Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book Review #53: The Goat Thief

Name: The Goat Thief
Author: Perumal Murugan (Translated by N. Kalyan Raman)
No. of Pages: 240
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Juggernaut Books 
Price: Rs. 399/-
Published in: 2017

How did I get it? From the publisher.



Perumal Murugan's stories are altogether of a different league. His style is absolutely unconventional and extremely imaginative. The translator, Mr. N. Kalyan Raman has also done an amazing job.

"The Goat Thief" is a collection of 10 short stories. The plots are ordinary, but the perspective from which they are written is extraordinary. Smallest of details are taken care of in the narrative.

Ordinary events like taking a swim and playing games in a well, having an antique chair at home, a young child crying for her plaything, a leaking toilet pipe, a young boy coming to stay at his granny's place and a goat thief unable to carry out his theft are turned into beautiful stories.

I really enjoyed "The Well","Musical Chairs", "The Nights the Owls Stopped Crying", ""Mirror of Innocence" and "The Goat Thief". In several of the stories I wanted to know what happens next.

I definitely want to read more of the author's work now.

I give "The Goat Thief" 4 stars on a scale of 5.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review #52: Invoked (Hymns of War)

30073280Name: Invoked (Hymns of War)
Author: Karan Bhatia
No. of Pages: 200
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Notion Press
Price: Rs. 200/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From the author.

Krishna is a common man, leading a simple and content life with his wife, daughter and parents. A twisted accident leaves the family shattered and exposed to attacks from the netherworld. The attacks are the small, but integral pieces of the bigger picture.

As the family fights back and Krishna struggles to prove himself as the man of the house, the darkest chapters from his past re-open, unleashing a torrent of pain and desolation. Krishna decides to embark on a spiritual journey to save his family.

Does he succeed?
How does his journey affect the impending war?
Invoked is the first book of the Hymns of War series.

Karan Bhatia lives in Bangalore and works with an international bank. He is an avid reader and a movie buff. In this first attempt at fiction writing, he delves with ease into the dark, fearful world of black magic and rituals with consequences incomprehensible to the mind, with the first installment Invoked of the Hymns of War series.

Krishna's life was a simple and a smooth one. But one death in the family triggers a series of unfortunate events laced with paranormal incidents. Bit by bit Krishna's world is shattered and he decides to take matters in his own hands. But he is not aware that his present and his future are invariably linked his mystic past. 

Durga is a powerful sorcerer following his father's path in mysticism. An old family feud intertwines his life with that of Krishna in unexpected ways. 

It is a well-written book with elaborate yet engaging descriptions. It is an engaging read for anyone who is interested in supernatural powers and beings. The plot consist of sorcery, witches, spirits and science. The author has done some commendable research on the subject of invoking the higher mystic powers and black magic. Apart from a minor mismatch in mentioning Krishna's daughter's age at one place, there are no other lapses in editing.

The author has done a laudable debut job. This is the first book of his "Hymns of War" series.

I give "Invoked (Hymns of War)" 3.5 stars on a scale of 5.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Review #51: Fables From India

Name: Fables From India
Author: Uday Mane
No. of Pages: 168
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 175/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

A King’s negligence costs the Prince his eyes. How will the King make amends?

A farmer is torn between resurrecting his wife and upholding his duties. What will influence his choice?

A jester lives two lives – Masked for others. Unmasked for himself. His masked side brings happiness to everyone. But what brings happiness to his unmasked side?

A magnificent tree bears fruits of different kinds, but the King wants it to be cut down to serve justice. How will the tree defend itself?

An orphan boy is in search of the world’s bestselling book. Will he eventually find it?

A dog struggles to uncurl his tail. Will he break the curse that curled his tail in the first place?

A young boy and his pet lamb are separated from each other. Will their friendship stand the test of time?

Set in the ancient times, Fables from India, is a collection of 22 profound and unheard stories from a country known for its storytelling.

Based out of Mumbai, Uday Mane is an entrepreneur, script writer, and a digital marketing professional. He started his writing career with fables, several of which are featured in this collection. His debut novel, The Helpline, was released in 2014 to rave reviews. INR 5 per book was donated towards child welfare through Rotary club and NGO Vidya. Uday Mane volunteers for Storytelling and English speaking sessions for the underprivileged through Vidya. He is an avid reader and admires the writings of Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, and Charles Dickens among others. He loves to travel and explore places, watch movies, and collect classic novels. You can connect with him on Twitter: @The_Allegorist

First of all, I feel the book has not been named suitably. The name gives an impression that it is a translated collection of Indian folk tales. It is actually the author's collection of short stories, set in the times of kings and queens.

The stories remind of stories that we have already heard. Most of them, I felt, were not allowed to mature, but were paced and concluded in haste. In several of them, the names/characters and settings were cliches. In others, I felt, the events lost connection. Basically, I feel the book is not an impressive one and there is nothing profound about the stories as claimed in the blurb. But they did have the potential of being good ones. Nonetheless, it can be recommended to young children as a part of inculcating reading habit.

I give "Fables From India" 1 stars on a scale of 5.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review #50: Renee's Treasure

9789352017188Name: Renee's Treasure
Author: Indrani Sinha
No. of Pages: 145
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 150/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Renee lives in a Railway Colony in Varanasi with her family. She has been promised a birthday gift by her Dadaji. In a sudden turn of events, she has to hunt for it through the lanes and by lanes of Varanasi, helped by her friends Anita and Sacchu. It must be kept a secret from the adults as Renee chases her dream in a race against time. Will Renee and Sacchu, venturing out for their secret exploits from the safe precincts of their Colony, ultimately find the treasure?

Indrani Sinha is a homemaker, who has taught in the primary section of various schools for many years. She loves reading, cooking and listening to old Hindi songs. She also likes to travel and see new places. Her father worked with the Indian Railways, so the family stayed in different towns because of his many transfers. During the course of her married life, she got the chance to live in many cities in India and interact with the people there. She and her husband are now settled in Delhi NCR.

It is Renee's eleventh birthday. Her paternal grandfather, Dadaji, tells her that he has got her a secret birthday gift. But she will have to find it on her own. Also she is not supposed to tell her parents. He will give her the first hint of the treasure hunt after she cuts her birthday cake in the evening. But in an unfortunate turn of events, Dadaji passes away later during the day, without giving her the first hint.

Renee's father is then transferred  to another locality in the city. On moving to their new quarters, Renee becomes friends with the siblings, Anita and Sacchu. The story is about their escapades to hunt for the promised treasure and how they got each others' backs when in trouble.

The story is set in 1960-61, in the city of Varanasi. That was a time when lives were less complicated and childhood was more innocent. The author well captures the essence of the times, relationship of kids with their parents and grandparents, and the innocence and comradeship in friendships. The author has also beautifully incorporated the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip to India in 1961.

The story is well-paced with lucid language. To me, the book cover spelled nostalgia. It is a refreshing read. I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it for young children.

I give "Renee's Treasure" 4 stars on a scale of 5.

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 (Wordit Content Design and Editing Services)

'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?

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.

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

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.