Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: half pants full pants by Anand Suspi

Name of the Book: half pants full pants
Author: Anand Suspi
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

School days, childhood, nostalgia. 

These are the three words that describe half pants fully pants by Anand Suspi. Every chapter is an anecdote giving us a glimpse of his childhood. He claims in his introduction to the book that every character is still living and breathing in this world so one must say that he has taken up quite a feat in maintaining the authenticity in his words.

If you have never visited Shimoga you can get glimpses of the southern flavor in its pages.

"We were soon out of Basavanagudi, crossed Nehru Stadium and kept trotting towards the school. I kept peering towards the other side of the road."
The passages are studded with Kannada, but readers will understand everything since the translations follow right after. Many memories of those days flooded back. Especially when the movie Jaws was released. How it affected our young minds when we saw the larger than life sharks in those movie theaters we called 'talkies'. We didn't have multiplexes in those days. Frankly, I don't miss the talkies so much where we women had to walk with a shield in front of us. Multiplexes are much cooler places to watch movies nowadays. Though I do miss those chips packets. The multiplexes couldn't do justice to that small packet of potato chips in butter papers.

Another nostalgic moment for me was the white guavas and the red ones. The fights we cousins would have to see who got which and I don't know why we thought the white ones were superior to the red. I suppose my first lesson on racism started with these guavas.

Anand Suspi's style of writing very humorous. An unlined twang of humor is present throughout the story.

"Mom was a good cook but every now and then (more often than this suggests), she marred her reputation by preparing awful vegetables. I liked potatoes, ladies finger, cucumber, peas, carrots, cauliflower, drumsticks and brinjal. So we clearly had a choice of eight vegetables for seven days of the week. I never understood mom’s compulsion to stray beyond these."

Omg! I can so relate to this. Being a Bengali, who are known to be hardcore non-vegetarians, I never understood why we had to cut those precious veggies. Did they not teach us in school to save plants?
The author has divided this book into two sections. His childhood, half pants, and his teenage years - full pants.  Those who have lived in the small towns of India would understand the importance of Lions Club in your area. Sort of like bosses of all activities. And then the stage comes when you create your own club. Especially readers of Enid Blyton have done it often. My grandfather even made me and my friends paint our servant quarters in the name of it becoming our 'find outer' club.

This book has many nostalgic moments and I thank the writer for writing such a book in such a simple and humorous way. It has taken me many steps back in my life. This book deserves every star it gets because of the sheer brilliance of visualization it will invoke in many readers.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Review: The Prince's Surprise Bride by Devika Fernando

Name of the Book: The Prince's Surprise Bride
Author: Devika Fernando
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

Prince Erik of the Norse Kingdom of Eirik and Jessica's meeting was not at all what is expected in a fairy tale romance. A shift in their stars makes them become co-victims in a conspirator's act of kidnapping.  As the saying goes, strange circumstances make strange bedfellows.  So in the darkness when these two souls were forced to be 'cell-partners' they became each other's backbone. A friendship that carried them out of that world and into their own worlds. And now the question was would their two world, which was so different from each other, allow them to fall in love and think of a future?

Devika Fernando does it again. Creating two characters that are so beautifully meant to be for each other. A lovely read for any romance lover.

The Story line:
Is nothing new. In a romance novel, it's always a boy meets the girl and a conflict separating them anyways. But what made me turn the pages was the powerful attraction and the conflict that the author has managed to create.

The Opening Scene:

Where were they headed to, for God’s sake? Someplace secret and horrible where they could do unspeakable things to her?

Is one of the best subplots of this novel. You want to know where they will go from there. The hero is the knight in the shining armor and the heroine is in a bad situation despite being a strong counterpart to the hero. Good combination.

There was one scene which made me stop and re-read. A scene which brings out the uniqueness in the hero. A point where the girl is scared and the dashing prince sings a lullaby to her. It was so sweet and poetic and makes every romance reader wish that that could be true in their lives too. And not only in this scene. Later when he is thinking of their future together his thoughts were -

Flashes of her preparing breakfast for him and him returning the favor appeared in his mind.

Isn't that cute?

Devika Fernando has interlocked the characters from her previous books and series lovers will love it. One thing I couldn't help noticing were the number of action sequence this book had. From the kidnapping to the last scene, this book is studded with action scenes. All that was missing was the music :) Cinematographic.

Recommended for all those who would love an action oriented romance. 

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review: Rose Garden International by Sundari Venkatraman

Name of the Book: Rose Garden International 
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

Is Jamie Scott, an Australian who travels to India to find out about the love his grandmother had for a particular land in Ooty. A strange restlessness was surrounding his heart and a call to go towards the unknown was calling out to him. And so after reading a diary of his grandmom, he sets on a journey to reach India. How romantic!

"The call of Ooty was too powerful. He had just one life to live. Might as well live his dream along with his grandmother’s wishes!"

She is Rhea Bansal. She has a legacy as her base where the name Bansal Hoteliers is a name to be reckoned with. But Rhea wants to make her mark for herself and that is what makes her move to Ooty to carry on the family traditions in the name of the Rose Garden International.

The love Story begins...

"Jamie turned swiftly from the reception and almost knocked against Rhea who had been a couple of feet behind him. “Oops!” He placed his hands on her shoulders. “I’m sorry I didn’t see you.” He gave her a lopsided smile, his green eyes crinkling at the corners as they studied the woman in front of him boldly."

Do read the above lines. That small touch, the blink of an eye moment when two souls meet and your heart tells you - he is the one. Ms. Venkatraman does a wonderful portrayal of what I call 'when you meet him' scenes.

The description of the surroundings is becoming Ms. Venkatraman's forte. The rose gardens, the ambiance, and the hotel's work culture- all have been caught beautifully by the author. I especially loved the research she had done on this subject and woven the information into her story. It's almost like me getting a tour of the hotel and the words in the speaker are of Ms. Venkatraman's.

“Air curtains have been created between the kitchens while the smells get absorbed by powerful chimneys. They have the added advantage of keeping insects and dust away,” said Aftab with a smile, bringing an answering smile to the guest’s face."

I liked the way the political negatives crept into the story. Very different from all the books I have read of Ms. Venkatraman's. Rhea comes out strong and not at all like a damsel in distress. A woman who can fight against anything and that is what makes Rhea stand out as a complete woman.

The story has a villain, a couple actually. A few nasty boyfriends and a perfectly made of each other couple. A Bollywood flick in the making?

My take on the novel:
A perfect read for romance lovers. The girl is intelligent and can stand for herself. The boy is a perfect hero material complimenting the girl, yet not getting overshadowed by her. The political goons are perfect for trying your kickboxing skills and the scenario - has all the oomph factors that Ms. Venkatraman's novels are known for.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Review: Ponni's Beloved - An English Translation Of Kalki Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan by Sumeetha Manikandan

Name of the Book: Ponni's Beloved
Author: Sumeetha Manikandan
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

During the times when treason was a part of life and spies were roaming the streets of India, Ponni's Beloved is set during those times. A time when the Chola dynasty was at their zenith.

The story is introduced to the readers by a brave, young man, who is a great fighter too, and a messenger of Aditya Chola (forgive me if I got my history wrong). Aditya Chola, heir to the throne was suspecting a conspiracy and had sent Vandiya Devan to warn the King. In his journey, Vandiya Devan meets the different characters who play a role in the conspiracies, love affairs and secrets that generally go around in such princely dynasties.

Vandiya Devan introduces us to the lives of the natives at that period of time as he walks quietly on the banks of a  lake named Veeranarayana and introduces the readers to their way of life. Sumeetha Manikandan has done a fabulous job in capturing the essence of the great Tamil Literature. Though I have not read the original work, I have heard a lot about it from the Tamil side of my family. A revered literature, that is what this book is remembered as and I can understand this since, after so many years, even the translation has kept me enthralled enough to keep on turning the pages.

Many cultural appropriations have been mentioned in this text, which is typical of the thought process of the people of those times.

"But please don’t think that I am talking ill of them, the entire women race is like that. The women in your family are dark-complexioned beauties, whereas Pazhuvetarayar’s beloved is fair complexioned. That’s why they don’t like her. They are jealous...”

As you delve further into the story, such small incidents are mentioned which will help in painting the visuals of those times.

Keeping track of the names and places is a bit tough. But that can't be helped. It's the stories within stories that will fascinate you. Of betrayal, spies stories which will connect you to the thought process of that period. The fights between the followers of Shiva and the Vishnu bhakts bring out many of the philosophies followed during those times.

 The conspiracy against the heir to the throne and above all the power plays makes this an interesting read. In all these stories the character of Vandiya Devan is the one experiencing all the tales.

This book is the first in the series and we will have 4 more volumes coming up (I think) I will be eager to see if Sumeetha Manikandan has been able to do justice to all the volumes.

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Book Review: The Indus Challenge by Dr. Durgadoss

Name of the Book: The Indus Challenge
Author: Dr. R. Durgadoss
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

It's a war zone:
When the title of a book is "The Indus Challenge' how can a mythological lover like me not pick it up? One cannot help but stare at the image of the book, wondering how much a war will influence the characters in this one. None of us are ignorant to the bloody times of the Mahabharata Period, where every character seemed to be born to play a role in the war.

The young lad who set an example of determination:
We have heard about Abhimanyu's spearing through the Chakravyuh but none of us can ever imagine how a chakravuyuh looked like.

Dr. Durgadoss showed it to us. By an illustration which is like a maze- a very difficult one at that. I even tried to trace lines to reach the ends of the maze. It's not easy. One must see the diagram to see what I am talking about. It made me close the book and think about the young lad who knew how to enter this "chakra" and entered it knowing well that he might not be able to come out of it. Our ancestors had guts, no doubt about that.

The Bold and the Beautiful
One story that fascinated me was that of Rudra and Swastika. His bravery and her boldness were complimenting each other. And I had never heard of this story before. Reading a modern day mythology is like hearing stories from the past in a new packaging. But Dr. Durgadoss has brought in new anecdotes which are very interesting. I suppose watching the serial Chandra Nandini made me visualize it more. Hailing from the land of the Mauryans, I was always fascinated by Chandragupta's story. He was my first historical love affair anyway.

But it has been always been from the Royal's POV. This was the first time I was standing along with the characters outside the palace and watching history unfolding.

Swastika, even from poison we extract nectar, we wash and take back gold if it has fallen in filth, receive the highest knowledge from a lowborn person; so also is a girl who possesses virtuous qualities, even if she is born in a disreputable family.
The Storyteller:
The author lets us travel across time using narratives and stories of the great men of those days. Many anecdotes surprised me. Draupadi asked to sleep with a horse - which she refused but instead put a bindi on the horse as a symbol of completion of the ritual. It was not her sleeping with the horse that surprised me - our ancient culture does not surprise me anymore. Sometimes I feel, symbolism has been twisted as the stories were mostly word of mouth. But what surprised me was the women of India - be it Draupadi or Swastika were bold and knew what they wanted. When Swastika's uncle wanted to marry her, he could have just forced her to marry but still, her consent was necessary. So when did women are the weaker sex syndrome start?

As mentioned above, we have many more philosophies and code of conducts discussed in this book. Some of them even surprised me to think they date back to such an extent. This is no doubt a very well researched book.

The language of the book:
The author has kept the tone of the book a bit archaic. It can be due to the subject, I don't know. It has a soothing quality - a narration, every mytho lover would love to go on and on. Some of you might find it a tad old fashioned but once you get used to it, believe me, this book is something one must read to get a glimpse of our ancient culture, where science, art, politics, and economics were not mere subjects, but a way of life.

My views:
I enjoyed reading this book. I think the story of Rudra is very well placed - for it captures a reader's attention from the start. In fact, I hated it when the author diverted from this story. A must read for all historical and mythological lovers.

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Book Review: Key to my Soul by Probal Mazumdar

Name of the Book: Key to my Soul
Author: Probal Mazumdar
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

Key to the Soul - the title itself sounds so holistic. Like a small door opening the inner Tartarus of your soul. Mr. Mazumdar has cleverly chosen the title of the book - a revelation. A peek to the protagonist Siddharth's childhood. A childhood speckled with love and fraught with heartbreaks.  Somewhere along the lines of the story, you will become one with Siddharth - his genuine fears will not look heroic to you at all. For he is a normal guy. A guy like you and me who has all the fears of a bullied victim or caught in between the crossfire of Cupid. 
What raises him above from the rest is his ability to see life with a candor and wisdom.

Let's start with the prolog:

A call for help,  a few moans, buzzing flies and still alive. How can that not catch your attention? Will he live? Who is he? What happened to him to land him in this situation and more than that - what the heck is this story about? If all these questions start simmering in your heart, the author has done a wonderful job with the prolog. 

Coming of Age:
After reading quite a few coming of age novels I had one severe problem with all of them. However well written they are and however much articulate the language is, as a reader I keep on asking myself, why am I interested in your life? I mean why - how can your growing up as a child in school, lusting after a girl and showing me no destination of your life inspire me to read on. If simply put, I find other's life boring for I too have a life of my own which is enough to keep me waking up with a smile every morning. But Key to my Soul has crossed that barrier.

By introducing Hazel. The mysterious thread that played a role in making me keep on turning the pages.

Can you imagine how much of a curiosity it generates when after 17 years you get a phone call, " Her condition is serious. The accident was severe."

And then...

"She's in coma."

And then Siddharth takes us back to his childhood - either via memories or letters. Beautifully penned. 

Love, Life, and Dhoka ....

Again happens to everyone, so what makes it so special? The hidden layers. The 'whodunnit' plays a very important role in this story.  Many knives are slashed and many relationships are lost and also the fear that she will be a nun soon gave me some nail biting moments. 

The author has played a mind game with his readers. Layers after layers are revealed in every scene pointing towards the love story of Siddharth and Hazel. A childhood love story that one should outgrow of yet it latches on to every thought process of yours. 

"How can I help not falling in love with you? In that fall  I soar."  

What started as a classroom romance became the cause of two miseries. Siddharth and Hazel grew up together and their coming from different background made life tough for them.

My views...

A very well written, well-edited book. Will keep a reader hooked on to the pages and that thin line of mystery levels up this book from its contemporaries. It will make you raise many questions such as how well do we know our family? How well do we know our friends? Is giving up ever an option or does the past always catch up with us even if we have left it far behind? I just wish the relationship between Hazel and her father was a bit more explored.  The pain, the fear and those skin crawling moments would have added another dimension to this well-written novel.  I will happily give the book a 5 star for it made me shed a few tears and root for the protagonists to reach the finishing line. 

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Monday, May 15, 2017


When I wrote this book, little did I know the about the mixed reaction of readers I would be facing. Some loved it, Some adored it and some expected more. And some called it a Bollywood IshStyle Romance. And exactly what I wanted to do with this novel. Who doesn't need that magical love in their life? 



Have you ever fallen in Love? When you know that the other person is just not right for you - yet your heart beats faster for him or her. When you know that the whole society will be against your love, yet you brave every antagonist who comes your way with all those feeling bubbling inside you. But the worst enemy of your love is you - yourself. 

Love is confusing - especially when your circumstances refuses to help you out. And Aryan suspected her for stealing something very valuable to his family - yet Love crept in his heart. I know I know, next question will be how can you love a person you don't trust. Will answer that next time. 

If you have a question, do pm me  in my author page or email me at  



Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: Jihad in my Saffron Garden by Roxy Arora

Name of the Book: Jihad in My Saffron Garden
Author: Roxy Arora
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

The Story:
About a young Hindu girl who had to leave Kashmir behind to survive. There are many such stories - so what's so special about this one? I personally feel, in this story, the author has taken a stand and portrayed a belief as to why this is happening and who are responsible for this. I just hope the readers get it - it's not about Hindus and Muslims believing in their ideologies, it's about selfish people using that belief to get what they want. 

Every Indian has one dream. To live in a world where life is not controlled by your religious inclination. Where life can stop - to see the beauty of a field laden with the saffron flowers. Where Life does not wait to be snuffed out due to one sect's fanatism. That my dear friends, is the Kashmiriyat of Roxy Arora's Jihad, My Saffron Graden.

My bucket wish list is yet not fulfilled ...
As a child, I always had one dream - to visit the snowy peaks of the mountains of Kashmir. As I grew up, I saw many snowy peaks - from the Kailash in Nepal to Matterhorn in Switzerland but none could quench my thirst for the peaks of those peaks made popular by the movies of the seventies  - the Kishtwar Himalaya, popularly called  Sickle Moon Peak. But every damn time I planned a trip there, the news would be flooded with the bombings in Kashmir or the attacks on the same land. It has been a 'closer to the home' story for me too. My newly wed friend's husband was caught in the crossfire and gone fore ever. So yes, these senseless killings hurt. Hurt both the parties. Our heaven had turned into a battlefield. 

And here I was crying for not getting my pictures of the snowy peaks whereas out there many girls like Heena were getting raped, brutalized and killed - every day. My woe was a hobby unfulfilled and their woes were all about dreams never realized. My heart goes out for girls like Heena. I still believe that every soul has come to this earth to learn something. To do something very particular to it. But when cases like Jyoti and girls like Heena come in front of me, I often wonder what exactly did they sign up for? I can never ever believe that this was God's wish. I just cannot. Maybe I am not that evolved yet. 

When Roxy Arora introduced me to her Kashmir, I was a bit skeptical. I have always found such stories very limited in their views. We don't have the two sides of the stories on one page. But as an Indian, I really don't care to hear the other side. I want to know why my land is plundered so ruthlessly? The fight is over a land right? Then why spoil an entire generation of youth? Why impart the knowledge of bloodshed?  Where does it say in the Holy Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible that those who are not the true followers of our God are non-believers? 

There is a scene in this book when  Heena in order to protect our protagonist Roshan, cuts her hand and shows the blood to all - how same they are. I don't think we humans don't know about it, we just choose to ignore it. There are many such instances in this book which will make you question the very essence of human believe - what we see, how we see and why we see it.  You can feel the pain of both the sides, both Hindus, and Muslims, living in the fear of being betrayed by a friend or a family member. The worst kind of betrayal of all. 

Fanatics or not, this is one ideology which grips the mind of a particular section of the society. But I don't think that our dear author is also bereft of idealism. Her Kashmiriyat is a dream too. Her reasoning as to what exactly happened to Heena and who was responsible for it and why might be questioned by many. I, for one, want to believe that what Roxy says is true. For the other alternative would shake the very core of my humanity. 

Regarding Rosha Jaan...
There is such a lyricism in the name :) I just had to continue calling her that.  Her love for Aafaq was so subtle and passionate that it didn't overshadow the main subject of the story- yet formed a beautiful backdrop. But ultimately, even the author cannot deny, and as a reader what I felt was - the real enemy was not the fanatics, they are as usual used as weapons by individuals who have their own personal wars to fight. And that is one of the saddest ways to lose one's life. I just hope readers of this book can really understand this message that Roxy has beautifully portrayed. 

The reason for Star Rating:

1. Loved the way she has portrayed this sensitive topic. 
2. Writing is good. 
3. The first few pages is a bit complicated but you need to keep on for getting into the crux of the story and once you do, you will not regret it.
4. The author has taken a stand, and even if her reasoning can be debatable, I want to believe her. 

Grab Your Copy 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spotlight: The Indus Challenge by R.Durgadoss

R. Durgadoss


Bharat is in chaos. While the kingdoms fight each other, Alexander’s forces gather for the assault, their leader lured by tales of supernatural weapons and the elixir of immortality. Only one man can save the subcontinent from domination by the Greeks: the young Chandragupta Maurya, trained under the aegis of the ‘dark brahmin’, Chanakya.

When an ancient seal is found, sharing the secrets of the brahmastra, the redoubtable weapon of the Mahabharat, it is up to Rudra, young commander of the Mauryan Nava Yuva Sena and lifelong friend and confidante of Chandragupta, to decode it. Along with his fellow commandos, and with the able guidance of his guru, Rudra embarks on a quest that takes him from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the seas of Rameshwaram, hunting the clues that will lead him to the brahmastra. On the way, he meets the Chiranjivis, ancient beings tasked with divine duties, and learns the secrets behind his own birth and his mysterious powers.

But Rudra must be careful, for not all enemies were dispersed with the death of the mighty Alexander. Treachery lurks in the home, and when Rudra is framed for the attempted murder of his sovereign, he must pull every trick at his disposal to reveal the enemy, and save his kingdom from plunging, once more, into bloodshed and chaos.

A historical, mythological adventure story, The Indus Challenge is sure to appeal to readers interested in the storied past of India and the legends woven into its soil.

Read an excerpt of The Indus Challenge here:

330 bc

The Macedonians and Greeks came with Alexander the Great to the Hindu Kush range. They were mesmerized by the land of the gods, snow-covered, forested mountains higher than Olympus. The sun rising and setting among the glistening peaks painted a breathtaking picture. They were entranced by the stories of the magical kingdoms of the air; of the heavens; of Vishnu and Shiva; of cities in the sky inhabited by sky demons. They were fascinated by the story of Surya, the sun god, who galloped across the sky each day in his golden chariot, pulled by the five horses, while down below in the dark bowels of the earth were giant serpents, red-eyed, flesh-eating demons and other creatures of the underworld.

It was at this time that the people of Bharat were looking inwards, while the Macedonians aggressively explored outwards and wanted to conquer the world. The kingdoms of Bharat were threatened by the aggressive Macedonians. No king or kingdom was free from the aggressor’s attack. Fragmented kingdoms, disunity and distrust among the rulers made these kingdoms an easy target for the Macedonians.

During this period, several events are shrouded in mystery—what brought Alexander to India? How did he die at such a young age? What were the origins of Chandragupta Maurya? How did a young lad of humble origins take on a mighty king? How did a poor Brahmin pundit help a poor young man rise to power from nowhere? What extraordinary powers did Chandragupta possess that made him so successful? Who were his key generals? Who won wars for him? The questions are endless.

There are several seemingly unconnected dots, as the history of this time is shrouded in deep mystery. Rudra effortlessly unlocks the ancient secrets and aligns the unconnected dots. Mystery unravelled; secrets decoded…

In the second avatar (Janam Two) as Rudra during the tumultuous times of Alexander and Chanakya, he offers stunning clues and revelations. His decrypting skills leave a trail that answers several mysteries in our rich history.

At last, Rudra, heading the Nine Unknown Men Army (NUM), has arrived to decode the secrets to save humanity from cataclysm and extinction.

Parthiva year, 306 bc, Kartika (November) month, Friday evening.

The Massaga fort in the Hindu Kush had surrendered to Rudra, the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan army. He was taking stock of the situation. At this hour, a cry hit his ears. ‘Meri raksha karo! (Please save me from the barbarians!’) A woman’s shrieking voice reverberated against the mountains.

‘Why does this lady cry so?’ asked Rudra, looking curiously at his companion. He turned in the direction from where the voice was coming. To his surprise, he saw two cages in which two persons stood, chained. There was a young woman around twenty-two years old, and in the other cage was a bright young lad.

Rudra looked at the cage closely. The woman was gorgeous, seductive, shapely. Her hair was kohl-black, and cascaded over her shoulders. She had thin eyebrows, velvety eyelashes, sea-nymph ears, a sharp nose, shiny white teeth, almond-shaped eyes and glossy skin.

She was wasp-waisted, and her pouting, luscious lips conveyed her displeasure. Her hips and bust were almost of equal size. Her perfect shape reminded him of many icons of beauty he had seen. Her fleshy rounded back attracted his attention.

Rudra realized that he was going overboard ogling at the young women. But in spite of her beautiful features, she seemed to be a fading flower, possibly due to her weakness and exhaustion.

He turned his head towards the surrendered commander of the opposing army, Dharma Sena.

‘Dharma Sena, who are these caged persons?’ asked Rudra.

‘Forget these idiots, Commander. Let me take you round the fort.’ Dharma Sena said, ‘This is Massaga, the great fort city of the Asvakas, the tribe of horsemen. To the south and west are gigantic rocks which defy climbing. To the east is the swift-flowing mountain torrent, the Masakavati river. This famous fort is situated on a hill 6,000 feet high and has a circumference of twelve miles. At the top of the fort, there is arable land requiring a thousand men to cultivate it. This land is capable of feeding more than 30,000 men indefinitely. There are also perennial springs and reservoirs. Every hill here is a natural fort, Commander. Every man here is a horse soldier, Commander. A mighty rampart of stone, brick and timber surrounds the fort, which also has a moat on three sides and the river on the fourth.

‘Commander, “Masika” means “serpent’s hole”, a name indicating the supposed impregnability of the fort and the valour of its defender.’

‘I realize how impregnable your fort is, Dharma Sena. I had to use my best skills to tame you and your fort. By the way, I am impressed by the seven gates leading to the citadel. Can you give me an overview of your fort, Dharma Sena?’

‘You have sharp eyes, Commander. You noticed our seven gates? I am impressed. Let me show you around.’

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About the author

A consistent Top Rank holder and a Gold Medallist throughout his academics, Mr. Durgadoss has had a career spanning 30 years comprising of depth from industry and width from management consultancy as highlights. He has held various senior management positions in top notch companies. Having travelled extensively on consulting assignments, he has interacted with prominent International Bodies like the UNIDO, Investment Bankers and companies held by Professors of Harvard Business School. He has a rare exposure to multiple cultures namely, MNCs, Home grown large groups, family concerns and public sector undertakings during his career. He is blessed with 360 degree analytical skills, which in turn emanates from his all round experience as a Functional head, General manager, Entrepreneur and a Board director. He is an advisor on the board of Directors of several companies benefiting the organizations with his remarkable cross functional skills and his up to date knowledge. Currently he is the Group Director – Finance and Strategy, House of S.T.Bhatia, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition he is the chief mentor, coach and Co – Promoter of Icon Management Services (IMS), UAE. Unceasing ‘Value Addition’ and not just ‘Validation’ is the mantra of success for IMS, a multi – disciplinary management consultancy organisation. He has multi-sectoral / cultural/ territorial/ functional exposure with proven track record of success. He is a PhD on Corporate Governance which involves CSR dimensions. He has delivered several lectures in various forums on Character, Competence and Consciousness (3Cs) towards the society and also has several articles to his credit.

Track travelled...

Raising the altitude from a functional entrant to a functional champion, extending his width as a management consultant of a Big 4 firm, he took up the profit centre head position, with a challenging revival assignment in the mid nineties.

Then he moved up to the entrepreneurial mode by taking up the role of a Managing Director of a new venture. Due to several macro economic factors, the venture went into deep trouble. He faced the worst disaster of his life on this venture, losing money, peace and friends, who invested along with him. From the brink of bankruptcy, he fought back to reach the basin of wisdom & wealth in the current assignment as the Director of a large group based in Dubai. The turbulence he went through during this phase tested his character & confidence. Now, along with Dr. Yerram Raju, his co-author, he has penned down this book on Character driven Competence, which elucidates practical ways of ‘Winning without Sinning’. He always says ‘Momentum leaders don’t wait for the waves; instead they build their waves and ride on them’.

After having fought the greatest wars in the deep chambers of his soul, he came triumphant, obtained his PHD in Corporate Governance and now presents the book with the worldly wisdom, gained by him during his career. 

‘Experience is the greatest from of Education’ says Dr. Durgadoss.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: Hearts & Hots by Ruchi Singh

Name of the Book: Hearts and Hots
Author: Ruchi Singh
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

A collection of short stories that touches the various phases of  romance. Love, an emotion we all have an opinion on - some call it a wastage of time while others pen poems about it. But no one can deny that it makes the world go around. Ruchi Singh has handled the different phases of love in these short stories.

Head over Heals

Made me fall in love with Ruchi Singh's writing. Very Bollywoodish. I could almost imagine Sanaa climbing the veranda to meet Aaryan. It has all the features of romance - the cuteness of the first meeting, the innocence in love, the excitement of the first kiss and the twinge of heart break.

You and Only You

The tone changes in the story. Two lovers separated due to circumstances and meet again after one of them is already married. Ms. Singh has handled the complications of relationships quite well in this one. One thing I would have wanted more, in this story in particular, is the pain. The pain of heartbreak and more than that the pain of knowing that your husband is -  (For this of course you must read the book.)

Love is Silent

This was my favorite of the lot. Love can be silent and yet very powerful.  Breaking over barrier of social norms and morality, sometimes love can be very selfish and demanding. Though I didn't understand Arjun's reaction to Anjali, yet the relationship between Arjun and Radha will steal your breath away. But here I found that  Love can be a  bit selfish too, where as in all the other stories, the generous and giving tone of love is maintained yet here, love is about getting.

A Promise Is a Promise

A very practical love story.  This is the only story which has touched how our past effects our present. Why one has to be afraid to fall in love and how we paint everyone in the same canvas, if our experience is bad. Love is Silent is my favorite of the lot but in this one Reet lodges in my heart permanently. A very strong character who knows her duties even in love.

Whole Nine Yards 

This story is all about second chance.  Overcoming cultural taboos and turning love as a gift from God. Ruchi Singh has covered all in her short stories.

Will I recommend this book:
A must read for every romance lover.

Grab your copy here 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review: The Princess of a Whorehouse: The Story of a Swamp Lotus by Mayank Sharma

Name of the Book: The Princess Of A Whorehouse
Author: Mayank Sharma 
Star Rating: 3 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

A story about a young girl, Aparajita, as she leaves her past behind to educate herself and also inspire her mother to come out of sex trade.

What is it about?

When Ramya falls into the clutches of the sex trade workers, all she wanted was to see to it that her daughter, Aparajita, did not fall under the same. She, along with her daughter, fights against them and comes out of the system with the help of a good samaritan. Raj not only marries Ramya but makes sure that Aparajita had a good home to call her own.

A motivating journey

I loved the way the author has only focused on the journey of Aparajita and not the negatives of the sex trade. To come out of it is really tough and our system does nothing to help them out. But when someone like Aparajita is determined enough, there can be no stopping a woman to achieve what she sets her mind for. 

‘Mamma, now Raj uncle is my daddy!’

There is so much innocence in the words of Aparajita. It's like a lotus in a swamp. And yet she tries to keep every evil thought out of her mind. She focuses on the positivity and goes after it. And achieves it too. This is the best part of the novel.

What I wanted more..

Aparajita grew up with many things lacking in her life. Her life was unusual, yet she never carried the stain of her past. That I found a bit 'neglected'. I will not say that it left any holes in the story but if her pain too would have been brought out, her grit and determination to achieve more would have reached a higher level tool.

For eg. When her mother would abuse the school bus driver for driving through their streets till the time the driver reveals a secret - it did not seem to leave much of an impact on Aparajita's life. What did she feel when the driver would roll down her street? We know her mother's emotions.. but hers?

Another thing that would have made this near perfect story even better is taking care of proofreading and editing.

A meaningful narration...

I would really like to keep aside the editing defects of this novel and focus on the questions it raises?

1) Why do we stereotype our children? We want such perfect friends for our kids that we install in their young mind whom to mix with and who is good or bad. In our black and white lives, we forget the shades of gray. We forget that girls like Aparajita exist.

2) The schools are meant as educational institutions and have not right to refuse education to any children due to their background.

3) Aparajita is a lucky girl and found a Raj. But how many such Raj's are in this world? What do women like Ramya do under such circumstances?

4) It's very clear that the money is mostly made by the pimps and the madams who run the 'houses'? So even after sleeping with multiple partners in a day, the prostitutes don't earn anything. What is our government doing? Is it only the headache of the social workers who get no help from our police bodies too?

I think Mayank Sharma has done a fabulous job in raising these question. If only he got it better edited, I would have given this book a 5 star. 

Grab your copy here 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review: 1857 Dust of Ages Vol 1: A Forgotten Tale by Vandana Shanker

Name of the Book: 1857 Dust Of Ages
Author: Vandana Shanker
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

This is not a novel nor a novelette. Having said that you need to read this short introduction to the series to fall in love with Vandana's writing. 

What is it about?

Set in the period of 1857 when the British Raj was controlling the privy purses of the small kingdoms of India, a British soldier falls in love with  Princess Meera. The gateway to this period is through the POV of Shiv who has found some old documents in his grandmother's old haveli.  A tale that spins over time and crosses the boundaries of past and present, will keep any historical romance lovers enthralled. 

But keep in mind that this story ends abruptly and you will rush to pick up the Volume 2 in the series like I am doing. 

The language of the Author

Is beautiful. Very descriptive and her strength is the way she describes an environment. Very apt for this genre where visualization of a scene is very much needed. 

Shiv's grandmother owned an old haveli. Since his parents were settled in Singapore from the time he was 6 years old, they now felt that she had become too old to stay alone. Shiv got to see the old documents that belonged to generations of his family. That excites the historian in him.

"The room held all the memorabilia of the past – discarded cartons and boxes, old utensils, some broken furniture, out-of-date fittings, Shiv’s old cycle and a cricket bat.  Through the golden motes of dust, Amma pointed at the wooden chest in one corner. Shiv dragged it out and carried it to the living room."

In some of the scenes, I got goosebumps the way she has described the period of 1857. Those creaking doors and the glitter from the past - the abandoned and the false sense of securities of the rajas of that period have are well written. 

Interesting topic 

I found the period she chose very rare. Not many stories of this period in the Indian history is available (I think) Women are not shown in their subdued forms but rather as equals. Though she was not given the right to rule but it was not due to the rules the Indians had for their women but rather the political aspirations of the Britishers. Or maybe a mix of both. But this short introduction to the series got me ready to read the already published books of this series. 

Weaving a periodic tale

Historical romance is a difficult genre to write. Not only are the stats need to be correct but weaving the tale around those stats is equally challenging.

Bhanu Pratap had seen these privileges erode with time. The relationship with the neighboring kingdoms had changed. The British Company became too strong.

The changing period from monarchy to the British Raj. The changing attitude of the natives from nationalists to British loyalist of this era weaved as a story from the point of view of Shiv, John, and Meera. Looking forward to reading the remaining in the series from Vandana.

Grab your copy here 

Finding The Angel: Where it all Began

Have you ever seen a writer's face when they see a review on Goodreads or Amazon? I never knew the feeling till I got my very first review of Knitted Tales. Well, that is the tale for another day. One of my readers asked me why I chose a Faberge Egg as the subject of my story. Here is a small tale attached to that.

The year was 1983 (I think).

Have you seen those egg toffees in India?

They looked something like the picture on the left side of this post but more colorful. I couldn't find a more authentic pic than this. So as the tale proceeds, my two-year-old bro was crazy after these colorful eggs but we were forbidden to eat it. You would get this from the local small grocery shops at I think 12 pieces for Re.1

My mom found it out that I have bought him those eggs without asking anyone and I got all the verbal thrashing. Now my mom had a peculiar way of thrashing her kids. She would tell us stories which generally had a moral in the story. But this time she told me a love story. The love story of a Russian Czar who stole a very expensive egg for his Princess and had to face many difficulties to find the egg. It was nothing to do with my Re.1 eggs but it stayed in mind for a long time. It was such a beautiful tale. Later I realized that she was telling me a story about a Faberge Egg. The history of which I will continue in my next post. 

Thank you +Dola Basu Singh for this lovely review. You can find her review for my Finding The Angel in Goodreads 

You can always grab my book from  Amazon and it's also available on Kindle Unlimited. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Blitz: The Princess of A Whorehouse by Mayank Sharma

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Mayank Sharma


Aparajita is a tenacious go-getter. Her name means unconquerable in Sanskrit, and she lives up to its meaning. 

Just like any other ambitious girl, she desires to fulfil her dreams and become an independent individual. Far and wide, the shadow of her melancholy past chases her passage. The fact that her widowed mother is a former sex worker irks the community. Nonetheless, she is not ashamed to reveal her mother's past. 

Will she lose hope, or will she defy an enigma that is centuries-old? Will she ever conquer the hearts of a prestige-obsessed community? 

See the world through Aparajita's prism in a tale stirred by some real life events.

Grab your copy @ | | | Flipkart

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About the author

Mayank Sharma is a computer engineering graduate with post-graduation in business management. He works with a leading technology multinational in Delhi. He has authored a number of articles and white papers on software technology and processes. For the first time in April 2014, his article was featured in Better Software magazine published in Florida, USA. Writing has become Mayank's greatest passion when he observed how it can trigger the winds of change. He is gradually transforming from a “left-brained” writer to a “right-brained” writer. Besides writing, he is passionate about sketching, painting, and making sculptures since childhood.

India is the fifth-largest economy in the world with the Gross Domestic Product growth at 7.1 percent. Contrary, India ranks 118 out of 157 countries in the happiness index. The fact seized Mayank’s attention towards social problems affecting social support, freedom of choices, and generosity, to name a few. Having travelled across continents and associated with people with diverse beliefs and values, he became more curious about the social riddles curtailing liberties across societies. He penned his debut novel, The Princess of a Whorehouse, when he came across some real life incidents that quivered his soul.

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