Thursday, May 15, 2014

Crumpled Voices - Shades of Suffering (Compiled by Pulkit Gupta)

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY AT JUST RS 99 (Compiled by Pulkit Gupta)
Crumpled Voices – Shades of Suffering is an anthology based on social issues. A common thread of the prevailing societal evils and injustice binds them together. We have tried to weave stories ranging from rape to acid attack and domestic violence to honor killing in this anthology.
All of us have witnessed such incidents in our day to day life, our near and dear ones might have experienced them closely too. We have almost grown up among them, felt them following us. We constantly live in fear of the unknown, fear of being the victim to any of the criminal activities multiplying around us. These days when no place is safe, including the web, our voices need to be heard.
Protest must begin from somewhere, and we have used our pen which is mightier than the sword to express our anguish. An echo of many unimaginable atrocities lurks within us, engulfing us in its shadow. Through each of the story in this book, we have tried to highlight one such aspect of horrifying crimes.
Make sure to pre-order your copy at ONLY Rs 99 until 20th May at the following link:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Keeping the Promises - Book Review

Keeping the Promises
By Dhruv Gajjar
Review By Ila Garg

Keeping the Promises is a novel by the writer Dhruv Gajjar. The cover art is beautiful and clearly puts this book in the category of romance. The concept of cover itself is so compelling that one would pick up the book. The font of title adds beauty to it.

Dhruv Gajjar, is an MBBS from SBKS Medical College and Research Centre, Vadodara. Currently residing in Ahmedabad, in his own words he is a nocturnal Amdavadi, a humble Gujrati and a proud Indian. This book is a work of fiction inspired by his true life event. The first edition of this book was published while he was in final year and this also marks his literary debut.

The blurb of reads as, ‘WORDS are mightier than anything else in this world. Sometimes they serve as liaisons between two distinct hearts, and sometimes they shatter two people irreparably apart. But when they are woven into promises and hopes, they give rise to something that lasts forever. They change lives.

I had almost lost myself, when she brought me back to life - with her promises. She was dying with a dreadful tumour, but she had the authority to pull those last strings that brought me back to her. She was gradually dying, and every night before going to sleep - she would take a portion of my heart, my soul and my words. She would take a promise from me every night that made me who I'm today. She gave me a new life.

One of those promises was to compile this novel that took me to an eventful journey in which I discovered several people, like me, who too were keeping her promises.

What were those amusing, surprising and horrendous promises that they all kept?

Who else other than I were bound to her promises?

Would she be able to redefine love and sacrifice with her plans?

Can grief completely redefine who you are? Can a broken heart be healed?

Can you fall in love with the same person all over again?

Can you live and die, both at the same time?

Be a part of my story, about a girl, who - through her promises, changed the lives of the people she loved, including mine.

This is my journey. This is the window of my past, and the view to my future. It is yours now!

Initial impressions of the book from the title, cover, and the blurb - It’s gonna be yet another love story – that too a typical one. Girl and guy meet in college, fell for each other at first sight, and so on. And yes it is a story of a two couples (no doubt), but it is based on real life incident of the author himself. This will leave the readers intrigued.

This is the story of Dhruv Gajjar (Gajju) himself and his lady love M, and also it is a tale of Angel Shah (Angie) and Anshul Bhatt (Ansh). Most amazing part of the story is to see how love can change the course of your life, how it actually gives you a purpose to live life in the right stride. It’s a narrative of sacrifices, friendship, unconditional love, true love, and togetherness above all. 

The story begins with two best friends coming together in the same college and same hostel room, how they used to have fun and ended up falling in love. The love between Dhruv and M, the mystery girl began rapidly, unexpectedly and took a vigorous turn. Everything just happened too fast giving the readers tinges of jitters.

It is therefore a story of a girl who from her death bed, planned a new life for all the people she loved and remained a mystery throughout. She made sure that everything happens exactly as the way she thought and wanted. It is about a boy who stood by his love during the time she was distressed and tormented by a life threatening disease, Neurofibrosarcoma, and never gave up on her even after she died. It is about the promises that the boy gave her in the last eleven days of her life, and how he kept each of them as he kept his lady love alive in his heart and memories. Those eleven days, the last days of their togetherness were special to both of them.

Their tale comes in front of the readers through partial nostalgia and partially in present. From cooking for his love, fulfilling all her demands, to giving her orchids with envelopes filled with short poems or quotes, to writing their story and narrating it to her every night, the boy left no stone unturned to fill his love's life with innumerable joys. The girl too promises from him every night, the promises that later helped him to become a better, successful and a happy human being. 

The best part of the book was the conversations between Dhruv and M in those eleven days, and the promises that M took from him. It leaves the readers teary eyed for sure, unless you have a heart of stone. The author has done a laudable job in that respect.

Quoting lines from the book - “Nilu! I know you are doing things for me which no one can ever dream of doing. Knowing my dark side, you still love me for who I’m. In fact, I love you too – I really do. But when I think of us being together, a thought of cheating comes across my mind, I still love M and I love you too, I just can’t understand the feeling I’m having inside. Is it possible to love two people at the same time?”

The 212 page book is a beautiful, romantic, heart-warming story that surely will leave you crying in the end. The book has sheer realism which is the USP according to me. The narrative skills of the author are commendable. It takes you on a journey and a plethora of emotions. It’s surreal, almost magical. The language and pace is comfortable for all the readers, however there are some points where the story becomes dragging.

The too many dilemmas of Ansh’s and Angie’s love life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in Keeping the Promises. It is not every day that you encounter a love story where the father of the girl is supportive and yet they remain apprehensive about marrying. The story of Dhruv and M, is another reason that will keep you hooked till the end.

To find out whether Ansh and Angie marry or decide to go with the wind, what is their future, whether Dhruv succeeds in fulfilling his promises given to M or fails, how does the life threating disease M suffers from affect both of their lives, how M reacts to her approaching death, how Angie faces Ansh after deciding to marry someone else, how Angie’s father takes a step further to ensure the happiness of his daughter, how everything planned by M falls in place; you will have to read the novel, Keeping the Promises.

'Yay' Factors:
 Angel Shah and M, the mystery girl. Also, the last letter and the promises, ofcourse.

'Nay' Factors: Ample editing errors, the unnecessary italicizing, some descriptions which could have been written differently to enhance reader interest, etc.

Message for the readers: Promises are meant to be fulfilled and not merely to be kept behind a veil... This novel compels you to realise the importance of keeping the promises. So go ahead, pick it up, read it and then start to fulfil your promises too gradually before it’s too late.

P.S. I loved the last letter. Quoting from it – “See, as I promised I sent a girl for you. What did you say? Don’t make the promises you can’t keep. See I kept my promise.
P.S. I’ll always be with you – and you know that.”

Rating: 3.5/5

Buying Links: Homeshop18 | Amazon | Infibeam 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Crossroads... It's about time - Book Review

Crossroads… It’s about time
By Preeti Singh
Review By Ila Garg

Crossroads… It’s about time is a novel by the authoress Preeti Singh, earlier known for her debut book Flirting with Fate. The book is decorated in the form of a very beautiful cover page. Two railway tracks (representing the crossroads), one bench (where the whole story plays around in a flashback, you will know the significance of this bench once you read the book), a clock (representing the time obviously), the helpless pair of eyes, and the red distorted bindi (you will understand the significance later as you read on the book). Indeed, a captivating cover! The concept of cover itself is so compelling that one would pick up the book. The title is tempting too.

Preeti Singh, is an award-winning author based at Panchkula, Chandigarh. She is qualified with an MA (Eng.), PGJMC (Journalism and Mass comm.) and a B.Ed. degree along with being an army wife and a school teacher for 14 years. Writing being her inherent passion, she believes in expressing her life’s experiences through words. Believing in living for now, she lives her life to the fullest, with a motto that, we reap what we sow; it was also the central theme of her exciting, debut thriller, Flirting with Fate.

The blurb of Crossroads… It’s about time, reads as, ‘In the journey of life we see dreams, we fall in love, we experience bliss but yet we often fall, never to rise again.

But Kavita is a fighter.

From marrying the man she loves, to becoming a protective mother, to tolerating abuse and emerging stronger from it, Kavita’s life is not different from just another Indian woman.

Till how long can she take the domestic violence and humiliation? Does Kavita leave her abusive husband Rajiv, in search of greener pastures with Mihir or does she succumb to a passionate moment with a youngster, Abhinash?

Don’t we all have a right to make our identity, alone, or is marriage the only bond where one must adjust to find happiness?

Is Kavita doing wrong by following her heart? If it takes two to tango, where did she go wrong? Can she unpeel the child in her, defy the world and live life on her own terms? Or does life give her a chance to make amends and save her precious bonds?

She is standing at a crossroads of her life and wondering which path should she follow to get some peace, something we all are seeking. Why don’t YOU, my reader hold her hand and guide her?

It’s about time.

Initial impressions of the book from the title, cover, and the blurb - It’s gonna be yet another marriage story – a typical Indian wife dedicated to her nonchalant husband, a daughter who suffers due to the everlasting fights between her parents, etc. And yes it is a story of a failed marriage (no doubt), but it is tackled quite intelligently giving a totally different flavor to it.

This is the story of Kavita Singh, an epileptic married to Rajiv Arora. Kavita being an epileptic since birth, was used to living life full of precautions which included not driving. Both Kavita and Rajiv meet on a train and fall for each other. Rajiv decides to marry her against the will of his dominating sister, Anu.

Both of them come from a varied background; had a different nurturing, have different desires and longings, different priorities, and of course totally different sets of ideologies. While Kavita is more of a dreamer and devoting lover, Rajiv is practical and considers his sister above all. While Kavita is so blindly in love that she sees only Rajiv, he seems to see everyone except her.  

The novel further questions the Indian men mentality; Rajiv can have one-night stands and affairs in absence of Kavita, but if Kavita does the same, it is unforgivable and a taboo. A man can dump her wife but if a wife leaves her husband’s home then he feels insulted and can do anything to get her back, even if he lets his sister treat his wife like a ‘glorified maid’.

As simple as it seems, the story doesn’t go straight. The book juggles between past and present; sometimes coming to the present and then a long flashback into the past. It begins with Kavita driving (which she did rarely) to pick her daughter from the station. There she has to wait for prolonged hours on a bench, and sitting there she keeps reminiscing her past. Her tale comes in front of the readers through nostalgia, and takes them into her past gradually. From there, she keeps coming back to the present every now and then.

This story is about how your decisions effect your life in the long run, especially the decisions taken in a haste. It is about being strong even when your decisions fail you sometimes. Well it is about finding your ‘home’, a place that is not merely a house, and that requires some struggles because it’s worth it. “Kavita had chosen the path to live her life with dignity, alone but blissful. She had left the crossroads behind and began walking home, where her happiness and peace dwelled with her.”

Further, the authoress has described the night Kavita discovered what ‘making love’ is with a lot of panache. It nowhere seems undignified because of her flair of narrating that moment well. “She had always experienced ‘sex’ with Rajiv but today she understood the meaning of ‘making love’ with Abhi.”

The best part of the book was the conversations between Twitter, the parrot and Amber, the dog. They are well personified in the book and given some hilarious dialogues. They are later joined by Sunoji, that’s how Twitter calls her beau, the crow and Amberina, Amber’s girlfriend, the bitch. They together manage to form ‘a zoo’ for Kavita and keep her occupied. Also, they add lightness to the otherwise sombre novel.

Quoting lines from the book - “Twitter, Amber and Amberina, her loving mute companions, were waiting for her. They never asked her anything as they always understood and accepted her as she was. What more could she want?”

The 264 page book is undoubtedly appealing. The book has sheer realism which is the USP according to me. The narrative skills of the authoress are indeed commendable. It is an utterly transfixing roller coaster of emotions. The language and pace is comfortable for all the readers.

The too many dilemmas of Kavita’s life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in Crossroads… It’s about time. It is not every day that you encounter a talking parrot (Twitter) and a dog like Amber.

To find out whether Kavita and Rajiv could make their marriage work or not, what is their future, whether Kavita chooses to follow her dreams in spite of the hurdles or resolve to give up and go by the destiny’s decision, how does being a single mother affect Kavita, how she avoids Ranvijay’s attraction towards her, how Kavita faces the failed marriage and loneliness of her life, how she feels a sudden comfort in arms of Mihir (her husband’s best friend), how she reacts to the closeness with him, where is she led by the physical intimacy with Abhinash, who she chooses in the end at the crossroads: Rajiv or Mihir; you will have to read the novel, Crossroads… It’s about time.

'Yay' Factors: Twitter, Amber, Sunoji, and Amberina :)

'Nay' Factors: Few editing errors.

Message for readers: "Once in a while, we all find ourselves standing at the crossroads, just like the protagonist, Kavita Singh. What we do at that point, which path wie take, determine not only what kind of a person we are but also the course of our life thereafter. So, remember to make a wise decision at the crossroads. It’s about time."

Rating: 4.25/5

Buying Links: Flipkart | Amazon | Infibeam | GetSignedBooks | Authorpress