Sunday, October 15, 2017

Second Chance by Dr. Sandeep Jatwa

Title: Second Chance
Author:  Sandeep Jatwa
Category: Fiction
Publisher: ebooks2go
Date: 2017
Price: Rs. 190
Pages: 198

Book Blurb: 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?

The Review:  The book is a fictional tale on karma or broadly a thought passed on about our decisions, behavior and actions in life. The lead character Shekhar Kapoor is a rich businessman with worst qualities a human can have, treating people badly, usurping their businesses women, money and pride to name a few. There are reasons he is the way he is. Loosing his mother early on in life, hatred for his father and practically no one to love or care for him since long, he is what he is. Though he is not all dark, like all of us and has some bright streaks which surface sometimes, rarely but certainly. Overall his karma is in the negative and many of his actions are not even thought just driven by feelings of misplaced rage towards his father. Taken together he hasn't lead a good life. He isn't what one should ever be. However an event gives him a chance to rethink his life, will it be the same?

First of all the book has karma as a focal point and some depictions of situations are very lively, making you really think hard about yours. The book asks one to reconsider their actions, especially those that effect other negatively. He does so by the help of a story with real life-like characters and situations, asking what if you had another chance at the same life? Will you still do things the way you do? Treat people the way you do? Take your blessings for granted? What is a good life? The story is vivid in making these questions extremely clear to the reader and it will stay with you for a long time after you have read it. What I found lacking however was that it could be better written as the writing is too simple and direct. The concept needed a more flavorful depiction. 

Rating: 3/5. Read it and rethink about your actions.

   About the Author:

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 in 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.

Crossword book award winning author Ravi Subramanian launches Sanya Runwal's book " Ten Dollar Bride", published by "The Write Place".


On 6th October 2017, 17-year-old  Sanya Runwal launched her debut book "Ten dollar bride" in the presence of Smt Amruta Fadnavis at Crossword Bookstores, Mumbai. The book was launched by best-selling writer Ravi Subramanian.

  
This week there is a new writer on the block, who has already created headlines in the past for setting up a foundation that aims to provide low-cost and high-quality menstrual hygiene products. Inspired by personal, real-life events, her book showcases the fear and ignorance with which many young girls in India live in the shadow of our country's ruthless & patriarchal setup. 

Commenting on her debut novel, Sanya said, “My intent to write this book was to enable people to empathize with girls from a lower socioeconomic strata, and how they don't even have basic  amenities that we take for granted. I wanted to bring to light the critical situation that exists in this day and age. The book has also been written with the intent that my stories urge everyone to collectively do something and rectify the wrong, with our actions ."

Smt. Amruta Fadnavis who has always been vocal about social issues and has worked towards a better today commented, "I think every woman is a powerhouse but somewhere the realisation that she has massive courage within her is missing. There might be various reasons for that. Sometimes, she is not economically independent or lacks support from her family because of backward social norms. Luckily for us, the new breed of women realise that they have to stand up first for themselves. This gives courage to other women, and helps society grow positively."

Ravi Subramanian, winner of three Crossword Book Awards said, " If the men in our country read this book, I think the life of our women  would be much better. Men don't realise what women go through with small acts which infact are not all that small! Some acts are even scary to women. I think India will be a much better place than it is today, if men read this book."



Shaina N C too  graced the occasion and was seen in animated conversation with Amruta Fadnavis. Having served as a catalyst for change in the society at a young age, Sanya hopes to highlight the plight of young women in our country and propel action with her book -  "Ten Dollar Bride." 


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Author Interview: Jamal Merchant - Author of One Enduring Lesson

Today we have with us Jamal Merchant, author of One Enduring Lesson. It is a story of a tale of the undying human spirit of survival against all odds is his debut novel that is getting some rave review (read ours here:  http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/2017/09/title-one-enduring-lesson-author.html ), so we decided to understand its creation and the writer better. Lets hear about his journey from the author himself....

Q.    Tell us a little about your journey into writing?

A: In my school days in Zanzibar, Tanzania I used to write scores of essays. As a Property Finance Broker in London, I have to write project reports to banks So writing is a habit for me from my young days In 2009 I came up with the idea of writing a novel. It was a sudden inspiration.


Q.    How did the book “One Enduring Lesson” come into being?

A: The title of the novel is inspired from the last paragraph of “The Memoirs of Aga Khan” wherein the late Aga Khan III wrote :-

 “Life in the ultimate analysis has taught me one enduring lesson. The subject
 should always disappear in the object”.

Based on this theme, I developed a tale of the undying human spirit of survival against all odds in which my protagonist totally immerses himself in everything he does to achieve victory in love and life.

Q.    What inspired you to create a character like Rahul Saxena and how much you feel readers could relate to him?

A: I was inspired to create a character like Rahul Saxena from hundreds of young men and women who come to Mumbai from all over India to seek a new life in Bollywood or in other walks of life but end up destitute. I have made Rahul struggle but also showed him the path of success and salvation through religion to fight back internal and external demons and emerge victorious from his horrific struggles and be triumphant in love. I feel today’s young people can relate to Rahul and feel encouraged to seek inspiration from their faith after reading mynovel.

Q.    One Enduring Lesson is a great book that teaches never to give up attitude. What's your that one enduring lesson during your journey as an author.

A: Never give up if you believe that you have a good story and you want the world to know about it.

 Q.    We know writing and getting published is a long journey.  So was it easy to write a book and manage your full time job along? How did you manage it?

A: I had an original story in mind, but had no idea of how to write a novel. I had to self-tuition myself in the art of storytelling, scene construction, dialogue development and creative writing. To do this I started reading novels written by famous novelists and also watched many films. In all I read 75 novels and saw 260 films. I also attended a few short courses in London in creative writing. I made extensive study notes from all these resources.
    The story is based in India. I did extensive research on many aspects of life in India and issues covered in my novel. In all I had 235 print-outs on various subjects to read and draw knowledge from.

    In January 2011, I made a special trip to India and visited Mumbai and Amritsar and visited all the places in these two cities where the action takes place involving the protagonist Rahul Saxena. It was a fact-find visit which greatly assisted me in describing the places and events in my novel.

    I used to get up at 4.00 in the morning to write. As a debut novelist, it was a slow and painful process. But I persevered and completed my first draft in September 2011 which I      later enriched with scores of improvements and newideas, culminating in a draft which was finally accepted by Rupa Publications of India.

Q.    Did you ever face writers block?

A: Yes, but luckily it would not last for too long.

Q.    Your inspiration in writing? What are your favourite books and authors.

A: I have no favourite authors as such, but I liked books written by Nicholas Sparks like The Notebook and Message in a Bottle. I drew inspiration from many other books including some which won Booker Prize like The White Tiger and Midnight’s Children.

Q.    How do you motivate yourself in situations of disappointment?

A: I genuinely believed that I had a good story and wanted the world to read it. I did not allow disappointment to overwhelm me. I kept persevering. Motivation came from my desire to succeed.

Q. What are your upcoming writing projects?

A: None. I will write another novel only if and when I have another brilliant and original story coming to my mind.

Q.  Words of wisdom for the budding authors.

A: Read! Read !Read !
And then
Write ! Write! Write !
Till you get it Right!.





Sunday, October 1, 2017

Razor Sharp by Abhinav Kumar

Title: Razor Sharp
Author:  Abhinav Kumar
Category: Fiction- Short Story Collection
Publisher: Amazon Kindle Only
Date: 2017
Price: Rs. 130
Pages: 166

Blurb: In my debut collection of short stories, I explore relationships and friendships, bits of the past and the present, and changing times. Each story explores a world, a relationship or an incident unto itself: while they are disjointed, my sole purpose is to touch the reader's mind and enhance his or her pleasure. Too many short stories, I believe, aim to befuddle and confuse, and in the process, lose sight of what is most important. Having been in this position several times in the past, in this collection, I present little bits of myself in the hope that you, the reader, feel happy or sad, laugh or despair - but never feel cheated. Happy reading!

The Review: I am a lover of short stories and can barely control myself for reading a book with such a collection, once it is in my hands. This book therefore was no exception. However, as I began reading I realized within the first few stories that the writer does means every letter of the two words that constitute its title "Razor Sharp". These stories cannot be described aptly by the minimum usage of words and so aptly. 

The first of the thirteen stories is Razor-Sharp, from which the book derives its title, which is an amusing tale of relationships confusion and clarity. The author exhibits brilliant word play here during his session with the road side barber. I have a few favorites in the book Prejudice, which depicts the ironical lens with which we judge people and the circumstances that pressures of the society lead us to, emphasizing the point that the exterior is just a coat. The writing style of the writer and the brilliant depiction of the ending is powerful and perfect. A Breath of Fresh Air, which to me was a perfect flash fiction. 13(I)(VII)  is a story that will stay with you forever and the best of all is Gone,  aptly convoluted and the most bizarre and fresh story I have read in a long time. The other stories are good too and only two of them were predictable. They are diverse ranging from relationships, friendships to the way children play pre- and post computer era. One play Day deserves a special mention too for it is a much needed tale, especially for children who never knew what is it to play without gadgets.

The stories are crisp and well-written. You might have to read some more than once to really get it but the ultimate discovery of meaning is worth the exercise. Also the author's comments at the end of each story are hilarious sometimes and a bonus post the confusion and mild catharsis of stories.

All in all a great read for short story lovers and a perfect travel companion. Waiting for more from the author.

Rating: 4/5

A Thousand Dreams Within Me Softly Burn by Sahil Sood

Title: A Thousand Dreams Within Me Softly Burn
Author:  Sahil Sood
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Woven Word Publishers
Date: 2017
Price: Rs. 200
Pages: 124

Book Blurb: Siddharth, a middle-aged school teacher, struggling with an unfinished manuscript, leads a solitary existence in a remote village in Shimla. Gautam, a twenty-two-year-old writer, burning with a desperate longing for romance, finds solace in Siddharth's old essay on Thumri and spends years in search of him. Phil, a young Jewish traveller from Missouri, beset by a difficult alliance with his Christian girlfriend in the face of orthodoxy, travels around the world and meets Siddharth at a café in Manali. The answer to their longings resides in Siddharth's letters and manuscript--the silent witnesses of the fate of two men and their love for each other. A Thousand Dreams Within Me Softly Burn explores the depths of love and the power of writing that helps the human soul triumph over loneliness, alienation, and shame. 

The Review:
We all desire love. Be it the rich the poor, the king or the pauper, the ambitious or the content, at some stage in our lives the desire manifests and then begins to grow, eventually overpowering us to find that one person who would love us unconditionally, faithfully and forever. But alas! humans are faulty and such love is only a thing to wish for, something very few get. With evolution of technology, the next person available on the next swipe and sex no longer a taboo this love is almost non-existent. Fidelity now is a thing of the past. Yet what is heart if not an uncontrolled beat we hope to tame, it has desires, of soul and flesh, often wishful, expectant from others, only to be broken. This book in short is all about the above, the longing, the search, the imperfections and at some rare places the perfection whose existence is not realized.

You might think, this is another book on love, but no matter how much is written on the subject it still doesn't explain it all. Perhaps the writer thought of writing his own perceptions through the stories he read, through his characters. The book begins emphatically with a letter and then an essay. This essay is the most beautiful amalgamation on relationships, books and movies, I have ever read. It was as if the essence of some of my favorite books could come out so clearly in just a few of its paragraphs and sometimes only a single line. For a voracious reader it is a treat. 

It is a book that might have different impression on each reader who reads it. The characters, their lives and stories all try to philosophically map relationships of love, as if trying hard to understand and define them. It is not a road going from one destination to another but a journey each one of us must take.

An unbelievable feat by a debutante, its almost poetry to my senses. A highly recommended read.

Rating: 4/5


Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review: One Enduring Lesson by Jamal Merchant

Title: One Enduring Lesson
Author:  Jamal Merchant
Category: Romance
Publisher:  Rupa Publications.
Date: 2017
Price: Rs. 295
Pages: 274

Snapshot: Eager to start a new phase in life, Rahul Saxena, 27, a half Indian-British citizen, recently out of job and rejected in love, lands in Mumbai from London to study film making. But little does he know that Mumbai, the city of dreams, will turn his life inside out. From the dark corners of the streets as a professional rat killer to the vermin-infested confines of the jail, from shady dance clubs to the homes of Mumbai’s rich women where he is paid to provide pleasure- fate takes him on a roller coaster ride that challenges his very will and determination to survive. When his secret life threatens to destroy even the love that he finds, Rahul seeks recourse in spirituality.  Inspired by India’s synergic religious traditions, Rahul fights back internal and external demons to write his own destiny.
One Enduring Lesson is a tale of the undying human spirit of survival against all odds.


Review: One Enduring Lesson by Jamal Merchant is not entirely a love story. It has edges and corners that are brushed with a lot of other stories. It begins with Rahul Saxena, the protagonist in London- his loving parents and his dreams to do a film course in Mumbai. Soon, the boy lands up in Mumbai and is robbed left in a dark alley with tears and fate. As the drama unfolds, we are introduced to the various characters, most of which may well be caricatures of real life individuals about whom one reads almost every day. They are the myriad shades of well wishers, kind and caring like Irfan and David- the taxi drivers, Mrs. Perizaad Pestonji or fondly known as PP Auntie and her son Ratan. Rahul takes a sigh of relief in their care but living in Mumbai in a dire financial situation forces him to look for ways to make money. He joins as a Rat-killer in the wee hours of night but drastically fails to put up with it. And then, he comes across a friend (a beggar) suggesting a line of work as a gigolo. Rahul then slips into the name and identity of Radium meeting many ladies of the urban Mumbai living a deprived, painful lonely life. They all have different stories but the same desire. For once, I understand that this was the storyline set by the author but still I fail to understand why a boy from London who was working in a bank look out and only qualify for a job of a rat-killer or ends up being a gigolo.  Radium then set free the lives of many females. He starts with just being a listener and then slowly falls as a pleaser to their physical needs.

All the characters are introduced with an objective and each of them has a separate character-sketch, even if their parts may be minuscule. Soon, Rahul’s life becomes as deplorable as it is enigmatic. In course of same, Rahul meets Julie Singh who is a widow struggling with her own dilemma. The two form an unspoken relatable bond. Starting as friends, they soon express their love for each other and Rahul suddenly feels in control of his life once again. However, life is not a smooth ride. A slip of Rahul’s truth about his secret life as Radium spills the beans turning his love life upside down. Lost in despair and dark, he seeks the spiritual guidance to piece his broken life back. At this point, it seems the author has smoothly pulled all the strings and tied it to the almighty for solace, redemption and absolution.

Any narrative, no matter how good, can fall flat. The sad sordid lives after a point could not hold interest for long. The author's take on those females is quite poignant and cast a compelling look at sophisticated urban lifestyle. The author has cited various issues through these stories chained in the locks of culture and traditions like homosexuality, childless couples or a plight of a lady bearing with a rich husband who converted his religion to marry.  Also, I applaud the author’s take on religion, the way he knits the best of every religion. The writing is simple and eloquent. The storyline can strike a chord with today’s youth. It was a fast-paced breezy read.


Positives: A thought provoking breezy read with lucid writing and well sketched characters.

Negatives: A bit too far stretched and slightly meandering.

Verdict: The book talks about the undying spirit of survival against all odds. And so in a way has taught an enduring lesson for sure- to keep up with life and never give up! I would go with 3.5 stars for that positive spirit.

About the Author: Jamal Merchant came to England from Tanzania, East Africa in 1972 and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1976. He then settled in London where he is now self-employed as a property finance broker.

Jamal has travelled widely including to India, China, Egypt, USA, Canada and the Middle East. His interests include reading, current affairs, movies and cricket. One Enduring Lesson, a love story based in India, is his debut novel.


Book Reviewed by Shaily Bhargava:
Shaily is an Equity Technical Analyst by profession and an ardent reader, freelance writer, book reviewer by passion who enjoys most of her jolly little life in her cocooned dreamland cooking up stories. Her short stories are published by online literary magazines of repute like Storizen, eFiction India and in anthologies like- ‘Tell me a Story’ by Penguin India and ‘The first Brush on the Canvas’ by Half Baked Beans. Shaily finds her strength in the 3Cs-Coffee, Chocolates and Candy Crush. 








Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review: The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles Book 1): Volume 1 by Farah Oomerbhoy

Title: The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles Book 1): Volume 1
Author: Farah Oomerbhoy
Category: Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Date: 2015
Price: Rs. 349/49 (kindle)
Pages: 416



Book Blurb: 16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn't seem so bad. 

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms--including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora's arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.
The Review: The story begins with an orphan girl Aurora Darlington's pitiable life story as a non-popular child, both at home and school and a repetitive dream. She longs for her birth parents as she is an adopted child, to free her from the current misery. Fate has other plans and her uncle brings her on a vacation to Redstone Manor. Her life would never be the same from this point on.  She is sold to a strange world here through a portal, one she knows nothing about. One thing leads to another in this mystical place where she is to discover her true identity, the meaning of her recurring dreams and discover her purpose, which is what the rest of the story is about.
Aurora is a regular teenager with no special skills but this new world asks a lot from her. Not just that this is where she belongs but her entire family was killed here once and only she was sent away into another world. Who wants to kill her family and why? Aurora learns her parents and herself are magical beings and she begins to understand her true identity. She must learn here to find her magical prowess and grow it, for her enemy is none other than the most cruel queen of Avalonia. Why did she start getting those visions about her parents? Who is Aurora? Will she be able to save herself in this new world and fulfill her purpose? To know all these layers of mysteries surrounding the story, read the book.
The books cover is aesthetic and gives you the right feeling of the backdrop making it perfect as a book of this genre should give you a mystical feeling right when you pick it up. As I began reading the book I loved the writers easy manner of writing almost immediately making me visualize the backdrop, though mystical and relate to the characters. The other part I loved at this point was that none of the characters were perfect or God-like without flaws as many writers aim to make them "too perfect" to be true, this one depicted them as natural and therefore one could relate to them. The setbacks were however that the story was an amalgamation of many most popular stories in the genre an orphan girl, the school of magic, even description of professors resembled Harry Potter the most. While on the evil side the powerful and ruthless queen, the travel portal and dark forces reminded me of Narnia and I was a little disappointed thinking this was it, its going to be a mix of all I have read so far. Nonetheless the writing made me kept going. 
Despite the similarities mentioned, the story has very unique magical elements and a very different plot from the books mentioned above and it was revealed layer by layer as the story continued. The fast pace of the book, never stopping at one destination and altering between highs and lows, easy and tensed scenes gives you a complete fantasy experience. To top it up there is romance, friendship and betrayal to keep one flipping. The editing is fantastic and writing once again vivid and descriptive giving you a visual experience. This book would be an amazing experience if it were an audio book. 
To conclude I couldn't put the book down and did nothing until I finished it. That itself sums up the review and makes you grab a copy immediately, doesn't it?
Tv show producers if you are reading this review, this is a recommended script to pick.  It is an incredible job on the writers part to deliver this quality of work as a debutante. I am anxiously waiting for the sequel. 
Rating: 4/5
About the Author: Farah Oomerbhoy is the international bestselling author of The AvaloniaChronicles. Her first book, The Last of the Firedrakes, was originallypublished on Wattpad where it gained nearly two million reads and aWatty Award. Since publication, her debut has gone on to win a silvermedal in IBPA's Benjamin Franklin Awards and the Readers' Favorite BookAwards, along with winning a finalist placement in the USA Best BookAwards. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams ofliving in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. With a master'sdegree in English literature from the University of Mumbai, Farah spends her creative time crafting magical worlds for young adults. She liveswith her family in Mumbai, India.

Farah loves to connect withreaders. Find her at her website (farahoomerbhoy.com), Twitter(@farahoomerbhoy), Facebook (/FarahOomerbhoyAuthor), Instagram(@farahoomerbhoyauthor), and Pinterest (/FarahOomerbhoy).