Book Review Treat: 37+ Grace Marks by Vishal Anand

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It appears that Vishal Anand was inspired by Chetan Bhagat’s 5.0 Someone since the setting of both the stories are prestigious engineering institutes where the students get admission after much slogging in achieving academic excellence in schools and preparation for entrance examination in there institutions.  The students are motivated to get admission in these institutes primarily to fulfil the heightened ambitions of the parents or their own ambitions caused due to peer pressure.  However, soon after getting in, they lose academic interest and find pleasure in wine and women.

In this story, the protagonist while lost in the pleasures in the company of friends, gets enamored by the beautiful classmate Nimisha brooding over whom, loses opportunity to excel in studies and barely manages to scrap to next semesters with the help of grace marks.

Spurned by the girl, he tries to focus onto other girls, but by then he clearly understands that he is actually in love with the girl Nimisha but there is no way to win the heart of the girl.

His association with Muthu meanwhile helps him to realize his goal for achieving excellence even  though it  is too late.  He makes an attempt on his life but is saved by the timely call of his father who expresses his love and faith in him.

Heroic qualities is heightened thereafter and he makes up for the loss for the lost opportunities and regains the trust and faith of his lost love interest, Nimisha.

Even though the plot is clichéd, yet the characterization is good.  The story ends with a positive vibe without being preachy.  The language is simple but sustained interest to the last.

 Overall a good read.

 

Book Review Treat: “Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy” by Ashish Gupta

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Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy” by Ashish Gupta is a novel which can easily cut through the clutter of contemporary authors flooding the market with light-fluffy stuff. It’s a good, intellectual as well as an interesting read which challenges the reader and brings forth some very pertinent questions in a quite entertaining way. The book deals with heavy questions of criminal psychology and how a criminal should be viewed and treated in a society.

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This book is very well written. It is divided into various sub plots, all woven very intricately and flowing in a sequence so it can provide enough suspense and build up to the reader.

The main protagonist, Dakshesh is shown to be at the last stage of cancer nearing a painful death. To be relieved of this malady, this pain, he asks his comrades to take him to three powerful mystics who seem to be the only ray of hope for an escape from this dreary end. The story seems to be going on a spiritual turn just when the twists are brought in, rather very cleverly, and these three are shown to be in real hardened criminals. They narrate their stories to Dakshesh and how they came to a fork in the road in their lives  on meeting Alia, a homeless girl, when they made the decision to leave their dark pasts behind and move to a better path.

These three monks bring with them a lot of variety as all three belong to three different religions- Rizwaan, a Muslim; Murli, a Hindu and Joseph, a Christian. The issues they dealt with are also different and each equally dark in their own ways. One was a murderer, the other a rapist and the third, a lover turned torturer. The differences brought out with so much dexterity point to the fact that crime in fact has no religion, and religion rarely does determine the path a person takes. It is more often the circumstances, the struggles and state of mind of the person embarking on the dark and dangerous path of crime.

The author manages to highlight very important factors that bring a person to such a path: the control of mind over a person or a person over their mind? Once you enter the dark path is there ever really an escape? Hallucinations and misjudgements or clarity and cutting through illusions: which does a person choose and where does the choice lead him to?

Though no one could relieve Dakshesh of his physical pain, yet, listening to their stories relieves him of hid mental and emotional agony as the nature of their minds makes him come face to face with nature of his own mind and the issues plaguing a society at large.

Overall, this is a very well written, fast paced novel. Though the plot seems simple, in reality it is not as there are so many sub plots interwoven beautifully, adding a very unique touch to the story. The plot is very unique and interesting to read, and the author must be commended for developing it so well.

Book Review Treat: ANOTHER TALE OF TWO CITIES BY EZHUTH AANI

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The book is basically a historical treatise set up in the 15th century pertaining to twin cities of Combodia: Angor Wat and Ankor Thom.  The concern of preserving the culture and sovereignty of these kingdoms was predominant in the minds of the two dedicated princes Mahendra and Adithya who set up on an arduous journey from China, Srilanka, India and Middle East to seek Military support in the form of Arms  ammunition, army, modern technological method of warfare and also technology for management of drought and water resources.
The foreword by the author sets the tempo of the novel.  A great civilization of Khmer empire which lasted for more than 600 years faces annihilation due to ravages of war, religious intrusion and natural disorders due to disastrous climatic changes.  How much of these are pre-emptive? How much could have been avoided? And how much can be retrieved .  What is the impact of these happenings upon the life of the citizens?  HOw do they cope up?
The story starts with an interesting narrative of the travels of young Adithya the king’s envoy to meet Vajragnani, a mystic in order to save Angkor’s empire On the way he meets his daughter Mandagini. She arrests him and then takes him to Vajragnani, her father. He gives him knowledge and a statue of Buddha. Then he sends him on his way alongwith Mandagini. They both fall in love and part ways with heavy hearts. Adithya embarks on a journey to  Srilanka and India and meet the King and The Emperor and could also manage to get their promise of being helped at the time of need/requirement.
In another part of the story, Mahendra goes to China  and learns the technical knowhow of  technogical aspects of modern warfare,  He returns to Cambodia in the absence of Adithya and inadvertently wins the hands of Maddagini.  This development though upsets Adithya to the core, yet he does not fail to fulfil his duty towards his country.
The story is excellently woven with philosophical inputs by the author which are very apt in the given situations.  However, some historical facts have been repeated often which could have been avoided.
The author has also done  extensive research into the history of the these counties and kingdom, the rise and fall of empires, the rise and influence of Buddhism  on the political situation of these countries.
The cover  designed by Ajitabha Bose depicting a temple against the backdrop of red setting sun sets the tempo of the novel

Book Review Treat: UNNS- The Captivation by Sapan Saxena

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A very good attempt of an emotional saga which was thrilling to the end.
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The journey of the protagonist, Atharva Rathod through the stages of love is akin to the journey of Philips in Somerset Maughan’s ‘ Of Human Bondage’.
Like Philips, Atharva’s conviction in his love towards Meher transcends the repeated betrayals by her.  However, the perseverance of Atharva brings out the reciprocative action on her part.
The early  romance  at the school level between Atharva and Rathod is quite commonplace and yet, that it could have been a sustainable factor in shaping up the plot in an espionage saga was wonderful,
Another interesting factor of the story was that even though the protagonists were of different religious background i.e., Atharva was Hindu and Meher was Muslim, yet the religious barrier was not the cause of their separation. In fact, there has been no role-play of Artharva’s parent in this matter.  The objection of Meher’s parents to the continuance of this relationship was more on ground of practical incompatibility as they wanted her to pursue her career rather than getting stuck up in an unproductive relationship. On these grounds even Meher’s short-lived romantic feelings got evaporated as she chose to write-off Atharva so completely.
The quick turn of events  sustained the interest in the story
AN OVERALL GOOD READ.
RATING 4/5

Book Review Treat: The Color of love by Jagdish Joghee

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The Color of love by Jagdish Joghee questions the rejection of love between two people in the society on the basis of non-consequential factors like caste, creed, racist views. The equation of how these limited views affect innocent emotions between two loving people and how separation changes them forever, only for the worse.

How people divide on the name of religion and more similar imaginary barriers, while hopeful and innocent youth break out of those false barriers to unite in love is questioned.

The story is about Sarfaraz and Meghna, and how hard he tries to break all the barriers to reach up to the one person he truly loves. The title is kept Colors of Love because we see Sarfaraz’s character growing and changing with his love, and when he is separated from that one true thing that made him complete, his personality and vivacity change a lot too.

Also, the book explores the discrimination Muslims face in the city of Combatore and how Sarfaraz suffered at the hands of this racist mindset both in society and also his personal relationships.

The author has done a good job in bringing out these emotions, and also in questioning the mindset that plagues the society. What was very encouraging to see was, that Sarfaraz could rise up from his difficulties and make a good living. Despite his father thinking of him otherwise, he managed to make his parents proud and give them the life they deserved.

A very strong, smart and encouraging character is brought out in Sarfaraz’s mother, who probably is the reason behind his fighting spirit. Nadia Begum, like any other woman in that society was looked down upon by her husband and her views never mattered. However when it came to practical matters and matters of survival, she had a very sharp brain, even more so than her husband. She was a cheerful lady who was very open minded in the matters of relationship as well, and Sarfaraz could easily share his relationship voes with her. She was a woman neither bound by religion, gender or society- and it is this spark which inspired Sarfaraz to find his holding in a chaotic world.

The narration style is very interesting, however the dialogues between Sarfaraz and Rameez (his best friend) are written in a very novice manner, which takes away from the reading experience.

Lastly, I would say the author manages to raise very important cultural and religious issues plaguing the society. Also, the different shades of love, emotions, relationships, friendships and choices are explored very well, which makes this novel a valuable reading experience.

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Book Review Treat: In Love and Free by Jagdish Joghee

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In Love and Free by Jagdish Joghee is a novel which looks at the nature of relationships very closely in modern society and questions the precepts on which we base the expectations of a relationship.
Shruthi is a modern South Indian girl, she has been blessed with everything in life. She has had a perfect life- a rich supportive family, a good education and a loving boyfriend who later becomes her husband. Even her in-laws were loving and supportive and she was later blessed with two kids.
However, the thing that hold Shruthi back is that she’s always been overprotective and she has never had to take a fall in her life. Thus, despite being a very happy person she finds herself in an extra-marital relationship with her neighbor Rahul.
What I find very funny, whether it be the attitude of the writer or the character only, that the same person who gives up her career after her marriage with Madhan (apparently because he was already earning very well and she had no drive to have a standing of her own) under the guise of ‘motherhood’ later tries to moralize extramarital affairs (done without the knowledge and consent of her partner who trusted her so much and was loyal to the core with her) throughout the novel. Not to mention, her extra-marital affairs affected her parenting as well, she ended up neglecting her kids when they needed her the most.
While the question raised about society enforcing on monogamous relationships as a rule is valid and worth thinking about, however, given Shruthi’s situation, it’s very alarming that the author has tried to justify ‘adultery’ as a form of polygamy till the end of the novel whereas there have been humongous questioning of why women should work after marriage. (The protagonist seemed to lack a drive for self-development and responsibility throughout the novel).
The hypocritical nature in the development of this character brings out the question as to what kind of female protagonists do contemporary male writers seem to portray. While a woman’s desire to balance self-reliance and motherhood is questioned; infidelity as a form of polygamy (even at the cost of upkeep of children and family) has been justified till the end. I wonder if this form of polygamy is justified for men?
Shruthi has been in love with two men. While she says she loves her husband who toils so hard for her and does his best to provide her and their kids a safe and secured childhood; she also loves her best friend’s husband secretly.
However, when she realizes the hidden motive behind Rahul’s love and more importantly the fact that he was having another affair through his wife, her views on polygamy magically changes and she starts hating Rahul for having cheated on her all the while.
Despite having information over how Rahul was secretly planning to harm both his wife and Shruthi, she makes very less effort to actually act upon it and take responsibility. Neither she tries to apologize to her husband nor her best friend. The only luck she had saving her from a life-debiliating situation was her luck, her father’s money and her husband’s blind love.
Though the initial premise of the novel is very promising, like:
* how the protagonist compares her life and challenges with the sea, sometimes powerful other times crashing and some other times silent and weak. She beautifully relates her life situations and choices with the Sea as a witness and a silent strength.
* in her monologues about how society views relationships and polygamy. The expectations, rules versus the matters of heart

However, the threads which looked very promising were left loose by the author. There was a very weak character building, and questioning of morality was a very dubious and hypocritical in nature. As a protagonist, I would say Shruthi did not contain much strength nor content. She did very less, rather she took further self-sabotaging choices when she was given a chance to act upon her ‘ideas’. It is shown that Shruthi as a character never truly grows. True to her upbringing, she relied on fate and ‘adults’ taking care of her dirty business.

She does questions morality in society, but only when it suits her personal interest and caters to her own convenience and her personal gains. In places where morality tested her own discretion and required her to make tough choices, standing up for herself and others, she falled short because her contemplation only came from a place of self appeasement.

I think this is a major turn off for this book because if the characters don’t manage to teach you something valuable in this already complex moral society, what is the point of raising questions in the first place? Liberal views are good when the precepts of it are same for both the genders. Here we see a topsy side of the patriarchal society- while the woman questions her right to freedom, she’s enraged and hurt when a man is put in the same position.
If she so believed in an extra-marital affair as polygamy, why did she judge Rahul when she found he had another woman in his life? Wasn’t she doing the same with Madhan, her husband, as he was doing with her?
If she believed in polygamy, shouldn’t she have conveyed this to the person she called her soulmate and the one who fought till the end for her?
Also, if she accuses a working woman to be neglecting her role as a mother, why did she neglect her own children (and her in-laws’) because of her affair?
Is there a clear message being sent by these contradictory views? Is Shruthi a quintessential ideal character for a modern patriarchal mindset, catering to male fantasies? While she’s allowed to be sex-starved, she’s not allowed to be a strong, independent and a self-reliant person.
There’s also this question of how a woman in modern times receiving trust and support from her in-laws abuses the freedom right behind their back. And she’s never questioned for it!

Throughout, we find Shruthi’s character to be very childish and insensitive to other’s concerns. Even at the climax when she was acquainted with the choice to act upon her mistakes, she does very little to apologize genuinely and set things right. She infact, as usual, relies on her fate and her Dad to take hold of the situation.

The writing style used in the book is casual and easy for a reader, and in the end the story suddenly takes up pace. There have been instances where the tension has been built well. The characters are very realistic, even Shruthi’s character in my opinion because she questioned the moral standards of the society only when she saw the thrill and adventure in it. However, when the initial honeymoon phase was over and it was time for tough choices and taking up a stand, she began to question her own liberal views!

Book Review Treat: Her Last Wish by Ajay K Pandey

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Book Review Treat: Her Last Wish by Ajay K Pandey

This book is a very poignant tale over the unsaid and suppressed stories of millions of AIDS patients who struggle so much living their last days among a judgemental world and spending last moments of love and despair with their loved ones.
The story starts with the protagonist Vijay Sharma, being dropped with the news that his wife is diagnosed by HIV after she donated blood at a camp.
The author then starts with the story of the protagonist over how his life was prior to meeting Astha, his soulmate and life partner. He lived a life of mediocrity where he could neither fulfill his dad’s expectations nor could he become successful in making a desired living. The only thing he really knew about with surity were rejections and failures.
Her Last Wish is a very strong social commentary, not only about how Indian society views and treats the people suffering from HIV etc but also on the Indian society and mindset, some comical others intriguing, each presented in a very light and yet an impactful manner by the author. The author made sure to include powerful observations on Indian parenting, education system, marriages in India etc. However, unlike the usual patriarchal society and the mindset that characters have on general, the author has brought out a very strong male protagonist in his novel and an equally strong message for the readers that a woman suffering through such a disease requires as much love and support from her family as she would have given had the situations been the other way round. The maturity of the protagonist while dealing with his wife’s disease, and the amount of awareness that the author has managed to pack in his book over the nature & treatment of the disease and the prejudice surrounding HIV AIDS is seriously commendable.
The writing style of the author is very simple and easy to relate with, however the dialogues don’t manage to pack the same punch as the plot, characters and the message. The cover of the book is very apt to the main theme of the book and also the love and bond shared by the protagonist and his wife, which shows in his determination to care for his wife. The narration style of the author is very impactful as he manages to bring out all the heavy emotions without being dramatic. The book is written just the way the events happen in a person’s life going through such a situation.
Overall I would rate this book 4/5. It’s got a very matured theme and it has been aptly treated with the same sensitivity and understanding that it deserves.