Posted in Books

Book Review: The Other Side, by Faraaz Kazi and Vivek Banerjee

The genre of horror is one that I love to read and sometimes attempt to write. For a story in the genre to be successful, I feel it has to have the capacity to make the reader imagine it, and feel the chill through their bones. It’s not just a sense of the paranormal, or a story with ghosts and other scary creatures in it that makes a story a horror story. That would be just a story with horror elements. I remember RL Stine and Goosebumps when I think of the genre. But this book was a different kind altogether, because it had thirteen (yes, interesting number isn’t it?) short stories in it. Continue reading “Book Review: The Other Side, by Faraaz Kazi and Vivek Banerjee”

Posted in Books

Book Review: Truly, Madly, Deeply, by Faraaz Kazi

About the author:
Faraaz Kazi is an Indian author, who has won many awards for his debut fiction including the 2013 National Debut Youth Fiction Award and the YCOF National Excellence award in Creative Writing.

My thoughts on the book:
There is no shortage of books or authors in the romance genre when it comes to Indian fiction, so I feel to attempt a romance genre novel, it is both easy and difficult… easy because you are sure to get some reader base atleast, and difficult because you have competition in some upcoming, and some already bestseller authors. So what distinguishes Faraaz Kazi from his competition?

The plus point for me in his writing is that he brings back what is not there in so many love stories… he brings out the innocence and emotions that are experienced when we first fall in love. I was taken back to my school days through his writing, and it was not only because the setting for the novel is in those school days, but also because my first crush was in those days. And for a story to transport me back through words to those days felt just right.

The story is about young love, the love at first sight kind, where the boy Rahul falls in love with his junior, the shy, hard working and very smart Seema. He realizes later that she has affections for him as well, and their friends begin to call them as “a couple”. The story then goes on to their story, their meetings, how he woos her, how she is still that shy, introvert girl who has protective parents (at that age, it is very understandable, though the boy Rahul does not understand it) and how misunderstandings take them their separate ways.

What feels right in the story is the realism. He doesn’t make it anything other than it is, a young love story with all the innocence of childhood. You don’t have miraculous events or mushy dialogues. There is that wit and slight humor of school teasing, or those cheesy dialogues in the washrooms. There is that fear of parents finding about their relationship. And those little fights, and interactions that are cute. It is a tried and retried theme but given a fresh look. His narration is simple and enough to touch the heart. The nostalgia, for the boy Rahul who is in Pennsylvania to go back to the school days and narrate that to us, that was also quite nicely done.

What I felt was overcooked was the detailed school life, for e.g. the debate competition or quiz or cricket matches. Whereas they do form an important part of school life, too much detail seems to have gone into this subplot, and I skipped over that. It has been edited nicely, but still could be better.

I liked the read, and it flowed smoothly. I’m sure fans of the romance genre would enjoy it even more. A nice debut, and I expect to see even nicer novels from him soon.


Rated a 7 on 10!
Rated a 7 on 10!

Book details:
Title: Truly, Madly, Deeply
Author: Faraaz Kazi
Genre: Romance
ISBN: 9789350880098
Publishers: Mahaveer Publishers
Price: INR. 150

 


This is an author-requested review, given for a review copy of the book, but no other payment.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(Aug 3rd, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Ten Shades of Life, Fablery anthology edited by Nethra

About the editor:
Nethra is a student based in Bangalore pursuing her Masters in Business Administration. She is a voracious reader and a writer of fictions, the love for which made her begin Fablery, a platform which provides aspiring authors a gateway into the publishing world.

The book in a nutshell:
Ten Shades of Life is an anthology of short stories. Unlike most anthologies I have seen, the book doesn’t stick to one particular genre, rather it has ten stories from ten different genres. It is the culmination of monthly contests in each genre held in 2012, the ten stories the ten chosen winners of each month.

The book has stories from the genres (in order of content): Fantasy, Romance, Action/Adventure, Humor, Horror, Science Fiction, Historical, Mystery/Thriller, Philosophical and Occupational.

Delving into the stories:
When the book has stories from different authors, a summary of the positives and negatives might not give an overall picture. Since the number of stories in the book is less, I give you my thoughts on each story quickly.

I’m going in the order that I’ve read the stories, and not according to the contents page.

#1: The Secrets of Ahiraah (Reshmy Pillai, Historical): I’ve not read a lot of historical fiction, and this short story was perhaps my first Indian-based historical fiction. What I liked in the story was the pace and the detailing. I could imagine the story reading it out loud, and I could finish it quickly. I liked the character of Jatindev Oswal as well. I have a small doubt regarding the outcome of a couple of actions of characters, but I’ll not reveal those doubts as it possibly might give away the ending (a tendency I usually have but am trying to get out of). Overall, it was really enjoyable.

#2: Where did you go? (Deepa Duraisamy, Mystery): Though I label it mystery, I do have to say the story to me had the thriller element too. What I liked in the story was the plotting, which seems believable and in India, I can imagine it happening as well. The story held my attention and I didn’t stop reading till I finished. What I didn’t like was her choice of character names, and one particular choice made by a character, which felt oddly unrealistic (in the sense, it may have been better brought out). Overall, it was another story I found really enjoyable.

#3: Red and Gold (Monika Pant, Romance): One of my more preferred genres for reading and writing, her story added the historical touch to it. What I liked in the story was the romance. It felt nice to read that power true love can have, and the lengths the lovers can go to keep it. The language was simple and it was well written. What I didn’t like in the story was a lot of Hindi words spread across it. The setting, I agree, calls for it, but I couldn’t understand the meanings of the words. Also, few subcharacters didn’t get an ending, and it stood out because their place in the story to me elevated them to nearly a main character itself. Overall, the story works well, but the downsides were a little too big.

#4: The Incarnadines (Cheyenne Mitchell, Fantasy): Fantasy is something that to me that has magic and mythological sounding characters or such as the main plot setting. It’s that magic part that should stand out. This story felt more like a family trouble story where the protagonist is telling of her problems, or just narrating a belief. That’s the main reason why this wasn’t one of my favorites. What I liked in the story is the character of the protagonist. A lone child with family issues seems very likely to go into a fantasy world. Overall, I didn’t find it impressive.

#5: A Nootropic Egress (Karthik L, Scifi): I found this story appealing. It’s a mix of sci-fi and a mystery because that’s how he’s woven the plot. What I liked in the story was the character of Rohit. It kind of reminds me of a cartoon, Dexter of Dexter’s laboratory. Rohit felt like a right character for a sci-fi story. The names of the characters also felt very interesting, and especially the character of Trnzu felt so realistic in ways. The ending also brought a chuckle, though I was expecting that ending in a way. What I didn’t like in the story was a big error in proofreading, one that got me ROFL. The other thing I felt was a little too much toward the investigative part. I’d have loved to read more of the sci-fi way. But the story otherwise works quite fine to me. One of the better ones in the book.

#6: Something like that (Shankar Raman, Humor): The only thing I know of Wodehouse is that there’s a character named Jeeves. (Note to self: Start reading Wodehouse this year). So now that I’ve confessed my lack in reading the genre of humor, I’ll state that this story was definitely humorous, and as a college student who caught on to teachers’ habits quite quickly, I could understand and enjoy the story! What I liked was the character sketching of the main protagonists. And definitely the ending that caught me off guard and left me laughing out loud for awhile. The story has humor spread in little chuckles and smiles through narration, so the ending just works. What I didn’t like was when a portion went a little serious. But that’s not a big drawback. Again, one of the better ones in the book.

#7: A good day to die (Rahul Biswas, Occupational): I liked the characters in the story, and the language just brings that story out. I think the plot warranted for a very detailed sort of opening, that makes you get lost in the narration and bring out the effect. It had that. It had that conflicting opening that makes you wonder what happened and why the character is in that place. So brilliant. What I didn’t like was that I could predict that ending a little. It isn’t a dramatic setback though.

#8: Barren Harvest (Vinaya Swapnil Bhagat, Philosophical): This again felt like it was cross-genre. I agree that the borders are thin between genres at times, but I felt it to be leaning toward a sci-fi at times. That being said, I understood the philosophy of thought put forth and I think it was a different way to do it. I liked the story for that reason, and though the narration seemed heavy at times to me, I think the emotion came out fine. The story was good. What I didn’t like was what I told earlier, that I felt the story to be leaning a little more toward being sci-fi. Also, I felt that the mother not identifying her daughter felt a little too fictional. But I guess the time the story is set in, it could happen.

#9: Weekend in the Country (Bruce Memblatt, Horror): One of my friends says that for genres like horror, the language must be such that you set-up the reader to feel the chills down the spine, make him imagine it. I agree, and though some parts of this story did have that sort of language, I personally didn’t feel that scared. I could predict the ending to a large extent, that such-and-such would happen. The instruments used as scary would definitely bring a chill down the spine if you were to find it, and I give the story props for that. But it left me somewhat disappointed. Good, but could’ve been a whole lot better.

#10: Harry’s bluff (Roshan Radhakrishnan, Action): I kept the action genre to the end because it’s one that needs to be quick paced, and flowing from scene to scene. It’s the perfect ending to a cocktail of genres. This story, in my opinion, did bring that pace out well. I like the flashback that’s incorporated into it, and the editing to hold thoughts in italics was quite good. The character sketch was done nicely as well, and I like that the main character did what he did. What I didn’t like was the character of Selena. Though the mothering of the protagonist comes well, it felt too domineering. The story was a good ending to my read.

Closing thoughts:
For this book to have happened, there was a lot of hard work, but it was because of the authors mainly. It wouldn’t have been a book if they hadn’t put an effort to write the stories! So, I don’t like that there aren’t any author bios in the book. Atleast a paragraph on each at the end of the book would’ve been good, if not a page before each story, because as a reader, I’d also want to know a little bit about the author. I also found a few typos, but not all of them stood out and hindered the reading. I’d have chosen a different color for the cover too. However, for the cocktail of genres to work, it has to mix well. In my opinion, it does. Some stories weren’t that appealing, but most of them were well written and held my attention. They also delivered on what they promised genre-wise, and some are re-readable. Kudos to the effort, and I await the next instalment.


A rating of 8/10
A rating of 8/10

Book details:
Title: Ten Shades of Life – Fablery
Author: Multiple authors
Editor: Nethra
Genre: Multi-genre anthology
ISBN: 9789350880418
Publishers: Mahaveer
Price: INR. 139

 


The book is a personal copy. The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(March 21st, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Uff Ye Emotions, anthology edited by Vinit K Bansal

About the editor:
Vinit K Bansal is the author of the book “I am heartless: A real confession” which is already among the bestseller charts in India. That book has already been translated to Hindi and released as “Who Chali Gayi”. He is a voracious reader, and continues to nurture the dream of writing.

The book in a nutshell:
“Uff ye Emotions” (meaning Oh! These Emotions) is an anthology of twelve love stories written by thirteen authors. It is the culmination of the contest in the same name held by the publication house and selected by the editor from many other entries vying to get into the collection.

The book brings out the different hues of emotions associated with love… adoration, affection, friendship, lust, desire etc. It blends into a time in the Indian writing scene when love stories are becoming the most sought genre.

Delving into the stories:
When the book has stories from different authors, a summary of the positives and negatives might not give an overall picture. Since the number of stories in the book is less, I give you my thoughts on each story quickly.

#1: Love @ Platform by Vinit Bansal: Quite frankly, I like the idea. Sacrifice and understanding are quite essential in love, and the story revolves around that. But I’ll be damned if I understand why the story ended the way it did. The gal sacrifices a lot for the guy she loves; she gets him a sponsorship for his biggest materialistic dream; that’s all peachy, but why not stay in his life? Or tell him she’s sure he’ll make it big and that she’ll wait for him? Sacrificing the relationship for the betterment of the guy felt odd to me. It’s an emotional scene, but at that point, it felt like I was being bribed to get the tears out rather than let the emotions spill it.

#2: Soulmate by Anjit Sharma: I found it creepy. Very “One Night @ Call Center”ish beginning, and a tad unbelievable, even for a fiction. I’m no relationship expert, but at late night hours, in a bus stand, I don’t think any gal would just jump into a conversation with a guy she’s never met before. Perhaps the twist that comes out later in the story was meant to justify that, but it felt odd to me. The reports of Zara’s rape brings the recent events of Nirbhaya and Delhi back to mind, and it does make it sad.

#3: A Date with the Fate by Abhilash Ruhela: I like this story a tad more than the previous two, mostly because of the flashback that is inserted into it. It got a change to the pattern, which felt refreshing. I’m assuming the title was meant to be “A Date with Fate” rather than what it is, and it got changed along with umpteen other reading errors I picked up in the story. Maybe even “A Date with Destiny” would sound better. The thing I don’t quite like in the story is there are some details that don’t quite matter to the destiny of the plot, like getting ready for the first day “gettogether” party and such. Overall, it’s a good attempt.

#4: Reminiscences by Priyanka Dey: It felt strangely familiar. Again, the sacrifice part comes out, but in this case, the sacrifice on the part of the heroine is quite needed for the guy to progress, move on. But once again, I’m not quite happy with how it ended. Like the first story, it felt like the ending twist was just for pushing the tears out, than getting the emotions to take over. It was abrupt, and from this authoress, I expected something more than that.

#5: A Path of Thorns by Suresh: One of the best in the book, in my opinion. The title grabs the attention of the reader, and justifies itself with the story. The reluctance of the heroine to delve deeper because of her past, the frustration of the hero, the flashback and the resolution, were all quite well done. If anything holds it back, I think the abrupt, on the spot dialogue of the characters at one time might have been better put.

#6: Love in the Times of Turbulence by Saurabh Arya: Good that people need support when they are just inches away from giving up on a dream, and that the person who loves them understands that. The story was slow to develop, but the ending once again undid the story.

#7: Love Undefined by Pankaj Mittal & Rachna Sheth: The simple, yet moving love story of a couple. I liked the direct dialogue that still showed the love and affection between the couple. The change factor came out all of a sudden. One moment all is fine, the next moment… BOOM. A bomb comes into the picture and their love is tested. The different definition of love afterward was a nice change to see though.

#8: Happily ever after by Sanhita Baruah: This was the second story in the anthology that held my attention throughout. The twist in the middle seemed to make sense, and I could anticipate it to a certain extent as well. The ending seemed a little hurried perhaps, but nothing that holds it back. To me, the best in the collection.

#9: The Intercity Express by Stephen Anthony: A good story, but it didn’t hold my attention. It felt more about the job of the protagonist than love. The dialogues at times were confusing.

#10: I love you too, I love you too by Himanshu Chhabra: A sweet love story, with some poems as well. The author writes a story from college, and he’s a student too. So it was expected. I’d have liked the girl to let the guy read the slam book, but like the author says, relationships don’t need tags.

#11: And then, I fell in love by Drishti Dasgupta: This was a nice story, one of the better ones in the book I feel. Nothing very detracting, except maybe for the Labradors part which was funny, but still… I think the ending was the right way to end not only the story, but also the book.

Closing thoughts:
Firstly, my congratulations to the cover designer Sunil Kaushik. I think this book has one of the nicest covers I’ve seen recently. Coming to the content, in an anthology, the stories must blend together in some way, yet be different too. I think they were mostly similar, in the aspect that quite a few of them had the protagonist on a train or a bus at one point in time. It makes me wonder if love can’t happen elsewhere you know? Why must it be so “vehicular”? Another thing that makes sort of sad is that some of the stories, the turning point, or the twist is so sudden. Yeah, life is sudden, but not THAT sudden. I like happy endings, but understand also that there are sad endings, but some in this book are incomplete endings. But what I found the most detracting throughout the book was the absence of editing, even in the contents page. I agree that a novel might have one or two mistakes in editing somewhehere, so many of them in each story of an anthology is to me a big no-no. The stories bring the sense of love and its emotions as promised, and there are 3 or 4 that make you smile as well. Overall, a decent read, but I expected much more than this.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book details:
Book title: Uff Ye Emotions
Author: Multiple authors
Editor: Vinit K Bansal
ISBN: 9789350880388
Genre: Anthology / Love Stories
Publishers: Mahaveer
Price: INR 139
 
 


The book was borrowed for reading from the local library. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(March 9th, 2013)