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Book Review: Dream Beyond Shadows: No Ordinary Tourist

A lot of times, we go through in our lives what is called an existential crisis. This is when we start questioning all that we do, the way we live, where we work, every aspect of our lives.

The author, Kartikeya Ladha goes through the same and goes out and about to explore himself. He has a good job, with great opportunities for him to grow but one day he realises that he wants more from his life. He wants to search in himself and the world what is it that he truly seeks. The book Dream Beyond Shadows: No Ordinary Tourist is about that journey.

The book is a recollection of the journey he undertakes to Peru. He quits his job and goes on to a country with very little to no knowledge of the language. It’s about the difficulties he faces and how he manages to overcome them. Living in a foreign country, earning his livelihood there, meeting and interacting with new people add to his journey and he gains a knowledge of himself and the meaning of life that we are living.

The writing is quite interesting and takes us on a journey with the author. The poems and illustrations are the added joys of the book. Do read it for a peek into the fruitful experience of the author.

My rating: 4.1/5

P.S. I would like to thank the author for review copy of the book.

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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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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: 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: 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: 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.

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Book review: Tarikshir, The Awakening

Hindu mythology meets history meets fiction. That is what Tarikshir, The Awakening essentially is. The readers are introduced to the presence of Tarikshir in the backdrop of Ram-Ravan war. He is a beastly creature dwelling somewhere in or near Ravan’s regal mansion and is capable of creating illusions and capturing all and sundry.

After the bone-chilling introduction, we move forward in time to the princely state of Devangarh in Rajasthan where the British are trying to gain supremacy over them and the king is opposing this with all his might. We are also made aware of a shadowy figure that looms large over the royal castle.

We also meet the hero, Prince Rudra who is destined to take over the throne that is under constant threat from the British and also unknown internal forces.

I found the story a little slow to begin with. It takes its time to pick up but once you are in the middle of it, you will not stop. The mystery of Tarikshir and valour of Rudra is captivating. The writer, Khayaal Patel has done a good job and considering this is his first work, it’s quite commendable. My only complain is that it could have been more concise and fast.

My rating: 3.2/5

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: Missing, Presumed Dead

Illness is not good, but when it comes to mental illness somehow everyone’s first concern is to hide it from the world. We never try to understand the depth of the problem and the solution that can cure this illness. Any kind of problem is labelled as madness and tucked into some secluded corner of the house and life.

Kiran Manral has written a story of one such woman who is battling her demons that exist only in her mind. Aisha has a history of mental problems, and when her half-sister, Heer pays an unexpected visit to her house, her life takes one more turn for the worse. Aisha lives with her husband and two children, all of whom have been affected because of her illness. But, it is Aisha who is hurt the most.

We see her as a woman who has seldom control over her mind and there are days when she can not bring her to move from the bed at all. She has been given medication but she stops taking them as soon as she feels better. Her married life has been affected by all this and she and her husband rarely talk to each other. Her children love her but are also scared of her. And amidst all this, she opens her door to find Heer at her doorstep and Aisha’s control over herself unravels. And barely two days later, Aisha disappears.

Missing, Presumed Dead is a good thriller with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia at its core. Rarely do we have the main character suffer from such a problem and not branded villain. Mental illness is real and should be cured just as someone would cure a stomach ailment. The major characters are good, and have a grey side to them. It is quite easy to hate Heer and like her at the same time. Kiran Manral has woven an interesting story and the twists will keep you hooked to the end. It is quite enjoyable.

My rating: 4/5

P.S. Thank you HT Brunch and Amaryllis Publishing for the book.

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Book review: T21 in Down’s Lane

As the name suggests, Utpal Kant Mishra’s T21 in Down’s Lane is about a family’s struggle through Down’s Syndrome. It talks about a couple who, inspite of knowing that their unborn baby has a genetic condition, decide to give birth and bring the child to this world. There is a lot of logic and struggle behind coming to this decision and it’s all written in the baby’s father’s words, in his diary. The struggle through pregnancy, childbirth and then growing up years of Jay, the kid with Down’s Syndrome, is painted quite vividly.

Aashima, a journalist, comes to meet Jay for a news item and gains an insight into his mind and emotions and his parents’ emotions. The story shows their struggle in making others see their point of view in continuing with the pregnancy and then get the child accepted in society. In a country like ours, this is almost impossible.

Ayesha and Siddhartha have a late pregnancy and the sonography shows the possibility of having a chromosomal defect in their child. Every doctor they come across suggests them to abort the child but they decide to not do so. After Jay is born, they go through even more struggles because now it’s about helping him survive and grow in a hostile society. How things have shaped up for Jay as he grows up is rest of the story.

The premise of the story is good, and there is a lot of emotion. As a mother, I could feel Ayesha’s fear and dilemma and her protectiveness. But, the writing is bad. Specially the first half. The grammar is not good, sentences are fragmented and this simply ruins the enjoyment out of reading a good story. If corrected, this could have been a very good book. But sometimes it frustrates a lot. And also, at one point Siddhartha compares their lives to a T20 match. I am quite sure there was no concept of T20 in mid-90s.

My rating: 2.5/5

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