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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rise of the Sun Prince by Shubha Vilas - A Book Review

I love reading books on mythology and books centering on Ramayana and Mahabharata are my favorite. There is something about these epic sagas that make them really interesting – you see they are never too old or out of date. Today, I am here with the review of yet another Ramayana centered book. It is ‘Rise of the Sun Prince by Shubha Vilas’.
 The cover is attractive, I must say.

This is another of those book reviews that should have been here months ago. But, give it to ‘the-so-many-other-things’ in life, it got indefinitely delayed. And finally today it is up here.

Title:  Rise of the Sun Prince, Book 1
Series: Ramayana: The Game of Life
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2013
ISBN 13: 9788184955309
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 256
Price: Rs 250

The Blurb says:

“Ramayana: The Game of Life (Book 1), one of the world's great literary masterpieces, skillfully retold for modern audiences. Epics like the Ramayana have been recounted infinite times. Is there a need for another chronicle in the presence of so many? How is this one different? And is it relevant to our ever-changing modern lives?

Yes, there is a need, yes this is different and yes, it is relevant. This new series of books, each following one khand of the Ramayana, decodes the eternal wisdom of that poetic scripture through gripping narrative and thought-provoking instruction. In the time-honored custom of spreading wisdom through tales, every fascinating story in the epic is retold here and every character unfolded to captivate your heart and open your mind to life's deepest questions.

The narrative closely follows Valmiki's Ramayana, gently weaving in folk tales as well as the beautiful analogies of the Kamba Ramayana. The first of this six-volume series, Rise of the Sun Prince, takes you through the divine story of Lord Rama from His birth up to His marriage. Through these pages are revealed the tales of Dasaratha's leadership, Vishwamitra's quest for power and the intriguing story of a little-known stone maiden. Ramayana: The Game of Life has all of this and much more - food for contemporary thought drawn from an enduring masterpiece.”

Any author who aims to recount this epic saga must have tremendous courage, for this is a saga of epic proportion that has been retold several times by several authors in different ways. So, how does one present the same story to the readers in a new way and grab their attention. Tough job it is!

Keeping that in mind, I think the author has done a great job with his first book of the six book Ramayana series. This one deals with the Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana. One gets to know how Valmiki starts to write the Ramayana, how Dasaratha came about to have three hundred and fifty three wives, how all his sons were named, what was Viswamitra’s role in Ramayana, the story of Ahilya and of course, every tiny bit details about the lives of Rama & Sita. There is so much to know and learn. When you read the book, you will realize that Ramayana is not just about Rama & Sita or Rama’s war with Ravana – there is so much more to it.

The author is not just recounting the story in this book; he is also revealing how the various lessons that Ramayana imparts is of significance in our lives today. There are foot notes on every page does the job. But, they are also the ones that often mar the flow in the story. I am not a very big fan of this style, but I guess the author was left with just this option. Sometimes, the foot notes were too long and detailed that I almost forget where I left the story! I guess, keeping them short, simple and to the point would be better.

Overall, it was a great read. If you are a mythology books fan, you can surely pick this one.

Some pearls of wisdom from the book.

- “The vessel that holds poison becomes equally poisonous. When you are angry at someone, remember, you suffer the most.”

- “a past incident is not what agitates the mind; it is the amount of attention we give it that unsettles us.”

- “The circle of indifference has the self at its centre. The circle of compassion has others at the centre. The former leads to apathy; the latter to empathy.”

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sinfully Decadent Egg less Chocolate Walnut Brownies

2015 is here and already more than half of January is over. Every year it feels the same - there is so much excitement about the new year, but soon it wanes. The calendar changes, but the days, the chores are the same and soon, we are back to the same old life. But, does that mean we should not be celebrating? Definitely not - life is all about celebrating the small things in life - however mundane they may seem. And new year comes only once a year. So, it is definitely worth celebrating.

So, I decided that the first post on this space this year should be something that signifies celebration. And to me brownies fit the bill perfectly well. I am a self professed brownie lover. I have already shared some brownie recipes here, so do check them out too.

The brownie recipe I am sharing today is adapted from here. I have made some changes in the measures of the ingredients and the process of preparation so that it turns out less cake like and more fudge-y.

So, let's hop on to the recipe now.

Sinfully Decadent Egg less Chocolate Walnut Brownies

Yields 9

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
130 ml milk
80 gm butter, at room temperature
1/2 tin condensed milk
1 tsp coffee
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp walnuts, chopped
125 gram dark chocolate

1. Grease a 7" square pan. Preheat oven at 180 C.
2. In a large bowl shift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and instant coffee.
3. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or by using double boiler method. To it add the butter, condensed milk, vanilla and milk. Stir nicely so that the mixture is uniform.
4. Now add the dry mixture into the wet mixture and whisk nicely to form a uniform batter.
5. Pour the batter into the greased tin. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over it.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. To check if it is done, insert a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean then it is done.
7. Let the brownie rest in the pan for at least 10 minutes.
8. Once it has cooled down, slice and eat. Enjoy!

Note: I baked it a 6" square pan and that is why the middle of the brownie is a bit wrinkled. Using a 7" square pan will be a better idea.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Symbol by Varun Gautam

The Blurb says:

A perfectly written script goes awry when Arjun encounters the unexpected. His belief in occult injustice solidifies when he, on one hand, fails to clear the much coveted IMS entrance exam and on the other hand, his friend Mohan gets more than what he deserved in life. Unable to cope up with this unfairness, he becomes directionless. With no way forward and some strained relations, he reaches the peak of monotony in his life and has nowhere to draw his inspiration from. One day suddenly he gets hold of a device called The Symbol which promises to solve all his problems.

Can The Symbol help him come out of his woes?

Will he be able to rise above the so called injustice and prove his mettle?

It is a journey that takes a peek into finding a new perspective and chartering inspiration from unknown territories, where none was thought to have existed.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

One look at the cover of the book will give you the feeling that it is likely a sci-fi thriller. But, in reality it is nowhere close to a sci-fi thriller. It is a different sort of book altogether - somewhat inspiring and motivational. After reading the book, I was left wondering if the cover of the book was intentionally designed that way. The author might have the answer.

We all have goals and dreams in our lives. But, sometimes our priciest dreams shatter despite our best efforts. How do one carry on with life after suffering a failure? Where to get the motivation from? How to overcome the setback and get the life back on track. This book by Varun Gautam tries to address these very questions in its own way.

To my eyes, there were three main characters in the story - Dhruv, Arjun and Mohan. Dhruv, Arjun's cousin is the one who is narrating the story - the most part of which revolves around Arjun. Mohan is Arjun's best friend, but things becomes strange between them when Mohan strikes a jackpot in life without any hard work. While most of the times, the readers will learn about Arjun's life - at times they also get a glimpse of Dhruv's life.

The book has its own pros and cons. The first 50 pages are somewhat confusing because of the way it is narrated, otherwise It is written well. The language used is simple. Through his words the author does inspire confidence and motivation. However, there are certain things which I felt needed more attention. We know Arjun got hold of a symbol - but it is not clear what it is. It seemed like some gadget but the author left it to the readers' imagination. Also, the comparison the author made with the happenings in Arjun's life with how the Indian cricket team was faring was a bit over-the-board. Agreed we are a cricket crazy nation, but drawing parallels between these two didn't feel right.

Overall, it is a commendable book for a debut author. Need some dose of inspiration? You can pick it up.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

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