August 10 2014

Far Beyond The Dead End

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Blurb: Millennia ago, the valley of Mohenja-Daro held one of the most organized and advanced civilizations for its time. Discovered in the late nineteenth century, all that was left of it now were ruins, and dead bodies. The mound of the dead, they called it, and rightly so. There were many dead bodies lying everywhere, and there stories were as mysterious as their states. What happened to the city of Mohenja-Daro? In a time when the city thrived, Koli was a seductive girl with an enigmatic charm. Sindhu lived with dreams burning in her eyes, and Girad with his burning passion for life. There were others, like the priest who professed to seeing a doomed future, a future cursed for all time. Their love, dreams, greed, mania and delusions formed a part of their lives, and added colour to it all the way. A mysterious series of deaths follows a frantic hunt for lust, gold and glory, and they do not stop until they destroy the very foundation of the city. Or until they venture Far Beyond the Dead End, to be discovered in the remnants of the lost city thousands of years later.

Author: Saikat Bakshi is an Indian writer and mechanical engineer. He enjoys exploring the unseen alleys of life, and observing people as he goes along. He enjoys taking in history, literature and art as well as writing whenever he finds the time. This is his fourth novel and he has also written: Did You See The Joker?, Fallen Leaf, Weathered Wind and Something In Your Eyes: Smiling In The Sky.

Review: It is about Koli, beautiful and intelligent girl, whose father wants her to get married to Sindhu, but Girad, a failed businessman wants to marry Koli. What a typical love triangle, Hindi movie manner, but this is not set in 2014 but set in Mohenjodaro when it was a flourishing society, a twirl unlikely.  Simple, suspenseful, straight plot with twists in the story and flawless narration made this book one of my best reads of this year. The author has successful brought back the oldest and dead civilization back to life with this story. Historical fiction of which I am a huge fan of, was written with such ease by the author, his years of research on Indus valley civilisation is proven. This book turned out to be a page turner as every page is impulsive.

The book is divided into three parts:

  1. The first part introduces the reader to the plot, characters and their qualities. It does throw light on customs, traditions and practises of Indus valley civilisation – especially that of the city of Mohenjadaro.
  2. The second part takes the story ahead and narrating the episodes and experiences of all the characters of the story.
  3. The third part (what I loved reading the most) exposes the secrets, turn outs, shockers and surprises and the truth.

I liked the way; the author kept the thrill and the excitement part away in the first and second parts of the story and bought it out only towards the conclusion. The urgency and the pace of the story in the end for me went with the flow of the story well, I did not feel it disturbed or broke the course. I did not wanted to read any emotional content making the character of Koli a sensitive, emotional or a timid girl. I like female characters intelligent and intellectual.

Pros

  1. The ancient Indus valley civilisation woven into a fiction plot.
  2. The characters are well written and develop with the story.
  3. The detailed bibliography shows the hard work of the author that has gone into writing.
  4. Historical fiction, a genre never before read or explored.
  5. A great visual peek into history, each line made me imagine an entire ancient civilisation in front of my eyes.
  6. Affordable, light and easy read.
  7. After a long time I came across a book without much of spelling errors.

Cons

  1. The quality of the paper used should have been better.
  2. The editor should have re-read the content couple of times before the final print as I found many grammatical errors in the book, in the first 80-100pages.

I give this book 4stars out of 5. Spellbinding apprehension (which is my preference) set in Indus civilisation, which the author thoroughly researched about, took me to an era beyond the present.  If you are an aficionado of historical fiction then this is the right book to keep you engage till the end. More over it is not an easy job to write historical fiction, and full credit to the author Saikat Bakshi for selecting this variety and coming out of it fruitfully.

I thank Saikbat Bakshi and Writers Melon for hosting the wonderful historical civilization contest and picking me out as one of the winners and sending this book as prize.

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August 8 2014

Round Ireland with A Fridge

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Blurb: Have you ever made a drunken bet? Worse still, have you ever tried to win one? In attempting to hitchhike round Ireland with a fridge, Tony Hawks did both, and his foolhardiness led him to one of the best experiences of his life. Joined by his trusty traveling companion-cum-domestic appliance, he made his way from Dublin to Donegal, from Sligo through Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Wexford, Wicklow–and back again to Dublin. In their month of madness, Tony and his fridge met a real prince, a bogus king, and the fridge got christened. They surfed together, entered a bachelor festival, and one of them had sex without the other knowing. And unexpectedly, the fridge itself became a momentary focus for the people of Ireland.

About Author: Tony Hawks, is a British comedian and author, famous for his Quizotic travel accounts undertaking bizarre wagers with friends. Hawks performs stand-up comedy, and is a regular on TV and radio panel games in the UK, including I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Just a Minute, The Unbelievable Truth and Have I Got News for You, although he first came to prominence as one of two resident performers — the other was Jo Brand — on semi-successful BBC monologue show The Brain Drain.

Review: I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t know what to expect from this book when I ordered it. I don’t read a whole lot of nonfiction, but when I was challenged to read it, I accepted it wholeheartedly and I don’t regret it. I’m so glad that British humour/comedy didn’t turn me off. This book is really funny with a terrific story. The touching tale of a man  (English comedian Tony Hawks ) and his fridge, who for a £100 bet, hitch-hikes around Ireland in 1 month with a fridge. This book reveals the good of people and the lengths they will go to help someone without any thought of rewards. The book provides details of the lives of all the people Tony encounters–in bars, hotels, tourists, at the radio station, the king of Tory. Tony writes about all these people in a personal way that allows us to see them not just read them. And in the course, Tony forms associations with all of them. I found the book, the story and the writing to be daring, bold, thought-provoking and very funny. Some readers will definitely choose to see it as only an enjoyable comedic read but for me it is really a lot more. It’s about a witty man who boards on something admittedly silly only to discover something much more meaningful connections with people, the randomness of life, challenges, obstacles, support, friendship, fun, frustration, self-knowledge and insight. And the country of Ireland and the Irish as never seen and experienced before.

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August 6 2014

And we remained

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Blurb: And we remained was a story which needed to be told. The story though, wasnt a short one. How it had to be narrated had to be very different as well. And we remained is a 51,000 word novel, with an absorbing storyline and a unique narration style. In the 1990s, India is going through tremendous socio-economic changes. Set in this era, it is a coming of age story of five engineering friends – Sahir, Sandeep, Gopal, Anand and David-and the women in their lives, especially the beautiful Wardha. Their intertwined story is told by these friends through first person accounts of events in their engineering college contrasted in alternate chapters with their lives a few years later when they keep in touch, narrate events in their lives and share their experiences in India and abroad through emails. And we remained takes you on their entertaining journey through college, love, heartbreak, prison, politics, drunken binges, strip clubs, US and Europe as they hang on to sanity and their identities in a fast changing society and a nation in flu

About author: Asad Ali Junaid is a design professional in Bangalore working in the area of Human-Machine Interaction. Junaid’s book – And We Remained – started as a story which needed to be told… and one which needed to be told differently. While he was struggling to get the narration style and structure right, he joined a three week in residence ‘Just Write’ fiction writing workshop where he got a chance to learn the nuances of and hone his story telling skills from authors Anil Menon, Anjum Hasan and Rimi Chatterjee. Junaid writes whenever there is a compelling story inside him bursting to get out. Junaid has written several short stories and is currently editing his second book – which like his first one – has an absorbing story and is very different in narration style. Junaid has been a resident of Bangalore most of his life except for brief stints in the US for higher education and work. He has seen Bangalore’s transformation from the sleepy town that it was, to an IT hub of today. Junaid’s wife is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Their toddler completes their home while keeping them on their toes.

Review: Sahir, Sandeep, Wardha, Gopal, David, Anand, Engineering, Sex, US, Philosophy, Ragging, Porn, Loafers, Electrical, Mechanical and Placements – caught my attention the moment the book was in my hand. The black and white of the cover and blurb on the front side was something which I had not come across yet. The author impressed me with the cover itself. I finished the book in 2days. I appreciate the author for not just writing this book but for even designing the cover and also publishing it.  Narrating the story through emails is something which caught my fancy since I first read love virtually. In the current story the past was narrated from everyone’s point of view and the present through emails. I liked that friendship was described in a fun way. Effortless and simple humour was another big good feature of this story. The email conversations between Sahir, Sandeep, Gopal, Anand and David about Facebook to  Bollywood in UK to India where sex is taboo, strip clubs of USA, fall of Twin Towers, Indian education system is something which generation of not just 1990’s but that of even today would like to be a part of. There is love, heartbreak, prison, politics, drinking and college life. ‘And We Remained’, for me remained as an enjoyable read about college friendship, which I am sure not just me but all of us can connect with. Through this book I could revive my own first day at college, fresher’s party, annual day, elections, college canteen, bunking classes, love affairs, heartbreaks, crushes, movies. I highly recommend this book to all.

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