Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Caretaker - Book Review

The Caretaker
By A. X. Ahmad
Review By Ila Garg

A.X. Ahmad’s ‘The Caretaker’ has been published by Harper Collins. So one can easily trust this book as a quality product, both in terms of editing as well as paper quality. Printing is of a good quality too. I stared at the book for about 15 minutes before I began reading, quite impressed by its outer beauty.

By the time I reached the middle of this book, my heart was throbbing. This is therefore, a truly amazing suspense thriller novel which takes you into its realms to provide you with an unparalleled sensory experience.

This 294 page book, ‘The Caretaker’ by A. X. Ahmad, belongs to the genre of suspense and thriller. I love fast-paced thrillers with plot twists and mysteries or questions that drive the novel and keep the interest intact, but I find that most of those types of books are light on character development, beautiful prose, etc. On the other hand, I find that most literary novels can be a bit too slow and thus boring and often monotonous.

A.X. Ahmad’s book is one of the few books I can think of that combines the best of both worlds. It’s a fast-paced, exciting, and fun page-turner. I read the whole thing from cover to cover, at one point holding the book with one hand and reading while brewing a cup of coffee for myself. It held my undaunted attention as it’s written beautifully, with gorgeous descriptions and insightful social commentary sprinkled throughout. In that sense, A.X. Ahmad’s ‘The Caretaker’ does not disappoint as a suspense novel.

The cover page is simple, not distracting. Blurb is to the point and precise, hinting at the story line and arousing reader’s interest. I am very much content with this debut novel.

The protagonist and flawed hero is Ranjit Singh, a disgraced Sikh former army captain now living as an undocumented worker struggling to make ends meet as a landscaper on Martha's Vineyard. Things are not going well but begin to look up a bit when he is offered the opportunity to work as caretaker during the off season for a famous senator and a list of other well off folk looking for someone to watch over their summer homes. But then in desperation he makes a bad choice and what follows is a well written and good standard thriller as he tries to figure out and resolve the mess he find himself and his family entangled in. 

Besides Ranjit Singh there are a number of other immigrant characters in Ahmad’s novel, including the Brazilian ferry operators and a particularly wise and helpful Arab shopkeeper who did his bit in helping Ranjit too. The various immigrant characters in ‘The Caretaker’ are clearly aware of their differences, and as many of them are in the United States illegally they are forced to acknowledge the precariousness of their position.

In a book that on the whole is more interested in its potboiler suspense plot than in making complex sociological points about race, Ahmad manages to say quite a lot about the status of immigrants in the version of America he is creating in ‘The Caretaker.’

The things I most enjoyed in this story were the glimpses into Ranjit's Sikh religion and lifestyle, life as an undocumented immigrant trying to fit in - especially in the post 9/11 world, the under-the-average-American's-radar look at relations between India and Pakistan and the political power brokering scene. I loved Ranjit's relationship with his daughter too.

I must say the author is highly intellectual and has written an intelligent piece of writing. The second half took me by surprise. The author has marvellously woven a brilliant climax into the story that keeps the readers glued till the very end.  The characters are well chosen and described. Overall it’s a very challenging plot.

This is a very well-written and page-turning thriller, one of the best kinds of its genre. I enjoyed it thoroughly. A gripping tale of hidden histories, political intrigue and dangerous attractions, A. X. Ahmad's The Caretaker introduces a new hero for our times: an immigrant caught between two worlds and a man caught between two loves.

I feel the breath-taking end will keep the readers engaged. Cheers to the author for penning down such a challenging plot.

Ratings: 4/5

This (Unbiased) book review is a part of "Indiblogger and Harper Collins Get Published Opportunity".

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Wild Rose - Book Review

A Wild Rose
By Uzma Jafri
Review By Ila Garg

A Wild Rose, firstly, the name of the book itself attracts the readers. It has kind of mysterious touch to it. Secondly, the cover design is so provoking and kind of magnetising. It somehow manages to indicate the hidden miseries embedded into the story ahead.

The blurb reads as, “Ritu Anand. Vivacious television anchor envied by many, makes the biggest mistake of her life. A man is at the center of it all. Who is he? And why is he after her?

Ritu Anand is a strikingly beautiful and wealthy divorcee, all of 25 years. None but her parents and best friend in life, Sumbul, know the truth of her divorce. Her career too, had gone to dust thanks to her failed marriage and traumatic ill-health. To the rest of the world, Ritu maintains a façade of still being married. In an effort to piece her life together again, she goes back to being an anchorperson after 3 long years… 

And a very important part of this new life becomes the enigmatic Anshuman Sinha.  Not very tall and with an average physique, deep hazel eyes and sharp intense features, Anshuman is dangerous and irresistible – he is the very picture of 'Ritu's Man'. The devastatingly dashing ‘casanova’ soon has the ‘love starved- Ritu’ eating from the palm of his hand and dreaming of a picture perfect life with him.

The gullible Ritu is soon weaving the tapestry of a picture perfect life, of a happily ever after with her lover. But there is her hidden past to deal with. What was the truth behind her sordid marriage? And coming to the present, what did she know about Anshuman at all?

Will this new life be the chance Ritu was hoping for? Or is this some deep, dark hell?

Has she fallen from the pan straight into the fire?

Is love blooming or have the sinister thorns torn the petals to shreds?

Watch the bookshelves for this fascinating book, a look at a different side to love. After all, are there really any guarantees in love for a happy life ever after?

The lyrical Urdu poetry of greats such as Ghalib and Momin adds an ethereal passion to the heartfelt prose of Uzma Jafri. A truly spellbinding book, a truly impassioned effort.”

Needless to say it is a story of love; a different shade of love. Ritu, the protagonist desires her prince charming like every other girl, but fate has only disappointments in store for her. She is gullible enough to get into traps laid down for her.

Her best friend Sumbul stands by her through thick and thin. Later, she helps remove the blindfold from her eyes. In the journey of the book, Ritu suffers and is deceived despite of her intelligence and beauty (a rare combination). The way Uzma Jafri has penned down this particular story is really appreciable. The author has described every emotion very beautifully. There are episodes in the book that make you feel so anxious for Ritu. You almost develop an unsaid bond with her.

As evident from the title of the book, A Wild Rose, the Rose plays an important part in Ritu’s life as the story of her love life begins with the red, red roses. Love happens to bump into her life as Sarita Bai keeps getting roses for her every morning as per the instructions and ironically it disappears with the roses too. Uzma Jafri has skillfully used this element to create such a beautiful and heart-melting story. In between the story, the readers will find some really interesting Urdu couplets too.

The 264 page book takes you along with it and makes you realise that all that glitters is not gold after all. The story is quite meaningful and the main reason that I loved this book is the apt use of roses in it. They keep the reader’s interest maintained throughout! The narrative is tactfully written and the readers wouldn’t find it difficult to keep up with the pace of the story. The language is easy to comprehend and there would be no difficulty in understanding the various twists and turns in the novel.

One thing I exceptionally liked besides the already mentioned things is the ‘Editing’. Uzma Jafri has managed to give her readers a flawless book both in terms of vocabulary and editing. Plus, the emotions are intrinsic to the book.

The too many turmoil of Ritu’s love life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in A Wild Rose. To find out whether she survives the misery of love and after a failed marriage, will she be lucky with Anshuman, what role do roses actually play in her life, how a red rose can bring love in her life and a wild rose can snatch not only the love but the life out of her, how strong is her friendship with Sumbul, when the time comes who will she choose: Sumbul or Anshuman?, will she get her Prince Charming; you will have to read the novel, A Wild Rose.

For a debut writer, Uzma Jafri has done it; she has proved her mettle and yes she is an excellent writer. The way she has captured all the intricate emotions of a dejected heart, kept me glued to this book till the end and also the added suspense in the form of the roses.

The author Uzma Jafri, belongs to an affluent Muslim Family, and brought up in the most cosmopolitan way. She is a feminist at heart, which is reflected in this women centric fiction, A Wild Rose.

Ratings: 4/5

You can buy this wonderful piece of writing, here:





Happy Birthday & other Short Stories

Meghna Pant’s “Happy Birthday”

The success of Meghna Pant’s debut novel, “One and a Half Wife”, increased the expectations of both readers and critics from her. The award winning author, Meghna Pant’s second book titled, “Happy Birthday” is published by Random House Publications.

After Dubai and Delhi, she is currently residing in Mumbai. She was much appreciated after the release of her first novel and won the Muse India’s Young Writer Award. Not only this, but the novel was also long listed for the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award; it made it to the top ten in Word Hustler’s Literary Storm Novel Contest too, and also reached the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, adding more feathers to the cap.

Her second book however, is a short story book and not a novel. The book, “Happy Birthday” is a collection of thirteen stories depicting different facets. The subjects are vivid which range from a woman married in money, yet unhappy with her life, to the Mumbai-slum girl who wants to say words which are valuable enough to be translated in English.

All the thirteen stories are heart-warming, introspecting, emotional stories which are eye-openers. When I ordered the book, the name suggested that these would be happy stories but they were realities of life, realities we often run away from, realities we close our eyes to. Even the cover of this book is beautiful at the first glance but if you look at it very carefully, you will realize that the balloons have something printed on them, and these are all related to something or the other in the stories.

Happy Birthday is gathering praises from every corner of the publishing world. Some of the most celebrated authors have appreciated the book and the online community has followed suit. In the official review by Flipkart, they said, “When you read a collection of short stories, you expect it to be wide-ranged and almost close to perfect. The writer for one cannot hide behind layers of plot, as sometimes in a story there is just one layer. At the same time, it isn’t easy for a writer to move from a novel to writing short stories for the second book. Meghna Pant achieves this to some extent in her new book, Happy Birthday and Other Stories.”

Meghna Pant by profession is a TV anchor and also a finance journalist. She has recently quit her job to become a full time writer, listening to her passion. She is currently working on her third book is titled ‘Sons Of God’.

“Meri Aankhon Mein Mohabbat Ke Manjar Hain”

Dinesh Gupta’s “Meri Aankhon Mein Mohabbat Ke Manjar Hain”

A Novel By Dinesh Gupta-spiderorbit

It’s a fact well known that if you go out of the set norms of the society; you will emerge out as highlighted. Dinesh Gupta, a debutant writer, decided to follow the same rebellious attitude as he started off his career as a writer with a Hindi poetry collection titled, “Meri Aankhon Mein Mohabbat Ke Manjar Hain.”

The title makes the readers feel that it is about love. Although it is about two different aspects of love namely: love for your beloved and love for your country.

Inspite of being the mother tongue of Indians, Hindi, is losing its place these days. It is being replaced by English at a fast pace. In such a scenario, Dinesh Gupta’s “Meri Aankhon Mei Mohabbat Ke Manjar Hain” tries to give a new life to Hindi language through the medium of Hindi poetries and shayaris. It is great news that the first three editions of the book have been sold already. It seems like his small effort to revive Hindi has worked.

Hailing from a small town of Madhya Pradesh, he has proved his mettle through his debut book and also stated that he will set his own trends. He is a computer engineer by profession, currently working in Amdocs. His poetry reflects his passion of emotions and the extent to which he feels them.

His book revolves around topics like love, dreams, Indian against corruption and other such things. The mixture of romance and patriotism is the striking feature of his book. Although he has a keen interest in writing about love and bravery but looking at the plight of his fellow countrymen, he decided to write about the turmoil our country is going through, which is a very determined step. The poems of corruption and patriotism have appealed to the readers. The poems have been appreciated by not only the members of the publishing industry but also the readers.

His book is like a fresh breath of air in the industry. It’s a respite for the Hindi lovers. It’s a must read for the poetry and shayari enthusiasts.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stuck In The Moment - Book Review

Stuck In The Moment
By Shradha Nanchahil
Review By Ila Garg

Love Stories are ruling the market now - a - days.  It’s a favorite subject among both readers and writers. Love stories vary in their flavors, some are happy, some are sad, some are complete, while others are left incomplete unfulfilled. Whatever may be the end or beginning, the genre of romance is always on top! Stuck in the Moment, is yet another story of love.

The 63 page book, Stuck in the Moment, has been published by Notionpress which is a self-publishing firm. The writer Shradha Nanchahil’s debut book, ‘Stuck in the Moment’ is a very quick read as you can make out from the number of pages.

It is not always he left you or you left him, it's simply some times, destiny left us. There comes a time in relations that you just *don't* or *can't* be together. There may be family problems OR there can be future insecurities OR when you have had too much of each other OR fading trust OR even long distance troubles. The reasons of breaking apart are a lot more than one can imagine. Love is a wide term, where in you may still love the person but you just cannot opt for being together with them, for the betterments in future of lives the departure seems better. Those make as incompletely, complete love story. Where you are still in love but just not together. You have an assurity that the other person will listen to all that u say, you still know just a text and all would be back on track, you still know how late it gets in night your one call and they'll receive, you still know the restrictions would still be accepted, you still know how hard it gets they'll still care. But you know an extra point, that you still have lost all the rights over that person.

At this point it's better to back off for the happiness of the other and a complete belief that the love was so pure. Those all love you's were the most honest and from the bottom of the hearts. It's better to part with a feeling that no one could love you the way he did and vice versa than to face the destiny's call. The more you'll be together the more tough it will get to move on. Not that this reduces the moving on *pain* but it surely gives you courage to know you cared more for his happiness then your happiness in him. True love never dies. And it’s all fine to have an ending where it’s not happily ever after but happiest for whatever you shared together.

I loved the cover and the title of this book. It attracted me in the first look as I tore off the courier package. I was eager to read it at that very instant because of the cover which has a mysterious touch to it and the short length of the book. Plus the blurb sounded interesting too.

But as I began reading I was disappointed at first. Initially the book that seemed to be so extraordinary from its cover had nothing new to offer in the inside. First few pages are a bit dragging as it had several poems which didn’t seem original. But slowly as the actual story began, it felt good.

The story revolves around the two lovers, Shivi & Paras, describing how they fell in love at first sight which transformed into a life time commitment to each other. But soon the problems grip them as the old beliefs force them to separate from each other. Shivi being a manglik decides to part ways from Paras in order to save his life but ends up changing everyone’s lives. It's about incessant love for each other, strong bond and commitment as someone dreams of when they arrive on earth. It's also about pain and moments which haunt you for life when the person you love the most leaves you altogether and you are left all alone. 

I liked the book, the story, cover, title, blurb, but the only thing that made me cringe and acted as a turn off was the poor editing. The book is full of errors; grammatical errors, use of sms language, missing punctuations, spelling mistakes, for e.g.: diary is spelled as dairy. It made it very difficult to read.  The poems could have been easily spread out at various places in the book instead of putting them all together right in the beginning. Also, the word count could have been increased. The descriptions should have been longer.

It's the shortest novella with a good story line and nice poems. It explores human emotions with a lot of simplicity. The Punjabi added in between give it tinges of reality. Just one suggestion: Please hire a good editor next time. Best wishes for your future ventures!

Ratings: 3/5

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Silent Howl Of Demise - Book Review

The Silent Howl of Demise
By Jyotirmoy Mazumdar
Review by Ila Garg

The story of the novel, The Silent Howl of Demise, is unique and in a way it is a refreshing subject in the midst of all the Chick Lits. It is a fact though that the subject might not tempt all the readers. It is a dark subject and the author Jyotirmoy Mazumdar has well - researched for the contents of this novel.

Readers these days look for an escape from the harsh realities in form of books and movies, so they prefer Rom - Coms and other easier subjects and themes. The Silent Howl of Demise begs to differ in such a scenario. The author has maintained his stand from the cover page to the end of the novel that he isn’t going to give any mushy tale to his readers. He is instead going to serve them with the brutalities of the world we are living in.
The story line, as I felt, is very challenging, intriguing, and, gripping. From the first chapter onwards, the story begins to enthrall the readers and engage them in the process of reading. The way in which Jyotirmoy has crafted the emotions of the brother - sister bond is noticeable too.

The story majorly revolves around Harsh and his family and the desire to take revenge of his sister Rimi’s death and the secrets which unfold one by one in that process. The cruel picture of Guwahati and the raging fire of some anti-national sources provide the backdrop of the story. The bloodshed, blasts, innocent people becoming victims to the growing terrorism is so well written that it touches you and pricks you from within. Harsh's initiative to start a movement against this uncalled for act of blasphemy by some people is the central theme of the book. Politics and terrorism are blended well. What surprised me is the fact that how well has Jyotirmoy handled such an intricate subject! The sensitivity of the subject i.e. Assam and its terrorism prone capital Guwahati makes the story an absolute pleasure to read.

The back side of the books rightly reflects on the contents of the novel and also raises some of the major questions:

Assam, 2002: A young girl, somewhere in her early twenties becomes a victim to her good deeds, in an attempt to save one of the victims of the blast, she lost her own life. Life and death though are the two different sides of the same coin, change human life, very differently. When an innocent heart loses a loved one to the adversities of life and the wrongs of the people, it sows the seed of revenge in the mind, and soul of the one who is affected. The maturity of the heart falls prey to the fury inside the mind of the victim. Harsh, along with his friends, go on an adventurous journey, to find the truth behind the death of his sister, but the venture, wasn’t as peaceful as they expected it to be. In the turn of events, they find out the reality behind the fiction they believed, about their own friends. Revenge, it tastes sweet, verbally, but to attain the actuality of revenge, one needs to risk, everything they ever had. From the deepest parts of their corrupted souls, to the filthiest intentions of their conscious minds, and the luxurious dreams of their illusionary world, revenge takes away, all of it. Revenge, will, not make them surrender, but it might kill their existence. What would this revenge do to the purity of their characters and the poison of revenge in their hearts?

The 204 pages book is an inspiring read for one it inspires you for a cause and two it rekindles the fire in your heart and motivates you to think a little beyond your comfort zones. At several events in the novel, I confess, I was in tears. The choice of words is amazing as it has the power to actually transport you to Guwahati and visualise the whole brutal scene with your own eyes. A sudden and unexpected end to the story keeps the curiosity of the readers alive. We might expect a sequel by the author!

It’s not at all a love story. It defies the latest trends of the market and gives you something new to read. Jyotirmoy has chosen to keep his individual identity intact by opting for the less travelled road.

The only low points of this novel are few of the editing errors. I found as many as 10 errors in the book which could have easily been avoided if the editor had been a little more careful. I being an editor strictly believe that editing plays a very important part in a novel. So my advice to the author will be to pay extra attention to the editing part in his future ventures.

The too many complexities of Harsh’s life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in The Silent Howl Of Demise. I finished the novel in one go as it is very hard to put it down once you start the journey. Harsh is determined to fight for the right things and is not ready to give up at any cost. Priyali becomes his silent strength.

To find out whether he emerges out as a fighter or surrenders to the engulfing terrorism, he is able to bust the political racket or not, his dreams of living a happy life with Priyali are fulfilled or shattered, he is finally able to revenge his sister’s death or forced to surrender to fate, he gets a happy ending or not, what happens to his future with Priyali; you will have to read the novel, The Silent Howl of Demise.

Ratings: 4/5.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chakra: Chronicles of the Witch Way

Review of Chakra: The Chronicles of the Witch Way.

Indian market has yet to witness the popularity of novels dealing in super natural elements. The Indian readers are still not adapting to such readings. Although over the years, fantasy novels do charm them but not many of them are glued to them till the end. I experienced the same dilemma before picking up the third novel of the well-known author and blogger, Ritu Lalit, Chakra: Chronicles of the Witch Way. I had my doubts regarding the content of this book.

The first impressions of Chakra were a nice gripping cover design that enticed me to go on further, the great paper quality that made me feel utterly happy, and the magical world awaiting me in the realm of those papers. As I went on further, each word used by Ritu Lalit to describe the Japas, appealed to me and shook my imagination. Vivid pictures started getting created as I turned the pages. It was so gripping that I could not keep it down as Nandita Bose has rightly quoted, ‘An unputdownable supernatural saga of power plays and mystical allure that grips and entertains like dynamite.’ She had said in various interviews that her stories are a hugely inspired by the tales of rishis and munis her grandmother used to tell and it is very much evident from the book.

Ritu Lalit actually gave me a vision through this book; a vision to personify the five elements and explore their world. A magical tale in all its aspects, it gripped me from the beginning. I started believing in the existence of Japas and Japnis and lived this tale. The characters are so perfectly described that I could see them emerging out of the book right in front of me, playing their designated parts. It was flawless. Ritu Lalit did a marvellous work in this genre. I can say without any second thoughts that she researched a lot for this book. Such a masterpiece wouldn’t be possible otherwise!

Chakra is a beautiful journey imbibed with elements of suspense and thrill, magic and surreal effects laced within its folds. It’s not a simple fantasy story that can be read by kids and enjoyed, it requires your full attention and involvement; somehow Ritu Lalit managed to write this story in such a manner that it doesn’t fail to capture you and take you on the ride to a different world, a world of Japas and Japnis.

Even by the end of the narrative, you thrive and wish for more. You wish to escape into this new world created by Ritu Lalit for you and the climax leaves you craving. I was spell bound and for hours I just kept staring at the pages and the cover in between. I was intrigued at the end of each chapter and wondered what the next chapter has hidden in it.

Not even for a moment you feel bored while going through the chapters. The blend of magic and reality engulfs you and lets you explore a new horizon sitting in the comfort of your home. It makes you travel to places you never thought you could. I am curious what would the complete trilogy have stored in it. The next book in the series is being currently penned down by Ritu Lalit and I am already desperately waiting for it.

What makes this book so amazing for me is the quality, the perfection with which it has been delivered to the readers. The editing has been done with utmost care, or so it seems. This is the best part about this book. Since a few days, I had been reading books with such poor editing that I almost lost my interest in reading. Bad editing is such a put off at times. I am glad Author’s Empire Publication has given special emphasis on editing. Ritu Lalit’s Chakra in collaboration with Author’s Empire Publications has made a mark for me in the less travelled genre of magic realism.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 Hours - Book Review


12 Hours
By Mahi Singla & Rohit Sharma
Review By Ila Garg

The anthology comprising of 12 remarkably beautiful short stories, 12 Hours, has been published by Mahaveer Publishers. All the twelve stories are quite engrossing and deal with the various nuances of human emotions like Love, Pain, Joy, Sorrow, Trust, Deceit, Excitement, Repentance, Respect, Humiliation, Loneliness, and Anger. Though there is a high contrast in all the different feelings mentioned above, still both Mahi Singla and Rohit Sharma have brilliantly carved out the stories depicting all shades of life.

Let’s start with the cover. One word - Cute! :D Well, yes the cover of the anthology, 12 Hours, is amazing, creative, unique, and therefore interesting. It has a mesmerising aura that compels the readers to hold the book and smile and turn the page to read on.

Next we come to the small little blurbs (ahead of each story). The small introductions are well written, precise, and create the necessary background in the reader’s mind. The idea of giving a wonderful sketch with every story is also highly appreciable. It provides a glimpse of what is to be followed.
Next, let’s talk about the 12 well-knit stories one by one. As I personally feel that without talking about each story individually, the review wouldn’t be complete and it wouldn’t be a justified review of this particular anthology. 

1. A Terrible Mistake: This is a story of Karan and Samaira who had an arranged marriage. Both of them were perfect for each other. The story moves at a good pace. Both of them were rich, good-looking and had everything they desired for. Though the unexpected ending both shocked and surprised me. I smirked at Karan’s situation and felt sad for him. But I could not stop myself from smiling at the end. I liked this story because of the style in which it is written. I bet you can never guess the end till you reach the climax! Well-crafted story.

2. My Share of Ice-cream: Ah! Perhaps this was the cutest story in ’12 Hours’ and I really enjoyed every bite of this ice-cream. While reading this story I actually felt I am a part of it. Reading the story imagining myself as Anjali was fun! Love is the most wonderful thing that can happen in our life. Vinay falls in love with Anjali when he was least expecting it. Two words summarise this one for me - Cute and Romantic! I wish I can repeat this on my wedding day too! :D Lol..

3. The Reason is You: This story was a painful narration of Heena, the way she was forced for everything by her Abba, was really sad. I could actually feel her pain. In a way, it was a very sensitising story. We crib for what we don’t have, but there are people who don’t even have a free voice unlike us. Is being a girl, a crime, after all? When will our Indian society raise its standards? This makes me feel sorry. I had tears feeling Heena’s pain as I continued reading this. The end will leave you with tears in your eyes and smile on your lips. A story written with a deep emotional touch.

4. A Selfless Love: This story is essentially about the father-daughter duo, the relation they share and how strong is their bond. Being a single parent is tough, even tougher being a father of a daughter. You have to nurture your child properly, giving her enough space and at the same time ensuring that she grows up to be a good natured and down to earth person. Too much love can spoil her just like Koyal ends up being a brat. Though by the climax she realises her father’s selfless love and comes on the right track from which she had deviated earlier. Ashish finally proves to be a good father. 

5. He lost himself that day: This left me in utter shock. I was tongue - tied and out rightly appalled. I felt really ashamed of the society in which we are living these days. Highly sensitive story line! Brutal reality of our society has been brought to the fore by this story. Gang rapes, forced sex, etc. have become so common in India that the discussion which was earlier taboo, is becoming a common place scenario now. Meeting men like Yuvraj and Sidharth who drink, go wild, indulge in carnal pleasures to satisfy their youth is not rare. I had goose bumps by the time I reached the end. A well written story.

6. An Accidental Marriage: A sweet romantic comedy. Two best friends, who earlier fought like Tom & Jerry, gradually fell in love. Rahul and Prachi; both are sketch well by the Author. A story that will leave you in ripples of laughter with its comic elements. A small unintended prank leading to their marriage is all so sweet. The way Rahul defended himself for not being the reason behind Prachi’s pregnancy and claimed that he didn’t touch her ever is just so well thought of. The dialogues are nice and funny. A really enjoyable story.

7. Forgive me if you can: Tahir… a young man among us whose only crime was that he took a path without realising its consequences. He did a mistake which could not be undone. The story chooses a dark side of life in a hope to see light for his family but he seldom realised that he was hoping in vain. The way religions have been talked about in this story clearly tells that the Authors have researched well. Islam, Jihad, and even Hinduism have been talked about in this story. I will be honest, when I say that there was one thing in the story that I didn’t have a clue about earlier. Tahir questions, “Why young children are buried in Hinduism while adults are cremated?” This has been answered very well and added to my knowledge too. A must read!

8. A Lesson Learnt Finally: A story of two best friends, Tanya and Annie. It is based on, “If you have done something wrong with someone, you will never be able to sleep at night. The thought of wrong doing will keep haunting you.” The story infuses in the readers some mixed emotions. The element of fear lingers throughout in the story giving out a very important message to all the readers. Nice, and crisp story.

9. You are not letting me go: One of my favourites. A heart-touching tale of Rohan and Aarti which left me spell bound. It strengthens your believe in the existence of true love. It also made me a little sad. I was overwhelmed with emotions as I reached the end where the harsh revelation took place. Love stays alive whatever the case maybe! A must read for people who don’t believe in love and those who do should read it to live the extremities of love.

10. I am leaving You: Every heart is precious and not a toy! So one should never play with it. Divya in her entire life kept playing with the feelings of men, seldom caring about them. And when it returned to her, she ended up in the Mental Asylum. The psycho character of Sagar is well defined and is chosen well to bring out a nice story. Though it was a painful story, horrifying, yet it was an eye-opener! Incidents from past can sometimes end up ruining your present state of mind, followed by a dark future. So feeling should not be treated casually. A nice story.

11. A Picture Perfect Family: A surprising end. A picture perfect family can sometimes just be an illusion. Tabuja and Pradeep were the present reality but, a reality from past can take things to a different horizon and leave you hollow. It was an interesting story and left me feeling sad for Tanuja.

12. Beg me, To Get Me Back: A very relatable story for me. If you make someone feel small, a day will come when you yourself will face the similar wrath. It’s a story of a struggling writer Maithali, who like everyone had a difficult path to be successful at last. It also brings us face to face with the fact that every successful person was once a commoner. Don’t underestimate the power of a common man. ;) Nice read for sure.

I have read a lot of anthologies before this, but somehow this one just stands out! Very very impressive work by Mahi and Rohit. The stories expose a wide horizon of themes leaving the readers glued to it. The book is promoted well. Since it marks Mahi’s debut, I congratulate her and best wishes to Rohit for future. 

This book is recommended for to those who want to feel the depth of all sorts of human emotions and bonds, the ups and downs of life, etc. 

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Oh Yes! All Men are Dogs - Book Review

Oh Yes! All Men are Dogs
By Nikhil Mahajan
Review By Ila Garg

Oh Yes! All men are Dogs, a novel I was really looking forward to for a lot of reasons. For starters, the author of this book, Nikhil Mahajan is a good friend. The title is alluring and the cover of the novel is quite intriguing too.

It’s a dreamy tale of Sid and the three other characters, Piyali, Akash, and Jenny. The weird definition of HANDSOME made me laugh; the character descriptions will leave you elated too. I loved all the four characters to the core.

The phrases like ‘Love guru says: We never care about what’s on our side of the table; it’s always about what’s on the other side.’ And ‘Wise men say: Fuck your past…Just don’t let it fuck you…’ make the story interesting.

Every chapter leaves you amazed. In chapter 3, the way Sid uses three tricks to get a kiss from Piyali by striking off all the other competitors actually stuns you; as a guy you laugh in agreement but as a girl you feel ‘OMG! These guys can cross all limits!’ Haha! In that sense, Nikhil’s book appeals to both the genders equally.

The LHS=RHS theory is another feature of the book that captures the attention of the readers. From the insides of the book, ‘First LHS means “let’s have sex”, and RHS is “right to have sex”. So what make them equal here is “A boyfriend has all the right to fuck his girlfriend as his fundamental right so let’s have sex here means he owe to have sex, with all laws of love and sex.”

The childish banters, Sid and Piyali, depict a roller coaster of love, lust, sex, etc. The cat mouse fight between them makes the readers wonder that how can they still be together but then sometimes fights are necessary to keep the relation alive. The way they act like ‘friends with benefit’ and stay together for the carnal pleasures is also awe-striking. Their mind games, revenges that they plan, their break up, their patch up, their disagreements, their agreements, the elements which are keeping them together, and the outburst of their emotions, are all wonderfully penned down by Nikhil.

The friendship part is a different description too. The friendship shared between all four of them gets weird at times in the book but it only adds to the overall flavour. It also keeps the readers glued to the book till the end.

The narrative is good and well - paced. Language used is easy to comprehend so readers wouldn’t find it abrupt or difficult to read. 1-2 errors are there but then they can be easily ignored though I really feel that the editor should have done the work properly before the book is out.

There are various bold dialogues like, “Don’t tell your father how to fuck!” and various other bold and elicit descriptions in the story.  Though the ending is very unpredictable in the light of the flow of the story. Its surprises you and shocks you but still you smile.

The adulterated parts can be read without much hype or disgust as they were the requirement of the story and add to the flow of the narrative. Love always starts with fights as the back cover indicates, ‘She was definitely not what he was looking for and neither was he; but destiny has its own sense of humour. The question was never “will they ever give their hearts to each other” but whether they will be able to “be” together.’

The 130 page book comprises of 12 chapters. All of them are well knit and sequenced. One of the major things that kept me turning pages till I reached the end is a question, ‘What will happen at the end? Will Sid and Piyali ever get along?’ To find out these answers, you will have to read this book and get on the mesmerising ride of Oh Yes! All Men are Dogs. 

Happy Reading everyone! And good work Nikhil as always. Just one quick suggestion to the author: Hire a good editor next time. :D

Ratings: 3.7/5

Saturday, September 7, 2013

One in a Million - Book Review

One in a Million
By Harshita Srivastava
Review By Ila Garg

One in a Million, attracted me for more than one reason. Firstly, the title, ‘One in a Million’ has a jingle which makes you feel connected at once. Secondly, the concept of the cover is so real and unique. It’s a big turn on and you know that yes this is a good book.

‘One in a Million’ is a journey; a search of a girl to find her special love, her true love that provides her solace and gives stability to her life. In the course of the novel, Priyanka, the protagonist transforms from a young girl to a woman as she suffers, and bears all the hardships of life. The way Harshita Srivastava has penned down this particular story is really appreciable. The author has described every emotion very beautifully. There are episodes in the book that make you feel so emotional and you just can’t help but cry with the protagonist.

Another thing that I loved about this book is the poetry in between the narration. All the poems are so well written and define all the pain and sorrow of a tender heart that has been brutally hurt. Brutal is a bold word, but no other word would be able to clearly state the condition of the protagonist’s heart. 

Rain plays an important part in Priyanka’s life as the story of her love life begins from rains. Love happens to bump into her life during the monsoon season and ironically it disappears with the rain too. Harshita has skillfully used this element to create such a beautiful story of love. 

The narrative is tactfully written and the readers wouldn’t find it difficult to keep up with the pace of the story. The language is easy to comprehend and there would be no difficulty in understanding the various twists and turns in the novel. 

The 196 page book takes you along with it and makes you vividly see all the events taking place in front of you. The story is quite meaningful and the main reason that I loved this book is the sheer realism used in it. There is no make belief episode written. Every word sounds real and is easy to digest, which means no usual melodrama!

Initially the book is in a flashback where Priyanka falls in love with Shashank while they were still in school. Later on as the story progresses, she gets involved with Shashank’s best friend, who had by that time became her best friend too, Vishal; only because Vishal has feelings for her. Soon enough as she starts to feel comfortable with him, he too dumps her like Shashank. Now she is left alone to cry and move on. At this point, she feels that there is no love meant for her until she meets Shashank Mittal on Facebook. On the first place, she accepts his friend request mainly because he shares his name with her first love but with time he becomes a great friend and soon proposes her. But here Harshita again uses her intelligence of a writer, and adds a hurdle. The problem is Shashank already has a girlfriend and he seems to be in love with two girls at the same time. What will Priyanka do? Will she accept him or not? Will she ever get her ‘one in a million’?

The back cover of the book says, ‘Love it or hate it, you have to accept the fact that the world revolves around the four-letter word…LOVE.’ It is also one of the main reasons why the readers will feel engaged with the book to see if Priyanka finally gets her destination or not. 

The too many complexities of Priyanka’s love life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in One in a Million. To find out whether she survives the turmoil of love and after losing her love twice, will she be lucky at the third time, why does love always bumps into her in bizzare situations when she is least expecting it, how effective are long distance relationships and what’s up with the whole concept of online dating, can love be found on social networking sites, is dating your ex’s best friend justified or a certain no-no, how successful are love at first sights, does being the other woman in a relationship actually matter; you will have to read the novel, One in a Million.

The author Harshita Srivastava chose an interesting story lines and dealt with all the complexities of love in a composed manner. I recommend this book to all those who have ever faced dilemmas in their love life, people who are in long distance relationships, and to those who have lost faith in the power and existence of love. Hope and Faith are two very important tools to live a life deprived of love. These two tools help you till you get your love and even after.

No matter how many heartbreaks you may have in your life, always believe that God has definitely made that ‘one in a million’ for you whom you will find one day. It may take some time and patience, but it would be worth it. 

For a debut writer, Harshita has done it; she has proved her mettle and yes she is an excellent writer. The way she has captured all the intricate emotions of a dejected heart, kept me glued to this book till the end. Kudos girl, Way to go!

Ratings: 4/5