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

 

 

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!

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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!

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Book Review: Once Upon a Time in College by Gumlat Maio

I just read Once Upon a Time in College by Gumlat Maio.
Here is what I thought.

BOOK COVER:

The cover is simple, elegant and catchy. The characters on the cover are extremely cute and I thought it was witty of the author to use illustrative images rather than real people. It gives a more lively, fun vibe.

Cover Rating – 4 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

Given that the plot is centering around the emotions and the vibrations of college life, I will say that it is best suited. The title ‘Once Upon a Time in College’ has been written inventively on the cover which adds to the attraction factor.

However, the title did not catch my attention as it didn’t justify the beauty of the plot completely.

Title Rating – 3.5/5

PLOT

The genre is romance and also contains dashes of humour within, but it allows the plot to go deeper that that as well. The credit goes to the author for being able to entwine emotions with depth and a touch of philosophy as well. The main characters ‘Gaam’ and ‘Sonam’ have been portrayed very well. I love the characterization of both these protagonists though my personal favourite of the two is Sonam.

The plot traverses in and around romance while highlighting very important features of college such as the relationship between a senior and a junior, how stress from peers can cause repercussions, the mentality of a college student and the result of impulsive decisions. Now all this concludes on quite a philosophical note, teaching us not one but many lessons along the way.

It was an enjoyable read. The writing style is great with minimal errors and the plot in interesting.

Rating – 4 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Anyone who is in the peak of their college lives or would like to relive their varied aspects should definitely read this book for nostalgia and relativity.

Final Rating: 4 / 5
Verdict: Recommended!

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Book Review: Treacherous Desires by Kritika Sharma

I just read ‘Treacherous Desires’ by Kritika Sharma which turned out to be quite entertaining. Here is what I thought.

BOOK COVER:

There are three elements I look for in a book cover of which I take two very seriously. The first is the connection to the plot and the second is the attraction factor. The third element, which is as important as the two but is difficult to create is mystery.

The cover of ‘Treacherous Desires’ perfectly nailed the first two.

Cover Rating – 4 / 5

TITLE JUSTIFICATION:

There is a lilting melody in the way the title just dances off the cover. It’s seductive, it’s catchy and it sounds quite interesting. My only comment, if any, would have to be that the lack of mystery was what made it slightly less than perfect.

However, great job!

Title Rating – 4 / 5

PLOT

I will be honest when I say that romance isn’t always my first choice. However, when it came to this book, an apprehensive start turned into a wonderful burst of vibrancy across the pages.

The protagonist Kaya is a married woman who finds that trouble comes across her way in the form of another man – One whom she desires far more than she ever has her husband. In a series of heated moments, passionate circumstances and romantic sessions, Kaya finds herself thoroughly trapped… with no surrender.

Starting with the negative aspects of the book, which aren’t many, I felt that the writing didn’t travel at an even pace. What seemed strong and forthright in one scene was slow, pedantic and weak in another. Other than that, I wished that the writing style could be slightly more polished. It seemed like an amazing story lost among diluted dialogues and ill-constructed scenes.

What appealed to me in this story line was the high level of possibility of a similar situation occurring in reality. The author was able to perfectly capture the essence of an unhappy marriage, the innocence of a stranger’s attraction and the suffering of guilty consequences. The reader is automatically transported into a likewise situation and is left wondering – what would I do in a situation like this?

The best part about the writing style is how conversational it is and how it makes the story bounce off the pages without a moment of boredom.

Rating – 4.5 / 5

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

It has been ages since I read a book this light, breezy and engaging. The author is bold, her story has the right amount of intimacy it requires and balances off very well.

Final Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Most Definitely Recommended

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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: 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: 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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