Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Conquest of the East – Royal Crown Returns by R Durgadoss – a book review

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa
  • Genre: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9789353332600, 9353332605

I was really happy to see a work on the unsung heroes of the South in terms of mythology and history put together and this is very well done story with the Chola history intertwined to make it a historical fiction. Thanks to the author Dr.  R Durgadoss.

The characterization of Surya the hero and the final chapter are an ode to the way they armed warriors of those times actually lived in those era of Cholas. The background and the implication of his history also is like spicing up the story to a great bit. The author has taken pains to research the war tactics being used those times and also those cultural issues that comes in terms of relationships the marriages and the customs that prevailed there on.

For example there was a slice of live in relationship which if we take it in today’s age must have been too good in terms of societal reformation. The kings marrying second time after war victories is also well documented.

The background of the building the Big temple and the city of Gangai Konda Cholapuram and the jewels which were supposed to be a part of Chola dynasty keeps the story well knitted across the time line with the character of Surya fitting in seamlessly.

The author has taken liberties and it fits well in terms of characterisation and I must add this has a script for a movie for the twists and turns that the author makes us live in.

The naval warfare technology and the character of Surya are well intertwined to get the story the pace it deserves and adds to the overall story telling. There is war fare, there is strategy, there is romance and they are mixed in a concoction for the reader to enjoy them.

A nice fast paced read The Conquest of the East is a must read and to be frank you will finish this in one go for sure.

To pick up your copy go to Amazon or Flipkart.

Senthilkumar

The Code of the Manavas by Arpit Bakshi – a book review

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa
  • Genre: Foreign Language Study
  • ISBN: 9789353041205, 9353041201
  • Pages: 295

The author in this first of the series has tried to go into sci-fi mode with the background of mythology and it looks like reading the past into the future. Ideally as we are looking into an uncertain future, take the Mars Mission for example, it makes it imperative for humans to look for new vistas of emigration if I may use the word.

Here it’s the same with Krishna and team trying to save the world Bhoomi while there is big hack happening to destroy the earth. The pace could have been better and its gets more technical and things like that for sometime, that the story could have been faster is obviously at the end.  Ofcourse even for the protagonist the time is of the essence.

As the story gathers pace we are waiting for some real happenings that could change the way for the better. There is a lot of things which could have sped up the pace of the read.

A good attempt but lags behind in pace and somewhere is a retelling of some of the Mahabharata instances straight with names so similar its hard to negate that feeling.

Look forward to a tighter leash in the next edition of the trilogy.

Senthilkumar

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison by Devdutt Pattanaik – a book review

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • Genre: History of Religion, Hinduism, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
  • ISBN: 9789353332303, 9353332303
  • Edition: 2018

This is a laborious exercise ideally because the context is different. The other side of the comparing these two works is tough because they are totally having different approaches to target segment. It also is important to understand the length and breadth of the story are widely different. The fact that the characters continue to Mahabharata from Ramayana is also a pointer to the similarities and how they are a continuous set of instances that make this grand story come alive.

I read with interest the snippet like comparisons by Devdutt Pattanaik where he has put it as My playful comparison, (still wonder why it’s playful) there are enough and more comparisons you could take away right from the childless fathers in Dasaratha to Shantanu to sorrowing parents in Dasaratha to even Pandavas after the war.

We also get to see quite a few instances in terms of geography and history or the narration by rishis, etc.

But given that author has taken liberty for the time of the authorship of both the epics, I would have loved to differ. For example, the Big Temple in Tamilnadu is over 2000 years old and the devotional movement in their time was as big as anything that is covered elsewhere.

One more I noticed was the Greek and Buddhist comparisons, that are totally different and the context in which those thrived also makes for comparisons.

I was also not able to see the Ram vs Krishna connect or comparison here. That would have made it all the more interesting since the author has given very few instances of the comparison in a perspective of things. Those are the celebrated characters in the whole scheme of things. That Mahabharata has a Bhagavad Geetha in it has not be taken into consideration.

I think a body of work of such grandeur and vastness in both cases inspite of being in Sruthi mode thats hear say to being written so well after long, will constitute similarities with human beings and Gods in an intersection of game of life.

That women in both the epics have cast a shadow is irrefutable, that of Sita and Panchali, but then when you see these as just stories it would get you to this connect only. These are imageries for spiritual existance and at some places the author puts them concretely.

That there are multiple versions that have made these epics into a reckoning literature in their own right, this will also have its way of reflecting the time that the authors lived in.

Infact this is also happening now as we see multitude versions of Mahabharat and Ramayana from different authors and different perspectives from different characters than being rendered by Valmiki or Vyasa.

This is quite a study of contrast and yes you could open any page and read this in case you want to because like I mentioned earlier these are snippets and there are almost 56 instances that the author takes us through and they are small but important to note.

I am only cautious about some issues like Vedic period and Brahminism that the author takes undue liberty with. It’s like saying there was no gravity or something till Newton discovered it. One instance he says this is because of the Panini’s work of grammar came in at one certain point in time. I am unable to understand if that were the case would everyone be using the language without any sense till then. I think that is wrong way to reference the language part. Sangam literature in Tamil is far older in that case going by inscriptions.

Anyway an attempt in bringing the similarities which will continue to exist even today. You write a plot and then you can be sure that was there in Mahabharata or Ramayana.

One thing I have noticed is from giving the stories its due to now getting to liberal interpretations Devdutt Pattanaik has come a long way. Well you cant find fault with this its the way the epics have allowed itself to be retold.

Thank you Flipkart for sending in the copy and you can buy this here.

Senthilkumar

The Tree Bears Witness: A Birbal Mystery book by Sharath Komarraju – a book review

tree bears witness

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Westland (17 November 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9386850443
  • ISBN-13: 978-9386850447
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm

This is a wonderful thriller with the background of the Akbar and his famous and favourite courtier Mahesh Das popularly known as Birbal. There is a murder in the Palace and the murdered is one of the guest from Rajputs called Sujjamal.

Akbar has this responsibility given to none other than his trusted courtier Birbal. The best part is the victim is the brother of one of the new Rajput bride Hina Kunwari and she has just come into the palace.

Now the thing is if this murder is not cracked that might have a lot of repercussions for the Emperor to high stakes political issues with the Rajputs and other leaders in the region. And also time is of the essence and the Emperor cannot wait for the crime to be wrapped in suspense on who did it and as such gives Birbal two days to get the murderer.

The story is well narrated with instances that has the readers hooked to the last page. Ofcourse the fact that there was no witness and how there was no witness are all well taken up by Birbal as he builds up his case in the short time that he has at his disposal.

The time he spends with the guards at the place who are a part of the suspect list and the stories that he hears from the older man gives him a bit of hint in making the tree a witness.

The story is how Birbal gets to crack the case with all the suspects involved and help Akbar regain his respect with the new bride makes for an interesting Sherlock story. For once the tree becomes a witness and helps solve a murder mystery.

Well narrated and fast paced the story is planted in a nice setting on the Akbar era and it makes for an easy understanding of the characters.

Worth a read if you are into mystery novels. Pick your book here.. Amazon | Flipkart

I am M-M-Mumbai by Rishi Vohra – a book review

I am M-M-Mumbai by Rishi Vohra

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications; 1 edition (2018)
Language:
English
ISBN-10: 9386455706
ISBN-13: 978-9386455703 

I am M-M-Mumbai is a breezy read and has a very simple to talk tone that makes its a single sitting read. Stammering and you know you might think about another hero in Bollywood. Coming together of things make it for the hero in this scheme of things.

The stammering of the hero is all that he needs to overcome and this could be well anything in our life to overcome. A motivational positive story of an upcoming actor is well presented in a straight forward manner. May be the background of the author has some element of coincidences being revealed to the readers. The many facets of Mumbai come to the fore during the story telling.

Sometimes its a bit predictive, but the characters hold on to their own right from the protagonist to the circle of characters around him. One thing I liked about this is the story could well be a negative of what all happens in the Bollywood but then this is a whiff of fresh air in terms of the people presented here.

Some of the incidents are quite relatable and that we can easily identify with. I liked the way the story moved on and the characters in a very positive way, given that you can write so much of negative things around Bollywood.

The author does a great service to the goodness of human being,  taking it for granted and every time there could have been a disaster, he get a seamless character to help the protagonist and also use a handicap to make it better for Rudra.

The marriage of the childhood sweethearts in the story, is a bit bollywoodesque if you ask me, but then given the authors proximity to bollywood it’s was quite expected.

I would recommend you to pick it up for some whiff of fresh air and a dose of positive vibes in your life and you will think that the world is after all not as bad as portrayed.

Like I said earlier the book finishes up so fast may be because some places are predictable. But then that’s ok with some social messaging.

So go here to pick up your copy Amazon | Flipkart

Thanks to the author for sending a copy to review and hope he has many more stories to tell. (This is the first time I am reading his work.)

Senthilkumar Rajappan

‘The Wise Man Said’ by Priya Kumar – a book review

 

 

the-wise-man-said-original-imaetvddgybnajza

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Books That Inspire
  • Genre: Religion & Spirituality
  • ISBN: 9788193391204, 8193391209
  • Edition: 1, 2017

So its again a wonderful opportunity to review after having read the book ‘The Wise Man Said’ by Priya Kumar.

This is a stellar work in terms of getting so many nuggets of wisdom from far and wide with the character of the Wise  Man through his diary. I am sure you would not dare to take this trip unless we have the time as our investment to go the distance and learn things and sometimes unlearn it the hard way.

The chance meeting with the wise man probably was destined to be since we get to know a lot of stories from all around the world in its unique flavour. Every story / travel of the Wise man is a testament to how we take life and how we react to it in situations that present before us.

I am sure we would not have known about some habits from far and wide unless the wise man decided to trek them and give us the wisdom in a power packed paper back.

That the man decided to tell us some unconventional stories is something we need to cherish with this book. The sense of gratitude or a sense of deja vu is evident when he sees some personal achievement which are bound by ethical behaviour even when they are in high seas.

That spirituality is a part of our living is evident irrespective of it being given in non religious way across the world and ofcourse that is a proof that world is a better place than we imagine.

P.S: I have to admit I wasn’t able to finish this review long back. But the best part is I am able to recall those mystery stories and also how impactful they are.

P.P.S: Also keep track of the author on her social media handles and Youtube channels.

P.P.P.S: In case you want to pick up a copy.. at Flipkart / Amazon 

Vishnu by Subhadra Sen Gupta – a book review

9788129147370-700x700

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: RUPA
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 9788129147370, 8129147378
  • Edition: 1, 2017
  • Pages: 48

So this is the second book in the series after Ganesh which has already been reviewed earlier.

Now I can foresee many more stories being told to kids this way and they don’t disappoint, and imagine the story telling with telling illustrations for kids and the setting is going to get better and enjoyable.

So here the author presents three different stories we normally identify with Vishnu the protector of the trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

In this land of India if you want to achieve seriously powerful weapons and sometimes even immortality there is an way to go about it and quite often the asuras or the opponents of devas as we know them, do it with finesse that they will end up with some of the best wishes granted to them.

So in the first story titled How to fool an Asura is that of Bhasmasura as his name suggest the asura with ashes, invoked Shiva and got his prayers answered and in that he wanted anyone he touches  with his hand to become ashes.

This as usual was a problem for the Devas led by Indra and they take refuge of Vishnu to somehow defeat Bhasmasura.

Vishnu takes the form of Mohini a beautiful girl and get to teach Bhasmasura and he being very happy about it continues to dance following the steps of Mohini,  till he puts his hand on his head without realising that he would burn to ashes.

The second story Sea of Milk  is that of churning the milk ocean and how Vishnu became the turtle and held the mountain for them to continue churning the milky ocean. He takes the form of again a beautiful maiden to get the advantage to the Gods.

The third story of Vamana is also a great one with the King Mahabali who is also an asura who gets to rule the world with his powers. But then it has to be stopped or else there might be a problem for the devas. When asked for three foot steps of land from Maha Bali, Vishnu covers the earth and sky with two steps and Bali offers his head for the third step.

So we have some nice stories that will enliven the kids during sleep time or when they are seeking fun.

The author has taken liberty to interpret things for kids and in a way it seems it suits the adult audience too. As for me, the kid at home seems to like it with the interesting illustrations and pictures that they identify with.

Tapas Guha has done a commendable job with his illustrations and the cover looks very nice.

Click on these links to pick the copy from Amazon / Flipkart.

Senthilkumar

You Can Achieve More by Shiv Khera – a book review

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury India (18 April 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 938634906X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9386349064
  • Package Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm

I signed up for this for the simple reason that its SHIV KHERA.

One of the most impacted stories that is also a part of this book is about being woken up by the mother every day morning. In a situation of handling money and a bit of unethical variety the accountant asks his mom what he should do. When he explains the things, she says that she doesn’t understand what he says but says one thing  “I don’t understand anything you say, but I want my son to be awake when I enter the room”

I was not disappointed with the book, has a lot of things on the ethics and moral side of it which are given a go by in todays corporate world.

The book is a very lucid in the sense making the subject easy. Not many jargons. Author given his extensive training experience quotes from his seminars and makes us relate to the messages he has, in his inimitable style.

To be honest his approach on the ethical and moral issues deserves praise simply because he has taken it to the logical end in terms of the context and more so he believes real issues are taken up.

The base premise is of living by design and not by default. I think we get into the default mode the moment we get into a comfort zone. Perhaps that is why we need to remind ourselves that its not the real potential that we are really better and more capable that what we think.

There are books and there will be books, this is one of the simpler ones and easy to digest if you ask me. The design of the book and the layout with easy to read format and quotes in special boxes makes it reader friendly and also make it easy to take notes.

The author does say that you can take your time reading this book, I think its like you can come to this book anytime later and that serves you well simply because it is a kind of reference material that we can look up to.

The best part is the exercises behind each of the topics and I think that works very well like – the things to do and action plan after every chapter is read.

This book is a clarion call by the author to live life by design and not default. You could always keep it simple and real and this book has the ability to make people look within and find their potential and achieve more than they think they can.

The book will be a great help for those who doubt themselves and for those who think greatness is thrust upon a few.

A person with a positive attitude cannot be stopped and a person with a negative
attitude cannot be helped.

Thanks Flipkart for the copy. This review is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book Review Program.

Senthilkumar

The Big Switch – Its Never Too Late by John Thomas a book review

the big switch

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2196.0 KB
  • Print Length: 239 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0776ZJGNR
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled

About the book

What does a 24-year-old man want in life?
Love?
A decent job?
Keith has both. He is a software engineer at a reputable company and has a girlfriend whom he loves a lot.
Yet, there is something missing in his life. He is not even close to being happy.
Only after losing his girlfriend, he realizes what the reason for his unhappiness is.
He realizes that he is caught up in the wrong career.
With time running out, he knows that he must switch to a new career — one that makes him happy.
But, is 24 too late to do that? Is he making a mistake?
Find out as Keith follows his heart in pursuit of an impossible-looking dream.

My review:

There are motivational books now and here is one attempt with a nice reading novel in the plot. So at first glance there is a novel and there is a motivational part. What you get in Big Switch is primarily a slice of life events which will help the readers see through the circumstances and motivate them as the character goes through different sets of emotional ups and downs.

Lets be clear that life is not that fair as much as we would love to be, and author with his character Keith has rekindled hope for us a lot in the sense that we can see parallels of what Keith undergoes in his career and personal life. Sometimes the narrative I felt could have been better, he could have avoided the gossip chatter that comes once in a while.

The characterisation is good and the language is simple and sometimes the author has taken liberty in making it conversational most of the times. I loved the sports part of it since that’s a very low priority in our lives especially once you are out of school.

A good motivational book but I think it was a bit long for a motivational book having read small books of the same genre.

But for a debut author this is a great one and look forward to more titles and little crispier version of the same. On the other side I would have loved a hard copy of the same, it would have made the reading faster especially with motivational books like these.

One can identify with the characters at different points and the industry here is a giveaway and the project managers are all the same may be. It takes an individual to really work on his side and then take things up to make it happen with others.

A good book and a nice read. I took three sessions to finish this, but this can be done in one session at a stretch.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review  Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books! You can download a copy of this book on Amazon  kindle here.

Senthilkumar

Murder in Paharganj by Kulpreet Yadav – a book review

Murder in Paharganj

Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury India; First edition (10 October 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9386826615
ISBN-13: 978-9386826619

First things first, this is the first time I am reading Kulpreet Yadav and happy that we have a series with someone called Vicks Menon, it definitely is a nice idea to get a Journalist don a detective’s hat.

The story opens with a murder in a hotel in Paharganj, of a foreign lady, and the hotel staff invariably a friend of Vicks Menon informs him before he actually calls the police and that’s where it all starts.

The man in the story Vicks is a journalist albeit this time he is jobless and wants to show his boss that he has made a mistake and that’s one reason why he decides to take this on his own instead being a help to the police. Also in the story is his live in partner and lover combined  Tonya who is a psychiatrist and helps the police unravel motives for crimes.

The story travels across half the continent atleast from Israel to Iran to Afghanistan to India to Bangkok. Though most of the happenings is at Paharganj and Udaipur for a bit, its shadow casts across the other places mentioned earlier.

There is also the farther daughter story which comes to light with an introduction of an Israeli spy in Ariel.

The contours of the killer who is Jalauddin in real and with a name of Jamie and how he is an agent for Iran is well crafted but the scenes that unfold are quite cinematic in the way it takes shape towards the end.

The unravelling of the plot could have been more intense. The trace that the police are after looks pretty amateurish. It could have been much more scientific and today there are enough things in digital that is happening. I would expect much more from a spy thriller.

Easy and a fast paced read but could have been more gripping, because it was left to someone to finish of the killer, somehow doesn’t seem true to the plot. I think the character of the psychiatrist should have been chiselled in a way that could have a bearing on the case.

There are too many characters to contend with and we have to sympathise with them too. And their roles get limited when the author tries to give each a bit of the focus on them. A good read overall.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book review. Thanks FLipkart for the copy and you may pick up yours here!

Senthilkumar