Tag Archives: Bestseller

Interview with Rajiv Kumar

When I started posting book reviews, I wasn’t sure I’ll make it this far. I like it when authors appreciate the reviews (good/bad/ugly) and ask for more!

It always brings in a smile to see a new book awaiting my eyes and thoughts, and when Rajiv Kumar’s Navarasa By Lotus arrived at my desk, I was intrigued. The book definitely is a must read, and to know why I say that- read the review!

I could sense that for a first time author, Rajiv Kumar was nervous being interviewed (even over the emails!)
Don’t worry Rajiv, I understand how you feel (err…or maybe not!)

Anyway, here’s the author’s very first interview! (As confessed by him!)

Beginning with the ever clichéd question: What got you started with writing short stories? What are
your earliest memories of writing (I wouldn’t mind if you begin all the way back from school days!)
My failure in writing an interesting full length novel made me write short stories!
Somewhere in class four or five, the English text book contained a short story by Ruskin Bond. The story was about a half blind person traveling in a train and his beautiful co-passenger. The ending of the story left me in a state which is hard to explain. Even now, I get goose-bumps when I think about it. That is when I noticed the power of narration. But at that age I had no distinction between a short story and a novel. In class ten, I started an ambitious project of writing a story (novel)! Which I consider my first shot at writing, but the idea was immature and the interest faded out. The idea of writing went into hibernation until my
graduation. As soon as I got into a job after college, I started writing a novel based on a fictional illegal bike racing set in Bangalore, calling it “THE RACE CLUB” (does it sound familiar?Yes this name appears in “Seed”). Little did I know that my writing was really bad, however good and interesting the plot may sound. Soon I remembered the short story I had read long long ago and realized that narration is equally important as the plot. I tried to improve on my writing after that.

Instead of eating the entire pizza at once, I thought it’s easy to start by taking little pieces and it turned out that I was capable of cutting them in 9 pieces and still be able to finish it off one at a time.

Would you like to share a few details of your professional (and personal) life?
All my life so far, I have spent most of my time in Bangalore. Right from my kindergarten to my engineering and my current work place, they all have been within 2K.M from my residence! I enjoy walking. Walking  up to my destination gives me enough time and opportunities to observe and come up with story plots! In addition to that I am single, which I believe was a blessing in disguise to spend my weekends in writing and completing “Navarasa by Lotus”!
At office, during the breaks I get into discussions on movies, TV-shows with my friends.

Coming to Navarasa by Lotus – Why such a title? What was the thought behind writing 9 interlinked stories based on the 9 Rasa? (I did read about your contemplation with self, but I need more details on this. Yes, I am snoopy.)
The original title of the book was “Navarasa”. However I felt that the title was not catchy. I thought of renaming it into a vague English transliteration calling it 9emos, referring to 9-emotions. But my conscience asked me if I was embarrassed by an Indian name. In order to have a mysterious title and also to console my conscience I added “by Lotus” to the title though my pen name is not “Lotus”. I always like to keep the readers guessing. The moment anyone see’s “Navarasa” in the title they would get a fair idea regarding the theme of the book. However the rest of the title “…by Lotus” would keep them guessing and curious. The
blurb too starts with saying “every pen name comes with a story…” Though the mystery is unravelled to the readers by the time they finish reading the book!

On why I chose 9 rasas. Let me quote an iconic line from the movie Forrest Gump. My momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” It’s a very simple thought yet pretty much says a lot about life. Similarly I wanted to keep the readers in dark as to what is going to come up next in the line of 9 stories. Also it gives me opportunity to give variations in the mood of stories. I know that when a reader picks my book he or she is spending their most valuable time in reading it through. It becomes my top priority to make them feel redeemed for their time spent, when they finish reading the book (a cryptic message for the story title “Redemption”). A collection of stand alone stories, I felt would be predictable with an impending twist in the end. In order to give a different experience to the readers, I had to re-invent my writing skills to come up with non-linear narration, Rashoman style of narration, add more dimensions to the story with depth, varied timeline and finally link all the stories! I would call them as a hybrid of novel and short stories.

Coming to the 9 interlinked stories – the titles for all of them are quite weird, in a different, intriguing sort
of a way. I mean, Seed, Rat, Mutiny, T20, Loop, Wish, Office, N.H., Redemption…How did you stumble upon
them? What were you thinking?
“What’s in a name?” is what I initially thought, but I wanted to leave a mark of creativity in all areas of the book. A book’s each and every square inch according to me is a premium real estate for creativity! Be it the cover page, blurb etc hence I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. Being a title for short stories, it made sense to keep the titles as short as possible. More than a title, they serve as a cryptic one word blurb of the story, which may not be evident the moment one reads the title but eventually towards
the end of the story the name makes sense.For e.g: Seed, the title refers to the seed of hatred sown by the character “Dev” in his nephew’s mind. Also, down the line, the reader would realise that the first story “Seed” is literally a seed for the entire book as the following stories are one way or the other linked to this. Another example would be “Redemption” which I already mentioned previously.

 


Most first time authors end up writing/mentioning about incidents that they have experienced in life. Among the 9 stories, which one is closest to your heart or life?

All stories are purely fictional! Especially the story where mosquitoes wage a non-violent war against Humanity. However there is no denial in inspirations drawn. I would say that all story plots are a result of fantasized projections of my experience. For e.g: Once, my day was ruined because I hadn’t slept well the previous night, I couldn’t sleep well because the dogs were barking and on top of that the buzzing mosquitoes. When I thought about it, I wondered what could be going on with them and suddenly ideas
mutated and fantasized coming up with my theory “Mutiny”! I feel bad for other stories now that I pick “Mutiny” as the one closest to my heart!

Name some of your all time favorite authors/books.
I have been reading this book since maybe 5 years, and I am still unable to finish reading it as it is never ending with its main and sub plots, it’s written by V.Vyasa! The-Mahabharata. This is easily my most favourite book.

In recent times authors (pun intended) I would go with; Stephen King – Pet Cemetery, Matthew Reily – Temple and of course Chethan Bhagat’s classic – Five Point Someone. But it would be cruel if I don’t mention the books I began reading…Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

Any of the new-age young/budding authors that you think have potential and talent to gather more readers?
Err…I am sorry, I am not sure if I can justify by answering this as I haven’t read a book in the last 2 years as
I was writing mine…

What next do we expect from your desk?
Currently am working on a full length novel finally! It’s tentatively called “Once Upon a Time…Revenge of the Poet!” It’s a story set in a fictional medieval time, with cryptic character names such as Jaci, Jenjhan, Panvyr etc. It is to me the greatest challenge as I experiment with a complex story narration and a story plot which deals with Kings, Princess, Ministers, Masked Vigilante, a Poet and a very mysterious condition of the society they live in! I am hoping that I complete the first edit by the year-end.

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Book Review of “Navarasa by Lotus” by Rajiv

 

The author sent me a review copy and I was quite thrilled with the synopsis – 9 interlined stories based on the nine “rasas”. With interlinked characters, the author spins a web of captivating tales spanning different genres – love, fantasy, sci-fi, drama, all of course fictional.

Seed tell the story of a fading movie star (Rajan) – being the first story it got me really hooked. Very articulately drafted.

Rat is the story of a youth accidently taking form of a masked vigilante and brings out very human emotions.

Mutiny was like a surprise. Truly. I did not expect this to be a story of mosquitoes! I liked the names given to the characters (Hz , Ghz, Hag, etc.),who gang up to fight human domination.
One thing that stood out quite visibly was the poor edits in Rat and Mutiny. The author (or the editor) seems to have ignored major errors in the stories. Or did someone else fill up the author’s shoes momentarily?  The narrative / writing style hampered the reading pace. The flaws overshadow the novel plots.

T 20 talks about a couple, living in, facing hardships in their relationship. This story of Teja and Manoj has a different narrative then the rest of the stories in the book. I did not understand the usage of such a title for this story. It seemed unrelated.

Then we have Loop- a story where a girl (Lucky) is entangled in a loop that keeps her entangled on a particular day in a particular loop. Intriguing!

Wish tells the tale of a young school kid struggling to vent his anger.

Office and N.H. are linked and they spin around Rajiv and his love for Rashmi. This sci-fictional story glances at our society post 2012.

And finally, Redemption links them (stories) all.

The ideation and the thoughts behind each story are commendable. The cleverness in interlinking the stories brings out a unique story-writing capability. The editing flaws are barely any (apart from Rat and Mutiny) and the style is quite riveting. I did not mind reading the book twice only to notice the connects more prominently the second time.
Definitely a must read. Highly recommended!

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Book Review of “Revolution 2020″ by Chetan Bhagat

Revolution 2020

By Chetan Bhagat

I have a mixed view about Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel.

It opens with Mr. Chetan Bhagat visiting GangaTech College in Varanasi for a discourse. He meets Gopal and then we see Gopal pouring his heart out to Chetan Bhagat, under the influence of alcohol and a sad incident.

 

To give a background, this is a love triangle and it also brings out the corruption and facades of the education sector (with coaching classes mushrooming eveywhere, esp. for IIT, JEE and CAT exams).

Gopal belongs to a poor family. His friend Raghav belongs to a middle class family. And Aarti (Gopal’s love) belongs to the affluent section of society. Gopal has to struggle all his life for everything. From making a decent living to taking the exams to claiming his love. Raghav on the other hand stands up to values and fights against the wrong-doings in society. Aarti is a rich girl with her good looks and charming smile and great lifestyle. The three have been friends from childhood. Gopal falls in love with Aarti, while she falls in love with Raghav.

Then comes the “Love, Corruption and Ambition” angle to the story. Gopal wants to prove to Aarti that he is better than Raghav and he designs a plan to seek revenge in his own twisted way. He ends up starting his own college and coaching classes for IIT aspirants and takes the generation under his stride. Raghav is an upright and morally/ethically righteous person who defies everything wrong and corrupt. And we see the fight between the good and the bad.

Quite a bit of the book was clichéd and predictable. The climax was, yes, a bit “feel-good-factor”. The language and the flow of the story is very simple. I would’ve preferred crisper editing. But is it just me or do you also feel that the book read mostly like a movie script.
I even imagined the actors playing the parts while reading this one.
Not something that I would appreciate.

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Book Review of “Promises In Death” By J.D. Robb

Promises In Death

By J.D. Robb

 

This one scores as one of J.D. Robb’s really intense and well balanced work spun with a lot of emotions and meaningful interactions.

Detective Amaryllis Coltraine is murdered with her own weapon right in her building. What makes the case all the more special is that Coltraine isn’t just a cop, but Morris’s girlfriend. Clues lead to everyone who was close to and trusted by Coltraine.

Detective Eve is set to solve the mystery with additional pressures of having to disclose the death of Coltraine to Morris and also host Louise’s bridal shower.

The book features Eve’s evolution as a person – focusing on relationships, striking a balance between friends and profession and opening up to people.

Other highlights of the story include – Roarke and Eve’s ever evolving relationship; hilarious moments shared by friends during the bridal shower (and otherwise); and the touching and emotional moments that Morris undergoes.

A fantastic read for all Robb fans.

 

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Book Review of “Naked Prey” by John Sandford

Naked Prey

By John Sandford

What a brilliant thriller! The Prey series definitely bring about the adrenaline rush while reading.

Lucas Davenport is seen working for the Minnesota Governor, solving complicated and sensational crimes. He is also a family man now –with a pretty wife and a lovely child.

Things get shaken when bodies of a black man (Jane Warr) and a white girl (Deon Cash) are found hanging from a tree, in the woods of northern Minnesota.

Lucas and his partner, Del Capslock, rush to the scene and so do the local sheriffs, and a few FBI guys. Soon an arrest is about to be made. But the suspect and his wife are found murdered.

Lucas returns to Broderick (a small town in Northern Minnesota) tracing a killer only to find that the town is pumping more crime and corruption than anyone can think. So much so that the homicide is linked to other criminal acts spurting around.

This one an international labyrinth of stolen cars, drugs, gambling and kidnapping.

Along comes Lettie West– a twelve year old trapper who cares for her alcoholic mother – being victimized not once but twice. It is she who becomes the main crime solver towards the end.

Sandford delivers yet another astounding read. The plot is complex, sharp, interesting, thrilling and captivating. The characterization is strong. The way she talks; her attitude; tough exterior hiding the heart of a child longing for love and concern; adds up to make her character one of the most likeable ones. Lettie is a dearie. A great addition to the series.

We also get a glimpse of Lucas’ softer side. The richest cop (since he also designs computer games) is as loving and caring as a father ought to be. A side which we hardly came across earlier.

The murder scenes actually send a shiver down your spine. The pace is terrific. The background details are just perfect. Intervened with sub-plots, surprises, twists, felony, deaths, murders, chase and revenge, this contemporary detective-crime-fiction page-turner, scores high as a “must read”.

 

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Book Review of “Deliver Us From Evil” By David Baldacci

Deliver Us From Evil

By David Baldacci

 

 

Looks like David Baldacci got his characters researched and etched right in his mind before penning them for his fans.

This fast paced murder-mystery-crime tale has all the excitement and action you’d wish for.

The main character is a notorious man involved in all the wrong things (of course) who has no idea that two furtive people, with their own agenda, are sneaking up his path. The suspense is too rousing to be let out here.

The spine-tingling plot is sprinkled with ample of brow-raising events and emotions, making it quite an interesting read.

Baldacci’s writing makes it very easy to visualize the events as they happen. This surely is one heck of a thriller released this year!

 

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Book Review of “Deception Point” By Dan Brown

Deception Point

By Dan Brown

 

A stupendously fantastic work of a master author – Dan Brown.

The plot is thrilling, intense, thought provoking, complex, well researched, authentic, chilling, adventurous, bold, inventive, and definitely gripping to say the least!

The sparkling characterization of each protagonist integrated with a peep in the political world, edged with high-tech research as well as abstruse scientific facts sets the pace of Deception Point.

The conflict between the US President and a Senator; deceptive moves to gain power; unfathomable discoveries revealing the truth – all meshed together to churn out a saucy thriller is truly a work of art.

Every minute detail is so well put that it makes you feel like a part of the clandestine saga. The complexity keeps rising and defers you from keeping the book aside till you read the very last word.

Rightfully said, Dan Brown is to science fiction-thriller and symbolism what Stephen King is to Horror, John Gresham to Legal and Robin Cook to medicine science stories.

 

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