Friday, October 9, 2015

Joys and Woes are Woven Fine by Arkaprava De : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Joys and Woes are Woven Fine
ISBN: 978-8192955568
AUTHOR: Arkaprava De
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author sent me a signed copy. I thank him for it.
          She was born in Kolkata. She was an unwelcomed guest, a product of lust. She had to pay the price. She was abducted and trafficked to Hyderabad. She spent nine years begging on the roadside. Destiny brought her back to Kolkata where she was sold off to a procuress in Sonargachi. She married Raghu and started leading a healthy life. However she attempted a suicide. She was Ketaki. Why was Ketaki abducted and trafficked? Where was her father and mother? Was Ketaki ever able to meet her real parents? Why did she attempt the suicide? Was it all destiny that brought her back to Kolkata or did The Almighty have something else in His holy mind? After all, Joys and Woes are always woven fine!!
          Joys and Woes are Woven Fine – a book that will leave you shocked.
First Impression:
          My first impression of the book was – dark, foreboding, something I really could not read when I am not in the best of my moods. The cover was apt for the story of the book. A dark silhouette of a woman with just a hint of mystery made up the front cover while the back had a crisp and to the point summary. I did not exactly dive in to start the book. Most of my time went in debating whether or not to pick it up and read it. The whole story sounded so ominous.
Now the story:
          It is said that in the course of one’s life, one never knows what the next moment might bring, much less the next year. While most lives are ordinary and follow a routine, a small detour from the routine might often be the biggest change ever experienced.
          And one ugly truth about the land that worships the most number of female goddesses: this nation is also full of abusers and molesters that take advantage of the weaker sex. While this is not the most prevalent trend, there are such monsters still lurking in every city, every alley, mixed with the general public. While some go no further than eve teasing (not because they don’t but because they are cowards who fear the reaction of the law and the public), there are others who take advantage of what life hands them.
          Predators are abundant and the life of a girl ruined shall almost never be set right – except under extremely lucky twists of fate. Now this is the ‘Woe’ part. Where does the ‘Joy’ part come in? Read on.
          I am not going to reveal the names of the characters as such, because this is going to ruin the ‘fun’ of reading the book. The young girl is born out of wedlock, and unwillingly given away by the mother until she is capable of getting the child back and taking care of her. The woman’s life is ruined by a prominent figure and by the time she realises she has been lured in by false promises. Aborting the unwanted child is out of question and hence the unwilling childbirth and subsequent adoption.
          The child is, by hook and crook (and also some cunning planning) is trafficked and sold to beggars in Hyderabad. From then on, the child is sold to a monster who is after her for her young body. All of thirteen, the child is abused and even unable to understand the difference between a demon eating her innards and a human posing as a demon and ruining her life. Everywhere she turns for help, people are out to take advantage of her.
          Exactly what happens to the child as she goes along her destiny’s path and tries to find the secret of her birth forms the rest of the story. While this might sound like the plot of a badly scripted soap opera – think again. This is not some movie or serial you could see and think about for maybe a day or a week and forget and move on. This is the sad reality.
          When women are duped, mostly due to their foolishness, there are men who take advantage of unwilling women and sometimes even girls who do not understand what puberty means. This book is dark, yes. It does explain what happens to the little child who is molested after having been hired as a domestic help will make you cringe and put down the book in horror, and sometimes even retch your food. But that is what this book is about. It does not lie. If you are faint hearted, don’t go for it. Instead pretend you are in a utopian society.
·        The author’s daring to pen down such a story.
·        The constant dark tone of the story, there is no respite from the horrors of the story. Don’t expect a light moment at all. The author has remained true to the story line itself.
·        The end – bittersweet but still somehow oddly satisfying in one sense.
·        It is ‘having’ not ‘haven’.
·        The story has woes. I spent some time searching for the joys, and didn’t find many.
·        The descriptive parts. I agree it could be worse and they were used to make the reader realise the horror, but still, they left a distasteful impact on my mind.
          This is NOT a light hearted read. This is raw, intense and shocking. Steel your nerves and go for it.
RATING: 4.1/5
PRICE: Rs. 100 for paperback.

What Makes It Worthy By David Paul Kuhn : A Review

What Makes It Worthy
By David Paul Kuhn
Genre: General Fiction, Political Fiction

          What Makes It Worthy is the personal story of Taylor Solomon and Cait Ellis. Taylor is a rising star at America's fastest-growing political media machine. Cait is a young New York Times reporter who wrestles with the shadow of her legendary mother. 
          And it is an historic--yet familiar--campaign. The Republican, who hails from one of America's power clans and has long been in the national spotlight, seeks to become the first female president. Her Democratic opponent, a State Department veteran setting the election afire with populism, hopes to make his own history as the first Hispanic president. On the campaign trail, as ethics gray and events envelop politicians, operatives, and reporters--as Cait and Taylor struggle with how much distance must be accepted between their ideals and their choices--the political not only becomes personal, but also threatens to upend their lives, as well as the presidential campaign itself.
          Written by well-known political journalist David Paul Kuhn, What Makes It Worthy is "a heartfelt page-turner that proves a good novel can both entertain you and inform you," in the words of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.
          The novel is also perhaps the most accurate depiction yet written about how the relationship between the media and the modern presidential campaign shapes American politics.

My review:
          Often, when I come across rare books that talk about the dirty side of politics, I expect intrigue and detailed back stories of the mudslinging people resort to. While I have great respect for this genre, most books simply sensationalize the events leading to the ascent and the scandals that become downfalls. This book, on the other hand, blends intrigue, emotions and the entire behind the scenes events so well that I knew, without reading the author’s bio (or paying much attention to the second half of the summary, I admit) that this was written by someone who had ample experience in this field.

          Two political journalists – on literally opposite ends, (one for the democratic side and one on the republican side) inevitably develop interests for each other. While the candidates they are following are each fighting a different battle and are vying for the ultimate glory, the impending chaos is very evident in the budding romance of two promising young journalists.
                    Not to reveal too much about the plot, the story is fast paced and of course is going to give you more information about the background of political sagas than you expected. Written by someone in the know, this book is all about how careers, and personal life will be at loggerheads and how the battle between the head and the heart are the most difficult. Once you are through reading this, you will be left with numerous questions about what you see and what you should believe.
          The language is clear and simple and I personally loved the writing style and the occasional humor. The plot made me read the book in two sittings and that is an achievement.. While political thrillers are my favorite element, I was a bit apprehensive that this book is also going to be a product of the same stereotypical mould of drama. I was, thankfully proven wrong. If political thrillers are your favorite books, do not miss this. But if you don’t like that genre, there is enough to interest you in this book anyway!

Author Bio:

          David Paul Kuhn is a writer and political analyst living in New York City. He is the author of the political novel What Makes It Worthy—an “absorbing novel” that is “all too real” (political strategist James Carville), “captivating” (novelist Matthew Thomas), “a genuinely tender love story” (Kirkus Reviews).
          Kuhn has held senior writing positions across the political-media landscape, from Politico to RealClearPolitics to He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Washington Post Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, among other publications, and regularly appears on networks ranging from BBC to Fox News. As the Macmillan Speakers Bureau described him, “David Paul Kuhn is an expert analyst of presidential and gender politics.” He is also the author ofThe Neglected Voter, which General Wes Clark called “a brilliantly insightful analysis of American politics.”

The author is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Review Time! The Artwork of Guy Erma and the Son of Empire

The Artwork of Guy Erma and the Son of Empire

          When Sally Ann Melia, author of the ‘Guy Erma and the Son of the Empire series’, contacted me through mail to ask me if I would be interested in reading a book that contained the artwork of my favourite series, I jumped at the chance. I really did love the books (there were a total of three books, two of which received near perfect rating points from me). Though the book was also very descriptive and had illustrations, there was something really appealing about reading a whole book dedicated only to the artwork.
          My first impression of the book was – it looked like the ‘behind the scenes’ images of a popular series. The artwork collections are not only a series of images. They contain anecdotes from the author, the designers and little titbits of information about the book, characters and of course illustrations from the most important themes of the book.
“Something that one can’t see, it basically doesn’t exist.”
-Boban Radovanovic, CEO, Sugarbricks.
          That is how this book starts. And this summarises the overall purpose of the book and its contents. The 58 page digital copy contains images of the characters and also the dome medallion. The stories behind how they were created were fascinating. The geometrical patterns and the overall stage by stage explanation of the design process show just how much work has gone into the book.
          This book is best enjoyed if you are reading or have read the Guy Erma and the Son of the Empire series. But if you do happen to come across this before you actually start reading the main series, there is a chance that these illustrations might just lead you to pick them up.

          I missed the illustrations about the Emperor, my least favourite character and Regent Sayginn, my most favourite character. Overall, it is a really good auxiliary book for anyone who enjoyed the series and found it tough to visualise the characters. I heartily thank the author for giving me a chance to read this book.

Cover Reveal : Coke by Barun Chanda

“Can you help me, please?”
Pradipta wheeled around.
Standing behind was an unusually attractive lady. She wore a dark blue, chiffon saree which set off her fair complexion even more. Other than a thin gold chain with a tear-drop pearl pendant on her neck, she wore no jewelery. Her lips were pale pink, with no lipstick. Only the dark make-up on her eyes made her look even more unfathomable.
 “You’re talking to me?”
Thus begins Coke, with this chance encounter at Kathmandu airport. But the plot thickens when the lady requests him to include her suitcase as part of his checked in baggage and then does a vanishing act, once the aircraft lands in Calcutta. What follows is a riveting page-turner, replete with unexpected twists as you encounter gangs warring over narcotics, policemen, functionaries, and a sinister master-mind who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. The furiously paced narrative takes you from the sleepy airport of Kathmandu to the packed streets of Calcutta, a mysterious mansion on the outskirts of town and an unforgettable chase-sequence through New Market.
From the author of the acclaimed Bengali novels ‘Kidnap’, ‘Shaaper Jhaanpi’ and ‘Robibar’ comes a high-octane thriller that’s seriously addictive and keeps you hooked till the end.

About the Author:
In so far as the pursuit of any true vocation is a life in itself, Barun Chanda – advertising guru, actor and writer, may be said to have had three. Born in Dhaka, he did his Masters in English at Jadavpur University. Following a brief stint as a lecturer in English, he embarked upon a career in the creative department of advertising that spanned more than 30 years, won him numerous awards and culminated in his tenure as Creative Director at Clarion McCann.
Acting occupies the second of his three worlds. In 1971, he scorched the big screen as a high-flying executive, playing the protagonist in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Seemabaddha’, and winning a special President of India Award for his performance. After a hiatus that lasted over two decades, he returned to the screen during the 90’s, and has since then acted in numerous TV series and more than 35 movies. Tackling Bollywood and Tollywood roles with equal aplomb, he has distinguished himself in films such as Lootera, Roy, Chotushkone, Aborto, MIshor Rohoshyo, Nayanchampa-r Dinraatri , Bela Sheshe and Jogajog. Chorabaali, where where once again he plays the protagonist, is his latest venture.
Barun’s third passion is writing. A regular film reviewer and contributor of articles to major dailies, in the last eight years he has published four highly acclaimed and successful novels in Bengali. His work has played a major role in establishing the adult thriller genre in Bengali literature.
Coke is his first novel in English.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Blitz: First Brush On Canvas

About the Book:
Graham, Daniel, their friendship, life and death.
Vampires, guardians' adventures at night. Coffee, love and a new couple. Imli and her mother in a complex web of darkness. A small town girl confused about virginity. Michael Jaikishen and his writing endeavours. Child adoption by a gay couple. Mahabharat - a modern tale in an epic form. The spine-chilling tale of Tina and Uncle Joe. A juicy love story by our guest author Sujata Parashar. These and many other unputdownable stories in this book.

First Brush on the Canvas is an anthology comprising selected stories from Melonade (2014), a nationwide writing marathon organized by

Goodreads * Amazon

Melonade Authors’ Intro:

Uttiya Roy – Nourished with Bangla literature, he aspires to change the world someday writing in English. His days pass blending Life Science textbooks with poetry. 
Upasana Bhattacharjee – We catch ‘em as young as they get! Our youngest writer is still a student, but that doesn’t reflect in the matured story she’s written dealing with inconclusive logics and paradoxes. 
Stuti Chandra – She writes because she’s alive. This lovely lady is from Patna and has dipped her nose in English Literature at Delhi. 
Shaily Bhargava – A photographer, a logophile and an Equity Technical Analyst – all in one. She reads and writes in Noida, accompanied by beautiful clicks through her lens and lots of Coffee. 
Arunav Chowdhury – Have you met this Proletariat Axomiya before? He’s a movie buff and a news junkie rolled into one, who writes wonderful modern takes on the age old Mahabharat. 
Rafaa Dalvi – A Mumbaikar, an engineer, a blogger and a prolific writer. He’s already made his presence in three anthologies and likes to experiment with different genre. 
Diptee Raut – A quilter, a blogger, a quirky mom, an amazing writer and our co-winner of Melonade’4. She’s one bundle of positive energy who can spin stories and weave quilts simultaneously. 
Abhishek Mukherjee – Have you read his blog posts yet? Though he likes to believe he’s only a Cricket Historian, you have to read his humorous takes on Mythology to believe he’s the best. 
Anwesha Ray – An amazingly sensitive writer, she lives and works in Bangalore with her family. 
Avishek Basu Mallick – He’s the winner of Melonade’4. If you wish to laud him for more, he’s an engineer and an MBA, working in Bangalore and a featured writer on Sportskeeda.
Arijit Ghose – Blend Carnatic music with exceptional satire and the result is Arijit Ghose. Cheeky, expressive and vocal – we hope he becomes a great writer someday. 
Amit Nangia – For those working in MNCs for years, he’s your inspiration. Amit’s first novel has just released after facing many rejections but that didn’t deter him from writing. Climbing the rocks, gliding in a parachute, bungee jumping or making cocktails; nothing could elevate his spirits as much as writing did.
Tnahsin Garg - Tnahsin often exercises his freedom by convincing other folks that ‘free will’ does not exist. His first novel ‘The Prophecy of Trivine’ is a science-fiction based in India.
Sujata Parashar – Author of the immensely popular ‘In Pursuit Of’ trilogy, and a wonderful poet. She contributes articles to various websites and magazines, and is a social activist. She’s a guest author in the book.