Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Stories by Madhulika Liddle

Title: My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Stories
Author:  Madhulika Liddle
Publisher:  Westland Limited (2012)
Genre : Fiction
Date:  2012
Price: Rs. 250
Pages: 225

 First of all I thank Westland Limited for a copy of the book and their faith in my reviews. It was an enjoyable read.



Snapshot: It’s a collection of short stories, about realistic characters, written in a simple but an artful manner of revealing the “unusual” or the “suspense” component slowly yet surely, and in a manner that makes you read nonstop right from first to the last page.

The Stories and Critics Perspective:
There are total twelve short stories. Each in a very different set up from another. The first story “Sum Total” is about a young girl who has successfully eliminated people she is not fond of by murdering them. I specifically loved the way it ended. The second story “A Tale of Summer Vacation” is about the story of two sisters. It is described as a series of observations made by the girl narrating the story, who has just gained wisdom to decipher people from their little actions; about these sisters that spin into a beautiful plot. The third story “A Brief Lesson is trust” is a smart story and as reflected by the title, compels the reader to ponder “Whom and (importantly) how much can one trust?” While the fourth story “Feet of Clay” is a very innocent narrative of a child about her childhood love which seems predictable in the beginning but leaves you spellbound at the last line. 

The main story that is also the title of the book, attractive enough to make you want to read it appears strategically at the middle of the book and is predictable. I am sure the book gets this title not because it’s the best story as is the case with most short story collections but because it’s catchy. “Number 63” a story of suspicious neighbors where the author tries the same old school mystery trick, however it is a fun ride. “On the Night Train” again a trick but better than the last one. 

While the best stories are towards the end. The "Silent fear" is short and smart. "St. George and the Dragon" and "The Crusader" well written but predictable". However, the best of all in my opinion are "The Howling Waves of Tranquebar" and  Hourie which are unsual stories with each plot making the book unputdownabble and the end is amazing, unthinkable! Also Tranquebar is described beautifully and mysteriously and this story makes me want to visit it sometime soon. 

The Review:
Positive: Most characters are real life, simple and not extraordinary or imaginary. However the beauty is how imaginatively the author has carved out their stories and presents it in an interesting way so as to let the reader keep guessing what happens till end. Language is good, writing crisp and some stories are really gripping.

Negatives: Some stories are certainly predictible.

The Verdict!!!  A crisp, topsy turvy, light read. Highly recommended for short story lovers. 3.5 stars out of 5.

About the Author: Madhulika Liddle is an Indian writer who writes in English. She is best known for her books featuring the 17th century Mughal detective Muzaffar Jang, although she is also a prolific writer of short fiction, travel writing, and writing related to classic cinema.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013


I have signed in for the IQR 2013 and my target is 100 books. Whats yours?

The Indian literary scene is under bombardment and Indian Quills Reading Challenge is inspired from that beautiful word-a-lious attack. Indian books, Indian writers, Indian stories…..there are so many out there that each one of us end up missing a few, sometimes even the good ones and that is terrifying to this desi reader.

IQR Challenge is an attempt to bring the reviews of books by Indian authors scattered all over under one database at The Tales Pensieve. Going forward with this site’s underlying partiality with Indian authors, it is to also serve as a collective effort to promote the literature and authors of Indian origin.
I invite each and all who read books by Indian authors, even once in a while, to participate in this effort. I have tried to keep this very simple and user friendly but in case you have any confusion or face blocks feel free to contact me. The way into this challenge is a 3-step strike: Read the guidelines, if you are game sign-up and start participating (and winning ;) ).

Guidelines
a. Anyone who reads Indian literature can join the challenge, do you blog or not is not a criteria.
b. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Graphical, all forms of Indian writing are welcome.
c. Books written in any language (Regional, National or International) are eligible for the challenge, the only criteria is that it should be authored or co-authored by a writer of Indian origin.
d. The challenge will run from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.
e. The books to be part of the challenge could have been released anytime since evolution of printing (no ceiling on that) and you can also link reviews of books read anytime, any number of years back. The intension is to build a near perfect and complete database of books by Indian writers.
f. If you have any confusion wether the book you have opted for, qualifies for the challenge or not just ask me.
g. If you are a blogger but do not write about books on your blog, you are welcome to use the non-bloggers signup for the challenge.
For Bloggers
1. Publish a post/ page on your blog telling your readers about your signing up for IQR Challenge 2013 and lock in the number of books you will be reading as part of the challenge – which will be your IQR Target.
2. Sign up for IQR Challenge 2013 by entering your details into the linky, here
3. Once your details and IQR Target are updated into the IQR Challengers 2013 list, you can start linking up your book reviews here
For Non-Bloggers
1. Lock in the number of books you will be reading as part of the challenge – which will be your IQR Target.
2. Sign up for IQR Challenge 2013 by entering your details into the comment box, here 
3. Once your details and IQR Target are updated into the IQR Challengers 2013 list, you can start rating & writing short reviews here

Button for IQR Challenge 2013
You are free to copy the code beneath the challenge picture on the sidebar and put it up on your blog. Be a proud IQR Challenger.
And then
I will be updating the IQR Challenge database in the first week of every month for the submissions of the previous month and with that will be updated your challenge account details i.e. your IQR Target vis-a-vis your submissions. And from there I pick the IQR Champion of the month, who gets an IQR Champion badge for their blog & gets to choose a book of their choice from the picks of the month to be home delivered (anywhere in India) by Random House India. If the IQR Champion of the month is a non-blogger, then they ofcourse get only the book.
So all set? You can sign-up from the challenge anytime but submissions start from January 1, 2013 only.
Welcome to Indian Quills Challenge 2013 fellow book lovers! Let’s build the biggest collection of Indian writing on the web. Get, Set Go….
Picks of the Month for IQR Champions to choose from
in January 
Aerogrammes by Tania James
Boats on Land by Janice Pariat
Bombay Stories by Manto
From the Eye of my Mind by TGC Prasad
The Good Little Ceylonese girl by Ashok ferrey
in February
55 by Chetan Chhatwal
Work it out without a workout by Vesna Jacob
Our Moon has blood clots by Rahul Pandita
Dozakhnama by Ravi Sankar Bal
Tirupati by Kota Neelima


For More Details Visit: http://thetalespensieve.com/?page_id=1463?replytocom=647#respond

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Maverick Heart: Between Love and Life by Ravindra Shukla

Title: A Maverick Heart: Between Love and Life  
Author:  Ravindra Shukla
Publisher: Leadstart Publications
Genre : Fiction
Date:  2012
Price: Rs. 195
Pages: 383


First of all I thank the author Ravindra Shukla for immense faith in my work and sending a copy accross. It was an enjoyable read.

Snapshot:  This is the story of three friends that begins in IIT Mumbai and goes up to the "wall street". As the title suggests it is about the conflict that one goes through in choosing what the heart wants or going by the ways of the world depicted through story of three good friends and strong characters. Its not a typical love story or a triangle, its more about dream versus practicality and in short decisions of life. 

The Story & Critics Perspective: The story begins with the lead character Richita, who is the icon of a modern Indian girl. She is smart, beautiful, clear headed and yet has Indian values. She goes through an unpleasant experience in her graduation days with a guy at a party, which she escapes but only after locking herself emotionally and being closed to a lot of social contact. She therefore avoids most guys at IIT where she later joins the management program. Her focus lies in sports and studies and she excels them. 

Rahul, yet another strong character and a man who goes by his own mind and upto any length for his values. He is the change he wants to see in the cosmos. He notices her in an inter IIT basketball match and sketches her. She however annoyed initially, starts noticing him too being active in social activities and lectures on campus. Both of them become good friends and eventually fall in love. This phase of the novel is great, particularly the IIT campus life with the fun, projects and sports is something everyone can relate to and thoroughly enjoys. 

Neerav is Rahul's best friend, who is the third lead character. He is a cool guy with brains and practical outlook about life. Rahul and Richita being involved and Neerav become good friends with her too. However Richita's dad is a little concerned about his daughters future and starts looking for a suitable groom around the same time. She goes with the flow being a typical Indian girl who cant make her parents sad. Also they convince her that Rahul will be considered if he gets into an MS-PhD program with scholarship in the U.S. He almosts gets it, however his assignment submission gets delayed by two weeks as he gets busy with real life problems and social issues and all his plans are backfired. On the other hand a "so called perfect NRI" Deepak decides to marry Richita, and her parents want her to as he the "wall street millionaire". Therefore her Indian values, fathers accident, their choice being a settled  guy and Rahul's inability to match her parents expectations force her to accept Deepak.

With Rahul not being able to even finish his course that year and her parents liking Deepak, Richita has no choice but to agree with them. She marries him, moves to U.S.A and cutts of entirely with Rahul. This breaks down Rahul completely and he channels all his energies into more of social work and trying to solve issues at grass roots, related to tribals education etc. 
Meanwhile Neerav gets an admission at Stanford and moves away, leaving Rahul all alone. Richita and Neerav remain in contact for sometime however that too is lost as both get busy with their own lives. 

Deepak is a typical corporate guy, who does anything for money and as every sinner gets paid, he too looses his position in his company etc. during recession and also because of blunders he commits. Now Richita studies for a specialization and being hard working and intelligent grows into her career fast. This partly makes Deepak jealous. She tries to balance everything but Deepak is never satisfies. The heights of his greed is seen when Richita losses her first pregnancy in an accident but forgives the other person, from whom all Deepak wants is millions of dollars in compensation. She leaves him. In this part I believe the author has given a great description of life at wall street which could have been further edited, however Richita's emotions are not depicted so well, which the reader truly craves for.

Rahul on the other hand gets into trouble with local politicians, never caring about them as he knows he is doing the right thing for people. However he gets frustrated by corruption and failure despite his hardwork and gets into a lot of legal charges which pile up and eat up his time. Neerav and Richita meet at a lecture series she organizes and stay in touch. Meanwhile Nirav starts a business with a smart lady which turns out to be highly profitable and convinces Richita to join. He is in touch with Rahul on his visits to India, but that is all. Rahul gets too busy with social work and one day when he solves a great technical problem of Neerav and gets awarded million dollar for his research the headlines say " He is not Reachable". His mother just tells Neerav he has been jailed for going against some politicians while doing good public service as a part of RTI. On the other side Neerav and Richita become billionaires. Everybody believes Rahul is wasting his talent in social work.

Where is Rahul?Will he change his path towards better life or stick to his values? Will Rahul and Richita meet again and the trio unite? How will their totally different lives come to an equilibrium? For more read the book, you will surely enjoy it.

The Review!!!

Positives: The book has highlighted quiet a lot of important issues like, the drawbacks of Indian education system, a woman's conflict between Indian Values and love, the attraction of parents to NRI grooms, materialistic youth, corrupt government etc. to name a few. Language, flow etc is good. Characters very strongly defined and a reader can easily understand them without words in the later part. There are some amazing quotes and dialogues all through the story.

Negatives:  The editing could have been better. There are parts which were explained in too much detail and there are parts which really needed more detail. Also in some parts the story is narrated as first person and in some parts as third person.  Minor spelling errors are also there.

The Verdict: An enjoyable read, a must grab! 3.5 stars out of 5. Had the editing been better the story definitely would have scored more.

About the Author:
Ravindra Shukla
 is an engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. He has been working in emerging technology and business analytics in IT software technology. His professional experience includes working with consulting firms – PWC and IBM in USA for 15+ years. He is a member of the Film Writers Association, Mumbai. His interest includes – writing fiction, literature and movie scripts apart from sports, movie and travelling across the globe. Author can be contacted at ravindra.shukla@gmail.com or www.ravindrashukla.com


Buy it Now: http://www.flipkart.com/maverick-heart-between-love-life/p/itmdezf4hmthwwxa?pid=9789382473008&_l=BeFSI0lZqBC4MJ94PL7coA--&_r=%20BCrDDt0jrjNyuvzMND9Lg--&ref=c099eeac-6648-4455-b043-0c16edba75db&otracker=start














Monday, February 11, 2013

Q&A with Meghna Pant - Author of One and a Half Wife

When I first read the title " One and a half wife" just couldn't resist reading it and Meghna just sent it the next day for a review. I read it in 5 hours straight and loved the story. Therefor here is getting to know Meghna, a good author and a beautiful human being from whom there is a lot to learn. 

Q. When did you begin writing?
A: Writing as an all-consuming process began six-seven years ago.

Q. What is your motivation behind the same?
A: It helps me funnel my disarrayed emotions and experiences into a common denominator.

Q. Tell us something about your experience as a business journalist and an NDTV anchor?
A:  Journalism has helped my writing by teaching me how to work with disjointed information and to always seek the truth.

Q. How did your journey into writing begin?How was the road smooth or bumpy?
A: Writing is romanticised only by those who don't do it seriously; it’s the toughest thing you’ll ever do and the best reward is self-satisfaction.  
I was 19 when my first short story, Aberration, was published online. But I started writing seriously around five years back, though at that time it was only short stories. To improve my art I took several writing courses in New York, and after a fair share of rejections and heartbreak, my short stories slowly began to be published in reputed US literary magazines. The idea for a full-length novel, One & A Half Wife, came only in 2009 and it was picked up by several publishers on completion. But I'd describe the road as bumpy; you have to really persevere to be a publisher author. 

Q. Tell us something about your recent book “One and a Half Wife”?
A: 'One-and-a-Half Wife’ captures some of the social realities of our time. It examines the long-standing Indian desire to live in the US, while portraying the struggles of an immigrant family’s so-imagined American Dream, and the moral cocoon in which Indian Americans live. It highlights the trend of reverse immigration, increased divorces, single parenthood, old India vs. new India, domestic violence, political muscle, all of which are forging new identities in India. The background score is the call of the homeland and a search for one’s identity. It has now become a bestseller, won the national literary award: Muse India ‘Young Writer Award’ and gone into three reprints.

Q. The title is very catchy “One and a half wife” how did you come to think of it?
A: It meshes together the two narrative arcs of the novel, so it came very organically, unlike most other titles that are a nightmare to pin down.

Q.What triggered your imagination to write this story? How did you imagine the concept, the characters, etc?
A: My experiences in New York, the global tumultuousness during that period and living away from India; all determined this novel.

Q.Your book been received very well by the readers in India and abroad, how do you feel?
A: The reception to it by readers and critics has surpassed my expectations. I’m deeply touched and honoured.

Q. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Finding the time to write is most challenging as I’m also working full-time.

Q. What is the best and worst part about being an author in your opinion?

A: The best part is the heightened sense of awareness you feel about yourself and others, which I feel has moulded me into a better human being. The worst part is having to disconnect with the mundane because you simply want to write.

Q. Did you ever get “The Writers Block”? How did you overcome it?

A: Not yet. In fact I have too many ideas and not enough discipline to execute them.

Q. Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
A: Authors who strike the nearly impossible task of storytelling with literary prowess impress me, like Adiga, Mistry, Munro, Uris, Marquez, Kafka.

Q. What books have most influenced your life most?
A: The short storiesMetamorphosis by Kafka and Boule De Suif by Maupassant have most influenced me for their starkness and honesty.

Q. What are you reading currently?
A: Just finished reading Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil and was simply blown away by his brilliant writing.

Q. Broadly what are your next projects?
A: My collection of short stories Happy Birthday! will be published by Random House this October.

Q. What is your opinion about writing as a career?
A:Do it only if you care naught about money, security and a decent lifestyle.

Q. What do you think about the current trend of writing in India? Is the current lineage of Indian authors ready for an international audience/market?
A:No, I think there’s been an oversimplification of literature in India with the onslaught of mediocre writing. Discretion and taste need to be exercised to enable the growth of real talent.

Q. How do you manage your profession and writing together?
A: Honestly, at most times I’m just overwhelmed.

Q. Any advice for budding writers?
A: Write what you love to read.

Q. Any message for your readers?
A: Read what you'd love to write.

Q: A message for The Readers Cosmos:
A: Thanks for all your love and support, and do read One & A Half Wife and Happy Birthday!

An Adolescent Mind by I.R.Shankar



Title: An Adolescent Mind 
Author:  I.R.Shankar
Date:  2012
Publisher: Swati Malhotra
Price: Rs. 500
Genre : Fiction, Semi-autobiography

This is the story of the author in his own words from his childhood to adolescence. It is different from the plethora of stories we read about successful people and their journey, this is the journey of a common young man till he reaches adolescence. A common man who does exist and is remembered only till he lasts….sadly. This is a common mans uncommon attempt to immortalize his life's journey amongst the pages of this book.
The book begins with the author claiming he remembers a lot, even about his childhood. That seems claiming a lot however, as the incidents depicted are what any child would feel I gave him benefit of doubt and started reading ahead. His childhood lonely as had no parents and grew up with grandfather, a retired army officer, who did just one thing faithfully – drink liquor. His life, were his teachers. He grows up goes to college, makes good friends, starts fantasizing about women, meets some good &some mean ones, etc. The important character of the author emerging from this part is of a good learner from life.  He describes the crests and troughs of experiences to learn each lesson about human beviour, the big bad world and his own desires. 
For more read the book.

Positives: Good language.

Negatives: Editing, almost good, some parts still could be avoided.  

The Verdict!!! The story is something one can relate to and that keeps one turning the pages. A good light read to get a glimpse of your own life. At 500 INR however a little overpriced.

About The AuthorI.R.Shankar, born and raised in India, came to the United States. He is an Electronics and Communication Engineer by training and a Software Consultant by profession. He has a passion for writing novels. He is the author of the semi-autobiographical novel titled ‘An Adolescent Mind’. True Colors of Love is his second book, a psychological novella for the lover of fiction.I.R.Shankar, born and raised in India, came to the United States. He is an Electronics and Communication Engineer by training and a Software Consultant by profession. He has a passion for writing novels. He is the author of the semi-autobiographical novel titled ‘An Adolescent Mind’. True Colors of Love is his second book, a psychological novella for the lover of fiction.

Buy it Now: http://www.flipkart.com/adolescent-mind-novel/p/itmdyv6zgzs2pmkw