Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Café Latte - Book Review

Café Latte
By Amit Shankar
Review By Ila Garg

The anthology comprising of 18 remarkable short stories, Café Latte, has been published by Vitasta Publishing Pvt. Ltd. The collection is penned down by the author, Amit Shankar, who is earlier known for his novels titled Flight of the Hilsa, Chapter Eleven, and Love is Vodka – A Shot Ain’t Enough. The cover of Café Latte is simple yet beautiful. The coffee cups gathered together symbolise the many different stories compiled together in this book. The use of pink and green color is interesting too.

In addition to writing, the author is an avid music buff and a great exponent of the guitar. His genre includes rock, jazz and blues. We often see a reflection of this in his stories.

The blurb reads as “We are brought up listening to and reading stories, which makes us form a clichéd framework of expectations and concepts about life. Café Latte takes you on a tantalizing foray into the unusual with some refreshing and some startling narrations. The stories cover a broad spectrum of people and events and will have you turning the pages eagerly for the twist in the end.
So shed the mundane, become a fearless traveller and savor a fresh approach towards the enigma called Life.”

Each story is instilled with realism at its best. Different hues of death are portrayed efficiently. The language is simple and comprehensive. Details are also well written. On the whole, the collection is nicely compiled and stories are engrossing.

Although, as I began reading the first story in the collection, Temple Of The King, I was in two minds. I felt that the plot wasn’t that extraordinary. However, I soon found myself enjoying as I reached the second one in the compilation, 26 Down Express. The climax left me shocked. However, I felt I’m back to square zero while reading Let Me Help You Die.

The two elements of surprise and shock are well knit in this collection by the author. Expressions from heart are always real and pure, same is the case here in Café Latte. The narrative is quite strong. Sometimes the pace gets fast, though the emotions are well maintained. True reality is pictured which pinches you somewhere and shows you the mirror unto society. Code of Honor is one such story that described the life of an army man in all its sanctity. The Jazz Player is one of the saddest stories while The Black Widow left me shaken. To write a convincing paranormal fiction is not an easy task after all. Café Latte thus leaves your eyes moist with tears.

Not all stories are the same, though. With their predictable ending, Temple Of The King, Let Me Help You Die, Smart TV and few more left me questioning the author’s earlier bestselling status.

The stories end with a lot of subtle questions that leave your mind ticking. The author has made very interesting and keen observations before penning down each story. Kudos to the writer for his brilliant attempt and the well execution of the experimental writings!

In a world driven by technology, people have limited reading time, short concentration span and more than enough things on their platter to leave them distracted and thus unlikely to pick a novel. But Café Latte being a short story collection gains some brownie points here. The book is also a different effort as none of the stories is romantic or nowhere near to it. The book attempts to glorify death, loss and pain associated with it.

This book is recommended to all readers who are bored of reading romance.

Rating: 3.5/5 

This Book Review is in association with The Bookaholics - www.thebookaholics.in

Buying Links: InfibeamuReadAmazonLandmarkFlipkartHomeshop18

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A conversation with Amit Shankar :)

He is the author of three national bestsellers; Flight of the Hilsa, Chapter Eleven & Love is Vodka - A Shot Ain't Enough. He is an avid music buff and a great exponent of the guitar. 

Here he lets his readers know a little more about himself and his journey so far. 

1. Tell us something about yourself and your book?

Nothing in specific, just a loner, who loves to blabber, guard his space and totally in love with writing, coffee, rock and jazz. During my professional career spanning for more than 14 years, I have donned the hats of a copywriter, creative director and a CEO.  Café Latte is my fourth title; my first collection of short stories. Prior to this, I detested the format of short stories. Never read them or even attempted writing. And here I am, now completely in love with them. What makes Café Latte special? Well, it is the only compilation, which explores and romatices ‘death’ unfurling its various hues. A majority of the stories showcase the true beauty of the only truth; death.

2.    Why Vitasta Publishing?

Why not would be my question to you. Can you recall the pubisher of Godfather or Gone with the wind? Moreover, I can never forget that Vitasta was the first one to sign me. With four titles down the line, guess we are on equal footing. Maybe it is time to seek and explore more.

3.    What inspired you to write this particular collection?

Simple, the desire to do something different from my earlier forms, titles and genres. Also, I wanted to make myself love something I hated all my life—short stories and then to excel. Read the collection, if you havent by now, and you will find it to be refreshingly different—UNUSUAL, as I term it. The reviews have been more than heart warming. Please check them out on my FB page. The response has been exceptional, both in terms of critical accalim and the numbers.

4.    How was the journey in this writing field so far?

I have always been a writer. Earlier I used to write love letters for my friends, then compelling sales stories for brands and finally, fiction. I find the journey to be enjoyable, exhilirating and exuberant.

5.    What do you think is your biggest strength when it comes to writing?

I have the courage to go where no one does. This results in telling offbeat stories. From Flight of the Hilsa to Café Latte, all of them have not been really mainstream, if you know what I mean. When the writing circuit was abuzz with love stories with IIM romance churning mill working overtime, my first title approached the grave and serious topic of demystifying happiness and that too from a woman’s POV. The second one, Chapter 11 peeked inside the shiny corporate façade juxtaposing it with our crumbling value system. Love is Vodka analysed ‘love’ thorough a microscope sans the lens of morality. And café Latte, is now enthralling readers with a bag full of UNUSUAL observations and narration.

6.    What is your least favourite part of the writing process?

I complete the manuscript so fast that I get no time to figure out the favourite or the least favourite part. Café Latte was written in four days flat. An interesting thing, what you read is the first and final draft. I never write and revisit my writing. Never let anyone to edit it. Just proof check by someone and it’s good to go. I prefer content over form factor.

7.    Share some of your interesting memories you lived while writing this book.

An apartment on the 12 floor, five days and four nights, three bottles of Glenlivet, loads of carrots and apples and macbook air. Of course my writing glasses and rubik cube.

8.    If you were to describe your book in one line, what would it be?

Nothing like anything you would have ever read, UNUSUAL.

9.    What are some things you like to do when you’re not writing?

Cook, love sitting at a café watching people, re arrange furniture, and of course strum my guitar.

10.  Readers need an author they can look upto, not a proud author. Few months ago, you publically made fun of Book Reviewers and now when your book is in the market, you are seeking reviews for your book. How far do you think your statement was justified? You wrote, “Can’t write to save your life? Become a Book Reviewer.” Don’t you think you should apologise for your words?

“Lions make leopord tame
Yeah, but but not change his spots”
The whole context of context is lost when it is taken out of the context.

11.  It may be unfair to ask but we’d love to know your personal favourites from ‘Café Latte’?

The Jazz Player. I like it for its strains of meloncholy, the interplay of life’s cruelty picthced against hope.

12.  How do you feel when someone disagrees with something you have written?

I appreciate different POVs. How boring would life be if everything was uniform? No wonder I hated my school uniform. I am one of the few writers who psot reviews as it is. When I had launched Chapter 11, a journalist tore it apart in her review. I sent her a mail thanking her for her time and expressing her point of view. She was flabbergasted.  Not that I am trying to prove a point but the fact is criticism does not affect me as I write for my self. If readers love it, it’s double whammy.

13.  Tell us something about your future projects.

A big canvas, crime thriller. This wuld be my first time in this genre. Trying my best to make it different from my earlier four titles.

14.  Anything else that you would like your readers to know about you?

I'm the devil with no makeup.

15.  Lastly, is there a message you would like to convey your readers?

“The lover of life's not a sinner
The ending is just a beginner
The closer you get to the meaning
The sooner you'll know that you're dreaming
So it's on and on and on, oh it's on and on and on
It goes on and on and on, Heaven and Hell”


 We are brought up listening to and reading stories, which makes us form a clichéd framework of expectations and concepts about life. Café Latte takes you on a tantalizing foray into the unusual with some refreshing and some startling narrations. The stories cover a broad spectrum of people and events and will have you turning the pages eagerly for the twist in the end.

So shed the mundane, become a fearless traveller and savor a fresh approach towards the enigma called Life.

Friday, September 5, 2014

When a Laywer walks down the aisle - Book Review

When a Lawyer walks down the aisle
By Amrita Suresh
Review By Ila Garg

When a Lawyer walks down the aisle, is a novel by the writer Amrita Suresh, who is earlier known for When a Lawyer falls in Love. The book is published by Radiance Publications. The cover is simple and soothing to the eyes. The title is attractive too. Use of bright colours and image of two penguins in a wedding dress, add to the reader’s interest.

There is no proper blurb. The author’s bio is missing too, as well as the acknowledgement. The presentation of this book is not up to the mark and it left me disappointed. Yet, I somehow began reading and my opinion gradually began to change.

When a Lawyer walks down the aisle, revolves around a young group of lawyers namely Sonali, Ankur, Vyas, Souvik, and Jaishree. From the very first page, the novelist manages to capture the reader interest.

The story begins at a graveyard and the spookiness continues till the end. In that sense, the novel is a blend of serious and comical episodes. It’s a witty ride of culprit-hunting, who was the murderer of an octogenarian lady. An insight into the lives of lawyers working on a case which is full of mysteries and perfectly involves supernatural elements as well as the old forgotten knowledge of Upanishads, Hindu Mythology, Zen Buddhism, and Psychometry. A fresh tale, with a refreshing plot that doesn’t bore you for even a microsecond.

However, not further revealing the plot, I would like to mention that this tale doesn’t involve solely the lawyers. We have several struggling actors too and we have villians, we have common people, we even have a candle light march. It has so many subtle plots woven in it that you can’t help but enjoy the book. Apart from the solving of one major murder case, it has given a balanced space to misunderstandings, life of struggling actors, theatre groups, haunted house, friendship, love, divorce cases, and a message to live life when you can.

The book has more to it than meets the eye. It somehow retains the element of humor from beginning till the end. It makes you wonder about the author’s background and how she managed to say this much in such a short space. The author, Amrita Suresh, in that way seemed well read to me and left me impressed! I was awestruck to read several bold lines and the mention of things like porn. And on top of it, the secret fairy revealed to me that the author is a proud mother of a very naughty kid!

The too many twists and turns in the case, is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in When a Lawyer walks down the aisle. Another reason that would keep you glued to it would be the couple of Souvik and Jaishree and what their future will be.

This 164 page book is not a regular tale. The book has a few grammatical errors, punctuations missing and several spelling errors too. The books lacks in proofreading and a proper typeset. There are major name goof ups too like Aditi Adithi, and Sonu Sonlu. Apart from this, it is very entertaining and brings to forth some real life problems too which we need to understand to live life happily and cherish the rare moments. For me it was a quick read, as I completed the novel in some 2-3 hours. 

‘Yay’ Factors: The story line and the characters. 

‘Nay’ Factors: The presentation of the book. The proofreading and editing errors. 

My Verdict: To find out whether Ankur, Vyas, Sonali and the others are able to solve the case or not, Jaishree and Souvik unite or not, what happens to Mrs. Shireen Lakdawala, who is Tara Bhansal, does Pavan manages to fulfill his dream of becoming the lead actor, and is Vyas able to find his compatible partner; you will have to read the novel, When a Lawyer walks down the aisle. 

I would like to wish the author all the best for future endeavors. 

Ratings: 3.75/5 (I would have given it a 4 or 4.25 if the proofreading was done properly and the presentation was taken care of.)

Buying Links: AmazonFlipkartInfibeam