Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Emperor's Riddle by Satyarth Nayak




Name of the Book :The Emperor's Riddles
Author:Satyarth Nayak
Publisher: Amaryllis
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:  #6,645,134 in Books 
No. of Pages: 406 pgs.

Disclaimer: I got this book from the Author in exchange for my honest opinion.

Blurb 


Carrying quotes from India's best selling mystery writers on its cover, this new mystery thriller, described by Hindustan Times as 'a gripping tale of intrigue', has already made it to several Top 10 Bestseller charts.

More terrifying than the savage murder of historian Ram Mathur on the ghats of Ganga, are the questions that follow. Desperate for answers, Sia turns to esoteric writer & friend Om Patnaik. But what begins as a hunt for the killer, becomes an extraordinary trail of riddles strewn across the country, that must end at the gates of an enigma.

An ancient enigma so powerful that even gods would kill for it!!!

In another time and space, rules an Emperor who plays with phenomenal forces that make him supremewho faces these very forces when they threaten the survival of the human race. An Emperor who must ultimately pay homage to the enigma…

As Patnaik and Sia race from one riddle to another, towards a royal secret that has remained alive for centuries….will the final truth, save them or destroy them forever?

The path beckons. Can you solve The Emperor’s Riddles?



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Review
The story is divided into three parts.

Buddham saranam gacchami
I go to the Buddha for refuge

Dhammam saranam gacchami
I go to the Dhamma for refuge

Sangham saranam gacchami
I go to the Sangha for refuge.

The echoes of these beautiful words are enough to entice a reader. This story shuttles between the past and the present - without killing the essence and the beauty of each era. Frankly speaking, this is no light read. It took me some time to get into the flow of the story. But after you catch the thread of the story, it is so gripping and 'unputdownable'. 

The story begins with the death of Ram Mathur. The death itself is very strange and gruesome. His eyes are gouged out and yet he seems not to suffer in pain but had died with a smile on his face. Why? He had carved the name Ohm on his face with a trident. Ohm not as the most holy word in the Hindu scriptures, but the name of the protagonist Ohm Patnaik. 

Ohm Patnaik is summoned by the police of Varanasi and Ram Mathur's daughter Sia to come and help out in solving the mystery. How he is connected to the death is a great bafflement for him. This starts a series of riddles which was triggered by an email left by Ram Mathur after  his death. Along with Sia, Ohm starts his quest in solving 9 riddles which would not only solve ancient secrets for them but also solve the murder of Ram Mathur. 

Constant danger lurks in the form of Scorpion - the serial killer who was targeting men related in terms of their destiny. Why and how is the most interesting part of this story and without screaming spoiler alert, I cannot give in the details. But all I can say is that the riddles would  be the most interesting thing in this book. You would want to solve them to find out what this is all about. :)


Rating

Reasoning
I seriously have to think of adding the decimals in my star. This book deserves more than 4. But falls a bit short of 5. (Many might think otherwise). So here I go...

Too many characterizations made the story baffling is some parts. Some of the characters could be done without. In some parts the characters appeared suddenly and I had to go back a few paragraphs to understand what they were doing there. 
The Past and the Present have been woven beautifully. A very well done research on the part of the author. 
The end was an UH moment. Did not see it coming at all. In fact, I had been questioning myself from time to time, analyizing and playing detective with great enthu. I could not. 
The riddles were very well thought of. I really want to ask Satyarth a few questions regarding this. An interview will be coming up soon. He really had a mind of a detective to have thought of this plot.
I saw a few glimpses of Da Vinci code. I mean it as a compliment. This story had many complexities which slowly unfurled using the riddles. 










Monday, October 27, 2014

The Runaway Bridegroom by Sundari Venkatraman





THE RUNAWAY BRIDEGROOM
by
Sundari Venkatraman








Blurb

Chanda Maheshwari’s family is shaken when her thirteen-year-old bridegroom Veerendra runs away immediately after the wedding. The eight-year-old child doesn’t even understand the impact on her life. Unable to face their neighbours and friends, the Maheshwaris move from their village to Jaipur and begin a new life in the city.

Fourteen years later, Chanda is studying in a Delhi College. She takes up a temporary job at RS Software Pvt. Ltd. and falls head-over-heels for the boss of the operation. But what about  Ranveer Singh? Is he interested in her?

Ranveer’s secretary Shikha is desperate to make him fall for her. All she wants is life-long security with a rich man. But it’s nerd Abhimanyu who keeps getting in the way. Abhi is Ranveer’s second-in-command and Shikha isn’t keen on him as she’s eyeing the main chance. 

When Ranveer appears to show interest in Chanda, she’s faced with a new problem. Astrologer Vidyasagar insists that she would get back with her husband Veerendra. Does anyone want to know what she wants? 

Chanda feels torn between the man she has fallen for and the family values that have been instilled in her. Will she ever find happiness? 

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Review 


Sundari Venkatraman always mixes a social cause with Romance. Though she tries her best to claim that she is not preaching, but just writing a romance, her short, airy romances end up making you question our dogmatic society. In this one- it was about the evils of child marriage, which sadly is still prevalent in our society. 

Chanda -( a mix of Meena Kumari and Aliya Bhatt ???) is getting married. She is just an eight year old child. Reading about her, made me want to pick her up and abscond. But I was saved from kidnapping her, when her child- husband Veerender runs away. As with many of the child-brides, Chanda is left in a strange relationship with a man whom she would never meet. (Kinda reminds me of the movie Water) Does Chanda have the same stoic expression seen so oftne on the faces of the lonely widows in that movie. I think she does. For Sundari Venktaraman has brought out this emotion in the lines -" Chanda held her arms tightly around herself and wondered what she was missing in life. She heard her friends discussing romance and stolen kisses in whispered conversations. But Chanda felt that that life was not hers to live."

Such pathos in the heart of a young girl can only make you want to scream at the mistakes some parents can commit in the name of social rulings. For those who are not well versed with child-marriages in India, it was quite common in the days prior to 1928 when Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 put a stop to it. Well, it did not. This act is only punishable when someone reports this act or the authorities discover it. But when the whole sect in a particular society follows this act, they hardly get reported. 

But unlike many other parents, Chanda's parents put this incident behind them and moved on, educating their child and making her ready to face the society. Chanda too had accepted her fate and knew love was not for her. But she had not met Ranveer yet, had she ?

Till now Sundari Venkatraman had reigned in words and beautifully etched how our elders lived and her words brought out the patriarchal society with all their bossiness and views. Enters Ranveer and suddenly the landscape becomes modern and happy and of course passionate. With Chanda, the readers are also introduced to the bureaucratic life of Ranveer.  A go getter, a passionate lover and a self made man. But a man with a past. 

Like every love story rises above the others due to a villian, this story has one too. The past of Chanda. Will Chanda be able to choose between her heart and her duty?

What I Liked ....

The simplicity of the story. Sundari Venkatraman is an ace story teller, no doubt.  Her stories are not preachy and she does not accuse the society of anything. An incident happened to a young girl. That's it. She leaves it to the imagination of the readers of what they want to do with the incident. I wanted to punish Dadaji (Grandpa ) however sweet he was. 

The author did not accuse the parents even in one line, yet made me feel ashamed for what they had done. When parents take a wrong decision, how is affects the life of a child is very well portrayed here.

The chemistry between Chanda and Ranveer is sizzling and sweet. Without sounding vulgar, Sundari Venkatraman has been naughty. So the mercury factor has gone up.

What I did not Like ....

Hmmmm... Hmmmph :D Shall I say ? Totally the editor's fault if you must know (facepalm )

Veerender's running away had some loopholes. Just a few. It was too easy and too forgiving. In other words Sundari Venkatraman time has come to write a  masterpiece of more than 75k words.

Disclaimer : The author is my friend and has promised me a pot full of gold at the rainbow's end. She is no leprechaun and I don't see a rainbow. So the reviews remain honest and from my heart till I don't reach the rainbow's end.




Meet the Author


Sundari Venkatraman has authored four ebooks so far, The Runaway Bridegroom being the latest. Three of her books, namely, The Malhotra Bride; Meghna and The Runaway Bridegroom have all been self-published on Amazon under the banner of Flaming Sun. All three books are regularly seen on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers’ Contemporary Romances list. 

A great fan of Mills & Boon romances over the past four decades, Sundari has always believed in ‘Happily Ever Afters’ and all her books promise happy endings. 

The Runaway Bridegroom talks about ‘Child Marriage’, an evil perpetrated even in the 21st century in a country like India. While a large number of the country’s population live in the cities and lead modern lives, there are many who follow old customs unaware of the negative impact on the lives of the younger generation. 

The book is a work of fiction and of course does not preach. The author has but made an attempt to bring this ancient custom to the eyes of the modern public around the world while bringing a simple solution to the protagonists, the victims of child marriage. 

“I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I loved writing it,” says Sundari Venkatraman. 

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Interview with Uday Mane, Author of Helpline


A CHAT WITH UDAY MANE
Reading Helpline by Uday Mane disturbed me a lot. It kept on niggling me why would an author choose a protag which is inclined to commit suicide. If as a writer, I would have to choose, then my protag would be stronger, someone who would be the savior. Armed with this righteous attitude, I went to shoot him (with) a series of question. His answers are pretty impressive. Check it out ...

Hi Uday, 
1. Thank you for this interview. Now that all the reviews have turned in, how do you feel?

Just the way a movie buff feels after watching a good thriller. These last few weeks have surely been nothing short of suspense for me. While I have been happy for mostly positive feedback I have received for the plot and my writing style, I have also taken in my stride some constructive criticism. Overall, it has been a great learning experience from some of the finest reviewers in the online space. Thank you to the entire team of The Book Club and to Rubina Ramesh for stringent timelines, support and guidance. We will most certainly work again soon.

2. Suicide, a dark and dangerous subject to write about? What made you choose this topic?

It was something unexplored in Indian literature. The topic is quite sensitive and gloomy. I was aware that most people may shy away from reading the novel due to its theme. However, in my mind, the theme of my debut novel was chosen well before its time.  It happened in the summer of 2008. I sat in crosswords with my copy of a novel and reading away peacefully. That was the day I met this stranger. We talked about books and other things in life until I inquired about the two long scars on her either wrist. With all honesty, she confessed to having tried committing suicide twice and being saved by her friends on both occasions. There is no such thing as thrice lucky. Thankfully, she conceded to having been over it. Our paths never crossed after that, but what was left behind was an idea that grew over the next few years. Six years later, there was a book called The Helpline. So, thank you, stranger.


3. Are you sympathetic to those who contemplate to commit suicide? Do you feel that Samir, your protagonist, was justified in his thought process?

I would not consider sympathy or pity the appropriate words in this context. A person contemplating suicide does not have a thought process. Their thought process is already haywire. In this case, it is best to have someone who is patient, can think on their behalf, reason with them, and walk with them down the path of sanity.  Samir’s state of mind was compromised and so was his thought process. Hence, it was Rachael and Neha, the two sane people who do not sympathize or pity on him, but show him the right direction. 

4. Some reviewers feel that Samir is a weak character while some feel that his is justified in his action. Do you think Samir is a weak character?

Yes, Samir HAD to be a weak character. How else do you portray a suicidal character? If he were confident & strong headed character, this book would not exist. The book is written in a non-linear way, jumping between past and present every now and then. This past and present is a two way journey. One journey takes Samir from being a happy person to a suicidal. Another journey takes him from being suicidal to a happy person. Between these two journeys, life happens. And on this journey, Samir discovers himself. Replace Samir with the name of any person you know. Replace Samir with your own name. And this becomes your story. We have all gone from being weak characters to strong characters. That is what this book portrays. It takes a weak character and puts him in the toughest situation. How else does anyone of us find our own identity? 


5. What would have happened with Samir if there was no Rachael? 

Where there is a will, there is a way. Rachael was a way out for Samir. Without her, he would have figured out another way. Because, he always had the will. 

6. What is your upcoming novel? Are you choosing another bold subject? A sneak peek?

I do have a couple of things on my mind. It is too early to say if the subject is bold. What I can tell you is that it will be different and there will be a message. 

Thanks Uday, for taking the time to answer these questions. What about you guys? Do you think Samir, the protag came out stronger? Would love to know readers thoughts on this one. 







The Blurb
 Samir is suicidal. Rachael works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir’s story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life. As his story reaches its conclusion, Rachael will know the true reason behind his suicidal tendencies. But this suicide helpline is not any ordinary service. There is more to the mysterious and yet so convincing voice of Rachael. As this new mystery begins to unfold, Samir is going to discover three things: 


What is The Helpline? 

Who is Rachael? 

What is Samir’s own identity? 


Every year, several teenagers in India attempt suicide because of failing relationships, dwindling careers, parental pressure or the competitive world. This story is about one such teenager, his early problems and the hurdles to cope with them. This story is about finding hope in the struggle. This story is about fighting for what you believe in and discovering your true identity. This is not a story about falling in love. This is a story of rising from a failed love story.

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Meet the Author


Uday Mane was born in Pune and raised in Mumbai. He works as a marketing professional during the day and a storyteller during the night. He is an avid reader, and loves to collect classic books. 


The Helpline is his debut novel that was launched in March 2014 at the hands of Padma Shri Paresh Rawal.





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Friday, October 17, 2014

Review of Lucifer's Lungi by Nitin Sawant


Lucifer's Lungi
by 
Nitin Sawant





The Blurb
 An atheist city-slicker unleashed on a medieval holy village...


A simpleton village priest's boy who blindly worships and guards a pantheon of Gods and Their traditions...


Strange things happen when their worlds collide!


This is a tale of that turmoil on a lonely night in a jungle, when the ghosts you never knew till a few hours ago are let loose on the ghosts that you always carried within, unknowingly.


Welcome to the unholy clash of beliefs, fears and frailties with unknown Gods and demons. A clash that will test your convictions. A clash that will rabidly claw and unmask your subconscious, leaving you naked and paralyzed in front of your demons - in a climax that is as ambiguous as it is certain...



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Review 

This was one of the most hilarious horror narrative I have read after a long time. Think like the SCREAM series I suppose, in want of a better example. The story line is simple, as should be for such a short read. 

An IT guy, make it the boring and bored kind, who finds his respite in the weekends. He just packs and goes to sight see. How I envy him his freedom :( So this time he landed up in a godforsaken or should I say the battle ground of the Demons and Gods. For a guy, who is brought up to replace the traditions with science, he finds the village practices difficult to follow. This leads to error after another and he unknowingly breaks many a rules of religious fanatism.

A serious subject,but when told in such a meaningful way makes an impact. A few chuckles and many a unladylike snorts, I come to a total standstill with the appearance of Lucifer's army. :D Who the hell can think like this? I literally did not know whether to laugh or gape at the ingenuity of the author.

How deep rooted is our religious fanatism? Frankly speaking, even a partial worshipper and 'when in trouble, pray to the lord kind'  wait for Goddess Laxmi's wrath to fall on my head if I put my leg on any paper. It is instinctive. Ingrained. While I was totally prepared for the Author to mock at all the religious dogmas, I certainly was not prepared for the Lucifers's army. That was HILARIOUS.. A RIOT.

Even for our western readers, who are not familiar with the word Lungi. According to Wiki dear, "The lungi (/luŋɡi/), also known as a sarong, is a traditional garment worn around the waist in Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Brunei, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, the Horn of Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula. It is particularly popular in regions where the heat and humidity create an unpleasant climate for trousers." 

So you can see from above, that it covers quite a big area :D So, don't let this word deter you from picking up this book. Not only is this apt for the story but methinks it is also the drawing factor. Our dear Lucifer, the fallen archangel in Lungi. Can you really resist that?

I must write a few words on the author's style of writing. He knows how to use punch lines to the T. The timings are perfect. The well placed innuendos and his keen observation is really worth mentioning. Being married to a Tamilan, I had never thought of the rice layers! :O It is so bloody true! 

If I, personally found a point which might be considered as a weak point in this short read it the colloquialism in the style of writing. Those who are not into learning about other cultures might feel the trudge. But for those who are willing to visit those parts of India, rarely touched, this is a treasure. 

Will I recommend this book : A must read. Aspirin for a headache and will make you laugh like a shit.. oops not my fault... blame it on the author. :D









Meet the Publisher 





Fablery Publications is a contemporary publishing start-up based in Bangalore. At Fablery, our focus is on bringing out books that are more in tune with the current reading habits. Our present portfolio includes a psycho-thriller novella “Lucifer’s Lungi”, two graphic novels “Subbu’s Code” and “Ka Kaa” to be launched at Bangalore Comic Con, along with a book adaptation of a National Award winning movie “Ri” and an anthology of historical fiction “Once Upon A Time”.


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