The Age of Azmoq (Book 1: The Valantian Imperium) by Rajamayyoor Sharma

“The man raised his hands and jumped with such grace, it seemed he was going for a swim and not jumping in to end his life.” – Rajamayyoor Sharma

Ola, readers! Yes, it’s been ages since I’ve read a book or done a review, but you know how life is, right? It’s awfully busy sometimes and then some other times, it gives you time to breathe, a.k.a, read. This time, I read, *Drum Roll*  The Age of Azmoq (The Valantian Imperium) by Rajamayyoor Sharma

Let us get into the review, shall we?

Blurb:

 

Azmoq is the rarest and most coveted metal on the planet. It’s the ultimate source and symbol of real power, and the Valantian Imperium controls it all.

Or so they thought…

For the first time in generations, the Valantian Imperium, masters of the Valantian continent glimpse the first tremors of fear. There are rumors abound. Rumors of legends. Legends of both ancient Azmoqian weapons and men of godly powers, long thought to be myths.

As these rumors grow, a small group of people, from various walks of life, some commoners, some within the mighty Valantian Imperium itself, by pure coincidence, have set in motion a chain of events. The legends, if true, along with these set of events, might reignite the flames of a revolution. A revolution the Imperium had long suppressed. A revolution that might alter the balance of power in the continent, and eventually the entire world…

Title:

First of all, there is an aura surrounding the title that gives it a rich, vibrant vibe of fantasy. It is deep, thought-provoking and definitely induces curiosity among readers.

When I read the title and saw the words ‘Book 1: The Valantian Imperium’, I knew for a fact that I was on an amazing journey to a series that would most definitely be some of the greatest that I would read.

Title Rating – 5 / 5

Cover:

“I didn’t really care if he slept on a mat. Or what he did with the mat.” – Rajamayyoor Sharma

Upon first glance, the most striking attribute of the cover is how the colours blend together. The colour choices are bright but not domineering the title, they blend but also stick out wonderfully and all in all, I was quite impressed.

Further, the sync between the title and the cover is complimentary to the entire theme.

Fabulous.

Cover Rating – 4.5 / 5

Plot:

“The hills itself looked like a part of the blue sky, as if sent to our world by the heavens to cover the world with a part of its beauty.” – Rajamayyoor Sharma

Without a doubt, this read is one of my most engaging and engrossing. Right from the start it pulls you into another dimension till you start believing that you are with the characters. This is the highlight of the novel.

One of the other standout points is the conversational style that carries through the narration. For a fantasy theme that is so intricately woven, the elements of conversations really do add so much of enchantment to the story. Another really cool feature of the book is the illustrations which help us visualize the story with a more clear sense, almost like virtual reality.

“I felt sadness. I had never been this afraid in my life, but I had experienced grief.” –  Rajamayyoor Sharma

The author’s sense of language is evidence that he is meant to write. That, and the way the author chose to make most of his sentences complex, add a very strong grip to the story. One of the most important elements of writing  a novel is the language – the grammar, the punctuation and the sentence construction. Rajamayyoor has nailed this.

“I knew I was still young, but when someone that old implied that I should have done something by then, it made me feel I hadn’t done enough in my life.”  – Rajamayyoor Sharma

One of my most favourite characters is Grim. The portrayal of this character was done flawlessly and lingers long after you read the book. Further, though the genre is that of Fantasy, the book is packed with values, morals and elements of life that we can all easily relate to.

Overall, it is a highly engaging and an enjoyable read.

Plot Rating – 5 / 5

I loved…

  1. The writing style
  2. The complex sentences

I wanted…

  1. More one-liners
  2. More Illustrations

Overall Rating: 4.75 / 5

Verdict: Definitely Worth Every Penny!

 

Order your copy from any of the links below:

Amazon India

Amazon (US)

If you are interested in getting your book reviewed or would like me to take an author interview, feel free to reach out to me at shravya.gunipudi@gmail.com

 

Book Review: Bombay Swastika by Braham Singh

“Their two banshee wails came together to wax before dying off into the distance.” – Braham Singh

Hey there, readers! I know it’s been long, but I’m back now and this week I was able to get my hands on Bombay Swastika by Braham Singh. 

Let us get into the review, shall we?

 

Blurb:

Bombay Swastika swings from a Nazi Berlin gearing up for its Final Solution, to 1964 Bombay, where Ernst Steiger, a German Jew, accidentally finds himself caught up in the murder of a young tribal, killed amidst allegations of something being stolen from a secure American compound. With the monsoons laying siege on the city, the reader accompanies Ernst past Bombay’s refugee camps and haunted whorehouses; food shortages, textbook mafias, communist protests against American PL 480 Food Aid, and peculiar happenings at India’s nuclear facility; where Dr. Homi J. Bhabha, the nation’s atomic mastermind, gets drawn into a conspiracy hatched in his absence.

This one-of-a-kind thriller unfolds through the eyes of a motley cast-Salim Ali, the South Indian, Muslim engineer and committed Marxist; Bhairavi, the enigmatic and sensual refugee girl; Sethji, the dowry messiah; Tsering Tufan-Homi Bhabha’s Smiling Buddha-dying from radiation exposure; and Andhi Ma, the blind mendicant who sees what we can’t.

Bombay Swastika is an exploration of the dark world of absolute truths.

Title:

The word ‘Swastika’, a symbol of spirituality, was twisted into a symbol of hatred by the Nazis as they used it to inculcate widespread rallies across Germany. The author here, used the titled to represent the connection of the Black Swastika in the form of Ernst, a Jew, who lands up in Bombay.

Besides the literal meaning, what is amazing about the title is how sophisticated and catchy it sounds while also managing to remain relevant to the plot of the book.

Title Rating – 5 / 5

Cover:

 

Upon first glance, the cover is nearly ordinary. However, it is only on looking closer that it becomes evident how striking the imagery really is. A woman wrapped in a red cloth, with a swastika locket dangling  behind her down to her back. To me, it depicted strangulation by a weirdly contorted symbol of well-being.

Fabulous.

Cover Rating – 4.5 / 5

Plot:

“Truth be told, he still didn’t know what to make of his father’s life or his mother’s death..” – Braham Singh

There is no doubt that this book is an outright thriller right from the start.  Without having the elements of an action, the adventurous approach to the plot made it seem all the more fast-paced while realistically setting us towards a gripping experience. It isn’t just a story, it’s a movie in words. Bombay has been portrayed in very high detail though set around the 1960s and this provides an insight into India from the past.

“As with most buildings, bulbs were optional and the corridors cast long shadows.” –  Braham Singh

The author has a very strong sense of language and it was nearly impossible to find any errors within the book. That being said, the diction and the vocabulary seemed a little too overpowering at times, making it a little difficult to stick to the scene. In some places, however, this seemed necessary. The author did a fantastic job in connecting loose ends and finishing off the story on a sweet note.

“A beauty of sorts crept into the night and a feeble moon looked down at India.”  – Braham Singh

There is such keen characterization in the novel that one almost misses to focus of the story. Each character has been etched with such depth and glory that it easily dominates the plot. This, in fact, is a good thing because it ensures that the novel sticks with you for long afterward the reading is done.

Overall, it is a highly engaging and an enjoyable read.

Plot Rating – 4 / 5

I loved…

  1. The writing style
  2. The Characters
  3. The plot

I wanted…

  1. A more realistic ending
  2. Less profanity

Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Definitely Worth Every Penny!

Order your copy from any of the links below:

Amazon India

Amazon (US)

 

 

Book Review: The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter by Shilpa Raj

“No matter what, love doesn’t die with death.” – Shilpa Raj

This week I was able to get my hands on The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter by Shilpa Raj  which is a memoir of this young woman’s experiences as she and her family was forced to face the wrath of society’s disease called ‘untouchability’ and fate’s destiny called ‘poverty’.

Let us get into the review, shall we?

 

Blurb:

Saved by her grandmother from being killed at birth for having been born a female, Shilpa’s life took many unexpected turns and twists through her early years. She faced abandonment by her mother, the formidable constraints placed on her by her family, and the barbs of village elders bound by hundreds of years of oppressive practices and customs that subjugate women. Shilpa is torn between the contrasting lives she leads: one of servitude and injustice experienced by her family; the other of opportunity and empowerment offered by a good education in a school started by a philanthropist.

Just when all seems settled, an unforeseen death under mysterious circumstances shatters whatever stability remains in her life. Pulled in opposite directions, and torn between despair and dreams, Shilpa finally makes a choice for her future. Is she strong enough to stand up to the people she loves, and pursue what she wants?

At its heart The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter is about hope, when all seems lost. Written with raw honesty and grit, this is a deeply moving memoir of a young girl confronting her ‘untouchable’ status in a caste-based society, and her aspirations for modernity.

 

Title:

The title is beautiful and it aptly describes what the memoir is about. Shilpa’s narrative is shown to readers through her eyes but the title has a sweet connection to her roots. I found it beautiful for her to fearlessly tag herself as an Elephant Chaser’s Daughter and proudly show her history to the world.

Title Rating – 4.5 / 5

Cover:

The cover of the memoir is that of a young girl amidst a village background. Her face is unseen from the sun’s rays. The cover is serene, picturesque and has a melancholic feel to it. I love the way it fills me with peace but also how it gives a peek into what the narrative is all about. It’s apt with regards to the title and to the storyline. I loved it.

Cover Rating – 5 / 5

Plot:

“As years passed, I often found myself feeling guilt-stricken at how I came to have so much compared to my family.” – Shilpa Raj

As I read through the pages of the memoir, I found myself getting increasingly absorbed into Shilpa’s tale. She tells her story beautifully through the first person narrative and that adds to the connection that the reader builds with her. The tale talks about her entire family, the troubles they went through and the hardships they had to face to get to the stage they are at today.

“The word ‘plane’ made everything seem so distant…” – Shilpa Raj

The language is fluent and simple to understand. It has a wonderful flow to it which makes it all the more appealing. I love the way the paragraphs are split as that helps the story flit from past to present which is how it is written. My favourite part was that about her sister which was told beautifully.

“I was anxious to see my mother, and nothing else could be more important.” – Shilpa Raj

There isn’t a systematic flow to the tale which is very engaging and, for me, one of the highlights of the novel. I feel like the entire story became double the times more interesting because of the timelines interchanging and Shilpa’s history mingling with her present. What makes it even better is that there is no confusion despite the form of this narrative which shows the author’s skill of story telling.

Plot Rating – 5 / 5

I loved…

  1. The fluency in the writing
  2. The diverse timelines the tale travels through
  3. The author’s ability to tell her story without creating confusion in the reader’s mind

I wanted…

More conversations! That is my only suggestion / critical aspect about the book.

Overall Rating: 5 / 5
Verdict: Worth Every Penny!

Order your copy from the link below:

Amazon India

 

 

Author Interview: Rajiv Mittal

This week, I had the opportunity to interview an amazing author. He is packed with wit, humour and seems to be an extremely straight-forward person. Introducing to you all… Rajiv Mittal!

About the Author and the Book:

In this first section, we covered the basic questions and asked the obvious. Of course, for you to understand the future goals of Rajiv Mittal, you need to know a bit about Rajiv Mittal first, right? Let’s get right into it!

Q1: What does the world need to know about you?

I am a cynical realist who always assumes the worst of people and situations and is therefore sometimes pleasantly surprised but never disappointed.

Q2: Tell us a little bit about  what inspired you to pen ‘Brahmahatya’.

I would visit my father in his retirement home during his final days. Seeing all the residents, I would wonder – what are their stories? And are they all really who they say they are.

The ‘What’ section:

This part of the interview contained the questions starting with ‘What’ that caught my inquisitive mind. These questions center around Rajiv Mittal’s interests and delve slightly deep. Let’s see what he had to say…

Q1: What is it about writing that inspires you?

The fact that while I am writing, unlike in real life, I am in complete control of my imagined world.

Q2: What is your favourite genre to read and why?

Humor of the cynical variety. Why? Because despite all this fear of Artificial Intelligence enslaving humans, I do not believe it can happen until the time A.I. develops an ability to cynically laugh at itself. That requires real intelligence.

The ‘Who’ and ‘When’ section:

This is where it started getting a bit tricky. In this section, I mostly covered a few personal aspects of the author, trying to figure out how it all began…

Q1: Who motivated you throughout your writing journey?

God.

Q2: When did you decide that writing was your passion?

When I realized that however horrible I might feel when I wrote something, it was always a pleasure reading it back.

The ‘How’ section:

Here, I mainly focused my questions around the present and the future, in my attempt to try and understand what we can hope to expect moving forward. I must say, I was surprised.

Q1: How do you envision your future?

Very bleak. Real life is beginning to scare me and I am reduced to browsing the internet particularly social media to be amazed.

Q2: How different would your life be if it didn’t involve writing?

I might have become grumpier as a person. Writing gives me the luxury to constructively spend a great deal of my time and it is cathartic.

 

Conclusion:

As we decided to call it a day, I asked Rajiv if he had anything  in specific he wanted to say. Here is his extract.

Thank you, Rajiv, for such an interesting interview.

You can order ‘Brahmatya’ from Amazon today.

 

If you would like to have your interview taken, then head over HERE for further details on how you can make this happen!

Book Review: Brahmahatya by Rajiv Mittal

“Sleep alone could bring the peace he sought.” – Rajiv Mittal

Hey there, readers! I know it’s been long, but I’m back now and this week I was able to get my hands on Brahmahatya by Rajiv Mittal which stands for ‘the act of killing a Brahmin’ in Sanskrit.

Let us get into the review, shall we?

Blurb:

A story of revenge and redemption and deeds shaped by forces that humans believe they have defined through mythology and scriptures but still struggle to understand.
A woman employee of a retirement home is shocked to discover that a new resident is in fact the son impersonating his father. The son is seeking revenge. She, by her past actions, is unwittingly complicit in his being there and now tries to thwart his peculiar plans. A senile woman-resident and an enigmatic founder offer him sage advice. The samudra manthan (a major episode in Hindu mythology), a slightly dim secretary and a sinister boss play their part in ensuring justice is finally served but in an unexpected manner.

The novel quotes frequently from the ancient Hindu scriptures and stories that the protagonists use to justify their actions. The treatment of the elderly in society is a major theme.

 

Title:

The most appealing thing about the title is the Sanskrit meaning to it. I found the depth of the word and the possible circumstances surrounding it to be quite fascinating. It has the two elements I search for in any title. The attraction factor and the arousal of curiosity.

Title Rating – 5 / 5

Cover:

The cover has a holy feeling to it and makes it seem as though the book has a very religiously philosophical approach to it – both of which are fabulous as it sets a record with the readers before they start reading the book. However, my only comment is that I wish it was more catchy as the current cover is a bit bland and dull.

Cover Rating – 4.5 / 5

Plot:

“The sound of its siren was now strident, continuous and very frightening in its urgency..” – Rajiv Mittal

At the start of this book, I was wondering how a heavy topic could be portrayed in a fictional  and light-hearted manner. But as I read through the pages, I realized that the author did a fantastic job in deducing a wonderful flow among the situations and the characters. What specifically stood apart for me was the character ‘Bhavna’ who connected to me instantly due to the strength of perseverance.

“His father’s bed seemed to be waiting for him to return.” –  Rajiv Mittal

The language is fluent and simple to understand. It has a wonderful flow to it which makes it all the more appealing. There is a third person narration which I found quite apt though a singular narration from a specific point of view would have also suited the story immaculately. That being said, this is probably one of the more descriptive pieces of writing I have read so far which makes it appealing to me.

“The two men remained silent visitors of the night.”  – Rajiv Mittal

It is a highly engaging and an enjoyable read. The author did a fantastic job in connecting loose ends and finishing off the story on a gentle note.

Plot Rating – 5 / 5

I loved…

  1. The writing style
  2. The conversational aspects
  3. The author’s clarity of thought
  4. The plot

I wanted…

  1. An element of mystery
  2. Less confusion among a couple of dialogues

Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Worth A Read!

Order your copy from any of the links below:

Amazon India

Amazon (US)

 

 

Book Review: If Wishes Were Horses by Tim Hemlin

I just read If Wishes Were Horses by Tim Hemlin which is a collection of short stories. Here is what I thought…

BOOK COVER:

I personally did not find the cover too appealing. It was dull and not catchy at all. I feel like something different can be done too make it attractive.

Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

I loved the title. It’s from a famous quote “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” It is catchy and interesting. Makes a person want to grab the book and give it a read.

Title Rating – 4.5 / 5

Theme

This is the first part of a mystery series by Tim Hemlin centered around the character “Neil Marshall”. It has a ‘Richard Castle’ vibe to it from the famous ‘Castle’ series. This book is a gripping tale of an emotionally damaged and financially unstable man whose passion is literature. When circumstances require for him to work for a restaurant an move in with his friend, he finds himself trapped in a sticky situation. This is centered around his friend’s murder and the horses he breeds for a living.

What really shone through was the research and the situations that the author very clearly has thought through thoroughly. It is impeccable and shows the passion that he has towards writing. I really commend him for his skill. The narration is done very cleanly, without even a little confusion and the style of writing is very clear.

There aren’t any major grammatical errors. The suspense is maintained very well throughout the book.

Rating – 4 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

All in all, this was a great read and something I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in mysteries or thrillers.

Final Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Recommended!

Order Now!

My new novel, ‘Twisted’ is now out in stores. Take a peak into the sample chapters and order your copy today at Amazon!

Book Review: The Inimitable Chaos of Life by Maliny Mohan

I just read The Inimitable Chaos of Life by Maliny Mohan which is a collection of short stories. Here is what I thought…

BOOK COVER:

The first factor that got me hooked was the cover page of this book. Unlike most others books I have seen, this one focused on converting the title into a beautiful cover display which I found quite innovative and beautiful.

Cover Rating – 5 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

The title is perfect for the conglomeration of tales that just flow right through the pages. Life is messy, confusing and chaotic – yet we have no other choice but to plow through and move on with our time as per destiny. The title is interesting and unique.

Title Rating – 4.5 / 5

Theme

Initially, I thought this would be a novel, but it is, in fact, multiple stories across various themes centering around life’s chaotic ways. Each story is different in its own way and what I love most about short story collections is how easy they are to read. For someone like me, who has to make time for reading, this is so simple and keeps me hooked.

Getting into the stories, while one is about life in a small town with its perks and nuances, another launches into aspirations and changed careers. From stories of kidnapping and abduction to one which authors can relate to… the mix is unending. But what struck through is the multitude of morals we can find through each of these stories. Regardless of the intent behind the writing, they are also quite deep and thought-rending.

The writing style is simple, to the point and lacks any major grammatical errors. It is easy to understand for people of all ages and shines through as an engaging read.

Rating – 4 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

All in all, this was a great read and something I would definitely recommend to everyone. However, there is one drawback and that is that this book is not available on Amazon.

Final Rating: 4 / 5

Verdict: Recommended!

 

My new novel, ‘Twisted’ is now out in stores. Take a peak into the sample chapters and order your copy today at Amazon!

Book Review: Transitions and Beyond (4) by Inderjit Kaur

I just read Transitions and Beyond (4) by Inderjit Kaur.
While I was expecting it to be like yet another self-help book, it proved to be so much more than just that. Here is what I thought…

BOOK COVER:

I wasn’t very sure what to make of it at first. I found it utterly confusing and weird. But then upon trying to analyse it, I liked how it shows a piece of a puzzle, a direction moving across a cracked path and growth among rubble. It sent many motivational messages to me though I wished it could be represented in a more attractive way.

Cover Rating – 3 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

The title is perfect. It’s apt for the subject which is about change from a disorganized and haphazard way of living. It also promises of teaching something more than just that. I liked how it sounds.

Title Rating – 4.5 / 5

Theme

The main focus of this novel is how the right way you transition from your existing way of life can drastically change how success comes to you. It speaks about structure, modification and dedication, all of which are essential to be able to move forward from an unclear future. There is immense positive feeling that one derives from the way the author has portrayed these lessons.

Additionally, in order to make it more catchy and memorable, the lessons and motivational guides are split into modules. This is another strong point which makes implementation quick and easy. to elaborate, there are a total of three modules. The first is ‘The Change’ which speaks about exactly that. It highlights some very valuable points about how a person develops a patterned way of living which needs to be altered to succeed. The second is ‘Interventions’ which is more of a self-analysis about the present and the progress. This is the one that contains the most depth and philosophical teaching. Lastly, we have ‘Revive and Renewal’ which is like a refresh button to your own life. It is acceptance, understanding and tolerance.

What really struck a chord with me in my personal life is how the concept of change and stress merge into one another. This was something I could relate to very well. The knowledge derived may not be completely new, but it is, to the most extent, quite catchy and read-worthy. That is the strength of this work.

The writing style is simple, to the point and lacks any major grammatical errors.

Rating – 4 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Though the information is probably something we’ve thought about every now and then, the presentation is excellent and I found the book worth my while. I would recommend this to someone grappling with life or struggling to strike a chord with difference.

Final Rating: 4 / 5

Verdict: Recommended!

Order Now!

 

 

My new novel, ‘Twisted’ is now out in stores. Take a peak into the sample chapters and order your copy today at Amazon!

Book Review: Principles of Success by Roopleen

I just read Principles of Success by Roopleen.
In an ocean of fiction, this self-help book shines through.

BOOK COVER:

I like how refreshingly different the cover is, with the title written in a tilted fashion to represent the steps of success. That is how I deciphered this cover, and I really found it innovative. Hats off for this aspect.

Cover Rating – 4.5 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

Given that this is a non-fiction, I am not going to rate the title the way I usually do the rest. I found this one apt to the subject and it complimented the author’s intentions perfectly.

Title Rating – 5/5

Theme

To keep it simple, this book highlights the fourteen steps that one needs to take in order to achieve success. Each of these principles is divided into chapters, making this read very effective. I found it quite engaging and since I don’t have the time to complete a book in one go, I was able to read a couple of chapters at a time and still retain the depth of the content. For this reason, I applaud the author. She ensured that each of the steps is clearly distinguished so the reading from a previous session doesn’t go in vain.

Additionally, in order to make it more catchy and memorable, the lessons and motivational guides are split into bullet points. This is another strong point which makes implementation quick and easy.

What really struck a chord with me in my personal life is how the concept of happiness and success merge into one another. This was something I could relate to very well because I’ve often struggled with these two components of life. Somehow, this read eased that stress for me.

The writing style is simple, to the point and lacks any major grammatical errors.

Rating – 5 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Though the information isn’t all brand new and is probably something we’ve thought about every now and then, the presentation is excellent and I found the book worth my while.

Final Rating: 5 / 5

Verdict: Definitely Recommended!

Order Now!

Book Review: Psycon by Varun T

I just read Psycon by Varun Tejwani. What started with apprehension ended with amazement.
Here is what I thought.

BOOK COVER:

I love how the cover has an element of suspense and mystery to it. Darkness is the most intriguing factor and upon first look, it develops in readers a sense of curiosity. Good job on being able to do that.

Cover Rating – 4 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

The title is a conglomeration of what I presume as psychological and a con based story. It is unique and unlike any other I’ve seen. I like the build it presents of the story,  leading to a variety of guesses about the plot.

Title Rating – 4 / 5

PLOT

This novel falls broadly into the genre of a Political Thriller which revolves around the  IT department, black money and corruption. It builds slowly yet steadily into a massive tale of gripping suspense. It falls rightly into the thriller category as the author has beautifully woven a serious masterpiece.

The infusion of ‘Satyameva Jayate’ with ridiculed patriotism and the intervention of CBI are commendable, to say the least. The story revolves around Prateek and Yashwardhan who constitute ‘Psycon’ in an attempt to get involved in the ruling party’s regime and con their way out with massive wealth.

The writing style is strong with a good sense of language and grammar. It is an easy ready and will keep you hooked till the end. The plot compliments the author’s sense of satire.

Rating – 4.5 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

If you are into a thriller of its best kind, then Psycon is the book for you. Pick it up, give it a shot and you are sure to be enthralled. This will be an excellent addition on your shelf. I guarantee it.

It is available both as an e-book as well as paperback and the best part is that whatever royalty the author makes from this book gets donated to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Order your copy!

Final Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Recommended!

Order Now!