Monday, 29 May 2017

Finders Keepers by Russ Colchamiro

Finders KeepersFinders Keepers by Russ Colchamiro
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finders Keepers is the book one of this trilogy. What if the Gods also have systems like humans? This book is a sci-fi and has this interesting premise.

In some far off galaxy Eternitarians live who have the job of populating planets. They build eath like stystems on new planets. The story starts with an eternitarian couple Donald and Danielle. They are work crew and given a single jar of cosmic building matrial or CBM, which is universe DNA. A single drop can wipe out several star systems. They lose it and it falls on earth. It is reterievd by two tourists. They come to earth to reterieve it and then what happens makes the whole story.

To give you an idea of the premise this passage is reproduced:

Eternitarians impudently denied even the slightest similarity between themselves and the Earth cretins, physical appearance being the only exception. The people trudging along the Earth were said to evolve painfully slow and possess only the most petty and selfish instincts. Worst of all, they seemed insistent not only to repeat their mistakes no matter how many generations were afforded the opportunity to make adjustments, but also to increase the depth and breadth of the blunders.

Conventional wisdom held that littering the metaphysical Universe with humans, or pseudo-Eternitarians, or pseudo-Es, or PEs—considered the origin of the word peon—would be a colossal waste of time. Along the cosmic scale, PEs were considered by Eternitarians to be a slug-like, unorganized bunch, and not expected to last.

As this is part one the story is building. Many characters are introduced and their back stories are given. The book is very hilarious and fast moving.

But sometimes it is difficult to keep track of many characters in varied geographical and sometime many galaxies locations.

Recommendation and rating

It will appeal to those who like sci-fi and comedy. I give it 3/ 5 stars.

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A Symphony of Chance Encounters by Sayujya Sankar

A Symphony of Chance EncountersA Symphony of Chance Encounters by Sayujya Sankar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An anthology of twenty poems and stories is covering many human emotions. Love, craziness, hate, desperation etc. the range is varied.

Story 16 “A Dragon Fire and Cuckoo Song” is about weaving stories. Nisha writes larger than life stories. She creates Minotours (a monster in Greek mythology) and Naagins (female personified snakes of Hindu mythology). She meets Thangjam who reads Kafka. They weave stories that are fantastic.

Story 8 “An Incomplete Building” of Viskaha who frequents a construction site. The temporary nature of construction and some incomplete stories are similar.

Story 2 “A Sane Insanity” is about dissociative personality disorder. Is it genes or due to conditions that people have split personality? Vani and her alter ego Shnathi is a metaphor of rebellion of a oppressed woman. As Nietzshe said “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” This one has strong feminist tone and very interesting.

Poem 11 “A Symphony of Chance Encounters” is Saragm (Scale of harmony) defined in a poem. Pa- “In love too there is silence. A silence that grows in throat”.

The poems and stories have deep meanings and metaphors. The language is first rate and engaging. But the tone and mood is dark and depressing. This is a very good collection and to be cherished.

Recommendation and rating

Recommended to all who like good meaningful but somewhat depressive writing. I give 3.5/ 5 stars to the book.

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Broken Crayons Can Still Colour by Captain Rakesh Walia

Broken Crayons Can Still Colour: A Soldier and a FighterBroken Crayons Can Still Colour: A Soldier and a Fighter by Captain Rakesh Walia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Life is harsh and not everyone is born with a silver spoon in mouth. Most people end up surrendering to the circumstances and keep living the pathetic life. Some brave hearts rise above all challenges and come out at top. This is the autobiography of one such brave heart, Captain Rakesh Walia.

Rakesh loses his parents in an accident at a very young age. Then after spending his childhood with indifferent relatives he starts working in factories. But he has a dream of becoming and officer in Indian Army. He keeps studying along with his day jobs, worked on his English and eventually joined Indian army as an officer.

The story is inspiring, motivating and gives hope to the less fortunate. The story is testimony to the fact that there is no hurdle in the world which can not be overcome with sheer will and hard work. Human will can move mountains and took humankind to the moon and beyond.

Recommendation and rating

Recommended to all for the sheer positive message. I give 5/ 5 stars to the book.

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Messed Up! But All for Love by Arvind Parashar

Messed Up! But All for LoveMessed Up! But All for Love by Arvind Parashar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People fall in love. Then marry. After the initial honeymoon period the spark starts to die down. It is more prevalent in urban upper middle class couples who are financially well off. They get stuck in a rut and rat race to make money. The relationship becomes boring and one or both starts to stray. This is the basis of this novel.

Neil and Gauri is one such couple. Neil is a senior executive and Gauri is a dentist. They are a loving couple and Gauri is very possessive of Neil. Gauri is caring, beautiful, sexy, romantic and dedicated to her work. First sign of trouble starts when a svelte gym trainer Srinya enters his life. This sows the first seeds of doubt in Guari’s mind and first crack in their ideal marriage. The other couple Som, a DCP and Drishti, TV anchor is having trouble in their marriage already. Som is a known arrogant philanderer and Drishti is not happy. When Neil and Drishti come into contact in Cuba and then all hell breaks loose. Rest of the story is about the twists and turns in the lives of Gauri, Neil and Drishti.

Language of book is Hinglish and that goes very well with the mood. Some lines of H. R. Bachchan “Madhushala” are also thrown in for good effect. The pace is brisk and unrelenting. Location keeps changing from Gurgaon to Bankok, Tashkent, Havana etc. The main subject of romance and extra-marital affair is serious. Still it has humor, mystery and thrills too, which keeps the interest alive. There are many colorful supporting characters: Mehr, Tom, Jerry, Jasoos etc.
The book has some steamy scenes.

The language gets very crass sometimes. The story is dragged at some points and some tight editing would have been better.

Recommendation and rating

Recommended to all whom like romance, humor and thrills. I give 4/ 5 stars to the book.

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Highway Man, by J. Alchem

The Highway Man: Short StoriesThe Highway Man: Short Stories by J. Alchem
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is love an obsession, togetherness or a sad memory? The book is an attempt to show these three different facets of love.

1. Catherine: This story is love in the form of obsession. A very successful romantic novelist Nicholas Sieum is obsessed with a woman named Catherine. A very seasoned doctor is called by Nicholas’s father to cure him. Can the doctor cure Nicholas?

2. Sidzy; for a day: Love as in togetherness. A very sweet love story of a couple Sidzy and Jihan. On women’s day Jihan works like Sidzy and do household chores. Hence the name.

3. The Highway Man: Love as a sad memory and grief. A husband loses wife and a son loses mother in an accident. They forget how to be happy and a mysterious Highway man again teaches them how to be happy.

Story 2 and 3 are connected I guess. I liked the tone of book. 1st and 2nd are good but the best one is 3rd. I liked this passage from it:

“There are two phases of life; happy and sad. People do not permanently belong to any one of them; they shift from one to another, time to time. However, there is no fixed time to decide the eligibility of the transcendence from one stage to another. It is simply random. Sometimes there are moments of consecutive happiness whereas sometimes, sadness overlaps one moment over another.”

“Good time is fleet-footed bliss. Bad time, crawls.”

Recommendation and rating:

I would recommend it to those who like to read light romantic tales. I give the book a 3.5/ 5 stars (0.5 more for The Highway man).

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Monday, 22 May 2017

Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy, by Aashish Gupta

Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest EnemyDemons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy by Aashish Gupta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Human mind is one of the most complex machine ever built. It is more complex than any super computer. Does we rule the mind or the mind rules us? The title gives us the idea.

Dakshesh is an old man who is on the verge of a painful death. He ask his fellows to take him to mysterious three monks. The three monks Rizwan (Muslim), Murli (Hindu) and Joseph (Christian) all have dark past. They start telling him their stories. The first monk, Rizwan is from a poor family who is in debt of local priest. He has his friends Ayeda and mysterious young boy. He end up doing heinous crimes. The second monk, Murli is a celebrity painter who have become so successful in short span of time that he has surpassed his guru. He is inspired by body of women and they are her muse. But success gets to his head and he loses grip of his faculty. The third monk, Joseph is in love with Ira. Ira want to do social service and make this world a better place. When tragedy strikes Joseph loses his control on his mind. How these three find their salvation through a girl named a homeless girl, Alia is the story.

The story raises some pertinent and uncomfortable questions. Are the so called criminals evil or just a victim of their own uncontrolled mind? Why society is able to find a cure for every disease sooner or later, but crime has been a part of our history from the beginning. If punishing sinners are logical, justifiable and most appropriate then why have we not been able to contain crime? Why do we keep producing a generation of sinners whose crimes change form but not nature? Maybe because we don’t know how the mind works. Cannot criminals be treated as people infected by a communicable disease that kills anything the sufferer comes in contact with?

Ira first tried to find her happiness in serving the poor but once her mentor Sadhna dies she is disillusioned. She tried to find answer to these questions. she works in a facility for criminally insane and tries to cure them by love and caring. How much she was successful is not very clear from the book.

Sometimes people cannot handle success and it goes into their mind. This has happened to Murli

“At this very moment, Dakshesh, I would like you to freeze this image in your mind. Do you see the faces of the audience? They are no longer just admirers of my art, they had become devoted servants. I was not the same man. I had become a God – a supreme authority. Or at least, my mind thought so. It would go out of its way to keep this feeling alive even if it had to indulge creative ideas from hell. It would do anything to keep this throne safe. Success had drugged me. I was not aware that my mind was already out of my control.”

The language of book is very good and the author describes some anomalies of our society very succinctly and forcefully. These two passages are the example;

1. The laughing clubs had always amused me, you remember? How desperately people try to keep themselves shielded from the daily chaos. I wondered how someone could fool himself into believing that all was hunky dory even when his life was upside down. But for the first time, I realized the courage this must take. Maybe things did get better when you mustered the resolve to laugh at your own misfortune. I laughed and laughed like a monster in the sky I did not know how? I did not know why? I looked in the mirror, but I could not find, The man behind blood spattered face, and an uncontrolled mind.

2. It is ironic how two utterly different worlds co-exist in these cities, yet both choose to remain ignorant of the other’s presence. When a person, marked by unwarranted opulence, from the other world throws away the wasted food in a bin, a kid from our world savours it to kill days of stomach pain. When the roads of that world are packed with gleaming cars honking their way out, a parallel world on the pavements is asleep in the heat of a fire built of twigs, plastics and anything which the others dump on our side. At every corner, one can find a confluence of the two streams, yet both remain divided by two things - our fate, and their hollow character.

The book raises questions which are being asked in criminal jurisprudence and psychological circles from long. What of the most heinous and hardened criminals are not perpetrators of crime, but they are themselves victim of their own sick mind. When the mind is sick a person loses grip on reality and rationality and does some barbaric acts. So even the psychopathic killers, rapists, pedophiles, incestophiles etc are not criminals but just sick. There is no clear cut answer for these questions in medical science and psychology. This book too fails miserably to answer these questions.

The book is good till upto 70% but then it loses plot. Later on it reminded me of movie series Saw and other horror movies. The end leave you dissatisfied and with many unanswered questioned. I felt enervated and confused by the end.

Still the book has some new insights and barring the last portions, worth the read.

Recommendation and rating:

I would recommend it to those who like to read dark psychological thrillers whit grisly details. It is not for faint hearted and those who are looking for some light time pass. I give the book a 3/ 5 stars.

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Friday, 19 May 2017

The Krishna-Christ Connexion by Oswald Pereira

The Krishna-Christ ConnexionThe Krishna-Christ Connexion by Oswald Pereira
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has an interesting premise. Is GOD (or his incarnation Krishna or son Jesus) limited by geographical boundaries. Is GOD not universal, omnipresent, omniscient and all pervasive. Are The religions man-made or not?

So the story starts in heaven where Christ and Krishna are together (isn’t that obvious as is no distinction there). They are sent to earth by GOD and they change destinations. Chris (as Krishna lovingly call Christ) comes to India and Kris (nickname of Krishna) goes to America. Here they spread the message of love and brotherhood and we find that Hinduism and Christianity (though as author explains there is no such religion names as per holy scriptures) are more alike than we imagine.

Chris quote from Geeta

“I am the source of all spiritual and material world. Everything emanates from me.”

Kris tells Chris that sometimes violence is required as in war against terrorism.

“When President BO in his prayers asked me to forgive him and said Kris told me to do it, I was wondering who was the Kris he was referring to,” Christ said. “I told him to do his dharma or duty, Chris, because that seemed to be the only way out,” Krishna said. “Turning the other cheek and forgiveness was not a practical solution in the fight against terrorism.”

The message of book is summarized thus

“There is no conflict of interest, no conflict of thought and teachings; and if you read between the lines, you will realise, we were speaking in one voice, as one soul, connected with one supreme being”.

The book is light-hearted but the message is not. If someone take offence she is missing the point. Full marks to the author. 5/5 stars and recommended to all especially in these intolerant times.

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Dying to Live by Monisha K. Gumber

I have read another book of author named “Sick of being healthy” and thoroughly enjoyed that. This is equally enjoyable and very funny. This is story of Megha (best friend of Tara of SOBH) and how she overcomes all odds to become successful and happy again. This captures teenage years and school memories beautifully. Again the presentation is with pictures, cartoons, doodles etc which breaks monotony and makes it spicy. 4/5 stars and recommended to all.

Sick of Being Healthy by Monisha K. Gumber

Sick of Being HealthySick of Being Healthy by Monisha K. Gumber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tara is a teenager who is plump. She has a heart of gold and SHE is grappling with growing up issues of a fatso girl. She has her family, friends Megha and Dolly and her crush Karan. The tale is sweet, relatable, fast paced and interesting. It kept me hooked. The presentation with pictures, cartoons, screenshots of WhatsApp, FB etc breaks monotony and makes it spicy. 4/5 stars and recommended to all.

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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Vikrant Khanna

The book is provided by Arudha Club in exchang for a genuine review.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much: What if the Loved One You Lost Were to Come Back?

Book Cover:

The cover is showing a girl walking on some kind of bridge to a jungle. Time is probably evening either snow is falling or divine light is shining. This is mysterious and religious. It matches the tone of book.



Can true love bring someone back from the dead?

Akshara is left devastated by her mother’s death and spends most of her time in solitude at the local park. One day, as she is sobbing uncontrollably, a young man named Harry approaches her. They become friends and Harry recounts to her a story about the miraculous reunion of a young woman and her dead boyfriend to help ease some of her pain. The story makes Akshara hopeful that she can perhaps see her dead mother again.

But she soon realizes that Harry isn’t what he seems to be. Even the characters in his story seem dubious, almost unreal. So what is he hiding? And why? Is there any truth to his story at all?

In this darkly suspenseful romance mystery, Akshara is left facing a truth that will make her doubt not just Harry but herself as well . . .



Before you start reading the book, take a moment to decide:

Are you a believer or cynic?

This is given before the first page. So this gives an idea about the story.

This is a story of Akshara, a 13 year old girl whose mother died in an accident. She is in mourning and wish to bring her back from dead. She is visited by a mysterious stranger Harry aka Harvinder Sigh in a park. He develops a rapport with Akshara and tries to lessen her grief. Harry starts telling her story of his one sided love, Sahiba. Sahiba was his neighbour whom he liked immensely. It was a love at first sight but only for Harry. Shaiba loved Siddahrth. Harry obviously did not like Siddarth and nicknamed him ugly nails. Ginny is Sahiba’s best frined. What happens next is rest of the story.

This is basically a love story. But it is more than that. It is about death, grief and loss. It is about power of belief. The part about doing good jobs to lessen your grief and reinforce your faith is the message of story.  This passage defines love:

Something tightened in my chest. I said “I always thought love was a game. You got to win it. But love is a not a game. Love is sacrifice. Love is letting go. And above all, love is dreaming the impossible, like bringing back a dead man.”

Now to answer the question about cynic and believer, the author ask another question.

Can thousand good deeds make a miracle????

If you answer yes: believer. If you answer no: cynic. Period.

Recommendation and rating:

I would recommend it all my friends who like to read divine, fantasy romance. I give the book a 3.5/ 5 stars.

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About the author:

A sailor by profession and a writer by passion.