‘Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision merely passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.’ – Joel Barker
To have a vision, I suppose, one must dream. Then action can be envisioned to step towards making the dream a reality. There are many stories around us about such dreams that have become true. There are some realities we see doing well, but don’t know the story behind it, the dream that got it started, and the thoughts behind it. Through this book, Prachi Garg brings stories of twenty women and their stories, their ventures to the fore.
It’s quite a challenge to review or discuss non-fiction, at least for me. In a way, I suppose, I’d rather go away from reality in a fiction rather than experience another’s reality through words. Reading realistic fiction is tricky then, because on one hand it reads like a fiction, but on another it is the reality of someone after all.
There are many love stories when it comes to Indian Writing in English. I’ve read quite a few. This book is a love story, but it is the true story of the author Ajay. It’s the story where he recollects his college life, how he met, fell in love with and married Bhavna, and the story of their life together.
As a writer, I’m quite certain there are genres that I’m quite fond of, and good at, and comfortable with. And when I write, I turn to those genres than experiment with new ones. When a writer changes genre, it makes me wonder if the new choice will be affected by the old one. I haven’t read Abhisar’s previous works, but I had heard of them; and good things of one in particular. So it was with that aforementioned wonder that I started reading this book.
Abhimanyu Sharma is 13 years old, on the verge of something special, but that something is taken away from him with a line. If that wasn’t enough to affect the youngster, a more personal loss affects him even more deeply. That moment transitions him into the future where we see a much more changed version of that boy, and one which we don’t expect. But such is life, isn’t it?
As a writer, I can relate to the young Abhimanyu in many ways and can honestly say that I’ve been in his shoes. It’s the story that Abhimanyu pens down that held my attention most in the book. I can relate to the reaction of his father. And I can definitely understand the pressure he felt and the emotions he went through at that time. Perhaps that’s why this book and Abhimanyu’s story appeals to me and engages me as a reader.
It’s set in a time when life wasn’t easy in Delhi. Though there is opportunity for the thriller writer in him to take over, Abhisar uses that setting to bring the emotions and relationships to the fore rather than go the gory, descriptive way. There are aspects to this story that sometime redefine love, and even strengthen that definition.
If anything brings this story down a notch, it might be the pace at the initial stages which fluctuates a lot. It doesn’t engage me as much at the start as it does once it’s set in a bit. And I wish the author had chosen a name for the protagonist that was not so similar to his own. Though not a negative to the book, it confused me a little.
I liked the narration, which helps to move the story along nicely. I liked the cover design too. The typos, yes there were a few, didn’t hinder the story much either. Overall, though not perfect, I can say that it’ll be a story that I re-read again soon for sure.
Title: A Hundred Lives for You
Author(s): Abhisar Sharma
Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
No. of Pages: 250
Price: Rs. 195
Reviewed for the publisher, who gave me a copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.
The expectation about a book is different when it comes to books in a series. The second book is judged by the quality of the first. If the first was up to the mark, the expectation from the second is that it’ll be equally as good if not better. If the first was below par, the expectation from the second is that it addresses the flaws of the first while making sure it is up to the mark. The first book in the Saga of Agni was one of my favorite reads, and the first from this publishing house that I had read. The sequel taking two years kind of makes this read almost standalone, because the plot and characters of the first were beginning to fade away. It helped that there was a recap, but would’ve been brilliant if it had come a little sooner.
Let me try to give you a brief idea of the book. It happens in two kingdoms, Land of the Rising Sun (LRS) and Land of the Setting Sun (LSS). We pick up from the prequel, and join Agni and Vrish on their quest to cross from the former into the latter. Agni is still haunted by the loss of the girl he loved, Vrish’s sister Malini. Yani, son of King Adhirath is trying to understand his own past. On another side, there’s the Princess of Leu, Lysandra and her battles, both for Leu and to prevent her uncle’s elder son Demetrius from taking the throne.
I stick with what I said in my review of the first book. One of the strongest points for this book is Arka’s narration. It has just enough in it to traverse the line between plain and magical, which is good for a fantasy. I like the characters and the choice of a courageous princess too. The book does its part to answer some questions which are left open at the end of The Secrets of the Dark. And it does justice to keeping both kingdoms LSS and LRS involved well. Expectedly, with Agni’s quest, most of the action is LSS oriented, but I liked the splits as opposed to that in the first book. On a side note, if the publishers are planning a reprint of the first book, I would definitely recommend they stick to the cover style of this book for that reprint. The cover design of The Rise of the Grey Prince is beautiful, much better than the prequel’s.
On the flipside, I felt the book to be confusing. This, I feel, is because of two reasons. First, as I mentioned earlier, the first book was released two years back, and the scenes have begun to fade. It’d be good if the two books are read back to back. It’ll sit much better than reading this book alone. The second reason is that there are parts where the storyline goes into what feels like a flashback. It’s much unexpected, and leaves me wondering what is happening. The ending is slightly abrupt as well. The list of characters at the end of the book could’ve been fully done, rather than give only the characters newly introduced. It’d help a new reader know a bit more of each character. And I’d definitely say the book can be edited much better.
Read the story for the story, forgetting to notice the small details, and you’ll enjoy it. I’d say, in all honesty, that the caliber of the book has dropped down a notch from the first book, so I hope the third one in the series brings a wonderful conclusion. And I hope, for the ease of the readers too, that it comes sooner than two years down the line.
Title: Rise of the Grey Prince
Series: The Saga of Agni #2
Author(s): Arka Chakrabarti
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
No. of Pages: 230
Price: Rs. 150
Reviewed for Book R3vi3ws, in exchange for a review copy. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.
Inspiration is something that feels very difficult to find at times. Once you go into an uninspired phase, you search for it everywhere, but it seems out of reach. You seek it in the past, when you have found it, you seek it in people around you, and if it is for writing, you even seek it in every word that you read or come by. Being inspired by life is a totally different thing. You look for role models to follow. You want to be successful like them, be it Bill Gates or Narendra Modi, Kalpana Chawla or Shobhana (the dancer). Recently, a book came into my hands that showed me there were some people I never knew about, 15 people who have faced obstacles and conquered them, 15 people to be inspired by.
Because Life is a Gift brings the stories of 15 differently-abled people to light. One had a serious medical condition right from childhood because of the doctors’ negligence. He had change schools because the parents of other children didn’t want their children to be affected by the side-effects of that condition. But he took it in his stride, began to study hard so his fees was covered by scholarships, so he was recognized for his merits not for his disability. He won over those who doubted him, and today, he is successful. I tip my hat to him. A ten year old boy with ideas that strike you, keep you thinking. I had known about his patent of course. I had read about it in the newspaper. Circular chess for 6 to 60 people! Wow. What an idea! And how he has pursued making the idea into a reality! I remember the newspaper titling him child prodigy. Most certainly he is. How about the girl who couldn’t walk even when she was two, and whose parents did whatever treatments or pujas they heard of, hoping for a miracle? She found someone who believed in her, a teacher at school. She became an integral part of Bollywood. Then there’s an artist who has no hands, but makes the most beautiful paintings. How does she do it?
I love the book because it has stories that inspire. They had different abilities, they used it and succeeded. Like her previous book, Disha keeps the narration simple. That works well because it leaves the life stories to shine, to be the cynosure. She starts out with the motivation that she had to write this book. And from there, you know how dedicated she has been to this project. What may have made the book more interesting is if it wasn’t done like excerpts from an interview, if it could have somehow got the reader to get into the shoes of these inspirational people. Of course, that’s easier said than done. I might have struggled to do that too, just a suggestion for her of course. And I’d have loved it if there was a photo of the author with them during the interview for this book. It’d have shown the present day them.
Is this a book to be read? Yes, absolutely. It is to be read, and it’ll inspire you for sure. Definitely not a one-time read, but one meant to be savored at its own pace.
Book Details: Title: Because Life is a Gift Series: N/a Author: Disha Genre: Non-fiction / Motivational ISBN/ASIN: 9789382665250 Publisher: Srishti Publishers Price: Rs. 150
Reviewed for Srishti Publishers for a copy of the book, but the views are my own, and unbiased.
If there is one genre that I love to read, it is a murder mystery. To know the crime, and then read along, trying to solve the crime with each turning page, it’s quite fun. I’ve grown up reading Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, not to forget the delightful Perry Mason. When author Rasleen Syal asked me if I would read and review her debut novel, I happily accepted it. The title intrigued me, and then the cover, a very simple yet captivating one, convinced me that it was going to be a good read.
When you are suspected of a crime, the natural reaction is to try and prove yourself innocent. Or if you are aware of the other suspects, try to prove one of them guilty. That’s the basic premise of the book Happily Murdered, where the crime happens in a place where no one from the outside can enter without permission, and police being absolutely certain that the murderer is a part of the family. Who has the most to gain by Gulab Sarin’s death? Why was she poisoned on the very next night of her wedding?
Detectives: Each character has something to hide, or something to benefit from the crime, so each of them turn detective in the novel, so suffice to say, this aspect of a crime fiction is different compared to the usual novels and each character is interesting. One particular character that manages to bring a smile is the character of Biji, who reminds me so much of the dominative female character I’ve come across in quite a few Indian family serials. Though the police are mentioned at the start of the novel, and in the case-file, they are surprisingly missing from the rest of the book until the end.
Victim & Motive: Gulab Sarin, a girl unappreciated by her family and befriended by her “future” husband Sid when she was a kindergartner, accepted and loved by his family and in love with him to the extent that she’s willing to forgive his faults. In a Poirot-esque ending, there is a conjecture as to why she was the perfect victim, and what the motive was for the crime. It was interesting and unexpected, though I still wished the revenge motive was executed some other way. You could say Gulab’s character deserved better than death.
Pace: With the book becoming partly a family drama along with the crime fiction, the pace of the novel isn’t as quick as you’d expect it to be. A businessman father-in-law, who distrusts his son; the beauty-conscious mother-in-law who changes her look as often as she drinks; the husband whose character is very shady and makes you wonder why a character like Gulab would marry him in the first place; her best friend who is also her brother-in-law… the book has a mix of characters that make for a tricky, yet fun reading. However, Gulab’s voice/ghost returning between with recollections and flashbacks, and each member hunting for clues keeps the pages turning. I also liked the presentation of the case file, which gives an insight into each character at the start. I returned to that a few times to check if I understood the characters correctly. The end, where one of the characters pieces together the jigsaw is the best part perhaps; like I said, it is Poirot-esque, and shows the influence Agatha Christie has had in Rasleen’s writing style. But it is not clear how the final twist is arrived at, even though it makes sense.
In general: Rasleen’s narrating style, with simple English and absolutely no regional lingo thrown in, keeps the reader engaged from first to last, but the editing could be much better. There are typographical errors here and there, and sometimes a word is missing or pluralized. These stand out more prominently when the plot makes you turn the pages back to check if you have understood it correctly.
Verdict: As it is, the book has a plot that is different. With some clarity on how the “detective” pieces together the case in the end, and another scan through for correcting those editing mistakes, it would have become even better. However, this remains a delicious debut from a talented author.