Aug 27, 2014

River in the city...

Water has always been a part of my life. Being born on a semi-island city, I am tied to water since birth. (What's a semi-island city, you ask... Mumbai was a bunch of tiny island that they joined to the mainland with landfills...so, it was an island, now its not)

no matter where I go, I always find some way to be closer to the water. Be it sea, or a lake or a river...sometimes even a pond works. So, when I was told that I have to travel to a part of the world that is landlocked, I was more than sad. The idea of not being able to see the ocean was hard to make peace with. But the choice was already made for me.. I had to come here.

When I learned that there is a river in the city, I was more than happy to brave the cold winds that were blowing that day and head towards the water. After a brief walk that was filled with nervous anticipation. When I finally reached the shore... the view wasn't what I had expected it to be. Neither was it beyond all imagination. It was.... if I have to use a word... I would say.... different.


Rituals by the river bank
I've seen my fair share of rivers... In my motherland, and otherwise. Each river, I saw was different than the other. Some were sad, some were interesting, some were mere awesome and some really puzzling. Rivers that are in India... are, for the lack of a better word...sacred. Not coz I believe they are goddesses like most of my countrymen do. But because every river in India, has a story that somehow ties the river to the civilization that sits on its banks. And for the life that the river brought to the piece of land she cuts through...the river becomes a deity. Most rivers in India will have some or the other story attached to it. Some rituals will always be performed by her banks only.

Evening Aarti
The holiest of them all, Ganga....has a daily aarti done on her banks. Its a 'beautiful' experience. To see big diyas being held high and swayed to the rhythms of prayer bells and hymns chants... it makes even a non-religious person like to sway. I've always found the rivers in India to be fascinating. I love the way they originate in high mountains, Himalaya and flow through to the planes. Ganga flows through Kumau Himachal and comes to the planes...and during this journey she changes with every tributary that comes and meets her. Ganga in high Himalaya is called Alaknanda. She is a bubbly river. Filled with noise. with frothy waters that seems to call out to you...like they want you to come play with ... with each Prayag... she changes to become a more stable, silent river of the planes.

The young and bubbly.... Alaknanda
Its like the Alaknanda of Himalaya, is a child filled with life, youth and innocence. As she passes towards planes, she grows up. She sees and experiences so many things that she looses her innocence to be the mature, silent and learned...Ganga of the planes. Who is wiser, the mother of Indian culture.







Mother of Indian Culture... Ganga


I love every mood of that river. Not because she is considered holier than holy... because she is teaches you how to grow up. From the bubbly Alaknanda to Ganges.... She is epitome of the life. She has many moods and many shades. And I can sit by her banks for hours together....just to look at her. I have sat by her banks in Hrishikesh. Witness the spectacle that is the evening Aarti. Touched her water and seen her silent journey. She is mesmerising and she is mysterious.



As soul who grew up with memories of Ganga, when I reached Vltava... It felt like I was at home. Vltava is as different from Ganga as chalk is from cheese. But somehow, she is similar to Ganga than more than one way. There is a living thriving city on both sides of her banks. There are people who sit by her side and worship her in their own ways. Where Ganga is worshipped by an evening aarti... Vltava's worship is done by the myriad lives that flock to her banks for evening walks, to take photos, to feed the ducks and swans on the river, to fish, to have food and listen to music and ride bikes.  There are so many ways one can worship....  there are so many ways one can celebrate... there are so many ways a river brings 'life' to those who reach out to her.

Vltava @ sunset


Coz no matter where you go... there always one place ...which makes you feel like reaching home.

Jul 18, 2014

Book Giveaway... and Book Tour

Hi, everyone! The Readdicts Book Blog is hosting a book tour for Srishti Publishers and Distributors latest release, Happily murdered... by Rasleen Syal. As participants of the tour, we have a very basic and general post about the book for you alongwith an India only giveaway where three copies of the book are up for grabs. Let's get on to what's in store for you! 




BOOK SUMMARY:
Who killed Gulab Sarin?
The radiant new daughter-in-law of the influential Mehta family dies mysteriously on the very next night of her wedding. The murder is an inside job, the police are certain. It could be anyone, the adulterous husband, conniving in-laws, jealous friend and the love struck ex-fiance. With an aim to save themselves and incriminate others, it is not long before these suspects turn into amateur detectives, hunting for clues and delving into hidden secrets only they can unearth. They coerce, pry and blackmail in an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery. Will one of these nine unlikely sleuths finally unravel the mystery behind Gulab's death and avenge it? Or will the truth die as viciously as Gulab?

BOOK LINK: AMAZON / GOODREADS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Rasleen is a mystery addict. When she is not reading or writing whodunits, she is happily playing detective. She can’t resist seeking out curiosity in everyday domestic affairs, unwittingly landing in hilarious situations, much to the angst of her family. Her husband dreads the day she will finally pass on this bug to their baby daughter as well. 

An architect with a Masters degree in Business Administration, to make a living she runs her business in Gurgaon. 

‘Happily Murdered’ is her first book.

AUTHOR LINKS: FACEBOOK / GOODREADS / TWITTER

GIVEAWAY: 

Remember, THREE copies of the book are up for grabs for three lucky INDIAN readers! 

Giveaway rules are as follows: 

*The giveaway is open for residents of India only. 
*Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. If it doesn't display or load for some reason, click here
*Once winners are picked, they will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or else, new winners will be selected.
*The book will be shipped by the author/ publisher. 


Thank you so much for stopping by and happy reading! 







Jul 14, 2014

Happily Murdered.... Surely so

Here I sit in front of the screen, wondering how to pen down my thoughts. My eyes are tired, and heart heavy. Is it only the response to the novel that I just finished? or my personal feelings that are clouding my judgements? Well, whatever the reason behind my state, I know what I just read is definitely a part of the reason.

I know none of us read mystery novels to feel sad or emotionally raw. We read them because we are looking for suspense, thrill of a chase and the inevitable end where Good wins over Bad. That’s what I was hoping when I picked up "Happily Murdered..." If only I knew what I was getting myself into.

My review is biased. My heart is in a place where everything is a rose tinted...not of the rosy glow of the happy kind, but the red hue of the bruised kind. So, yes... my review is going to be biased. I will try to stick to the logical part of the brain rather than the emotional one... no guarantees though

First up.... I would like to Congratulate Rasleen Syal on her d├ębut novel. If this novel is any indication, we just found a brilliant author to the genre of thrillers and suspense.  She is a self-professed fan of Agatha Christie and dedicates her first debut novel to the influences Ms. Christie has had on herself.  And for what my words are worth… she does justice to the dedication. There is fluidity in Rasleen's work that hooks you from the first page on. You see her love for her family, and pride she has for them in those odd two pages. I wish her all the luck for her next project, coz this one is sure-shot winner and doesn't really need my encouragement... it WILL be a success.

Second... A word of caution to Rasleen's husband... with the fame this book is going to gain, I can guarantee you that you will have a detective duo in your house...your wife and the little daughter of yours... J

Now, to the novel.

Its GOOD. It has everything you want to have in a suspense thriller and it has something more. It has a sense of belonging. I know it doesn't make sense when I say this. but when you read it, you will understand what I mean. the novel somehow becomes very personal, like you are a part of it. The easy flow of words, and no nonsense practical language, Rasleen's brilliant way of portraying her characters and the settings in which they exist makes the  not only believable but also very identifiable. In life, you would inevitably would have met, a Gulab, Sid, Vikram, Ned or Sara... they are examples of everyday people, real, believable, relate-able. The girl who pines away for a Casanova, The Casanova who is busy chasing girls, The glutton who wants to be appreciated by his father, and the ones who are desperately in love with the wrong one... Add to that family pressure, intricate interdependent relations, a matriarch who still wields power, a relative desperately trying to hide an addiction... and then there is the twist of the newly-wed bride's death.

There are people in this mix of characters that don't like each other but are bound to each other, by blood or by relation... they can't stand the other but can't leave either.  There are those who love and try desperately to not show it. Some who don't even realize they love. Despite this being a murder mystery, the central theme of the novel is undoubtedly LOVE. and to summarizes the novel in one word... I would repeat what I told my best friend when he asked me how it was. ... "She writes Good"


If you are looking for a fresh, engaging and slightly different murder mystery... gives "Happily Murdered..." a chance, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Jul 6, 2014

Temple of Avinasi

First for the confessions…
  • I had not heard or seen the novel till my best friend posted a review
  • The only reason why I wanted to read the novel, was because my best friend posted a review
  • I am not a devout Hindu who believes in the legends of the Dashavtar…though I enjoy reading about them and ‘have’ read extensively about them
  • Krishna is my ‘absolute’ favorite mytho character…for like EVER
  • When I saw the author bio, I seriously doubted if he could actually ‘write’… although, I should know appearances can be deceiving... I'm ashamed of my preconceptions


Now to the review…

Its not the first time someone has used Kalki and legends in a fictional setting. Recently Ashwin Sanghi used the legend in his Krishna Key… (which by the way a novel I enjoyed, find my review here). But the way Ayush has treated it, is completely different. This one as a delightful change of tune, has all elements of a Hollywood Superhero Flick…. Secret society, Good vs. Evil, Magical Weapons, Immortals and Epic battles interspersed with controversies and mysteries and intrigues… and to add the luster, backdrop of Hindu Mythology. I always wonder why not many people use Mytho as a backdrop for stories. Hindu Mythology and epics are so full of characters and obscure offshoots of stories that if an author decides to write about a character a day, he/she might write for years together without repeating a single thread.
Well, let’s get back to the review. Like I mentioned earlier, this novel has all the things a good sci-fi or superhero flick would need. It’s a novel for modern Indian who is flexible to view and review the legends and is open to a little liberty with the traditional story lines. It offers a possibility at viewing at the images of Gods and legends in a new light. If you don’t feel offended while watching “Ancient Aliens” on History TV… I think you will find this to be palatable. But if you are amongst those devout people who equate gods to be above and beyond humans… you might just not like what the book presents.

I liked the idea of Gods being Immortal till killed/murdered/assassinated. I could relate to a secret society living in a parallel dimension so as to protect us, mere mortals from innumerable perils the outer world offers. I was fascinated by the idea that a dimensional shield protects us. If I was inclined to… it would have made me feel safe in the hands of the creator J the book would find ideal reader in the audiences of The Mummy trilogy if I may guess.

Now, if I have to stop being enamored by the novelty of the book and start reviewing… here’s an unbiased view of looking at this novel.

It’s a very well used and worn story about a young boy who finds himself in a situation that he never would have imagined in his wildest dreams. He has fame and a prophecy that dictates his life, changes his life in an instant. He is thrown into an arena that changes his view…about life, about world in general and about people he thought he knew and understood. There is a villain and by the end of the novel, your perception about the world villain are changed such that nothing really fits in the traditional forms. There is a battle, in traditional terms with weapons of mass destruction and in modern terms where the opponents are both in your head… turmoil and torture… in a traditional review route… this novel  offers nothing new in terms of storyline. In the genre that this falls in… there is nothing to compare this one to.

So… what’s the verdict?


Verdict is that I liked it. I hope pardoning me for my initial reaction, Mr. Pathak continues to write, and completes the series that he promises us at the end of this one… and he delivers the next one with same or even more oomph than he wrote this one with. So, if you liked reading Percy or if you enjoy watching Ancient Aliens without getting offended… this one is a read you will thoroughly enjoy. Go for it.

Jul 4, 2014

When words come alive....

A lot of people I know don’t understand why I read. And almost none understand my need to buy books. Hardly anyone understands why would I buy them and then keep them in the cupboard and read them months and sometimes years later. The fear of losing out on a fascinating world behind closed pages of a book because you don’t have time is a fear very few people can relate to. A few people who understand. May be it takes a different set of mind to understand the love of written word. That’ why when I first heard of a book about people loving the book so much that they call out the characters in their own world and then travel with the characters into the written pages of the books…. I knew it was my kind of book.


My introduction to the Ink series was a chance glance at the movie preview featuring the handsome Brendan Fraser and then getting hooked to the idea of calling characters out from a book. As a rule, I always read the book before I see a movie based on the book. So, there I was reading through words of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart.

Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath form the ink trilogy. They released over 4 years from 2003 till 2007. My introduction to them was done once the movie was out in 2008. And to finish the series… 2014 was half gone past. Why would it take me such long to finish an already completely published series? Well, the answer is simple…. I was busy running around in other wor(l)ds.

So coming back to Inkworld. For starters… what an amazing idea, calling people out from books… traveling with words into the pages a book. Where would you go if you have to enter into a book? I wondered while reading the Inkseries…. Where would I like to travel if I ever have to enter a book? Never found an answer to my question though… I realized I wouldn’t have chosen to enter the Ink world. The fantastic idea of entering the pages of books, is still as fascinating to me as it was before reading the series, but I hardly doubt if I might have chosen to enter into the words on Inkheart. The seemingly fairy-tale world of Inkheart proves a little too dark and too ‘real’ once you see the protagonists entering the pages. The troubles, pains and evil that lurks in the roads of ombra and silver castle is not only scary but also repulsive. Cornelia Funke manages to paint pictures with her words. Pictures that are not pretty. Pictures that show you that around every silver lining a black cloud clouts.

What is applaud able for this whole affair is that while I was reading the series… I wanted to give up. I wanted to stop reading and go on with my life… and I even took a break from reading the novels. But the words kept calling me back. The characters kept beaconing. I dragged myself through the pages and finally finished it. Only to realize that I liked the overall experience. Granted, I won’t yearn for it decidedly… but I definitely liked what I read.


Believable characters (despite the magical ability for calling forth the written words), beautifully constructed world, fantastical places and almost magical ability to bring darkness to life… these are some of the most prominent aspects of Cornelia Funke’s writing. It would have made a better choice to have moved the whole series up from YA genre… this is most definitely is NOT for young adults.

Whether I would ever pick up another Cornelia Funke's novels... is a question that only time will answer... May be sometime soon, I will forget the trauma and hardship Inkseries cost me... and I will succumb to the call of unknown worlds... you never know what lies behind closed pages of a book... hai na?

Jun 17, 2014

I wish it was easier...

Why does an author write? What is the inspiration behind a novel? With biographies the inspiration is clear, but what about fiction? When I write, it’s usually inspired by some stressor...an even or person that touches my heart. Positive or negative; it’s an emotion that makes me write. And for most of the times, I would like to believe that it is the case with authors.

When you read a book, you can sense that inspiration. In the way a character is shaped, or with words that sound a certain way, or may be how a place is described... you can see and sense the inspiration. When an author is good, you are drawn to the web he creates. Sometimes in a few sentences, sometimes by the title of his story, sometimes all it takes is a look at his first chapter... likes of Matthew Reilly, Khaled Hosseini, and Mitch Albom don’t take long to hook you. In contrast sometimes it takes a Meticulous belief in the story that keeps you hooked, like Cornelia Funke's Ink series... and then there are the other times, when you want to know "WHAT was the inspiration behind all this?"

Unfortunately, Thugs and the courtesan fall in the latter category. I want to say it’s a fascinating novel. I want to say it’s a historically inclined novel filled with unexpected twists and turns. I want to say it presents a world previously unknown. I want to say it offers tales of love, lust and lives lost. I want to say go ahead and ready it.


Sadly, I can’t say any of those things.
Yes, it is a novel set in historical time, but apart from justifying why they travel on foot and horseback, it hardly adds anything to the city.
Yes, it provides view of a previously unknown faction like thugs and their operations, but the thugs and their beliefs are not a central part of the story... for that matter, I am still not sure what the "story" is.
Yes, there is a love story, in fact there are two love stories; but once again what is the point of them if they cannot be linked to the central theme of the novel?


It’s some odd 180-200 pages of things happening. Most of them in a jungle, around or because of the thugs. Of course as the name suggests there is a courtesan also. When I picked the novel to read, as a habit I read the back cover first. And the back cover promised tales of thugs, a view of the world that was fascinating as well as thrilling. So, basically I was ready to immerse myself into the world of intrigue and suspense and cunning. What I ended up with was a mix of tales about thugs killing innocents. I wish the author had taken some time to build the back stories of those the thugs kill. For most part, the thugs and their operations felt like a chronicle rather than narrative. And let’s not get me started with the courtesan... Please

There are elements in this novel that would have made for a GREAT story. Like the intrigue around Chanda bai and Noor Begum. Zalim singh and his romance. The disillusion of the Firangia could have been more effectively drawn. And one thing that could have made a success of this novel... was the language. Gosh, I hate to feel burdened with concentration when I reading for leisure. And this one makes you want to sit up straight and "READ". I wish this was an easier read. I feel bad when a good germ of story is disused like this. I know the author is very passionate about the topic and I wish she reads through my review and work on the suggestions... coz I know she would continue writing and I would like to read something fascinating, riveting and easier on eyes read from her.


As of now... it’s perfectly all right if you pass this on without a backward glance.

Jan 25, 2014

Sirens spell danger... and sometimes a complete surprise...

Once again there comes a time when I apprehensively pick up a book to review...and I get pleasantly surprised.

When usually I get a request from a relatively unknown author, I am more than apprehensive… kinda like that Hindi proverb, “Dudh ka jala chhas bhi funk ke pita hai” types. But then the bookworm in me can’t really pass up an opportunity to explore an excellent new find. I mean, how can I? A chance to get a free book? You would have to be silly to pass up an opportunity like that… J

So, once again with growing apprehension I picked up Kindle to read “Sirens Spell Danger”. Result of collaborative efforts of three completely unknown names… an e-book published by three bloggers. The Fool ,Radha Sawana and C. Suresh. The request came to me in December but it took me better part of Jan to actually find the time and inclination to read. My only wish, I had done this earlier.

What C. Suresh wrote when he first contacted me for review was that they are three people from three walks of life writing an action/crime novella. He introduces himself and his co-author as passionate writers. Offers following as an introduction of the novella…

Femme Fatale – C. Suresh: Lured by a sexy siren, Vicky is mistaken for a secret agent, kidnapped, tortured and slated for death. Will he survive and save Bangalore from going up in flames?
Bella Donna – Radha Sawana: There is a serial killer loose in the city leaving mysterious messages around the bodies of the victims. Are the messages a challenge to the police or a siren call to lure another victim?
Bellary – The Fool: Jay is sent to Bellary to investigate a possible ISI plot. Was it merely a murky political plot or was there something more sinister in the offing? And why were two women suddenly singing siren songs of love?

He also continues in the mail that:

We would love to have the book reviewed on your blog as well as on Kindle and Goodreads. We do expect you to give an honest review and are not seeking to merely have the stories praised.
And here I am with my honest review about a collective novella called “Sirens Spell Danger”. In a single word… it was “unexpected”.
I did not expect two IIM grads and a Research Chemist to write a thriller that would captivate me enough to finish reading in 2 days. I definitely did not expect to like it and certainly was not ready to be excited by the story. Those who know that my appetite for thriller is honed by Matthew Reilly’s books know how hard it is for me to actually enjoy a thriller without being smug. But by gods, this was an exception. And I was glad I ever said yes to read and review.
The authors, though novice are adept at writing for the genre. They know and develop the plot with a quick and easy manner with an ease that makes you doubt this is a debut novel… then you realize that they are bloggers and you know that they know what they are doing. You get a glimpse of the author and their lives through the things that they write about, for example when you are reading Bella Donna, you know it is written by a chemist… but what makes it wonderful to read is that even if the premise of the story is pure Chem, you don’t feel like an alien. The author makes sure to crease out any inconvenience reading so much science can cause. And that I think makes the whole experience really exciting. You see a glimpse of the hand behind the pen (or on the keyboard in this case) and see motivations through the narrative. And in a single sentence, you enjoy the experience because its not what you might expect. J
My sincere apology to the author trio for the late review, but heartfelt congratulations for a superb effort and I hope to see much more fantabulous work from all three in near future. As a blogger and a reviewer, I would ALWAYS be ready to read and review.

Jan 23, 2014

When stories grow old and new one's emerge from the good byes....


What does an end of a series mean to you?

Personally, I believe like I'm saying final goodbyes to my close friends. it hurts to know that we would not be meeting again. Like we are walking two separate paths and will not meet again. This emotional bonding that I have with series is usually why I shy away from fan-fictions. It feels like I’m betraying an old friend by reading about his world but not from his creator instead an imposter. Most of the times, fan-fiction is not even as good as the original one. It’s either a diluted version of the story’s tangent or a horrendous misaligned inappropriate picture of what ‘could’ have been. Both scenarios bleak as they can ever be. So when one of friends came to me suggesting I read a fanfic for Harry Potter series, I was more than apprehensive. I was downright sure, I would never read it. I downloaded the PDF which my friend had created by meticulously saving every “daily” chapter from the website, and for months together the book stayed hidden, under a myriad of e-books.


It was by a co-incident that I finally started reading the first one. And before I knew it, I was nose-deep in the story. Didn’t realize when the 1.5hour long travel to my office was over and it was time to shut the kindle off. If I say, I was anxious to get back to reading will be a gross understatement. The 8 hour wait that I had to endure working in office, ended up with me reading non-stop throughout the night, finishing the book at 5.30 in the morning.

That should be enough to tell you how much I enjoyed the book. If not, here’s a brief of what all I liked.
  •             Even though it is a fanfic, it does not dilute the original’s amazing charm.
  •             It’s a brilliantly written and constructed book… you can feel that the author really likes and understand the HP universe
  • He builds on the things happened till the 7th book… and he does not offend your sensibilities with blatant assumptions and disrespect
  • The story stands on its two own feet, even if you have ‘never’ heard or read HP, though knowing HP helps, but if you have not read HP(which is stupid to even consider)… you still will be able to enjoy the series
  • The author obviously has spent a lot of effort in creating a whole new world within the HP universe with equally interesting characters and facts and anecdotes.
  • I liked the way his characters are developed and had taken a life of their own rather than being simple shadows of the characters that we have grown to know and love.
  • They are lively, cheerful and everything that we come to expect from main characters of a long saga of books around mystery, magic and adventure.
  • The events that unfold in these universe are equally as magical as you want them to, full of adventure and muscle power that it needs and a dash of smiles and sprinkling of laughter that makes this as a completely lovely experience
  • As the series progresses, you see the base of the universe seeing issues and events that you would not have thought about seeing in HP universe. And that makes this better, bolder and more adult friendly than HP works.
  • The best part of the series is… there is not a single villain in the series. So the author has a free hand at developing the storyline as long or as short he wishes to…. Which means…. Lots of stories to follow J

If you want to see and read them... they are all available "http://www.jamespotterseries.com/"