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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Book Review: Panorama (Short Stories) by Shilpi Chaklanobis

Reading books is a habit that many would love to inculcate. I know a lot of people who have wanted to start reading as a hobby either to develop the language, speed, vocabulary or simply out of plain interest.
But how does one know where to start? What books to read? Which books to avoid? That is why I started this ‘Book Review’ column to simplify the process and perhaps ease the confusion a bit.
I just read ‘Panorama – A Collection of Short Stories’ by Shilpi Chaklanobis. Here is what I thought.

Book Cover:

The moment I ripped open the packaging, the gleaming image of a child and man’s best friend greeted me charmingly. I loved the whole feeling of the cover, the font of the title as well as the style of the author’s name. Overall, very catchy and definitely something I would pick off a shelf just by first look. However, I wasn’t able to link the cover to the title of the book.
Cover Rating – 4/5

Title Justification:

I personally loved the title and thought it encompassed the essence of the book perfectly. ‘Panorama’ basically means to encompass or to view something from a wider perspective. The conglomeration of these stories brings together a picturesque view of life through the author’s eyes. I found it deep, meaningful and quite attractive.

Title Rating – 4.5/5

Plot

Now, coming to the main part of the book. The stories. I will give a brief outlook at each of the fifteen stories in this book and what I felt stood out the most. Please note that these stories are in order or appearance within the book and are not in order of my preference.

  1. The Wok: The book opens with a simple, yet touching story depicting the lives of a hard-working mother and a dynamic daughter. I loved the ending of this story.
  2. Peanut: This story carries a whiff of an autobiographic feel to it. It’s depicted from a first person narrative by a character that is not the main part of the story. To me, this felt like one of the weaker links of the book but nonetheless, still an interesting read.
  3. The Thirst: Another bang of a story with an excellent climax. The best part about this story was the title. It means so many different things encompassed into just one word.
  4. Selective Secularism: This story was very deep. I loved the scenario and the thought behind this plot. Its social angle was what really drove me in to the core of it.
  5. Bribe: For some reason, I felt myself being carried away with this one. It is an extremely simple story depicting marriage from an experienced viewpoint. I loved this story and it certainly was an interesting read.
  6. Forever: One of my favourites from the book, this story was depicted with vivid details and a tremendous ending. I found myself feeling drawn to the characters.
  7. The Wait: With an excellent twist that was totally unexpected, I found myself smiling once I read the way this story was woven. Impressive word play.
  8. Second Tsunami: Everyone can learn something from this story. I don’t know how the author felt when writing it but I definitely felt a tug in my heart as each word pierced into my skin. Another one of my favourites.
  9. The Example: Another autobiographic story. Maybe this genre is not for me or perhaps the others were far too vibrant – but I found this to be another weak link in the book.
  10. The Meeting: There was an element of relativity in this story that really connected to me. It portrays a situation that happens to probably anyone in any form. It is about friendship and the lack thereof as time carries us away.
  11. Jackpot: A very beautiful story. There is such depth of human emotion in it that it is outstanding. One of the best stories in the book.
  12. Destiny: I got chills when I read this story. Just one word. Amazing.
  13. The Untimely Death: A little slow paced and probably the longest story in the book, this one takes a small and simple situation that is wonderfully woven into a tale.
  14. Before it’s too Late: Time runs out of our hands and enjoyment is replaced by responsibilities. This story portrays the side of life that we all forget to live because we are too trapped by our own deadlines.
  15. The Sealed Wish: I felt as though there couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to this book than to save the best for last. I personally loved this story so much that I read it twice. An amazing read.

Overall Impression:

I generally don’t prefer reading short stories because I am worried about the ups and downs that they may contain. But I am glad I chose this one because there are definitely many more pros than cons with ‘Panorama’. The author is very imaginative while being realistic and knows how to transform normal situations into wonderful tales. Every story had an element to it that I felt I could relate to in my own life. It is such a simple book filled with ordinary situations and relate-worthy characters.

However, if I had to give the author one suggestion, I would definitely ask her to consider creating more lasting impressions with more dialogues, powerful sentence constructions and heartfelt one liners that will stick with the reader for a long, long time.

Final Rating: 4/5
Verdict: Worth every penny!

 

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Restaurant Review: Hitec Nanking (Madhapur, Hyderabad)

I love food. As simple as that.

It is a wonderful feeling I relish – trying new restaurants, experimenting with different delicacies and savoring every bite I take. While it is true that my appetite is quite poor, that doesn’t dismiss the fact that I do enjoy a meal out every once in a week or so.

So, when I was driving around Madhapur on a lazy Sunday evening with my family, I saw a restaurant perched high up on the top floor of a building that caught my fancy. Hitech Nanking. In a split second decision, we decided to check this place out and see what it had in store. I have to add here that – luckily, they have parking so I was tremendously relieved.

Let me take a shot at reviewing this restaurant for what I thought about it. I have three major parameters:

  1. Ambience
  2. Food
  3. Service

Ambience:

The moment I stepped into the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised by the clean decor and the simple furniture. There was a rich cultural feeling to it that can’t be put into words.

 

 

 

 

 

With differently sized and coloured chinaware decorating the walls in a quirky, fancy manner – the glass ceilings and bright chandeliers complimenting the ambience, it felt quite comforting to be inside. That being said, there wasn’t a lavish or extravagant display of decor – which was a good thing. I found the interiors quite apt for this cozy restaurant.

I give the ambience 4/5.

Food:

We decided to go all out and ordered a full three course meal, starting with the appetizers and drinks of course. We ordered soft drinks and lemonade to go with out ‘Fried Wontons’ and ‘Chicken Pakodas’.

The wontons were perfect – crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The hot and sour sauce accompanying the dish complimented it wonderfully. The pakodas are worth their place in the ‘specials’ list. They were piping hot, crisp and melted in our mouths.

Just as we were savoring the starters, our main course was served. ‘Vegetable Soft Noodles’, ‘Veg Fried Rice’ and ‘Veg in Hot Garlic Sauce’. The noodles had a tinge of that authentic burnt flavour that was mouth-watering. The vegetables were perfectly stir fried. The rice was aptly seasoned and had a special richness to it. As for the assorted vegetables in the mildly spicy gravy – it went very well with our other dishes and added a balance to our palate.

        

 

Now that we were stuffed with our meal and emptied our drinks till the last sip, we wanted to call it a night. But the staff seemed to be able to tempt us into getting dessert. Who can say no to ice cream? I know I can’t. And so we said yes. It was like the perfect proposal – because the dessert was just as yummy as everything else. Crispy fried noodles dipped in honey, served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped off with a mild hint of strawberry sauce – you can find it in the specials list as ‘Darsaan tossed with ice cream’ if you feel your mouth watering right now.


One word.
Heavenly.
The crispness of the noodles on your tongue as the soft chill of the ice cream creates a burst of flavour in your mouth is utter bliss. But because we were a little greedy, we also shared a chocolate ice cream which was rich in both texture and flavour.

I give the food 4.5/5.

Service:

Lighting fast. That’s the one term I can use. It probably was the most efficient and quick service I have ever experienced in any restaurant. We had our starters within 10 minutes of placing our order. The main course quickly followed. Dessert was perfectly on time. Our water glasses were always full. Anything we needed was given to us without having to ask. I found it quite thrilling to receive such fantastic service after so many years of eating out.

I give the service 5/5.

Overall:

It was a genuinely great experience. We surely didn’t regret it even one bit. I recommend this to anyone who has a flavor for Chinese cuisine and / or loves Non-Vegetarian food because these guys know what they are doing.

Final rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Worth tasting

Hitec Nanking Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato