The Tree with a Thousand Apples: Book Review

Author: Sanchit Gupta

Publisher: Nyogi Books

The Tree with a Thousand Apples

Book Blurb:

Inspired by true events, this riveting narrative traces the lives of Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar, three childhood friends who grow up in an atmosphere of peace and amity in Srinagar, Kashmir, until the night of 20 January 1990 changes it all.
While Deewan is forced to flee from his home, Safeena’s mother becomes ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal has to embrace a wretched life of poverty and fear. The place they called paradise becomes a battleground and their friendship struggles when fate forces them to choose sides against their will.Twenty years later destiny brings them to a crossroads again, when they no longer know what is right and what is wrong. While both compassion and injustice have the power to transform lives, will the three friends now choose to become sinful criminals or pacifist saints?
The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a universal story of cultures, belongingness, revenge and atonement. The stylised layered format, fast-paced narration and suspenseful storytelling make for a powerful, gripping read.

Book Review:

This book is creating a lot of BUZZ in the market. The question is, is it worth it? YES, a thousand times yes. We finally have another author of Khaled Hosseini’s calibre, and he is from India!

The book revolves around the lives of three friends: Bilal, Safeena and Deewan. Three neighbours and childhood friends who spend almost each waking hour with each other. But as unrest seizes Kashmir, we witness how these three are thrown in different directions for no fault of theirs, except that they were born in a particular place and that their families practice a particular religion.

In this book fiction mixes seamlessly with reality, so we find real incidents that we have read about affect these characters that we have grown the care about. There are also some wonderful conversations that would tug on your heart strings.

The writing, the characterization, the scene setting is so authentic, you can actually feel the events happening around you. The story line and pace are such that you do not feel like keeping the book down. The author definitely has a way with words and has managed to convey this story in such easy, and yet riveting, language that the book can be enjoyed by all kinds of readers.

As with any other great book, it makes you think, and think hard. Just look at a few lines that we find on the book’s jacket:

HELLO.jpg

I believe that this book has come at the right time. Not just in India, but in many countries, we find that too often there is a single story. Only one side gets to tell their side of the story, and so obviously, the masses will condemn the other side. But, there is a danger of the single story and this book does a phenomenal job of taking into account people from all opinions and beliefs and portraying them as, well, people..who can do right and wrong. I believe this book is important for all to read, not just because it is a great story but it will make you at least sit back and make you think about the other side before judging them.

A word of caution: the book has some excellent descriptions of Kashmiri cuisine so you might find yourself salivating.

I rate this book a perfect 4 out of 4

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KAUN HAI WO MASHTISHKA HARTA: Book Review

Author: Kumar Gaurav

Publisher: Blue Rose Publishers

KAUN HAI WO MASHTISHKA HARTA (Who hacked my brain)

Book Blurb:

Raj felt defeated when he could not demystify the mystery of his question, and decided to commit suicide. Raj was wondering as to how his all idea appearing in his brain was being captured by others and being implemented? Was there anyone who kept an eye on his thoughts and/or on his idea? Was there any one attempting to hack his brain? If not then how come all his best discoveries developed in his mind and idea of book writing was getting revealed thru others’ in front of this world?
It was high time when Raj found a super natural power within. Whenever he used to be with her beloved Suhana or whenever he spoke with Suhana over phone, he could ale to sense the possible mishap planned or any criminal incident about to happen. And this sense used to be so crystal clear that he could indirectly help the police and System to get such criminals nabbed successfully.
Raj and Suhana both were wondering “how this power has appeared in him”?
After much effort, when Raj could not find the answer as to how his idea were getting stolen and how this unique power to sense unforeseen criminal incidents has come in him, he decided to put his life at end.
At the very night of committing suicide, his unique power of sensing the unforeseen disappeared but taught him the lesson to become a successful and famous personality. After learning the lessons Raj implemented them in his life. He not only then became a famous scientist / Inventor but a successful author after writing a unique book.

Later the book was opted to be filmed upon. And the success of this movie awarded him with Oscar and in a wink he became a billionaire from a common man. Not only this, but Raj kidnapped Zooppy from farther planet “Napleno”.
What were all those lessons, Raj learnt? What were there all mysteries? How did unique power appeared in Raj and then disappeared?
All these questions are revealed gradually chapter by chapter at end. Before you exclaim with wonder, read this page turner “Kaun Hai wo Masthishkaharta” in hindi aka “Who hacked my brain”.

My Review:

KAUN HAI WO MASHTISHKA HARTA is a unique book that cannot be put into any specific genre. The author describes this book as: Self-inspiration. This is the protagonist, Raj’s rags to riches story. But unlike other stories of this genre, this story also has elements of mystery and suspense, that is what makes this book so unique.
The characterizations were quite good. Each character had their own role to play in the story. The overall story construction was well thought out. The author was able to keep the readers engaged by ensuring that the suspense is maintained. I also liked the pace at which the story moved on, initially it was a bit slow, but as the story progressed, the pace increased accordingly.
I did feel that the story would have been better had the narration been a little better. I felt that at times the narration became a bit dull due to over addition of details that were not needed at that particular point in time.  The narration improves as the story progresses.
 
Overall, the story line is unique, it has fresh ideas, good characterization, but can be improved in terms of narration.
The overall rating of this book is as follows:
Blurb: 3 out of 4
Cover: 3 out of 4
Uniqueness of story: 4 out of 4
Characterization: 3 out of 4
Overall: 3 out of 4

In Conversation with Varun Mannava, the author of “Polite Pickup lines”

Polite Pickup lines in Indian Pubs: Scenario Based Conversations in Pubs by [Mannava, Varun]

1. What gave you the idea of penning “Polite Pickup lines in Indian Pubs”?
 
I have been a blogger since 2011. Initially, the need to express my views about movies inspired me to write movie reviews. The love for Roger Federer & Tennis inspired me to write about Tennis. The expertise I gained about the pubs in Gurgaon and the need to share them with those struggling to have a good time inspired me to write pub reviews.
Above all, The Universe and my very good friend & mentor Binoy inspired me to write my first book. In fact, it was Binoy who jokingly said one day while in a pub, “You have made so many new friends in pubs that you could probably write a book on it!” I caught on to that idea. I met Binoy too in a pub!
2. There are many people who do not know how to talk to people of opposite gender, what, according to you, might be the reason for this?
 
I used to be an introvert till 2012, very shy to speak to men, leave alone speaking to women. I overcame my worst fears eventually by making good friends. I hung out with my friends initially but then I had to move to Gurgaon for work in 2014. I was pleasantly surprised by the social nature of fellow pub goers. I could approach fellow pub goers and instantly make new friends. This gave me more confidence to keep increasing my network. Eventually, I made my own wolf pack who started making plans with me and started hanging out with me regularly.
When it comes to speaking to women, men tend to get too nervous if they think too far and want to propose to that girl they just saw 5 mins ago. This may work in movies but not in real life.
Eventually, I figured out one thing. When it comes to speaking to women, men tend to get too nervous if they think too far and want to propose to that girl they just saw 5 mins ago. This may work in movies but not in real life. In reality when you like a woman and want to talk to her, just muster the guts to walk up to her and then talk casually. Keep it light, funny and interesting. If you practice this, magic is bound to happen.
 
 
3. The book deals with, not just dating, but also making good friends. So, why did you choose to focus just on pubs?
 
Pubs are places where everyone can unwind. There is no bias as such and there are no boundaries in pubs. However, it does not mean one can do anything in a pub and get away with it. Given this, my book works more in pubs. However, it works in any other social hangout set up like friend’s wedding, social dinners, house parties, beach parties etc. In fact, it could work in a coffee shop or on an airplane or in an elevator. But quick thinking is needed!
 
4. What is it that you wish your readers to get out of it?
I saw a world without strangers especially in a social scenario like pubs. Through my book, I want to equip my readers with same skills to make friends easily in an informal setup wherever they go.
5. How did you finalize what are the topics that you want to include in the book?
 
I jotted down most of the tips in my book by looking at the contacts section in my phone. For example, if there was a person who I met in mid-2014 in a pub, I would try to recall how I approached this person and how did I get her number. That approach will become an example for a tip.
 
6. Any interesting anecdote that you came across when you were writing this book?
 
Never chase a person whom you could not start a successful first conversation with!
Never ask a woman  same question twice!
7. Are you a reader, if yes, what are your favorite books?
 
I have read very few books in my life. Started off with “The Alchemist” and after a while read “The White Tiger”. “Atlas shrugged” took a long time to complete. I am more of a visual person and learn a lot from watching movies and observing people. I am a staunch follower of “The Secret” too but I watched the video instead to understand it.
 
8. So, what next? 
I plan to write about conversation starters and networking in a more formal setup. Let’s see how it goes.
I also want to do different things like promoting Tennis in India. Own a pub someday. Produce a movie or a music album. Let’s see what all I can do.
9. How can the readers get in touch with you?
I would love to interact with my readers through e-mail (workaholicvarun@gmail.com); else they could ping me on Facebook/ Twitter (Varun Mannava)

Polite Pickup Lines in Indian Pubs: Book Review

Author: Varun Mannava

Book Blurb:

There must be countless conversations in pubs that people would carry along with them to their grave because they never mustered the courage to speak. That one girl you saw, that one line you wanted to say but you couldn’t because you were shy or you had no clue how to start the conversation. That moment when you felt that the pub was not working in your favor. That moment when you thought of that one friend who could help you converse easily with the women you admired. Well your search for pub conversations ends here. Polite Pickup Lines in Indian Pubs: Scenario-based Conversations in Pubs aims to deliver the answers to all your questions about conversation starters, how to use the pub to your advantage, where to talk, where not to talk, how to talk, how not to talk, whom to talk, whom not to talk, why talk. This book helps you create scenarios where conversations are bound to happen.
It’s time to stir up this world!

My Review:

When I first saw this book, I was reminded of The Bro Code by Barney Stinson. But, after reading this book, I can say this one is way better than that one. I also found the cover of the book quite interesting.

The book is less of “Pickup lines” and more on how to behave in a non-pushy way in order to make friends, mostly of the opposite gender. While it is written predominantly for guys, I felt that the ideas could easily be picked up by girls wanting to talk to guys as well.

The author has keen observation skills, and he picks up the core area that many people lack i.e. how to strike up actual conversation and friendships with people of opposite gender.

If you think about all the things that the author has mentioned, it is actually common sense. But then, as the cliched saying goes, common sense is not common. Not to mention the horrible pick up lines and the start of a conversation with “Give me your phone number, please, please, please” even in a non-pub setting makes this book a requirement for anyone who wants to make genuine friendships with the people from opposite gender.

There are many topics, each topic is explained in a page or two. Overall, the writing style is quite upbeat and simple. The author gives examples of how to practice what he has written. It is also quite a short book, just about 100 pages.

Great effort. Kudos for handling this topic maturely!

I rate this book 4 out of 4

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An Interview with Kumar Gaurav, the author of “KAUN HAI WO MASHTISHKA HARTA”

About the author:

Kumar Gaurav, born in Gaya Bihar and later brought in Pune, Maharashtra, is a Quality Assurance personnel in an IT company. A software professional by day and a writer by night, he has done his MBA in IT and has studied corporate law from a B-school. His writing experience developed after visiting various cities in Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Colombia, Capetown, Johannesburg, Sydney, and many more. He believed that he got direction in his life after associating with an NGO in Pune where he volunteers his weekends on a regular basis. His inclination towards ‘mind science’ and ‘brain power’ developed after getting associated with this NGO. This interest gave him the idea to create his first sci-fi book.

The very book is originally crafted in Hindi; and will be translated into English as, “Who hacked my brain” is his first novella.

Let us get to know the man himself:

1) The book is a “Self-Inspiration” story, what is self-inspiration according to you?
For me, Self-inspiration is an inner power which keeps your spirit always high. This is self-commitment to do whatever you wish to do in your life despite all the odds. Self-inspiration gives two vital things. First, determination to achieve a dream and second, satisfaction after achieving. 
2) The book has an interesting mix of self-help and science fiction, what gave you the idea to write this story?
This story is 10% of my life story,  rest 90% is all imagination. I always wanted to give this world something interesting through which each and everyone can think that they are really special. To make them think so, I decided to craft something interesting in the form of a story. On one hand, this story will engage the reader’s interest and on the other hand, he/she will contemplate making his/her life successful. Today for me, nothing is better than the mix of science and fiction. It changes readers’ thought pattern and transforms their thinking style. Thus, the story started living in my mind and today it is published. 
3) What is your definition of dreams and success?
For me, dreams are the diamonds that not only dazzles but also excites you all the time. What inspires you every moment when these dreams are translated into reality,  i can say, is success. In other words, success is nothing when you complete your journey from your dream to make it your destination. 
4) How did you craft your characters? Are they inspired by you or the people around you?
As I said earlier 10% of story is my life story, so the main character is inspired by it. Rest all characters are results of imagination only. So this is not inspired by any other people around me. 
5) Why should a reader want to read your book?
First, this is a mystery book. And readers will be curious till the mystery revealed, make him/her bonded with the reading. Second, everyone wants to achieve something in their life, how the main character turns billionaire will inspire common people to ask “How it happened”. To know this reader would like to read this book at least once. This book satisfies many genres like Sci-Fi, Mystery, thriller, Romance, Self-Help etc. There is variety available in one package of this book for all above genre readers as well. They will be excited to read it.
6) The book is currently in Hindi, do you plan to release a translation of it?
Yes, of course, my plan is to translate this to English very soon.
7) Any advice for writers who, like you, wish to tell unique stories but are afraid it might not be accepted?
Yes, I would say to aspiring writers “if you are afraid of telling your unique story, do read my book and you will realize what the mistake you are doing and what actually you are losing”. This much suggestion is enough and if followed you will definitely see great stories coming soon from them. 
8) Are you a reader? If yes, who are your favourite authors?
Yes , I am a reader. I am fond of self-help books majorly. In this category, I am inspired by two great authors who are my favourite too – 
                 1. SirShree 
                 2. Napolean Hill.
9) How can the readers get in touch with you?
They can email me to my mail address contact@kumar-gaurav.com

About the book:

Raj fails to understand, how his thoughts are getting hacked by someone? How he developed the power to sense the unforeseen criminal incidents whenever he’s with his beloved Suhana!

But that night something unbelievable happened to him, he uncovers the mystery but he loses his unique power.

That night something leads him to become a successful scientist, inventor and a famous author too.

Eventually, his book was filmed and bagged an Oscar too! He was a billionaire from a man next door!

To know more what unfolds, read it in Hindi..

Kaun Hai Wo Mastishk Harta aka Who Hacked My brain.

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A book for Oreo: Book Review

Author: Caralee a Jardine

A Book for Oreo

Book Blurb:

Every now and then you meet someone and instantly know they are special. This is an amazing love story of a cat named Oreo and the woman he picked to be his mom. Oreo was famous for getting into mischief and compromising situations. You will laugh at his antics and keep wondering what he will do next!

My Review:

I came to know of this book as it was OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day. 

This book is a perfect example of the pure relation between a human and an animal. The book was penned as an ode to Oreo, who was more than just a cat, he was the author’s son.

In the book, the author pens Oreo’s life, all his mannerisms, his way of living and how he brought so much joy to the author. It really makes you wonder just how much love animals are capable of giving to the humans.

The author also adopts another cat, changes house, changes jobs, and how Oreo was always on the forefront of all her decision-making process. Also, the way she describes him, his personality, had you in splits and made you wonder as to how much of understanding can one animal give their human.

The ending had me in tears. I could so relate to the author’s pain, especially since Oreo also had kind of a kidney failure. When a beloved pet passes away, there are many who do not understand the pain that the human feels. The author pens down her feelings beautifully in the letters that she wrote to Orea just days after his passing. These letters have raw emotions, and you can feel the conflicted emotions that many of us feel. The belief that our loved ones are in a better place and the sheer pain of not being able to touch them anymore.

This is a book for pet lovers and everyone whose life has been affected because of some beautiful animal.

I rate this book a perfect 4 out of 4.

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The Flame of Anahata: Book Review

4Author:  Saranya Umakanthan

The Flame of Anahata by [Umakanthan, Saranya]

Book Blurb:

“They turned to see his tears of love wiping away her blood of agony…”
Diya throws Suraj’s proposal back in his face, leaving him broken-hearted. Why would she do so when she loved him desperately?
Suraj finds his Guruji unconscious beside a cave clutching the warrior Indrajith’s diary. His heart-rending love story then unfolds. Being trapped in a web of emotions, Indrajith endured the pain of his lost love, hurting himself and trampled Deepali’s hope for his adopted brother… Who was he?
Sealed for centuries and holding the Mann-Parivarthana astra, the cave is besieged by evil now. But all attempts to unlock it go futile. Faced with baffling hints, Suraj’s intelligence is sorely tested. What is the potent power required to break through that Paanch-Dost-Gupha?
THE FLAME OF ANAHATA!
Will the fire of love ever flicker in the hearts of Diya and Suraj?

My Review:

This is the second book in the Comeback Warrior Trilogy. I have not read the first part, so I can safely say that even if you have not read the first part, reading this book would be a wonderful read.

The book plays with time, so initially we have two stories, from two decades that run parallel to each other. The story construction is such that even when the chapter skips between two very separate time zones, the reader does not get confused.

The book also has a very consistent pace, so no matter what is going on, we feel the need to keep on reading. The rhythm that the author has kept is great, as there is no dull or boring moment between action scenes. The story structure is well crafted, so with each statement, we get to know something more of the main story.

The characters are quite mature and three dimensional. So, the readers tend to get invested in them. Most of the main characters have quite interesting story lines of their own, which on its own also makes for a great story.

All in all, this is a great mix of action, adventure, romance, jealousy, greed, and what not. I rate this book a perfect 4 out of 4.

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Open-Eyed Meditations: Book Review

Practical Wisdom for Everyday Life

Author: Shubha Vilas

Publisher: Fingerprint! publishing

OPEN-EYED MEDITATIONS Practical Wisdom for Everyday Life

Book Blurb:

Open-eyed Meditations is a beautiful compilation of thoughts wherein
each meditation takes you on a journey to the past, bringing a secret
herb to heal a problem of the present.
A true distillation of ancient wisdom tips for modern lives, this
unique self-help book uses the wisdom of the Ramayana and the
Mahabharata to solve your everyday problems.
Beyond the storyline, something deeper is waiting to be discovered
from these ancient texts. This book is an attempt to uncover
the hidden layer of wealth that is cleverly packaged within the
commonly known storylines.

My Review:

Open-Eyed Meditations, as the name suggests, is a whole new way of meditating. Conventionally we were told that when we are meditating, we should close our eyes, take a deep breath and sit in a place where nobody disturbs us. But this book takes a whole new approach. In this book, the author helps you understand how you can get the benefits of meditation with your eyes open. He takes examples from Mahabharata and Ramayana in order to help you understand the topics.

The best part of this book is its language. The author has chosen to use the simplest language in order to ensure that the reader can grasp the information that he is providing. It is clear from the writing that the author has done a lot of research on the subject and the way he explains these concepts, after reading the reader would think it is common knowledge.

Also, a point to be noted is that the examples that are given and the points that are dealt with in this book are really close to real life situations that we have all faced at some point or the other. We all want quick and fast solutions to our problems, we all want to know how we can best manage our relationships in the best way possible. This book deals with all this and more. The points that have been picked by the author are so universal that they are bound to strike a chord with anyone who reads it.

The ideas in this book are presented in the form of 64 small chapters, each chapter ends with a small snippet on the conclusions that can be derived from the chapter at the bottom. So, if you do not have the time to read the whole thing (which you totally should), you could glance through these snippets.

Even though, it is a 280-page book, at no point does the book get dull or boring. Instead, because of the style of writing, the easy pace and the ample use of examples from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the reading is so fast that you could end up wanting to turn pages after each chapter. But, a point to note here is that when you are reading this book, it would be better if you were aware of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, else you might not be able to understand some of the examples. As when giving these examples, the author does not go into details.

There are many who stay away from non-fiction, especially one that deals with topics like spirituality, meditation and things relating to discovering yourself.  as they fear that they would find it too heavy. This is the simplest and the most enjoyable non-fiction book that deals with such complex topics. This book has less to do with spirituality in its traditional role and has more to do with showing you a way of life. This is a book that you need to read if you wish to learn how to deal with your life or if you ever need a pick me up. I rate this book a 4 out of 4.

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