Books

It Ain’t College, It’s War!: Book Review

Author: Subhodeep Mukherjee

It Ain't College, It's War!:Book 1 of 'It Ain't' Trilogy

Book Blurb:

What happens when an engineering college fresher:
• confronts his violent seniors on the first day of ragging?
• tries to woo a beautiful senior who has a nasty boyfriend?
• is heart-broken when his past causes his break-up with the girl he loves?
• goes boozing for the first time?
• is involved in a bloody inter-hostel rivalry with dire consequences?
In his debut novel, It Ain’t College, It’s War! (Book 1 of the It Ain’t trilogy), Subhodeep Mukherjee tells the story of Rahul Arora, an outspoken Delhi boy with a devil-may-care attitude that always gets him in trouble.
Amidst the politically charged atmosphere of his college and his many adventures, Rahul seeks true love, friendship and a job. Will he manage to find balance in his life? Will he make peace with his teachers, classmates, seniors and father and find what he is looking for or will his attitude get the better of him?
Loosely based on true events and also touching on various social issues, this book explores the meaning of love, friendship and career as seen through the eyes of the narrator and protagonist, Rahul Arora.

Book Review:

This book is the same old engineering college stories that have flooded the market. The average engineering student to falls in love with a beautiful girl without even talking to her and is unattainable in some way or other (here she has a senior boyfriend) along with the best friend and solving their issues…the entire plot has been done to death by now.

The narration has been done in the first tense, so we find ourselves looking at the world from Rahul’s point of view. While the overall writing style is good, it would have been better had the author chosen to write something unique.

Coming to the characterization, just like all other books in the genre, the female characterization is restricted to the praising of her beauty. There were mildly sexist dialogues and statements that could have been avoided as they did not really add to the overall narrative.

The book has no unique plot point to separate itself from the millions just like it. I rate this book 1 out of 4.

Books

A Confession: Book Review

Author:  William F. Aicher

Book Cover

Book Blurb:

How far would you go to clear your own conscience? Would you destroy another’s integrity purely to ensure your own absolution? In ‘A Confession,’ we are confronted by a man who’s reached the limit of what even he can rationalize as within the limits of his own morality. Having reached his breaking point, he reaches out in desperation to purify his own conscience, spilling the secrets of his life that have formed the man he has become – even if doing so means destroying others in the process.

In this modern tale of amorality, William F. Aicher takes us through the memories of a man who, while having lived a life of confident righteousness, now questions the very fiber of which he is made. Taking inventory of a life defined by substance abuse, love, sex, politics and a newfound ease of inflicting public shame with the help of social media, ‘A Confession’ invites the reader to take a seat and listen to a man come to grips with his own secrets.

As these truths are exposed, the rationality and logic behind them begins to unfurl, leaving both the narrator and reader ultimately questioning if indeed any of us can claim to be truly good.

My Review:

It was a unique experience to read this book, simply because the narrator speaks directly to the reader. Initially, I wondered what was the point of all this rambling, but the end took me by surprise. In the book, the narrator opens up in brutal honesty about his life and asks us if we would find it in our moral compass to forgive him. While reading this I kept asking myself what exactly was free will and how much of it was acceptable to me?

While some parts had me empathizing with the author, some had me questioning his sanity. The author raises some pertinent questions on life, marriage, and the overall purpose of each action that we take in life.

If you want to look at a book that is brutally honest, makes you question your thoughts, and an interesting narration style, pick this one up!

I rate this book 4 out of 4. 

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Books

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Author Interviews, Books

An Interview with Sanchit Gupta, the author of “The Tree With A Thousand Apples”

 

Image result for sanchit gupta
Sanchit Gupta/ via Facebook

 

1) You have chosen an unconventional setting for your book. Everyone knows that the situation in Kashmir is precarious, but there is little, or no, conversation surrounding it. What made you choose this setting?

I chose this precisely because there is no conversation surrounding it. I have seen that be it the Kashmiri Pandits, Kashmiri Muslims, the Indian Army, or the Indian population living outside Kashmir, everyone has their own side of a story and their own opinions, which are all different from each other. Not everyone is right and not everyone is wrong, but when we only tell one side of the story we do injustice to what Kashmir actually is. This book talks about human sufferings rather than that of a particular religion or role or ranks of a person in the world. I wanted to strike the reader hard that could shake their misconceptions and remove the bias they may have so one can see Kashmir not just as a piece of land but what truly matters…its people.

 

2) Your characters grow up through the span of the book, how did you develop these characters?

A lot of inspiration has come from meeting common people from Kashmir- be it the civilians or the army officers. Two of my very good friends are Kashmiri Pandits, who helped immensely throughout the book and whose names I have mentioned in the acknowledgements as well.

 

3) What was your writing process like? Did you make a plot or did you just go with the flow?

Both. There are two types of authors- the gardeners, who go with the flow and architects, who have a clear blueprint before they write the first word. I am first an architect eventually become a gardener. Keeping the theme and the core premise in mind, I start with a clear beginning, middle and an end, and then the story takes shape where the characters take it. E.g. A little secret I would reveal- the character of Kamal was not there in the first blueprint, it took shape as the story moved forward with respect to the already defined milestones.

 

4) What about writer’s block? Did you face it, if so how did you overcome it?

Writer’s block is a fancy term for laziness.

 

5) What were the steps that you had to take when researching for the book?

As I said, meet the people in Kashmir for the pulse of the book, lots of discussion with my Kashmiri friends for the cultural nuances and dig through all the material available on the net, especially for the historical context.

 

6) Was there any hurdle that you faced while publishing the book?

Where can there be a journey without a hurdle? The most common response was that it’s  a mid-grade fiction, which means its both commercial and literary, or in other words, neither completely commercial nor completely literary. Honestly, the hurdle I faced was also my intent, to begin with. I have seen a lot of good Indian fiction that does not have commercial appeal and lot of bad ones that has. I wanted to write quality literature that also has commercial appeal, and hence the final product. Eventually, the book found a good home in Niyogi Books who understood it and am happy about it.

 

7) Which are some of the books that inspired you?

Train to Pakistan, The Kite runner, Half of a Yellow Sun, Hundred years of solitude, Disgrace, and A Farewell to Arms, to name a few.

 

8) What next?

My next two manuscripts are ready. One is on quarter life crisis in a man’s constant struggle between passion and profession, while the other is a tale of magical realism in a fictional town. They shall hit the bookstores in due time, one by one.

Right now, I am working as a full-time screenwriter. My first film titled- ‘Behen Hogi Teri’ starring Rajkummar Rao and Shruti Hasan shall hit theatres on 2nd June while there are a few more projects in the pipeline.

Thank you, Sanchit Gupta for taking time to answer all the questions! You can buy The Tree With A Thousand Apples here.

Books

The Girl Who Knew Too Much: Book Review

Author: Vikrant Khanna

Publisher: Penguin

Book Blurb:

Can true love bring someone back from the dead?Akshara is left devastated by her mother’s death and spends most of her time in solitude at the local park. One day, as she is sobbing uncontrollably, a young man named Harry approaches her. They become friends and Harry recounts to her a story about the miraculous reunion of a young woman and her dead boyfriend to help ease some of her pain. The story makes Akshara hopeful that she can perhaps see her dead mother again. But she soon realizes that Harry isn’t what he seems to be. Even the characters in his story seem dubious, almost unreal. So what is he hiding? And why? Is there any truth to his story at all?In this darkly suspenseful romance mystery, Akshara is left facing a truth that will make her doubt not just Harry but herself as well . . .

My Review:

This is the second book of Vikrant Khanna that I read, the first one was Love Lasts Forever, only if you don’t marry your love. The author continues to live up to delivering unique stories. In terms of narration, I found a lot of improvement in language, general readability and narration.

Although the story line is quite simple, as seen in the blurb, the author manages to handle it quite well. The story changes from present to past tense quite simply, in fact, it was this change that made it all the more exciting. Also, the way the author handled the ending is quite commendable.

The only issue I had with the story was that the dialogue delivery between Harry, Yama and Chitragupta felt a bit forced. Especially as the way Harry spoke changed drastically when in their presence, and the way they adapted the lingo made it look a bit too much.

But, this in no way undermines the rest of the book. The pace of the book is perfect and the characters, not just the main characters but even the side ones, are lifelike.

So if you are looking for a short, unique and a feel good book, be sure to pick this one!

I rate this book 4 out of 4.

Buy this book

Books

My Faith to Live in Your Name but Not As Yours: Book Review

Author: Harsha Babu
Publisher: Blue Rose Publishers
My Faith to Live in Your Name but Not As Yours by [Babu, Harsha ]
Book Blurb:
First love. People says that its never got, or never forgotten. Still ! its not impossible to conquer. One fine day, you wake up and realize that he is no more in your life, as yours. Do you still have the guts to live in his name for the rest of your life? I bring to you, the story of Payal and Karan, who met each other within the college boundaries. Payal falls for Karan. She decides to speak up her feelings and know his verdict, if he had similar feelings for her or not. But, the entry of a third person changed the rest of their life. Will Payal be able to express her feelings to him or destiny have something else for them with the entry of a third person?
My Review:
My Faith to Live in your name but not as yours is a debut work of the author. The story focuses on the lives of its two protagonists, Payal and Karan. Payal gets attracted to Karan, who is her senior, because of his idealism and the two form a great bond. But life throws a curve ball at them and they find themselves grappling to understand how external factors could affect their lives so much. The story line is quite unique and manages to keep the readers engaged at all the stages. The twists and the turns are quite unexpected and we find ourselves wanting to know more.
Initially, I did not understand the title, but after reading through the book, I felt it did justice to the work. The main storyline makes you question the role of destiny in your life and what you can do in order to change your destiny.
The pace of the story is quite good. The main characters are sketched out quite well. My personal favourite was Anjali, the way she has been sketched made her parts really fun to read. Although I felt they become a bit predictable after we get to know them and their motives. I also felt that there was excessive use of Hindi language, and the sudden change in the language made the reading quite jarring. It would have been better had the entire work been written in any one of the languages, i.e. either Hindi or English.
My rating is as follows:
Cover: 2 out of 4
Story originality: 4 out of 4
Characterization: 2 out of 4
Pace: 3 out of 4
Overall: 2 out of 4
Books

The Smelliest Day at the Zoo: Book Review

Author: Alan Rusbridger

Publisher: Puffin

The Smelliest Day at the Zoo

Book Blurb:

Slap bang in the middle of the hottest day of the year, the zoo’s drains have blocked up and there’s nowhere for the animals’ poo to go!

Mr Pickles the zoo keeper (who is looking distinctly green) must decide what to do with it all . . .

Before the naughty chimps beat him to it!

My Review:

This book is for six-year-olds. The narration is quite entertaining, there were some parts that were funny. Although I am not a fan of toilet humour, the author’s overall take on the subject is quite good.

The book is full of cute illustrations that make the reading experience quite entertaining.

Although, I would have liked the story line more had the author focused less on the “poo” part and more on actually moving on with the story. The middle part seemed a bit dragged unnecessarily. Also, if we look at the overall structure of the story, it was more suited to the comic style than the illustration and text style.

Overall, this book could give your six-year-old a couple of laughs. I rate this book 2 out of 4.

Buy this book

 

 

Author Interviews, Books

An interview with Harsha babu, the author of “My faith to live in your name, but not as yours”

 

 

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1) Tell us something about yourself.
I am Harsha Babu T from Kerala. Presently, I am pursuing my final year of schooling from one of the Kendriya Vidyalayas.
2) In your words, how would you describe your book?
My book is all about pure love. Often we get mislead by what actual love is, and everyone has a different definition of love. This story is my definition of love and true friendship.
3) Your book weaves complex emotions, is the book inspired by real life?
No. It’s pure fiction.
4) Your characters grow over the years, what were the efforts that you took in terms of character development?
I didn’t find it difficult to make the characters grow old or set their life in their young age. Character development was an easy task for me as the characters just grow older but their personality or attitude does not change.
5) On the surface your story can be termed a “love story”, but in a way it is more about emotions, so did you research on things or did it all come naturally to you?
It all came naturally to be. I didn’t have to do any research. My heart was pulling my hands to pen down the words and all I had to do was to go with the flow.
6) How is writing a story based on emotions different that writing any other genre?
When you write a story on emotions, it’s important that the readers can get the words and the feelings that are stated in the book and it goes straight to their hearts. It’s all about deep expression.It’ss really tough.
7) Any advice for writers who wish to tell unique stories but are afraid it might not be accepted?
I think if you have a plot in your mind, just don’t think twice. Pen it down. Publishing is the next step. But first, pen it down in the best manner. Then make the choice whether to publish or not. If it worth publishing then don’t hesitate. Just listen to your heart and go for it.
8) Are you a reader? If yes, who are your favorite authors?
Yes. I am a reader. My favorite authors are Paulo Choelo, Ravinder Singh, Chetan bhagat, Durjoy Dutta, etc.
9) How can the readers get in touch with you?
You can find me on my Facebook page, gmail (harshalakes1@gmail.com) and as well as on instagram.
My Faith to Live in Your Name but Not As Yours by [Babu, Harsha ]
Books

We Won’t Forget You Mr. McGillicuddy: Book Review

Author: Ira L White

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Book Blurb:

Gil McGillicuddy is a WWII vet with dementia. Robert, his oldest son, is a blogger on the internet who cares for his dad as Gil takes the long slide into the land of forgetfulness. When Robert’s oldest daughter becomes pregnant and the baby’s father turns to meth and violent behavior, Robert convinces her and her preteen daughter to move into his home a thousand miles away. Robert’s radical blogging continues along with his efforts to help his family. His history of radicalism stretches back to his antiwar days at Berkeley in the sixties. In those days, he was responsible for outing an FBI informant in the midst of his antiwar group. The way this came down destroyed the informant’s future plans. Now, over 40 years later, the man, Fedder, works as a floor manager for a security firm that is contracted out to the NSA to find radical bloggers. “Revenge is a dish best served cold, very cold.” Fedder quietly stalks his unwary quarry with the intent of getting his revenge while Robert continues to deal with the problems of his family including the worsening of Gil’s dementia.

My Review:

The book starts with the daily life of old Mr. McGillicuddy. We are sucked into his life, his reminiscing about his late wife, his looking forward to Sunday breakfasts and then grocery shopping with his son, and all the other normal stuff. As you start getting comfortable, little things start cropping up. Old Mr. McGillicuddy starts seeing a man with a dog late at night. His son’s blog starts getting more attention, and then before you know it, the book’s genre turns into a political thriller.

Unlike many thrillers, you will not find action in this book, instead, the author makes excellent use of characters. She uses excellent characterizations, she makes you so invested in each of the characters and their relationships with each other that you find yourself reading faster to know what is going to happen next.

As readers we find ourselves sympathizing with Robert McGillicuddy, who is a sole caretaker of his old father, his pregnant daughter, and her daughter. We find him struggling emotionally and financially. We see how his blogging impacts his life and the lives of people around him.

The pace of the story is slow. But it is perfect for the kind of story that the author is weaving. In fact, the slow pace helps build the thrill. Each character is crafted wonderfully, and their relationship with each other makes this an extremely wonderful read.

I rate this book a perfect 4 out of 4.

 

Books

The Day before… I Died: Book Review

Author: Ashi Kalim

Publisher: Notion Press

Book Blurb:

Svetlana had never known pure love, till she meets Brajesh…
Brajesh is a fun-loving, mischievous and caring Indian prince who visits Russia and captures Svetlana’s heart. He christens her as “His Matryoshka.”
Once his work gets done, he leaves for India, taking Svetlana’s heart with him.
Unable to forget him and confident of his love for her, Svetlana travels to India in search of her prince.
Does she find him? What happens to her love? How does the international politics affect her life?

Inspired by true life incidents, The Day Before… I Died narrates the love between Svetlana – daughter of the infamous dictator Josef Stalin – and Brajesh Singh, an Indian Kunwar.
The murder, trails, betrayals and the hope leads to more agony.

My Review:

I was attracted by the cover and the blurb of this book. Especially since it is about an era that I love reading about.

The protagonist of this book, Svetlana is the daughter of Stalin and she falls in love with an Indian prince. Once the prince leaves, Svetlana travels to India to search for him. While the main premise of the story is great, I felt it needed a lot in terms of narration and settings. This book feels more like a plot line than a finished novel. Even though the characters are well known, we do not read much about them or their lives.

While the main characters are well sketched out and have distinct personalities, the rest are just mentioned, it would have been good had the other characters been sculpted in a better way.

I especially liked the way the author has handled the ending, it was unexpected and was like a whiff of fresh air. The climax of the story was exceptionally handled and was the best part of the book.

On the whole, I rate this book 2 out of 4.

Buy this book