Book Review: Dying to Live by Monisha K. Gumber

I just read ‘Dying to Live’ by Monisha K. Gumber and it was a joyous experience. Here is what I thought.

 

BOOK COVER:

I wasn’t very happy with the book cover for the sole reason that I found it too be overwhelming. So much was going on and it became difficult to concentrate on the central purpose of the cover design. That being said, it definitely sticks out as a catchy and interesting cover because of its blast of cover

Cover Rating – 3.5 / 5

 

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

The title was one of the most interesting things about the novel. It had everything that I was looking for as a reader and something more. Catchy, Interesting and Short. But to add to that, the contrast within the title itself was fascinating. ‘Death’ and ‘Life’ in one sentence. I googled this author and found that this is something she’s done with her other book as well.

Please continue this title trend. It’s amazing.

Title Rating – 5/5

PLOT

The author was able to beautifully capture teenage experiences in a way that made me relive them. It is a stress buster but also comes with so many lessons that one can learn while reading the book. I loved the way the author made the language simple and intriguing at the same time.

This is one forte the author seems to master splendidly. At one point, I was really frightened that the story would take a negative turn and end tragically. However, with great relief, I can say that did not happen. Megha’s character fits beautifully into the plot and thankfully, she lives through.

A special mention to the illustrations! They were wonderful.

Rating – 5 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Given that this book is for teenagers and about teenagers, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a one-of-a-kind book I have seen by an Indian author. Overall, a splendid effort.

Final Rating: 5 / 5
Verdict: Recommended for Teens!

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Book Review: Broken Radio by Nishant Nishit

I just read ‘Broken Radio’ by Nishant Nishit. Here is what I thought.

BOOK COVER:

This wasn’t very appealing to me. It was too straightforward and lacked the element of surprise that I was looking for. The cover symbolizes the title and vice versa. That is all there is to it.

Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

The title was one of the most interesting things about the novel. I loved the symbolism of it to a misinterpreted and wrongly directed ‘frequency’ which is the main subject of the book – The treatment of the outcast, the shoddy and the anti-social elements.

Good job on the title!

Title Rating – 4/5

PLOT

If it hadn’t been for the blurb at the back, I would have gotten quite annoyed with the novel. I am giving extra points to the book and the author for being to the point and boldly stating that this novel is NOT for everyone. That part is true. It really isn’t. It deals with some of the least spoken and most taboo subjects of the Indian mentality. It is harsh, it is brutal and it gets gritty in places. Which is why it doesn’t make for a calm and peaceful read. But that isn’t a complaint. It’s just a fact.

I, for one, am not into such gore or any gore for that matter. But I was interested to see the depiction more than the story line. Most often, it isn’t about what is said but the way it is said. I have to say that I am neither impressed nor disappointed. Because while the author focused on the ‘realistic’ elements of society that people often don’t like to think about, he lost track of the way it was portrayed.

The writing style was good. It was written clearly and in a sophisticated manner. However, the editing was not on point. There were too many repetitions of words and the vocabulary seemed quite restricted. If I had to suggest one thing to the author, I would say that I will be waiting to see something more mellowed down from him. He has true potential. While I am not going to expect for him to follow the herd, I would certainly love to see different dimensions of writing without having him lose his identity along the way. Something along the lines of – erotica, drama or a thriller, perhaps.

Rating – 3.5 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I was really looking forward to seeing how the story would end. But it traveled at an even pace with a couple of dull moments here and there. A salute to the author for staying true to himself and standing out in a commercial crowd. Congratulations for a valiant move.

Final Rating: 3.25 / 5
Verdict: A Brave Attempt!

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Book Review: UNNS – The Captivation by Sapan Saxena

I just read ‘UNNS – The Captivation’ by Sapan Saxena and enjoyed myself.
Here is what I thought.

BOOK COVER:

I personally felt very neutral about the cover. It neither had the mystery nor the attraction factor, which for me, are quite essential when I first look at a book. It felt bland, plain and simple. These things could all be very good, but as a personal opinion, I wasn’t very impressed.

Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

This is where my review picks up. The title is fabulous. I love the sound, the essence and the meaning of it. Before starting the book, I actually googled it and learnt that it meant love in Arabic. Upon reading, I realized that it is one of the seven stages of love that is mentioned by the author in the novel.

The by-line ‘The Captivation’ is so captivating in itself.

Title Rating – 5/5

PLOT

At first, the book seemed ordinary and the plot felt quite run of the mill. But it would be an understatement to say that the story line picked up midway. The author has done a fantastic job in creating various twists along the way and placing them intelligently between the chapters.

What starts of as love between two teens blows out of proportion when they are separated due to forced circumstances and are united years later. I won’t say more for fear of revealing something. But be rest assured that you will be getting more than you expect.

The writing style is good. The grammar is on point and the style is easy to read. However, it seemed prolonged and elongated in a few parts and very little is left to the readers’ assumptions and understanding as everything is explained in detail. While I understand that the author would have wanted for there to be no confusion, it did seem a bit much considering that the new age readers are all well equipped to draw out and follow twists very well.

Kudos to the author for trying something out of the box with a predictable romance.

Rating – 4 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

It was a great read and I particularly enjoyed understanding the seven stages of love through the book. It seemed realistic and quite engaging. The combination of a thriller within the romance was wonderful though predictable in a few places. However, that being said, a definite recommendation from me!

Final Rating: 4.25 / 5
Verdict: Recommended!

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Book Review: Rafflesia, The Banished Princess by Gautam

I just read ‘Rafflesia, The Banished Princess’ by Gautam.
Here is what I thought.

BOOK COVER:

The cover wasn’t the highlight of the book for me. It was drab, it was dull and definitely not something I would call ‘catchy’. Perhaps it is the grey factor that made it seem that way.

But it is a good accompaniment to the title and, obviously, the story. However, my suggestion to the author is to try something discrete for his next work, something that makes the cover intriguing and mysterious.

Cover Rating – 3 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

The title is pretty straightforward and it does mention one of the key characters of the novel. The byline ‘The Banished Princess’ is apt and gives a wonderful peak into the plot as well.

I love the name Rafflesia.

Title Rating – 4/5

PLOT

When I first saw the immense size of the book, I was quite terrified. It is probably one of the longest books I’ve read in the recent past. However, I will say that for the length of the novel,  the author was able to keep up the story line and stretch it across without making it seem dull, repetitive or dragged.

The plot revolves around ‘Appu’ who is the protagonist. His life is dependent on the situations that his closest ones face or the obstacles that they incur. Each character is deep, has a history of its own and is presented very well. My favourite character was ‘Misha’, a sibling-like friend to ‘Appu’.

The drawback would definitely have to be the length. I did find, in a few places, that the narration was either slow or unnecessary. There was no steadiness to the writing, but instead went like wave after wave with a bunch of highs and lows.

The writing style is good, however, I felt that in many places, it could have been better. The main issue I had was the repetition of words in the same sentence. That was distracting. But then again, perhaps I am being nit-picky. I would love to see the author pick a more vibrant topic and see how he deals with a different theme.

Though there are pros and cons to the book, I definitely liked reading it and found it to be quite enjoyable.

Rating – 4 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I don’t regret reading this book at all. It was a great read, and though it took me two weeks to complete with my hectic schedule and frantic deadlines, it was a calm and peaceful journey for me. However, I will have to add, that this book isn’t for all audiences – especially those who enjoy quicker reads.

Final Rating: 4 / 5
Verdict: Recommended as a Long Read!

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Book Review: The Flame of Anahata by Saranya Umakanthan

I just read ‘The Flame of Anahata’ by Saranya Umakanthan and I found it to be a different kind of reading experience.
Here is what I thought.

 

BOOK COVER:

I thought the cover was excellently done. It is meaningful, catchy and is portrayed picturesquely.
The elements are all there and they are well thought out. The title is written in a beautiful font which is only superseded by the way the author’s name is written. Wonderful choice of fonts.

However, one tiny drawback, something that really did nag at me was that I did not see the depth of the woman on the cover when I read the book. Looking at that woman filled me with multiple expectations of the protagonist.
For some reason, that did not manifest within the plot.

That being said, I still stick by the quality of the cover.

Cover Rating – 4.5 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

To be honest, when I first read the title, it failed to impress me. It didn’t seem as something I either fully understood or even liked. But then again, that is just my opinion. To each his own.

I will however mention that the title is perfect for the plot and it fits the story-line very well. It represents infinity in emotion which is what the tale is all about. That is the most important thing to consider.

Additionally, the byline ‘Love Conquers All’ is quite attractive to an otherwise serious cover and provides the right kind of balance.

Title Rating – 3.5/5

PLOT

There is strength in the author’s narration. She knows how to frame her sentences to capture the reader. That, I believe, forms a base for any author. One suggestion from my side would be to see  continuity in her dialogues. They seemed abrupt at a few places, especially the way they started.

The story holds nothing brand new and is quite predictable. But it has been written well, it sticks out in the era of romance storytelling and it definitely is worth the time spent reading it. There isn’t a dull moment anywhere and the style of writing definitely is crisp.

There is freshness in the story, more in the way it is written than in anything else. That is the major attraction factor of the book. It is rare to come by a story that grips you till the very end in a subtly expressive way. The Flame of Anahata does just that.

Rating – 4 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I don’t regret reading this book at all. It was a great read, one I am happy to have on my shelf. With the exception of passable cons, it has the elements most readers would be happy to indulge in. The primary reason for my recommendation is that this book blends a thriller with romance which is one genre-breed that I love to read.

Final Rating: 4 / 5
Verdict: Recommended!

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Book Review: The Day Before… I Died by Ashi Kalim

I just read ‘The day before I DIED’ by Ashi Kalim and it was an interesting read.
So, here is what I thought.

 

BOOK COVER:

The cover is meaningful once you get to read the entire story. However, I found it low on the attraction factor. It’s a bit bland for my liking. Other than that, there is nothing wrong with it and this is entirely perception based. So.

Cover Rating – 3/5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

To be honest, in the beginning, the title seemed a little weird, almost as though it made no sense, but in a way that was intriguing and captivating. For that, I will give it marks because I like the appeal. The plus point is that it stands up for what it means … which is something a reader will find out once he’s through with the novel. I particularly liked the three dots before the words ‘I died’.

Title Rating – 4/5

PLOT

It started slowly, the introductory part doing its bit to get the reader engaged.  I loved the poem in the beginning. It was captivating. As the characters became known and well into the plot, the romance began to build. The novel also portrays some historical facts wonderfully – taking us back to the time of the World War. It especially focuses on the essence of women, their significance and male dominance over them.

I felt that the language could have been improvised, right from the sentence construction to the situations and scenes. Secondly, I wish the love element was more drawn out. It seemed to be passing way too quickly for the reader to connect. But I loved how the author chose to portray an opinionated side to the historical setting and make a piece of writing over it.

Rating – 3.5 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

It was a decent read though not something that I will call memorable. I applaud the author for trying to choose a factual topic and drawing out fiction from it. That was commendable. Recommended for those who are interested in history, romance and a combination of both. You won’t get bored.

 

Final Rating: 3.5/5
Verdict: An interesting read!

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Book Review: Her Resurrection by Soumyadeep Koley

I just read ‘Her Resurrection’ by Soumyadeep Koley and I am SO happy that I did.
So, here is what I thought.

 

BOOK COVER:

I won’t even get into details. There is no necessity. The cover was stellar. It’s one of the best I’ve seen. Attractive? Check. Deep and Meaningful? Check. Connects to the Plot? Check.

Cover Rating – 5/5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

Such power and magnificence in the title. I love how strong it sounds but what I love even more is how the whole plot and story justified with with utmost priority. Again, the rating isn’t difficult to give.

Title Rating – 5/5

PLOT

This is the main part of any book. There are hardly any negative aspects to the book, which is why I will start with those first. I found two issues, though minor and highly based on perception, I will add.

The first was that a few parts of the story dipped, making the reading a bit boring. I wished that the book could have been engaging throughout. However, considering the depth of the concept, I can let this pass.

The second was that a few sentences seemed off in terms of construction. I felt that if they could be worded differently, they would have made stunning one-liners. Again – Every author goes through this. We are all human and it happens.

Coming to the positives, definitely the first will have to be the subject. It is highly engaging and very complex, for which I applaud the author. But I applaud Gargi Publishers more for bringing something like this into limelight.

My debut novel was by Gargi Publishers as well, and not to sound biased, but I have immense respect for their choice of publication. The second main aspect was the writing style.

Soumyadeep aced this and managed to make such a deep and motivating subject sound highly enthralling and read-worthy. I loved it. More positives arise from the narrative, the conversational style adopted and the inclusion of a ‘prologue’ as well as an ‘epilogue’ which I personally LOVE in any novel. Kudos to the author.  This was a fascinating read.

Rating – 4.5 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

I am glad to have this book on my shelf and wish to read more by this author. I love his writing style and that he chose such a different, bold topic to display.

 

Final Rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Definitely Recommended!

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Book Review: Garden of Love, A Poetry Collection Compiled by Anuj Kumar

I just read ‘Garden of Love – A Poetry Collection’ compiled by Anuj Kumar. Poetry is usually very beautiful when written the right way. So, naturally, I was very happy to receive a poetry compilation which are now getting extremely rare.
So, here is what I thought.

 

 BOOK COVER:

Upon first look, I found the cover very attractive. The large tree amidst the darkness is a beautiful design for a cover, especially this one. Additionally, though it may seem irrelevant in this section, I also really liked how the book was a bit larger in size when compared to the conventional dimensions. However, one drawback in my opinion is that I couldn’t link the cover to the title of the book.

Cover Rating – 3.5/5

 

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

I personally loved the title and thought it encompassed the essence of the book well. It really does deal with the magnanimous topic of love that the four authors share via their own perceptional ways. But I definitely wished there was an element of mystery to it. Something that wasn’t so predictable.

Title Rating – 3/5

PLOT

Now, coming to the main part of the book. The poetry. The compilation is very strong in the sense that it is conceptually profound. The poetry is split among four talented young poets in two main genres – The pros and the cons of love. We have five poems per poet in the section ‘Heaven of Love’ and another five poems per poet in the ‘Hell of Love’ section. This totals to forty poems. I personally found that idea brilliant.

I am going to split the review poet wise and then reveal my favourite poem in each of the sections.

Anuj Kumar: The book opens with this poet. I liked the play of the rhyme scheme and how it kept flitting from abab to aabb and then also became non-existent in a few sections. It seemed chaotic but had poetic justice to it. The poet’s strength is clarity of thought which is evident from the flow of the poems. The weakness, if any, would have to be the conclusion of the poems. They seemed a bit rushed / incomplete in a couple of areas. My favourite poem was ‘Need You to Smile’ from the Heaven of Love and ‘Departure’ from the Hell of Love.

Maliny Mohan: The best part about this poet’s writing is how it feels as though there is a story being told through each verse. They link to one another and form an almost song-like lilt to the writing. This poet’s strength is the ability to connect to readers and the weakness, if any, would have to be the sentence construction. I felt it lacked power. My favourite from the Heaven of Love was ‘The Muse’ and from the Hell of Love was ‘I Breathe Your Name’.

Akash Deep Gupta: One main feature that stood out for me in this portion of the poetry was the simplicity. This element, I felt, was essential in increasing the connectivity to the readers. I found myself reading this author’s poetry a lot slower, enjoying the imagery that came from the language of the poetry. This, definitely, is the poet’s strength. The weakness, however, was the abrupt sentences. That affected the flow. My favourite from the Heaven of Love was ‘Theatre of Love’ and from the Hell of Love was ‘The Closed Door’

Abhijeet Singh Yadav: Abhijeet has a conversational style of writing poetry, which for me, was both a positive as well as a negative quality. Positive, because, it made the poems extremely engaging, but negative because it also made them seem more like stories than poetry to me. I found it a bit too dialogue oriented and tale-like than having any sort of poetic justice.  My favourite from the Heaven of Love was ‘Love & Leisure’ and from the Hell of Love was ‘She Lives’.

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

There is clear evidence that every single one of these pieces was well thought out. The compilation was done excellently and on point. There was a definite indication of more positives than negatives. But there were two factors which dampened the experience for me.
One – I wished that each author’s section of the poetry was clearly distinguished with his / her name. I found myself going back to the contents page multiple times to try and recollect who the poet was for each of the poems. Maybe the initials or the name on the top of each set of the bottom of each poem would have made it a lot clearer and would have given the individual poets far more recognition.

Two – Hardly one or two poems stood out as marvelous / outstanding or as pieces of writing that I will remember for a long time to come. That number is very small for a book that consists of 40 poems.

Final Rating: 3.5/5
Verdict: Recommended for Poem Enthusiasts!

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Book Review: Demons in my Mind by Aashish Gupta

I just read ‘Demons in my mind’ by Aashish Gupta. It was an eventful roller-coaster journey and a definite joy ride.
Here is what I thought.

 

 BOOK COVER:

With a minimalist approach, this cover seemed simple and straightforward at first. Upon first look, I was almost disappointed, even. But at a closer look I realized that it was quite deep and meaningful. It has the element of surprise that gets answered only when you are at least midway through reading the novel. That was one of the best things about the cover for me, and one factor that I have been looking for, for quite a long time.
Coming to the attraction factor, I won’t call it a bad looking cover, but I am pretty sure that if I saw this book in a store among others, it wouldn’t be the first to catch my attention. It lacks the oomph factor though it has just about everything else.

 

Cover Rating – 4.25/5

 

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

I loved the title. It is mysterious, attractive and is enough to make the reader want more. While I was reading the book, I had multiple alternative titles in mind (blame the author in me!), but in the end, after much contemplation, I had to agree that Aashish’s selection was the best.

Title Rating – 5/5

PLOT

Before I start, I have a disclaimer for the weak-hearted. I never thought I would fall into that category of people but I realize now that I was wrong. I am very much squeamish and I cringe a lot. Life lesson learnt. Coming to the disclaimer – this book is not for you. It is painful, it is tragic and it is gruesome. But it is also raw, emotional and deep.

The tale revolves around four main characters – though there are plenty more, four stood out for me. One is Dakshish – the protagonist, a man suffering with a fatal disease who seeks death. The others are the Three Monks – Murali, Rizwan and Joseph. It is when their paths cross that Dakshish embarks on a journey that changes his entire perspective. Through the stories behind these three monks – One of death, one of art and one of failure, Dakshish realizes a deeper meaning of life.

The plot is outstanding. The writing is impeccable. The style technique is applaud-worthy. There are far more positives than there are negative aspects to the book. There is so much depth to each character and mental illness is portrayed magnificently without all the unnecessary glorification. This book is for those people who understand and appreciate the tenor of art. Aashish Gupta is an author who deserves to be called by the prestigious tag simply because he is gifted.

But there is something else. Something that pulled the book down a little bit for me. It got tedious and pedantic at places. Perhaps it was a tad bit too lengthy. Maybe it was too heavy a topic to be able to read with a constant flow. I found myself having to pause, take a break and get some fresh air. The topic, though dealt with magnificently, left me a little uneasy at the end.

That being said – nothing can take away the charm that Demons In My Mind has to offer.

Plot Rating – 4.5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

The size of this book had me worried for a while. Was it something that was worth the cost? Was it going to be terribly prolonged? What could possibly be told in such a long story? But I admit, and proudly so, that I was wrong. This book has everything and more. Very serious. Very deep. Very moving.

Final Rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Recommended for the Brave

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Book Review: Those Seven Days by Anmol Rana

I just read ‘Those Seven Days’ by Anmol Rana. Here is what I thought.
 BOOK COVER:
When I look at a book cover, there are many qualities that run through my mind. The first, of course, is the attractive factor. This cover surely does fulfill that. With its vibrant colours and catchy images, it does make one want to pick it up and give the synopsis a read. That being said, one other major factor is the depth. This is where I was a bit disappointed.  To me, a cover is not only a visual summary of the plot but a tempting sneak peak as well. I always love to read a book, come back to the cover, and then think, Oh, so that’s why the author put this on the cover!
Cover Rating – 3.5/5

 

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

I loved the title. It’s clean, it’s catchy and it is basically what the book is about. I thought the author did a good job in managing to pick a title that could encompass all these factors.

Title Rating – 4.5/5

PLOT

This, for me, had quite a few ups and downs. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the writing for multiple reasons, but before we get to that, let us start with discussing what the theme of the book is. It is a casual love story between two people who didn’t expect to fall in love. The concept is cute, but then it is also quite run of the mill. The books travels at an equal pace from the first page to the last, neither too fast nor too slow, which is one of its plus points. The other pro of this book is how the whole novel is set in just seven days, split within the chapters by morning, evening and night. I found that idea refreshing.

That being said, I personally couldn’t readily accept the abusive language, the interception of Hindi & English and the colloquial usages throughout the book. I wished the author could have taken a less casual and more steady approach when it came to the dialogues among the characters. The second drawback was the sheer predictability. There were no twists and turns, no heavy emotion, no defining moment / chapter in the book. I personally couldn’t connect.

However, those readers who are in love with the idea of romance should definitely give this book a shot. It portrays a simple and relate-worthy story that will remind you of that special someone in your life.

Plot Rating – 2-2.5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

When I started reading the book, I had multiple thoughts rushing through my head. While I loved the simplicity of the theme and the flow of the story, there were multiple factors (as mentioned above) that kept shielding my ability to view this book from just the positive aspects of it. I find tremendous scope in this author to create a bestseller because he has the ability to transform simple situations into magnanimous events. I hope to see better, more clean works from this author in the future and I wish him all the best in the success of Those Seven Days.

Final Rating: 3/5
Verdict: Could be better

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