Thursday, 22 June 2017

Book Review: The Tree with a Thousand Apples

Book: The Tree with a thousand apples
Author: Sanchit Gupta
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Pages: 283
Price: 350 INR
Genre: Fiction | Thriller


Inspired by true events, this riveting narrative traces the lives of Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar, three childhood friends who grow up in an atmosphere of peace and amity in Srinagar, Kashmir, until the night of 20 January 1990 changes it all. 

While Deewan is forced to flee from his home, Safeena’s mother becomes ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal has to embrace a wretched life of poverty and fear. The place they called paradise becomes a battleground and their friendship struggles when fate forces them to choose sides against their will. 

Twenty years later destiny brings them to a crossroads again, when they no longer know what is right and what is wrong. While both compassion and injustice have the power to transform lives, will the three friends now choose to become sinful criminals or pacifist saints?The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a universal story of cultures, belongingness, revenge and atonement. The stylized layered format, fast-paced narration and suspenseful storytelling makes for a powerful, gripping read

My Rating:

Plot: 4.75/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Sketch: 4.5/5

My Review:

There are some books that drown you so deep within them that you feel you can see the characters in front of you. You feel you are a part of their life. You start empathizing with the characters and root for them to emerge victorious in the end. When I finished reading "The Tree with a thousand apples", I sat like a statue for about fifteen minutes, lost in thoughts. My mood was sombre as I thought about Bilal, Safeena and Deewan. It took me an hour to collect myself and write this review. 

The strongest love and friendship is the one that sacrifices with a peaceful smile. This book is a heart-wrenching and beautiful tale of friendship amidst a battlefield called Kashmir. Deewan, Safeena and Bilal are childhood friends, living in the beautiful city of Srinagar. They love each other so much that they won't even think twice before taking the blame for someone else's mistake. They can bear anything to save each other. As Bilal says "For us, Deewan Bhai, whatever it takes."

As the peaceful city of Srinagar converts into a ruthless battlefield where Muslims and Hindus start killing each other without any mercy, the lives of the three friends change drastically. On one fateful night, Deewan had to flee from Srinagar with his family. He doesn't get a chance to bid adieu to Bilal. 

Deewan loses his brother and later his mother that night. His arm gets amputated. Safeena loses her mother while her father tries to save Deewan's family. Bilal watches his sister molested and killed by the officers in the name of inquiry. One thing common with the three friends is that all of them loses their dear ones. All of them suffers at the hands of fate. While Deewan and Safeena do not think of revenge, Bilal avenges his sister's death. 

Many, many years later, Deewan gets an email from Bilal, pleading to save Safeena from walking in the wrong path and becoming another Bilal. Deewan returns back to his hometown after twenty years to save Safeena.

But how far does he succeed? What happens to the lives of the three friends? Who is the ultimate hero? Whose friendship and love is the purest of all? 

As you will complete the book, you will get all the answers. The quote with which the author starts the book "If the criminal was once a saint and a saint was once a criminal, then who is the criminal and who is the saint?" was ringing in my mind when I finished reading the book. 

The author has painted Kashmir beautifully in the book by mentioning about Kashmiri culture and Kashmiri cuisine. He has shown how the paradise turned into a battlefield suddenly, robbing the innocence of three kids and putting their friendship to test. The apple tree in the backyard of Deewan's house stands as a metaphor of their friendship. 

The narration of the book is mostly fast-paced. Only at few places, I found the pace dropping a little. There are a few typos in the book, but they can be overlooked because of the gripping plot. All the characters are beautifully sketched. The characters have a lot of depth and intensity. The ending is something that will stay with the readers after closing the book. Full points to the author for the heartwrenching ending!

I will go with 4.5 and would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good read. You won't be disappointed for sure!

'I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.'

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Posto Movie Review

Last weekend, I went to watch a Bengali film called “Posto” with my Dad. The reason for watching the movie is that Posto is directed by the same director duo, Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy, who had enthralled me in the last two years with movies like ‘Bela Seshe’ and ‘Praktan’.

This director duo surely knows how to tell a story that is emotional and relatable. The subjects that they deal with in their movies are something that will linger in your mind long after you have left the theatres. While Bela Seshe (In the Autumn of my Life) was an emotional re-discovery of the institution of marriage, Praktan (Former) was about a separated married couple who bumped into each other years after, on a train journey from Mumbai to Kolkata.

Their latest offering, Posto is about a seven-year old boy, Posto who lives with his grandparents in Shantiniketan. His parents, Arnab and Sushmita are ambitious, working individuals living in Kolkata who have no time to look after Posto. Therefore, they have left Posto with his grandparents in Shantiniketan. Posto’s grandparents Dinen and Gauri cannot think of their life without Posto. In the same way, Posto is also very much attached to his grandparents.

Life is rosy with Posto’s parents visiting him on the weekends and his grandparents raising him. Things become chaotic when Arnab gets a lucrative business offer in the UK. He plans to relocate to the UK with his wife and son. But Posto’s grandparents are not willing to let go of Posto whom they had raised like their own child since Posto was a baby. Seeing no other way out, Posto’s grandfather decides to fight against his own son to gain the custody of Posto. The matter drags to the court where a heart-wrenching tale of attachment and love unfolds.

Dale Carnegie had said long back “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” We human beings get attached to the ones with whom we spend a lot of time and who love us unconditionally. This is the reason why Posto calls his grandmother ‘Ma’ whereas his mother ‘Mammam”. As Posto is raised by his grandparents, he is attached to them much more than his parents. 

His biological parents think that they have every right to take Posto with them wherever they want, without realizing that Posto hardly knows his parents beyond the weekend meetings. His life revolves around his grandparents, the same way his grandparents’ lives revolve around him. The lawyer fighting the case asks a pertinent question to the judge which is so relevant:

Who is the actual guardian? The biological parents or the caregiver parents? Devaki or Yashoda?

Giving birth to a child is not enough. Raising the child to be a wonderful human being is the true duty of every parent. And in this movie, that duty is done by Posto’s grandparents. Despite their age and physical ailments, they spend all their time looking after Posto, giving him the right education and teaching him the values of life. 

This movie is extremely relevant in today’s times as many parents due to their busy schedule cannot spend ample amount of time with their children. The movie also shows the role that grandparents play in the life of their grandchildren. The first half of the movie is good, but the second half takes the audience on an emotional ride when the matter gets dragged to court. Some of the scenes made me so emotional that tears started rolling down my eyes.

Since the backdrop of the movie is Shantiniketan, Tagore songs are a huge element of the movie that beautifies it effortlessly. Soumitra Chatterjee as Dinen Lahiri is fabulous in the movie. Special mention to the child actor, Arghya Basu Roy for making the character of Posto so lovable. Performances by Jisshu Sengupta, Paran Bandopadhyay, Lily Chakraborty and Mimi Chakraborty are also praiseworthy.

Posto is a beautiful Bengali film that will be loved by the Bengali audience as it has Tagore songs, authentic emotions and a great theme. I would recommend Posto to everyone who loves watching a good movie. This is a slice of life movie with the perfect backdrop and brilliant performances. I am going with 4.5 stars. 
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Monday, 30 January 2017

Book Review: Someone to Love

Book: Someone to Love
Author: Ruchita Misra
Publisher: Harlequin India
Pages: 237
Price: 175 INR


Not everyone is lucky enough to find this kind of love. Koyal and Atharv are childhood friends. They are also soulmates. Confidantes. Kindred spirits. They are made for each other only, neither of them seems to have figured it out just yet. As they grow into adulthood, they turn to each other in sorrow and joy, only becoming closer. But then one day, something happens, and their rare friendship is cruelly transformed into something a lot like hatred. Atharv, scarred and hurt, fumes with anger, while impetuous Koyal presses the self-destruct button. 

Years later, just when they've both found peace within themselves, their paths cross again. And destiny, that strange creature, has a few tricks up her sleeve. Will these two ever forgive each other? Or have they already lost their one chance to find someone to love?

My Rating:

Plot: 3.5/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Sketch: 4.5/5

My Review:

"Someone to love" is a beautiful love story of childhood best friends, Atharv and Koyal separated by destiny to meet again. I loved the way the author had sketched these two characters. Koyal is hyper. Atharv is calm. Koyal is extremely emotional and unable to control her emotions. Atharv is emotionally stable. She is self-destructive when hurt. He is distant when hurt. Since childhood, Atharv keeps Koyal calm and stable. They are like yin and yang. Without one, another is lost. 

They have a soul connection and can understand each other's silence. Even when both of them don't have an idea about each other's whereabouts, the soul connection is still there. They can communicate through telepathy and know if the other person is going through a difficult time. The way the author had depicted the beautiful and complicated relationship between Atharv and Koyal is indeed praiseworthy. 

The story constantly oscillates between the past and the present and that keeps the story interesting and unpredictable. The beautiful friendship between Atharv and Koyal breaks when Koyal decides to go away from his life. Atharv gets hurt when Koyal cuts off the friendship suddenly without any explanations, leaving only questions and hatred between them. They move on with each other's lives and finally meet after more than a decade in London with questions and resentments. 

The author cleverly camouflaged the reason behind Koyal's decision, dropping subtle hints at certain places. It was only in the last few pages of the novel that she reveals the reason why Koyal walked out of Atharv's life and all the dots finally get connected. The prologue of the book is very intriguing.

After a long time, I read a romance novel that I enjoyed reading so much. I was totally invested in these two characters, Atharv and Koyal. I also loved the character of Koyal's mom, Atharv's mom, Mansha and Hema. Although the plot was not very unique, the writing was fresh and intense. Here are some of the lines of the book that have stayed with me:

"Sometimes, even if we forget our friends, our soul does not."

"Love sets free, love empowers, love liberates, love exhilarates. Madness destroys. Possessiveness destroys. Hatred destroys."

"The language best friends use to communicate is facial expressions. And sometimes, though words mean one thing, the expressions tell the truth." 

"Nothing, she realized in that moment, ever separates a child from her mother. Not even death."

"Letting go of someone you love is hard, but holding on to something that was never meant to be yours is harder. Hating anyone is hard, but fighting with yourself to keep on hating a person you hate to hate is exhausting."

There are various scenes of the book that made me emotional. If you are a romantic person and if you believe in soulmates, you will absolutely love reading this book and may require a few tissues while reading it. Those who do not like romantic novels may find some of the scenes cliched and a bit over the top. 

I would give it a 4 stars and recommend it to all the romantic souls. Now that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, this book can be your perfect read. 

'I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.'

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Book Review: Lanka's Princess

Book: Lanka's Princess
Author: Kavita Kane
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Genre: Fiction|Mythology
Pages: 298
Price: 295 INR

Surpanakha, Ravan’s infamous sister—ugly and untamed, brutal and brazen. This is how she is commonly perceived. One whose nose was sliced off by an angry Lakshman and the one who started a war but was she really just perpetrator of war? Or was she a victim? Was she Lanka’s princess? Or was she the reason for its destruction? 

Surpanakha, meaning the woman as hard as nails was born as Meenakshi—the one with beautiful, fish-shaped eyes. Growing up in the shadows of her brothers, who were destined to win wars, fame and prestige, she, instead, charts up a path filled with misery and revenge.

Accused of manipulating events between Ram and Ravan, which culminated in a bloody war and annihilation of her family, Surpanakha is often the most misunderstood character in the Ramayana. Kavita KanĂ© 's Lanka’s Princess tells the story from the vantage of this woman more hated than hateful.

My Review:

"Lanka's Princess" tells the story of Surpanakha, Ravan's sister. She is the protagonist of this book and I must say that the author has beautifully brought her into life in the pages of the book. It was interesting to know all the major characters of Ramayana through Surpanakha's eyes. 

The book starts on a very interesting note where we see Lord Krishna talking to a woman with a  hunchback known as Kubja after coming to Mathura. He recognizes her at once and the woman also senses an uncanny familiarity when Krishna talks to her. Later, after some days, Krishna heals her deformed body and tells her that she was Surpanakha in her last birth. Then Krishna starts narrating her story to her. 

The prologue of the book totally won my heart. I was hopeful that this book will be a great read and I am happy to announce that the book lived up to my expectations. The epilogue was also beautifully written. 

Surpanakha was born as Meenakshi to Kaikesi and Rishi Vishravas. She was loathed by her mother as soon as she was born. Her mother's extreme fondness for Ravan and her father's fondness for Vibhishan made Meenakshi feel abandoned. She felt only her middle brother, Kumbhakarna loved her. The childhood incidents of Meenakshi were beautifully narrated, especially the one in which she attacks Ravan with her nails because he killed her pet. 

The girl who yearned desperately for love and attention from her family finally found love in Vidyujiva, her husband. When her husband got killed, she felt she had lost everything in her life. Destruction of Ravan became her only goal, which ultimately resulted in the great war between Ram and Ravan.

The way the author has shown the metamorphosis of Meenakshi (the girl with golden eyes) into Surpanakha (the woman as hard as nails) is praiseworthy. She made the character of Surpanakha so human that anyone can relate to it. The girl who craved love throughout her childhood became the victim of revenge. Although she wanted to destroy Ravan, she suffered more destruction in the process. The last chapter of the book where Urmila, Lakhman's wife makes her realize that she was the victim of her own wrath was poignant.

"None of us are innocent, all of us are guilty of our actions.",said Urmila. "But we have to take onus for those actions, should we not? You cannot blame it on others or on fate to have created our fortunes and our misfortunes. It is us, Surpanakha , we have none to blame, or absolve, but us. There is no escaping our responsibility."

The book is fast paced and very engaging. There is not a single dull moment in the book. However, there are a few typos and editing errors. 

I will go with 4 stars.

If you are interested in knowing Surpanakha's story, you must read this book. 

 'I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.'

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Friday, 30 December 2016

Book Review: My father is a hero

Book: My Father is a Hero
Author: Nishant Kaushik
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Genre: Fiction | Relationship
Pages: 199
Price: 195 INR


Vaibhav Kulkarni has had few accomplishments worth boasting about in his modest life and career. Yet, his happy universe lies intact in the love and pride his ten-year-old daughter inspires in him. Nisha Kulkarni justifies every reason to be the favourite child of Pune’s premier school-be it her academic brilliance, her exceptional facility with music, or simply her unassuming charm.
 With his daughter showing promising signs of a stellar success story, Vaibhav has made peace with own unrequited dreams of the past. But when the girl mysteriously starts losing mojo and spirals into despair and seclusion, Vaibhav faces the toughest test of his life as single father - to reclaim his child’s trust and happiness. 
What distance will a middle-class man with limited means go to show his daughter the merit in believing in a dream? Read this gripping tale of love, courage, and of the emergence of an ordinary man as an extraordinary hero.

My Rating:

Plot: 3.5/5
Writing Style: 3/5
Character Sketch: 4/5

My Review:

“My father is a hero” is the story of Vaibhav who is a single parent to his 10 year old daughter Nisha. The book beautifully shows the relationship between a father and his little daughter around whom his world revolves. They are enough for each other and are very happy in their sweet little world.

Nisha is an extraordinary student who is loved by her teachers and admired by her friends. She sings beautifully and idolizes Rihanna. Vaibhav wants her to grow up to be a happy, self-sufficient and successful lady. Despite not having any knowledge of music, he wants Nisha to be a great singer because her dreams matter a lot to him. He doesn’t lament on his unfulfilled dreams and desires because all he wants is his daughter’s dreams to be fulfilled.

I could definitely relate a lot to the book on a personal level as my father had also been a single parent to me after my mother passed away when I was twelve. As I was reading the book, Vaibhav’s love, sacrifices and dedication to his daughter definitely won my heart.

When Nisha suddenly retreats inside a shell and hides something from Vaibhav, he is shattered. He cannot see his daughter losing her friends, getting punished by her teachers who once loved her so much and failing in her exams despite being a class topper once. The story is about how a middle class man like Vaibhav leaves no stone unturned to bring his daughter back to a life full of dreams and happiness.

Though the plot of the book is simple and the writing is ordinary, the book touched my heart. Vaibhav’s struggle to bring back the smile on his daughter’s face was heart warming. This book scores high on the emotional quotient. Its beauty lies in its simplicity.

However, I did not quite like the ending chapter of the book as it did not feel realistic to me. Maybe, an emotional scene between Nisha and Vaibhav where the girl realizes and tells her father why she thinks he is her hero would have appealed to me much more than a celebrity telling her that her father is a hero. 

Apart from that, I really enjoyed reading the book. It was a beautiful and emotional read. I would like to give it 3.5 and would recommend it to all the daughters & sons who think that their father is a hero.

I received a free copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.' 

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Saturday, 24 December 2016

Book Review: The Tantric Curse

Book: The Tantric Curse
Author: Anupama Garg
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Genre: Fiction| Thriller
Pages: 280
Price: 295 INR


On an amavasya night, eight-year-old Rhea mysteriously lands at the doors of Shaktidham, a Tantric house of worship, in a trance. Realizing that she is blessed with unusual faculties, the guru of Shaktidham, Satya, chooses her as a disciple over his own son, Krishnam, to carry on his lineage, a privilege previously bestowed only to males. But the lineage has been cursed for generations, and it is up to Rhea to either break the curse or perish in the attempt.
Will she succeed in her endeavour? Will her love for Krishnam become an obstacle in her path? The Tantric Curse, an unusual story set in the world of Tantra that aims to dispel most of the myths about the practice, will keep you spellbound till the very last page.

My Review:

There are some books that stay with you long after you have finished reading it. They inspire you, they thrill you and they enlighten you. “The Tantric Curse” is one such book.  Reading it was an enriching experience.

It is not only a thriller set in the world of Tantra that tries to dispel all its myths, but is also a beautiful love story that will touch your soul. The story starts in Shaktidham where a little eight year old girl, Rhea lands when her parents die in a road accident. She meets the guru of Shaktidham, Satya who chooses her as his disciple. 

Rhea can see future events in her dreams since childhood.  Satya chooses to teach her about Tantra as he believes that she is gifted and can reach the heights of sadhana that no one ever could. Satya has a son, Krishnam who is a few years elder to Rhea.

Rhea and Krishnam grew up together. Since childhood, they are inseparable. They couldn’t realize when their friendship gradually blossomed into deep love.

They got separated when Rhea became victim to the misuse of Tantra. But does separation means end of love? How long can a woman wait for her love with the conviction that he will come back when it is time? The author has beautifully portrayed the profound relationship between Rhea and Krishnam, two highly evolved souls who loved each other unconditionally despite not being together for as long as eleven years. The telepathy between them is beautifully shown.

The book also talks about Rhea’s long journey as a sadhak in Shaktidham to working with Dr. Vishnukant as a spiritual counselor in UK. As I read the book, I was completely fascinated with the character of Rhea and deeply invested in the love story. I loved Rhea’s answer when a friend asks her who Krishnam is:

“The core that remains stable within me, in spite of any peripheral movement. Some people, whether they are there or not, are still a part of you. A part that lives until you are alive. He left, but still he never left. An effortless saint, who is content, steadfast in every situation and loves me the way no one can. He is the man who possesses me in every way, without possessing me physically.”

The book is also rich in spiritual teachings that will inspire and enlighten the readers. I can definitely go to the book again and again. I couldn’t find any flaw in the book and therefore, I would like to give it 5 stars and would like to congratulate the author for writing such a spellbinding story.

Highly recommended! It’s definitely a book to remember. 

I got a review copy from the author for an honest review. The opinions are my own.
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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Book Review: Colorful Notions: The Roadtrippers 1.0

Book: Colorful Notions: The Roadtrippers 1.0
Author: Mohit Goyal
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Genre: Fiction| Travel
Pages: 200
Price: 175 INR


Would you give up your high-paying job and comfortable personal life to drive ten thousand kilometers across India? Just for fun!

Three twenty-somethings dare to do just that! While the two guys take turns to drive, the girl gives voice-over as they record their entire journey on a handycam.

Ab, Sasha and Unnati are ordinary youngsters, rendered special by the feat they accomplish. As they recount their adventures, I crave to live their journey all the more. They look at each other with a glint in their eyes, as if refurbishing those memories, as they narrate their spooky time at Bhangarh Fort, strange escapades at Wagah Border and Sundarbans, car breakdowns, wild animals, near-death experiences and highway robbers! It's nothing less than crazy.

Colorful Notions is a journey of three young hearts on the Indian terrain and into the inner recesses of their souls, giving a new perspective to relationships, love and life. 

My Rating

Plot: 4/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Sketch: 4/5

My Review

"Colorful Notions: The Roadtrippers 1.0" is an adventurous journey of Abhay, Sashank and Unnati as they take a crazy road trip to travel 25 iconic places in the country over a period of 3 months.

Abhay (AB), the narrator of the story dreams of making a documentary movie on the crazy road adventure. He resigned his job in an advertising agency to fulfill his dream. His best friend, Sashank (Sasha) took a 3 month sabbatical from his family business for the road adventure. The thing that attracted him most to the road adventure is his love for food. Sashank's girlfriend, Unnati (Unns) is an assistant RJ who said yes to the adventure because Abhay told her to give voice-over as they will record their journey.

As I love travelling, I was thrilled to travel along with these three characters to the beautiful destinations. They started their journey from Delhi to the Jim Corbett Park, then they moved to Haridwar and then they traveled to Leh & Ladakh. 

The ambiance and beauty of some destinations were so beautifully written that I felt I could see those places. However, if you read this book as a travelogue to experience the 25 places they traveled, you might be disappointed as the author has not described all the places in detail. Visiting Alwar's Bhangarh Fort at night, Sasha proposing Unnati in Kanyakumari, the adventure in Sunderbans and meeting the Lama at Bodh Gaya are my favorite sections of the book. 

Travelling is a great teacher. It changes our perspective and makes us better human beings. Here is a beautiful quote from the book on travelling:

"Travelling teaches you to live in the present, in the moment. You only think about the place you are currently at and the meal you will eat next."

It was enriching to see how the three characters evolve to become better human beings at the end of the trip. When they started their journey, all of them were somewhat confused and they were battling their inner demons. The way they conquered their demons and understood the purpose of their life in those three months was beautifully projected by the author. It was heartening to see that they were rewarded for their crazy road trip as a famous producer agreed to sponsor their documentary.

Overall, this book was a great reading experience. The narration is fast paced and once you start reading, you won't feel like taking a break. Gripping and captivating, the book will tempt you to go on a crazy trip with your friends soon. 

I will go with 4 stars. Highly recommended to the dreamers and the travel enthusiasts. 

I received a free copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.' 

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