Monthly Archives: June 2017

Love@ First Sight : The MatrikaS Creative Woman’s Journal

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A lazy summer afternoon!

The sweltering heat combined with the power-cut was getting on my nerves. To top it I’d just had a break-up and was feeling lost and lonely. As I lay there all alone on the big wooden table, I reminisced those days with my ex. The secrets we’d shared, the sweet nothings I’d scribbled on her bosom all came back to mind. I sighed and decided I’d not fall for another. Gradually sleep overtook me………zzzzzzzzz!

A touch soft and silky as that of a feather caressed my being. At first I thought it was a dream but then when the feeling lingered on, I opened my eyes. Lo! Behold! What do I see? A beauty draped in soft maroon silk with golden polka- dots scattered here and there and a golden feather print adorning the center, lying by my side. I could not take my eyes off her. Unknown to me my heart had surrendered to her charm.

The beautiful one: “Hi! I’m CWJ.”

Me: “CWJ?”

CWJ: (With a short laugh) “Oh! Sorry! That’s my pet name, short for Creative Woman’s Journal.”

Me: “Oh! Glad to meet you. You are native of?”

CWJ: “MatrikaS.”

Me: “Ah! Yes. Those paper people, the ones who come out with some really innovative stuff. I’ve heard a lot about them. Never come into contact with one.”

CWJ: (Struts like a proud peacock) “So, friends?”

Me: (Eagerly) “Yes, friends.”

*************

As days passed by, the bonds between us grew stronger and stronger till we finally decided to take our relationship to the next level.

CWJ opened up to me willing me to explore her. At first I touched her hesitatingly as would a man his newly- wedded wife. A shiver coursed through my spine. I felt as though I was treading in Heaven. Slowly, casting my initial inhibition aside I kissed her, poetry flowed from me only to be etched deep in her bosom. The poet in me found an artist in her. We complimented each other.

That day we became one.

Together we made many a list, shared many a secret and vowed to stick together till the end.

The feeling of loss and loneliness left me forever. I found my true love in CWJ.

Today I have no qualms in saying that as far as I am concerned, it was love @first sight.

(Wondering who I am? No points for guessing. I am yours truly, a silver bodied, gold bordered jotter pen.)

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Me & My Love


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Well, that was the love- story of my pen and the MatrikaS Creative Woman’s Journal a product of MatrikaS – Scribble Your Heart Away. Reading that you may have already got a fair idea of the plus points of MCWJ or the MatrikaS Creative Woman’s Journal. However, I’ll put together just a brief introduction / review of the journal for the benefit of my readers and those looking out for some good writing material. But before I move further, let me tell you that true to it’s name MatrikaS (which is derived from Sanskrit and stands for ‘MOTHER’) has brought out this Creative Woman’s Journal to honour women and their dreams, their aspirations this Womens Day. It is the brand’s gift to Women.

The MatrikaS Creative Woman’s Journal a one of it’s kind, keeps every woman in mind and hence comes in four different designs or should I say, is available in four different themes. They are –

1. Feather – To Write!
2. Butterfly – To Dream!
3. Dragonfly – To Fly!
4. Fish – To Glide!

(For further details visit : MatrikaS Woman’s Journal Page)

Just see the connection between the designs and the themes. While the feather as you know served as a writing quill in earlier times a butterfly is apt for those who dream. The dragonfly is a spectacle to behold when it flies around and a fish is the epitome of grace as it glides in the water.

Being one with a passion to write, I chose the one with feather as it’s theme. So, let’s see if the journal true to it’s name is smooth and soft as a feather and compliments the quill (pen). Let’s see if it appealed to the writer in me. 🙂

The Cover

Stunning! A look at it and you can’t help wish it was yours. I’ve had some who taken in by the sheer beauty of the cover, wanted to take a selfie with it. 🙂

cover

An Introduction

The image says it all.

The Inside

Soft and smooth double- sided ruled sheets of high quality paper, are interspersed with 8 adult colouring sheets inspired by nature. There are also a number of plain sheets bearing the MatrikaS tagline “Scribble Your Heart Away.” These make the journal not only useful for jotting down one’s life- events, important things, etc., etc., but act as healer/ stress- buster/ motivator. They inspire too.

While the adult colouring sheets act as stress- busters and help one relax, the blank sheets are there for you to draw, doodle, scribble, play or indulge in whatever is close to your heart.

The ruled- sheets can be used for some serious writing.

rule

WRITE/ SCRIBBLE TO HEARTS CONTENT

adult

COLOUR AWAY & DE-STRESS

 

The sticker pages towards the fag end of the journal are a revelation, something innovative and exciting. These pages have ideas of lists that one can make. Then there are stickers expressing one’s moods and some that will shake you up when you feel lost and lonely or pacify you when you are in a pensive state or off- colour.

secret list

SECRET LISTS TO HELP YOU AROUND

pacify

STICKERS THAT INSPIRE/ PACIFY

moods

STICKERS FOR EVERY MOOD & MUCH MORE

The Journal winds up with something that’s bound to excite the bibliophile and the traveller in you. Wondering what? Well there is a page for you to record your TBR list (To be read list) and another for the places to be visited.

The last double- sided sheet is for entering the ‘Who’s who’ in your life i.e.details of the people who matter to you.
 
 
 
 

Is that all?

If you know MatrikaS, you know that the Creative Journal will not be only about pages for you to ‘Scribble Away Your Heart.’ There will be some value additions too. So here in the Creative Woman’s Journal we have –

1) A paper pouch in the inner-side of the back cover to put those small bits and pieces of paper that one is prone to scribble on when an idea presents itself and there’s nothing else suddenly at hand except for some corner of a newspaper or a bill.

2) A black ribbon that acts as a book-mark. To be frank this was the only disappointment. I’d have preferred a proper book- mark with some ethnic design. It would look lovely and inspiring.

3) An elastic protective band to hold both covers together so that nothing falls off from between the pages.

4) A small elastic loop to hold the pen. Wish a pen too came with the journal. Its inclusion would have made the journal complete.

pouch

THE POUCH

back

BACK COVER WITH REMOVABLE PAPER FLAP CONTAINING DETAILS

  
 

VERDICT

A creative journal for the creative woman, one that’s sure to appeal to her aesthetic sense as well as inspire her to dream and doodle and pour out her heart in the form of words, ideas and creative articles, the MatrikaS Woman’s Creative Journal is truly awesome.
 
 
 
 

Interested?

Do check out the video of the product created by MatrikaS


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BOOK REVIEW : HALF PANTS FULL PANTS

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TITLE : Half Pants Full Pants
AUTHOR : Anand Suspi
PUBLISHER: Paper Boat
GENRE: Non- fiction
ISBN: 9788193262016
AVAILABLE @ : flipkart / amazon.in

THE BOOK

TITLE

Apt. Conveys the essence of the book in simple yet strong terms.

COVER DESIGN

Reminded me of the days when 5 ps. And 10 ps. could buy us a handful of sweets, chewing gum etc.

WHAT THE BOOK IS ALL ABOUT

A debut novel that several Indian readers have compared with works of one of India’s greatest writers – R K Narayan. Universal in its theme, this book is a tribute to childhood memories and nostalgia. It vividly captures and celebrates the little joys of growing up before internet and mobile phones took away the simplicity of life. This is a childhood autobiography set in a small town in South India in the 1970s and 80s. At once an ode to innocence and mischief, this is a collection of effortlessly told memorable little tales guaranteed to set off a journey back in time. From playing a rare instrument, to asking Rajiv Gandhi intimate questions, to practicing dolphin dives, to hanging out of a running train in the middle of the night; to witnessing a world record, to being caught in a flood of sambar, to learning kung-fu with mosquitoes, to becoming the “inventor” of capris, to making magnets, to planning a borewell… Half Pants Full Pants is a collection of real-life stories of growing up in Shimoga. R. Balki, perhaps our generation’s best filmmaker and storyteller, touts this treasure-trove of stories as: “After Malgudi Days, I could never imagine that somebody could create another childhood classic for adults to regain their innocence even for a few hours. Suspi’s tales would have made R K Narayan smile. Oh! That beautiful Kannadiga gene!”

MY TAKE

STORIES :- Enriching! Takes one down memory lane to those good old days when 5 ps. and 10 ps. could buy one lots of chocolates, chewing gums, etc. Each of the stories in the book is easily relatable for people like me who grew up in the 60s and 70s when a journey by train was nothing short of good luck, when Raleigh cycles were a novelty and being able to play an instrument was the in thing. They bring to life the innocence of childhood in those days; days when TVs were just making an entry into the Indian market and children preferred outdoor games to being bound within the four walls of the house.

The pages of the book are loaded with humor and innocence and though most of us have gone through the experiences mentioned therein, one can’t help experiencing a feeling akin to inhaling pure, fresh air when going through the same.

CHARACTERIATION: The characters are well- fleshed out and each of them has certain traits that make them stand out from the rest. They remind us of our friends and foes ( bullies) of childhood and make us nostalgic.

LANGUAGE: Language is simple crisp and lucid and has the ability to bring live the events narrated in the book.

VERDICT

A wonderful and refreshing read that is sure to appeal to people of all ages. While the book is sure to make people who were born before the mid- 90s nostalgic, it will act as a reference to those born later giving them an insight to the simple yet innocent life of earlier times when people were truly connected to nature and were not bogged down by gadgets, when eating out needed months of planning yet inviting someone over did not need a previous notice. I’ll give the book a 4 on a scale of 5.


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Review: Dominick & the Dragon by Anne K. Edwards

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TITLE: Dominick & the Dragon
AUTHOR: Anne K. Edwards
FORMAT: ebook
PAGES: 42
GENRE: Fantasy Fiction ( For children)
ASIN: B01N9F3RFS
GET IT @ amazon.com

BLURB

Dominick is a lonely little boy who has an interest in dragons so when his brothers tell him about one living in the “dark forest” behind Dominick’s home, he longs to meet him. Imagine his surprise when he does. Here, he must outsmart the dragon named Elvis who is always hungry.

MY TAKE

A short yet interesting read, one that is sure to appeal to the young mind, Dominick and the dragon reminded me of my childhood when I used to dream of elves and fairies, believed in creatures appearing in story books and was in awe of children elder to me. In fact Dominick stands for that child in us.

The book also reminded me of some sane advice given to me by my elders and later passed on by me to my child like be on guard when you talk to strangers, don’t leave the confines of the house unchaperoned.

There are some twists and turns and we see young Dominick using his wits to escape from the clutches of danger.

The language is simple and the pace is perfect.

Overall a cute read I’ll rate the book 4 on a scale of 5.


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Review : Changing Places by Anne K. Edwards

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TITLE: Changing Places
AUTHOR: Anne K. Edwards
Age level: 4-8
Price: $1.99/₹ 129.00
Pages: 14
ASIN: B06Y2DP993
Find on amazon.com & Amazon.in

BLURB 🙂

A black cat named Whiskers encounters a snake that has lost his home when he goes outside to see the world.

WHAT I LIKED

A cute little story, an instaread, that points to an important facet of life one that nearly all of us have encountered sometime or the other. Though ‘Changing Places’ is the story of Whiskers the black home cat and a homeless snake it is in fact one that reflects human nature indirectly. We as human beings are-

1) Never satisfied with what we have. For us the pasture is always greener on the other side of the fence i.e. till we experience it.
2) Curiosity ‘kills’ us. The thirst to experience and know the unknown prompts us to explore. Once our thirst is satiated we yearn for home. This is the time we thank our stars just like Whiskers the cat.
3) Many inspite of facing odds, are hesitant to take up challenges for fear of the unknown like the snake. They need prompting and cajoling.

The style of narration is perfect and engaging. Language is simple, crisp and lucid. Pace is perfect.

There are some eye- catching illustrations by Dasguptarts that by themselves convey the story.

VERDICT

A wonderful and refreshing read one that has a message for the young, I’ll give this one a 5 on a scale of 5.


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The Author

Anne K. Edwards enjoys writing tales for children when she’s not focusing on a mystery. Some stories are ideas taken from little misadventures of her cat who actually did fall off the porch and land on a large blacksnake as it was sunning itself. Both were more than a little surprised.

Book Review: Radius 200

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TITLE: Radius 200
AUTHOR: Veena Nagpal
GENRE: Fiction
ASIN: B01MYBRT3L

THE BOOK

BLURB

What if a nuclear powered neighboring nation was to ‘steal’ an entire river from under our eyes?

What if a top-ranking Indian General was to take a unilateral decision to strike back, thereby triggering a cataclysmic reaction?

What if, in the aftermath of the nuclear attack, India was left with a devastated Exclusion Zone, 200 kilometers in radius?

And what if your love was stranded inside the Exclusion Zone…

REVIEW
 
 
WOWs!!

PLOT/ STORY-LINE :- Set in the future, the story has at its epicentre Allahabad in North India.

A nuclear holocaust caused by a neighbouring country, leaves a trail of destruction its wake giving birth to people with mangled figures and land that is arid and devoid of vegetation. Termed the Exclusion Zone, the city of Allahabad is actually a ghost town. Vegetables give way to lizards and snakes as fodder for the hungry and disfigured men, women and children struggling to keep breathing for want of food and proper medication walk its streets. Water is rationed and illness is their constant companion.

Elsewhere in Mumbai there is one a journalist, who is hell bent on entering the Exclusion Zone come what, may. What is her motive? Why does she want to walk into the death trap? What was the provocation for use of nuclear weapon by the enemy? etc…etc…are questions that may plague you throughout the story.

While the living dead in the exclusion zone battle the after effects of the holocaust, those outside it face another challenge, a challenge which if not addressed urgently will slowly but steadily wipe out their very existence. It is one that is connected to the elixir of life water. But here again the solution lies in the zone that they dread to tread.

What finally happens? Does help ultimately reach the Exclusion Zone ? Is the journalist successful in entering it? Is the problem of water scarcity solved?…… To know the answers one needs to go through this engaging read.

There are twists and turns and there are places where you may feel overwhelmed. But ultimately one does realize that this story could be a window to the future, a window if not repaired on time may crash when the winds howl, allowing the gale to wreak havoc irreparable.

CHARACTERIZATION: A maze of characters makes up the story. While some are fleshed out well, there are others who come across as under- developed and prominent amongst these that need to be worked upon are Arjun and Om. There is a lot of potential in these characters but somehow they seem to have been neglected.

LANGUAGE: Simple, crisp and easy to comprehend. The author’s command over the language is evident from the word ‘go’ and this helps her weave situations such that one can easily visualize them. One feels that one is in the thick of action taking place at a particular point. This feeling has gone a long way in making the book an engaging read.

PACE: The pace is perfect. It is neither too slow nor too fast.

 
 
OOPs!!

1) Of and on descriptions of people in the Exclusion Zone catching and eating rats and lizards was not savoury just like the subjects in question. It could have been cut down to minimal.

2) Kyra allowing Arjun to get intimate with her inspite of the fact that she does not love him and he is already married with two kids. Somehow this did not fit in well with the story.
 
 
VERDICT

An engrossing read, one that is well- researched and something different from the usual war- related stories, I’ll give ‘Radius 200’ a 4 on a scale of 5.


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Get a copy of the book @

amazon.in II amazon.com

Guest Post by Author Sumeetha Manikandan

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Hello Friends,
 
 

So today, I have the honour of hosting

<

Author Sumeetha Manikandan.

 
 
She has penned –


 
 

Having read the English translation of first part out of five volumes of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan thanks to the efforts of Sumeetha Manikandan and having loved it ( Do read my review of the book HERE ), I was curious to know how Sumeetha came to take up this particular book for translation and what was her experience throughout this cumbersome process.

 

This is what she had to say:

 

“It has been an eventful journey so far. This project began ten plus years ago and I abandoned it thinking that I was no good. I got the confidence to revisit the project only after I had published two books and got reasonably good reviews for both. That and the encouragement of my readers who followed the translation avidly made me resume the project. I am grateful to Author Venketesh Ramakrishnan for encouraging me to continue this project. Even then, I just wanted to publish the chapters as a blog but requests started pouring in from many readers. They wanted to read the whole thing as a book.

Translating any literature is a tough prospect, more so than writing an original novel. Here you are working on strict parameters that have already been laid out. This is especially true for a classic novel like Ponniyin Selvan. The story, characters, their personalities, the plot – they have all been fleshed out, discussed and dissected for many years now. One cannot take any liberties there.

Humour was the most challenging aspect of this novel. It runs through the novel like a jugular vein. Try translating any vernacular joke or humorous situation into English and if you can make the audience at least smile at your efforts then you have done a good job.

Language is another feature of this project that I had to be very careful with. It needs to be formal and yet neutral. It can’t be too archaic nor it can be too modern. It had to be just right. Each word needed to be selected carefully lest it had modern connotations or associations.

One aspect of this project that I thoroughly enjoyed was presenting the pictures of different places, temples and landmarks that are mentioned in Ponniyin Selvan in my blog. It was a fascinating exercise that my readers and I enjoyed. I am still writing the fourth volume of the book and I have one more volume to finish. I hope to finish them by this year and release them as books.

More than anybody else, I owe a lot to Kalki Krishnamurthy because it was thanks to Ponniyin Selvan that I started writing and discovered that I could write!”
 
 

Well, let’s wish Sumeetha all the very best in her onward journey as an author as well as translator.
 

Thank you Sumeetha both for sharing your views and ‘Ponni’s Beloved.’ Eagerly looking forward to reading the translation of future volumes of the book. An Appeal: Don’t keep us waiting for long. 🙂


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Book Review : Ponni’s Beloved: An English Translation Of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan

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TITLE: Ponni’s Beloved
TRANSLATOR: Sumeetha Manikandan
PUBLISHER: Indireads
ASIN: B01MUHYI5A

 

BLURB
(Goodreads)

Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan is a masterpiece that has enthralled generations of Tamil readers. Many authors have written phenomenal books in Tamil literature after Kalki Krishnamurthy, but Ponniyin Selvan remains the most popular, widely-read novel. It has just the right mixture of all things that makes an epic – political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, huge dollops of romance, infidelity, seduction, passion, alluring women, unrequited love, sacrifice and pure love.

REVIEW

MY TAKE


THE TRANSLATION:- The art of translation is cumbersome and the more you read a piece of translation and compare it with the original, the more you see scope for improvement. Hence to take up the translation of a piece of literature and that too of a popular classic is indeed an act of bravery. Hence, I must at the outset congratulate Sumeetha Manikandan for having taken up this difficult task. I myself have been into the world of translation since the past three decades and I know the challenges one faces in this field. So based on my experience and my reading of the book ( translation), I must say that the translator in Sumeetha has done a wonderful job. Yes, there are places where I feel there is scope for further improvement but like I mentioned earlier, a translation is rarely hundred percent perfect.

THE STORY:- A legendary piece of literature, ‘Ponni’s Beloved’ is Part One of five parts of the English translation of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Tamil Classic ‘Ponniyin Selvan.’ It has as its protagonist Vandiya Devan a young soldier who belongs to the brave warrior race of Vanars. He is on a secret mission for the Crown Prince of the Chola Kingdom. What follows is an adventurous journey through the realms of the Chola Kingdom. Spiced with bits of gossip, fun- frolic and subtle romance, the story is actually that of deceit and dare. While we see that the thirst for power of a few, combined with the determination to wreak vengeance by some others, is ready to hit at the very foundation of a great empire, we also see the grit, determination and intelligence of one a woman, try match up to the conspiracies of the enemies in an attempt to thwart their mission and secure the future of the empire.

The story with plots and sub-plots and a range of characters, is interspersed with bits of historical facts here and there to enable the reader understand the characters, their place in the history of the region and the situation prevailing in those times better. These not only enrich the knowledge of the reader but also help in understanding the story better. They act as a guide to the Chola Kingdom.

The characters are well fleshed out and come across as normal human beings prone to known moral virtues and vices like love, hate, empathy, jealousy, loyalty, treachery, etc. Unlike the characters of the great Indian Epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana, those in ‘Ponni’s beloved’ do not have supernatural powers. They act and react purely by instinct and hence it is easy for one to connect to them, their thoughts and their actions and reactions.

The footnotes at the end of each page take care of the Tamil words, names, etc., that often crop up within the story. They are like the help-desk that provides fast and efficient service. 🙂

Overall an engrossing and interesting read, ‘Ponni’s Beloved’ did not satiate my thirst for the Tamil Classic. Instead it ignited an urge to know more of the story which is open ended in the first part. To be frank I was disappointed when it came to an end because it felt abrupt and incomplete. Felt like I was cheated. 😉 Can’t wait for the remaining volumes to hit the stands.


VERDICT


A truly wonderful read but……. with a few typos here and there, I’ll give the book a 4 on a scale of 5. Do pick up the book. You won’t regret it.


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This review forms a part of

Blog Tour
for the book

Get a copy of the book @

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Book Review – Rafflesia: The Banished Princess

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TITLE: Rafflesia: The Banished Princess
AUTHOR: Gautam
PUBLISHER: Frog Books ( An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
GENRE: Fiction
ISBN: 9789352017164

THE BOOK

TITLE

Now if you go purely by the title and believe it is one of those fantasy stories that children enjoy or one about a beautiful princess then you are in for a surprise. No it is something different, something where a book by the name just forms part of the protagonist Apurva’s life. So don’t be mislead. Look forward to something different, something new.

COVER DESIGN

BLURB

The curtains draw up. Lights are dimmed. The musical is about to begin. As the beautiful princess descends on stage, the mythical creatures from her kingdom come alive. Flickers of brilliant colours blaze across as mesmerizing music pulsates from one corner of the theatre to the other. A fairy tale is about to unfold…

As young children, we often come across things that stay in our hearts forever. For Appu, it is a fairy tale about a beautiful princess. He lives with her in a world filled with the magical creatures from her kingdom until the real world beckons. A reluctant Appu steps into it as a striking young man and struggles to find his place.

What follows is an evocative tale of love and loss, friendship and betrayal, as the story travels through the snow-peaked mountains of Arunachal to the golden deserts of Jaisalmer, the tulip gardens of Holland to the lush greens of Kerala. Does Appu find what he had set out for? The answer lies in Rafflesia – The Banished Princess because in her story, lay his!

REVIEW
MY TAKE

PLOT/ STORY-LINE:- ‘Rafflesia: The Banished Princess’ has more to do with the protagonist Apurva’s story than with that of a princess by the name. It is just a key to understanding the protagonist who attracts the attention of all he comes into contact with.

The plot/ story-line is interesting and throws up umpteen possibilities of understanding the protagonist. While to some he may come across as demure and one with a lack of confidence, to another he may come across as an sensitive person, soft and one with a heart of gold who is hesitant to take up challenges not due to lack of confidence but due to circumstances beyond his control. Whichever way you view him, you are sure to be intrigued by him.

As we turn the pages of the book we get an insight into the life of Appu aka Apurva right from childhood to adulthood. In fact the story oscillates back and forth between the two phases of his life i.e. childhood and adulthood his struggles, his friends, his family, the shaping of his personality, career and much more. The book is a sort of a psychological fiction that opens your eyes to certain realities, realities that those lucky not to have gone through the life such as that of Apuva, miss.

The plot holds immense potential and the author has done justice to it. Yes there are some areas that are confusing and one may have to go back and forth once in a while to understand certain things, but overall the story is interesting and engaging especially in the latter half.

The climax if you may say so again leaves room for various interpretations. It is open- ended so you can let your imagination take flight and weave your own story from where the author leaves. 🙂

There are twists that one may not anticipate and there are turns that at times are pleasant and bring a smile to your lips. There are also places that are sure to moisten your eyes. In short, the story of Apurva and those in his life are sure to move you.

Is there romance? No

Is there an element that hints at a thriller? No

Then what is it that appeals to the reader? I can’t put my finger on it, but I just know it is appealing.

CHARACTERIZATION: The main characters are well- developed with their imperfections. The quiet and sombre Apurva compliments the extrovert and boisterous Rahul. At times one comes across an innocent child in the adult Appu.

The characters of Misha, Trina, Sujata and Abair are also well- fleshed out.

Is there any one character with whom I’d like to have got acquainted more? Yes, that of Amala. I feel her character had more potential.

LANGUAGE: – Simple and easy to understand.

EDITING:- Needs to be tightened. A few grammatical errors and typos here and there act as stumbling blocks that need to be cleared before the book goes in for a reprint.

VERDICT

An interesting read but…. before you pick it up, let me warn you it is not a short read. The book is one of around four hundred pages. I’ll give the book 3 on a scale of 5.


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I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Get a copy of the book @ amazon.in