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Book Review Books

Book Review: Post Millennial Tales

Post Millennial Tales is a book of micro tales written and illustrated by young twins Navya Singh and Bhavya Singh. The 12-year-old sisters have written tales that are relevant and sensitive. The words depict the true nature of the world we live in and are written from their hearts.

Illustrations in the book have truly added to the experience of reading this book. As you turn the pages, you can’t help marvelling over the amazing thoughts and the pictures depicting these thoughts. Navya and Bhavya are a team and together they have brought awesomeness to my book collection.

Kudos to these two!

My rating: 4.8/5

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Book Review Books

Book review: The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home

The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home by Sudha Murty is the first part of a trilogy. It is the story of a pup who has been adopted by a loving family and is a first-person account of the dog, Gopi.

The story starts with birth of Gopi and how he feels being adopted by a human family soon after. The first part ends with Gopi having a good time at the family’s home with Ajji and others.

This being a children’s book, the writing is simple and easy to understand. The illustrations are spot on and make for a very beautiful book. Sudha Murty has written a joyful book about a pup’s journey which will be enjoyed by children.

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Books

Book Review: The Doll Factory

It’s dark, it’s twisted and it’s got love. The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Seagan is a tale of love set in 1850s London, where Iris and Rose, twin sisters live and work at a doll shop. Iris, with wrongly set collarbone from a birth injury, walks with a slightly different gait and Rose, once the perfect twin with a beautiful face, is now disfigured due to smallpox scars and has lost sight in one eye. Iris dreams of painting and she assiduously saves money to buy paint and easel. And this desire to paint makes her accept Louis Frost’s offer to model for his painting in exchange of painting lessons.

Unknown to her Silas, a lonely taxidermist is slowly getting obsessed with her. There is Albie, running through the dark and grimy streets of London earning his living by making dresses for the dolls that the sisters make and whom Iris considers as a little brother. Louis Frost is part of a group of painters who call themselves PRB, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who are rebelling against the academic norms of the time.

When Iris and Louis set to work together, she takes lodging away from Mrs Salter’s shop and finds her freedom for the first time in life; and also a chance to learn art from Louis himself. With time they fall in love. Meanwhile, Silas’s obsession for Iris increases day by day and he starts following her. Albie, who has an inkling of what Silas wants, goes through a conscience struggle when Silas threatens to kill his sister if he tells Iris anything.

The story builds on the love and obsession with ease and the early 1850s London of the poor is depicted vividly. Iris with her quest for freedom, Louis with his ideas for art, Albie with inherent goodness in his heart are all great characters and grow as the story progresses but the best of the lost is Silas. As his obsession for Iris grows, we see how lonely and deranged he is and his twisted mind is enough to give creeps to anyone.

I liked the way the story progresses. The first 30 or so pages were a bit slow for me but after that I was in the story. This is Elizabeth Seagan’s first book and I look forward to reading her next work which I hope lives up to the benchmark she has created with The Doll Factory. This was one of the better books of the year and a perfect end to my 2019 read list.

My rating: 5/5

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Book Review Books

Book Review: Devourers from Suryaksh

She makes people dance around the fire …
… before she kills them in cold blood.

No one knows her true origin. Time readers can’t read this ruthless telekinetic, who snaps necks with a mere hand gesture.

Tej, once a simple villager, now a time traveler, is pulled into conflict as she attacks him in 3057 BC, hunting for his friend. Dead bodies of his loved ones pile up as she ravages through his village. Intending to seek justice Tej races against time itself to fight her: an entity so vile, even her own kind fear her. But can he do this alone?

Devourers from Suryaksh, Part two of the Time Travelers Series starts from where the first part ended. Rigu’s treachery has been discovered and he has been punished. Tej is making peace with the consequences of saving the world and everything seems to be settling down when another attack happens.

Tej’s deadly new nemesis, Nefe has turned up and she has telekinetic powers that Tej hasn’t even seen in anyone else. To destroy Nefe and her army, Tej must ally with Rigasur or the planet earth and the humans will all be taken over by Nefe.

About the story: Science fiction and mythology once again blended together to create an interesting book. The time travelling, telekinesis, possession and technological advances like AI and robotics together create quite an impact and it surely makes for a gripping read. The author, Varun Sayal has carried forward Tej & Rigu’s story and the transformation in their mutual relationship has been depicted well. Tej has been used as a pawn by Rigasur/ Rigu and the betrayal is yet fresh in his heart but Tej lets go of his personal issues and decides to work with Rigu for the greater good.

At times I felt that certain scenes were highly inspired from Dr. Who, the television series. If you have been watching the series, the resemblance will dampen the reading experience at times. But other than that, I would say that Devourers from Suryaksh will not disappoint you.

The ending has hinted towards another part and it should be interesting to read how the story of Rigu and Tej moves on.

My rating: 3.8/5

PS: I would like to thank the author for review copy of the book.

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Book Review Books

Book Review: Demons of Time

Sci-fi plus time travelling equals an interesting tale. Mostly it’s true and in case of Demons of Time, you can say the formula almost delivers a hundred per cent result.

Varun Sayal has weaved a story where we have time demons, who are essentially time travelers gone bad, a young protagonist looking for revenge and a guru who is running against time to stop a grand mishap.

The year is 3077BC and Tej and his mother have escaped the clutches of a time demon, Kumbh, with the help of a guru, Rigu and Kumbh is captued. Twenty years later, Tej is a married man with a 4-year old daughter. His mother has died a few years ago and he is leading a normal village life when Rigu comes to visit him and requests his help in recapturing Kumbh. And so, Tej undertakes a journey spanning more than 5 thousand years to fulfill what he believes is his destiny.

Coming to the writing, it’s good. I found the book quite interesting. Technological advancements and their pros & cons have been well woven with the concept of time travelling. Although, there are times when it’s unfathomable that a person in 3057BC can understand computers and virtual reality so easily. But other than that, most of the story flows well.

The characters do require some more time and development. Human emotions of love, betrayal, anger, etc. have not been portrayed very well. Maybe, we will see more facets of the main characters in the next part of the series.

My rating: 3.4/5

P.S. I would like to thank author Varun Sayal for review copy of this book.

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Book Review Books

Book review: City of Bones & City of Ashes

Now, I know these are old books, an old series but I have started reading this 6-book series this year, so I’m writing about them now.

City of Bones is the first part of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and is the book enchanting or what. I started reading it because I had to reduce he size of my one-year-old TBR list and this one called to me. Once I started, I had to finish it at he earliest and move to the next part.

Clarissa or Clary is an average American teenage girl who has a fairly simple life. Going to school, going out with friends and defying her mom. She has never known her father but she has a father-figure in her life, Luke. All this changes one day when she meets a handsome and attractive boy, Jace and his friends Alec and Isabelle.

Soon after, Clary’s mother disappears and she is sucked into a world that she didn’t even know existed. She meets Shadowhunters, demons, werewolves, vampires and warlocks. In her pursuit to find her mother, she comes across many truths that were hidden from her and also falls in love with Jace.

At the end of the first part, Clary finds her mother but she is in a coma-like state and no medicine shows any effect on her. Clary also learns some shocking truth about herself and Jace which changes the dynamics of her blossoming relationship with Jace completely.

Part two of the series, City of Ashes carries on with Clary’s search for a cure for her mother and also her struggles with the reality of the life that was hidden from her so far. They are all under serious threat from Valentine, the great villain, as he is gaining more power with each passing day.

Talking of the characters, Clary is a likeable teenager who is suddenly thrust into the unknown with no clue of who to trust and how to protect herself. Jace is fearless warrior who comes across as arrogant at first but is quite charming when he wants to be. Simon, Clary’s best friend is a normal human boy who likes her and keeps trying to tell her this. His character shows the maximum change and is a delight to read.

I found Cassandra Clare’s writing fast and interesting. I am partial towards fantasy books and this series has delivered it for me. The first two parts are good, fast and with enough plot twists to keep you hooked. From first page to the last, I was completely engrossed and as soon as I finished the first part, I wanted to move to the next. There are four more to go in the series and I have no idea how the story will pan out ahead, but the beginning of the saga is promising enough.

My rating: 4.5/5 for City of Bones

4.5/5 for City of Ashes

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Books

Happy Women’s Day

Today is the International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. Change cannot be brought about in a day and it is an ongoing process towards equality of women. I believe that our books are playing a very important role in bringing about this change. Whether you read biographies, autobiographies, memoirs or fiction, a strong woman leaves a mark on the psyche. And today, I have decided to look into four of my favourite fictional female characters and share with you my views on them.

The first character that comes to my mind is Hermione Granger. She is a brilliant student with a gifted mind and and when she befriends Harry & Ron, she never backs out. The dangers that the trio face through the seven years can break any friendship but never once does she deters from her path. Though, she cared about studies and grades, when Ron & Harry needed her help she never backs out; even if it meant breaking school rules. A constant support to Harry, she has been instrumental in their winning the battle against Voldemort. Kudos to the lady who as Ron had said early on, “needs to set her priorities straight”.

Another strong girl is Katniss Everdeen. She decides to volunteer and replaces her sister, Prim when she is chosen for the Hunger Games. What follows is Katniss’s fight for survival, first in the arena and later in the country against an oppressive ruler. What we see here is how strength of one girl can change the course of a regime. Kudos to Katniss for being the Mockingjay and fighting for what was right.

Lisbeth Salander is dark, twisted and has been through hell. The Millennium Trilogy is not for the weak heart and Lisbeth is no weak woman. Subjected to hardships for as long as she can remember, she has managed to stand up on her two feet, fighting for what’s her right and winning. Even when her heart breaks, she does not look back twice and moves ahead in life, forging her own way. I wish Steig Larsson had lived longer to write more about Lisbeth.

Vasilisa “Vasya” Petrovna. The Winternight Trilogy is another series that has left me mesmerised. The books, inspired by Russian mythology have been captivating from the first page. Vasya shows her grit and a certain defiance for rules from a very young age and she never once bows down to what she knows is wrong. As she grows up, she is forced to leave her home and she faces hardship which can break anyone but she doesn’t stop. She continues and keeps saving the world from monsters. I am yet to read the third part of the trilogy, which released in January but I am sure Vasya will save the day once again.

There are many female characters and if I start listing them, I will never manage to complete this post. I love these four the most because they are survivors. They have made tough choices in life and have gone against the current but they succeeded. It’s not like they didn’t lose anyone, all of them have lost a lot of people they loved. I cried when they lost, rejoiced when they won and I am so glad to have been a part of their life stories.

Did you also notice that three of these four characters have been created by women authors? Kudos to us women.

Happy Women’s Day again! Shine like you deserve to.

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Book Review Books

Book review: KaalKoot

KaalKoot – A deadly venom powerful enough to wipe out the entire human race. So, what happens when someone tries to unleash such a weapon with such monstrous consequences on earth?

That’s where this story begins, a person known as the Maestro has hatched a plan to unleash the weapon at a public gathering to create terror in the world. It has fallen upon our hero, Sam and an ACG agent Damini to stop the attack and save millions of people.

There is a lot at stake, more than anything he could have imagined and it has fallen upon him to save his girlfriend, Ananya and the world by finding the antidote to the bio weapon.

The narration of the story is fast and captivating. S. Venkatesh has created a good thriller with very realistic characters. The parts where the Maestro or Doc is present have a very sinister feel.

As a reader, you will feel sympathy for Sam and root for him to succeed in his venture. Damini is relentless and good at her job. She wants to get her work done at whatever cost because as she puts it “end justifies the means”.

There is also Prof Bhabani who had started his search for the antidote as a challenge. Each character develops as the story progresses and within a span of few days, they each find a realisation within themselves as to what they really want with their lives.

As a story woven through a myth and landscape of Himalayas, this one is remarkably good and for the lovers of thrillers, this book delivers.

My only concern was that the end seems a little rushed. We reach the conclusion in a jiffy which left me a little disappointed. But otherwise, it’s a good read.

My rating: 4.3/5

P.S. “I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset” https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in

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Book Review Books

Book review: Chronicles of Kali

Chronicles of Kali: The Secret Book of Asurs is about a young girl, Kali who has supernatural powers, which is her ability to talk to plants and animals and understand them. She has the power to stop the Asurs and save mankind from self destruction.

I started reading this book and by the end of first chapter, I was a little apprehensive. There is this girl who understands animals and trees and can talk to them. But then I continued reading and before I realised, I had crossed 50 pages. This clearly indicates that I was drawn into the story.

Chronicles of Kali by Prithvi Raj is about Kali, a girl found floating in the waves of Ganga and adopted by the great sage Vyas. She is destined to bring about the fall of Asurs. On the ghats of Varanasi, she meets Pat who fosters her after they are forced to flee from Varanasi because of the Asurs.

The writing is simple, the author keeps the plot fast and interesting. He has added just the right amount of supernatural and fantasy and it is an interesting take on Goddess Kali. I recommend reading this book.

My rating: 4.5/5

P.S. Thank you @vinfluencers (Insta handle) for the review copy of this book.

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Book Review Books

Book review: Once Upon an IAS Exam

The Big Indian Dream! That’s what IAS exam is all about, and that’s the topic of the book Once Upon an IAS Exam written by K. Vijayakarthikeyan. It’s a story about Vishy, who has valiantly decided to crack the Indian Civil Services exam and joins a coaching institute to help him achieve his target. He is also in love with his childhood friend Rithika who is yet to acknowledge and reciprocate to his proposal.

The story starts on the day UPSC prelim results are declared and Vishy has not cleared the exam. He is disappointed but not disheartened and decides to join a coaching institute. His quest for a good institute also provides us an insight into the kind of business this has turned into and how preparation has also become a money market for some. In the meantime, he has also proposed Rithika and she is yet to respond. So does he get what he wants? Both in his professional and love life?

The story is fairly simple and writing is light. There are funny moments and some sad reality too which is not portrayed too darkly. Personally, I found this one quite good and had me occupied during the waiting time at airport. It’s not too long or convoluted so you can finish it in a go. And, this book will provide a little bit of insight into what an aspirant goes through during his preparation days. I suggest giving this a go on any upcoming lazy weekend.

My rating: 4/5

P.S. I would like to thank Vinfluencers for review copy of this book.