Books

The Seven Streams: Book Review

Author: P. Goswami
Publisher: Bluerose
Book Blurb:
In to the Mountains The plains were drying up, and the powerful mountain tribes were getting ready to repulse, annihilate if necessary, those who entered their verdant land uninvited. Who will stop the brewing conflict, waiting for the smallest of sparks to set the world ablaze? King Bhagirath stared out of his palace balcony at the parched expanse of the land, stretching far into the horizon, contemplating choices that would save the doomed plains. Bhagirath the man must leave the security of his kingdom to tackle a crisis Bhagirath the King cannot. Thus begins a project of monumental proportions that will decide the fates of all the multitudes that dwell in those lands and the mountains: an attempt to bring Gangaa to the plains. As he enters the mysterious mountains alone, he crosses paths with friends and foes, finds aid and opposition. His travels takes him to the land of flesh-eaters, of the proud people of the mountains and beyond into lands unknown. Will he be able to persuade them to join him or will he carve out a path with fire and iron?
My Review:
The first look of The Seven Streams is quite calming. The book cover is such that it invites the reader in. Now coming to the story line, the author has taken a story from Indian Mythology that many Indians would be aware of. But, he weaves it in such a way that it looks plausible. The story is king Bhagirath’s journey and the efforts that he takes to bring Gangaa to the Earth. Through the book, the reader knows that Bhagirath is set out to achieve the impossible, so we tend to flip the pages to know what is going to happen next!

The pace of the story is perfect. There is a feel of adventure and the readers are constantly on their heels as to what is going to happen. The characters are all beautifully crafted. Even those who are not human i.e. the gods, the kiratas and many more have distinct traits and they behave accordingly.

The best part of this book is the visual imagery. Reading this book feels as though the author is showing us a movie, the words jump out and form larger than life picture in the minds of its readers. Not just the characters, but the scene setting and overall narration made the overall reading of this book a pleasure.

This book is an interesting mix of action, adventure, science fiction, and mythology. If you like any of these genres, be sure to pick this one out.

My Rating:

Cover: 4 out of 4

Story: 3.5 out of 4

Characters: 4 out of 4

Pace: 3.5 out of 4

Overall: A perfect 4 out of 4

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Author Interviews, Books

An Interview with P. Goswami, the author of “The Seven Streams”

1) Tell us something about yourself.
I am trained as a scientist with multi-disciplinary expertise. Currently I am Director, CSIR National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies for more details, please refer to my profile in the book.
2) In your words, how would you describe your book?
It is a book in the genre I call Mytho-Science Fiction. It describes a mythological/epic event as a project carried out through collaborations among gods, sages, kings and common people, mostly  applying available resources and wisdom.

3) What was your motivation to write a book on this genre?
Many of the mythological events in Indian epics look tantalizingly plausible, if the aura and the addition of  supernaturality is reduced. This book is an attempt in that direction.
4) Writing about such well known characters, some of whom are even worshiped, must have meant a lot of research. Can you tell us how you went about it?
It was basically a change of perspective, looking for plausible explanations other than purely super natural, and then work of imagination, consistency check and plausibility.
5) Your story focuses on Bhagirath’s journey to bring Gangaa to Earth, so how much of your plot line is based on the writings that are already existing, and how much of it was your own creation?
The basic theme, that Gangaa was brought to earth through Bhagirath Prayatna, with the blessings of Brahma and Shiva, remain unchanged. However, what was shown as a boon in the epic is a clever engineering plan in the book built on superior (godly) wisdom. What was a flash of anger that killed 60000 soldiers has a purely physical explanation in the book. The 600000 sons of Sagar themselves are shown as clones created in a physico-chemical process. Thus, apart from the basic story, there is no parallel to the book in existing literature.
6) How is writing a story based on Mythology different than writing any other genre?
It’s not only a story based on mythology, but a story of mytho-science fiction. That means that you need to keep two tracks consistent: one is that the basic story is mythology-based, it is not wild fiction. On the other hand, being a science fiction you cannot invoke just any magical power. Thus it is neither pure fantasy, nor pure science fiction based on some alien planet.
7) Any advice for writers who wish to tell unique stories but are afraid it might not be accepted?
Sure. Write!
8) Are you a reader? If yes, who are your favourite authors?
Yes, I am a reader. I read almost anything. Anything at all!
9) How can the readers get in touch with you?
I have created (or rather my publisher Blue Rose created) a web site for me.
If you want to read this amazing story, buy the book here.
Books

Fused: Book Review

A Memoir of Childhood Ocd and Adult Obsession

Author: Dr James Manning

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Book Blurb:

Fused is a memoir written by Dr. James Manning. Manning is an author, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, and the Managing Director of the West Suffolk CBT Service. Fused is an inspiring is an inspiring and illuminating work that examines OCD through the author’s own life experience. Manning interacts with his reader, using an easy, conversational writing style that informs while it engages the reader in his story.

My Review:

OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in mainstream media is seen as a character Quirk, from Monica in friends to Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory, we have seen characters who get irritated when things are not in their place or how they should be. These character traits are usually there to provide comic relief, but what we fail to see is what happens to the people who actually have to live with OCD. We hardly see books or any media portraying this seriously.

Fused is written by a person who suffers from OCD from his childhood, and then goes on to become a phycologist. So, we see and understand the workings of his mind from a very basic, raw, personal level on one hand, and a scientific level on other. We see how this issue made him reach the depth of isolation and depression and we also see how his study of the human mind helped him understand and accept himself. We see how coming across the cognitive behavioural therapy helped him understand and control his compulsive behaviours.

It is easy to become annoyed by a person with OCD, but if we step into their shoes it helps us empathise. This is a no-nonsense book on what goes on behind the scenes. It is a book for those who suffer from OCD, as they would be able to understand and empathise with the writing, and those who do not, as it would help get to know and understand people who do. I rate this book a 4 out of 4.

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Books

Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy

Author: Aashish Gupta

Publisher: Notion Press

Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy

Book Blurb:

Dakshesh, an old man in Sirubari village suffering from cancer, wishes to be released from the excruciating pain. He requests the villagers to take him to the three monks. They are all intrigued by the legend of the mystical three monks. No one has seen them but only heard stories of miraculous healing they offered.
Knowing that the sick man’s death is imminent, the villagers leave him alone near the Pashupatinath temple hoping that the three monks, if they exist, would embrace him on the holy land. The old man wakes up to the sight of the three monks, but only to know that they are no saints but notorious criminals.
What they tell Dakshesh in his last few breaths, shakes his entire perception of humanity and its sins.

My Review:

This book is different, it is dark, traumatising and makes you think. Unlike other books of this genre, this story also touches upon mental illnesses and how they affect the society. The author explores what happens if people become slaves to their disruptive minds.

The book starts on a different note. Initially, the way the story started I felt it would go on a spiritual note as we see a person wishing to meet the three wise monks. But once he meets the said monks, the story takes a dark turn where we read the dark past of each of these monks.

The overall construction of the story is excellent. The fact that the three stories were completely different from each other, which made the reading process quite effortless. The characters were multifaceted.

The writing mixes poetry and prose quite effortlessly. It helps us understand what is going on in the mind of the people. Overall I really liked this book, I rate it 4 out of 4.

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Books

Rafflesia the Banished Princess: Book Review

Author: Gautam

Rafflesia the Banished Princess

Publisher: Frog in Well

RAFFLESIA The Banished Princess The curtains draw up. Lights are dimmed. The musical is about to begin. As the beautiful princess descends on stage, the mythical creatures from her kingdom come alive. Flickers of brilliant colours blaze across as mesmerizing music pulsates from one corner of the theatre to the other. A fairy tale is about to unfold… As young children, we often come across things that stay in our hearts forever. For Appu, it is a fairy tale about a beautiful princess.He lives with her in a world filled with the magical creatures from her kingdom until the real world beckons. A reluctant Appu steps into it as a striking young man and struggles to find his place. What follows is an evocative tale of love and loss, friendship and betrayal, as the story travels through the snow-peaked mountains of Arunachal to the golden deserts of Jaisalmer, the tulip gardens of Holland to the lush greens of Kerala. Does Appu find what he had set out for? The answer lies in Rafflesia – The Banished Princess because in her story, lay his!

My Review:

This book really took me by surprise. The basic story line is pretty simple: It is a story of Appu and how he navigates life. But the author weaves the story in such a way that as a reader you become hooked. Although is not a thriller, the writing is such that you become so invested in the lives of the characters that you find yourself gripped in the world of this book.

The characterization in this book is wonderful. It is evident that the author has spent a considerable amount of time with each character, even those who appear for a chapter or two. Each character has a soul of their own, each of them are so human-like that you tend to forget that they are fictional.

The author definitely has a way with words. He has a strong command over his plot and his characters. The story is so realistic, yet so interesting that readers tend to become part of it. You actually miss reading the story once it is over.

The only minor issue I had with the book was that I found a couple of grammatical error, nothing major that cannot be fixed in the second issue.

But overall, if you are looking for a good contemporary read, with extremly relatable story and characters, make sure you pick this one up. I rate this book a perfect 4 out of 4. 

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Books

Playing Hurt: Book Review

Author: Gerald Nardella

Publish: Dorrance Publishing

Book Blurb:

The fear and insecurity in growing up in a small town that offers little opportunity and few role models, exacerbated by an uncertain future and pressure by emotions difficult to control, inspired Gerald L. Nardella to write this novel. Life’s struggle can be lonely and painful. Gerald grew up in a small town, experiencing firsthand the insecurities from living in a broken home. Those insecurities still haunt him to this day.

My Review:

Playing Hurt is a story that is set in American High School of the 60s. The story starts with a long drawn description of football which lasts for the entire chapter. But we get the gist that the protagonist, Brain, wants to talk to his girlfriend after the game. Although the main story line of this book is cliched, the author manages to address some serious issues that affect many teen’s lives like abuse, violence, pregnancy, gender roles, etc.

While I could not relate to the characters or the setting, I could empathize with what was going on. The picture of the society that the author builds gives the readers a solid perspective of what was going on. But, I felt that the author sometimes delved too much into providing unnecessary details that took the reader’s focus from the main story line.

The characters of the story felt quite two dimensional and I could predict what the character was going to do next. Also, apart from the three main characters, I had trouble distinguishing one from the other. None of the character could really break away from the classic high school tropes that we usually see in high school movies.

Overall, I feel that had the author spent a little more time fine tuning the story and developing the characters, this book would have been a much better read. I rate this book 2 out of 4.

I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. Playing Hurt was selected as an OnlineBookClub.org’s Book of the Day.

Books

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: Book Review

Author: Nadia Hashimi

Publisher: William Morrow

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

Book Blurb:

Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi’s literary debut novel is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one’s own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great grandmother, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

My Review:

Little girls are different than little boys. Girls need to sit in a certain way or behave in a certain way. Girls grow up with a hundred rules and regulations and so many take it as a way of life. But what happens if a girl is brought up as a boy, and then has to start “acting” like a girl once she gains puberty. Will these rules still be a “way of life?”

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a book that deals with the tradition of Bacha Posh, where young girls are brought up as boys in families that do not have boys. Once the girls reach a marriageable age, they turn back into girls. The confusion that the protagonist faces is wonderfully expressed in the following lines:

I was a little girl and then I wasn’t. I was a bacha posh and then I wasn’t. I was a daughter and then I wasn’t. I was a mother and then I wasn’t.

The main story alternates between the lives of two women, Rahima and Shekiba. Rahima is a bacha posh who is then married off at the age of thirteen. Because of her earlier experience, the rules by which a girl has to live by, especially after they marry off, feels like a stark contrast to her earlier carefree life.

This story contains all the elements of a great novel. The story, the characters, the history, politics..everything is coupled with great narration.

This story is a great read, especially those who like to read about other cultures, and are interested in reading about the condition of women in society. I rate this book a perfect 4 out of 4.

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Books

Wanted: Mail-Order Mistress: Book Review

Gentlemen of Fortune Series #3: Mills and Boon Historical

Author: Deborah Hale

Publisher: Harlequin

Wanted: Mail-Order Mistress (Gentlemen of Fortune, #3)

Book Blurb:

Betrayed by his first wife, Simon Grimshaw won’t marry again. But sultry nights in Singapore can be lonely–nothing a beautiful English mistress wouldn’t fix!Bethan Conway answers an advert to become a wife, believing it will help her secret search for her missing brother. But Simon isn’t the ugly old man she was expecting. He’s a hot-blooded bachelor who wants a woman in his bed–a position Bethan’s more and more tempted to fill!

My Review:

This is a historical romance set in the busy streets of Singapore. Simon Grimshaw was betrayed in marriage, so he did not want to get married again. He asks his business partner to look for a companion for him. This is how Bethan Conway finds herself on the shores of Singapore. She accepts this opportunity as he wants to look for her brother. Bethan is not fluent in English, which is why she comes with an impression that she is going to marry Simon.

The story line, although interesting, is predictable. But the author’s writing gives a fresh life to the story. She describes the setting, food, life and much more in such detail that the reader feels they are on a journey.

The character sketch is quite good. All the characters are etched out wonderfully. The best part is the author has given time and space to all characters, even side characters. The pace of the story is perfect, and the storyline flows seamlessly throughout.

Although this is the fourth book in the series, I have not read the other books. But, I had not issue understanding what was going on so this book can be read as a standalone as well. This is a good read for those who are looking for a light read.

All in all, I rate this book a 3 out of 4. 

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Books

UNNS-The Captivation: Book Review

Author: Sapan Saxena

Publisher: Inspire India

Book Blurb:

“Of course you know about the seven stages of love, but have you ever lived them?” Atharva Rathod and Meher Qasim. Lovebirds since adolescence. Bonded by love, separated by circumstances. They part ways only to meet again. But this time, he is on a secret mission… Are they in control of their own destiny, or its their destiny which is making them dance to its tunes? Only time would answer, as Atharva and Meher unwillingly and unknowingly transcend the seven stages of love. A quintessential tale of love and romance marked beautifully by its own rustic old school charm.

My Review:

The story starts in the quintessential boy-meets-girl type. Meher and Atharva are in the same school. They are in their final year and are looking forward to the couples being formed.  On a friend’s recommendation, Atharva has Mehar in his mind but their initial meeting leads to a lot of fireworks.

The main characters, Atharva and Meher, are crafted really well. Both have interesting, well-rounded personalities. Since the duration of the story spans over a number of years, the characters have aged really well. Initially, you see immaturity in both of them, but by the end, both have grown into themselves and know what they want. The author has handled this change wonderfully.

Initially, the book felt a little flat, as the situations and the dialogues felt a wee bit familiar to the other books in the genre, the story really takes off after the first act. It takes turns and twists that were not expected. Just when you know you have a grasp on the story, the author throws a curve ball.

The pace of the story is quite good. Even when the author takes time leaps, the transition is quite seamless and at no point does the reader get confused. Although, I found quite a few grammatical errors in the book and places where sentences are left abruptly.

Overall, this is quite a good read. I rate this book  3 out of 4.

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Books

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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