Book review, Readathon, Received for Review, Regional Language books

First There was Woman and Other Stories: Folktales of the Dungri Garasiya Bhils by Marija Sres


Format: Paperback

Length: 82 pages

Genre: Folktales, Indian Literature, Short Stories

Publisher: Zubaan

Date of Publication: 1st December, 2007

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

The month of August is dedicated to ‘Discovering India Readathon’ on Bookstagram. One of the prompts was to read folktales from any part of India which I thought was really interesting. Coincidentally, Zubaan contacted me to ask if I would like to review any of their books and when I saw that they had a collection of folktales, I knew I had to read it this month.

The Blurb

It was a time when girls were as desired as sons. A time when girls beat boys in games and races. A time when there was no gender divide. And so also in these stories it is the women who are stronger, wiser, faster, sharper, and certainly far more beautiful than their men. It is they who think out of the box, who are imaginative and creative and full of wise ideas.

From tales of ghostly possessions to magic mantras, from kings and queens full of passion to village youth bursting with sexual ardour there timeless folktales are full of the joy of being alive, of sensual enjoyment and pleasure. While Kudrat (God is imagined as being feminine) and Deva conspire and wreak havoc on their people, the dance of live continues with naked young maidens swimming in the streams or being courted by dark handsome youths amidst much laughter and teasing. The forests are full of birds and beasts and fish, and life for the tribals is for the most part simple and innocent, truth and right always prevail and defeat the forces of darkness- be it a scheming stepmother, a murderous wife or lover or a cruel and lustful kind.

The Book

The book is a collection of 14 tales of the Dungri Garasiya tribe. It begins with the author coming to India and studying Gujarati and later the dialect of the Tribal people. It talks of how she learnt the ways of rural India and how she worked at empowering these women. It was heartwarming to see her refer to the women as ‘my’ women. It is the selfless dedication of such people that helped the downtrodden women find a sense of independence and financial security.

During Marija Sres’ time, the women of the Dungri Garasiya tribe were not the strong women that their ancestors were. The tribe began from a single woman that Kudrat created to complement the beauty of the Earth. It was only from her need that she created man. The women then had autonomy in the selection of their mates and were considered equal to the men in all walks of life. Like the author describes, ‘they walked neither behind not in front of the men but alongside them as equals.’

Some of the stories are tales that the author heard from the tribal people and some of them are songs that have been passed on from one generation to the next, written down in the form of prose. The author’s picks are all centered around women and the tribe’s close connection with nature and animals. The people lived in harmony with nature, helping animals and birds, and the creatures helping the people in return. It was a time of abundance and love that was later destroyed due to commercialization and deforestation. After the insurgency of the British, the tribal people were taught to integrate themselves into mainstream life, taught to abhor their traditions and their language until they began to refer to their dialect as ‘kali boli‘. This was the perfect read for Indian Independence month.

The Author

Marija Sres (bn 1943) is a religious sister from Bratonci, Slovenia. For thirty years she has worked with the Dungri Garasiya Bhils of Gujarat. Marija’s previous books on Gujarati tribal women have been translated in English, Slovene, Spanish, Gujarati, and Marathi.

TL;DR: A well compiled collection of folktales from people that we hardly hear anything about

Do you have a favorite folktale based in the place that are from?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon

The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty by Kavita Kane


Format: Paperback

Length: 325 pages

Genre: Mythology

Publisher: Westland Books

Date of Publication: 15th December, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I had won this book in one of the very first giveaways that I had entered on Instagram but I hadn’t been able to read it for more than a year. Finally this March, I wanted to read books by female authors depicting strong women and this seemed perfect. I buddy read it with Anupama and had a ice time discussing the book with her.

The Blurb

‘I learnt to love like a man—to love without feelings. And I shall never forget this lesson.’

Matsyagandha, Daseyi, Yojanagandha — the queen of Hastinapur, Satyavati. Abandoned as a baby, preyed on by a rishi, she hardens herself, determined that the next time she is with a man, she will be the one to win. And win she does: the throne of Hastinapur for herself, and the promise that her sons will be heirs to the kingdom. But at what cost?

In a palace where she is disdained and scorned, Satyavati must set aside her own loss and pain if she is to play the game of politics. She learns to be ruthless, unscrupulous — traits that estrange her from everyone around. Everyone, except the man she cheated of his birthright.

A piercing, insightful look at the grand matriarch of the Kuru family, the woman who set off the sequence of events that ended in the bloody battle of Kurukshetra, The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty will re-align your reading of the Mahabharata.

The Book

I love reading different views of a known story. The story of Bhishma has always been told from his perspective and rightly so, with him being a fierce warrior and a just administrator. However, for his life to play out the way that it did, a lot of people’s lives were also intermingled in the tragedy. I always knew the story of Satyavathi as a catty woman who only cared about power. I never once wondered why that might be so. It is rightly said that history (or in this case, mythology) is told according to the whims and fancies of the victor. The victors here are the spoilt and pampered males in Satyavathi’s life who found it convenient to blame the unfortunate woman whose only fault was her ambition.

Although Sathyavathi was not moral or even right in most situations, she was true to her goals and kept her eye on the prize. She remained loyal to the crown till the very end. I did not like the way she kept manipulating Bhishma at every turn but I understood where her fire was coming from. She was tired of being the victim of fate and wanted to take things into her own hands and be responsible for everything that happened in her life, be it good or bad.

I loved how she was one of the original feminists. She considered herself equal to any man and did not understand why she needed to be subservient to anyone. She was smart and wily and her will power ensured that she got what she wanted. I was dismayed at how Amba was a mere pawn in the game of politics even though she was a princess. The status of women was decided only based on their construed purity, beauty, and their father’s status. I was glad to have read the story from the point of view of a woman who till now was considered opportunistic and evil. The book is well written although I felt like it contained unnecessarily long conversation in some places.

The Author

A senior journalist with a career of over two decades, which includes working for Magna publication and DNA, Kavita Kane quit her job as Assistant Editor of Times of India to devote herself as a full time author. A self-styled aficionado of cinema and theatre and sufficiently armed with a post-graduate degree in English Literature and Mass Communication from the University of Pune, the only skill she knows, she candidly confesses, is writing.
Born in Mumbai, a childhood spent largely in Patna and Delhi , Kavita currently lives in Pune with her mariner husband Prakash and two daughters Kimaya and Amiya with Chic the black Cocker Spaniel and Cotton the white, curious cat. 

Her work include;

  1. Karna’s Wife- The Outcast’s Queen (2013)
  2. Sita’s Sister (2014)
  3. Menaka’s Choice (2015)
  4. Lanka’s Princess (2016)
  5. The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty (2017)

TL;DR: A different look at a popular mythology that makes you sympathetic towards characters that you hadn’t liker earlier.

What was your favourite mythology story growing up?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Semmaari: A Lamb’s Gamble by Semura, Translated by Anantha Venkataraman


Format: Paperback

Length: 212 pages

Genre: Historic Fiction, Indian Literature

Publisher: Notion Press

First Publication: 27th July, 2018

Rating: 3/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

I was contacted by the author on Goodreads to give his book a read. I am always on the hunt for Indian mythology or historic fiction and this seemed perfect for those genres. This was also to be my first book translated from an Indian regional language and I was very excited.

The Blurb

It is just a game. What could possibly go wrong?


Something that begins as a humble game, topples the world for a shepherd, Semmaari. His intelligence catapults him to the peaks of glory, but, little did he know that greed, betrayal and envy have dug deep trenches for him to fall.

In this game of ‘lambs & tigers’, where the shepherd is just a sheep, will the lambs escape the snarling jaws of the tigers with wit, courage and love, or, will the tigers prevail, with their rage, agility and cunningness?

The Book

The book is based on Aadu Puli Aattam, the traditional game of Lambs and Tigers. It begins with the writer’s family going on a holiday only to discover an ancient game of Lambs and Tigers and the story behind it. The story then moves to the period of history where Kings routinely sponsored artists to adorn their courts and kingdoms. I loved the little history lesson that the author inserted into the story. The description of how sculptors discovered a standardized method of measuring time and distance was mesmerizing.

While the first one-third of the book was well written, the parts that followed were filled with spelling errors and grammatical inconsistencies. I was apprehensive about the story and dialogues being lost in translation and I was proved right in certain pages. The sentences that may have had a musical tone while written in Tamil seemed repetitive when translated into English. Having said that, the author and the translator have both made enormous efforts to make sure that words in regional languages have a translation in parenthesis.

The wit of the shepherd was fun to read. Most of the parts in the last half of the book seemed too good to be true in reality but the book read as a story that can be used to teach children the importance of never giving up and the merits of thinking on their feet. It was a quick read at 212 pages but the story although interesting, could have been made more snappy with better editing.

The Author

Samura is an avid follower of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam. He is an engineer with an origin in Chennai. He worked with Microsoft earlier and is now employed as a Software Development Director at Oracle, Bangalore.

His work was very well received among the readers and BOFTA film institute students who expressed interest to convert a few of them into short films.

His work include:

  1. Siliconpuram (2016): An anthology of short stories
  2. Semmaari (2018)

TL;DR: A quick read that is sure to interest readers who love historic fiction

Have you read books that have been translated from other languages?

Tell me your experience in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Seductive Affair by Rishabh Puri


Format: Paperback IMG_20180721_074053_925-min.jpg

Length: 175 pages

Genre: Romance

Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Date of Publication: 11th July, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I read Rishabh Puri’s Flying Without Wings recently and liked his style of writing. When I was told that he has a new book coming out, I got it on pre-order.

The Blurb

Prisha Khatri is a regular college graduate, focused on her career, and freshly dumped by her successful fiance. When she lands a job at a prestigious media house, she’s glad to have something to tale her mind off her heartbreak.

She lands on a business trip with a famously fiery reporter Rajesh Lagheri. He is travelling to a business conference for a story, and doesn’t seem impressed by her involvement. But as soon as they’re out of the office, things change, and it becomes clear that there is more to Rajesh’s trip that meets the eye.

As Prisha is drawn into the story he’s trying to hide from their editor, their hunt for the story grows more intense, and she finds herself growing closer to Rajesh. As their chemistry threatens to overwhelm them and Prisha is pulled deeper into the Seductive Affair,she must decide what matters most to her- matters of the head, or of the heart.

The Book

The book begins with Prisha starting her first day of work at The Chronicle. She does her best to keep herself distracted from dwelling over her recent breakup but that’s easier said than done with the handsome Rajesh giving her the cold shoulder and bringing out all of her insecurities. Things take a turn for the worse when her editor pairs the two of them to cover an out of town conference and she has to figure out a way to survive two weeks with someone who can’t stand the sight of her.

Only after reaching the venue does Prisha discover that Rajesh has a hidden agenda for wanting to cover the conference. Why he had to hide it from everyone, including the editor who claims to be open to supporting him in his hunt for such news is beyond me. Prisha and Rajesh having to share a bed when the room was so spacious and was sure to have couches was also not believable. The reason for Rajesh being rude to Prisha since their first meeting was also left unexplained. A vague reference to him wanting to protect himself was made but how he knew that Prisha was one of the people that he wanted to protect himself from without even talking to her was not told. I was also a bit confused in the beginning since they claimed that the conference was in Bengaluru but Rajesh says to Prisha on the plane, “[…]It’s been a long time since I went to Mumbai”.

The book was fast-paced. The part of the pair of them interrogating various people to get their story was fun to read. Although the whirlwind romance was a little hard to believe and the graphic content seemed not entirely necessary for the progression of the story, the development of their relationship was sweet. I was glad that Prisha was not just a doe-eyed girl who was ready to go ahead with anything that Rajesh suggested.

TL;DR: A short and fast-paced read that is perfect for lovers of the romance genre

Do you like to read modern day romance?

What is your favourite book?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Pralay: The Great Deluge by Vineet Bajpai

Statistics IMG_20180707_200458-01-min.jpeg

Format: eBook

Length: 330 pages

Genre: Historic fiction, Mystery, Paranormal

Publisher: VB Performance LLP

Date of publication: 10th January, 2018

Rating: 3/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from Readers Cosmos in exchange for an honest review

When I saw that Readers cosmos had one of my favorite genres (historic fiction) up for review, I couldn’t not read it.

The Blurb

“Even death is afraid of the White Mask…”

1700 BCE, Harappa – The devta of Harappa has fallen…tortured and condemned to the dungeons of the dead. His murdered wife’s pious blood falls on the sands of the metropolis, sealing the black fate of Harappa…forever.

2017, Banaras – A master assassin bites into cyanide, but not before pronouncing the arrival of an unstoppable, dark force. A maha-taantric offers a chilling sacrifice.

325 AD, Bithynian City (modern-day Turkey) – Unable to foresee the monster he was untethering, an extraordinary monarch commissions a terrifying world-vision spanning millennia.

1700 BCE, East of Harappa – A mystical fish-man proclaims the onset of Pralay – the extinction of mankind. The Blood River rises to avenge her divine sons.

What happens to the devta of Harappa? Is Vidyut truly the prophesied saviour? Who are the veiled overlords behind the sinister World Order? What was the macabre blueprint of the mysterious emperor at Bithynian City? Turn the pages to unravel one of the world’s greatest conspiracies and the haunting story of a lost, ancient civilization.

The Book

Pralay is the sequel to Harappa and continues where the first book ended. The book switches between the present day India set in 2017 and the old Hindustan set in 1700 BCE. The switches are clearly marked and do not confuse the reader. The author draws parallels between the two worlds throughout the book. The conspiracy theories, the revealing of the truth that has been buried under years of hearsay and the talk about Knights Templar and other mystical orders were reminiscent of the Dan Brown books without seeming to draw anything from them. The book felt fresh, if a tad bit slow.

The book begins with a summary of what transpired in the first book of the series. The Devta of Harappa is tortured by the very people who he worked tirelessly for. He swears vengeance on every citizen- man, woman, and child. The story in this book revolves around Manu, the savior of Harappa and Vidyut the last Devta, both of whom try to save the world. Manu is helped in his endeavor by Matsya, the mysterious God-like being and Vidyut by his grandfather, the Trikal Darshi. They also have a group of dedicated loyal friends with them.

Even though the book is 330 pages long, it felt like it was just setting the stage for the last book in the series. The story did not progress much from the first book and I was perplexed as to why the author needed to be so descriptive in this one. The modern day mafioso and the World Order seemed to not play any role in this book and it looked like it was written because the author knew that he would need them for the next book. What I liked about the book was the fact that the author was very clear in his definitions of Indian traditions, the Vedas and the words in regional languages. The descriptions of the paranormal occurrences were chilling. I just wish that the book could have had a definite conclusion so that it can also be read as a stand-alone.

The Author

Vineet is a first-generation entrepreneur. At age 22 he started his company Magnon which is now among the largest digital agencies in the subcontinent, and part of the Fortune 500 Omnicom Group.
He has won several entrepreneurship and corporate excellence awards, including the Entrepreneur of the Year 2016. He was recently listed among the 100 Most Influential People in India’s Digital Ecosystem.
Vineet’s second company Talentrack is disrupting the media, entertainment & creative industry in India. It is the fastest-growing online hiring and networking platform for the sector. He is an avid swimmer, a gaming enthusiast, a bonfire guitarist and a road-trip junkie.
His work include:

  1. Build from Scratch: Strategies, Practical Insights and a Stepwise Guide Into Building a Successful Start-Up Enterprise (2004)
  2. Street To The Highway: The Unspoken Secrets Behind Converting Small Businesses Into Large Companies (2011)
  3. Build from Scratch (2013)
  4. The 30-something CEO (2016)
  5. Harappa: The Curse of the Blood River (2017)
  6. Pralay: The Great Deluge (2018)

TL;DR: A historic fiction set in two contrasting worlds, the book paves the way for the next book in the series

Do you like historic fiction as much as I do?

What is your favourite book in the genre?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Till The End of Forever by Vivaksh Singh


Format: Paperback img_20180629_110521_7061514703362271387444.jpg

Length: 232 pages

Genre: Romance, Mystery

Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Date of Publishing: 10th June 2018

Rating: 2/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

I don’t usually read much of romance but I was approached by one of my Bookstagram friends for the review for this book. What this experience taught me was that I should trust my instincts better about a book. Even though the blurb looked interesting, the execution of the story disappointed me. I often find that newly emerging Indian authors who dabble in the romance genre have watched a bit too much of Hindi soaps. The twists in the tales and the characterization are reminiscent of the overly dramatic people that we see on-screen.

The Blurb

The past is always mysterious. It neither leaves completely, nor stays fully. Who would know it better than Ayaan. He was its victim. And so was Avani. When these two crumbled souls met, they realized in their togetherness that only a broken piece can complete another. Together, they start fighting the pain of their past, feeling the bliss of the present and appreciating their lives.
But just when they thought things were perfect, life played its cards.
Ayaan, who was trying to put life’s pieces together, broke down when he was held responsible for a close one’s murder.
And Avani… well, her life was going to take such sharp turns that she would crave for death.
Alas, this was just the beginning of what destiny had planned for them!
Will Avani wait for the scars to heal or will she fight with her bruised soul? Why does the truth keep going deeper as she chases it?
Deeply sensitive and brutally thrilling, Till The End Of Forever is a romantic thriller that takes a dig in the dark sides of god, nature of human pain, power of selfless care, and proves how true love can make you live till the end of forever.

The Book

Till the End of Forever begins with two girls on their vacation, planning to spend three days with one of their family. Here Avani meets Ayaan, a kindred soul like her and they develop a special bond. Their dark pasts threaten to overwhelm them but they find solace in each other’s company. The author tried to add an element of mystery by not being very specific about the dialogues. This continued for the rest of the book with a lot of scenes ending without a definite conclusion. The happenings are left to the reader’s interpretation when the same scene continues a few pages later. While this could be a result of trying to condense a long story into a commercially favorable length, the onus of making the story understandable lies both on the author as well as the editorial team.

The story revolves around Avani and Ayaan and their whirlwind romance. Avani, a student of medicine spouts diagnoses like its nobody’s business. Diseases like ‘Swasiomia’ are made up according to the author’s fancy. Although he adds a disclaimer saying that this is fictional, I do not understand why he decided to make up a disease with an entire array of choking hazards or alcohol-related disorders at his disposal. Creative liberty of an author certainly goes a long way. But generic names like ‘Jagah’ for the village, ‘Sheher’ for the town and ‘Ilaakha’ for a location really got my goat.

The girl who misses her classes to come back to meet a boy that she has only spent a total of three days with, agrees to go to Venice with him at the drop of a hat. In an unknown country, the boy hatches a plan to help a man whom they literally just met, to get a girl to elope with the said man. Later when life gets hard, Ayaan again chooses to move to Venice albeit without documentation. How they plan to survive as illegal immigrants is beyond my understanding. I was also flummoxed by Avani who continues to share her space with Ayaan even though she believes him to be a rapist. Avani’s backstory is hinted at but we never discover why her Uncle hated her.

What I liked about the book was Ayaan’s speech where he compared religion and evolution. There were a lot of valid points and the argument was well structured. However, grammatical errors like “his face was untrimmed” or “buzz boy” for ‘busboy’ were difficult to accept. Inaccuracies such as “[…]his cell phone was on the table and he was staring at it restlessly, as if waiting for someone to pop out of it” followed by the sentence “his cell phone was in his hands and head on the table” were jarring. A better job at proofreading and editing could have avoided these blunders along with mistakes like not matching the right pronoun for the gender. All in all, a confusing story and a poorly edited book that certainly requires more pages to gently ease the reader into its many folds. If the author had concentrated on just a couple of the twists that he has come up with, the book would have been easier to read.

TL;DR: A short read that would have benefited with more pages dedicated to explaining the scenes in detail and cutting down on the numerous twists

Do you have a favourite book in the romance genre?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Flying Without Wings by Rishabh Puri


Format: Paperback


Length: 200 pages

Genre: Fiction, Romance

Publisher: Black Ink

Date of Publishing: 6th October, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I sometimes find that love stories, especially the ones by Indian authors are a bit too sappy for my taste. They try too hard or not hard enough and end up feeling like a poorly made Bollywood movie. However, the premise of the book seemed great so I decided to try it. I am glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The Blurb

For Milli Bajwa, life is at a stand-still. Grounded in the Chandigarh airport where she works day after day, she watches flights leaving for destinations she knows she’ll never visit. Loveless and luckless, she would rather bury her nose in a book than face her grim reality. And then, on a whim, she swipes right on a new dating app, and finds the man of her dreams – someone who can sweep her off her feet and teach her how to fly. But the mysterious and charming Karan Singhania has secrets of his own, and a heart damaged in more ways than one. This is the story of two people about to find out how far they’re willing to go for the promise of true love.

The Book

Flying Without Wings is the story of Milli and Karan, two unlikely protagonists who are brought together by fate. Milli is a down on her luck young woman who works very hard to make ends meet. She has to deal with her opiate addicted mother and must also come to terms with her martyred brother. She isn’t helped in her goal by her admirer- Rahull. Rahull pesters her for dates even after being clearly told that she isn’t interested in him. On the other hand, our hero is a successful business tycoon who seems to have life figure out. He is surrounded by opulence and beautiful women. He hops onto a plane to vacation in Paris when he needs a break, he buys expensive perfumes and jewelry for his dates without breaking a sweat. But none of these luxuries cure him of his loneliness. As luck would have it, both these lonely souls are matched on a dating app and discover that the person that they were waiting for was right at their fingertips all along.

The author has managed to portray the trappings of the middle class Indian household to perfection. The fear that a repair in one room could mean the difference between eating or starving the next week can make a person bitter. However, Milli manages to keep her sunny disposition. I was a bit thrown by inaccuracies like Milli driving a sedan while she claims that she can’t afford to repair sink that her mother broke. Certain things like ‘screen door’, digging holes for fence posts while most perimeters in Indian houses are built of brick, ‘broiler’ in the oven in a house that is falling apart especially since Indian cooking does not require ovens and they are considered a luxury, ‘lunch meat’, getting high on opiate pills, dialing 102 bringing trained EMTs while most of the ambulances in the country would be lucky to have anyone other than a driver were too much to digest in a story that was set firmly in Chandigarh. It felt like the book was pandering to an audience outside the country much like some of the well known Bollywood movies. Medical jargon too was inaccurate like “an aortic valve stenosis was needed to save his life” while in actuality, an aortic stenosis is a cardiac condition that results in narrowing of the exit of the ventricle. Given that the author has personal experiences with cardiac problems, a simple read by a qualified medical doctor or even a google search would have cleared these things up. It felt a bit sloppy in a work that was otherwise flawless.

The angst that the characters feel, the helplessness in the face of adversities, the innocence of their friendship, the inevitability of their love and the acceptance of Milli by Karan’s family were beautifully written. I teared up a couple of times which I had not expected at all. I was very glad that the author did not resort to inserting steamy scenes to showcase Karan and Milli’s love. Their relationship was allowed to progress naturally and it touched my heart. I loved how the book dealt with the feeling of being alone in a crowd. The Karan-Amit relationship was sweet. The book had impeccable grammar as opposed to some recent Indian romances that I have had the (dis)pleasure of reading. On the whole, a must read for people who swear by the Romance genre.

The Author

Rishabh Puri was born in 1987 in Chandigarh and raised in Nigeria. At age 1, he was diagnosed with hyperlipidemia and at age 9 with aortic stenosis. Rishabh Puri has been noted to use meditation as a form of stress release. He attended an Indian school, before moving to a British school, eventually getting a degree in Business Administration from the United Kingdom through distance learning. He later completed his master’s degree in Business Administration (International Trade) from UK via distance learning.

His work include:

  1. Inside The Heart of Hope (2016)
  2. Flying without wings (2017)
  3. Seductive Affair (2018)

TL;DR: A sweet yet powerful story that talks about love, loss, loneliness and damaged hearts.

Do you like love stories? or do you think they are too sappy?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Trust Me Not by Anikta Verma Dutta


Format: Paperback IMG_20180601_180012-01-01-min.jpeg

Length: 384 pages

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: Jaico Publishing House

Rating: 3/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from WritersMelon in exchange for an honest review

I have been reviewing quite a lot of books for WritersMelon and I have been enjoying the process. So when they offered a mystery thriller, I jumped at the chance. The fact that it contained a very political plot made me a little uneasy but I was excited to give it a try.

The Author

Ankita Verma Datta is an Economics graduate from Mumbai University and is trained in advertising communication and marketing at the Xavier Institute of Management/Communication. She has spent more than a decade in the advertising industry, handling a wide range of clients from finance, insurance, education, food industry, and also government sector and political campaigns, before starting her own communications consultancy in 2003. Apart from marketing and advertising, she has interests in various other fields, including curating antique Portugal houses in Goa and ‘hobby-breeding’ the exotic dog breed of Tibetan Mastiffs. An ardent nature and animal lover, she spends her time between Mumbai, Lonavala and Goa.
Trust Me Not is her debut fiction novel and she intends to continue writing socio-political thrillers with current relevance in future too. She writes to evoke and entertain.

Praise for the book-

An excellent account of today’s cut-throat world, told through an intense love story. The complexity of the characters and the story keeps you riveted until the unexpected end. – Madhur Bhandarkar

The Blurb

Rising corporate star Reeva Rai is offered a prestigious position in a top-notch PR agency. It is the opportunity of a lifetime. But working with Enigmatic Billionaire Kunaal Kabi was not going to be easy. Even as she develops feelings for him, she is determined to prove herself.

But when an activist friend turns to her for help with a real-estate scam, Reeva has to make a high-stakes choice. Can she retain the credibility of her prominent clients while helping hundreds save their homes? As she digs deeper to find solutions, a nefarious scheme unravels with unexpected connections. A no-holds-barred race ensues, blood is drawn and Reeva is trapped in the eye of a political thunderstorm. If she succeeds, powerful people will have much to answer

The Book

Trust Me Not begins with Reeva Rai, a young corporate girl meeting a handsome and powerful millionaire- Kunaal Kabi. Their chemistry is instantaneous and they hit it off right from the first meeting. It is only later that Reeva finds out that Kunaal is her new boss. Things get more complicated when she finds that Kunaal is emotionally distant and seems to invoke a strong negative response from her co-worker Shalini.

The book is laid thick with references to various political parties like the JBP and the National Progression Party which sound very similar to the political parties that we all know in real life. The dynamic and volatile news anchor Arunabh Roy seems  to share a lot of similarities with the anchor that we see everyday on the news even to his nearly identical catch phrase “Our country needs to know”. The handsome, powerful and misunderstood millionaire who loves to have things under control and who is emotionally disturbed and has his friend who is also his psychologist explain the inner workings of his head to his girlfriend reminded me of Fifty Shades of Grey. I wish that the author was more creative and had come up with unique characters and names. I did not like the character of Kunaal with his unpredictability and felt that the character would have benefited from more backstory. The fact that Reeva was so undecided about Kunaal and was stringing poor Nihaal along for no other reason than to avoid Kunaal made me see red. Despite her knowing that Nihaal liked her, she blatantly used him for her selfish means. She also kept going back to Kunaal only to be hurt again and to wallow in misery until he deemed it fit to reappear in her life. I wish she had taken a stronger stand against his indecisiveness and was not so forgiving of him.

The book would have served the same purpose had it been even a hundred pages less than its massive 400 pages. It read as a typical Bollywood movie to me. It was reasonably fast paced and the even though the twists were predictable, it didn’t make me lose interest. The political games where people try to one-up each other and the tactics of top tier businessmen was interesting to read. Trust Me Not was well written and the author seemed to have a very clear idea of what she wanted the story to be.

TL;DR: A political thriller set in the higher echelons of the Indian business and political world

Do you like political thrillers?

What do you recommend in the genre?

Tell me more in the comments below or on my Instagram at @the_food_and_book_life

Advanced Review Copy (ARC), Book review, Received for Review

Nagin by Mayur Didolkar


Format: Paperback IMG_20180527_124537-01-min.jpeg

Length: 273 pages

Genre: Supernatural, Thriller, Mythological

Publisher: Juggernaut Books

Rating: 4/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review

I have read Hush A Bye Baby and Animal Farm online on the Juggernaut app. So when they offered to send a paperback to me I was pleasantly surprised. I like stories set in mythology and decided to give this a read.

The author also gives credit to local legends and stories that have been passed from generation to generation which is a rare thing to see. I was glad that he felt the need to give credit where credit was due.

The Author

Mayur Didolkar runs a financial services business in Pune. A fan of popular fiction, he has published two novels and several short stories. He writes for Swarajya and The Quint. Mayur tries his hand at stand-up comedy occasionally and has run two full-marathons.

A crime and horror writer, the possibility of things going dreadfully, irrevocably wrong in ordinary situations inspires his work.

His work include-

  1. The Dark Road (2017)
  2. Tears for Strangers

The Blurb

Loving wife, obedient daughter, loyal friend.
But if you provoke her, she will raise her hood and spit poison.

A woman is stalked by a man she had once rejected. A housewife discovers a plot to kill her husband. A blind young girl is chased by an underworld gang.

But these are no ordinary women.
Some of them aren’t even women.


The Book

Nagin consists of nine short stories (eight from the present book with a bonus from the author’s upcoming series) that revolve around Ichhadhari nags and nagins, Vidharbas, Bhinna Nishacharas and the monster hunters- wyadhas. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning since I am against all things superstitious but then I decided to keep an open mind about the book. If you read it at face value, without bringing science into it, it reads as a really good book. It is well written and you don’t see the twists coming even if you think you do.

There are plenty of occurrences that happen everyday that defy science and the stories here should be read as one of them. The stories manage to give you chills especially ‘Ranbhool’ and ‘Haka Mari’. The one titled ‘Laughing Hearts’ was very detailed regarding how the world of stand-up comedy works and that makes sense now that I know that the author has tried his hand at stand-up comedy.

The book reminded me of the TV series Supernatural that I used to follow very religiously until last year. The shape shifters, the monsters, the hunters, the wit, the planning and the execution were very Sam-and-Dean-ish and I loved it despite thinking to myself “Yeah, like that’s going to happen!”

I was glad that the author researched real legends and based his stories on them rather than reinventing the wheel. The fact that he gave credit to those old stories raised my opinion of him ten fold. In a day where people have stopped believing in the supernatural and where science has advanced enough to provide an answer to many of life’s mysteries, it is nice to be reminded of such stories that have been passed on from generation to generation.

It is a fun exercise to try to see what made the people of that era think up of such legends. The wasting of the body and extreme susceptibility to infections after exchange of bodily fluids with a Visha Kanya could very well be an example of people suffering from AIDS after unprotected sex. While it is easy for us to dismiss all stories of the old, it is interesting to see that some may have a bearing even in the present day and age.

TL;DR: A quick and fun read that deals with the supernatural and gives you chills along the way

Do you like stories steeped in superstition and legends of the olde?

What are some of the stories that you heard as a child that still give you chills?

Tell me more in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Living on the Edge by Chanchal Jain


Format: Paperback IMG_20180520_180604-01-01-min

Length: 366 pages

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Olympia Publishers

Rating: 2/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from Olympia Publishers in exchange for an honest review

Olympia Publishers had offered this book for review. Since the blurb claimed that it was a story of immigrants, especially Indians and the problems that they face in a different country, I was curious to see how the story would go.

The book was first written in 1981 and published in 2017.

The Author

Born in Punjab in India, Chanchal Jain went to Birmingham England with a Post-Graduate qualification from Punjab University. She later gained teaching qualification from the University of Birmingham and has worked in a variety of employments before retiring from teaching.

She has served the community in many organisations as a volunteer and as a professional and received an award for community services from the Birmingham City Council.

The Blurb

Living on the Edge describes the early life of overseas Asians/Indians living in England. It reflects the continuous struggle and conflicts in their lives in the ever-changing society here in the UK.
The novel is written through the eyes of a community worker who works in the inner-city, deprived area, of Birmingham, at a Neighbourhood Centre where ethnic people come to seek advice for basic needs such as – unemployment, housing, health, DHSS, legal, social, personal and language issues.
The majority of the characters are of Asian origin and the novel is set in Birmingham at various locations. The story is fictional, but issues highlighted are real. It has a touch of romance which moves the story forward. Subjects covered include: – pregnancy for a young unmarried Asian girl, abortion, forced marriage, living with a man outside marriage and alcoholism.

The Book

Living on the edge is a story that centers around Geeta, a social worker and Poonam, a University student. They meet each other when Geeta tries to help Poonam deal with her homelessness and her pregnancy. Then enter the men in the story- Mandeep, the man who destroys Poonam and Bill, the man who saves her.

The book is filled with racism and sexism and makes no effort to hide the blatant hatred towards Indians and women. Every character makes innuendos and insults that are not even questioned by other characters. The very obvious division between whites and non-whites like “I’ve got a charming Indian lady with me” and “By Indian standards, she was a beautiful girl. By English standards,she was more than presentable” were unnecessary. Woman bashing began very early in the book with statements like “Keep on appreciating her cooking and clothes, she is fine” about a wife who ‘nags’ her husband for not giving her any of his attention and “You could do with losing some weight around your waist” made me see red. Characters like Mr. Sharma and Mrs. Johnson were grating on my nerves and it felt like it was not necessary to take the story to the level of negativity seen here.

The book went into too many so called ‘twists’ with each character trying to fix others up. I could not understand how a man who asks a woman to marry him can immediately ask to marry her friend and both the ladies can be okay with it. I was just begining to like the character of Geeta before she went around hitting people in the face because they had been drinking. She just knew Mandeep in her capacity as a social worker and to actually start living with him and say things like “Don’t you dare drink in front of me” made no sense. And for Mandeep to immediately put his head into her lap was too intimate for two people who were practically strangers at the time. There were plenty of grammatically incorrect sentences and also redundant sentences like “Geeta was sad and unhappy” which made reading the book a chore.

The only positive thing that I could tell about the book is that it was written in 1981 where culture allowed for some amount of racism and sexism to exist freely. It showed how difficult it was for immigrants to survive in a country that did not want them. It also showed the life of women who wanted to get a good education and work to live on their own. However, as  a book published in 2017, it gives a very wrong impression of the Indian community and the English population in general. Although arranged marriages, disownment and excess control over the lives of children are still a part of the Asian culture, it is not as severe as is made out in the book. I wish there were at least a couple of characters who were strong and stood against all the wrongs that kept happening in the story.

TL;DR: A book that is chock full of racism and sexism that should have been dealt with better.

Have you read a book that you felt was giving the wrong message about something?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life