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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Gods, Demons and People of Kunhimangalam by Sunil Kumar K N ~ A Book Review


This space has been silent and deserted for months now. Well, I have no excuses – it is just that whenever I think about penning down thoughts about a book I read or a recipe I tried, words do not pour out. I think I am going through an extreme case of blogger’s block (or is it writer’s block?). Anyways, so what am I doing here today? Well, I accepted a book review request from Leadstart Publishers and I am going to rant about the same here. I must apologize to them first as I took ages to read and review the book.

The Gods, Demons and People of Kunhimangalam by Sunil Kuman KN is an unusual book for me to pick up – to be frank it is not the kind of genre I frequently read. But, I just wanted to read something different, something intriguing and something that is not run-of-the-mill. Well, I think the book mostly fits the bill – but still there is something missing.

Kunhimangalam is the name of a small village located in the Kannur district of Kerala. The author through his book takes you on a journey by chronicling the various folklore, old tales and historical events associated with the place. Every chapter in the book takes you through a different story – each with its own flavour – some are rich in myths, some tell you about the traditions of the place and some dwell on the historical happenings that shaped its destiny. But, there is a problem in the way things are narrated – I did feel the flow of the book was not smooth and it didn’t connect with the readers as it should. After I was done with one part, I didn’t feel the tenacity to read the next part right away. I do feel if the legends and tales of the place were interwoven with a fictional story, it would have made a more interesting read.

To sum up my opinion on the book - it makes for a good slow read for those who are interested in knowing about the legends and folklore of not-so-popularly-known places in the country. I do admire and commend the author for his choice of premise and the efforts he has made for his debut book.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Demons of Chitrakut by Ashok Banker - A Book Review




This book and the next book in the series (Armies of Hanuman) have been with me for over 4 years now. I don’t know what took me so long to read this one especially when I totally loved reading the first two books of the series. I get lesser time to read these days and after not reading a single page for days at a stretch, I started longing to read something. That’s when I decided to read the books that have been sitting on my shelf untouched for long.

Ashok Banker has weaved magic through his books on mythology. In his Ramayana series, he has taken the liberty to use his own imagination and innovative story telling in narrating the epic saga. So, prospective readers keep in mind that this is not the so-called original version but a somewhat spiced up version of Ramayana. The author has made the reading experience a lot more dramatic. 

The previous book of this series concluded with Rama using ‘Brahma Astra’ to annihilate the Asura army that were all set to attack the city of Mithila. In this book, the story progresses further. Rama and his newly wedded wife Sita are welcomed in Ayodhya in all pomp and glory. While the citizens are all jubilant there is something not right in the palace – Asura sorcery is at play and it will have damning consequences for Rama. The reader is likely to be transported right into the happening in the streets of Ayodhya as he leafs through the pages of the book. 

The problems of the prince Rama are going to get a new height – a scheming Manthara has got the lust-laden Keikayi in control and soon Rama would leave the royal palace and head to live in the forest in exile for 14 years. The beauty of the book is that even though most Indian readers already have an inkling of what happens in Ramayana, they look forward to see how the author is going to narrate it. There is so much action happening in the book that the reader in you would want to set aside all works and continue with book.

However, this book is not without its share of flaws. There are parts in the book, where it seems that the author has gone overboard in describing the details of an incident and there are parts which seems rushed upon. For example, the demise of Manthara has been written in details but the passing away of Dasaratha were described in a few lines. Also, at times the narration in the book faltered. I would have liked it better if the pace of storytelling did not vary too much. 

Another thing that kept me reading the book was to find out about the demons of the Chitrakut. As it is the title of the book, I was hoping that they would be central to this book in some way. However, it is only near the very end of the book does the reader get introduced to these demons. Where and how – it is something you will know when you read the entire book.

Even though I can go on and on about what await you in the book, I sincerely think that you should better read it to find out more. Even with all its flaws, it is a great read and will keep any mythology lover hooked.

I am also finished with the book 4 of the series – Armies of Hanuman and will write about it soon. So, stay tuned and happy reading.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

AskMe.com Foodies Pune Meetup at Le Meridian


Askme.com organized the first ever foodies meet in Pune at the Le Meridian Hotel on 28th March 2015. I was quite excited to be a part of  it and I tagged my foodie DH along with me to the event.

The idea of the event was to bring together foodies in the city to promote the brand Askme.com.

A little bit about what exactly Askme.com is. Askme.com is a disruptive new age consumer brand and is being promoted as the "BAPP of all apps". It offers a platform that seamlessly ties search, classified (post an ad), deals (buy now) and commerce. It helps users to have access to hyper-local information 24×7. 

As of now, there are 6 communities on Askme.com, namely Travel, Wellness, Education, Interiors, Weddings and Fashion.

The concept of www.askme.com is quite revolutionary! It aims to provide users everything they need - all in one place. Their brand ambassador is the Bollywood Actor Ranbir Kapoor (he doesn't need any introduction here).

 I will dwell more about the brand and how a foodie can benefit from it later in the post. But, first let me tell you about my experience at the Feast Restaurant in Le Meridian.


Minutes before the meet began!


 The exotic ambiance at Le Meridian, Pune.

The Gorgeous Chandelier at The Feast Restaurant, Le Meridian, Pune.


 Foodies in queue for the food!

Since it was a foodie meet, I need to talk about the food at the meet. Even for a hi-tea meet, the menu was quite extensive with both veg and non-veg delights. Since, I am a vegetarian I partook in the veg delicacies served. 

I relished the Thai corn cakes with sweet and sour dipping sauce,creamy Mushroom and chives vol-au vent, Roasted vegetable lasagne, some Mexican and Oriental delights from the live counters.
It was then followed by a delectable desserts spread. I particularly enjoyed the chocolate fondue!



The Best Part of ANY meal - DESSERTS!

 The Chocolate Fondue - I want one! (Somebody please take cue)


Is your business there on Askme.com?

If you are a business owner, get your business listed on askme.com to reach out to a larger audience.

The meet started with a presentation about askme.com. We got to know about the brand and what it aims to do.  Another highlight of the meet was the food photography session, where some great tips about food photography were shared. The meet was supercharged with some simple quiz questions by the presenter and there were prizes to be won. Overall, it was an evening well spent. The best part for me was that I got a chance to meet other foodies in the city and interact with them.
Now, the question you must be wondering about while going through this post - what askme.com has got to offer to foodies?

They have got a brand new 'Food Ambassador Program' to start with. Some of its highlights are as below:

- Refer your foodie friend and get bonus vouchers.
- Write reviews on askme.com about 10 restaurants and get treated with a meal voucher for two.
- Keep writing and get exclusive meals/ shopping/ spa vouchers.

So, what are you waiting for? Log on to www.askme.com, register and start writing. The more you write, the more you win.

All the foodies who were part of this event, got a goodie bag to take home. 

   Discover. Eat. Share.

That was the idea behind the foodies meet. I would like to thank AskMe for inviting me to be a part of it, will definitely look forward to such meets in the future.
 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Breaking The Blogging Slumber ~ Jaisalmer Trip #Travel #Rajasthan

To Travel is to Live 
- Hans Christian Anderson 

A post about our trip to Jaisalmer was long due on this space. We had been to this beautiful city in Rajasthan in February and since then I have been just thinking about it. Well, today I went ahead and worked on this post.

Jaisalmer also known as the Golden City is one of the popular tourists destination in Rajasthan. Much of its fame come from the 'Pushkar Mela' that happens here every year. But, the fair generally takes place in October or November it was not in our plans. Instead, we enjoyed the city with all its sand dunes, fort and havelis. Even though the city is highly commercialized today, there are parts in the city that still retains the regal charm of the bygone era. The Jaisalmer Fort is one of the main attractions of the city - the interesting thing about this fort is that people still inhabit the fort. In fact, the fort is a bustling town in itself!

The intricate carvings on the stone, the massive fort, the enchanting havelis,  the narrow by-lanes, the golden sand dunes, a mesmerizing sunset and a lot more, will keep you entertained and engaged when you visit this charming city in Rajasthan.

I will let the pictures do the talking now. I hope you have a good time going through this picture-heavy post.
 
A Lone Camel Standing in the Golden Sands, Jaisalmer.

Jaisalmer Fort as seen from a distance.

 Jaisalmer, The Golden City as seen from the Jaisalmer Fort.

 We Stayed at Club Mahindra Resort,Jaisalmer.
Wall Decor at the Restaurant at Club Mahindra Resort, Jaisalmer.



Patwo Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer.

One of the Entrance Gates at the Jaisalmer Fort.

Another view of Patwo Ki Haveli.

Camel Resting in the Desert, Jaisalmer.

Rajasthani Puppets @ Jaisalmer.

Sun set at the Sam Dunes, Jaisalmer.

I will take your leave with a quote from Dalai Lama. It says all about the pleasures of traveling and exploring.

"Once a year go some place you have never been before."

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers! 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shattered Dreams - Book 2 | Ramayana - The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas


For the review of the first book of the series -  Rise of the Sun Prince, please go here.

Title:  Shattered Dreams, Book 2
Series: Ramayana: The Game of Life
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2014
ISBN 13: 9788184955316
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 387
Price: Rs 350


I had enjoyed reading the 1st book of the series, so when I received a mail from the author for a review of the book 2 of the series, I was elated and accepted the offer eagerly. I am so glad to have read this book. It is one gem of a book, and I must confess here that I enjoyed it more than the 1st one.


The story in the second book of the series revolves around the events before the announcement of Rama's coronation, the sudden turn of events leading to his exile and the agony that follows thereafter.


The beauty of the book lies in the narration and the way it seamless connects all the events. Each and every character get the due attention; so you can visualize each and every scene in your mind. The readers get to know about Dasaratha's inner fears and his love for Rama, Manthara's scheming mind, Keikayi's infamous tantrums, Rama's sense of Dharma, Bharatha's sense of duty, and also the devastating effects Rama's exile has on the citizens of Ayodhya.


Even if you have read other books on Ramayana before, you will get to know something new here - you will be able to see the events in a new perspective. Another unique specialty of the book are the foot notes. These are little pearls of wisdom which educates the readers about applying the lessons from Ramayana in their own life. So, this book does a double job - it not only regales you with the stories from the epic saga, it also makes you understand the crux of the stories and how they can be applicable in your life. For example, by abiding by the order from Dasaratha to go to exile Rama shows his detachment from worldly things; Sita by accompanying Rama into exile shows that her love for Rama is above the comforts of a palace, and so on.

 
The language used is simple and the narration is 'spot on'. This is one book, I can surely re-read several times. Of course, I can't wait to find out what the third book of the series have in store. It will be marked by the entry of another legendary character - Ravana, so, I am pretty sure that it will be quite exciting to read that too.


I took my time to read the book, as I believe that is the best way to absorb all the information and lessons you are going to get from the book. So, by advice is read it slow and enjoy the journey.


I strongly recommend it to all mythology lovers. You shouldn't miss the opportunity of reading this one.


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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thar Express by Nagendra Murti - A Book Review

Thar Express by Nagendra Murti is a thrilling tale of self-discovery of a person who has lost his memory to an untoward accident. Once you start reading the book, it will keep you hooked. Your curiosity will be put to rest only after you have turned the last page. There are several twists and turns in the story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The anticipation of what-is-going-to-happen-next is always there and that's what makes it an exciting read.
 
I received an  e copy of the book from Blog Adda in exchange for a unbiased review.

The blurb says:


"Am I dead? Is this how it feels to be dead.....?


Thar Express tells the story of a man who is rescued from the aftermath of a landslide near the India­Pakistan Line of Control. He is barely alive and appears to have no memory of his identity, his past or the circumstances that led him to a remote and sensitive part of the country that he was rescued from.

 
After initially being cared for in an army hospital, he is sent to a doctor who specializes in treating those afflicted by memory loss. Under the unconventional but effective care of this doctor, he begins to remember tiny fragments of his past and sets off on a journey of re­discovering himself that leads him across seven different states and brings him in contact with people who wittingly or unwittingly help him along in this journey.


The army intelligence, initially suspicious of his antecedents and intent but with no hard facts to act on, stumbles across information that pushes them beyond suspicion. They launch a relentless manhunt to re­capture what they now consider to be a dangerous insurgent. Will the authorities’ worst fears come true or are they just chasing an illusion? The story takes the reader through twists and turns, introduces characters who represent the eccentric mixture of mirth and cynicism that is twenty­ first century India and unfolds the unexpected ending."


There are several facets of the story. First it dwells on the anguish of a man who has lost his memory. It is aggravated by the fact that there is no one from family or friends who can take care of him and help him in getting back his memory. Not only this, since he is found in a remote and sensitive part of the country, the army and the police suspects that he might be a militant who might be feigning memory loss! It also touches upon the diversity we have in India. Mano - the protagonist  knows Kannada, Marathi, Hindi and little bit of Oriya. That is commendable but it does make tracing where he is exactly from more difficult. We also get glimpses into how our army and anti-terrorist squads work. As Mano travels through out the country in search of his past the readers can't help but marvel, at how the story of his life unravels.


The writing style of the author is impressive - it is crisp and fast-paced. The narration never falters, so the story had the readers attention all the time. The ending is fitting but unexpected. For a debut author it is undoubtedly a commendable book.


The book is available online only as an eBook at the moment. I hope a paperback version will also be available in near future.
This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
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