A LIFE TO DIE FOR by Nilay Shah- Book Review (Spoiler free)

Title- A Life to Die For

Author- Nilay Shah

Genres-  Fiction

Publisher- Zorba Books

Pages- 344

Rating- 3.5 Stars!!!

About the book:

(taken from Goodreads)

‘She doesn’t know who she is.’ The diverse voices emanating from all the corners of Kashwarg are blending into a consensus to create a tune never opined before, ‘Nor does she realise yet what her Baba has caused her to be a victim of.’ ‘But, she will.’ ‘One day, she will adopt this world now a stranger to her as hers.’ ‘The whole of Kashwarg will be the light on her path to her freedom.’ ‘Kashwarg will be ready to be at disagreement with anything there can be, if that is what is demanded of it in this quest to bring her justice.’

‘But, what if time comes, when truth unveils itself and there remains nothing to fear but one’s own self? Will Kashwarg be able to protect its stand at such dawn of darkness?’

Will you be able to protect your opinions from your own self?

 

Verdict:

Before I go and tell you my views on the book, let’s delve a bit more into the context and setting of the story. I swear, you won’t be dissatisfied. The novel is set on the fictional lands of ‘Kashwarg’, a paradise on earth (the loose literal translation). This place has been a constant conflict zone for ages. Two countries, Siran and Zayakistan,  have been fighting to keep control over this area for many decades. As what happens in places under political as well as military unrest, Kashwarg has morphed into a small war zone. Throw in the fact that Siran actually helped Kashwarg by protecting it from Zayakistani forces ( when the monarch asked for help) which led to its ascension into the country. Sounds similar?
Well for whom it doesn’t click, let me break it down for ya.

Kashwarg= Kashmir, Siran= India and Zayakistan= (yep, guessed it right) Pakistan

Our shared history has always been marked by horrors of rulers past. But this conflict which has been raging on for the last 60-70 years, has gone unnoticed for long. True, a lot of journalists and activists have dedicated their lives to bring out this issue, the collective conscious of our countries need to be shaken up real fast. And maybe, Nilay Shah has a great plan for it, masking the true incidents and mixing a bit of fiction to bring the naked truth out to the public.

That being said, let us go on with the story.

The story begins with the police wondering and questioning a badly wounded young girl, Preksha. She seems to be beaten up and calls for a mysterious ‘prince’. Nobody knows who this mystery girl is.  But the whole state of Kashwarg becomes hungry for justice for this poor girl. As tensions arise, government deploys the army to secure and control the area. A committee, of impartial nationals chosen via an exam, is created and sent to check up and investigate further.

As the story goes forward, its revealed that Preksha was actually saved by Aryaman, member of terrorist organization, wanted by Independent Kashwarg Forces. We get to see his side of the tale as he hunts for Preksha’s abuser to deliver justice himself.

Apart from the not so subtle reality check that this book demands, I loved how the author filled the story with vivid descriptions. He describes the social, economic and cultural/ societal background of mythical Kashwarg pretty well. Although at times, they do become too much. Moreover, changing perspectives/point of views were a bit too blurry to transition seamlessly. It was difficult to keep track on who we were following on the story.

Other than that, I enjoyed reading A life to die for. Nilay Shah has a long way to go. But if he wants to stay in the book world, he may need to polish up a few areas. Excellent plot, great message and a rich in descriptions- A life to die for needs to be on your TBR list.

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This book review is a part of The Readers Comsos Book Review Program and Blog Tours, for details log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in

 

Author details

Nilay Shah, born in 1994, he is an author of અસંમત / Asammat, a Gujarati novel published in July, 2016. For Nilay, the exact point when the passion to write took over is difficult to tell. Ever since early childhood, he has loved creating tales out of anything that came his way.Having written his first story at the age of 6, Nilay went on to write short stories, direct short films and plays before penning down his debut novel Asammat in 2014, at the tender age of 19 while simultaneously pursuing Chartered Accountancy and graduation. Once he was done with his studies in 2015, he made attempts to publish his book, and then penned down the English version of the same tale- A Life to Die For.
At present, he is laying down the structure for his second novel, to be originally written in English and Gujarati. Nilay is determined to create things that can stand apart from the rest, that can create a place of their own in the hearts [as well as minds] of recipients.

 

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HAPPINESS IS ALL WE WANT by Ashutosh Mishra- Book Review (spoiler free)

Title- Happiness is all we want

Author- Ashutosh Mishra

Genres-  Non-fiction, Self help

Pages- 203

Publisher- Bloomsbury

Rating- 4 Stars!!!

 

About the book:

(taken from Goodreads)

Today, we are leading our lives in mindless pursuit, unable even to articulate what we are pursuing. We are unhappy even after achieving what we desire. Happiness is all we want! suggests that the source of peace and happiness is within us, if we know the secret. The book’s objective is to help us unlock that secret and attain a high level of overall well-being in order to lead a happy and fulfilling life and be the healthiest we can be, mentally and physically. A wide variety of tools and techniques are explained in simple language. Many real-life experiences of the author as well as other people are interspersed through the book.

Demystifying the spiritual aspect of well being, this book integrates it with your life objectives. You can immensely improve not only the peace and happiness in your life but your beauty and appearance as well.

Verdict:

First of all, let me clear one thing for you- I am not a big fan of self-help books. Yes, I have come across them and may have read up a few chapters just to see what the deal was. But never picked one up voluntarily.

Having said that, this was the first time I ever got a book in this particular genre. And boy, was it fun. It completely changed my perspective towards a particular genre.

Now moving on to the book at hand- Happiness is all we want. I really loved the way the book was sectioned. There are three parts in the book: Mental Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, and Spiritual Wellbeing. Each section starts with the problems in our life, what we should do and how to work on being happy in general.

I loved the simple language. These type of self-help books tend to be full of jargon of sorts, but am glad the author chose to be different. You can read this book in a flow. One more thing that I really liked was how the reader can just select a section and read it from there. You don’t need to have to read from the beginning (but of course you should as the first few chapters are reals gems). You can just choose a topic, something you think you want to work on and then get on with it! How cool is that?

Each chapter is filled with tiny kickers like Tech Traps, Practical Tips or Happiness Moments. And they really add much more value to the book. I loved how the author, Ashutosh Mishra, tried to incorporate his own experience along with it. I must say, having this sense of familiarity with different situations was really helpful in navigating the book.

Happiness is all we want is something that’s going to benefit to everyone, irrespective of your age. Its a light read, where you can pick what to read first and more over simple to understand. Even though I have read it, I am going to keep it on my bedside table for a tad bit long for me to go back and re-read it again.

I would advise you to pick this up, immediately. Whether you are searching for happiness or not, doesn’t matter. I guarantee you that Ashutosh Mishra‘s book is going to change your perspective on life, one chapter at a time.

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This book is provided by Vinfluencers in exchange for an honest review. 

Author details

Ashutosh is an MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur and a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Delhi. In his corporate career of sixteen years, he has been a senior banker with global banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and is currently with ANZ Bank. With gruelling work schedule and plenty of business travel, he was fortunate to realise the importance of health and wellbeing early on. He learnt and practiced many tools and techniques for his own wellbeing while balancing the demands of a high profile career and a lovely family. Based on his experiences over last couple of decades, he has developed a framework for comprehensive wellness with a fresh perspective.

 

Second Chance by Sandeep Jatwa- Book Review

Title- Second Chance

Author- Dr. Sandeep Jatwa

Genres-  Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary

Pages- 198

Publisher- Educreation Publishing

Rating- 3 Stars!!!

 

About the book:

(taken from Goodreads)

Shekhar Kapoor is a successful businessman who has never done a decent thing in his entire life. For him, it is all about what he can get and how fast he can get it. He goes through life cheating and insulting people, even after he receives a mysterious telephone call from what is called the City of Justice.
Ignoring the cryptic warnings, Shekhar continues to live his life as he pleases, until one day, shortly after insulting a beggar in the street, Shekhar crashes his car and is killed.
And it is only when he is standing before the Bookkeeper, and being shown where his life had gone wrong, that Shekhar finally understands what life is all about.
But is it too late for him? Can he be given another chance to undo all the wrongs he has done? Or is there a chance that Shekhar Kapoor can find redemption where there had previously been no hope?

 

Verdict:

‘Second Chance‘ was easily the quickest read of the year for me. Its fast paced, filled with descriptions (sometimes too much) and weaves in the story of a not so ordinary guy who tries to fix his past mistakes.

I always enjoy a book with a flawed protagonist. Second Chance‘s Shekhar is exactly the type. With just page 1, I had started hating this lead to no extent. He is vain, arrogant, disrespectful and every other vile thing a rich obnoxious guy is. I would actually consider this an amazing feat of the writer to create such a character that could rile up the readers into so much wrath that they literally want to punch a fictional guy! So kudos for that Dr. S Jatwa.

The book starts with our protagonist cruising the roads with his beloved Cadillac, not a care in the world. Then suddenly he is haunted by all these signs from the City of Justice ( sounds so Gotham!!) which tell him to correct his behavior and be a better person. But of course, the arrogant Shekhar, ignores all these important, clues and warnings, only to meet an accident one day which in fact kills him. Now, now.. Of course he is coming back, the book is called Second Chance for a reason!

But as this is a spoiler free review, its for you to find out how.

Moving on, I liked the whole ‘Karma’ theme that the book portrayed. I am a person who believes in good deeds and good will. I instantly felt myself connect with the message that the book was giving. Our actions always impact our life in some ways or the other. Shekhar’s life is no less different. His ill manners and bad personality actually land him in some solid trouble ( City of Justice and then his accident/death!).

Now moving on to more technical terms of the book, I did not like the writing style at all. I know some of you really loved it, and would probably defend it for being very simple and easy. But as an English graduate and currently pursuing Masters in communications (where I have to do editing for my school projects), this is completely unacceptable. Apart from the plethora of grammatical errors and run on sentences which made no sense, the slang was a bit cringy for me. I get it, the writer tried to incorporate real-life language, the way we speak and conduct in the book. But sometimes, you do need to have a bit of flourish, a little bit of taming in to do before sending off to printing. I am not critical of Dr. Jatwa’s simplistic language. I love simple writing, but skills are important too. It’s clear as daylight that this is the author’s very first book, or he wouldn’t have made such a rookie mistake.


This book is provided by Vinfluencers in exchange for an honest review. 

Author details

Dr. Sandeep Jatwa was born in holy city Ujjain and grew up in Dewas, in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. He is married and still lives in Madhya Pradesh today. Having attained an M.B.B.S. from MGM Medical College, Indore, Sandeep went on to secure a job in medicine and now works at the Government Hospital Sarangpur District Rajgarh. He has an amazing imagination and spends much of his free time dreaming up stories. He has been writing since 2006 and has completed two novels. The first has yet to be published, but his second one, which he self-published and is entitled Second Chance, is an exciting and moralistic tale of how one man comes to realize the error of his greed. In his free time, Sandeep likes to relax and spend time with his family and friends. He is also a food lover and enjoys trying new and exciting dishes. Sandeep’s most urgent wish is to be able to educate children who work on the street and have little opportunity to make something good from their lives. He believes that everyone’s childhood should be awesome, and not a struggle.

Author contact details

Email:  info@ashtoshm.com

Website: www.ashutoshm.com

 

 

 

 

Harappa: Curse of the Blood River by Vineet Bajpai- Book Review (Spoiler free)

 

Title- Harappa : Curse of the Blood River

Author- Vineet Bajpai

Genres-  Historical, Mythological Fantasy

Series- Harappa #1

Rating- 4 Stars!!!!

 

 

About the book:

The story follows Vidyut, a security tech tycoon, who lives with his girlfriend Damini. But our billionaire extraordinaire ( yes he is a very successful man who has accomplished everything, seems a bit unbelieving at first but wait for it) is actually the last demigod on planet earth.

Yes, the very last half-human-half-god.

A sudden phone call from home in Banaras, where our protagonist hasn’t set foot in almost 30 years, wrecks havoc in his life. For the call means only one thing. It’s time to return home. To the Dev-Rakhshasa Math and meet his great-grandfather for the very first time. What awaits Vidyut at the pious city of Kashi is simply out of the world. He

What awaits Vidyut at the pious city of Kashi is simply out of the world. He must return to hear the great prophecy which has been a curse on his bloodline since Harappa fell. A curse which started with his greatest ancestor, Vivasavan Pujari ( yep, he’s a demigod too).

Almost parallel to the modern times, we see glimpses of the past in 1700 BC Harappa or Brahminabad. We see the great Vivasavan and his attempts to save his sacred city from the clutches of evil tantric forces, exorcisms, treachery and ultimately Sara Maa ( can’t reveal!).

Alongside these two timelines, there are snippets of present time Paris which tells us about ANOTHER evil force who is hell-bent on killing Vidyut, the prophesied Devta.

Verdict:

I loved it! This book was a total chase for me. Un-put-downable! I won’t lie but I was a bit skeptic about reading it at first. Apart from being a new writer, I just didn’t find the appeal behind this half-human-half-god persona. But I am glad I did read this! Not only was it a wonderful story, but it had very new concepts regarding the whole Harappan civilization and its destruction. I am a huge history buff. Although a few things were a bit farfetched and to an extent imagined too, I liked the way Vineet Bajpai spun the plot. Although I am thankful that someone has at-least attempted to write about our Indian history, away from myths, its a great irony that the book is about a half-god. 

Now about the shifting timelines. A great effort. Fantastic even. I can only imagine how much the author had to work to adjust the two stories to align with each other. As you read, you will realize that you have not one, but two protagonists ( and a handful of minor characters who sometimes take up the center stage).

Vineet has given ample space and text to create the visuals. The effect is magical. the detailing given to any particular setting is amazing. I love books who don’t tell, but rather show. But a downside to this artistic imagery is when it becomes over-explaining. When I am on the cusp of my seat, dying to know why something has happened, I would very much like to get straight to the point. Without much description. Yes, its the eye for detail, the flair for descriptive words, but sometimes it is a bit too much. Moreover, I was not prepared for the style of language that the author has used. It was a welcome distraction from the usual western style, but a bit too… simple? A bit more effort ( just a bit) would be really nice. I understand the author is not from literature background and hence such writing is acceptable for a newcomer. All I am trying to say is that simple writing can sometimes sound too flat.

But in all, I loved the book. I enjoyed it! Immensely so that when I was telling the story to one of my friends, they joked saying it could be a new Bollywood series. And why not? I would love to see this getting adapted into a TV series. It would be pretty entertaining that’s for sure.  Vineet Bajpai shows promise to deliver a great plot. Which is why I will be waiting patiently for the next book in the series- Pralay: The Great Deluge!

 

 


This Book Review/Interview is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Book Promotions” to know more log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/.

 

The Wait- A short story

I know that I am dreaming. I am running. As fast as I can. My feet hurt. But I don’t stop. I can’t stop.

I won’t stop.

Not until I get my hands on her.

I can hear her. Her ragged breath. She is tired. It’s dark. But I can still make out her disheveled form. Her sari has come undone.

Did I do that?

I am momentarily transfixed in my dream. Amazed at how much I still remember. The gravelly road. Her orange sari. Our ragged breaths.

But not for long.  At least for her.

It had been 6 years. 6 years of them waiting for justice. 6 years of me re-living that night. 6 years since I saw Meethu.

Meethu. My angel. My baby. My daughter.

Sometimes, I curl up on the stone floor and pretend to hold her. She was so tiny that she fit snugly in my embrace. Her little hands try to grab my beard. Her eyes shone like stars.

My Meethu.

The crunch of the gravelly road. Behind Kuntal’s house. I grab her. Finally. Fingers closing around her throat. Her screams are inaudible. Choking . I turn her to face me. I want to see her. See her eyes as she sees me. I don’t feel her nails on me.

This is justice.

This is for Meethu.

This is the price that she had to pay.

The price of our daughter.

I wanted to ask her. Did Meethu cry? Did she understand what you were doing to her? Did she say “Baba”?

Or were you too busy counting the crackling notes.

Why?

We had enough, didn’t we? We could have given her all she needed. We could have been her Ma and Baba. We could have watched her grow.

Why?

“We don’t have enough for a child.”

 

They say that I am a monster. A killer. They think that I deserve this. I deserve this for killing her.

I don’t complain. 6 years of waiting.

For them, for me.

I remember the others asking me what I wanted to eat. Today. It will be over soon, they say. I don’t say anything. “What do you want to eat?” they ask again. How could I eat when Meethu couldn’t.

I say nothing.

I don’t complain.

 

Tea- A short story


The sudden halt of the train wakes me from my slumber. Rubbing the sleep off my eyes, I look out. Pandavapura. Weird name, huh?

I look around the compartment. Its quiet. Quieter than usual. And colder too. People huddle closer to be warm. I see a tiny head poking out of a woman’s sari. Drowsy. Like me. An old man rubbing his hands to create warmth. A man putting a shawl over a woman.

“Madam, chai?”

The question breaks my train of thoughts. I look out the window to see a toothless grin. Small hands poised in mid air. Ready. Ready to serve his tea. He is young. 9? No, 10 years old maybe. Like my sister. He is expectant, hoping.

But then I don’t drink tea.

I shake my head. With pursed lips, he walks away. I look around the station again. It’s bustling with activity. Unlike the quiet of the compartment. The train blares the horn. And with a lurch, it starts moving.

I look outside the window.

I see him. Toothless-grin-boy. Like my sister. He is standing in front of a tea stall. Counting something on his hand. Coins ? I see a smaller hand tugging his patched shirt. It’s a small girl. Sister ? Maybe . The boy turns and places his meagre earnings on the counter, towards the stall owner. He is holding the girl’s hand. The stall owner pushes a cup towards the boy. He takes it and gives it to the little girl. She drinks it quickly. Milk?

The train picks up the speed and within seconds I lose sight the toothless-boy and the little girl.

I am awake.

Maybe, I should have bought the tea.


I had posted this story earlier too.. But reposting it in new blog because why not?… Hope you guys like it….

Comments and criticism ,… all welcome…

In search for stories

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For the past few months, I have become an avid traveler of the Hyderabad MMTS trains. In the times of Ola and Uber, where we give utmost consideration to luxury and comfort, I have taken a liking towards the shabby, rusty compartments of the old trains. More than the fact that I can travel from Lingampally to Secunderabad in just 10 bucks, I love the trains for completely different reason.
For the trains are where the stories happen.

There was once a time when I had wanted to become an author. I think that part of me is alive again in these trains. And for that reason only, I carry my earphones, not to cancel the humdrum of the environment around me, but to become the wallpaper. For as soon as I plug in the earphones (i don’t turn on music, no way) I become invisible. Non-existent, empty and more importantly not ‘there’. This gesture from me gives my passengers a go-ahead to become themselves, to not edit and not stop. And that’s when the stories start. Sometimes it’s an old mother complaining about her granddaughter’s health, other times it’s two friends discussing test questions. Sometimes, it’s that young father who shares his son’s first words to his colleagues over sweet tea, and other times it’s a hawker mumbling about having no sale.
Don;t think of me as an intruder who likes overhearing others for her own pleasure. No, I listen to shape my stories. Stories which are stored in my fading fickle memory.
Stories, which one day hope to become ink.

The Cursed Child review and some Ramblings

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Title-Harry Potter and the Cursed        Child

Author- J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Genres-  Fantasy, Fiction, YA, Play

Series- Harry Potter #8

Rating- 5 Stars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book was forever in my To Be Read list.. To be honest like everyone, I was a bit sceptical about it. I mean Harry Potter and the Cursed Child??? Like what now?? I had already said goodbye to my favorite childhood series, to have another one of those and then again being wrenched away, would be painful.. Or so I presumed…

Needless to say, yes, it was painful.
I met my favorite characters and fell in love with them all over .. I fell for their charms, their insecurities, their flaws and their older personalities. I fell in love with Ron’s pot-belly which he hid very well. I fell in love with Hermione’s unchanged demeanor of bossing everyone around. I fell in love with Harry as a troublesome father who wasn’t sure of his role… And most of all I fell in love with Albus and Scorpius, who showed friendship and loyalty trumps all. I mean this is what make me like Rowling so much. True, her whole setup is in this ‘fictional-magical-realm’, but if you take away the wands and the potions and curses… It’s a book about friendship. About finding oneself. About rising above your fears and conquering them.

Now I know about the huge amount of negative criticism this book received. How they thought it was ‘disappointing’.
To me , it was nothing short of a homecoming.
While you read this book, do keep in mind that it’s a play, written for performance, and therefore quite different than the flow of a regular Rowling book. Hence the detail to visual content, because it has to be guided somehow. And maybe because of this, the italicized verses about a character’s facial expressions, the frequent pauses to explain movement and what not have been quite disruptive in a reader’s reading. But come on! I mean you bought/ borrowed the damn thing knowing fully what a ‘play’ means! Did you expect it to be any different than a regular play just because it’s set in Potter-world and written by Rowling?
No.
A play is a play and lets leave it at that.

There are certain expectations with every book. And sometimes when a reader or a true fan exceeds those, they are in for a massive disappointment. I have been reading reviews and watching booktubes about how they wanted more of Harry or how there was less action or how Albus’s didn’t turn out like they wanted? And the list goes on and on. I mean, what happened to accepting as they are? We did that with the first series? What’s wrong with this?
Harry seems less on action, but what about his side as a father which has been shown throughout the story. Maybe young Harry was heroic, but now fatherhood has planted some new fears.. After all he is not supposed to be better at everything. I mean the dude could hardly keep up passing textbook magic which is written and prescribed.. How do you suppose he is gonna ace being a father to without any guidance in the form of old archenemies and talking portraits and strong willed wives? He is a man with flaws. Like us all. We can’t be better at everything.

Now coming to Albus. He is utterly different than young Harry. Yes, you would find all that teenage angst and the need to prove and whatnot… But he is a completely unlike his father. He is a charming, confident of himself, isn’t always trying to fit in and doesn’t DISCRIMINATE!!!
YEsp, you heard that right because young Albus Severus Potter not only ends up in Slytherin but is BFFs with Scorpius Malfoy. How cool is that? Moreover he seems more headstrong than his father. Also not a quidditch player but a good potioneer.

Scorpius Malfoy…. I am smitten with this geeky-nerdy-wizard who seems like the next Hermione. He is loyal, brave and head over heels for Rose Weasly… Thats enough about him folks.. Go search some fanfics.. 😉

So all in all, I loved this book.. It made me cry, it made me laugh, it made me remember what I had left in my childhood. As i mentioned before, it was homecoming. The title is so much significant than you would have imagined prior to reading this book. I ams ure most of you read it and went like, “Huh. Its gonna be about Harry or Albus”. But its so much more!!! I mean it could have been named “the Cursed Children’ and I would have no problem with it… I mean Albus, Scorpius, Harry, Draco, Delphi and maybe much more… They all have been cursed, one way or another… And all of them wished for things to turn out a bit different.

And sometimes wishing that it didn’t happen doesn’t always solve the problems.
Sometimes, you just have to stand by and watch as history repeats (LITERALLY THIS HAPPENED) and you can’t do anything about it. All you can hope is that it passes and you get to have a fresh start.

Not perfect but a new beginning.