Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Take 2 by Ruchi Singh : A Review



BOOK TITLE: Take 2
ASIN: B00TLHD2SK
AUTHOR: Ruchi Singh
GENRE: Fiction / Romance
NUMBER OF PAGES: 250
FORMAT: Digital
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author contacted me via goodreads and sent me this review copy in exchange for a honest review. Thanks, Ruchi!
SUMMARY:
          Priya’s idyllic world turns upside down when she realizes her husband considers her dead weight after stripping her off her inheritance for his ambitions and lavish lifestyle.

          Instantly attracted to Priya, Abhimanyu knows getting involved with a married woman is inviting trouble. But despite common sense, cautions and hesitations, he is drawn to help her.
          Happily ever after has become a myth for Priya and trying to keep the relationship platonic is becoming more and more difficult for Abhimanyu.
          In the tussle between ethics, fears and desires... will Priya embrace a second chance at happiness?
REVIEW:
          Priya has married her college-days sweetheart neighbour when she was not even out of college due to a family pressure. But all is not sweet as she learns that her husband Sameer had cheated on her. Opportunistic Sameer avoids her phone calls and avoids her until Priya confronts him directly, where he pretends to be a stranger in public.
          Abhimanyu is intrigued by Priya at first sight. He feels a strange urge to get to know her better and tries to get closer when he learns that she is married. He tries to back off from her when he finds he is unable to do that. He finds himself strangely attracted to her and when things take drastic turns, offers to help her get her husband back.
          As they keep trying, Priya realises that she has slowly started falling for Abhimanyu, and he realises that however hard he tries, he cannot keep off her. Fate keeps throwing them together with the marriage preparation of Priya’s best friend Komal who is Abhimanyu’s cousin. They try hard to dampen the feelings for each other but it is visible to everyone around them.
          How they overcome the inhibitions and how Priya gets over Sameer and takes the ultimate risk in her life in the faith of love forms the rest of the story. The plot is the age old story of love blossoming in unlikely places where the reader wants the lead pair to stop sacrificing and get together already. The characters are good natured, predictable with no unpleasant twists and thankfully no sudden unexpected behaviour.
          The story adheres well to the summary and the title and tagline are apt. The cover image is beautifully minimalistic. The tale is a classic story told with special seasoning. The ending is of course happy, but that is why you started reading this book, you know?
WHAT I LIKED:
          The simplicity of the story, the beauty and depth of the lead characters.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
          The story is predictable at some points but that is an added bonus.
VERDICT:
          A perfect, breezy read for a calm summer evening or a cool rainy evening – you will love the sheer simplicity of it.
RATING: 4/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
          Ruchi Singh has a degree in Engineering and has been working in IT industry as a Consultant. She began her writing career writing short stories and articles, which have been published on various online forums. Her story ‘Boomerang’ in crime genre, won the Indireads Short Story competition in 2014, and is part of the Anthology ‘Voices Old & New‘. Her, another, short story ‘Debt of Kheer’ is part of Author’s Ink anthology ‘The Turning Point of Life', both available on Amazon. 'Take 2' is her debut novel.
          A voracious reader, her favourite genres is 'romantic thriller'. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms
          Check out Ruchi's Book Reviews on www.iluvfiction.com
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital
PRICE: Rs. 155 for Kindle Edition
BOOK LINKS:


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Forbidden One by Zaarra Khader : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Forbidden One
ISBN: 9789384226954
AUTHOR: Zaara Khader
GENRE: Fiction/ Short stories
NUMBER OF PAGES: 188
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the author who sent me this review copy in exchange for a honest review.
SUMMARY:
          Desire enchants! Irrespective of what that desire is for and no matter how correct or blatantly wrong it seems to the world around us - it leaves us stirred. The more we try to resist it, the more irresistible it becomes till there comes a moment when we actually have to take a call whether to draw lines or to cross those intimidating boundaries. The Forbidden One is for all those who believe that one can feel to be alive only when one takes that leap of faith to cross the barriers to your moment of truth. The Forbidden One is also for those who haven’t fulfilled their forbidden dream as yet and are on that cusp of time to take their chances.

          The Forbidden One is a compilation of short stories - the chronicle of characters who, in some way or the other, are either excluded or restrained or tattooed ‘promiscuous’ by the society. Malicious and primitive in its ways, pushing such people on the periphery is bourgeois. Yet such people have a life of their own and as we go delve deeper into the lives of these characters we discover strengths, self-belief and even a sense of ease with which these characters go about their daily chores. Each of the ten tales here is set in the deep ocean of human emotions. Except that some of these emotions find their expressions in forms that are supposed to be suppressed as per the norms and inherited wisdom of the society.
REVIEW:
          The first thing that you notice about ‘The Forbidden One’ is its cover. Some would call it controversial, some would call it provocative, most would call it enticing. But one thing cannot be denied – the cover gives you an idea of what to expect in the ten stories that this book contains. No, it is not about physical intimacy, it has nothing raunchy. (A gentle chuckling reminder for those of you whose minds wandered into ‘those pastures’ the moment you read this line and went up to the cover to recheck it – or probably got interested in reading this review because of the cover image that was prominently displayed here; Come to the stories, folks!)
          The book is a collection of TEN stories. Yes, 188 pages for ten stories which try to portray the basest of human emotions or a nagging social issue. Each story is unique in one way and similar in one way. They all talk about desire in one way, or maybe something you would have heard of everyday or relate with in some remotest corner of your mind, but dare not speak of it out loud. Not every story is a burst of passion – but every story manages to talk about the rawest of human emotions.
          The words of the stories flow in complex sentence structures and any casual reader who is not used to reading many books would have to read through some parts more than twice to actually understand what it means. The stories are woven over a canvas that is desire and if you like to patiently read your books that have a lot of words interwoven as passages that give you a detailed visualisation of the story itself much as a profile analysis of the supporting cast would do for the film instead of how the main characters would be the elements you have to concentrate upon to finish each one in half the time it was intended to be done – this book is your cup of tea.
          The plots of individual stories are simple enough. It is the actual stories themselves, written in elaborate words that give this book the substance it requires. The characters are expressed in detail and are written as a complex quagmire of emotions that you might relate with. The summary gives you an idea of what the stories are going to be, and the book adheres to the concept pretty well.
          On the whole, a very good attempt by Zaarra.
WHAT I LIKED:
          The concept of desire is a sure fire way to relate with readers, and the book gives you fodder to think about. You won’t finish the whole thing in a day, but you will surely read the stories one by one, trying to find the one that should obviously relate with your situation.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
          Extremely long unbroken sentences and paragraphs not only make the text difficult to read, they also hamper the speed of the reader. Short stories need crisp short sentences that drive the point home instead of long drawling sentences that make the reader forget how the paragraph started.
VERDICT:
          If you had always wanted to read a book that portrayed the rawness of emotions and if talking about the forbidden gives you a sense of thrill – this book is for you!
RATING: 3.7/5
(Rating points have been awarded for the apt cover design, page quality, and nice stories and taken away for complex wording structure and lack of paragraph breaks. It is not unpleasant – it hampers the reading speed.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
          Zaarra is a media professional who got enticed into the profession of expressions at an early age even though she studied to be an engineer. From hosting radio shows, producing TV shows and conceptualizing events and engagement platforms she has been in the business of entertainment, communication and sponsorships for almost a decade now. Crafty with words and sensitive to emotions to the core she discovered an urge to reach out to the world and cage their imagination with a few characters and tales which seemed familiar yet unknown. Writing comes to her naturally as does creating characters that are so real that you can almost touch and feel them. Having written some impressive jingles for the advertising world followed her lyrical venture on contemporary Sufism, her compilation of stories here is more about characters who display exemplary resilience in their pursuits to follow their heart without a bother of what the society thinks of them or defines them as. I hope this book strikes an emotional chord with you and that you come across some extract which reminds you of your own forbidden experiences... I hope the book makes a warm and cosy place for itself right within you!
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Digital
PRICE: Rs. 105 for Kindle Edition
BOOK LINKS:


Monday, March 23, 2015

Rise of the Grey Prince by Arka Chakrabharti : A review



BOOK TITLE: Rise Of The Grey Prince
ISBN: 9382665315 (ISBN13: 9789382665311)
AUTHOR: Arka Chakrabharti
GENRE: Fiction
NUMBER OF PAGES: 230
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Saga of Agni #2
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Readers Cosmos for the review copy.
SUMMARY:
          That cursed night at Nisarga had revealed the true reason behind his father's sacrifice and his own dark past. Each revelation now draws Agni into the sublime world of secrets. With Vrish and Guru Sidak by his side, fighting the daggers from the past and winning over the opponents of the present, somewhere deep down, he knows that his journey has just begun. The other scarred prince walks the ashes of his reality. Haunted by the glimpses of truth the same night, Yani had but one choice to survive. His unknowing steps, trapped in cruel games of ancient powers had led him to a truth, a truth which shall mould a good man in the clay of misfortune, hate and lust. Such is the world of Gaya and thus shall be the Rise of the Grey Prince the one torn between the darkness of evil and a lone ray of hope
REVIEW:
          I would like to start this review with a ‘note to self’ that I wrote halfway through the book.
NTS: Don’t read the second book in a series at first, especially if it is a mythological story that gave the explanations and introductions (as is normally expected and right) in the first book and elaborates on the story next.
          The important part being pushed aside, I will come to the review of the story itself. I could not fully appreciate the beauty or the depth of the characters because I didn’t know who was introduced before and who was new here. But the story sailed smoothly once the initial hiccup was over.
          The characters and the scenes were set with enough emphasis to make an impression whereas the switchover between the ‘Land of the rising sun’ and the ‘Land of the setting sun’ was smooth. Stories of quests, in search of objects or answers always pique my curiosity and I follow ‘The Voyage’ almost literally – as if I am one of the people involved. It always helps if the narrative is good enough to help me visualise scenes easily. (In this case, thankfully, it is).
          A melancholic strain is very visible in the lead Agni’s characterisation whereas the princess Lysandra shone in her fierce streak. I wish I could comment in detail about the depth of characters. The first thing I am doing after this review is : Rush and find the first book of this saga.
          The language is easy, clean and pleasant enough, omitting the difficult to remember names (as is the case with most mythology based books). The plot seems developed enough for this book, and it could be really enjoyed as a standalone where more explanations would follow in subsequent books. The adherence to summary can be seen in the pages of the book.
SPECIAL MENTION:
          There is a glossary list of characters which introduces the new characters in this book. Is it just me? Or is it true that some characters have been missed (probably introduced previously)?
          The details about the Land of Gaya are much needed and appreciated.
          The small prologue of sorts – about what happened in book one was the life saver, really! It gave me a hint without which I really wouldn’t have enjoyed this book. Thanks to the author.

WHAT I LIKED:
          The writing, the characterisation.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
          Nothing much to mention except that some parts of the book seem unedited and long.
VERDICT:
          Go for it if you like mythology, and start with book 1 to know if you really like the saga.
RATING: 3.5/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
          Arka is a twenty-seven-year old tax consultant cum content writer, who resorted to writing to escape life's monotony. The success of his debut novel The Secrets of the Dark, along with the articles that he writes for esteemed magazines like Tehelka and the world of professional photography, have paved the way for the second part of 'The Saga of Agni' - Rise of the Grey Prince.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback.
PRICE: Rs.98 for paperback
BOOK LINKS: 

This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Recession Groom by Vani Kaushal : A Review



BOOK TITLE: The Recession Groom
ISBN: 9384226580
AUTHOR: Vani
GENRE: Fiction
NUMBER OF PAGES: 295
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the Readers Cosmos for this Review copy!
SUMMARY:
          Parshuraman Joshi, 27, handsome, Hindu-Brahmin, IT Professional, settled in Canada, earns a high-figure salary.

          These are credentials that would make any young man hot on the Indian wedding market, so it's no wonder that Parshuraman's family is inundated with matrimonial proposals. While so far all attempts to 'settle' him have gone kaput, he has bigger issues vexing him - such as Jennifer, his 'fireball' of a colleague, and their efforts to save Project Infinite. To top it all, as the credit crisis grips the global economy, the little world he's created for himself begins to fall apart. Will he be able to pull himself together to face the challenges posed by a tough economy? More importantly, will this Recession Groom be able to find his 'perfect partner'?
REVIEW:
          Parashuraman Joshi – an Indian Brahmin who works in Canada at the start of the story, and as the story progresses, changes base to everywhere between a bar and a IT solutions company in India. The Recession Groom is a book about his search for a bride and how he ends up surprising everyone when his marriage is concerned.
          The story’s main character is Joshi, but it has one of the best set of supporting characters I have ever read about in books of late. The lead offers only a little bit of variety and spice compared to the other characters (namely his Aunt Parvati, His Nani and cousins). These characters offer equal parts of fun, seriousness and are relatable in their dialogues and expressions. That Parashuraman is a loving man who cares about his family cannot be denied – but his decisions and words sometimes frustrate the reader to no end.
          What is endearing about the story is – it is relatable. Not all leads have to be perfect, not every decision taken in life is correct, and sometimes, when you finally make a decision, it is almost too late. The plot is actually not very elaborate, but the story builds up scene by scene and though slow paced in the middle, it picks up after the first half is over.
          The language is clean, the characters are well etched, the dialogues are written well (not too much of vernacular mix – just the right amount of nativity combined with fairly good English). The summary is just a hint of what is actually the book. You never know what the original holds. The climax is a googly and the beginning is one of the most riotously funny parts of the book.
          My personal favourites where the characters of Tia and Ana, and the police chase scene, since it strongly reminds me of people I know. The parts that I feel could have been written better are the scenes after Parashuraman’s resignation from his company. They weren’t lagging or wrong, but were lacking in some way that I could not point my finger at.
SPECIAL MENTION:
          The characters of Bill and Carol are the best, even if they make an appearance in very few pages. They stood out amidst all other characters and play a vital role in the plot.
          When you start reading the book, you will never know it is by a first time author. The language is so smooth and the story elements fall into place with such a synchronisation that they seem to be coming from someone who knows her writing well and has a beautiful command over the language.
WHAT I LIKED:
          The characters (yes, even the character of Tara), the story  itself and the language.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
          The story lacks pace in the middle – to the point where it seems there is confusion as to where it should go. This could have been avoided.
VERDICT:
          Go for it! You will love the story if you love reading about tales that have this Indian feel about them and an endearingly frustrating protagonist.
RATING: 4/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
          I was born in Garian, Libya, in a traditional Hindu Punjabi family. My parents prized good education above all else, and when I was still small, they decided to move base to Chandigarh,a modern city in the North of India, famed for its educational institutions. As a child, I loved reading, but writing stories of my own never occurred to me, much like everything else. Becoming a doctor wasn’t an option, for the very sight of blood made me retch. Mathematics and Excel sheets bored me no end, leaving Humanities as a last resort. I could easily compete for the civil services, my parents reasoned, although, sitting for an exam with a million potential candidates vying for one job didn’t make much sense to me. Fortunately, life took a better turn and it was a Masters degree in Economics alongside a programme in Mass Communications that set my foundation for a career in business journalism. Luckily, I got to work in some of the best organizations in India, like ‘The Times of India’ and ‘The Financial Express’.

          In 2004, I was hit with the desire to write a novel. However, a few drafts and several ideas later, I gave it all up to pursue an MBA degree from Kingston University in London. Of course, I dreamt about MNC firms coveting me, the Deloittes and the McKinseys of the world chasing me with multiple job offers, the likes of Accenture begging me to work for them. The reality was quite different. The completion of my course coincided with the start of global recession and my dreams could never be realized. My situation, nevertheless, prompted me to write my first fiction novel, The Recession Groom.
          I currently spend my time reading books. I love good stories, regardless of their genre. My dream is to have a big library of my own, something of the sort old Bilbo Baggins had in his hobbit hole. First editions of 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'The Lord of The Rings' are on my wish list, as are selfies with all my favourite authors. I am a student of Bharatnatyam and enjoy performing on the stage. I am working on my second novel, a sequel to my first book, and also blogging for The Huffington Post. My blogs are available to read on HuffPost website, on Goodreads and also on my website. To know more about me log on to vaniauthor.com. To connect with me, write to me at vaniauthor@gmail.com
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback.
PRICE: Rs. 299 for Paperback
BOOK LINKS:
This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and BlogTours.  To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Life of the Twentieth Century by Irene Even : A Review


A Life of the Twentieth Century

BOOK TITLE: A Life Of The Twentieth Century
ISBN: 163263435X
AUTHOR: Irene Even
GENRE: Fiction
NUMBER OF PAGES: 356
FORMAT: Digital
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review Copy as a part of iRead Book tours. Thanks Laura & Irene
SUMMARY :
A Life of the Twentieth Century is the story of Aya, who lived through the loss of her parents before the age of 3. At the age of twelve she was sent to a boarding school in Budapest, that closed after one year, because the Nazi army marched into the city.

Aya was left totally alone to face the Nazi occupation, and to experience all the horrors of the war. She faced many life threatening situations, such as prison, bombardment or even the possibility of being executed on the spot, without really comprehending the gravity of it all.  The end of the war was supposed to mean liberation, the return of hope and freedom for most people, however it didn't happen for Aya, who was part of a youth group on her way to Palestine. The destination of this youth group was to reach Italy and the Jewish Brigade. They crossed the Alps on foot from Austria to reach Italy.   As they reached their destination Aya met a soldier from the Jewish Brigade, who was supposed to be her Hero, her Saviour, but turned out to be the devil incarnate. From day one, this soldier of the Jewish brigade took control of Aya's life when she was only 15 years old.

After divorce, destitute and once again alone, she had no direction and almost no hope, when from deep inside her a small voice said; go back to school. It took all her courage to apply to university, where she was accepted and after 5 year was granted a B.A. and a Diploma of Teaching. She spent the rest of her life teaching, and as she contemplated her life she said to herself that if she had had all the choices in the world, she would have chosen teaching.
REVIEW:
A autobiographical account of a holocaust survivor is every history lover’s dream. Especially if the protagonist is a woman who has managed to survive the brutality of the war, the story would obviously be an astounding read. This book indeed was an astounding read. Reviewing an almost autobiographical account is a personal challenge for me for I haven’t reviewed much books from this genre. I would like to split the review into three parts namely- the war part, Post war part and post relocation part.
The war part – Mild disappointment
The book begins with Aya’s account of her dismal childhood and takes the readers on a journey of her escape from the Nazi brutality. Some parts of the whole escape scenario was a little surprising to me. I felt either the writer was plain lucky to have survived or she has done a fantastic job of hiding her true pain. I am inclined to believe the latter. Losing parents and surviving Hitler surely should have been immensely painful. The writer presented a toned down account of her life surviving Nazis and marrying without actually wanting to.
Post war account – Frustrating yet fascinating    
This part of the book covers Aya’s journey from Europe to Canada along her children and her husband.  Aya apparently is a woman of immense patience. She ended up caring for her husband though he deserved none of it. Patience is a quality inherent to women. Aya is the perfect example. This story being a real life account helped the writer give immense depth to characterization. It felt like I personally knew each of the characters. Hats off mam for portraying people so well!
Post relocation account – an inspiration
It takes immense will power and determination to visit a place which is filled with horrid memories. Aya’s decision to move to a different place and take up a career in teaching is truly inspiring. Learning a new skill past the prime age of learning isn’t an easy task. Aya’s determination to learn and teach students and to excel at it is indeed and inspiration
Overall, the book is one well written memoir of sorts which deserves a patient read. This book is not for those with an attention span of a firefly.
VERDICT: A moving tale of a strong and inspiring woman
RATING: 4 on 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Irene Even was born in Hungary. As a child she lived through the Second World War, using false papers to survive. After the war, she immigrated to Palestine, lived in a Kibbutz, then later married and immigrated to Canada with her family. She returned to Israel to teach English and remained there for twenty-two years. Having written her memoir, A Life of the Twentieth Centuryshe now lives in retirement in Montreal.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle
PRICE: Rs.301 (kindle)

BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.com/Life-Twentieth-Century-Irene-Even-ebook/dp/B00NJ520RO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1421958174&sr=1-1&pebp=1421958388750&peasin=B00NJ520RO
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