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Friday 31 May 2013

The Forest of Stories by Ashok K. Banker

I had received a review copy of 'The Seeds of War' by Ashok Banker - the second book of the much awaited Mahabharata series from blogadda. Ever since, I had read it, I had been meaning to read the first book of the series, The Forest of Stories and finally I bought myself a copy.

Here is the blurb from the book:

The Forest of Stories, Book One in Ashok Banker's long-awaited 'MBA' Series, takes us deep into the haunted jungle of Naimishavan. Here, at the ashram of Kulapati Shaunaka, a dusty traveler arrives with sad tidings: Maharishi Krishna Dweipayana Vyasa has passed on. Yet the great collator of the Vedas has left behind a fabulous legacy, the epic narrative poem called Mahabharata. At the urging of the ashramites, the traveler Suta begins to recite the great composition, starting with the incredible creation myths and tales of god and giants, snake-mothers and gargantuan eagles. And as the night wears on and the tale grows darker, he senses the presence of countless ghostly beings in the shadows beyond the flickering oil-lamps, the restless souls of the many millions butchered in the climactic war that ended the great tale itself, gathering now to hear the epic saga that led eventually to their destruction and the decimation of the Kuru Bharata race.

The author has tried to stick to the original ancient version of Mahabharata. How ever, as the blurb says, it is just the beginning of the narrative. Of all the mythology books I have read, I found this one a bit slow and heavy. Not that it was boring, but because as the narrator was decimating so much information in all the tales that build towards the great epic, after a while it was becoming a bit difficult to keep all the names and event in mind. It is written in the typical Banker style but, I wish the narration was a bit more coherent as my mind would often wander off and I had to re-read some parts of the book to establish the connection. How ever, it does not mean, you should not pick this book. It all depends on your level of interest in the great epic. Having read the second book of the series, I can say it only gets better.

I would give it a 3/5 star.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers

Sunday 19 May 2013

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

It has been a while since, I read a crime fiction novel. In fact a long while since I can't even remember what was the last one I read. That's why when I saw 'Salvation of a Saint' by Keigo Higashino up for review at blogadda, I didn't even apply to review it at first. But, later when I came across great reviews from fellow bloggers, I was lured to read the book.

And I am glad I read it.

It is a first class crime fiction novel. If you are put off by blood and violence in crime fiction books, then you need not worry, as this book is not so much about crimes but about solving the mystery of crime committed. The author's style of unfolding the facts is unique. In fact, after reading the first couple of chapters, you will know who is the victim and who the possible suspect is. Yet, the book will keep you glued till the very end. There is not a single moment. It is indeed a great achievement for the author to keep the readers riveted even after revealing some fundamental facts about the mystery.

The plot revolves around a murder. The victim has died of poisoning while his wife Ayane is away. All circumstances and clues points towards the wife. But, there is a problem in establishing it. How could she have committed the murder when she was hundred of miles away.

As the Tokyo police detective Kusanagi delves into the past of the deceased, he picks up on an seemingly unrelated sequence of events. In the process, he also develops a soft corner for the prime suspect - Ayane. With his judgement clouded, will he be able to work on the case objectively and solve it. Is it reasonable for her assistant to seek the help of an old friend to solve the crime? Or is it possible that a perfect crime has been committed?

It will take a genius to unravel the complicated web of deceit and it takes a genius to write such an amazing and riveting book. It will definitely keep you hooked and reading through the night. Highly recommended.

I have heard that the first book by the author, Devotion of Suspect X is even better. Can't wait to lay my hand on it.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Reviews Program. for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books! Thank you Blog adda for giving me the opportunity.

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Saturday 4 May 2013

Belur Math ~ For Saturday Snapshot

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. It’s easy to participate – just post a picture that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member and add your link on Alyce’s site.

This picture was taken on my recent rather hurried trip to Kolkata. One day we visited Belur Math in the morning and it was a nice experience. While Kolkata can easily be associated with crowds, traffic and hustle bustle of life; it is a city that never stops, Belur Math is quiet and tranquil. Just the kind of place you would go for a morning walk to kick start your day. The main temple stands tall in the center of the premise, but the only thing is taking pictures is prohibited! I had clicked some pictures away from the main premise. This is one of them.

If you plan to go to Kolkata Belur Math should be a must visit place on your list. To know more about it and catch a glimpse of it please check this link.

Thank you for stopping by!Cheers!

Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi

Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi

The blurb says:

The year is 340 BC. A hunted, haunted Brahmin youth vows revenge for the gruesome murder of his beloved father. Cold, calculating, cruel and armed with a complete absence of accepted morals, he becomes the most powerful political strategist in Bharat and succeeds in uniting a ragged country against the invasion of the army of that demigod, Alexander the Great. Pitting the weak edges of both forces against each other, he pulls off a wicked and astonishing victory and succeeds in installing Chandragupta on the throne of the mighty Mauryan empire.

History knows him as the brilliant strategist Chanakya.

Satisfied—and a little bored—by his success as a kingmaker, through the simple summoning of his gifted mind, he recedes into the shadows to write his Arthashastra, the ‘science of wealth’. But history, which exults in repeating itself, revives Chanakya two and a half millennia later, in the avatar of Gangasagar Mishra, a Brahmin teacher in small town India who becomes puppeteer to a host of ambitious individuals—including a certain slum child who grows up into a beautiful and powerful woman.

Modern India happens to be just as riven as ancient Bharat by class hatred, corruption and divisive politics and this landscape is Gangasagar’s feasting ground. Can this wily pandit—who preys on greed, venality and sexual deviance—bring about another miracle of a united India? Will Chanakya’s chant work again?

I had read this book quite some time back and a review of the same has been long due. I had great expectations from this book but, somehow I feel that it didn't really live up to my expectations. And that is not without reasons. The blurb is alluring, the plot is good but the narration falters. The Chanakya part is reasonably fine, but I couldn't relate even a bit to the character of Gangasagar. Many incidents and events in the book are exaggerated. I didn't get the motivation behind Gangasagar's actions. To top that, just like in a hero in Bollywood movie he does whatever he likes and gets away with it every time. I also didn't like the way Chandni's character is portrayed.

The book could have been better edited and could be reduced by some 100 odd pages. The author has tried to draw parallels between today's politics and that of ancient times and has succeeded to some extent. This book is fine if you are looking for a casual read. The story is quite predictable so, you won't have to strain your brain much. But, if you are looking for a classic political thriller, there are better options. Decide for yourself.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Can Love Happen Twice by Ravinder Singh

Anyone who has read 'I Too Had A Love Story' by Ravinder Singh and was touched by it, would definitely pick up the author's second book - Can Love Happen Twice. We all have some expectations from an author whose work we appreciated. But, many a times all those hopes fall flat when the author's work doesn't meet our expectations. Let me tell you why I say so.

Here, I can't help but draw a comparison between the two books of the author.The first book was based on a true story, the author's own love story. Not that the writing style of the book was great, but the story touched the heart of many, for its simplicity and honesty. For all the author had been through in his life, the readers felt empathy for him. In the second book - Can love happen twice, which is a work of the author's imagination, he has tried to sell the old-stale-love-story in a new packaging.

Plot is simple. Boy is lonely and trying to live with his past. He goes abroad for work. Sees an Indian girl. Falls for her. Love happens. Boy is back to India. Trouble starts. Suddenly, career is more important for the girl and she breaks up with him. Boy is broken and gets mental. He runs to the street and meets an accident and hence, ends up in a rehabilitation home.

And guess who is telling us this story? His three friends reads his unfinished book on a radio show!


The problems doesn't end with the plot, the characters are also very poorly sketched. The character of Simar is irritating, melodramatic and irrational. She is nothing like the character of Khushi of 'I Too Had A Love Story'. The love portrayed between Ravin and Simar is more of an infatuation which fades with time. To top all this, the author keeps bragging about being a best selling author through out the book. Looks like the success of his debut novel has got into his head. If he thinks that he can sell any crap for a love story, then he is wrong. This book doesn't work for me.

If you have read the author's first book and liked it then, please don't pick up this one. It will ruin your empathy for the author. I don't think I am going to read any more of his work. That is, if he decides to write another book.

You can surely give this one a miss.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers.
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