Friday, January 29, 2021

Review- The Good Wizard by Prasun Roy


Badshah Bisht is a famous wizard, and the only person who can perform the dangerous “Dance of the Phoenix” act. Emperor Shah Jahan has honoured him for his acts.

When a deadly disease strikes Badshah and an evil magician attacks and takes over his home, the book containing the knowledge of the celebrated act is destroyed. Now it is only saved in Badshah's mind.

Badshah sets out to find someone who can help him safeguard his knowledge, and meets 11-year-old Titli, who wishes to become the first ever female magician. With little time left, the old wizard must train the vivacious and energetic Titli within the nick of time. She is his only hope.

Will Titli succeed in becoming the perfect disciple? Is there a cure available for the magician’s illness or will Shah Jahan lose his favourite wizard forever? Will The Good Wizard be able to reincarnate himself inside little Titli?

Release date: January 11th 2021
Published by: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Page numbers: 200


The only expectation I had from author Prasun Roy’s The Good Wizard is that I was hoping that I would get lost in this children’s fantasy story for a while and enjoy it. And that’s exactly what ended up happening.

The Good Wizard is an intriguing story about Badshah Bisht, an amazing wizard who starts losing his memory and on his quest to find an ailment for this, he ends up meeting the wonderful Titli who he takes under his wing and trains to be a magician like him. Author Prasun Roy has written an enjoyable story that children will adore because it has a bit of everything in it, but most importantly, it’s a good story.

I don’t know what I thought this book would be about but it ended up being a super quick and fun read that did it’s job of keeping in entertained and engrossed for a while. I would recommended this one to parents of young reads- I can see this becoming a beautiful story to narrate to kids.

*Note: A copy of this book was provided by Srishti Publishers and Distributors in exchange for an honest review. We thank them.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Review: The Hooligans of Kandahar by Joseph Kassabian


“Not Every War Story is Heroic”
During the peak of the Afghanistan War, a group of soldiers is dropped by helicopter into the remote mountains outside of Kandahar City. Mismanaged and overlooked by command, the squad must rely on each other to survive.

Their mission is to train and advise the Afghan National Police and help rebuild the country of Afghanistan. The Afghan Police station they are assigned to live in is falling apart and disease-ridden. Many of the police officers they are supposed to train are Taliban sleeper agents or the family of Taliban fighters. The ones that aren’t are often addicted to drugs, illiterate, or smuggling child slaves.

The squad is led by Slim, a Staff Sergeant in his late twenties who has so many mental issues his insanity is his most dominant personality trait. An alcoholic with a penchant for violent outbursts against both his own soldiers and the Afghans, he is more comfortable at war than at home.

Joseph Kassabian is the youngest and most junior fire team leader in the squad. He’s charged with leading a team of soldiers not even old enough to drink. He himself is only 21 years old. As a combat veteran from previous deployments with four years in the Army, he assumes he has seen it all. But he has no idea how bad things can get in war-torn Kandahar.

In the birthplace of the Taliban, some men lose their lives, some lose their sanity, and others their humanity. They are The Hooligans.

Acclaimed for its humorous, grim, sardonic, yet honest recollection of the Afghanistan war Hooligans of Kandahar is a Jarhead, and The Hurt Locker, meets I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

You’ll love The Hooligans of Kandahar if you like reading:

Military memoirs
War stories
Afghanistan war stories
Critical accounts of Afghanistan war
College or satirical humour

Release date: August 9th 2018
Published by: TCK Publishing
Page numbers: 258


It is not a secret that I like to read books set in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Previously, I have read books about the US Marine Corps deployed in Afghanistan. I have read about the pre and post mission which focuses on the anxiety that they face before going to another country and the depression they suffer from once they’re back home. The Hooligans of Kandahar is such a unique non-fiction read, in that it focuses on exactly what goes on when these brave hearts travel miles and miles to remove the Taliban from power.

This is by no means a book for the faint hearted. With incidents that will leave the reader feeling heartbroken and shattered which is easy because we’re just reading about it, I found it very difficult to imagine someone go through what Joseph Kassabian went through, I don’t even want to imagine what the author must have felt while penning down all the devastating experiences that are bound to leave one feeling lost and destroyed. Nonetheless, as far as this seems appropriate, this is one astonishingly put down work.

This memoir took me a very long time to get into mainly because I am super slow with e-books, but it is interesting, engrossing and will completely blow you away with everything that you get to know about humanity, service, brotherhood, patriotism, terrorism and life in general. I did find the book to be too long but as I got to the end, I wanted to know more because the narration made me believe I was part of the superb platoon.

If like me, you like to explore books set in Afghanistan, this one gives a whole new perspective from the eyes of an outsider who is there for work yet feels belonged. A sad but true story, The Hooligans of Kandahar broke and mended my heart at the same time.

*Note: A copy of this book was provided by TCK Publishing in exchange for an honest review. We thank them.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Review: The Lover in My Dreams by Shivani Singhal


Naina is a new-age girl with many dreams and a goal in life. But her parents are all set to get her hitched right after her MBA. Naina pines to live and enjoy her life, and has absolutely no faith in her parents’ choice.
On top of everything, Naina’s life becomes a rollercoaster ride when her family priest foretells that Naina will marry her lover from the previous birth; still, the marriage will be an arranged one!
Meanwhile, Raghav – a charming, chivalrous, and almost irresistible guy – enters her life thunderously. And Naina, unwittingly, feels herself drawn to him for reasons she cannot understand.
Naina’s love life takes twists and turns in a way that they put her in a holy mess. And everything seems to be related to the mystery of her past life.
Will Naina be able to find her true love? What mystery does her past life hold? What if she marries the wrong person?

Release date: January 15th 2021
Published by: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Page numbers: 216


With heaps of family drama, glimpses into a fun and happening college life, an arranged marriage, faith in the divine and reincarnation, strong patriarchal grounding, coupled with a love story that focuses on a character not often seen in writing, The Lover in My Dreams would make for a perfect Hindi soap opera. As a book, it isn’t bad at all- it is rather quite entertaining and engrossing for the most part.

This is the story of Naina who is like that one girl in college that we all know who comes with a rule book from home. All her life, she has tried hard to please her family and done what they have said, although the girl is dying to live life on her own terms. Naina is naturally incredible at hiding stuff, and somewhat at being hidden as well. A character that was well done but rarely relatable, Naina did seem immature and way too naive for her own good, at times. Then again, she’s fresh out of college and forced to get married by her family, so it’s understandable.

Having zero experience with boys, she is suddenly getting attention from Raghav, a character who I just couldn’t figure out. She is drawn to Vireen who also gave me negative vibes, but at least their relationship was well explained. While the characters in this story are your desi favourites, I personally never found them interesting. The reincarnation part of it was also a tad unbelievable for me, but the way the author dealt with it in the end was quite nice, honestly.

Overall, this book will really make for a great TV drama, because of how typical yet engrossing it is. Not a bad read at all, some aspects of this could have been better. Author Shivani Singhal has written a complicated story in a simple manner, which is great because that makes it a quick read.

*Note: A copy of this book was provided by Srishti Publishers in exchange for an honest review. We thank them.

Review: Broken by Love by Shalaka Nadhe


Sushmita and Sumit complement each other perfectly and are surely a match made in heaven. They live life as it comes and make the most of each moment. Raghav is a business tycoon who has the world at his feet. Having overcome a difficult childhood, devoid of love, he decides to throw himself into expanding his father’s business. When Raghav sees Sushmita, he cannot get her out of his mind. Despite trying not to, he falls in love with her, losing all control over his feelings. His love slowly becomes an obsession, and he can do anything to win Sushmita over… anything. Broken by Love is an intense tale of love, deep passion and the dark world of obsession. It is an emotional story that re-kindles faith in togetherness and the eternal power of true love.

Release date: January 2021
Published by: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Page numbers: 160


Author Shalaka Nadhe’s Broken by Love was a first of its kind read for me because of how intensely and seriously the act of stalking is taken up in it. This book is all about the lengths one would go to, to achieve something they want, focusing on the fact that the mind really is incredible- you set your mind to something and you will get it, and you will do anything- literally anything- to have it your way. While a very powerful and sometimes uncomfortable read, Broken by Love had me on the edge of my seat throughout.

Happy married to the love of her life Sumit and a heavenly mother to her son Amey, the description of Sushmita’s mundane life seemed rather boring to me at first, but once you start to really invest in the story, you understand exactly why each and every detail is necessary to show how a second can change everything for someone or even one person- Raghav in this case. A short and gripping read, this one is also serious and emotional. How author Shalaka Nadhe has managed to write an engrossing story in the most detailed and precise manner possible in less than 160 pages is beyond my imagination and I find it applauding.

Broken by Love is not just a sad love story. It is about the rather ignored but dangerous act of stalking, lack of love in the lives of innocent children and its consequences in adulthood, psychological problems, the fleetingness of life, emotional trauma, mind games, and then comes a story that’s heart shattering but so well done. This is a whole package that I would surely recommend.

*Note: A copy of this book was provided by Srishti Publishers in exchange for an honest review. We thank them.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Review- Dystopia by Manoj V Jain


How was your journey to Dystopia? Was it full of joy, freedom, rebellion, anger, shame or guilt?


Children start their travels in the blissful kingdom of Shambala, a beautiful land, where they are protected and taken care of. They enter Shambala as little infants, trusting their parents and caregivers. The children continue on their journey, skipping along the path till they reach a dark forbidding gate, which like some powerful vacuum sucks them inside and into the next kingdom of Dystopia. I am their guide there and I will oversee their journey in this new land.

In his latest book, Manoj Jain discusses themes of childhood pain, growing up, teenage angst, role identities and parenting.

The story, guided by the spirit of Dystopia, is set in a small dinner party, a reunion among five friends. During the course of the evening, they uncover the source of various past wounds and resolve why a young girl had to kill herself at eighteen.

Release date: August 6th 2018
Published by: Independently published
Page numbers: 154


Having read author Manoj V Jain’s The B.N.O and Meeting Yama, I was honestly looking forward to reading Dystopia as well, another book I won in the giveaway by @writingbuddha. Even though I now have immense respect for the author, I had no expectations whatsoever from this book and the summary itself sounded just about interesting to me. Little did I know that this would be another book of the author that I’d not just finish in a day but be fully immersed in.

A book that’s less than 150 pages short or long depending on how you look at it, Dystopia is narrated in a manner so astonishing that even though the author clearly mentions that it could get confusing, it doesn’t because of how marvellously it is done. Certain parts of this book are narrated by Dystopia which is the voice and soul of adolescent. Other parts follow the story of five school friends who meet after years to reconnect, with flashbacks from their younger days. Short reads are very difficult, in the sense that they tend to leave something behind, something unsaid and undone... but Manoj V Jain has done it in the most skilful and precise manner where you will know everything about everyone and so much more in a book that has less than five chapters.

This is one of those books that no matter what I say, it will not be enough and mostly importantly, it will not do justice to the absolutely exquisite, unique and incredible story that is Dystopia. An ending that will leave the reader feeling shattered yet fulfilled, this is a slightly dark and deep read that’s also an emotional rollercoaster. Luckily for me, this is just the way I like my stories, so I am thrilled that it somehow found its way on my shelf. I am speechless- this was a marvellous read.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Review- Meeting Yama by Manoj V Jain


From the moment we are born, we start our journey towards death. Some walk slowly, others run towards it, some skip and dance their way there, while others crawl.

In his seventh book, author Manoj Jain dwells on the uncomfortable topic of death. Interspersed with stories from Indian mythology, Meeting Yama is set in the mystical city of Varanasi where all answers are given if one is willing to listen.

Amrit, Rajat and Surya, three visitors meet each other in this city and find resolutions to the issues that they carry within them.

If you are reading this, then there is probably something in the book that is meant for you.

Release date: November 9th 2020
Published by: Notion Press
Page numbers: 236


I won a copy of Meeting Yama by Manoj V. Jain in a giveaway hosted by @writingbuddha. I had no expectations from the book; in fact, I wasn’t even planning on picking it up anytime soon, but something about the book pulled me and I gave in. It was while reading that I realised I had previously read the author’s The B.N.O and even though I recall very little about it, I remember that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Speaking of Meeting Yama, it is the story of the spiritual journey of three different and relatable men, Amrit, Surya and Rajat, who find themselves in Varanasi, each there for a reason that even they aren’t aware of but each leaves with some much needed closure which was explained really well. The beautiful glimpses into the effervescent and pious city of Varanasi coupled with amazing and absorbing stories from Indian mythology and the fast-paced yet detailed glance into the lives of our three main characters made this book fascinating and delightful.

While spirituality and religion are quite complex, require immense understanding and contemplation, this book entwines the two in the world of fiction which makes it rather easy and simple to both read and understand. A few years ago, I would never have given a second glance to this book, but the interest I am developing in spirituality since the past few months made me want to explore it and this gave me a kick to delve deeper into it and embark on my spiritual journey.

Death has been a topic that somehow soothes me because of the immense reading I do on it, thanks to philosophy. This book takes it up in a simple manner that makes Meeting Yama a fantastic read. I would recommend this if you know little about spirituality and wish to explore- its a good start.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Review- Beautiful She Was by Shamela Yousuff

Release date: August 20th 2020


Beautiful She Was is a collection of poems by debut writer Shamela Yousuff. A tiny read, this collection is divided into three parts titled Thoughts, Life and Not any more. While I do like reading poetry although I don’t always understand it, Shamela’s poetry was simple to read, easy to interpret and was simply beautiful, mainly because it was so relatable.

We have all spent sleepiness nights overthinking about our worth, our ways and what not. The poems in this collection bring to life those days when you know you are going through something but you have no idea how to express it. Shamela has done a beautiful job in trying to describe the way our mind works, from torture to gratitude to careless days and profound realisations- this one has it all, expressed in the simplest manner.

I could see a narrative being built up as I read the poetry and I know for a fact that if and when the author decides to share a story, it will be a good one. This glimpse into her mind was quite good, so more of it is surely welcome and will be just as good- if not more. A hyper quick and relatable read, this one keeps the reader intrigued.

Note: A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. We thank them for the same.

Review- Patna Blues by Abdullah Khan

                                                                    BOOK SUMMARY:

Arif is the son of a sub-inspector in Patna. His once prosperous landowning family has slipped low down the class ladder. Arif ’s sole ambition in life is to crack the civil service examination and become an IAS officer. He believes this will restore the family’s fortunes and works hard at his studies.

Until his first glimpse of Sumitra, a voluptuous long-haired beauty. Married, Hindu and several years older than him, she is wrong for him in every way. It is the beginning of an infatuation that will consume his life.

‘Reading Patna Blues is like pedalling your way through a littleknown India. It is certain to fill you with inexplicably candid and absolutely stunning tales. Patna Blues marks an impressive debut and brings us an important voice.’
—Anees Salim

‘I am familiar not only with the places where this novel is set, the cramped rooms, the names of shops, or the streets, but, it seems to me, even the people, their little joys, their struggles, their often irrational hopes and desires, their guilt, and their beauty. Part literary novel, part-pulp fiction, Patna Blues is a report from a rarely seen world in Indian writing in English, the contemporary lives of provincial Muslims.’
—Amitava Kumar 

Release date: 31st August 2018
Published by: Juggernaut
Page numbers: 296


I take pride in proclaiming my love for reading books that focus on Muslim families and Islam in general, but Patna Blues made me realise that I haven’t read many books that revolve around an Indian Muslim family. This was an eye opener which helped me understand the struggles of a lower middle class Indian household and gave me a fast paced yet meticulous glimpse into the bustling and wondrous city of Patna which has me tempted to visit it. This was a perfect book because it had everything I look for in one- in-depth glimpses into places, mentions of appetising food, importance of family and friends with the right amount of drama that makes it believable, a romance cooking on the sidelines, poetry, incredible character development and a plot that kept me engrossed.

Patna Blues is the story of Arif Khan who struggles day in and day out to fulfil his loving Abba’s dream of seeing his son become an IAS officer. From his childhood to adulthood, we follow this hardworking, respectable, at times unconventional and incredible man as he keeps trying to make it big while life keeps testing him. Living with his family of eight stupendously developed characters added charm and profundity to the novel. Arif falls in love with an elder Hindu woman who he can’t let go of. The way this romance was portrayed was so impressive that even though it screams wrong from the get-go, it seemed right, even to the reader. That’s when you know you have stumbled upon a gem.

Abdullah Khan has written a charming and terrific novel, many parts of which reminded me of the works of Khaled Hosseini. The writing was ravishing and the storytelling so sensational, it made me want to keep reading the book. Although Patna Blues perfectly well for me, I see how some readers would be unsatisfied with it. I, for one, was left teary-eyed and smiling at the same time- which is magical. The minute I laid my eyes on this book, I knew I had to read it without even knowing the title or the author, so when I was contacted me to review it, I was overwhelmed. What a wonder it is when a book ends up being more than what you thought it’d be!

If you have admired The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, or if like to read about Muslims, or you love to read about someone who is way different from you yet you have a deep connect with on a personal level and if you love to explore literature from different parts of India, do consider picking this one up.

Note: A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. We thank them for the same.

Review- Handcuffed to Love to Yuktha Asrani

                                                                    BOOK SUMMARY:

Saanvi Vijay Malhotra is a woman with a dream. She is feisty, smart, and witty, but her privileged life in New Delhi, India, doesn’t match her ambitions. She moves to New York to pursue a career in journalism with stars in her eyes andher heart on her sleeve. Sean Roger Wilson is a ruthless NYPD detective. He is a charmer to the T, and he is any woman’s dream man. A New Yorker to the core, he never plays by the book and believes in living in the moment. It Takes Two To Tango! As fate has it, Sean handcuffs Saanvi — figuratively — in a whirlwind of passion, romance, and seduction. Sparks fly whenever they are within two feet of each other, leading to an overwhelming and alluring pursuit. Sean knows Saanvi spells trouble, but he loves living on the edge. Despite his roguish facade, Saanvi is determined to capture his heart. A tragic episode threatens to rip them apart. Will Saanvi meet her fate with Sean, or will she leave New York brokenhearted?

Release date: January 1st 2020
Published by: BookMedia


It is not a surprise anymore that I don’t really like to read romance novels. So while I was hesitant to pick up Yuktha Asrani’s Handcuffed to Love, the author’s persistence and the promising premise of an interracial love story made me give in and read the book. It was quite a refreshing change from the books I normally pick up, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this fun, fast-paced, fabulous and extremely well written book. The writing is what made me want to keep going back to the book- it was simple, flawless and simply awe-inspiring.

Handcuffed to Love is the love story of Indian girl Saanvi who goes to New York to study journalism, while at the same time working an internship there and forming a circle of friends who are supportive and close-knit. She meets the handsome detective Sean in a diner once. Sparks begin to fly and love happens. While the story is pretty predictable from here, the romance was well portrayed. It wasn’t slow burn, nor was it face paced- it was the right amount of meaningful conversations, interesting dates and some very hot scenes which will leave a lover of romance novels feeling like they have invested in the right book.

While each and every character from Saanvi and Sean to their friends and family was well developed and had a unique personality of their own, I did find the plot itself- especially the side story of the detective and his enemy to be a tad dramatic and exaggerated. Conflicts are great in books but sometimes, a clean slate especially when a certain aspect gets predictable- works really well. Other than this, however, the book was quite a good and enjoyable read.

Desi household drama, desi girl meets a foreign boy, a detective running behind a murder, sweet and hot romance... this book pretty much has it all. I can see how it would seem like the same old to a regular romance reader, even I found it rather predictable in some ways, but it was still quite an action packed, interesting and enjoyable read.

Note: A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. We thank them for the same.