Saturday, December 29, 2018

Book Review: Kartikeya and his battle with the Soul Stealer by Usha Narayanan

Name of the Book: Kartikeya and his Battle with the Soul Stealer
Author: Usha Narayanan
No. of pages: 245 pages. 
The format I read in: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin India
Star Rating: 5 stars. 

Kartikeya by Usha Narayanan is a wealth of research and storytelling and something I am sure all mythological lovers will love. While I am a huge fan of Devdutt Patnaik,  in whose book reality takes precedence, I must admit, Ms. Narayanan's book has a way of entering your thought process. This is not a quick read and flipping over the pages is not a way to read this book. With this disclaimer firmly established, I must say that I am totally surprised at Ms. Narayanan's take on some of the hidden, or should I say, not much talked about topics of our Hindu Mythology. 

Another parallel I must draw here is the Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi where the mystical realm takes over. Where the Gods and the Goddesses descend as mere mortals and you can have a deeper understanding as to how it would have been if Shiva was amongst us. 

Ms. Narayanan has not taken either of the paths. She has firmly walked on retelling the mythological tale with a huge dose of imagination. You would soon question what is real and where imagination sets in. That is what kept me glued to this book till I didn't flip over the last page. 

So what did I find unique about this tale? Not being a stranger to mythological tales, I am astounded as of how every story is told differently in different parts of the world. For eg. I was under the impression that Ganesha was the elder one. I was also under the impression the Kartikeya was the son of Parvati and Shiva and the story of how Valli is born - astounded me. It made me question how the same acts would be interpreted in modern India. I had some shocking 'educational' moments here. A very well researched book by Usha Narayanan, I must say. 

Coming to the main story - what you will find in this book is the story of a young boy, who rose from being Oliver Twist to the Lord of the three worlds. Ok bad picturizing but that is what had come to my mind while reading it.  Born out of unique circumstances, Kartikeya is brought up by Ganges till Parvati does not seek him out to claim him as her own. He is of course born for a reason and to fulfill his destiny, he undergoes many trials and tribulations. Loads of incidents that keep you from losing interest and of course, when the romance of Kartikeya starts, you can't help but wait with bated breath as to whom he was going to choose. Let me not spoil that for you. 

The only issue I had with this book was that it took me some time to get into it. The number of character introduction in the first few chapters kept me guessing as to how the story was progressing. As it is Hindu mythology has a plethora of Gods and Goddesses and every God with multiple names. So don't take this book lightly when you start reading it. It not only brings out many valid points in our Indian mythology but also sheds lights on many questions that we had often wondered but never asked. 

But other than that, the characterizations etched by Ms. Narayanan is praiseworthy. Personally, I think, its something beautiful for the younger generation to read when they want to know more about our Gods and Goddesses. Another thing I noticed, especially in this book, is the way she handled Valli and Devasena. Ms. Narayanan has kept the power of feminism burning in her story and that is what makes this book different from other mythological tales I have read. Even the demure Devasena had a fire burning inside her.

A must-read for all mythological lovers. 

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Book Blitz: The Panchatheertha Part 1 by Rajiv Mittal

The Panchatheertha Part 1 by Rajiv Mittal

File Size: 1691 KB
Print Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: November 21, 2018
Language: English

Current Ranking on

#77 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Humour
#1780 in Books > Literature & Fiction

The Panchatheertha (five pilgrimages) is an outrageously funny, satirical revision of sections 1 & 2 of The Panchatantra, the masterpiece Vishnu Sharma wrote between 1200 BCE to 300 CE. The stories are primarily about statecraft and full of wisdom and morals. Despite that, youngsters found them very entertaining. In the tales, animals act and speak on behalf of human beings. The series begins with a parent story that unfolds story after story; each strung to the other by a narrator.

Vishnu Sharma’s reincarnation Shiva Varma has, in this redraft, revived the ancient Indian tradition of parampara (continuation of knowledge from one guru to the next). In his excitement, he forgot the younger age group of his shishyas (students). His characters now try to explain the motives for their actions, also express their feelings; something The Panchatantra had cleverly avoided doing. Within its pages, animals are still made to think and behave like human beings but have not otherwise been harmed in any way.

The Panchatheertha was considered lost but the discovery of two altered strategies ‘The Loss of Friends’ and ‘Gaining Friends’ should create hope within the large and growing community that has had considerable success with the first and complete failure with the second. Those wanting to meet Shiva Varma are hereby informed he dislikes economists, preferring astrology. He is in samadhi (seclusion / deep meditation) and not in hiding.

There are many intriguing characters not known to Vishnu Sharma in this adaptation; from a sex consultant plying his trade in the locality Ajilundpenodhoka in district Makasam… to a devadasi (courtesan) wanting to conduct the temple prayers because she is bored… to Sage Narada Muni !!

Bibliophiles are urged to read the original Panchatantra (which Shiva Varma did consider including as an appendix), to truly appreciate the extent to which history gets distorted when it is made to explain itself. Historically, the appendix has been viewed as a vestigial organ with no real function. This is why Shiva Varma chose not to include it… or so he claims.

It would be great if you can add this book to your TBR

"I was born in Chennai, India in the early nineteen sixties.  I now live in Melbourne after a stint of several years in the Middle East.  

Writing was a vague aspiration.  It became a reality thanks to a stranger who said I reminded him of the main character from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.  He quoted from it, ‘Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.’"

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Saturday, December 22, 2018


Interview with Arti, about her interest in reviewing

A doctor by profession, but a voracious reader at heart. In an up-close and personal chat with Rubina Ramesh, Arti speaks about her love for stories and how it was born. She keeps her passion alive and kicking by utilizing her commute time. Yes, she takes the metro to work and that is where she gets immersed into this wonderful wonderland of stories.
Rubina: What made you take up reviewing?

Arti: I love to read. I have been reading ever since I was a kid, maybe because we stayed at small town and had a handful of friends. And living in eastern India, the days used to be small, so our friends were books. Though, life became busy, I would still take out some time to read. It was in 2012, that a friend of mine suggested that I start reviewing books. I still remember writing my first review and telling her to read it.

Rubina: What is the one thing that makes you fall in love with a story?

Arti: The characters and the storyline both. There are some stories where the characters have kept me so involved that the story has taken a backseat.

Rubina: How do you manage to keep personal relationships out of your reviewing?

Arti: Initially, when I started reviewing, I would read books that would fascinate me and review them. Then slowly, I came across a few authors and started reviewing for them too. As far as personal relationships go, I try to be honest with both the reader and the writer.

Rubina: I see the number of books you review in a month! How do you manage it?

Arti: I take the metro to work, so I read both on the way up and down, Plus, I sometimes have to wait for my husband on the way back, so I read then. Once I finish a book, I try to review it asap, lest I forget.

Rubina: What does reviewing mean to you?

Arti: It is one way for me to disconnect with the world. It was only yesterday that my kids were not listening, so I moved to the guest room, with my book, finished it and then got back. My anger had dissipated and we started on a new note.

Rubina: Is there any moment when you knew you just could not review a book? Did you still go on or throw the book away?

Arti: There have been times when I was stuck. I remember one book which I did not feel like reading but out of courtesy I could not say no. I read it, with a heavy heart, and reviewed it half-heartedly.

Rubina: Many people thinK we reviewers review books for a free read. What is your take on this one.

Arti: No, I will not agree with this one. Because I for one cannot read a book, free or bought if it does not catch my fancy. And if I like a book, I don’t wait for the author/ publisher to contact me. I go ahead and buy it. And that is the reason, I have many duplicates in my book collection.

Rubina: One book that stayed with you. Why?

Arti: I love romance. But, there was this book by Arthur Hailey in our library, an old book, Flight into Danger. I read it after my class 9 th exams. And I don’t know how many times I read it. Somehow, the excitement just stayed. I have not been able to find that book.

Rapid Fire: (anything that comes to your mind when you hear these words :D )

a) Books: Romance, Mills and Boon
b) Authors: Sundari Venkatraman, Adite Banerjie
c) Publishers: Harlequin, Rupa
d) Reviews: Inderpreet Kaur Uppal
e) Amazon: Books Books Books

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Book Review: Piku and Veeru: A Fan-Actor Drama Priyanka Agarwal

Piku and Viru is an evocative account of Piyanjali Kumari's numerous attempt to meet model Vian Rustom. And finally, she does. But is the man who is always filling her dreams with lust and love, does he really exist? Is the man of her dreams a mirage?

Priyanka Agarwal has simplicity in the way she writes. Agarwal's tale is told simply and explores the emotions a woman goes through when she meets the man of her dreams and who is far out of her reach.

Set in the media background, this tale could have been anyone. A young teenager dreaming to meet her screen heartthrob. Most of the times such dreams mellow down to teenage fancies. But not with Piku. She met the man and got the chance to get closer to him. Agarwal has brought out the insecurities of a common (wo)man in the presence of a personality. What I appreciated here was the blending of both the emotions was subtle. When the quotients changed and when realization filtered in, are all very subtly written.

Narrated in the first person, keeping in view of only Piku limits the exploration of the characters since not once is Viru's personal emotions brought into focus. In that way, I would not call this book a romance but rather a chicklit. An emotional exploration of a woman's feeling upon following her heart. And I really think that is the best think about this book. This is no wilting violet. Piyanjali is a woman of today.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Interview with the Storyman himself - Sidharth Jain

Sidharth Jain
What is the dream of a writer? To see the book they have written reach a wider audience. But most of the writers lead an obscured life, hidden away from the limelight. Sometimes due to the lack of knowing who's who and sometimes one can't afford to market themselves enough. We have a saying in our book world, 'everyone makes money except the author.' It's very difficult for an author to make cash, after marketing, paying the media, getting endorsements. And if a writer ever dreams that her book will reach the production houses, the waiting and the rejections often make her leave this profession. 

And then comes a man, who opens the gateway for authors to reach the production houses of India.

And when I first heard about Sidharth Jain, I was amazed at the confidence the authors had on his honesty and dedication.  Personally, I found him very easy to get in touch with and always ready to answer your queries. 

According to Saiswaroopa who has already bagged a contract for her book Avishi, "He gets deals closed with lightning speed."

So without much ado, here is my chat with the Storyman himself, Sidharth Jain. 

1. Before we proceed further, can we know the man behind Story Ink? What is the vision of Sidharth Jain?

My vision is simple. I want to be the ideal and the most loved story company for writer, author, filmmakers, and producers. I want to be the first port of call for every creator. I am very passionate about stories and writers. I love connecting the dots between story and producer, and the vision is very simple and clear.

Books that have bagged contracts via Sidharth Jain

2. There was no media man who was so easily accessible to the writers before you came to the scene. What made you open the door for writers to such a large extent?

I believe numerous people have stories to tell. One never knows the source of the next amazing story, so one has to be accessible and alert all the time.

3. Do you think this trend will continue? How do you envisage Story Ink say after 10 years for today?

Storytelling is here to stay. Formats and mediums will evolve, but the basics of a story will always survive. It's integral to human beings and society. I am sure I will continue to be a passionate and compulsive storyteller, even after 10 years. The stories might change, but the storyman won't!

4. Siddharth, we know how plagiarism is rampant in our industry. How do writers protect themselves?

By working with credible professionals, getting the paperwork right, registering material and sharing it professionally are various tools for efficient copyright protection. In fact, it's so much easier nowadays with emails.

Books that have bagged contracts via Sidharth Jain

5. What makes you pick up a book and decide if its the one you want to represent?

Instinct, instinct, and instinct!

6. What are the major problems you face in this line of work?

Not enough time to read!

7. What is the message you want to pass to all writers out there who want to reach out to you?

Once writers have written their long stories or books, its imperative they work very hard on their synopsis, title and most importantly, a 3-5 pager story summary.

Now those are some positive tips for authors who are looking for a gateway to production houses, here is the right person to get in touch with. You can get in touch with him here.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Blog Tour: The Secrets of Ghostwriting by D. R Downer

The Secrets of Ghostwriting 
by D. R Downer


A guide that will tell you everything there is to know about the big, bad, mysterious, and often misunderstood world of Ghostwriting.

Grab your copy from 

Connect with the author:

Other books in this series

Why Go Indie? 6 Reasons for Self-Publishing  Vol 1
by Devika Fernando

Walking on the Indie Path Vol 2
Can be presently found in her blog
by Rubina Ramesh

The Art of Ghostwriting Vol 3
by D. R. Downer

Publishing Your Book on Amazon KDP Vol 4
by Sundari Venkatraman

Fears and Doubts of a Writer Vol 5
By Reshma Ranjan

Boosting Book's Sales with a Riveting Blurb! Vol 6 
By Ruchi Singh

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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Book Review: Rhythm of Love by Nivedita Verdula

The Rhythm of Love by Nivedita Verdula is a good attempt to write a simple love story of Esha and Siddharth. Esha, a small town girl, goes to Mumbai in search for work. She comes from a poor background and goes to live with her Uncle. But as predictable, the uncle is a lecher and she gives him a good kick to walk out of the house - with her virginity intact.  I would have preferred a good old ball crunching kick here. But that is my personal opinion and not part of this review. But this scene was well written to invoke this anger in me. 

Following Esha's journey, she is lucky enough to get the job on her first interview. She meets Siddharth, her cool boss, and a beautiful friendship starts. A friendship where both make a lot of mistakes, yet find ways to forgive each other. This story has a nice, neatly tied HEA. 

Then there is Esha's mom. I loved the way her character has been sketched out. A pucca mom she is. Worried and due to her worry, she is always angry. And then when the cause of her anger is gone, she is calm and that change of her character is well portrayed. 

The characters are well written. Esha comes across as a simple girl who is trying to make her life better. Siddharth, on the other hand, has a few flaws. Every time he seems to be accusing Esha of something or being angry about some issues. That scene where he had packed a bag full of clothes for Esha, I was left wondering if he wanted to change her or accept her as she was. 

The flow of the story is beautiful. A page-turner. I had to know what was going to happen to Siddharth and Esha. There is great chemistry between the two leads. Only one thing I didn't understand was what happened to the email Esha had sent in the first instance. Where did it actually go? Another thing that I felt was there was just too much telling. Things like - he is angry, she is hurt. I needed more action in that. I needed to 'see' her anger, her sadness. Capish?

Nivedita Verdula is an emerging author and one I am going to look out for. Generally, I give up after a few attempts of reading a book but this book, I held on to. I wanted to know what happened to Siddharth and Esha. I enjoyed the tete-a-tete between the protagonists. This author is good at punchlines and that I really liked about her. She is definitely on my TBR list. 

A must read for romance lovers.