Saturday, June 28, 2014

And I felt like a Magician!

It was an ordinary day, which suddenly turned extraordinary as I held the magic wand in my hand. I reached my workplace in time and started my work tasks for the day, when I remembered that I had to go on a photo walk that evening and I had forgotten my camera at home. I somehow accomplished all my tasks for the day and left office.

I met my friend Riya at the decided venue and told her that I will not be able to go further as I don't have my camera. She assured me that it won't be a problem and winking at me she gave me her phone. She told me it would serve better than a camera, I just stared at her dumbfounded. I remember calling her insane and how can she even think this will beat a camera. She just smiled and taking my hand she literally dragged me. 

We started clicking pictures once the whole team had reached the venue. I was amazed at the camera quality of this phone - ASUS Zenfone 5. I was awestruck as I continued to use this new PixelMaster that captured perfect professional pictures.

Soon, it got dark and I could see my helplessness getting back. The whole team was now using flashes and I was feeling weird, looking at the phone. 

'Okay then, that's it for me, I guess! I should call it a day and head back home', I told the team. 

'Leaving already? But the night photography is the best part of this photo walk. How can you just miss it?' Varun tried to stop me and lure in the plan. 

My friend, Riya convinced me once again by showing some incredible features of the Zenfone - Low Light Photography.

Added to that, with Time Rewind feature in the phone, I was just too intrigued to click more. I enabled Time Rewind, and the PixelMaster camera automatically started recording images two seconds before and one second after pressing the shutter button. During this three-second period, 31 photos were recorded for me to choose, meaning that the perfect moment is never missed if you click from this phone.

I felt like a magician capturing shots that added to my memories. That night, I decided to stay at Riya's and explore this incredible phone. 

It was fun, 'this phone has super powers', Riya hushed at me. I eyed her and told her she should not exaggerate. 

'I know this is wonderful, has a powerful extraordinary camera, but super powers? No, please! Let's be realistic', I said to her.

She laughed it off and showed me the super power for real. 'Okay so this is called The Incredible Searchathon - this is like WOW! It can help you trace any of your friend just by imputing some information', she opened the feature. 

I simply drooled and gasped, curious to discover how it works. 

She continued, 'With this feature, you can see what others can't see and do what others can't do. Do you wanna try?'

'Of course!'

'Okay, so look all you have to do is open this Incredible Searchathon and start filling in the details - the phone number, name, and link of his/her Facebook profile and click on 'GO'. Simple, isn't? And then it simply traces your friend's phone location and takes you along with him on this map.'

'Oh well, it's superb. Almost like the magical map from Harry Potter!'

'Yeah. Isn't it fun? You know what, its 5 inch screen has an amazing display that will help you writing and editing docs on the go. You being a writer can utilize it to the fullest. It has multiple themes and fonts too.'

'I am just speechless.... My search for incredible ends here! - ASUS Zenfone 5. Thanks Riya for introducing me to this simple, peaceful, and beautiful phone.'

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Unwanted Shadow - Book Review

The Unwanted Shadow
By Bhaskaryya Deka
Review By Ila Garg

The Unwanted Shadow is a novel by Bhaskaryya Deka, and is published by Half Baked Beans. The print quality isn’t up to the mark though, since I found it difficult to read through few of the pages. The book has an apt cover, you will realise this more as soon as you finish the book. The font used for the title of the book could have been modified though. The title is tempting clearly arousing reader interest.

The author, Bhaskaryya Deka is pursuing B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering at Indian School of Mines. He is an avid reader, with particular interest in Literary Fiction. He owns two blogs where he carries on with his writings. When he is not writing, he likes to spend his time listening to music, hanging out with friends, and travelling. His debut book is titled ‘Caught in a Storm’ published by Zorba Publishers Pvt. Ltd. last year. The Unwanted Shadow is his second book.

The blurb reads as, ‘Leaving home and the memories of his past behind was what Mohan intended to do when he left for Delhi. And he is proven right in his decision, because two years later, he sees his dreams shaping up. For some days, it feels to him like he is in a paradise… marrying the girl of his dreams, becoming a recognized writer. What more can anyone wish for?

But this bliss is destined to end soon. For the darkness is almost upon him, ready to engulf everything he loved in its merciless embrace.

Only one person can save him… A friend, an enemy. An Unwanted Shadow.’

Initial impressions of the book from the title, cover, and the blurb – intriguing thriller! And yes, it lives up to your expectation. This sums up the plot well:

Mohan, a small town boy, is nothing but hopeful when he moves to Delhi to complete his education. After all, this is what he had always planned to do, to take a leap towards his big dreams. And for once he finds his new life to be absolutely lovely, like he has often pictured it would be.

But this good phase doesn't last long. His life is soon shattered to pieces when his first relationship meets a tragic end. A sadness like he had never known before overwhelms him, keeping him wide awake at nights. But it is just the beginning, beginning to a terrible chain of events that would lead him to a deadly confrontation with his own dark past.

Will Mohan be able to overcome this darkness? Will he ever get solace? Or will his innocence be lost in the intense color of blood? 

The way the author has developed the story is indeed something to look out for. Indeed, the second half is far more compelling. But the suspense is well built from the very beginning when the characters are just introduced.

It seems plain in the first half but the plot takes a leap mid-way. The story doesn’t go straight. It complicates with every page. Unexpected twists will keep the readers interested to reach the end. The author takes the readers along with him in Mohan’s journey and shocks them with some revelations in between and finally leaves them gasping.

The storyline is captured well and the author hasn’t much disappointed the readers. What happens after he takes a stand against his own father and decides to leave for Delhi makes the base of the story.

The 166 page book is a perfect quick read where readers should be prepared to expect the unexpected. I mainly loved the book because of the plot that is so different from the league. In the scenario where Indian Fiction is flooded with themes of romance, The Unwanted Shadow is a relief by emerging as a thriller that will shake you from within. The urge to reach the climax, kept me hooked all the time. The language and pace is comfortable for all the readers. A satisfactory work by the author.

The too many twists in the plot is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in The Unwanted Shadow. To find out whether Mohan is able to survive in Delhi or not, how he falls in love, is he able to marry her, what obstacles come in his path and how he manages to face them, does he ever return to his hometown, how does the marriage affect him, who is this unwanted shadow that never seem to leave him, what consequences is he subjected to because of this unwanted shadow; you will have to read the novel, The Unwanted Shadow.

The book is undoubtedly a nice read. It kept me glued. Nowhere was I bored, and for this the author deserves an applause. I recommend this book to all those who are tired of reading the usual romance fictions, to those who love this particular genre, and to those who are looking for something to read during their travel time.

‘Yay’ Factors: The cover, story line, narrative, a completely different theme, unusual revelations, title, dialogues.

‘Nay’ Factors: The beginning could have been more appealing, initial chapters somehow seemed lighter.

Kudos to the author for daring to tread the road less travelled!

Rating: 4/5

Buying Links: Homeshop18 | Amazon

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Helpline - Book Review

The Helpline
By Uday Mane
Review By Ila Garg

The Helpline, a gripping narrative by the debutant writer Uday Mane is published by Frog Books (an imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd). The paper and print quality show that it is a publication house that we should keep an eye on. The cover designed by Yogesh Parab is apt as much as the title is and hooks the readers. It will instantly make you want to grab the book and read on.

Born in Pune and brought up in Mumbai, Uday Mane works as a Social Media enthusiast during the day and a storyteller during the night. He is an avid reader, and loves to collect classic books. The Helpline is his literary debut.

The blurb reads as, Samir is suicidal. Rachael works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir’s story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life.

As his story reaches its conclusion, Rachael will know the true reason behind his suicidal tendencies. But this suicide helpline is not any ordinary service. There is more to the mysterious and yet so convincing voice of Rachael. As this new mystery begins to unfold, Samir is going to discover three things:

What is The Helpline?

Who is Rachael?

What is Samir’s own identity?

Every year, several teenagers in India attempt suicide because of failing relationships, dwindling careers, parental pressure or the competitive world.

This story is about one such teenager, his early problems and the hurdles to cope with them. This story is about finding hope in the struggle. This story is about fighting for what you believe in and discovering your true identity. This is not a story about falling in love. This is a story of rising from a failed love story.”

Note: "Proceedings of Rs. 5 per book will be used for child welfare through The Rotary Foundation"

Needless to say it is a story of love undoubtedly; a failed love that led to self-discovery. Samir, the protagonist is well etched by the author who desires for a life with a girl who made him a changed man, but fate has only disappointments in store for him. He is a good person all set to lose his identity and re-create himself.

His best friend Neha is probably his only companion who stands by him through thick and thin. Later, she indirectly leads him to a life changing experience. In the journey of this book, Samir grows up, learns from his surroundings, love finds him when he is off guard and he embraces it as his whole life, only to realize that life is about struggles. It doesn’t always go smooth, he suffers and is rendered suicidal despite being a keen writing enthusiast.

The way Uday Mane 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 Samir. You almost develop an unsaid bond with him. Right from the beginning, you feel a connection that doesn’t let you put the book down.

The 252 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 characterization. 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 author has skillfully used the helpline (as evident from the title, yes it does play a major role in the book) to create such a beautiful and heart-melting story.

The too many turmoil of Samir’s love life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in The Helpline. To find out whether he survives the misery of a broken love story, how he turns suicidal and who is Rachael, how she helps him through a suicide helpline, is he able to discover himself after all, how strong is his friendship with Neha, how long will she stick to him to help him survive, what role do the books play in his life, how significant is this mysterious girl Riya and her brother Siddhartha in Samir’s life, when the time comes will he choose to survive or go in an oblivion world; you will have to read the novel, The Helpline.

For a debut writer, Uday Mane has done it; he has proved his mettle and yes he is an excellent writer. The way he has captured all the intricate emotions of a dejected heart, kept me glued to this book.

Ratings: 4/5

This (Unbiased) book review is a part of "The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program". To get free books log on to Thanks Nimi Vashi for giving me the opportunity to read such a nice book!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Murdered to Moksha - Book Review

Murdered to Moksha
By Rohit Shetty
Review By Ila Garg

Murdered to Moksha is a novel by Rohit Shetty, published by FirstStep Publishing. The book is decorated in the form of a very apt cover page. With lot of blood and handprints, it indeed qualifies as a captivating cover! The title is interesting too.

Rohit Shetty is academically a Chemical Engineer and a jubilant author, a passionate poet and a very dynamic person. The author is based in Mumbai.

The blurb reads as, ‘Wife’s murderer or a victim of fate. This headline flooded the news channels. A 35 year old guy killing his wife at City Hospital and then trying to jump off the same building. A selfish, ruthless murderer who took away a 10 year old girl’s mother and then attempted a suicide. 


Financial problems? … NO.

Disputes with wife? … NO.

Mentally unstable? … NO.

Then, why?

Only person who had an answer to this question… HE. Himself.

His silence even at the court sessions added to the twists of the case. He said nothing in his defence neither hired a lawyer. He seemed heartless. Cold blooded killer, a murderer, a maniac, mentally unstable to the world. Every medium spoke bad for him but no one really cared to know the reason why he killed his wife.

He was a murdered until………’

My Verdict: Initial impressions of the book from the title, cover, and the blurb - It’s gonna be an interesting murder mystery - something different from the league. Of course the plot is intriguing and doesn’t disappoint the readers.

This is the story of Aarav Rathode, his struggles, his love life, his moments of suffering, disappointment, and dissatisfaction! Therefore, the title is apt for the story “Murdered to Moksha”. As you will move along the plot, you will find it hard to put down. After all, it’s a creative fiction based on a real life controversial topic.

‘Murdered to Moksha’ has a brilliant start. The beginning is shocking and arouses curiosity in the readers esp. the first two chapters. It compels them to keep turning the pages and move with the flow. I loved the chapter where the protagonists get married. However, as a reviewer I was stuck with several errors that could not be neglected.

The cover says ‘Murdered to mokshbut when I turned to look inside, it said ‘Murdered to moksha. This is something that put me off. I was starting to ignore this mistake when I came across another blunder. On page 8, there’s a line, ‘Nobody really tried to know the reason why he killed his wife.’ And much to my disappointment it was followed by this line, ‘Everyone was eager to know the reason but Aarav spoke nothing, absolutely nothing.’ Both the lines are completely opposite to each other.

I liked the poems (especially, I wish to die… Please, don’t ask me “why?”), and the questions like ‘what is euthanasia?’ added to the USP and overshadowed the so many grammatical errors in the book. The language used is simple and easy to comprehend. It sometimes, goes in a fast forward mode. The pace might be uneven but it manages to keep the readers glued. I can’t help noticing slight abruptness too yet the revelation note of Esha at the end of the story made me emotional as a reader.

The 194 page book comprises of 13 chapters and a long epilogue. It is undoubtedly appealing. The book has sheer realism which is the USP according to me. The narrative skills are indeed commendable. The chapter divisions are perfect and I liked all the titles too. I felt that at some places some events got stretched unnecessarily. But the story on the whole, is certainly different and soul stirring.

The too many dilemmas of Aarav’s life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in Murdered to Moksha. It is not every day that you find someone in jail for murdering his own wife.

To find out whether Aarav and Esha were unhappy in the matrimonial bond or not, what made their future so blurry, whether Aarav’s father’s rejection helped him grow as a person or not, what was Esha’s role in Aarav’s success, what made him murder her, was he really guilty or just a victim of circumstances; you will have to read the novel, Murdered to Moksha.

'Yay' Factors:
 The delicate issue which you have picked up in the story is quite appreciable.

'Nay' Factors: Few editing errors which can be considered equivalent to blunders.

I would still suggest it as a must read for anyone who likes to read mystery novels. A job well done Rohit, just be sure to get the book properly edited before it goes in the next print.

Rating: 3/5

Buying Links: Amazon | Flipkart

Sunday, June 8, 2014

12 Strokes of Life - Book Review

12 Strokes of Life
By Durgesh Shastri
Review By Ila Garg

The anthology comprising of 12 remarkably beautiful short stories, 12 Strokes of Life, by Durgesh Shastri has been published by Gargi Publishers. All the twelve stories are well written and deal with the various different themes, all knit with the thread of Life as we know it.

Let’s start with the cover. One word – Attractive! :D Well, yes the cover of the anthology, 12 Strokes of Life, is interesting, and not a mess. It has got appraisals from many readers and reviewers. The man moving ahead through the desert is alone, what can be a better definition of Life? We are moving through an invisible desert too and yes we are completely alone in this journey!

The blurb reads as, ‘12 strokes of life is a collection of 12 short stories. From the hilly terrains of Matheran to the IT hub of the country, from the historically rich city of Bidar to one of the fastest growing cities of India, Coimbatore, these stories are set in varied locations. From an overconfident youth longing for success to a determined old man termed insane by neighbours, from a married lady in search of true love to a young girl fighting against all odds to overcome her worst fears, the characters are very much alive and can be related to people around us. 

The stories belong to different genres and try to send across a message to the reader which is though everyone paints a unique picture of life based on their experiences; it never stops to amaze us. After all, life has infinite strokes. Read the 12 strokes of life to know the hues and shades of the journey of a few.

Durgesh Shastri is currently working as an Assistant Professor in GND Engineering College, Bidar. His many short stories and poems that are published online have received critical acclaim from some of the finest writers of the country. He is a voracious reader.

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 anthology.  

1. THE ANONYMOUS DONOR: This is a story of Kanha Agarwal and his wife Radha. The ending leaves the readers in awe mostly because of the suspense that is built up. The language is simple, engrossing, clearly a perfect story to start the anthology with. Quoting from the story, “The name Shiva appeared in their daily routine several times. She considered lovemaking a divine act, which put him off too. He considered sex to be a pleasure and wanted it to be wild.

2. A GRAVE MISTAKE: This story is mind boggling. A very common place subject, is tackled much intelligently, adding few elements of drama. The language is equally light, comprehensible, though engaging, and it takes you along with its characters. How Kunal shares a bond with his boss Saketh and how it becomes a grave mistake for one of them. Quoting from the story, “First three years had even earned him the best employee tag. Several girls at the work place and his locality were after him; his dynamic looks impressed them the most.

3. THE CAREFREE BUTTERFLIES: This story moves around the friendship of Suhasini and Charulata. How destiny changes their lives and how it affects both of them is well narrated in this story. This makes me feel sorry and inspires me to stay careful under all circumstances. Quoting from the story, “Someone was following her! Initially, she had ignored the dreadful thought. But, with each step forward, the dreadful feeling only grew stronger. She was already late from work that night. On getting down from the city bus, she walked straight for five minutes then took a right and a sudden left.”

4. DEEPAK’S SUPERSTITIONS: This story is essentially about the superstitions had Deepak had a firm belief in until things took a turn. I liked the way the story began. It is a nice read, with comical elements. It’s enough to tickle your bones and leave you with a smile in the end. Quoting from the story, “Never go for shave or haircut on Thursdays, Saturdays, & Sundays. This particular thought echoed in my mind. I looked at the calendar again for the 3rd time and reaffirmed that it was a Thursday indeed, and dropped the idea of a haircut.”

5. LAZY SUNDAY: Nice story, targeting at the reality shows that are soon gaining prominence in today’s fast paced world. The story moves around Cyrus and the Srivastavas, a family who was his Sunday companion. I liked the concept of the story and the ease with which it is delivered for the readers. It manages to make you chuckle at times too. Quoting from the story, “India’s got huge talent’ the talent hunt show’s auditions had begun. An 80 year old man was singing the famous ‘Kolaveri Kolaveri di’ in a shaky voice, dancing, and exhibiting his talent. He was accompanied by an old lady.”

6. THE LOST LADY: This left me in utter shock, especially its climax. A story that will appeal to all readers and will leave you asking for more. A lady that turned the whole office upside down, surely a story not to be missed! The language is interesting and flow is maintained. Quoting from the story, “I instructed the old lady to wait in the lounge and not to create any scene until my return. She ordered me to return in the next 30 minutes. There was a huge clock hanging on the wall. She sat there staring at it.

7. SWEET REVENGE: I was tongue - tied and out rightly appalled as I continued reading this one. 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 – Poor exploited by the Rich. I had goose bumps by the time I reached the end, though at the climax we see the things taking a turn and that will leave you with an evil grin. Quoting from one of the letters in the story, “It was dark, starless night. I sensed an unusual calmness in the surroundings. How would he take revenge? How painful it would be to receive a powerful hit on the head using a beer bottle? Will I be alive after that?

8. COMMUNICATION DISASTERS: This is the story of Sumit, a 23 year old unemployed engineer and his struggles to get a job. A nice and crisp story overall. Quoting from the story, “Seven months had passed without any success. The number of unsuccessful aspirants in our group was now reduced to twelve. All of them had an aggregate percentage of 55 or less. Many others who got a job had lesser aggregate than me.”

9. A MAGIC LOST: A tale moving around how a man overcame his shortcomings. It also made me a little sad. And perhaps the element of realism is its USP. A decent read. Quoting from the story, “The wind is always a crucial factor during kite flying. It was always available in the desired direction and in optimum levels, thus taking the kites to greater heights. Though I was always proud of my kites flying high in the sky, I doubted if that would be possible without the necessary support from one of the five vital elements of life.

10. ROMANCE IN MATHERAN: One of the best stories. It makes you emotional, and somehow you wish you could change it. Staying true to its title, it’s a blend of love and sufferings and utter devotion to the lover! The ending will leave you in tears. Quoting from the story, “Those words drained her excitement. She was on the verge of breakdown but controlled herself vastly. She promised herself that the day was not meant to be spoilt. She wouldn’t ruin his mood by shedding tears of pain, for she knew that the day would never come back in their life again.”

11. THE UNANSWERED QUESTION: A thrilling tale, moves at a comfortable pace and lets the readers feel every word. It makes you laugh and wonder at the same time. A roller coaster of emotions ranging from suspense to eagerness to reach the climax. Quoting from the story, “A man in his fifties boarded the bus and sat next to me. He was whitish with slightly brownish hair indicating that he dyed them regularly. He wore a white shirt untugged over a dark blue pant. His wrist watch was missing. He wore a grim look and was carrying a suitcase. I greeted him with a smile, but he ignored.”

12. THE UNFULFILLED WISH: A perfect ending for this anthology comes in the form of this story! It was an interesting story and laced with manifolds of emotions. Nice read for sure. Keeps the readers hooked, has ample amount of love, sacrifice, and apt emotions! It redefines the word ‘FOREVER’. Quoting from the story, “She knew that it would be impossible for him to live without her, but she wanted him to live on. She also knew very well that he would have definitely fulfilled her wish.”

Starting with an aptly written foreword by Harshita Srivastava, the book engulfs you within with its stories making you laugh, cry, and sometimes gives you a feel of being a detective while at other times it makes you feel helpless or strengthens your hope too. It takes you along into this journey of Life.

My personal favourites:
  • A Grave Mistake
  • The Carefree Butterflies
  • The Lost Lady
  • Sweet Revenge
  • Romance in Matheran
  • The Unfulfilled Wish 

Overall, it qualifies as a nice anthology especially for the readers who want something fresh to read!

Buy the book here: Homeshop18