Book Review :: Rafflesia the Banished Princess

IMG_0488Book: Rafflesia the Banished Princess
Author: Gautam

Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
Release: 20 March 2017
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5

Buy @ Amazon

Summary

There is no princess in this story. I too, like everyone else, was expecting this to be a story revolving around a female protagonist. Instead, there is Appu (Apoorva Sharma). This is a story about Appu’s journey from childhood to adulthood, the journey from a suburb of Guwahati, Assam to Leeuwarden, Netherlands; about his struggles, friendships, and relationships with people of different ages. It is a third person narration. The timeframe of this story is from 1982 to 2008.

My Review

Appu, a sweet, timid boy from Assam lived with his father Aabir, a Bengali and his mother Trina, an Assamese in a rented house in Guwahati. The family struggled with poverty yet was very happy with each other. As much as the poverty tried to run over them, his father’s Violin and music shielded them from any negativity. His parents dreamt and hoped that one day Appu will be a successful man and pull himself out of that miserable life.

Appu always struggled to express his emotions as a child and he never could change himself even when he grew up. His best friend since childhood, Rahul, always complained that Appu never shared his feelings, thoughts, desires, and hopes with him. Appu never really shared his feelings with anyone else either. He was extremely introvert and somewhat naive. He didn’t understand the complexity of the world. He kept on hiding his emotions to himself. He hardly understood people yet loved them dearly and never hated any even if they harmed him in some way.

I could relate with Appu to some extent. His mediocre, humble upbringing and surrounding was similar to mine. The revelation of his love of different languages made me feel I could very well be his friend.  At the workplace, he was the outcast, distant, silent one, just like me. Still, he managed to get so many affectionate friends who doted on him.

He treasured little things of life and kept them as a collection. A piece of paper with a scribble from Rahul and two books he got as gifts made his precious collections. Rafflesia, the Banished Princess was one of them. He even carried them to Netherlands. Those things helped him to cope with the loneliness and emptiness he faced in his life. As a reader, it was difficult for me to understand whether Appu ever fell in love with anyone or desired anyone in his life or not.

My Evaluation

If you like a slow, melancholy story you must try this one.

Things I liked:

  1. How the story handles a lot of emotions. It even breaks the stereotype that “Boys don’t cry.” They do cry and feel all the tender emotions.
  2. How Appu treasured books gifted to him. Like Appu, I too have such books which I carry everywhere. The nostalgia and the good memories attached to it along with the story itself gives a lot of comforts in hard times.
  3. All the main characters and their stories.

Things I didn’t like:

  1. Some goofs. Like in 1982 there were no STD booths in India. STD booths were opened during the late 80’s.
  2. Grammatical and typesetting errors. Text needs careful editing.
  3. So many insignificant characters and names which made the story lengthy.

 

 

‘I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.’

Book Review :: Cobra Z (Necropolis Trilogy Book 1) by Sean Deville

30632837Book: Cobra Z (Necropolis Trilogy Book 1)
Author: Sean Deville

Publisher: Severed Press
Release: 15 June 2016
Genre: Fiction (Thriller)
Rating: 4/5

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Warning: This novel is not for faint-hearted.

Cobra Z is the first novel of the Necropolis Trilogy. I received an e-book from the writer Sean Deville through Reader’s House (@Readers_tweets) in exchange for an honest review. As soon as I saw it on twitter,  I found the blurb interesting enough to grab the opportunity. And I was not wrong.  

This is my first ever zombie novel. Being a fan of zombie thriller movies I have known enough stories which are almost similar. But never read any books before. Still, I feel this story is different in many ways. Unlike the movies, you get to see the story from 4 different perspectives. The villains, the security forces & governments, the civilians, and the zombies themselves! These zombies are fast and there are two types of them. One is infected but not dead. The other is undead. The infection spreads through bodily fluids and bites and works within 10 minutes.

It starts with a failed mission at the Hirta Island Research Facility where the entire team was infected with a virus which turns the human into hungry cannibals and there is no cure. One of the team members escapes the facility before the infection spreads with the sample of that virus without leaving any trace of being there. One year later the virus is planted at different locations around London by the followers of a religious psycho who believes he is delivering the god’s wish to punish the people who followed other religions and non-believers. A scientist who became estranged from the entire human kind pretends to help the religious guru but has a plan of his own. Rest of the story the readers should find out.

The story is bold and talks about almost all the issues we humans are facing in our current world. The storyline seemed very practical given the circumstances we got to see in Syria being under chemical attack recently. Who can guarantee there is no one hatching sinister plans with the biological weapons right now, as those kinds of attacks are not new in the history of mankind.

Though there are some goofs (at least two) which are negligible. Hope they will be corrected in later editions. Also, I felt the repeated descriptions of how the zombies thought and worked as a hive was completely unnecessary. At times it ruined the flow of the story. Apart from that, It is well written. Liked the language and tone of the story very much.  I loved how the story unfolded and ended. I am definitely going to read the next book.

 

BOOK REVIEW :: Unns – The Captivation

Book: Unns – The Captivation51DZKNa+wbL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_
Author: Sapan Saxena

Publisher: Inspire India Publishers
Release: March 18th 2016
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Unns, the 2nd stage of love, the stage of infatuation and captivation often makes us fool. In Urdu, there are seven stages of love. Hub (stage of attraction), Unns (stage of infatuation), Ishq (stage of actually falling in love), Aqeedat (stage of respect), Ibadat (stage of worship), Junoon (stage of obsession), and Maut (stage of death). I think I have lived all the first four stages of love and after reading this novel I am really glad that I have never reached any of the last three stages.

Atharva Rathod and Meher Qasim paid high prices at different stages of their lives for love. They were once high-school sweethearts. Meher being the ambitious one and obedient daughter of her parents, ended the relationship even before they could realize at which stage of the love they were. Heartbroken Atharva tried to move on for next 15 years and became a successful senior agent of RAW, the primary foreign intelligence agency of India. 15 years later they met again in Germany while Atharva was leading an important mission and Atharva’s life turned upside down. Was it a coincidence or planned?

They met again after 12 years, this time in the suburbs of Belmont. While they faced each other again, they had to face their own demons, emotions, and weaknesses for the finality. What happens at the end readers should find out. I recommend it for young adults.

Frankly speaking, I was never so confused about deciding whether I really liked or disliked a novel before. I liked the plot, the characters, and the narration. But still, there were a lot of things I didn’t like at all. The story could have been a brilliant thriller but fails miserably. Following are the points which ruined my experience of reading a good book.

  1. Text needs lots of editing. The grammar mistakes are really annoying.
  2. It was really difficult to keep track of the abrupt transitions between past, present and different time periods in the same chapters.
  3. A trained RAW agent can’t be such careless or naive to give access to his laptop which contains such secret and crucial information of the country’s security to anyone else.
  4. What Atharva was trying to find out for months, was found by others within few hours after the mission fails. That is absurd.
  5. It was actually Dev’s idea to involve Meher in the mission. But he never takes the responsibility when the mission fails. Why?

The book cover, binding, and paper quality are really good.

“I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.”

I am More Indian Than You Think

I come from a suburb of Kolkata which has a population that followed all kinds of religions possible in India. We even have people belonged to different tribes as neighbors. An outsider can’t differentiate between houses of different religious person, we live in such a way. Inter-caste and inter-religion marriage is very common in our area and nobody thinks it as more than a small gossip. But we all speak Bengali so the harmony was nothing extraordinary in my opinion.

I started playing chess when I was 11 years old. To be honest I was quite late compared to other chess players I know. I was a shy and introvert girl at that time. I still am. But that exposure into the world as a sportsman changed my life. During my first year I came to know the players speaking different but familiar languages and coming from different parts of West Bengal. I made friends for the first time with the boys and girls of different ages other than those I knew since my childhood. The horizon of my mind just started to get bigger.

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Within a year I got selected for national level age group tournaments. My first ever national tournament was held in Thrissur in Kerala. That was the longest train journey I have ever made at that age. It took us 3 days to reach there. I struck up an acquaintance with a lady in train who spoke fluent Bengali but told me her mother tongue was Telugu. I was amazed. Co-incidentally the journey covered the 31st December and 1st January. I was woken up by some people running around shouting and wishing each other “Happy new year!”. Such a unique and happy way to start the year.

My experience was same at the tournament as well. Till then I only read in books that our country’s political motto is “Unity in diversity” and I experienced just that after reaching the venue. So many girls from every corner of India came to participate in that tournament, held in a small village called Peechi. Some came with their families, just like me. The families made friends with each other with their broken English while we girls played against each other. Many knew each other from earlier tournaments. Every evening after our tournament rounds and before our practice sessions we played together in the hilly ground or went to see the beautiful reservoir & dam nearby. The tournament was hosted in a church. We all shared dormitories and had so much fun together. The village had only a small hut which served rice, sambar, and omelette for lunch and dinner. The only small stationery shop available there had a pay phone from where we made calls to home.

I made best of friends over the years from every corner of India. We grew up together literally. We met each other at tournaments every few months held in different corners of India. I participated in tournaments held in places I never imagined existed. I traveled extensively. And from that time I became a bohemian at heart forever. I felt proud being an Indian. I don’t think any other country has as many differences as we Indians have yet so connected to each other. During International tournaments I even made acquaintances with people coming from different countries.

We, chess players played against each other but never hated any. After every match we discussed and helped each other to analyze the games and find wrong moves we made. We wrote letters to each other for years pouring our hearts out.  I am still in touch with many. We never bothered about religions, regions or financial status. We shared rooms, meals, heartbreaks, failures and success with each other as if we were families. We loved and accepted each other just the way we were. We even tried to learn each other’s languages. We never laughed at each other’s accented and broken languages as we taught each other or at our poor scores in the tournament. More than anything we exchanged our different cultures and values.

I tasted different authentic regional foods (sometime even home-made foods) as I traveled to different parts of India since very young age. With that exposure I have developed a tongue which can survive with any kind of tasty food available around me without feeling homesick. From Chhole Batore to Dosa, from Fish Curry to Misal Pav, from Momos to Haleem, from Lucknow Biryani to Hyderabadi Biryani, from Rajma to Malabar Chicken, I am all game. That same exposure made me understand and love people even if they are not Bengali or Indian. I have become a global citizen yet an Indian at heart.

Today India has more than 40 Grand Masters and many International Masters. India has produced exceptional players over the years and many more in the making. Even though I don’t play anymore I still feel so proud of being a chess player. It is not a team game yet there is no rivalry. It is this Indian-ness that helped me succeeding in my career as a Graphic Designer, as a designer must understand every client’s taste and need is different. I shifted to Bangalore 10 years back and never felt away from home. I am #MoreIndianThanYouThink it is possible.

Knowing people with different mother tongues made me a language-lover. So I started learning German as well. Two years back I met an elderly German couple, Moni and Klaus on a trip in Coorg, Karnataka and we are still in touch through e-mails. As I spoke to them in German they said they felt at home. Before parting Moni gifted me her magazine as that was the only possible option she had. I still treasure that one.

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Lufthansa’s new TVC caught my attention. It is celebrating India’s growing global influence. In this ad the mouth watering food they are serving made me think how delighted Moni and Klaus would be when they make their next trip to India as they always travel by Lufthansa. And I hope I can visit them soon.

This post is written as a part of the contest #MoreIndianThanYouThink in association with Indiblogger and Lufthansa.

BOOK REVIEW :: Think with me by ‘Saharasri’ Subrata Roy Sahara

41jrob0wDqL._AC_UL320_SR212,320_Book: Think with Me
Author: ‘Saharasri’ Subrata Roy Sahara

Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Release: 10 November 2016
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Buy from Amazon

Think with Me – Fundamentals for making our country ideal” is Subrata Roy‘s second book of the “Thoughts from Tihar” trilogy. The book is divided into 5 topics – Electoral System & Leadership, Population, Education System, Media, and Religion. The writer elaborated on the problems we Indians are facing at present and tried to give some solutions for those problems in this book.

I agreed on the points writer raised on Electoral System and Leadership. A narrow minded person can never make a good leader. And our current electoral system helps flourish corruption and corrupted people. He repeatedly mentions about the five categories of emotional sphere, “I“, “My“, “We“, “We All“, and “Us“. He even offered to guide the system if the authority (ever) agrees to implement the solutions he suggested.

I found his opinion on poor population is outright insensitive where he mentioned poor people are responsible for the degeneration of merits and qualifications of India’s entire population. We all know for a fact that lavish upbringing doesn’t ensure someone’s intelligence or make him a good human being. Same way being poor doesn’t mean they can’t be a skilled professional or a good human being or have the emotional sphere of “Us”. No one can deny that our country always depended on efforts and hard works of our poor population. We had great leaders, writers, poets, players, artists, activists, businessmen who belonged to poor families. Most of our security personnel come from poor background and that doesn’t stop them from being brave or skilled fighters. I would like if the writer reconsiders his view on this topic.

The chapter on our Education System is well thought and his solutions are interesting. I will leave it for the readers to find out.

Where I completely agreed with the writer was the chapter of Media. The role of the media houses on nation building is huge. But our media is doing just the opposite these days. He suggested which actions should be taken to stop irresponsible journalism. In my opinion they could be really effective if applied.

Religion has an unavoidable impact on human lives. Our country’s political motto is “Unity in Diversity”. To maintain that, we all need to put extra efforts and keep a peaceful approach to solve the problems sometimes arise due to communal tensions. Otherwise a civil war or riot can break out and destroy our country anytime.

This is the first and only book from the trilogy I have read. It takes longer time for me to read a non-fiction as I give more time to understand the writer’s perspective. One needs to keep in mind that this book contains writer’s own opinion. The solutions he offered not all of them are practical and agreeable. But overall it is a good read.

“I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.”

When It Rained Here

The wind started thrashing the window panes suddenly in the evening and I knew it would rain. I opened the window of my bed room and sat on the bed in dark. The silvery threads of lighting were flashing at the distance in the sky. The cloud started rumbling. Bangalore is no more pleasant during summer like it used to be. Earlier we used to show off the ever-pleasant weather of Bangalore, the city of gardens. So a rain like this is a reason for a joy after a hot summer day.

Even though our apartment building is far from the main road, the adjacent lanes have a good number of vehicles flowing through all day. Soon it started raining and the cool breeze started coming in my direction. People started running around, disoriented yet happy. Some of the balcony doors opened and people stood there for a while enjoying the rain. I remembered it’s been a while I took time out to watch the real life around me. Many memories were piling up in my mind. Thought about the paper boats and puddles in our garden. I can never get enough of rain.

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[Royalty free picture taken from internet and edited in Photoshop]

Bikers were hurrying towards their destinations as they were not prepared for this. Few pedestrians were struggling to hold on to their umbrellas. Cars, autos and trackers were occasionally clogging the 4 lane junction. The shop owner across the road was watching the rain with an amused expression. One tall guy changed his direction suddenly as it was being difficult for him to manage his umbrella and remain dry. Raindrops on black telephone cables were glistening like diamonds.

Away from all these a lone dog was trying to keep himself dry under a tree. I know this dog. The dispirited dog was all soaked within few minutes. The front gate of the house next to him was closed. He walked away somewhere to find a better place.

The lady from one balcony in 3rd floor of a building across ours went inside leaving the door open. I noticed the only big tree in our area moving violently, as if it was dancing with impish glee. The dog came back again to his old spot but didn’t feel comfortable. He looked at the boundary wall of the house for a while and then decided to leave again. This time to a different direction.

I closed the window, knowing it won’t rain for long as everything was still so visible. I didn’t want to witness the moment when it stops.

 

BOOK REVIEW :: A Walk in the Rain by Udai Yadla

Book: A Walk in the Rain31849927
Author: Udai Yadla

Publisher: Kyron Publications
Release: 2016
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Buy from Amazon

Sunny was a timid, lonely boy before Sandy came into his life. Sandy changed Sunny’s lonely friendless, gloomy life into a bright sunshine. Two innocent 5th standard classmates soon became inseparable and found love and solace in each other. After few years Sandy disappeared from his life without a trace. Sunny had endured a lot of grief in his life but losing Sandy was the worst of them all. He never healed and went back to his solitude and grew up to be an extremely introvert and misogynist. His heart was connected to Sandy’s with the “thread of love”.

Sunny was still deeply in love with Sandy when his only friend Imran planned to give a surprise birthday gift to him. Imran wanted Sunny to forget Sandy and start a new life. That night Sunny met Saloni and his life changed again. They instantly started hating each other. Sunny hated Saloni for being a prostitute. Saloni hated him for being a rude and insensitive person. That night Imran was brutally murdered by a pimp named Hari while trying to save Sunny from a mob. Saloni was the only hope for Sunny to find Hari and take the revenge. In exchange of money Saloni agreed to help Sunny and they set for a dangerous journey. Was Sunny walking into a trap laid by Saloni? Did they overcome their hatreds and become friends or they turned out to be enemies? Would Sunny be able to fall in love again? What happens to them finally is up to the reader to find out.

The book talks about a very serious issue. Our mindset and social conditioning makes us hate and judge prostitutes irrespective of their reasons to choose such profession. We hardly ever question or judge the customers or the society these prostitutes serve, willingly or unwillingly. The story shows us why and how women are forced to accept such degrading life. Some of them are yet very much able to retain their self-respect and grace.

The characteristics of Sunny reminded me of a girl from my class in college. She would keep to all by herself and hardly talk to anyone. She would look uninterested in everything around her. She wouldn’t make any friends. I even heard she once tried to commit suicide. Fortunately Sunny never did so. Sandy’s memory kept him somewhat happy and alive.

The action scenes seemed very much like a Bollywood movie but I must say they were the added spices for me. Even though there are many grammatical mistakes and some sentences sounded really odd, I found the story rather interesting. This was Udai Yadla’s first book so I wasn’t expecting it to be perfect. The style of narration is good. It is a light read actually. I finished it in one sitting.

Rain plays a very important role in this story. I myself love rain so much. So does Sandy and Sunny. The descriptions of them playing in the rain reminded me of my childhood. After finishing the story the cover makes lot of sense now.
 

“I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.”