Monday, May 15, 2017

Readers Ask: WHY WAS ARYAN SO CONFUSED ABOUT SHEFALI?

When I wrote this book, little did I know the about the mixed reaction of readers I would be facing. Some loved it, Some adored it and some expected more. And some called it a Bollywood IshStyle Romance. And exactly what I wanted to do with this novel. Who doesn't need that magical love in their life? 

READER QUESTION

WHY WAS ARYAN SO CONFUSED ABOUT SHEFALI?

Have you ever fallen in Love? When you know that the other person is just not right for you - yet your heart beats faster for him or her. When you know that the whole society will be against your love, yet you brave every antagonist who comes your way with all those feeling bubbling inside you. But the worst enemy of your love is you - yourself. 

Love is confusing - especially when your circumstances refuses to help you out. And Aryan suspected her for stealing something very valuable to his family - yet Love crept in his heart. I know I know, next question will be how can you love a person you don't trust. Will answer that next time. 

If you have a question, do pm me  in my author page or email me at rubinaramesh1973@gmail.com  

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: Jihad in my Saffron Garden by Roxy Arora


Name of the Book: Jihad in My Saffron Garden
Author: Roxy Arora
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 


The Story:
About a young Hindu girl who had to leave Kashmir behind to survive. There are many such stories - so what's so special about this one? I personally feel, in this story, the author has taken a stand and portrayed a belief as to why this is happening and who are responsible for this. I just hope the readers get it - it's not about Hindus and Muslims believing in their ideologies, it's about selfish people using that belief to get what they want. 

Kashmiriyat
Every Indian has one dream. To live in a world where life is not controlled by your religious inclination. Where life can stop - to see the beauty of a field laden with the saffron flowers. Where Life does not wait to be snuffed out due to one sect's fanatism. That my dear friends, is the Kashmiriyat of Roxy Arora's Jihad, My Saffron Graden.

My bucket wish list is yet not fulfilled ...
As a child, I always had one dream - to visit the snowy peaks of the mountains of Kashmir. As I grew up, I saw many snowy peaks - from the Kailash in Nepal to Matterhorn in Switzerland but none could quench my thirst for the peaks of those peaks made popular by the movies of the seventies  - the Kishtwar Himalaya, popularly called  Sickle Moon Peak. But every damn time I planned a trip there, the news would be flooded with the bombings in Kashmir or the attacks on the same land. It has been a 'closer to the home' story for me too. My newly wed friend's husband was caught in the crossfire and gone fore ever. So yes, these senseless killings hurt. Hurt both the parties. Our heaven had turned into a battlefield. 

And here I was crying for not getting my pictures of the snowy peaks whereas out there many girls like Heena were getting raped, brutalized and killed - every day. My woe was a hobby unfulfilled and their woes were all about dreams never realized. My heart goes out for girls like Heena. I still believe that every soul has come to this earth to learn something. To do something very particular to it. But when cases like Jyoti and girls like Heena come in front of me, I often wonder what exactly did they sign up for? I can never ever believe that this was God's wish. I just cannot. Maybe I am not that evolved yet. 

When Roxy Arora introduced me to her Kashmir, I was a bit skeptical. I have always found such stories very limited in their views. We don't have the two sides of the stories on one page. But as an Indian, I really don't care to hear the other side. I want to know why my land is plundered so ruthlessly? The fight is over a land right? Then why spoil an entire generation of youth? Why impart the knowledge of bloodshed?  Where does it say in the Holy Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible that those who are not the true followers of our God are non-believers? 

There is a scene in this book when  Heena in order to protect our protagonist Roshan, cuts her hand and shows the blood to all - how same they are. I don't think we humans don't know about it, we just choose to ignore it. There are many such instances in this book which will make you question the very essence of human believe - what we see, how we see and why we see it.  You can feel the pain of both the sides, both Hindus, and Muslims, living in the fear of being betrayed by a friend or a family member. The worst kind of betrayal of all. 

Idealism...
Fanatics or not, this is one ideology which grips the mind of a particular section of the society. But I don't think that our dear author is also bereft of idealism. Her Kashmiriyat is a dream too. Her reasoning as to what exactly happened to Heena and who was responsible for it and why might be questioned by many. I, for one, want to believe that what Roxy says is true. For the other alternative would shake the very core of my humanity. 

Regarding Rosha Jaan...
There is such a lyricism in the name :) I just had to continue calling her that.  Her love for Aafaq was so subtle and passionate that it didn't overshadow the main subject of the story- yet formed a beautiful backdrop. But ultimately, even the author cannot deny, and as a reader what I felt was - the real enemy was not the fanatics, they are as usual used as weapons by individuals who have their own personal wars to fight. And that is one of the saddest ways to lose one's life. I just hope readers of this book can really understand this message that Roxy has beautifully portrayed. 

The reason for Star Rating:

1. Loved the way she has portrayed this sensitive topic. 
2. Writing is good. 
3. The first few pages is a bit complicated but you need to keep on for getting into the crux of the story and once you do, you will not regret it.
4. The author has taken a stand, and even if her reasoning can be debatable, I want to believe her. 

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spotlight: The Indus Challenge by R.Durgadoss



THE INDUS CHALLENGE
by
R. Durgadoss





Blurb

Bharat is in chaos. While the kingdoms fight each other, Alexander’s forces gather for the assault, their leader lured by tales of supernatural weapons and the elixir of immortality. Only one man can save the subcontinent from domination by the Greeks: the young Chandragupta Maurya, trained under the aegis of the ‘dark brahmin’, Chanakya.

When an ancient seal is found, sharing the secrets of the brahmastra, the redoubtable weapon of the Mahabharat, it is up to Rudra, young commander of the Mauryan Nava Yuva Sena and lifelong friend and confidante of Chandragupta, to decode it. Along with his fellow commandos, and with the able guidance of his guru, Rudra embarks on a quest that takes him from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the seas of Rameshwaram, hunting the clues that will lead him to the brahmastra. On the way, he meets the Chiranjivis, ancient beings tasked with divine duties, and learns the secrets behind his own birth and his mysterious powers.

But Rudra must be careful, for not all enemies were dispersed with the death of the mighty Alexander. Treachery lurks in the home, and when Rudra is framed for the attempted murder of his sovereign, he must pull every trick at his disposal to reveal the enemy, and save his kingdom from plunging, once more, into bloodshed and chaos.

A historical, mythological adventure story, The Indus Challenge is sure to appeal to readers interested in the storied past of India and the legends woven into its soil.



Read an excerpt of The Indus Challenge here:

Prologue
330 bc

The Macedonians and Greeks came with Alexander the Great to the Hindu Kush range. They were mesmerized by the land of the gods, snow-covered, forested mountains higher than Olympus. The sun rising and setting among the glistening peaks painted a breathtaking picture. They were entranced by the stories of the magical kingdoms of the air; of the heavens; of Vishnu and Shiva; of cities in the sky inhabited by sky demons. They were fascinated by the story of Surya, the sun god, who galloped across the sky each day in his golden chariot, pulled by the five horses, while down below in the dark bowels of the earth were giant serpents, red-eyed, flesh-eating demons and other creatures of the underworld.

It was at this time that the people of Bharat were looking inwards, while the Macedonians aggressively explored outwards and wanted to conquer the world. The kingdoms of Bharat were threatened by the aggressive Macedonians. No king or kingdom was free from the aggressor’s attack. Fragmented kingdoms, disunity and distrust among the rulers made these kingdoms an easy target for the Macedonians.

During this period, several events are shrouded in mystery—what brought Alexander to India? How did he die at such a young age? What were the origins of Chandragupta Maurya? How did a young lad of humble origins take on a mighty king? How did a poor Brahmin pundit help a poor young man rise to power from nowhere? What extraordinary powers did Chandragupta possess that made him so successful? Who were his key generals? Who won wars for him? The questions are endless.

There are several seemingly unconnected dots, as the history of this time is shrouded in deep mystery. Rudra effortlessly unlocks the ancient secrets and aligns the unconnected dots. Mystery unravelled; secrets decoded…

In the second avatar (Janam Two) as Rudra during the tumultuous times of Alexander and Chanakya, he offers stunning clues and revelations. His decrypting skills leave a trail that answers several mysteries in our rich history.

At last, Rudra, heading the Nine Unknown Men Army (NUM), has arrived to decode the secrets to save humanity from cataclysm and extinction.

1
Parthiva year, 306 bc, Kartika (November) month, Friday evening.

The Massaga fort in the Hindu Kush had surrendered to Rudra, the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan army. He was taking stock of the situation. At this hour, a cry hit his ears. ‘Meri raksha karo! (Please save me from the barbarians!’) A woman’s shrieking voice reverberated against the mountains.

‘Why does this lady cry so?’ asked Rudra, looking curiously at his companion. He turned in the direction from where the voice was coming. To his surprise, he saw two cages in which two persons stood, chained. There was a young woman around twenty-two years old, and in the other cage was a bright young lad.

Rudra looked at the cage closely. The woman was gorgeous, seductive, shapely. Her hair was kohl-black, and cascaded over her shoulders. She had thin eyebrows, velvety eyelashes, sea-nymph ears, a sharp nose, shiny white teeth, almond-shaped eyes and glossy skin.

She was wasp-waisted, and her pouting, luscious lips conveyed her displeasure. Her hips and bust were almost of equal size. Her perfect shape reminded him of many icons of beauty he had seen. Her fleshy rounded back attracted his attention.

Rudra realized that he was going overboard ogling at the young women. But in spite of her beautiful features, she seemed to be a fading flower, possibly due to her weakness and exhaustion.

He turned his head towards the surrendered commander of the opposing army, Dharma Sena.

‘Dharma Sena, who are these caged persons?’ asked Rudra.

‘Forget these idiots, Commander. Let me take you round the fort.’ Dharma Sena said, ‘This is Massaga, the great fort city of the Asvakas, the tribe of horsemen. To the south and west are gigantic rocks which defy climbing. To the east is the swift-flowing mountain torrent, the Masakavati river. This famous fort is situated on a hill 6,000 feet high and has a circumference of twelve miles. At the top of the fort, there is arable land requiring a thousand men to cultivate it. This land is capable of feeding more than 30,000 men indefinitely. There are also perennial springs and reservoirs. Every hill here is a natural fort, Commander. Every man here is a horse soldier, Commander. A mighty rampart of stone, brick and timber surrounds the fort, which also has a moat on three sides and the river on the fourth.

‘Commander, “Masika” means “serpent’s hole”, a name indicating the supposed impregnability of the fort and the valour of its defender.’

‘I realize how impregnable your fort is, Dharma Sena. I had to use my best skills to tame you and your fort. By the way, I am impressed by the seven gates leading to the citadel. Can you give me an overview of your fort, Dharma Sena?’

‘You have sharp eyes, Commander. You noticed our seven gates? I am impressed. Let me show you around.’




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About the author


A consistent Top Rank holder and a Gold Medallist throughout his academics, Mr. Durgadoss has had a career spanning 30 years comprising of depth from industry and width from management consultancy as highlights. He has held various senior management positions in top notch companies. Having travelled extensively on consulting assignments, he has interacted with prominent International Bodies like the UNIDO, Investment Bankers and companies held by Professors of Harvard Business School. He has a rare exposure to multiple cultures namely, MNCs, Home grown large groups, family concerns and public sector undertakings during his career. He is blessed with 360 degree analytical skills, which in turn emanates from his all round experience as a Functional head, General manager, Entrepreneur and a Board director. He is an advisor on the board of Directors of several companies benefiting the organizations with his remarkable cross functional skills and his up to date knowledge. Currently he is the Group Director – Finance and Strategy, House of S.T.Bhatia, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition he is the chief mentor, coach and Co – Promoter of Icon Management Services (IMS), UAE. Unceasing ‘Value Addition’ and not just ‘Validation’ is the mantra of success for IMS, a multi – disciplinary management consultancy organisation. He has multi-sectoral / cultural/ territorial/ functional exposure with proven track record of success. He is a PhD on Corporate Governance which involves CSR dimensions. He has delivered several lectures in various forums on Character, Competence and Consciousness (3Cs) towards the society and also has several articles to his credit.

Track travelled...

Raising the altitude from a functional entrant to a functional champion, extending his width as a management consultant of a Big 4 firm, he took up the profit centre head position, with a challenging revival assignment in the mid nineties.

Then he moved up to the entrepreneurial mode by taking up the role of a Managing Director of a new venture. Due to several macro economic factors, the venture went into deep trouble. He faced the worst disaster of his life on this venture, losing money, peace and friends, who invested along with him. From the brink of bankruptcy, he fought back to reach the basin of wisdom & wealth in the current assignment as the Director of a large group based in Dubai. The turbulence he went through during this phase tested his character & confidence. Now, along with Dr. Yerram Raju, his co-author, he has penned down this book on Character driven Competence, which elucidates practical ways of ‘Winning without Sinning’. He always says ‘Momentum leaders don’t wait for the waves; instead they build their waves and ride on them’.

After having fought the greatest wars in the deep chambers of his soul, he came triumphant, obtained his PHD in Corporate Governance and now presents the book with the worldly wisdom, gained by him during his career. 

‘Experience is the greatest from of Education’ says Dr. Durgadoss.




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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: Hearts & Hots by Ruchi Singh

Name of the Book: Hearts and Hots
Author: Ruchi Singh
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

A collection of short stories that touches the various phases of  romance. Love, an emotion we all have an opinion on - some call it a wastage of time while others pen poems about it. But no one can deny that it makes the world go around. Ruchi Singh has handled the different phases of love in these short stories.

Head over Heals

Made me fall in love with Ruchi Singh's writing. Very Bollywoodish. I could almost imagine Sanaa climbing the veranda to meet Aaryan. It has all the features of romance - the cuteness of the first meeting, the innocence in love, the excitement of the first kiss and the twinge of heart break.


You and Only You

The tone changes in the story. Two lovers separated due to circumstances and meet again after one of them is already married. Ms. Singh has handled the complications of relationships quite well in this one. One thing I would have wanted more, in this story in particular, is the pain. The pain of heartbreak and more than that the pain of knowing that your husband is -  (For this of course you must read the book.)

Love is Silent

This was my favorite of the lot. Love can be silent and yet very powerful.  Breaking over barrier of social norms and morality, sometimes love can be very selfish and demanding. Though I didn't understand Arjun's reaction to Anjali, yet the relationship between Arjun and Radha will steal your breath away. But here I found that  Love can be a  bit selfish too, where as in all the other stories, the generous and giving tone of love is maintained yet here, love is about getting.

A Promise Is a Promise

A very practical love story.  This is the only story which has touched how our past effects our present. Why one has to be afraid to fall in love and how we paint everyone in the same canvas, if our experience is bad. Love is Silent is my favorite of the lot but in this one Reet lodges in my heart permanently. A very strong character who knows her duties even in love.

Whole Nine Yards 

This story is all about second chance.  Overcoming cultural taboos and turning love as a gift from God. Ruchi Singh has covered all in her short stories.


Will I recommend this book:
A must read for every romance lover.

Grab your copy here 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review: The Princess of a Whorehouse: The Story of a Swamp Lotus by Mayank Sharma

Name of the Book: The Princess Of A Whorehouse
Author: Mayank Sharma 
Star Rating: 3 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

A story about a young girl, Aparajita, as she leaves her past behind to educate herself and also inspire her mother to come out of sex trade.

What is it about?

When Ramya falls into the clutches of the sex trade workers, all she wanted was to see to it that her daughter, Aparajita, did not fall under the same. She, along with her daughter, fights against them and comes out of the system with the help of a good samaritan. Raj not only marries Ramya but makes sure that Aparajita had a good home to call her own.



A motivating journey

I loved the way the author has only focused on the journey of Aparajita and not the negatives of the sex trade. To come out of it is really tough and our system does nothing to help them out. But when someone like Aparajita is determined enough, there can be no stopping a woman to achieve what she sets her mind for. 

‘Mamma, now Raj uncle is my daddy!’

There is so much innocence in the words of Aparajita. It's like a lotus in a swamp. And yet she tries to keep every evil thought out of her mind. She focuses on the positivity and goes after it. And achieves it too. This is the best part of the novel.

What I wanted more..

Aparajita grew up with many things lacking in her life. Her life was unusual, yet she never carried the stain of her past. That I found a bit 'neglected'. I will not say that it left any holes in the story but if her pain too would have been brought out, her grit and determination to achieve more would have reached a higher level tool.

For eg. When her mother would abuse the school bus driver for driving through their streets till the time the driver reveals a secret - it did not seem to leave much of an impact on Aparajita's life. What did she feel when the driver would roll down her street? We know her mother's emotions.. but hers?

Another thing that would have made this near perfect story even better is taking care of proofreading and editing.

A meaningful narration...

I would really like to keep aside the editing defects of this novel and focus on the questions it raises?

1) Why do we stereotype our children? We want such perfect friends for our kids that we install in their young mind whom to mix with and who is good or bad. In our black and white lives, we forget the shades of gray. We forget that girls like Aparajita exist.

2) The schools are meant as educational institutions and have not right to refuse education to any children due to their background.

3) Aparajita is a lucky girl and found a Raj. But how many such Raj's are in this world? What do women like Ramya do under such circumstances?

4) It's very clear that the money is mostly made by the pimps and the madams who run the 'houses'? So even after sleeping with multiple partners in a day, the prostitutes don't earn anything. What is our government doing? Is it only the headache of the social workers who get no help from our police bodies too?

I think Mayank Sharma has done a fabulous job in raising these question. If only he got it better edited, I would have given this book a 5 star. 

Grab your copy here 


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review: 1857 Dust of Ages Vol 1: A Forgotten Tale by Vandana Shanker

Name of the Book: 1857 Dust Of Ages
Author: Vandana Shanker
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

This is not a novel nor a novelette. Having said that you need to read this short introduction to the series to fall in love with Vandana's writing. 

What is it about?

Set in the period of 1857 when the British Raj was controlling the privy purses of the small kingdoms of India, a British soldier falls in love with  Princess Meera. The gateway to this period is through the POV of Shiv who has found some old documents in his grandmother's old haveli.  A tale that spins over time and crosses the boundaries of past and present, will keep any historical romance lovers enthralled. 

But keep in mind that this story ends abruptly and you will rush to pick up the Volume 2 in the series like I am doing. 

The language of the Author

Is beautiful. Very descriptive and her strength is the way she describes an environment. Very apt for this genre where visualization of a scene is very much needed. 

Shiv's grandmother owned an old haveli. Since his parents were settled in Singapore from the time he was 6 years old, they now felt that she had become too old to stay alone. Shiv got to see the old documents that belonged to generations of his family. That excites the historian in him.

"The room held all the memorabilia of the past – discarded cartons and boxes, old utensils, some broken furniture, out-of-date fittings, Shiv’s old cycle and a cricket bat.  Through the golden motes of dust, Amma pointed at the wooden chest in one corner. Shiv dragged it out and carried it to the living room."

In some of the scenes, I got goosebumps the way she has described the period of 1857. Those creaking doors and the glitter from the past - the abandoned and the false sense of securities of the rajas of that period have are well written. 

Interesting topic 

I found the period she chose very rare. Not many stories of this period in the Indian history is available (I think) Women are not shown in their subdued forms but rather as equals. Though she was not given the right to rule but it was not due to the rules the Indians had for their women but rather the political aspirations of the Britishers. Or maybe a mix of both. But this short introduction to the series got me ready to read the already published books of this series. 

Weaving a periodic tale

Historical romance is a difficult genre to write. Not only are the stats need to be correct but weaving the tale around those stats is equally challenging.

Bhanu Pratap had seen these privileges erode with time. The relationship with the neighboring kingdoms had changed. The British Company became too strong.

The changing period from monarchy to the British Raj. The changing attitude of the natives from nationalists to British loyalist of this era weaved as a story from the point of view of Shiv, John, and Meera. Looking forward to reading the remaining in the series from Vandana.


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Finding The Angel: Where it all Began


Have you ever seen a writer's face when they see a review on Goodreads or Amazon? I never knew the feeling till I got my very first review of Knitted Tales. Well, that is the tale for another day. One of my readers asked me why I chose a Faberge Egg as the subject of my story. Here is a small tale attached to that.


The year was 1983 (I think).

Have you seen those egg toffees in India?

They looked something like the picture on the left side of this post but more colorful. I couldn't find a more authentic pic than this. So as the tale proceeds, my two-year-old bro was crazy after these colorful eggs but we were forbidden to eat it. You would get this from the local small grocery shops at I think 12 pieces for Re.1

My mom found it out that I have bought him those eggs without asking anyone and I got all the verbal thrashing. Now my mom had a peculiar way of thrashing her kids. She would tell us stories which generally had a moral in the story. But this time she told me a love story. The love story of a Russian Czar who stole a very expensive egg for his Princess and had to face many difficulties to find the egg. It was nothing to do with my Re.1 eggs but it stayed in mind for a long time. It was such a beautiful tale. Later I realized that she was telling me a story about a Faberge Egg. The history of which I will continue in my next post. 

Thank you +Dola Basu Singh for this lovely review. You can find her review for my Finding The Angel in Goodreads 



You can always grab my book from  Amazon and it's also available on Kindle Unlimited. 


Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Blitz: The Princess of A Whorehouse by Mayank Sharma


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THE PRINCESS OF A WHOREHOUSE: THE STORY OF A 
SWAMP LOTUS
by
Mayank Sharma



Blurb

Aparajita is a tenacious go-getter. Her name means unconquerable in Sanskrit, and she lives up to its meaning. 

Just like any other ambitious girl, she desires to fulfil her dreams and become an independent individual. Far and wide, the shadow of her melancholy past chases her passage. The fact that her widowed mother is a former sex worker irks the community. Nonetheless, she is not ashamed to reveal her mother's past. 

Will she lose hope, or will she defy an enigma that is centuries-old? Will she ever conquer the hearts of a prestige-obsessed community? 

See the world through Aparajita's prism in a tale stirred by some real life events.

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About the author


Mayank Sharma is a computer engineering graduate with post-graduation in business management. He works with a leading technology multinational in Delhi. He has authored a number of articles and white papers on software technology and processes. For the first time in April 2014, his article was featured in Better Software magazine published in Florida, USA. Writing has become Mayank's greatest passion when he observed how it can trigger the winds of change. He is gradually transforming from a “left-brained” writer to a “right-brained” writer. Besides writing, he is passionate about sketching, painting, and making sculptures since childhood.

India is the fifth-largest economy in the world with the Gross Domestic Product growth at 7.1 percent. Contrary, India ranks 118 out of 157 countries in the happiness index. The fact seized Mayank’s attention towards social problems affecting social support, freedom of choices, and generosity, to name a few. Having travelled across continents and associated with people with diverse beliefs and values, he became more curious about the social riddles curtailing liberties across societies. He penned his debut novel, The Princess of a Whorehouse, when he came across some real life incidents that quivered his soul.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Book Blitz: Key to My Soul by Probal Mazumdar


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KEY TO MY SOUL
by
Probal Mazumdar






Blurb


"When Siddharth, a lonely young man with a failed marriage gets a sudden phone-call from a mysterious person about his lost childhood lover, Hazel, and learns that she is battling for life, he is shaken to the core. He also learns that she had left certain letters for him fifteen years back that never reached him. It disturbs him so much that he rushes to the hospital in his old hometown. There he discovers an eclipsed past buried in time that is riddled with dangerous surprises, trauma, twists of fate, sacrifices that exemplify true love and the real reasons for the tragic end of their childhood love story. But will Hazel ever open her eyes to see him..."

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About the author


Probal Mazumdar works in an IT company. He is an NIT engineer by societal pressure, singer by accident, guitarist by love at first sound, poet by soul, writer by passion, a world class badminton player in childhood dreams, rebel by day, recluse by night, a samosa in a family of laddoos, a Jughead at the dining table, a shameless and congenital dreamer. 

Oh! An arsonist too – when his wife is not around, sets his own house on fire with his little son. 

He won the FIRST prize in the All India Poetry Competition, 2014, conducted by PSI (Poetry Society of India). Click on www.indianpoetry.org/awardsgeneral14.htm

His other poems have risen too from cold storage into literary journals like Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), Wasafiri (U.K. Vol. 67), Acumen (U.K.), OtherPoetry (U.K.), Chandrabhaga Literary Journal (Editor Jayanta Mahapatra), Dhauli Review, amongst others.

He writes short stories too. This is his first foray into writing a novel.

The Title of the Book is “Key To My Soul.”

The entire plot and story of the novel hinges on these words of the Title. Once the protagonist, Sidd, finds out the Key, he enters the Soul of his long lost beloved. The words, “Key to my Soul” is also a phrase used by his beloved in a letter to him which is the axis the story revolves around.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review: Her Secret Husband by Sundari Venkatraman

Name of the Book: Her Secret Husband
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

"Ruma lifted the phone to call Ranveer’s extension. As the phone rang, she checked the taller of the two men." 

And with that Ruma meets Lakshman. Just the right kind of tingling feeling that makes the reader turn every page of the book. Sundari Venkatraman has this tendency to make the reader fall in love with her heroes. At least the female readers.  This time it's the baker who is not only handsome but also has a heart of a gold. A few cynics might point out that such specimen don't exist. Maybe in the real world, they don't. But they do in the world created by Ms. Vekatraman, where every romance reader can escape and forget realism.


The Love Story

Is passionate. Where the demand is not only from the man but from the woman also. Ruma knows her mind and she is anything but shy.

However much critics scream the word 'cliche' when such a beautiful moment is born, fans of die hard romance will always feel a tear of joy trailing down their cheeks when such a moment occurs. When Ruma meets Lakshman at Ranveer's office, little did they know that their chance meeting would turn into a beautiful romance?

But the title Her Secret Husband intrigued me when I first saw it. From the time I have been reading romance, titles like His secret wife, reluctant wife, runaway bride had always been there, but with role reversal, this turns out to be a pleasant change.

Lakshman woke up with a jerk from his dream.It was a recurring one about Ruma Malhotra.

Is this how a guy feels?

I have often wondered about the initial thoughts of my hubby was when he met me.  The very first thought which makes a man decide that he wants to meet a woman again. Did he too spend a few sleepless nights or did a silly grin made him feel foolish in front of his friends? Sundari Venkatraman has brought this out beautifully.

Her second-born spoke little, but she was attuned to his body language.

The Family Saga.

I often call her Sooraj Barjatiya of the Indie world. Ms. Venkatraman does not create novels. She brings to live her characters. Long after you close her books, the characters stay on with you. And when one character makes a special appearance in her other novels, you feel like you have won the prize of a treasure hunt.


Hotter and Bolder 
Sundari has really heated the scenes between Ruma and Lakshman. I like the way Ruma is not a damsel in distress. She can initiate a proposal, make love to her man and if need be learn every aspect of his business and walk along with him.  Even though Sundari's heroines don't carry the torch of feminism burning brightly, they create a space based on equality, passion.

The feeling of homecoming 
With every book of Sundari, I feel I am watching a daily soap. Characters from her previous books make an appearance and I feel excited every time that happens. From what I have read of Sundari, she does not do hate, she only spreads the love. 

Grab your copy here 


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Book Review: Fighting For Tara by Sunanda Chatterjee

Name of the Book: Fighting For Tara
Author: Sunanda Chatterjee
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

A heart touching subject 

I had read this book quite a while back but if I am to blame anyone for not writing this review, I lay the blame (gently) on the shoulders of my ....ummm kids. :D But this story had been gnawing at the back of mind and it's one of those tales which one will find hard to forget. The settings are perfect, heart touching and make you question humanity.

A child married to an old man when it was time for her to play with dolls. Instead of making a dollhouse she had to feed the baby girl, Tara.  The birth of Tara itself heralds a stream of question is Hansa's life. Can she keep her girl child? What are her priorities? Her husband's death brings on another facet of life in front of her. Widow remarriage to girl infanticide.

Why are not laws implemented?

I don't understand what our lawmakers do when such a thing happens. Just as Hansa runs away from one trouble, she lands up in a ring of prostitution. Escaping that, she finds life in another country.

Another country. Sadly, that is the truth behind our lives. Are we Indians all closing our eyes and not seeing exactly what is happening? When hundreds of children are forced into prostitution due to a few greedy pimps. Where are our lawmakers? Hansa is lucky but can others feel the do the same? Oh yeah, Fighting for Tara will bring out a few strong emotions in your heart.

Girls like Hansa 

Are not rare in any part of the world. While I understand sex education and moral science classes are very important in all schools, I think every child should be taught how to defend themselves. Hansa shows a logical  thinking process from an early age and this helps her to face many situations. Like running away from the man who wanted to marry her, running away from prostitution and ultimately fighting for the child who was the reason for her living - Tara.

Hansa gets lucky 

When she is saved by a loving childless couple. I almost pitied the mom in this case. She adopted without knowing what she was getting into. Adoption can be very complicated if secrets are kept from the adoptive parents. But do I blame Hansa for doing what she did? I don't know. Sitting in my cushioned den, it's very easy to be moralistic but a girl has got to do what she has to do to survive the odds.

Many issues raised. 

Sunanda has done a lovely job in raising many issues.  Child marriage and a girl without support once her old husband dies. If this part was taken care of India, she wouldn't  have had the need to cross the seven seas.

Neat ending 

A few questions churned within me when I probed deeper into the story. Hansa's adjustment to the western culture was almost seamless. True she was learning English for a long time but dialects? Adopting a new culture must not have been easy, especially for a girl from her background.

But keeping this one point aside, the jealousy of the mothers, the fighting spirit of Hansa and the growth of Hansa as a woman will leave a lump in your throat. It's definitely one of those books you would want to keep on your shelf for a long time.

Grab your copy here 



Friday, March 31, 2017

Book Review: Finding Juliet by Toffee

Name of the Book: Finding Juliet 

Author: Toffee

Publisher: Srishti Publisher 

Star Rating: 4 stars 

My Review: 

‘Every time I tried kissing happiness, it came very close to me and then pushed me away,’ I said, looking at the glass of vodka in my hand..."

The above lines set the mood of the story. You already form an opinion of what lies ahead. You already get a glimpse of the characters you will be traveling along within these pages and you already know that this is a post-Devdas story...

Wrong.

This is the window to the world of Arjun. Where you glimpse an innocent boy, standing at the thresh hold of his virginity, confused by the confusing emotions playing around him. A boy who had to grow up when disaster strikes and rips his world apart.

Toffee is one writer who is very sure of his audience. The young college going crowd who are victims of their own confusion. Yet that is just one part of their personality. They have so much inner strength that you can but only marvel at their tenacious nature. Their bouncing back in life. And this novel is all about that.

Arjun has a weak heart. And by that, I don't mean in the medical sense. He falls in love very quickly - every time. To give him his due, it's mostly the girls who are ditching him but he is not one of those guys who will be lost in memories. I like that - a good lesson for the young Romeos out there. Finding Juliet is almost like a journey. A journey to find one's true love. Often we are searching for things out of our comfort zone, forgetting to look around us. But where love is concerned, destiny plays a very important part and Toffee has used it very effectively to bring together the two lovers.

Arjun and Shraddha...
That is the first love story. I liked Arjun a lot. His innocence was quite touching. An innocence which reminded me of my own 20's when the people around us start shaping our lives. Even I was surprised regarding the outcome of this love story but like I said before, destiny already had set the wheels of their life in motion and however much Arjun tries, he could not escape it.

In this section, I found the author's narration very filmy. His comparison of the protagonist's life with movies like 3 idiots and Dil Chahta hai makes you wonder how much influence the Bollywood movies had on the author. But that is the phase which we all have gone through. So keeping the age factor in mind, I thought it was very well projected.

Anjali...
The anchor in Arjun's life whom he had met when he was four years of old. From childhood love to escaping commitment. But throughout the story, Anjali remain his conscious. So what makes Arjun commitment phobic? Sometimes I found him downright idiotic who went about life crying over people whom he had lost rather than appreciating the one's he had at that point in time.
The main disappointing phase of Arjun's life was when he met the girls after Neha. One after the other proved his character to be very shallow. There was no hero like quality which made me want to read them. The guys any college going girl will meet in a canteen, who either will whistle at you or turn into a roadside Romeo. Love without dignity does not fascinate the reader in me.

But let's not forget the title - Finding Juliet. It's after all the protags journey in finding love.

Author's style:
Toffee comes across as a very bold writer and I like his writing style - young and peppy. But don't go about searching for literary context. It's a romance in which you will see the growth of a protagonist and that to me, as a reader, is very important.

Would I recommend it?
A one time read which will make you smile at places and grit your teeth at a few crude scenes. This is a raw romance, not a story of a dashing hero and damsel in distress. It's the story of the youth of today.