change again when he finds someone special. No, not a girlfriend. Flip through the pages of ‘A Twisted  tale’  to  unravel  the  twists  and  secrets  behind  the topsy-turvy life of this college go-er.

My Take

The book starts off as any other story and the grip sets in after a few initial chapters. The characterisation is very nice and it is brilliant to stick to a less number of present characters. Very good picturization of the setting and the nature of characters. The readers can visualize the story through the author's words. The language is simple and easy to follow. Judicious usage of vernacular dialect makes the story realistic.
The narration is at a good pace and shuttling between the present and past stories adds to the merits of storytelling. The story though not an uncommon one, is told in a beautiful manner. Towards the end, there's a real dose of motivation and the happy ending makes the story all the more worthwhile.
 Despite the repetition of certain ideas, over the line descriptions of characters and a tad too fictitious happenings, the book proves to be a good read.

Verdict : A feel good story that stirs up the readers' emotions


Blurb: 3/5

Description: 4/5

Writing style: 3.5/5

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Book details:

Title: A Twisted Tale - Story of Manipal

Author: Anand Kumar

Genre: Romance

Type: Paperback/e-book

Publisher: Invincible Publishers

Language: English

Pages: 160

Year of publication: 2017

Price: Paperback - 160 INR
           Kindle edition - 80 INR

Buy paperback: Amazon

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Divine Throne of Maharani Meeramani - A Review - Meeramani Strikes Gold. Yet...

The Cover: 

It is apparent that the front cover is made by an adept cover-designer, for it lures the lovers of the historical-fiction genre. The woman sporting a crown on her head is dressed simple and elegant, and the rosary beads in her hand adds to the monk-like character that she is. The sword in front of her is bathed in flames, that is something that gives a multi-layered meaning. Only a thoughtful cover-designer would have been able to come up with a cover of this standard.

The Blurb:

This story has Historical, Political & Social aspects. "JAIRAJGARH," The Grand Empire of Rajputana, whose King is a great warrior, and a devious politician. He didn't limit his devious politics to only the royal throne, but extended it to his personal relationships. He's a ruler, who waited for a long time to have a successor for his grand empire and went on to design a conspiracy for the murder of his own child... The third wife of the King, Maharani Meeramani, who is a warrior by actions, and a hermit by thoughts. This ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, turned her pain into power and despite being a stepmother of a Eunuch Prince, Meeramani has not only loved, but has safeguarded the prince from his own father and beyond everyone's imagination, she has tried to prepare him to take over the Royal Throne while fighting against all odds of society. A 'Eunuch' Prince, whose responsibility is to earn rights for the entire Eunuch community. A Political and Social war between the 'King'& his 'Queen'. Who will win and claim the Royal Throne? Will Queen Meeramani convert the Royal Throne into "The Divine Throne"? To unravel the truth you have to be a part of the journey of Queen Meeramani's struggle.

In my opinion, the blurb reveals too much of the story inside. It reads more like a short summary of the book rather than a blurb. A little more subtlety could have been there in order to make the reader read between the lines to figure out what the story is going to be about.

What I liked?

The author has managed to build a grand fictitious historical world, keeping in mind the old customs and norms as followed by Rajput Kings and Queens. This shows the effort and time it would have taken to arrive at believable names for places, palaces, and names of kings, queens, princes, princesses, servants and doctors. Everything is measured and worked out. That's something only an author with an eye for minute detailing can pull off. I also liked way the impenetrable empire of Jairajgarh was described. 

Coming to the story, the vivid imagination and the way the story has been told by starting from the present, going back to the past and then back to present and that leading to the next set of events is appreciable. What is also laudable is how there is always something happening in each chapter that forces the reader to turn the page. That hooking-factor is very much there.

What I liked the most is the characterization of Maharana Ranjeet Singh, the great warrior and a devious politician as mentioned in the blurb. I feel the characterization of him is an amalgamation of a great country and how it is looted by devious politicians. His wife, Maharani Meeramani's character seems to imply the cure for the corrupt minds. The author's subtlety in sketching the characters is notable.

Portraying strong female characters during a highly patriarchal era is something of a feat. There are always women in the pages of history that inspire us even today. Using fiction as a tool to inspire is something that is great, and the factor that it does so, is simply brilliant. Also, the way the author addresses the prevailing problems of the current society overlapped in the era of Kings and Queens strikes gold.

What I Disliked?

What should have been celebrated as a great story is tampered by mediocre editing. In certain places there are different spellings for names, there is no end quotation marks, and some improper usage of homophones as well, which make it difficult for the reader to follow. I wouldn't point this towards the author, but rather the editorial team that should have done a better job.

I'm saddened by the fact that such a fantastic story faces turbulence because of very minute factors.

Also, there are some similar phrases that are often repeated by different characters at different points of time. Some characters (other than the central characters) seem to be very linear and have similar view-points.

Other than this, The Divine Throne of Maharani Meeramani is a great story that talks about everything that is wrong about today's society, cleverly pitched in a historic era. I strongly recommend to refine the editing for the second print-run, for stories and imaginations of this standard must truly reach greater heights.

Verdict: Meeramani Strikes Gold. Yet, mediocre editing proves to be a spoilsport.

Book Sniffers Rating: 

About the book:

Title: The Divine Throne of Maharani Meeramani 
Author: Meenakshi Verma
Type: Paperback
Publisher: Invincible Publishers
No. of pages: 278
Year of Publication: 2017
Price: 299 INR
Buy Paperback: Amazon

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight - A Review - 'Things you do for Love'

The Cover: 

As one can make out, the front cover is a spectrum of colours ranging from yellow to different shades of red. The metal of the knife with just a sliver of its handle is visible. On the knife is some blood smeared, and it joins the blood-red hue in the spectrum that flows and stops to form the title. Much thought and effort has been put into designing the cover. This gives the reader an impression that he/she is in for a murder mystery. Meticulous work by Abir Kr Sanyal.

The Blurb:

Who Killed Tollywood heart-throb Hiya Sen?

Within days of her fairy-tale wedding with Manav Chauhan, Hiya Sen, the reigning queen of Tollywood, is brutally raped and murdered. As ACP Agni Mitra investigates into the high-profile murder, he meets Manav's ex-fiance; her father, who was eyeing business through alliance; an alcoholic male model, and a former Tollywood diva. When two more connected murders make headlines, it's time for Agni to find answers to perplexing questions and unveil shocking truths.

The Colours of Passion breezes through Kolkata's glamorous world of industrialists, movie stars, models and fashion designers, laced with drug addiction and illicit liaisons, with a heart-wrenching tragedy at its core.

The blurb is all the more inviting and is written over the backdrop depicting a cosmopolitan city. Also, the colour red is dominant, which shows that this isn't the usual kind of story, plus after having read the blurb, curiosity piques to uncover the truth in this murder-mystery novel.

My Take:

The difference between a writer and a storyteller is as thin as a line on a graph. Yet, some fantastic stories are born when it's told right on that line. The author has managed to tell a story on that line throughout the course in such gripping manner with short - to the point chapters. The storyteller starts his story by narrating a gruesome rape scene. The hard-hitting words make a deep impact on the reader. In subsequent chapters, the ACP along with the help of an inspector try to unearth the reason and find the prime suspect. The chapters are crisp, short and to the point. The author hasn't wasted much words to drag the story. Like a good filmmaker, the author knows when to cut the scene. 

In addition to that, the editor has done a fine job in tightening the chapters. Slowly, chapter after chapter, this whodunit murder-mystery takes shape and towards the end, although kind of predictable, the author has managed to convey a very important message to the society. The power that the epilogue exudes will stand in the memory of the reader even long after the book is read.

Verdict: Masterful storytelling. Impactful. This book must be read by every Indian to become more open-minded.   

Book Sniffers Rating:

Book Details:

Title: The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight 
Author: Sourabh Mukherjee
Genre: Crime/Thriller/Mystery
Type: Paperback
Publisher: Readomania
Language: English
Pages: 237
Year of Publication: 2017
Price:  250 INR
Buy Paperback: Amazon

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Age of Aspiration by Devinder Sharma - A Review

The growth of the Indian software industry is a success story rarely witnessed in the world and an election issue for Donald Trump. Admired by some, envied by others and inspiration for many countries "The Age of Aspiration" (Story of Indian Entrepreneurship) deals with the seeding of the Indian software industry and thus dawns the Age of Aspiration for millions of Indian youth and traces the life of Ajay a software engineer from a small backward village to becoming a software entrepreneur. From his coming of age to being the youngest head of a department to a roving ambassador for his company, he relates as an observer and a commentator of the important events during 1998 to 2004. It will fire reader's imagination as it takes him through his entrepreneurship, phoenix moments, management of sexual desires, mastering moods, an advocate of the principle of Oneness, sense for rightness and justice and remain untarnished by success

My Take:

The book is set in an Indian background and the protagonist is a typical Indian engineering graduate who ventures into the world of entrepreneurship with the other characters playing a highly influential role in shaping his destiny. The language is simple and easy to understand and at the same time, the quality is not compromised. Resorting to fiction for writing on entrepreneurship, especially in India is a brilliant and challenging idea and the author has succeeded in bringing out what he intended to.The narration of many real time problems in the business world is so meticulously crafted into a beautiful story. Indian readers can easily relate to the protagonist and the other characters on various levels as the subject is the very situation of today's problems. Authentic storytelling speaks for the groundwork done on the background of the subject. Initial introduction of the characters and their roles is a good experimentation. The number of characters could have been lesser for it was a bit difficult to remember them and go to the introduction every now and then. More attention could have been given to the paragraph break up and the length of individual sentences. Intrinsic weaving of the story with many happening events and unique characters was enjoyable. Although there were a few spelling and grammar errors, the book was an interesting read. It is recommended to anybody who loves reading and curious about entrepreneurship.

Verdict: Inspiring Indeed 

Book Sniffers Rating: 

About the book:

Title: The Age of Aspiration
Author: Devinder Sharma
Type: Paperback
Publisher: Invincible Publishers
No. of pages: 374
Year of Publication: 2017
Price: 350 INR
Buy Paperback: Amazon

Friday, June 16, 2017

Coffee Date - A Review

Coffee Date - As an ardent coffee lover, the cover very much appealed me. It's a cup and saucer with coffee beans spilled about. Also, the cover has a brown shade, making it all the more inviting. 'FROM THE UNDISPUTED KING OF ROMANCE ON BLOG-O-SPHERE' - something that read like the author was a writing champion made my curiosity brim with anticipation. In the back cover, the beans continue to spill and as if to spill the beans, some of the cute keywords from the story are added in stylish font. My brownie points to the cover well done.

Coming to the first chapter of the book, like the aroma of freshly prepared coffee, it starts off on a breezy note. It is a love story between the characters Siddhartha Abhimanyu and Isha Reddy. It starts like a fairytale. Siddhartha, whom everyone calls Sid, is a romantic by nature. IT Professional with a six figure salary, ardent lover of Nicholas Sparks's books, and a naturally romantic poet who is on the verge of writing his first book 'Coffee Date'. Need I say more? And Isha, is like the Bollywood type heroine. She has big dreams about directing movies and is quite charming and has a mind of her own. The efforts that the author has taken to make the couple perfect for each other is laudable.

This is a story centered on Isha and Sid, yes, but there are a mélange of characters that stand in our hearts even after the book has been long read. There's Sid's most faithful friend Diwa, Viki, donning the same role on Isha's side. 'The Bugs' Sahana and Niharika are Sid's office colleagues. Even though Sid's boss Reena has quite a trivial role to play in the story, she comes off as domineering yet understanding. This shows that Saravana Kumar Murugan has developed even his trivial characters in a believable way. Some more points to Gryffindor!

However, as the story progresses, there are some lines which I thought could have been framed in a better way. For a good story, I don't mind about the type-set, but there were some missing commas and full-stops which kind of made it difficult to follow. That doesn't point at the author, but at the editorial team. They could have done a better job.

But nevertheless, the storytelling was right from the heart. The author seems to have the prowess to touch a reader's heart. Like his character, the author also has instilled some romantic poetry in the book that comes off like a swift breeze from The Marina. The narration is fresh and new. Usually I don't read romance, but I thought I'd give this book a try, and it turned out to be a good experience. Saravana Kumar Murugan has a natural flair for romance-fiction.

I am not delving into the details of the story itself, but if you have a penchant for romance and a light read, then this book is definitely for you.

And Surprise! The author has intelligently placed a twist in the tail of the book. He promises a sequel called 'Believe In Miracles'. The story-line again, is inviting and more powerful. I wish him good luck with the sequel.

Verdict: A Good Debut

My Rating: 

Book Details:

Title: Coffee Date
Author: Saravana Kumar Murugan
Genre: Romance-Fiction
Type: Paperback
Publisher: IndiAuthor
Pages: 150
Year of Publication: 2017
Price: 143 INR
Buy Paperback: Amazon 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Confessions on an Island by Ayan Pal - book review

The cover
A beautifully woven story within a perfectly wound cover. The woman’s face against the scenic background on the front cover, gives one, the exotic feel of the island even before one ventures into the book. The title with all its majesty, speaks for how powerful a story lies beneath it. The back cover has an interesting blurb of the story.
The blurb
An abducted woman trapped on an island is given a chance to escape, provided she tells stories emerging from the stories that her intriguing abductor tells her. Clueless about why she is being forced to participate in a game of Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the woman, a bestselling author, decides to play along. And therein begins a thrilling tale narrated by an island.
Of a man and a woman consumed by the power of their imagination and truth, even as the stakes are gradually raised. Soon the only way out is in- into the past, heart and mind. The island is ready to confess. Are you ready for the truth?
About the author
Ayan Pal is a Kolkata-based IT professional and author who has received several accolades in his career so far. These include the honor of his book being a record holder in the Limca Book of Records, the title of ‘Distinguished Toastmaster’ from Toastmasters International for demonstrating outstanding communication and leadership skills, and a ‘Brandon Hall Award’ considered as the ‘Academy Awards’ by Learning, Talent and Business Executives worldwide.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from VTU, Karnataka and has completed a course in Education Technology from SDSU, California.
As an author, he is known for his acclaimed short stories in the Amazon bestsellers Chronicles of Urban Nomads, 21 Tales to Tell and When they spoke. He has contributed to India’s first composite novel, Crossed and Knotted, Upper Cut, Her Story, Rudraksha, Arranged to Love, Tonight’s the Night and Long Story Short. He is a columnist of lifestyle magazine ThnkMkt and blogger at Open Road Review.
Passionate about public speaking, Ayan also loves reading, creative writing, watching and reviewing films, listening to music, and binge watching his favourite TV shows. Confessions on an Island is his debut novel.
The plot
A man, a woman and an island are the components of the happening story. A bestselling author is abducted by an anonymous man to a secluded island. Unlike usual abductions, the motive here is not money. He claims it to be an act of redemption. The woman, on the other hand, is totally oblivious to what he has in mind, while going through the tormenting pain of abuse and finally giving up her futile efforts, as she realizes there’s no escape but to abide by.
As he pulls her into the game of Russian Matryoshka Dolls, she easily gives in, being a storyteller herself. The woman spins tales out of her imagination, intending to convey her feelings through them. At a certain point, she understands that his stories are nothing but who they are and what made them end up here. The game goes on and the truth gradually unveils with each story. When the known and the unknown switch places, impulse gets into action, leaving them with an end that is irreversible at any cost.
The execution
It is the tale of two people with twisted pasts of rough childhood, broken relationships, lost love, betrayal and death. One event leads to another, resulting in the need to avenge the loss. Life or death- the fate of the woman is just a few stories ahead of her.
Travelling through the book is almost like playing a memory game, except the cards are stories which the reader not only correlates with the subsequent ones, but also enjoys them together as well as separately. Once all are the cards of the past are dealt, the result is in the hands of fate to be revealed.
The narration
The very beginning of the story surpasses the threshold of curiosity. To peak the interest, there are two narrators, the woman and the island while the man is what the reader’s mind comes up with, after hearing to what the narrators and the emerging stories have to say.  The author also adds spice to the stories within stories, with sex and sexuality as a reflection of what the characters are composed of. The narration is so fantastic that the thrill bar is raised a notch higher with each chapter. The icing on the cake is the climax which is completely unpredictable by any chance.
With all the dynamic stories, mysteries, brilliant execution and turbulent narration, the book turns out to be a power-packed psychological thriller.On the whole, Confessions on an Island is one of a kind and deserves to be a celebrated number under Indian-writing.
Blurb: 5/5
Description: 5/5
Writing style: 5/5
Excerpt: 5/5
Book cover: 5/5
Overall rating: 5/5
Book details:
Author: Ayan Pal
Genre: Thriller
Type: Paperback
Publisher: Readomania
Language: English
Pages: 190
Year of publication: 2016
Price: 200 INR
Buy paperback: Amazon