Book Review of ‘Shades of Sin: Behind the Mask’ by APK Publishers

‘Shades of Sin: Behind the Mask’
By APK Publishers

Shades of Sin

Shades of Sin

Call it my love for short stories but I simply loved this book

An anthology of 25 stories by six authors connected by a single thread: the dark side of human nature in all its hues.

Vices in us, we know, exist and breed. What fans them further and do we tame them (if at all)?

The diverse settings, relatable experiences, and the very humane nature of each story intrigued me. Every single minute of my “me time” was dedicated to the book.

The book is divided in to three portions: Light Grey, Dark Grey and Black. The stories in each section portray/reveal related darkness – not depression. Most of the stories are sure to linger in your mind even after you put the book down. They evoke emotions that we deny ever exist in us.

I appreciate the selection of the stories. I like the way each author has consciously contributed to each section, bringing out the apt “darkness”. It’s not easy to pen out such feelings strongly that stir the reader with each sentence. It reflects maturity – the work of seasoned authors.

The narrative skills of Vivek Banerjee, Upneet Grover, Saksham Agarwal, Aanandita Chawla, Vrinda Baliga, and Shreelatha Chakravarty are praise worthy, offering a different perspective, a refreshing take, a unique outlook towards the different shades of the dark forces within us all.

For anyone who loves short stories, I definitely recommend this book. Pick It Up! No second thoughts!!

This is one book I will keep going back to- just like the Urban Shots series.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “The Other Side of the Table” by Madhumita Mukherjee

The Other Side of the Table
By
Madhumita Mukerjee

The other side of the table

The other side of the table

When the book arrived, I was overtly excited to begin reading, given its soothing cover page and quite an appealing format (letters).

The book format quite unusual for a debut writer – in the form of letters, exchanged between two friends – Abhimanyu and Uma.

Spanning almost a decade, the letters reflect the friendship (and eventually the love) shared by the two protagonists. Uma is about 10 years younger to Abhi and is studying medicine in Calcutta, while Abhi is a practicing surgeon in London.

The ten years of their lives, captured through the letters exchanged, make for decent read. With each letter exchanged, you peep a bit deeper in to their lives and discover more about their personalities and surroundings. Their experiences, their joys, their sorrows, the challenge faced, the hurdles overcome, the dreams cherished and the ambitions brewed.

The format definitely is new and gripping but the language got me a little disinterested.

Given the fact that I can’t get myself to put a book down once I begin reading, saw me struggle through certain portions.

There were places where the language was overtly sweet, as if Abhi was trying to “impress” Uma. I personally do not like “sweet talk” or as you say “buttering-up”- for as far as I know, no one in the real world indulges in such verbose as used in the letters. No wonder I was immensely turned off to the extent of wondering if such people do still exist (and if they do, please steer clear of me!)

I agree that the premise of the story, though ordinary, does have a grip. I appreciate the fact that the author did not use medical terminology extensively at the risk of losing her readers. And the emotions, quite relatable, bring you closer to the protagonists.

Overall, it is a decent story of love, loss, friendship, overcoming difficulties and taking a stride in life to bring out the real you.

The story could have been more gripping, personally, had there been less of “jibber-jabber”.

2 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “A Bolt of Lightning” by Satyen Nabar

A Bolt of Lightning

By Satyen Nabar

This book arrived when I was in the middle of another book. It was pure curiosity that got me reading the first page. Before I knew it, I had breezed through the first 100 pages!

It wasn’t easy to read two books simultaneously. But I managed!

The plot overall is funny, engrossing, interesting, unique, relatable, with a fresh perspective.

I don’t think I could give a better plot summary than the one on the book: Shiva, 35, hotshot executive, recently divorced, disillusioned with his life and fed up of the rat race in the corporate world, topples completely over the edge after an unexpected tragic incident.
In a hilarious journey from the boardrooms of Bangalore to the hippies, face readers, casinos and rave parties on the verdant beaches of Goa, Shiva attempts to ‘escape from it all’ till his life suddenly changes in miraculous ways after an electrifying act of nature bestows him with an extraordinary gift. Anchored by the strong bond of friendship with his college mates, Sid and Adi, and propelled by love for Anita his estranged ex-wife, Shiva attempts to make the most of his incredible gift to unravel the secrets of life, death and happiness as the story races to its exhilarating conclusion in the exotic jungle valley of Arambol, Goa. And it is a “bolt of lightning” that somewhat sets things right in his life.

This story is a witty and contemporary take on a midlife crisis story with an unusual twist in the tale. It at once touches the heart and entertains while offering a fascinating new perspective of the world we inhabit.

The language is quite simple (mostly) but at places the author makes splendid sentences that make you smile, giggle, laugh, praise and feel jealous – all at once!
The realities of present day life – building work pressures, haphazard social and personal life, meaningless rat-race, need and desire for introspection, battle to make time for oneself and loved ones, depression, loneliness, and addictions that engulf us at the end of it all – interestingly portrayed and brilliantly connected.

The timeline (past and present) keeps you quite alert and awake. It keeps you hooked. it keeps you excited. The characters have been etched thoughtfully. Though I personally feel the author could’ve limited their description and habit- since they were bound to be understood / interpreted by the reader during the course of the story. Anyway, that’s just my perspective.

There is much more to the story, and its characters, apart from their emotions, actions, deeds, thoughts, and behaviour. A hidden message. The eternal quest. A gripping need to introspect right away. To live in the moment. To live for the day. To follow your heart. And to read more and more!

I would definitely recommend this book to all!

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “The Sari Shop Widow” by Shobhan Bantwal

The Sari Shop Widow

By Shobhan Bantwal

Shobhan

When the book reached me I wanted to start it at that very moment. There was something about the cover that caught my attention. From the time I turned the pages there was no stopping. At least for quite a bit of the 360-page book.

The main protagonist, Anjali Kapadia, an American-Indian, is a widow who runs her parents sari shop “Silk & Sapphires”. Their exquisite tasteful collection is devoured by most but with the rising competition and building recession, bankruptcy is round the corner for the Kapadia family. Strange how the folks running it don’t realize it until the last minute, and thus look to seek help.

To save their face and their shop, Anjali’s father calls his brother – Jeevan Kapadia, a rich/wealthy businessman from India. When he comes visiting to evaluate the business, he brings his business partner along – Rishi Shah – a complete charmer. With hidden motives none-the-less.

Though Anjali and her mother don’t trust this grey-eyed British Indian, there is something that draws Anjali to him all the more. An empowering attraction that captures her. But what she doesn’t know is a secret that unveils to shake-n-stir them all.

Though the plot of the book is fairly predictable (at least it was for me), the characters stand out with their unique personalities. The premise of the story has it all – love, culture, trust, hope, despair, sex, betrayal, courage, etc. The writing seemed quite effortless and flow- just right.

The characters have depth. Most readers are sure to find a connect with Anjali, or empathize with her.

Though glimpses of life in New Jersey, through Anjali’s story, seemed a bit predictable, the way Anjali has a fling with Rik, her “no-strings-attached” sexual escapades with him, her (fatal) attraction towards Rishi, her loyalty to her sari shop, her undying love for Vik (her late husband), her encounter with Rishi (and his girlfriend) – made the story quite interesting (for those who like chick-lit/romance genre).

The climax, yes, ended a bit abruptly. It could use a little more depth (just like the story overall).

The author brings out the colours (of culture and her characters) quite well. There’s drama, humour, emotions, love, and yes- a bit of senseless entertainment, all mixed well to make it a yummy “masala” read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “VICTORY INDIA” by Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

A Key to Quality Military Leadership

A bold and trail blazing exposé of 65 years old selection & training system of the Indian Armed Forces Officer Cadre

A Campaign, A Crusade, A Commitment, An Inspiration…

cover

Amongst my latest reads is Victory India, by Col. Vinay B. Dalvi (Retd.) and what an eye-opener this one is!

We civilians, look up to the Officers of the Armed Forces. We admire and respect their brilliance, their courage, their strength and everything associated with them. But do we really know what goes behind the gates of the IMA and the NDA, and the other training and selection institutes? Barely.

For those who only see smart cadets walking around in crisp uniforms, this book will reveal a whole new world of pain that the “men” endure (physically and mentally), and the national leadership crisis that the nation is currently facing therefore.

An eye-opener for aspiring to join such prestigious institutes will know the truth behind their selection and training process and maybe (collectively) help in filling the gaps and loop-holes.

Having been a part of the armed forces, the author shows deep insight and a well-rounded research regarding the training and selection process of the cadets. The book offers suggestions towards effective Military Leadership Training – something a nation would always feel incomplete without.

The book is a rare compilation of articles, views, comments and recommendations of specialists and experts of various fields (serving and retired) connected with the entire selection and training system of the officer cadre. This combined, coordinated and cohesive effort by the contributing authors is indeed commendable. Their sense of concern and responsibility to the uniformed fraternity reflects in the rich and diverse insight offered in a holistic manner.

The book contains the necessary ingredients to formulate a practical, meaningful and effective course of action. It is an earnest, fervent and collective endeavour to attract, select, train, groom and promote our budding and dynamic youth into inspiring, effective and quality military leaders.

It is thus left to the highest leadership in the country – Political, Bureaucratic and Military to take note of the glaring shortcomings and drawbacks confronting the Nation and the Armed Forces, and search for solutions. May the issues be addressed and resolved, thus strengthening the ”military leadership” – the most important principle of war for any nation.

The book was released by Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, Chief of Air Staff & Chairman COSC, in the presence of Maj. Gen. (Dr.) G. D. Bakshi, Mr. Rajan Arya, CEO Pentagon Press, Author & Editor Col. Vinay B. Dalvi, Lt. Col. Anil Bhat & Air Marshal T. S. Randhawa on 20th November, 2012 at ‘Vayu Bhavan’, Air Headquarters, New Delhi.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “2012 Nights” by Vipul Rikhi

2012 Nights

by Vipul Rikhi

Image

2012 Nights by Vipul Rikhi

Would the world really end as predicted by the Mayans in December 2012? And if it does we have a handful days to live life to the fullest and read as many books as possible.

Vipul Rikhi’s book, 2012 Nights, revolves around this (supposed) doomsday.

A paranoid and drunk writer, with a belief in the Mayan theory, begins the month (of December 2012) by telling a series of tales to his cat (Schahriar). Each night he spins a yarn of beautifully crafted stories – of Aladdin (with a mention of his brother Biladdin); of Abdullah; of Sindbad the sailor; of King Solomon; of Alibaba and the forty thieves; but all with a twist and a contemporary view. History, mythology, politics and a whole lot of wisdom become the weaving points of all the stories.

His wife (Karuna) has left him and he has no friends left (given his attitude and behaviour). All he is left with is a cat and thus the series of monologue that follow. The tales of greed, compassion, destruction, loss and search have a unique USP. You might feel you know all the tales of yester years, but reading it with the author’s perspective and narrative brings about a new experience.

The author captured my interest initially. But come fifth night and thereafter there was a massive drop. But then soon, his style picked up pace and I was hooked again. Most stories, you would realize, do not end on the night they start. That’s the connect…the temptation that keeps you hooked. The twists and turns are, no doubt, super. But at places it gets overtly preachy and makes you want to skip it all.

Totally worth a read.

2 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “The Asocial Networking” by Dhiraj Kumar

The Asocial Networking

By Dhiraj Kumar

Social Media has intrigued me, more in the last couple of years when I realized the potential it holds. And on receiving a book review request from Dhiraj about his book I was more than happy to do it!
Thankfully, the book proved to be interesting enough for me to complete it, and not like a text book for dummies.

A debut attempt, this book somewhere reflects the author’s angst for the virtual world. This is one aspect I appreciate and would expect writers to keep in mind: Write what you truly feel- with convictions (but backed by strong facts/stats and data!)
The 150 odd essays (the author’s experiences) running over 300 pages reflect the debate between the real and the virtual world and how being offline is now a thing of the past. For those who aren’t online, they are as good as non-existent!
The author has some really stern views and I respect those, but maybe the virtual world is gaining prominence for a reason. Going all out and unleashing fury might not help at this stage. #justsaying
A slower evolution would do the trick, if everyone realizes the commercial propaganda that the virtual circle has in fact created around everyone one of us.
Many points in this book were too basic for me (sorry about that but I have read quite a bit in to social media) and thus felt repetitive at many places.
Most of the author’s points/experiences do make for a good read- given the style of writing. Like decoding personalities with the kind of status updates or pictures or activities one indulges in.
My only woe was the fact that towards the end it wasn’t all that intellectually stimulating or arousing. Too much of repetition got me disheartened. New approach yes, but the freshness fizzled out.
Had he supported his views “against” social media with staunch proven facts/stats-I’d be more than a fan! Certain points mentioned here were an #EpicFail. Really.
Another very prominent point is: the author talks majorly about FB as his point of reference for Social Media. More prominence to twitter or linkein or google plus would’ve made this more interesting.

Social Media has a lot many advantages for those who can harness its powers. And for those who suck the life out of it, they only see the short comings. Maybe Dhiraj hasn’t had good experiences on FB but he should give it a fair chance. And other social media sites too. There are successful stories floating around too!

Yes, quite a few of us are hooked on to it (for various reasons) but the smart ones do know where to draw the line. I say, newbies should give it a read. They are the ones who need to know where to stop and think about the effects of social media.

Overall, it did make for a good read for me – as it gave me a chance to notice the opinions of a social media critic.
I would recommend it to youngsters more so who still aren’t very clear about the Social Media assets and short-comings. This book will reveal quite a lot to them.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews