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Wednesday 28 January 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!

Thursday 22 January 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 21 January 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!
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