Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review #49: The Last Bloom

Name: The Last Bloom
Author: Poulomi Sengupta
No. of Pages: 396
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 375/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From BecomeShakespeare.com (Wordit Content Design and Editing Services)

THE BLURB SAYS:
'The Last Bloom' is a story of Priya, her dreams, aspirations and struggles to fit into her new college life and its politics. Priya was ecstatic, as she was admitted to her dream college. All her visions of adventurous rock climbing trips, long night jollification with bosom friends, class bunking in lieu of movie shows, tasting lip smacking street side delicacies with classmates-a new exciting world would now unfold before her! But college is different from Priya's idyllic dreams. In an environment as opposed to that of school, exposed to an educational system, which is controlled by political unions, will naive Priya be able to survive without any political protection? Caught between the college hero Suvo's charming words and her acrid tussles with conceited college dropout Vivek, will immature Priya be able to differentiate between cajoling false comrades and brutally honest well-wishers? Often degraded by the skittish Shweta and saved by the blunt rebellious Aashi, will Priya be able to identify her friends and stand up for them, against fierce opposition? As Priya undertakes her journey of self-discovery, will she succumb to her deep-seated fears and insecurities or will she survive the ultimate test of time?
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Poulomi Sengupta is an alumna of IIT Kharagpur. Presently working in Mumbai, she loves her share of kickboxing and a colourful dose of oil painting to brighten the apparently mundane life.

MY THOUGHTS:
Priya has enrolled in her dream university and aspires to get quality education. But her expectations are shattered when she experiences that the students are more interested in politics than education. Being one of a handful of students who boycotts the boycott to attend classes, she is sidelined and looked down upon. Also, she is disliked by most of her classmates who had their education in vernacular medium unlike her English medium education.

The author tries to address various issues like;
-Survival in an environment of politics without being attached to any political group
-Does student politics really help students or does it hamper quality education
-The need of student politics
-Why do students really join political parties?
-Flaws in our education system
-Pros and cons of vernacular medium of education
-Feminism

I felt the author tried to talk too many things at one go. The plot had potential but the flow of writing lacks maturity. The author has a good repository of words, but the beauty of their usage is lost in the average writing style.

The incidents in Priya's student life are also very boringly depicted, topics are explained and discussed beyond necessity. A bit of philosophy is thrown here and there, and actually becomes overbearing. I feel it could have been a much better read.

I give "The Last Bloom" 2 stars on a scale of 5.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Review #48: A Window Seat

Name: A Window Seat
Author: Vishala Katta
No. of Pages: 249
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 250/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From the publisher.

THE BLURB SAYS:
When a dying corporate professional escapes into a train to somewhere, he finds himself become a storyteller of old mythological tales. Tagging along is ten year old Hari who is looking for his parents he lost in the trains.

Together their adventures lead them to debating with priests, dancing with eunuchs, sharing meals and conversing casually about death with random strangers.

A runaway wife tags along with these annoying mavericks. Taking her first train she is all ready to be an actress.

That night, what begins as a harmless conversations changes their fate completely.

What makes them hold on to each other for longer? Do they find what they were looking for? What happens when they bump into each other few years later? But do all of them make it alive?
A window seat is all about those conversations with strangers that seem to change you unknowingly.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Vishala Katta writes about the untold stories that ordinary people carry on their shoulders. She finds extreme gleeful childlike pleasure in conversations with strangers and other creatures that choose to respond. Originally, an engineer, she set out to pursue her love for Communications at Mudra Institute of Communication, (MICA) Ahmedabad. She is currently residing in Delhi doing her daily corporate grind as a marketing and communications professional. While most of her day is spent on her seat at work, the rest of the time she is busy lecturing her better half about feminism and travelling to places with the sound of water.

MY THOUGHTS:
I was quite excited by the blurb. The plot seemed offbeat and interesting. The cover also looked nice with the chugging train.

Stalin is the dying corporate, Hari is the ten-year-old urchin and Kuhu is the runaway bride. The story started out well with Stalin.He is suffering from incurable cancer and so decides to travel, looking for a miracle. His religious debates also were interesting. But he didn't turn out to be the storyteller the blurb promised.

Kuhu's part also started well, but somehow some things were absurd in her story. Like she is asked to visit a dead relative's family alone, in a distant town on the very second day of her wedding. She goes to the railway station alone in the evening (it is very near from her husband's home) in a new place, dressed in an obvious newlywed's attire. Her husband sees her off from home only. At the end, I actually felt sorry for him.

How Hari lost his parents in the train is not very convincing. And nobody noticed a lost boy at the stations is also not very convincing.

The plot had potential but the story didn't turn out to captivating. I was actually a little disappointed.
 I give "A Window Seat" 2.5 stars on a scale of 5. 
This book has been published by Leadstart Publishing. If you are a new author and want to get published, send in your manuscripts at submissions@leadstartcorp.com


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review #47: When Life Turns Turtle

Name: When Life Turns Turtle--Journey of a Bollywood Tramp
Author: Raj Supe
No. of Pages: 468
Genre: Spirituality-Based Fiction
Publisher: Platinum Press (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 399/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From the publisher.

THE BLURB SAYS:
Raj Supe’s fluent narrative and genuine search for truth will bring him many readers.~ Ruskin Bond

Indraneel is a young and successful film-maker, an alumnus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In an intoxicating relationship with a young and beautiful aspiring actress, his next film is being hailed as a blockbuster. Things couldn’t be going any better. Suddenly, without warning, Indraneel’s life overturns. Hurt floods his heart and soul, seemingly beyond redemption…

He arrives in Rishikesh, a mountain town by the river. The artist within him, as well as the bruised individual, senses the timeless love and solace emanating from the Ganga and the Himalayas, but innumerable whys continue to invade his thoughts. Introduced to Shaman, a bookseller with a difference, and a ‘closet guru’, the deeply sceptical Indraneel is introduced to a bewilderingly new, yet strangely magnetic world of spiritual seeking.

As the seasons pass, as pass they will…Indraneel gradually opens his mind to what he finds around him, delving step by step into the truth about spirituality and human existence. A measure of peace finally descends on his tormented mind.

But the world beckons yet again and Indraneel stands at a crossroads once more. He is asked to make a difficult choice. Will he submit to the strong current of spirituality now flowing within him? Does a spiritual life mean giving up everything else? Can he ever go back to the world? Will he find the happiness he so desperately seeks?

The world that Raj Supe creates is vividly described with a true artiste’s eye for detail. Set in the ‘belief land of Rishikesh’ on the banks of Ganga – ‘perennial river of India’s mystical past’ – his story leads the reader through light and shadow to the goal Indraneel, the protagonist, has set himself – a life of spiritual bliss…Raj serves up a rich repast from which no reader can depart unfulfilled. ~ Benjamin Gilani

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
RAJ SUPE (aka Kinkar Vishwashreyananda), is a poet, storyteller and novelist. An MBA, he has had a career in advertising, research and creative consulting, before turning to literary and spiritual pursuits. Some of his literary works include the spiritual memoir, Pilgrim of the Sky; the anthology Hundreds of Shells; and translations such as Cloudburst of A Thousand Suns, and the Sahitya Akademi awarded Rainbow at Noon. He has also worked on film scripts and plays. His writings convey the passionate intensity of a seeker and the sincerity of one who hopes for an ideal mix of traditional mythic imagery and the urgencies of modern life. In the words of a leading poet, ‘he has the anonymity of the saint-poet on the one hand and the self-expression of the modern writer on the other’. Raj is Editor of the spirituality e-magazine, The Mother [www.themotherdivine.com], as well as the co-founder of Foundation for Contemplation of Nature [www.foundnature.com]. Raj was initiated into the Order founded by Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath and met his Guru in the person of Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuja. He now leads a simple life on the banks of the Ganges.

MY THOUGHTS:

I loved the title and I loved the cover. A red hibiscus in water alongside a pair of wooden chappals, against the backdrop of hills, looked serene and spiritual. The book in my hands looks beautiful too. The plot is well-paced and it keeps you hooked. Unlike most philosophical stories, it is not boring and unnecessarily stretched at all.

The protagonist, Indraneel Barua, a successful film-maker but a unhappy personal life. An ugly divorce followed by a bitter relationship leaves him devastated. His childhood and best friend , Arunodaya, advises him to take a break and visit Rishikesh. Indraneel agrees on an impulse. As he opens up his heart and soul to Rishikesh, he founds peace. The river calms him. The intended short holiday turns into a life-long affair.

For me the beauty of the book lied in the fact that it was spiritual not religious. Even though the way of spirituality in the book is through Hinduism, it was not overbearing. It describes how amidst of nature and its powers, one realizes the true meaning of life. It talked about the philosophy of life through the story of a believable character. A character, Indraneel, who had everything in life that a common man dreams for, fame, success, wealth. Yet he is unhappy. In the pursuit of happiness in the form of love and a partner, he faces heartbreak. Every human has faced failure in some form or the other, and many of us has been devastated by it. The book gives the message that all is not lost and that if we surrender ourselves to the greater power, all will be well.

Overall, it is a calm read.

I give "When Life Turns Turtle" 4 stars on a scale of 5.

This book has been published by Leadstart Publishing. If you are a new author and want to get published, send in your manuscripts at submissions@leadstartcorp.com