Books

Book Review: Scarlet Nights

Author: Mayur Patel

Scarlet Nights

Book Blurb:

Smart, sexy and confident, Malvika Chauhan lives an enviably perfect life in Mumbai. She has a flourishing career, a loving boyfriend and a promising future.

Spiteful, fearless and mysterious, Margrita lives on the extreme ends. Self-merriment is the only thing that matters to her.

Destiny plays wicked and brings the two women face to face with each other. While Malvika knows nothing about Margrita, Margrita is well-aware of the hidden secrets of Malvika’s past. Malvika’s life turns sour as she struggles against the insufferable circumstances inflicted upon her by Margrita. It’s a situation she cannot escape. If the hidden secrets get disclosed, Malvika will be finished. She will lose every precious thing she has… her career, her prestige, her love…

‘Scarlet Nights’ is a haunting tale of the unfathomable depths inside the human psyche.

My Review:

Check out my video review for this book here

Scarlet nights is one engrossing read. A short 220-page book that would leave you wanting more.

Even when you read the first chapter of the book, you find yourself sucked into the world of Malvika. The writing style is excellent, the author has managed to set a good pace throughout the book.

The story line is fresh and leaves the readers on their toes. Every time you feel you know the story, it changes!

While there were minor grammatical errors, all in all, the story and the twists were such that the book can easily become popular.

The characterizations were quite impressive. I loved the character of Malvika, she was this strong, independent woman with a mind of her own. She owns her own business and has managed to create a life on her own. I did not quite like the character of Shekhar, I felt he was a bit too cocky. All authors can create characters, only some can create them in a way that readers can form their own opinions on them. Kudos to Mayur Patel for creating such characters.

I enjoyed reading this book!

Buy Scarlet Nights

Books, New Writer Tips

New Writer Tips: Asking for Reviews

Being a book blogger, I get a lot of requests from new authors to review books. For most of the part, it is a win-win situation as I get to read new books and they get their books featured on this blog.

But then there are certain authors who feel entitled to have their books on my site just because they have a book. They forget few very important things, book reviewers invest time when reviewing books, and you need to request for that time. Just because someone loves to read and have read new authors in past does not mean they HAVE TO read your book.

Which is why when I see emails that start like:

“Hi, I have written a new book, and I want you to review it on your blog”

I am not going to read further, simply because by this one statement you are saying that this is what you want me to do. This is wrong.

If we look at it in marketing terms, you have a commodity that you are selling, your book is your commodity. As a book reviewer, I am a consumer. A consumer has a choice as to which commodity he or she wants to buy or spend time on. When you ask me, or any other book reviewer, to review your book, you are essentially asking for us to take a few hours or days off our schedules in order to read your book.

So, when you start with “I want you to review my book”. The rebel in me goes, “Well I certainly will not do what you want me to do. Who are you to tell me what you want me to do, and more importantly, why should I do what you want me to do?” And then I delete the mail.

When you are requesting for a book review, you need to do just that, request..not order. The wording is important and you, as a writer, should know this by now.

So please, do not treat reviewers like they owe you shit, coz we do not. We have spent years on creating even a slightly successful blog. It has taken effort and a lot of time. Keep that in mind when requesting a review.

Let the reviewer know about your book, tell them why you think it might interest them and then ASK them if they would be interested in giving it a read. This is the least amount of courtesy that we expect and really this is how it should be.

 

Books

Book Review: In The Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller

Author: Sourabh Mukherjee

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO REVIEW ON MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Book Blurb:

Sheetal Mehra, HR executive with Crescent Technologies, is found murdered in the toilet of a Kolkata hotel after an office party. ACP Agni Mitra finds out about her adulterous ways as he starts investigating into the murder. The miffed husband, a lecherous boss, one of her many jilted admirers – anyone could have killed her. The investigation is stuck in myriad perplexing questions when the murder of Meenakshi Menon, a Director with Altius Finance, hits the headlines. As more murders rock the city, it is not too long before the battle of wits with his unseen adversary turns personal for Agni. A ruthless killer walking the rain-washed streets of Kolkata. A detective battling storms brewing in his private life. Human relations infested with deceit. A generation struggling to cope with fast-changing ambitions and desires. In the Shadows of Death is a gripping page-turner with a heart-rending emotional core.

My Review:

This is by far one of the best books by Indian Authors, really tight woven plot line, strong characterization, zero grammatical or stylization errors, I just wish all books were this good!

The main premise of the story is that the detective Agni Mitra finds himself looking for a serial killer. In order to give an interesting subplot, we also find out that he is going through a divorce. While unrelated to the case, it does have a humanizing effect on the protagonist, so we find ourselves to be more involved in this case.

The author has even added murder’s POV in between, so we know what the murder is thinking, we just have no idea who he or she is.

The writing pace is just perfect, and the language is simple. Even the number of pages are not that many, so the book can be read easily under a week.

If you like thrillers, this is a book that you need to pick up.

Buy In The Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller

Books

Book Review: Hues of Modern Love

Author: Paras

Book Blurb:

“Hues of Modern Love” is a story that attempts to explain the difference between the actual meaning of Love and the one that is being interpreted these days. Love is not restricted to physical intimacy but it is also a sublime connection with the soul of the other person. The plot revolves around three people, who become friends during a journey. Their conversation takes a different turn and they disclose secrets that had been buried in their past.

My Review:

The blurb of this book shows a lot of potential, unfortunately the book falls to meet any of these expectations.

The pace of the story is too fast and the writing style is quite jarring. There are sudden shifts from first and third person POVs. The conversation flow is quite elementary.

The book is filled with grammatical errors so much so that even the title of the first chapter has an error!

The character introductions were quite redundant. Most of the side male characters were written off as “Stupid” by the protagonist, and the female characters (including the lady whose voice is used in Indian Railway speakers) were introduced as “sweet lady”.

There were quite a few male and female tropes used, you know those “all girls are….” “all males are….”. The author also seems to have quite biased view of the term “nerds”.

All in all, this is a first draft of a novel and still needs to be polished and reworked in order to be a published novel.

 

Books

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room

Book Blurb:

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

My Review:

Watch my video review for this book on Youtube here.

I loved this book. It is simply the most thought provoking and powerful book that I have read this year.

This book is written by a five-year old’s perspective and how he is born and brought up in a little room. The way he lives there with his ma, and how he made this little room his entire world is just heartbreaking.

The language used is very simple, sometimes the same thing is repeated again, but since this is a 5-year old’s perspective, it becomes all the more enchanting to read.

Along with the story line, what intrigued me more are how both the characters deal with their captivity as well as how they deal with their emotions. When you live in one place for 7 years, or when you have been born in that place and have not seen any other place that is bound to be extremely difficult. The author manages to bring up these raw emotions beautifully.

Read it, you won’t regret it!

Buy Room: Film tie-in edition

Books

Book Review: Let The Game Begin

Author: Sandeep Sharma

Let The Game Begin

Book Blurb:

Two kingdoms, Chaturanga and Sarprakt, separated by a mystic mountain range are at war with each other since ages. Chaturanga, ruled by King Viratha, is soon bestowed with a dynamic heir, and the whole kingdom is drowned in rituals and festivity. On the other side, Sarprakt is executing a cruel conspiracy. King Viratha, crippled by the conspiracy, urges the mysterious man of the mountain to devise a method to recreate the conspiracy and that gave birth to ‘The Game of Chess’.
****
Serial killings shock the nation as the police are rendered clueless. The killer leaves behind a trail of chess pieces with a strange message. Random people are murdered. Connoisseurs of different fields – History, Chess and the Security forces – have united as the next intended victim is the most powerful person of the country. How is Chess involved in the whole scenario? How will they find a man who died 4000 years ago? Can a person defy the laws of nature? Does history really repeat itself? Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Book Review:

I am in two minds about this book. On one hand the story, plot and writing style are really good, but on other there are too many stylization, editing and grammar issues 😦 Also, the quality of pages and printing was poor, it almost felt like I was reading a pirated copy.

Let me first deal with the good parts. The story line is quite interesting. The way the author has merged history and the current times with such ease was exceptional. The story is such that you are not able to guess the ending. The characterizations were interesting, and I hope in the next book they are developed further. The whole scenario reminded me a bit of Dan Brown Books, you know, how a historian finds himself in the midst of a dangerous controversy.

I felt that compared to his last book, Hey Dad! Meet my Mom, this book showed a much better grasp on the story line and characters.

On the flip-side, the editing and proofreading was not up to the mark. For example, in this sentence, “He was of the opinion that the larger the number, the more vindictive the perpetrator and the stronger the motive.” While grammatically it is correct it became irritating to read as the word “the” came up so many times it overcrowded the whole sentence. There were many errors like this which if addressed could take this book on a whole new level.

Buy Let The Game Begin

Books

Book Review: Just Six Evenings

Author: Tanmay Dubey

Just Six Evenings

Book Blurb:

Atul Shukla, a young, successful executive, has been arrested by the Gurgaon police. As he attempts to find some comfort in the dark confines of his cell, Atul revisits his life and the six evenings that changed its course.

Eight years ago, while working in Bhopal, Atul had met the beautiful and intelligent Priya on a train, DDLJ style. When it turned out that she was in his city for only six days, he decided to woo her in that fleeting period of time. But fate had other plans in store, and Atul and Priya were torn apart by lust and betrayal, seemingly forever.

Years later, Atul and Priya meet once again for six days, while they are both navigating the murky underbelly of the modern corporate world. And this time it’s not just their love at stake, but their careers, and their future as well. Will Atul and Priya manage to give love a second chance? Or will corporate greed destroy their chance for a happy ending?
Just Six Evenings is a modern-day tale of love, lust and ambition in a corporate India that shines at the expense of the dreams it tramples under its feet.

My Review:

I quite liked this book. Surprisingly I could not find a single spelling/grammar/language/ stylization errors in the book. Considering that almost all books that have come to me have a few errors, this was a pleasant surprise. Kudos to the editor!

While this is a love story, it has various other elements to keep the reader’s interest. It is a story of a young man’s climb up the big bad corporate world.

The starting of the story was quite interesting, you know this would be an interesting read. The plot and the characterization were above average.

I liked the writing style, simple and effective. Some parts of the book had me chuckling. I enjoyed the train scene the best. I even shared the scene with the husband. Humor suits this writing style well!

Initially I thought that the six evenings just meant that the protagonist had to woo the girl of his dreams in six evenings, and that is all the rest of the story was going to be…but I was quite wrong. I have to admit I liked the implication of the six evenings the second time around more.

If you are in mood of some light read, go for it!

Buy Just Six Evenings

Books, MY PAWFECT LIFE, scooby's day out

Travelling With Your Dog on Indian Railways

A lot of people are not aware that you can travel with your dog on Indian Railways. So no matter where you relocate, you can take your dogs with you!

Even I was not aware of this fact before I decided to relocate with Scooby from Vadodara, Gujarat to Bangalore, Karnataka. I knew he was going to relocate, I did not know how that was going to be possible. Initial internet searches showed it was possible through flights or movers and packers. While the flight option was too risky and expensive, one of my friends had relocated their with packers and movers and strongly advised against it, so what was left was railways option.

Travelling on Indian railways is the easiest, safest, hassle free and the least expensive option, provided you follow all the prerequisite steps. So, in order to help fellow pet lovers, I am stating all the steps in order to make your journey easy and enjoyable.

STEP 1: Book Your Tickets in Advance

Planning ahead is the key. Since you can take your dog along with you only in 1st AC and there are limited number of seats, you need to book your seats as soon as they are available. IMPORTANT NOTE: Since the 1st AC compartments are only available as a coupe (2 people) and a cabin (4 people), you need to book either 2 or 4 tickets in one pnr. If you are booking 4 tickets, nothing like it, jump right ahead to 3rd stage. Also, research online if the train you are looking at accepts pets. Some trains like Rajdhani does not allow traveling with pets.

STEP 2: Contact Indian Railways

If you have booked 2 tickets, there is a glitch. The number of coupes in a train varies and are not as easily available as cabins. Now the thing with 1st AC is that you do not get confirmed coupe/cabin  number till after the chart is prepared. If you are not allocated a cabin, then you will be at the mercy of the other two people who would be travelling with you. If they object, your dog is removed to the dog box. In order to avoid this, you need to write a letter to Assistant Commercial Manager – Passenger Reservations of the station from which you are departing. This has to be done personally. On some stations, you need to meet the manager personally, and on some, you can just drop a request letter in a box. If you are breaking your journey in the middle, you would have to arrange the letter/meet the manager there, or arrive one day before. Our journey was from Vadodara to Mumbai via Vadodara express and Mumbai to Bangalore via udyan express. So, we had to meet the manager at Vadodara railways and have an acquaintance visit Mumbai station few days before the journey. This should be done at least one day before the journey.

Here is the sample of letter that I used:

To,

Assistant Commercial Manager – Passenger Reservations

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am traveling from Mumbai to Bangalore on 20th March 2016 in UDYAN Express (11301).

 

I understand that to travel with a dog without any objections from fellow passengers, I have to either have a coupe or a cabin for myself.

I have booked two first AC confirmed berths for myself and my husband and the PNR num is xxxxxxxxxx.

May I kindly request you to grant me a 2 berth coupe if possible?

Thanking you,

Dhwani

STEP 3: Arrive at least 2 hours early

On the date of your journey, ensure that you reach the station at least two hours early. Next, you need to visit the parcel office and show them your confirmed ticket and tell them you are travelling with a dog. They might or might not ask to see the dog. The parcel office at Vadodara just gave us forms to fill and was asked to make payment, but the one at Mumbai wanted to see the dog as well as his vaccination records. Make sure you carry all your dog’s papers. You will be asked to pay a certain sum based on your dog’s weight and the journey. Once the payment is done, you will be given a white slip, keep the slip with you, it is the ticket for your dog that you will need to show to the TC.

And you are done! Enjoy the rest of your journey!

One concern that many people have is how to manage the food and nature’s calls. Scooby eats all the ‘human food’, so even though we had his pedigree with him, he had fun eating the food that is sold in trains, from idlis to ice creams. And as for nature’s calls, check the train timetable, anytime you see a stop that is more than 5 mins, step down on the station, go to the end and have it done. Since 1st AC coaches are anyways near the exit, so it would be easy!

Here are some glimpses of our 2 days journey:

 

Scooby'sdayout

This post is a part of Scooby’s Day Out initiative, where I review all dog friendly places and experiences!

Books

Book Review:Accidentally the Sheikh’s Wife

Author: Barbara McMahon

Accidentally the Sheikh's Wife

Book Blurb:

For Bethanne Saunders, flying Sheikh Rashid al Harum’s private plane has its perks. When her feet touch the ground it’s on the plush carpet of his sumptuous palace. And just being near gorgeous Rashid makes her feel on cloud nine!Bethanne has all the luxury she can handle–until suddenly she’s promoted to princess! But the dazzling rock on her finger is a stark reminder that it’s a convenient engagement. Everyone knows sheikhs don’t fall for ordinary girls from Texas….

My Review:

I found this book on my kindle so decided to give it a try. To be honest it was not that great. Very cliched story. You know the type, a girl pretends to be in a relation with a rich guy falls for him and he falls for her, everyone is happy, the end. This literally is the whole story.

A good thing about this book is that the main female lead is a pilot. She flys around the world in a private plane.

The romance part was also very dry. Especially from the part of the male lead, he seemed just too distant.

There were a few subplots, and honestly, I found those subplots more interesting than the original storyline.

All in all, an okayish book, you can easily give it a miss.

Buy Accidentally the Sheikh’s Wife (Mills & Boon Largeprint Romance)

Books

Book Review: Chasing Illusions

Author: Utakarsh Jayant

Book Blurb:

This is the story of an honest, but befuddled young man’s growth in the hazy real-estate sector of Delhi. Set against the backdrop of the rapidly changing social and economic scenario in villages of the National Capital Region during the early 2000’s, it relates to his struggle under the omnipresent shadow of corruption, deceit, and swindling at various levels of politics and society in developing India. It speaks of his ultimate metamorphosis into an unscrupulous, cheating, and bullying goon, blind to right or wrong.

My Review:

Like a breath of fresh air, this story is based on the time when Real Estate was booming in North India. Villages around metros and tier I cities had caught the attention of the Real Estate Moguls and every villager with land to sell became a millionaire overnight. But, all was not rosy. There were tons of frauds who swooped in to make money nefariously.

Chasing Illusions is a story of an innocent teenager, who finds himself caught in this web of real estate. His problem is that real estate is what he loves to do, but due to his innocence, he does not see the bigger picture.                                                                                         This is a book for all young entrepreneurs. I enjoyed reading about the struggle for the protagonist, Ajay, to find his foot and prove to everyone around him that he would become a successful businessman.

This is a book for all young entrepreneurs. I enjoyed reading about the struggle for the protagonist, Ajay, to find his foot and prove to everyone around him that he would become a successful businessman.

The story started in a wonderful way. The writing of the author is such that right from the first paragraph you get drawn to it. The language that is used is simple, yet refined. While there were minor grammatical mistakes, they did not disengage the attention from the story.

The author manages to keep the reader’s attention by adding backstories for all the characters. I felt doing so added the depth of the characterization. Of all the stories mentioned, I liked Fauji’s story the best.

At one point of time, two characters are seen lamenting the loss of nature and farms in this face of industrialization. That entire paragraph was a delight to read.

Also, I liked the way the author finished his story, he was able to tie all the loose ends properly.

Buy Chasing Illusions