Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hama-Guri goes to School by Aditi Bose

Children fiction is important even for adults to learn some of the best lessons of life in a real simple way. If i say that I did not enjoy this book as an adult, i would be lying a bit. I of course had in mind that this would be read by or read to the kids but even then, I did learn a lesson myself on how to tackle problems of others and mostly on the art of communication.

Hama is a six year old kid who goes to school with his best friend Ma-Door. He lives in a samll town with his parents and has a lovely garden in the house where he spends time with his mother or friends. Hama's mother is an intelligent lady who is understanding and very wise. It is through the conversations of these two and the friends that Aditi has penned some wonderful stories each aiming to teach, not preach the reader. The stories have an eady approach to some of the common issues of growing up.

Simple language and great visuals make sure that the kids will like and enjoy  reading the book.

I absolutely envy the kids for such amazing fiction available to them. Loved this one.

My rating : 5/5

Friday, May 29, 2015

The house that BJ built by Anuja Chauhan

I have not read Anuja’s any book before this but I had heard great reviews for them. Not to forget that my mother likes the show based on Thakur girls , so I was overjoyed when I got a chance to review “the house that BJ built”. First thing that I realized when I started reading the book was that people are people. There is no rich / classy / poor / crass kind of attitude. We all are just human having a hell lot of qualities which are too hard to explain. Though this is the story of Bonu ( Bonita ) and Samar ( her step cousin ) , the generation after The Pricey Thakur girls ; I got a good amount of background story and character analysis on the sisters and the Thakur clan as a whole. The story set up in Delhi has all the necessary ingredients of a well-crafted story with strong characters , the cunning relatives and the human greed that has made blood thinner than water. Plus the plotting by powerful agencies like builders , self declared mafia and likes. 

The book also touches upon the dramas and entertainment of a family that has people from different backgrounds and how their current situations shape their mindsets. There was a particular scene where Bonu’s uncle wonders about ignoring her while trying to save the world through his news channel. That is exactly how I feel about a lot of people who are fighting for bigger causes. We somewhere ignore and forget the people who are closer to us and who need our love just the same.  I could feel Bonu’s loneliness , her strength , her will power and anger all perfectly well in the story that picks pace with the grandfather BJ’s death and his brother filing a case for the eviction of the house where Bonu and his aunts had once spent their childhood. Following Bonu’s and Samar’s adventures through Mumbai and Delhi , Anuja has created a wonderful book that doesn’t let you stop reading without a tiny bit of irritation. The characters are somewhat very real and I found identifying in them a few friends I know. 

 I now want to read the first Thakur girls novel soon since I loved this one a lot. 

My rating : 5/5

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mithra by Sahana L

Mithra is a story of a Mitrhraveera , the only girl born to the cheif of Virpur who willingly becomes this successor on condition that she will never marry. Her decision binds not just her but also Dhruva , who has been trained by Veera's father and has been entrusted to care for her. The two names - Mithra and Veera are symbolic to the story as one is of the girl who had feelings and other is of the Warrior Veera who lives for her duty and her bond with Dhruva. Then there is Shaurya, the  ruthless prince of the enemy nation who falls in love with Veera from the first time he sees her. He is jealous of Dhruva and hatches a plan to take Veera away from everyone, for himself. The setting of the story and the characters add a charm to the story that makes you turn page after page with anticipation.

The story is quite simple but what makes this book engaging is the way it is written. There is simplicity and transparency in the bonds between characters - love , friendship , duty , jealousy and even the mixed ones that arises from being ignorant of other's feelings and intentions. There are lot of subplots to the book which may or may not interest you but they have a reason and purpose. As much as the book focuses on the relation between Dhruva and Veera, for me it was more of a story of people's loyalties and duty and the thin line we cross into dark areas for sake of love. In fact the love story becomes a little too repetitive for me by the end. I felt some paragraphs could have been skipped in editing.

Also , I did not see the need for a sequel for this story. Open ended or not , I am happy with this book for now.

My rating : 3.5/5

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Case Files of P.I. Pojo - The Killing of Mr Heathcote by Meghna Singhee

Something smells fishy here and I don't mean Mr H's uneaten dinner. Meet Pojo Pande, aspiring private eye prowling the corridors of Heathcote International with a ready ear for eavesdropping and a nose for intrigue. And he's got two sidekicks-Radha Rao, a senior and the latest in a long line of Raos to skirt the school rules and Pops, a pesky junior who insists on being Pojo's protege. Together, they face the toughest case of their career yet-the killing of Mr Heathcote, the beloved school cat. 

Nimue Says : The moment I hear of a mystery book with teens , I think of Hardy boys and famous five ( in the mentioned order ). And for a good time , I am going to suggest Pojo Pande to every kid over the age of 10. I have never been to hostel till I joined college but have read a bit in books about the rules , the pranks and the history of schools that have been there from decades. There is something charming to have generations attend the same school and pass on the legacy. This was one thing about the book that interested me more than the cat as the victim :D

The book is written in a way that every age group can read it and enjoy the mystery. It is always a good thing in any plot to have many things happening that may or may not be significant to the actual crime and how Pojo reaches a clarity here is both exciting and definitely  a work of marvel. The sidekicks - one super senior and one junior make a adorable group together with Pojo who gives the impression of a mysterious and very observant guy. There is a level of cool factor to this character which makes one fall in love with the book a little more. 

I can never praise the book enough. And ask you to read this one this summers for sure ! Pass it to all the book lover kids you know. 

My rating : 5/5

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Checkmate by Hrishikesh Joshi

An upright judge is used as a pawn by the terrorists to hijack a plane. The militants strike with vengeance to free their most dangerous fidayeen from the Indian prisons, as they hold a hundred passengers in the plane to ransom. Calling the shots for jihadis from Pakistan is once upon a time the right hand man of Osama Bin Laden and now the most dangerous terrorist in the world, Muhammad Zia ul Afridi. With the Prime Minister in a soup, there is only one man to stop the diabolical scheme of the dreaded jihadis—Vikram Roy, chief Secretary of RAW, a dashing young man of action. As the Prime Minister is about to surrender the prisoners, Vikram Roy discovers the most shocking truth about activities inside the RAW. The weary nation holds its breath as the fate of a hundred hostages and the prisoners hangs in a limbo. However, the events that are about to follow are so unforeseen that they shock everyone to the core.

The blurb and the story would remind the reader of a lot of events in the news of past. A little predictable a little fresh , the story rushes forward smoothly right from the beginning. There are lot of subtle hints that make the characters resemble some real people and that was quite amusing for me. But at the moment I had given up on the book , the writer turns the tables not just in the story but at the reader too. Well done, I must say !

The writing is simple , conversations light and the whole situation has a ring of credibility built around it. This is not a book that you have to assume that this is all made up. There is just a fraction of reality mixed which have happened or might happen any day. 

This is a good book for crime fiction lovers. Good attempt at desi thrillers involving terrorists and the agencies that work hard to keep us away from harm. 

My rating : 3/5

Buy Checkmate here

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Black,Grey,White by Santhosh Avvannavar

Authors:Santhosh Avvannavar,Santhosh Biradar
Source:review copy(author)

(Santhosh Avvannar is a Consultant and Soft Skills trainer.He is also actively involved in social work.Our review of Santhosh's earlier work, 'Title is Untitled',can be read here)

              'Black,Grey and White' is a compilation of five short stories which deal with the world's most dreaded disease-HIV/AIDS. HIV is one disease,inspite of all the government funded campaigns and programmes continues to be the least understood malady by the general public.It's high time that the common man sat up and took notice of this dreaded disease and it's implications in the society.Even now,many people don't know about the different modes of spread of this dangerous disease.Through initiatives/works like 'Black,Grey,White',I hope the many myths about this disease are broken for good!
                  First things first,the authors deserve a pat on their back for choosing a taboo disease like HIV/AIDS as the principal theme for their anthology.These stories not only help in spreading awareness about AIDS among the lay man but also helps in inspiring/sensitizing them to unite and fight for the rights of the HIV infected people.Right from the title and it's tag line('no one is spared from it'),there is a conscious effort from the author's part to stay true to the basic theme as far as possible.The first story,'Shahid',written like a drama/social-skit is packed with a number of meaningful dialogues and inspiring situations.As in the case of his previous work,every story of this book also ends with a tail note which is addressed to the 'dear diary'(the first one talks about myths).The second story is about Chintu,an HIV positive boy and how the society deals with him.Though the tale is only a couple of pages lond,this undoubtedly is my pick of the lot.The societal attitude towards AIDS patients and their hypocrisy  is clearly etched out in this story(the customer not buying ice cream from him after getting to know that he is HIV positive).The third story,'Game of Lust' is a bit contrived,but succeeds in driving home the point.The 'Highway Sex' and 'Abram and his Prodigal Son' are passable.
         Coming to the positives,the authors have tried their best to be as genuine and honest as possible.They have tried to keep the prose simple and straight forward.There are a couple of heart touching dialogues which are quite effective in conveying the message which it intends to.The book is quite short and can be finished in one sitting.As a social awareness piece,'black,grey and white' gets a five out of five.The cover page is quite competently designed.It's quite evident that a lot of thought has gone into it's making.
         On the downside,as a literary work,this book does miss the mark.Agreed,there are some great ideas and some fine sentences,but is it enough to qualify as good fiction?The book also suffers from numerous typos and grammatical errors.The narrative too is often inconsistent and even boring at times.
        On the whole,despite it's flaws,'Black,Grey and White' is one work which needs to be appreciated for the good intentions behind it.It's definitely a one time read!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hey Dad! Meet My Mom by Sandeep Sharma and Leepi Agrawal.

Authors- Sandeep Sharma and Leepi Agrawal.


Right since childhood, the world in which we live teaches us to bury our bad past somewhere deep inside us and just move on. So deep, that even we cant possibly dig it back out. What happens when a 10 year old child, who claims to be your future son, comes to you to help you find his mother, whos your perfect match? What happens when you eventually start doubting his intentions? What happens when a girl starts turning your dreams into nightmares? What happens when your future son starts haunting you? What happens when your future starts bleeding into your present through your PAST? Hey Dad! Meet My Mom!!! is nothing less than a roller coaster ride of mystery, love, comedy, fear and suspense. So make sure you don't forget to expect the unexpected!! 

Words of AT.

This book is Beautiful. It's completely Great full of strong feelings. Read it, break you heart, learn the lesson, Live on. The Authors have done an aboslutley Splendid job. The book is not very long. 160 pages, whole. To say it perfectly this is not a whole life biography of a person who's hunting for his true love nor  it is an important incident that occurs  and you say and cherish whole life, This is a story in which the  past, present and future of a person who has absolutely no idea who his real love is, is neatly woven. 
                                   It starts with Puneet, said in his own voice, who sees his FUTURE son. His FUTURE son helps Puneet to get on with Myra. But then his life is changed. He begins to feel a hollow emptiness in his life. Roshni? who was she? and who is the girl who keeps on coming in his dreams? or better Nightmares? Rishi, his future son says he's from Puneet's PAST. Then with his son's help, he is said the truth by his mother. and Then, Nothing is normal.
                     Very great book, the story is told perfectly. The truth of his life will steal your heart, the end of the book breaks your heart and in the end this is a perfect story. There is no problem in the consistency, it beautifully flows as the new born river. I would recommend this book to any one because the idea is different and new. and the lessons which are hidden between the pages and paragraphs are larger than you think.

My Rating- 4.8/5

Capturing Wild Life Moments in India by Ashok Mahindra

Title:Capturing Wild Life Moments in India
Author:Ashok Mahindra
Source:review copy
Price:1450 INR

                   Well,I think it's the first time that we are reviewing a unique book like this here, at random thoughts.It's difficult to put this book into a particular genre.Though from the looks of it,this work by Ashok Mahindra resemble any other coffee table book with a lot of wild life pictures in it,the book  actually offers a lot more than that!
                   First things first,the book obviously has got quite a number of high resolution pictures of wild animals.Right from the Bengal Tiger(Ustad) in the cover page to the Lion-Tailed Macaque which make it's appearance towards the fag end of this book,almost all animals featured in this work have 'a story of their own' to tell! Full marks to the writer for taking pains to make this as informative as possible.As the author himself rightly states in the beginning of this work,the book will definitely help a great deal in creating awareness about wild life conservation and afforestation among the younger generation.
                   Almost all the pictures in this work are equally good and I must confess that I am impressed by the pains taken by the author(photographer) to get the 'right' snap!Hours of dedication and hardwork have definitely gone into bringing out this book in the present form.Although I loved all the pictures featured here,my personal favourites are the staring Rhesus Macaque and the spotted Owlet.The short descriptions about each of these photographed animals helps the reader to increase his awareness about them.'Capturing Wild Life...' also gives a list of resorts/National Parks which give concessional package for school children, towards the end. 
                    Now don't get me wrong,this book is not only about beautiful pictures and wild animals,it also meticulously lists out interesting places to check out and also gives directions regarding where to stay in case you are visiting those places.In short,if you are a nature lover with a sense of adventure,I'm sure that you will be bowled over by this brilliant book!

Verdict-On the whole,this book is an interesting work.I'm giving it a 4.5 out of 5.

 This post is a part of the book review program of at Saevus Wildlife India in association with The Hemchand Mahindra Foundation for the book Capturing Wildlife Moments in India 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories by Ankita Sharma

Title:The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories
Author:Ankita Sharma
Price:180 INR/-
Publisher:Humming Words 
Source:review copy(author)

         (Ankita Sharma is a blogger and independent publisher,'The Wedding Trousseau.....' is her debut work as an author.You can read her blog posts at hummingwords)

          Short Fiction is the 'in' thing in the desi publishing arena.'The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories' is a collection of eleven short tales of fiction which is inspired by the various shades of life(a welcome change from the assembly line 'anthologies of love' which hit the book stores every other week!).Though the stories don't have a common theme or character which link them,it's pretty evident that they are based on real people and incidents whom the author has met with/experienced in her day to day life.

         The best thing about Ankita's writing is the believability of her characters.From the timid lover in 'The Pink Card' to the hypocritical mother in 'One More Bite',Ankita's characters are all flesh and bones and having their own share of vices and virtues.The writer's attempts at making a satirical dig at the society and it's pretentious approach towards the underprivileged section of people do hit the bull's eye.From maternal bond to puppy love,Sharma explores varied themes through her short,yet poignant tales.The writing is so powerful that some of the stories do manage to disturb and shake you up totally('The Fresh Stock' and 'Courtesy').The writer deserves a pat on her back for giving us a genuine book like this and not succumbing to the 'market pressures'. 

         The book design and lay out are quite appealing with the spacing and font size being quite easy on the eyes.The Cover design is also quite competently done and suits the overall mood of the book.At just about 140 pages,the book is undoubtedly a quick read and can be easily finished in one sitting.

       The book is not entirely devoid of flaws either.As in the case of any collection of short-stories,this work too has got some tales which are quite mediocre.Some stories do miss the mark completely(though they are very few in number) and fail to leave any emotion in the reader's mind.Likewise,some of the stories have an 'incomplete' feel to them and leave you wanting for more!

Verdict-On the whole,this debut work by Ankita Sharma is a decent read and is totally worth your time and money.I'm giving it a 3.75 out of 5.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

In Focus:The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories by Ankita Sharma

                    Ankita Sharma is a publisher and a fellow blogger.Her debut anthology of short stories has just hit the stores.Do check it out and spread the word.The book is available in amazon and Flipkart.

Ps- Our review of the book will be published shortly.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom.

Author – Mitch Albom.

On his eighty-third birthday, Eddie, a lonely war veteran, dies in a tragic accident trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his – and then nothing. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden but place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. There people may have been loved ones or distant strangers. Yet each of them changed his path forever.

Words of AT.
The book starts with Eddie, the worker in an Amusement Park i.e. Ruby Pier. He dies saving a little girl of whose name he is unsure of. He dies and wakes up in a different place. He there, meets a big Blue Man who is the First Person he meets in Heaven.
                                                      There are some parts in all books, the ones you want to read again and again, adore it and just quote them up in your notebooks and all. This book has only one part as such and the one part is whole Book. Its so beautiful. The only right word to define it is Beautiful. Even though it has lot of philosophical pieces its not put in one grand soliloquy to get bored. Its steered through dialogues. The plot and the idea of afterlife itself is one of the greatest heights of the book. Eddie's five people are most unexpected and the lessons they teach are the lessons which life     teaches us. The end products of Anger, Love and Care are projected in it.
                                                            If you love fables with just great things packed in it, this one's perfect for you. The connectivity of the five members, their lives and Eddie's is like really God's work. None of the five would be there if Eddie wasn't. Eddie wouldn't be there if the five wouldn't. Its really a great network of beautiful things.
                        This has no Particular Religious claim. I would just go one talking about this one because it's really worth. A very great book which every one must read.

My Rating – 4.6/5.

Monday, May 4, 2015

#BookMemory : caretaker of the books

It is a very difficult decision when you part with something you hold dear to you. I know of people who do not give away their books to anyone. And then there are few who are very particular about getting the book back in same condition if at all they decide to lend it.

Me ? I am not so mindful. I believe that books have a mind of their own and they will go where and when they want. So i lend my books to anyone I know and hope they do return to me ( mostly i forget about them after 2 weeks ) . Though i do not give them away as willingly. But there have been occasions when some one had  given me a book from their collection saying that they trust me to take good care of the book. And that I must say is a huuge compliment.

This book came to me from a friend who had a double copy of the book. This is what she said -
Since David Baldacci has been my fav author forever now, cant help but be a little fussy about who I want to give it to
You can imagine how amazing it is to have such reputation among book lovers. And to be a good care taker.

Do you trust others with your books ?
Or are you a reliable caretaker for books ?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Author - J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins lives a quiet, peaceful life in his comfortable hole at Bag End. Bilbo lives in a hole because he is a hobbit—one of a race of small, plump people about half the size of humans, with furry toes and a great love of good food and drink. Bilbo is quite content at Bag End, near the bustling hobbit village of Hobbiton, but one day his comfort is shattered by the arrival of the old wizard Gandalf, who persuades Bilbo to set out on an adventure with a group of thirteen militant dwarves. The dwarves are embarking on a great quest to reclaim their treasure from the marauding dragon Smaug, and Bilbo is to act as their “burglar.” The dwarves are very skeptical about Gandalf’s choice for a burglar, and Bilbo is terrified to leave his comfortable life to seek adventure. But Gandalf assures both Bilbo and the dwarves that there is more to the little hobbit than meets the eye.

Words of AT.
The book starts with introduction of the hobbits and slowly to THE hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. He is kinda quite guy like the retired quite silent people and then one fine morning Gandalf the Grey enrolls him for and Adventure. Although he refuses he finds himself outside with 13 dwarves on quest to reclaim the home land.
                                                     This book is quite fantastic. It has very great twists and some deaths which give Glory to the tale. I Loved it to hell. Sad thing is there is NO LOT of strong dialogue but its powerful. The book has some very true internal lessons about how people change, how narrow patriotism will demolish you, how greed is really bad in your life. Its quite good. The pace is good not too fast where you can get headaches nor too slow where you have to stop falling from sleep. And also there are lot of poems or songs which are amusing. The book also comes with some illustrations and two maps which  you can refer any time.
                                                            There are great fantasy elements like giant Eagles on which you can sit, wargs and High elves and orcs and One Great Magnificent Dragon whose description is so great that you can almost smell it! There are some parts which you really don't believe and start laughing. There are some parts where you mourn a lot and curse whole life but at the end, it's quite extraordinary tale. There are no loose tails but one. And that one is completely another story that is Lord of the Rings. Many people consider Lord of the Rings as great one but this, is a beautifully sculptured and carefully carved Epic.

Rating – 4.7/5.

Review: A Tryst with Mahakaal - The Ghost who never Died by Tilak Dutta

My rating: 4 of 5 stars There are some ideas, which need the right time and right attitude. And then there are books that operate...