Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Thirteenth Day by Aditya Iyenger - A story of the Kurukshetra War

I have probably read almost all books written about Mahabharata war or based on the epic in the last two years. Then It all became so similar that a break was much needed. While everyone has a different view about the events or uses a different character to revolve the story around , the element of mythology or the beyond reach kind of narration stayed in most books. As much one tried to imagine the characters as human without magical powers or means , it was never perfect for me till I read "The thirteenth Day".

This book is funny ,  feels real , interesting ( I mean it ! ) and well written account of the Kurukshetra war , starting from the night of tenth day , after Bhishma has fallen and now lies on a bed of arrows. When Karan visits him later that night , he asks him to take over the throne , he being the eldest Pandava and best friend of Suyodhana. While Karan who is referred as Radheya in the book , is in two minds about this offer , the war intensifies as new strategies are decided each night and the day passes in offense / defense from the battle formations , clash of warriors and the personal agendas of all involved.

I always admire war movies for the details of the planning and the execution of the strategy and the tales of each character involved. Aditya has written this book in almost similar fashion. The book is in voices of the main characters , capturing their feelings and unsaid thoughts. The conversations are easy to follow and often with a tinge of humor. The descriptions of the events and the weapons are realistic and rooted to the economical and practical feasibility in those times.

I absolutely liked reading Yudhishthira's accounts - the person he is , the person he is supposed to be and the clashes of the two personalities.

I returned to reading after a month's break and I could not have had a better one to return to. I am almot sad this ended so soon.

My Rating : 5/5

Friday, October 30, 2015

Guest Post by Best Selling Author 'Thomas M.D. Brooke'

  Here in this guest post,eminent writer 'Thomas M.D.Brooke' shares with us the inspiration behind his recent best-selling work,'Roman Mask'.Read on...!

Turning a negative into a positive – the inspiration behind Roman Mask

                     It was an October night, and I was returning home from a night out with a few friends in my local pub in London, when something happened that changed my life dramatically.  The nights were closing in, so it was already dark by the time I left the pub, but I was in a good mood.   I’d recently returned from a trip to Pompeii , so I’d been telling everyone of my excitement at walking through the Roman streets, marvelling at the murals and depictions on the well preserved houses, and laughing about the seedier aspects of the ancient city – the brothels and street graffiti that had also survived the great volcanic eruption of AD 79.

                It was probably because I was so preoccupied with these thoughts, that I didn’t see the guy who came out of an alcove and wrapped an arm around my neck.  My first thought was, ‘Am I being mugged?  Who’s going to mug me??’ – I’m a big guy, over six feet tall and I keep myself in pretty good shape, so I’d always thought the chance of this happening in Londonwere pretty remote.  But I was wrong.

                When the second guy came out from behind a car, then the third from behind a bush I knew I was in trouble.  This was no ordinary street robbery; these guys were out for blood, and the three of them surrounded me and between them punched, kicked, and smashed me to the ground, beating me to an inch of my life.

                Afterwards, as I tried to hobble home – one of them had crushed my foot, to prevent me from getting up – another passer-by saw me covered in blood and called an ambulance.  I was lucky, I got to live another day.  And within a few weeks, my bruises healed, and I began to walk without a limp, all physical signs of my encounter disappeared.  But that was just the start of my nightmare.

                I was completely unprepared for the mental-trauma that such an incident inflicts on you.  That winter was torture for me.  After any night out, I was terrified to go home; I found I was scared of the dark, constantly thinking that people would jump out of the shadows at me.  I’d never previously been a heavy drinker, but over that winter I found I needed to drink a lot just to give me the courage to walk home.  I could have called a taxi, but then people would wonder why I was taking a cab for such a small journey – this became another all-encompassing fear:  that others would find out about my terror.   This might seem irrational, but at the time, that fear was almost as great as being mugged again.

                Those first six months were very difficult, but then as the nights started getting lighter, an idea came to me.  After visiting Pompeii I’d been searching for a character to be a lead in a novel set in ancient Rome – someone who fully embraced the entirety of Rome, its seedier aspects as much as itsmagnificence.  Why not put my experiences to good use, rather than having it a weight bearing me down, let it be something that produces something positive.  At the time, the news on the television was full of stories of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress and it made me think how soldiers dealt with such issues in the ancient world.  My experiences had shown me the power that traumatic events can play on the mind, and I quite simply didn’t believe anyone who claimed that in the ancient world such a thing was not a concern because life was different back then.   The human mind was biologically exactly the same then as it is now, and just as fallible to conditions we now diagnose and understand the importance of.

                So I came up with the character Cassius, a great soldier, but someone who’d been affected by a terrible battle a few years before in the forests of Germany.   I knew from my own experiences how easy it was to fall into a trap of blaming yourself for your own perceived weakness, and I knew how living a lie to hide that same weakness can become a part of life.  I then started my novel in Rome so I could show Cassius being seduced by the many vices of that ancient city – something that is all too easy under such circumstances.  I then returnedCassius to Germany where he learns to understand and come to terms with his fears, just as I did whilst writing my novel.  The novel culminates in the Teutoburg forest and one of the most dramatic and historically significant battles of the ancient world.  Cassius needs to draw on all his courage and strength in the midst of that terrible event.

                I’m now pleased that I encountered those three men, that fateful night in October.  It was a terrible experience, but it gave me something so much more – I wouldn’t change it for anything.

'Roman Mask' can be bought online through the following links 1,2,3.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

There are few works of some authors that will surprise even the best of that author’s fans. Not many could believe Rowling wrote The Casual Vacancy. This short novella by Mark Twain is another. At first read, I couldn’t quite understand how the author who wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn could write such a tale. The novella is considered as his last work, to an extent that parts of it are not even Twain’s.

The story deals with humanity as a whole, and goes into an exploration of religion, moral sense etc. It is satirical, and with small events, shows aspects of society we are accustomed to seeing. It is a discussion between “Satan” and the narrator. The concept of Satan itself is well dealt with and his character, intriguing. It made me wonder how Satan could befriend the three boys, and the narrator Theodor in particular. But I guess, if Satan can appear anywhere and know every thought, then it’s quite easy for him to control people too.

The story goes quickly. It would appeal to certain readers more than it did to me. I chose the book only because of the author. Though it did not have that essence of Mark Twain’s style that I had hoped for, it was worth exploring. On the whole, I rate it 3 stars.

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R.
Source: Own Copy

I Don't Wear Sunscreen, by Kavipriya Moorthy

When it comes to fiction, I have read (and sometimes written) stories that tend to border the extreme. But it is the idea of a plot being true to life that sometimes appeals to the reader in me. The book became known to me for completely different reasons, but after reading the blurb, it was the plot that piqued my curiosity, and made me download it.

Laksha’s life seems easy at first. She has the little things that matter – good friends, a loving family, dreams that make her stand out from the group and an enthusiasm to do well in life. That desire makes her excel, and helps her to convince her family to let her pursue further studies in a different city. But there are obstacles thrown in her way which test her mettle.

On first look, the plot seems to indicate the tried and tested route – a character whose life is going smoothly, a twist that brings the problem into her life and a happy ending. Thankfully, the plot has enough smaller plots in it that it is not as direct as that. And I loved the happy ending, which did not go the usual route, and brought a smile as I read it. One thing that I didn’t like was that the plot feels like it rushes through. When a plot is as true to life, I felt that a little detailing might have helped make it better.

The characters in this book felt quite different, in a good way. The main character Laksha has been done justice, I felt, as it needed to be, but the character of the mother is more memorable. She’s strong, trustworthy, adamant, and she has a lot of belief in her daughter. I wanted to read more about her. In contrast, Laksha’s father, while as loving as her mother, is the more worried of the two, which was nice to see. There are very few prominent male characters in this book, I feel. At times, I got confused between two of them, Sai and Prabhu for a reason that another character, Pallavi, stated.

The book is a small one, and does engage me as a reader from the start to the end. And yes, it is a quick read, which I finished in a couple of hours. However, I felt that the editing could have been far better than it is. The casual tone of the dialogues, as told between two friends or teenagers, is a plus point, because when with friends, that would be how we talk, without looking at grammar or tense. However, the same casual tone through the book feels out of place.

Did I enjoy reading the story? Yes. Was I totally wow-ed by it? No. There are aspects of the book that can be fine tuned, and help it to become better. I rate it 3 stars out of 5.

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R.
Source: Own Copy

Monday, October 19, 2015

In Focus: Keigo Higashino's 'Journey Under the Midnight Sun'

      Journey Under The Midnight Sun is Higashino's fourth novel to get an English translation.I absolutely loved his 'The Devotion of Suspect X','The Salvation of a Saint' and 'Malice'.'Journey.....',a crime thriller like it's predecessors,hit the book stores a couple of weeks back. At 520+ pages,this is Higashino's 'thickest' work till date(among his translated works).Hoping to review this book soon...

Here is the book synopsis(from the jacket)-

A twenty-year-old murder
A chain of unsolvable mysteries
Can one detective solve this epic riddle?
When a man is found murdered in an abandoned building in Osaka in 1973, unflappable detective Sasagaki is assigned to the case. He begins to piece together the connection of two young people who are inextricably linked to the crime; the dark, taciturn son of the victim and the unexpectedly captivating daughter of the main suspect. Over the next twenty years we follow their lives as Sasagaki pursues the case - which remains unsolved - to the point of obsession.
Stark, intriguing and stylish, Journey Under the Midnight Sun is an epic mystery by the bestselling Japanese author of The Devotion of Suspect X.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Introducing :First Brush on the Canvas (anthology)

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. 
UpasanaBhattacharjee– 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. 
DipteeRaut– 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. 
AvishekBasuMallick– 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.
ArijitGhose – Blend Carnatic music with exceptional satire and the result is ArijitGhose. 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. 

#BookReview: Utrecht Rain by Jonathan Wilkins

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