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Book Review: Yama’s Lieutenant by Anuja Chandramouli

yamaThis is the fourth book by author Anuja Chandramouli and I’m on track with reading all of them courtesy the author.

And although I have read a few books in past 6 months but couldn’t get back to writing a review for them. The last review posted was also for the same author’s previous book “Shakti the divine feminine“.

Readers who have read my earlier reviews of the author’s work knows what my impression of author’s work is and which league of authors does I compare her with.

My review of her work is never in comparison with the Nagarkar’s and Shenoy’s of Indian new gen authors.

So the following review could be termed or interpreted as harsh but let me say that it I don’t mean to take anything away from the writing prowess of the author.

Rating

★★★ (3 out of 5)

The Storyline

The story begins where all hell has broken loose (literally) . The different inhabitants of hell governed by Yama are loose and want to create havoc on earth teaming up with Naganara, a necromancer. Joining him in his devious plans are hatakas and narakmayas.

The protagonist Agni Prakash who is trying to cope up with life after the death of his twin sister Varu is chosen by a silvery goddess to fight this devious plan as Yama’s lieutenant.

He gets the help of Yama’s danda, the power of fire and also the help of a woman with magical powers. His quest takes him to goddess Ganga where he asks for the girl who is to be Yama’s consort.

on the other hand, another plot written by Varu about a dysfunctional family of Yama and Yami continues.

How Agni (aided by others like Taravarsha, Minothi, etc.) help avoid the destruction and does he understands the manuscript left by his twin sister is depicted in the remaining book.

What I Think

First things first, the things that I dislike about this book:

  1. The cover image: – Could have done much better. The protagonist looks like an animated character. I would have never picked up this book from a bookstall with this cover image and title.
  2. The book title:- Again “Yama’s lieutenant” seriously?
  3. The protagonist:- Oh boy, Agni Prakash sounds like a name from 90s Hindi novels. At no point in the book, he was portrayed in a stronger light. Heroes are flawed and messed up, I get that but there should be some element of heroism to the character, some level of charisma, which is totally absent.
  4. The character names:- Some of them are difficult to even pronounce forget remembering them. Try some of these hatakas, Minothi, arakshas, Dharami,Ananthamma, Yatupava and more. By the end of the book I could only remember the names of a very few characters.
  5. The complicated and unnecessary usage of words to adorn the writing (examples: “When runaway emotions spewed forth like a bout of virulent diarrhoea..“, “..he was so myopic that he would have trouble finding his own butthole with both hands behind his back.” and more like this). A similar note I mentioned for her previous book as well.

Now you might be getting the impression that if so much is wrong why even 3 stars?

What I really like about the book is the author’s courage to take a plunge into writing a story so different and daring to be different than her earlier works. I always thought she would do good if she tries a different genre then mythology and although this is not a different genre altogether but it’s a pretty good attempt at fiction.

When you read it, you shall get a feeling that she is trying to create some sort of a Harry Potter work which remains with the audience and in Agni Prakash, she is trying to create a hero with whom she can write a series (which however I do not agree with).

It takes a master to understand the intricacies of mythology, build characters and weave a story around it. And that, the author has done remarkably well. There really is a story (if you like the blood and gore or not that’s different) and a decent one too. And where the book began between the love and connection of twins, Agni and Varu was actually quite nice.

There are also a few chapters or scenes such as about Sivagami Math which are good in pieces.

Last Words

The idea of the book is so powerful, the author has all the arsenals and talent to write a great story. When I sit and think after finishing this book I strongly feel this book could have been a game changer in the fiction world, if handled better.

Often writers do a mistake of telling the story they want to tell in the manner they want to tell without stopping and thinking for a while that are the readers getting the story in the same spirit as they want to tell it.

And this is what I think the undoing of this book is.

However, I recommend you give it a try and see for yourself if Yama’s Lieutenant tastes right to you.

 

 

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Book Review: Shakti The Divine Feminine by Anuja Chandramouli

IMG_20160116_111539_HDRI finished this book sometime back but couldn’t get to writing the review until now.

Shakti: The Feminine Divine by Anuja Chandramouli is the third book by the author after Arjuna saga of a pandava warriror prince and Kamadeva the god of desire. Luckily I have read and reviewed her earlier books as well. After I have finished reading this third book how I wish she would have stopped mythology right after Kamadeva and have taken a detour to another genre.

Rating

★★ (2 out of 5)

The Storyline

Shakti tells the story of devi that is known in Hindu mythology by different names such as Durga, Kali, Parvati, etc.

The story starts with the Shakti’s first avatar (or birth) as ‘Usas’ where she is humiliated and killed by devas lead by jealousy of Indra’s wife Sachi for her ‘free’ lifestyle. She gets a rebirth in  a much stronger avatar.

There are other aligned stories that continue along with this where Devas under the leadership of Indra keeps on fighting Asuras with the aid of Vishnu and Shiva to save Amravati. And in the process Indra does many wrongs prodded every time by her wife.

The story also narrates how the cult of Devi aka Shakti grows among divine and human alike. And how Shakti also plays other roles such as Parvati with Shiva and better half of Vishnu as well. Both Shiva and Vishnu understand Shakti and her powers and the wrath that she can bring.

When Asura Mahisha is undefeated and creates havoc then Shakti adorns the avatar of Kali and kills Mahisha and company. Also captures Indra to deal with his wrong doings.

What I Think

When I saw the cover of the book and the title I was very intrigued (more than I was with her previous book Kamadeva). But unfortunately this turned out to be a big let down. The female character Shakti is probably the most revered and considered most powerful in Hindu mythology. And I was very much interested to find out what new author brings to this character as she has a flair of treating these mythological characters differently then what we have been reading about them since ages.

Author in her note in the beginning makes it clear that don’t fret about what is real and what is fiction in the book and that gives her the liberty to weave the story to her liking and that’s what I thought was very encouraging for me as a reader and thought I would in for a treat.

But she couldn’t take the story very far. The story seemed pretty boring to me there are stories within stories and then unnecessary stories and at times you don’t even know what this book is about, as Shakti is lost somewhere in between.

There were just so many shades of Shakti that were mentioned as Usas, Kali, Parvati, etc. that in the end it was all very confusing as to how the author wants to portray the protagonist.

To top it all this was the  difficult language that the book is written in. I have praised Anuja’s writing in the past but how Shakti is written makes me rethink about all her previous books. It seems that the author has deliberately tried to write difficult, unheard of English words just to showcase her mastery over the language. On top of that there are such absurd conversations and sentences that just evoked neutral or yucks (for the writing) emotions. Once such example from the book:

“When he drew back the eyelids, Kali was squatting in front of him, it seemed, to take a dump.”

An average reader would not be able to finish reading this book.

The beauty of good writing is in it’s simplicity and that has been forgotten by several new gen authors. They think that adorning the writing with never heard of words is going to make them look like a ‘better’ and more ‘learned’ writer, which is totally wrong.

I could go on and on about how wrong the book is and what a lost opportunity it has been for the author. Shakti could have been written in a much better way and you could have written volumes without the reader getting bored.

Last Words

The author looked promising to me in her first two books but this book has been a let down to me as reader and admirer of her earlier works. In the earlier review of Kamadeva also I mentioned that I would rather see her write a book of different genre. But yes if the writing is going to be so complicated and indecipherable then none of the books can succeed.

But that’s just my view if you are interested in mythology or have read and liked Anuja Chandramouli before go give Shakti: The Feminine Divine a try may be you will like it.

You can buy this book at low price from Amazon.in

 

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Book Review: Business As Usual by Deepak Chawla

business as usual

business as usual by Deepak Chawla

I have become very cautious when it comes to book review requests. I have hardly taken any since last few months for the sheer reason that the book titles or blurb just have no appeal or nothing new to offer.

Everyone wants to be a writer, no one wants to write anything worth reading that’s pretty much what’s happening in India today but often I am surprised.

Business As Usualby Deepak Chawala is one book that I agreed to review after a long time and was very skeptical to begin with. In the end I agreed as it mentioned short stories, so I can still leave after a few pages without the guilt of not finishing the entire book.

Rating

★★★★ (4 out of 5)

The Storyline

The book is a collection of 5 short stories and these stories get covered in 300 odd pages.

The first one “Journeys Beyond Destinations” tells the story of Gautam and Shama, who used to work together at a Infrastructure firm run by Kulbushan Kapoor and had great chemistry between them and a good working relationship. Gautam relied on Shama and shares everything with her. When the firm is split between their sons Gautam leaves to be part of Lalit Kapoor’s firm to Shama’s dislike. Why Gautam leaves Shama and the firm, how their lives go on from that point onwards is covered in the remaining story.

Another one which I actually liked was “Balance of fate”, Sudeep is manager in a tea plantation and receives the news that he is getting fired. He has been at this plantation since last 5 years away from his family as a penance for the death of one of his employee during his job. Aisha his protege shares good equation with him keeps giving him wisdom of life. Her outlook towards life in general affected Sudeep in a good way. He is not prepared to go back home but he has to as he has no job. Back in kolkata he finds another job only to leave it in a few days. The reason and his take on life is tested. He is confronted with a question that has he really done justice to his life till now.

I also liked the last one “More wishes than stars” which deals with Kunal, who is unhappy with his job and is trying to find a meaning of his life. He tries his hands at entrepreneurship but fails, lands another job but dislikes it. He keeps on cribbing and on the other hand finds his friend Mira, an entrepreneur happy with what she does. The author raises a good point that there is a difference between making a choice and the way you want to live your life.The inner calling is probably what everyone wants to listen to but very few can hear it and heed the advice.

What I Think

This book is a very good collection of short stories. The best thing that I liked about the book was that none of the stories has love plot in it. There are men and women sharing good chemistry, good working equation with each other and just real good friends. And this is such a normal thing that happens in the world out there.

The stories are new and fresh. I don’t consider them stories, I don’t even consider them leanings or anything like that but a “matter of fact”. What author tells you is this happened and this is how it happened. No preaching, no moral high grounds, not the usual boring stories.

These stories were really a breath of fresh air in this “macchi market” of new books and new Indian authors. And I was pleasantly surprised.

The title of the book is also apt “Business as usual” although it could have been used a little less throughout the book and should have been left to readers to realize that it was business as usual.

The only thing that I was not fully satisfied was quality of writing. Not that it is bad but if that was up by a couple of notches than this book would have been even better. But as it is the first book by the author I will give him a pass 🙂

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Last Words

I am happy that every now and then I come across good writings by new Indian authors amongst the garbage that is being dished out. It is not mythology (which seems to be everyone’s forte now), it is not those non-nonsensical love and friendship shit. These are some real good contemporary stories with which you can relate to. Very fresh, very well thought.

I am happy to have gone through this book and I congratulate the author Deepak Chawla for it and will look forward to his next book.

I strongly recommend Business As Usual to anyone who loves good short stories or simply who likes a good read.

You can buy this book from Amazon

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Week 45: the book this week is The Bankster

Probably it’s late but then I am hardly finding time, nevertheless I did manage to start a book. A book that I have thought for sometime and is making waves and is by an Indian author.

The book this week is “The Bankster” by Ravi Subramaniam. Now isn’t the name so intriguing and adventurous (may be not adventurous) and exciting.

The author has got rave reviews for his books (this is not his first) and is actually thought to be in the league of Jeffery Archer, John Grisham (I honestly have no idea, I don’t read either of them too much).

But yea all of this has set my expectations high and even the first few pages that I have read seems promising. So just wishing I find enough time over the weekend to finish this book.

You guys have a great weekend ahead,

Happy Reading!

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Week 43: the book this week is: Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

They call it the ‘Relationship Bible’ and I have been wondering for many years what the fuss is all about, so lastly today in the morning I started off with the book this week “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” by John Gray.

Now I am sure whichever part of the world you live in, you must have heard or read about this book or the book itself.

I have mostly heard good things about this book and often have people quoting from this book but I am a bit skeptic about the book.

Will need to see (rather read) how it holds up to the expectations. Also if it is relevant (and how much) even after 20+ years.

My wife has earlier started reading it (she didn’t complete) but I she did like whatever she read. I am truly hoping I do too.

Relationships are always tricky and the books on relationships are more so.

So as I pour into this book in this last week of January 2013. You guys also get something fresh to read and share your experiences.

Till next time Happy Reading!

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Week 36: the book this week is Reading Lolita in Tehran

The book that I started pouring into last week (yes I wasn’t able to finish due to work work and more work) is one I wanted to read since the time I first saw it on the bookshelf of crosswords.

I am sure you would agree that “Reading Lolita in Tehran” is an intriguing title. Both Lolita and Tehran conjures up 2 different set of images in our minds that several unknown facts which increases our curiosity.

The little that we know about Iran sitting in India is that it’s an Islamic Republic and is constantly at war (if not practically then in all other sense) with America. However I am sure none of us in India see Iran as an enemy or a rouge nation (to use the american political language).

I bought this book a while back (when it was 50% off) and since then it was just sitting there and every time I used to look at it I wanted to start. At last I was able to start it last week and believe me whatever I have read till now, I simply loved it.

I won’t reveal anything more than that, look forward for my review by this weekend.

Do let me know if you have read this book or your views on Lolita or Iran.

Till next time Happy Reading!

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Week 21: The Book this Week is: Small Wonder the making of nano

So I missed another week (week 20) and I just managed to start the book this week. I will soon try to cover up this deficit.

Getting back to the book, the book this week is “Small Wonder the making of the nano” by Philip Chacko, Christabelle Noronha and Sujata Agarwal.

Now I think most of us know about the $2500 car or Rupee 1 Lac car that Tata Motors came out with in the year 2009.

It is said that it was a dream of Mr. Ratan Tata to build an affordable car for the Indian middle class that is safe and reliable and comes within a 1 Lac.

Now there is a small story to the 1 Lac price tag that I have heard (not sure how true it is) but it is said that  Ratan Tata mentioned once after a conference that he would like to build a cheap car for Indian middle class which caters to a family of 4. After the conference reporters started asking different questions, one of the question was “how cheap?” Ratan Tata didn’t give any figure and the reported questioned again, cheap as in 1 Lac and Mr. Tata replied why not if possible.The next day newspaper headline was “Ratan Tata promises to build a 1 Lac car”. And that is how Tata Motors was committed to 1 Lac (not exactly but yes in one way).

I wanted to read this book long back but never managed to get to it, last week at Landmarks sale I saw a few books and picked up this one too. Came up pretty cheap.

Now the book obviously contains the story of making of nano from vision to a dream come true. And I am looking forward to completing this soon.

While I do that, you too grab a book and read. It was disheartening to see that book shops in my city are getting closed down or shrinking. We need more and more patrons to support the brick and mortar bookstores too. So help out by buying more books, its a win-win situation for both.

Till next time Happy Reading!

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