Christmas is dying.
The last Santa Claus had triplets who each inherited a portion of his father’s power, and that split is now tearing apart the soul of Christmas.
Niccolo Vecchio, the eldest, has fortified the North Pole into a citadel of ice and metal.
Santini, the middle brother, is in hiding somewhere in the Mediterranean.
The youngest brother, Niccolo Piccolo, is raising legions to reclaim his inheritance.
Two of the triplets will have to renounce their claim in the next forty-eight hours, or this Christmas will be the last one ever.
And it’s up to Adam, underachieving teenager sub-ordinaire, and his brand new jock bully Zach to make that happen…
TITLE: The Inimitable Chaos Of Life
AUTHOR: Maliny Mohan
PUBLISHER: Story Mirror
GENRE: Fiction ( Anthology of Short Stories)
Does justice to the contents of the book which is in fact a collection of stories that bring to the fore the chaotic side of life.
Ah! This I admit, fails to impress. It lends an old book look. I would love to see the author take a re-look at this aspect while going in for a reprint and come up with something that is both eye-catching and communicative.
A naive girl of eighteen is trapped in a dungeon, which changes her and her capturer’s life forever. Afar, tucked away in the sleepy terrains of a town in Kerala, a married woman is determined to revisit a forbidden part of her past. A model-turned-MBA aspirant is scourged mentally for a decision she almost made three years back. Back in the less happening village of Kanyapuram, an aspiring author loses a copy of her very first manuscript.
True to its title, ‘The Inimitable Chaos of life’ is an amalgamation of enthralling stories borrowed from the chaotic pages of life, which allure you to relive the multitude of unique emotions humans are made of.
The stories 14 in all, bringing to the fore the myriad shades of human character and emotions. Beautifully crafted, they bring forth the inherent strengths and weaknesses in human characters and relationships, sacrifices that are life changing, enmities that ruin, loss that causes heart breaks, nostalgia at the sight of an old flame, etc., etc., Though there is nothing extraordinary in the stories, what makes them unique is the way they have been told. Yes, there are some where the conclusion is well in sight before one reaches the end but there are also others with an element of surprise, twists that leave one saying, “Oh! My God! How did I not foresee this?”
Characters are well- developed and one can relate to each one of them and their actions and reactions and why not, after all they come across as simple folks right there in next door.
The editing leaves a lot of scope for refinement. It needs to be tightened. Unnecessary jargon/ words and phrases that do not sit well in the contexts they are placed in, often act as speed- breakers. These need to be revisited and removed/ replaced to make the flow simple yet smooth. Hope the author looks into this aspect too while going in for a reprint.
Overall an interesting and engaging read, I’ll give the book a 3 on a scale of 5.
Maliny Mohan is a doctor with a creative bend of mind and a passion for weaving stories. Born and brought up in Kerala, Maliny Mohan has contributed to a short story anthology, titled ‘Love and other enchantments’, brought out by a group of five authors – The Fictitious Five, and another titled ‘Colors- Different shades of love’.
An avid blogger, Maliny Mohan is passionate and strives hard to listen to her heart, every time it beats out of sync. Her tales mirror her eye for beauty in its varied forms, sometimes resplendent with the most vibrant of hues and at other times poignant, enriched with subdued shades of grey and black. Apart from being passionate about writing, she is also a trained dancer, lover of solitude, bibliophile, tea-lover and an amateur poet.
Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?
“I am the Queen! This will be my throne!” The seven-year-old chirped leaping from the middle of the porch towards the broken mortar which served as a mock throne. “You will be my guard!”
“Guard?” the man pondered scratching his unkempt beard.
“No.” He shook his head and smiled seeing her indignant eyes. “I will be the Queen’s elephant.” He beamed.
Sukratu stepped out of the house to see his daughter in action, perching herself on the tramp Loha’s back, pretending in all earnestness that he was her elephant. He smiled and was about to set out for his duty as the night guard of the King. A sudden lightning appeared in the eastern skies. Sukratu had barely walked a few paces when a deafening thunder made him instinctively turn towards home. He heaved a sigh, finding Loha shielding the girl as if he would, his own child.
“Father, don’t go.” The girl pleaded.
Sukratu smiled and shifted his gaze towards the sky. He saw dark clouds loom over the city. The monsoon winds had started to make their presence felt. He had to reach the palace soon. “Isn’t my little Queen brave?” He called out.
The girl nodded. He saw the fear fade. From her eyes. From her heart. She knew she was the queen! Pride filled his heart. His mind ached to stay home but duty beckoned. Tearing his gaze away from the one he treasured the most in his life, braving the drizzle that would soon turn into a storm, he unwillingly walked towards the King’s residence. Sukratu’s house was in the third ring of the concentric structure of Vrishabhavati. In the centre, was the structure, that served as the residence of the king and as the centre of all trade activity of the city. Here no wealth or goods could change hands without the king’s knowledge and approval. The residences of the noblemen formed the two rings around it. The guards and soldiers forming the outermost circle with the citizens living around them.
As per the protocol, Sukratu approached General Ugra’s residence quite ahead of his reporting time— an hour before the moonrise. He walked into the empty courtyard. But the rain made it impossible for him to stand there any longer. He knocked at the giant wooden door fervently. The doors creaked as a strange woman clad in a dark indigo garment opened them and glared at him with a frown on her forehead.
General Ugra, Sukratu knew was never faithful to one woman. His superior’s romantic exploits were not his concern either. But something about the woman at the door disconcerted him. “Please let General Ugra know that…”
“He has already left for the palace!” The woman frowned before attempting to shut the door.
“What? How ca…” Sukratu’s words hung in air as the door slammed on his face and the woman disappeared from his line of vision all of a sudden. Something did not feel right. He knocked at the door again. Firmly this time, as though seeking answers. Any change in the reporting time would have been announced the day before and he remembered that nothing of the sort had happened. His knocks went unanswered. Frowning and muttering under his breath, Sukratu hurried towards an empty cowshed three houses away from Ugra’s place hoping to catch his companions who he knew would be equally surprised.
The first to arrive was Khela, the eighteen-year-old guard, holding a metal shield above his head. The newest addition to the King’s guard, Khela was related to General Ugra and Sukratu felt that his position in the King’s guard was largely a result of undue favours that Ugra showered upon an otherwise impudent boy.
“Sukratu! By the great Varuna, I should have come to you earlier!” Khela hurried towards him. Pausing for breath, he added. “Our platoon has been given a relief tonight! It was a sudden decision and I personally informed all the others.”
“Relief for tonight? That happens only when…”
“Our guarding hours change from night to day!” Khela completed in a hurry. “Now, come with me.” He turned towards the western direction and the javelin he held started to sway dangerously and came close to grazing Sukratu’s arm.
The older guard’s instincts made him dodge the cut. “Where?” Sukratu hissed, visibly annoyed, first with the fact that he was kept in dark about the change in guarding hours and then about Khela’s irreverent behaviour. “And watch who your weapon hurts, boy.”
Khela shrugged and changed the position of his weapon. “We are now going to the place.” He winked, stretching his hand in the direction. “Follow me, this is the only night we get to have some fun.”
Sukratu did not move. The place he knew implied the tavern where wine was served. “We cannot drink tonight, Khela. When do we have to report tomorrow? By sunrise?”
“You ask too many questions. The rest of us are there too!”
“That does not answer my question.”
“Well, I don’t know, and I don’t care to. The palace is paying for the wine. Are you coming or not?”
The last sentence sounded more like a threat than an invite. Sukratu had all the mind to give the youth a piece of his mind and storm back home. His daughter would be overjoyed to see him before she went to sleep. It gnawed at Sukratu’s heart every day to leave her under the care of Loha— the tramp who had begged him for shelter about six months ago and then became a part of his life. The girl liked him instantly and had begged Sukratu to let Loha live with them and he, despite his misgivings about the tramp’s origins and his unkempt appearance, could not refuse his only daughter. Over time, Sukratu felt grateful for Loha’s company. Now his daughter did not have to be all by herself every night. The guard’s home would have been unguarded if not for that stranger. Sukratu brushed aside these thoughts and had almost decided to go home when the thought of meeting other senior guards and clarifying the confusion struck him. He followed Khela’s lead, making no attempt to hide his displeasure.
When they reached the tavern, Sukratu to his dismay, found many of his brothers in arms deeply drunk. “When did they reach here and when did they…”
“Quite some time before. I just forgot to tell you in advance!”
Sukratu’s eyes scrutinized the men and women of the tavern who were serving wine to the guards. There were no other citizens or travellers in the tavern.
“Just for us, the whole night!” Khela said as if reading his thoughts, bringing him an earthen goblet.
The older guard accepted the goblet taking his first sip with a sense of foreboding.
“Where were you all the time, old friend?” The voice belonged to Tunga one of the senior guards in the platoon.
The grin on his friend’s face brought a smile to Sukratu’s lips. “Tunga, what is this about the sudden change in our guarding hours?”
“The King… that imbecile, has finally remembered that we are human too!” Tunga guffawed, emptying his goblet, waving vigorously at a woman of the tavern who obliged with a seductive wink.
She approached them, skilfully distributing her attention between both the men, winking at Tunga and pouting her lips at Sukratu. Her brows rose at Sukratu’s filled cup. “Don’t keep the Sura nor this Sundari waiting, my love…” Serving Tunga his wine, she placed her fingers upon Sukratu’s shoulders, digging her nails into his skin for a moment locking her gaze with his and turned around swiftly, letting her light upper garment rest on his face for a fleeting moment.
It was a wilful invitation and Sukratu knew it. His attention though was caught by the colour of the garment. The Indigo hued garment! All the women of the tavern wore clothes of the same colour. So did the woman he saw in General Ugra’s house! Was Ugra at home while the woman lied that he was at the palace? If the General and the whole platoon of the night guard were lying down drunk, who was minding the security of the King? Sukratu looked at the rest of the guards. No one seemed sober enough to talk. The only sober man Khela had disappeared!
“By the great Varuna!” Sukratu exclaimed aloud and rushed out, pushing the woman who tried to stop him away.
He raced to the King’s residence, as fast as his legs could carry him. The huge wooden gates of the structure were closed and secured from inside. The rain lashed drowning his cries. Misgivings regarding the King’s welfare made him shudder. He had to meet General Ugra. Something told him that the General had his own reasons to send the whole platoon of guards to enjoy a drunk night. He was a guard who had sworn to protect the King with his life. The general owed him an answer. Sukratu rushed to General Ugra’s house determined to confront him.
That, Sukratu realized was the biggest mistake of his life.
At the gates of the general’s residence he saw a familiar figure hurrying out of his house, a heavy bundle on his shoulders. “General Ugra!” he called out, feeling relieved.
The figure started, and the bundle fell to the ground. Sukratu came to a sudden halt as he realized it wasn’t a bundle after all, but a blood-drenched corpse. A stroke of lightning from the sky revealed the face and the very familiar greying curls. Sukratu froze for a long moment before he could speak.
Something hit him on the head even before he could utter the name. Sukratu staggered, reeling at the impact, clutching at his long sword in a vain attempt to defend the next move.
“Finish him!” The General shout behind him.
Before he turned around, Sukratu felt the cold metal tear into his back. Lightning struck revealing the contours of the person. Khela! The javelin stabbed him again. Thunder drowned his screams. Falling to the ground with the weapon still stuck to his back, Sukratu lifted his sword and managed to slash Khela’s palm though the latter, unlike him was vigilant and alert. Crawling away from the menacing duo, knowing very well that he could not last more than a few moments, Sukratu’s thoughts, went to his innocent daughter. She would now languish as an orphan remaining in dark about the monsters who killed her father. Or would they kill her too?
Sukratu would never know.
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
11th August 2017
Vishwamitra is the powerful story of a brave but stubborn, haughty yet compassionate, visionary king of Aryavarta who not only acquires material wealth through military conquests but also becomes one of the most well-known sages of all times.
Almost everyone would have heard the name of Vishwamitra and some may even know of his dalliance with Menaka, or the role he played in the Ramayan but even those who are familiar with his name, may not know these five things about him:
- Vishwamitra was born a Kshatriya prince and he reached the status of Brahmarishi, the highest possible rank for a Brahmin only through his tremendous effort!
- He is the discoverer of the Gayatri Mantra that is spoken by millions of Hindus even today all over the globe!
- He is associated with two major Avatars of Lord Vishnu – Parshuram, the 6th incarnation was his grand-nephew while he himself became the Guru of Shri Raam, the 7th incarnation.
- Vishwamitra’s daughter Shakuntala gave birth to Bharat, the King who gave India its official name – Bhaarat.
- He is credited with the remarkable feat of creating actual star systems purely on the basis of his mystical powers & the stars he created can still be seen in the southern hemisphere as the Crux.
TITLE: Frank Goes To The Market
ILLUSTRATOR: Chetan Sharma
PUBLISHER: MsMoochie (2017)
GENRE: Children’s Literature
Reading level: 1.00 – 6.00 years
Grab your shopping basket!
It’s time to step into a busy market.
It’s Frank’s first trip to the market and he is thrilled! He RUNS towards a sea of tomatoes. He HOPS towards a cart of potatoes. Finally he TURNS around to look at his mother. But, much to his dismay, she isn’t there.
Watch a crowded marketplace come to life in this vibrant story as we follow the adventures of one unforgettable little boy.
A cute little book of 22 pages, this one belongs to the Little Book Lovers’ Reading Series and is resplendent with colourful pictures each a veritable treat to the eyes. Aimed at reinforcing pre- reading skills and arousing an interest in the little minds, ‘Frank Goes To The Market’ does exactly that. While each page carries forward the story of Frank and his visit to the market which is filled with adventure, in just one or two sentences, the picture presentation of the narration leaves a lasting impression on the little mind. This I say not from the point of a reviewer but from firsthand experience.
A reading of the book with my 17 month old grandson by my side was enough to make me realize the effectiveness of the illustrations which are not only colourful but are communicative too. There are a few things in the book that he could easily relate to. For example as soon as he saw the first picture with an auto and Frank and his mother he was thrilled to the core and instantaneously related it to an auto near our home. In fact he related Frank to himself and identified Frank’s mother as myself his grandmother. ( Maybe because he sees me often in a saree unlike his mother who is always in a salwar-kameez). He was so thrilled by what he came across in each page that he was literally squealing in delight and wanted me to narrate the story again and again.
The story is simple and while children in the age group of one to four may not be able to read it on their own, they will surely enjoy it since all the elements in the story are there to see in their home/surroundings. In fact it just crossed my mind that the story can also be used as a medium to let them unleash their creative side and yarn a story of their own/ take this story forward.
There are certain passages that rhyme and give the story a poetical touch making it interesting and soothing to the ears.
The activities at the end of the book like ‘Word Fun,’ ‘Match the rhyming words,’ Find and Colour’ and ‘Put in Order,’ add a touch of fun combined with study and are engaging. The story imparts an important lesson and two too.
Overall great story, perfect style, engaging read with catchy and eye-appealing illustrations. A veritable treat for the young mind with plenty of nutrition enough to charge their creative side, I’ll give the book a 4 on a scale of 5.
TITLE: Just me, the Sink & the Pot
AUTHOR: Sudeshna Ghosh
BLURB ON GOODREADS
Meet Pamela, an overweight girl who’s looking back at her school days. From longing for a Valentine to dealing with a sibling who hates her, Pamela has a lot to deal with. She even has a special bunch of friends at home who she can turn to – but they aren’t the kind of friends you’d expect. Life sucks when you’re fat. Can Pamela ever be happy?
Picked up the book purely out of curiosity. Know what? The title and the blurb made me wonder how the two were related and I must say that when I went through the book I found the title to be apt. In fact I think there could not have been a better one.
‘Just me, the Sink & the Pot’ has at its core the subject of body shaming which is I must admit, something that is on the rise these days. The dilemma, the sufferings and the aspirations of an overweight girl are put forth beautifully and one can’t help but empathize with Pamela the protagonist and the butt of ridicule both at home and outside. But there were places in the story where I felt she was getting too obsessed with her weight and structure unnecessarily and that the real cause of her miseries was her own low-esteem. She was virtually turning out to be her own enemy.
The story is relatable as far as Pamela’s state of mind and her experiences are concerned and it did make me empathize with her. But it also set me thinking in another direction. While I could easily relate to the treatment meted out to Pamela both at home and in school, I could not digest the fact that school children in India can be so promiscuous as made out in the book. Yes, there may be a few say one or two or at the most four to five in a classroom who have no qualms in openly flaunting their liking for a member of the other sex. But the way it is brought out in the story it looks like the majority of the thin/ skinny girls in the protagonist’s class are promiscuous and have no qualms in openly flaunting their liking/ bedding the boys/ consuming drinks, etc., etc. Wonder whether I’m getting old and times have really changed so much or it is just Pamela’s blind belief /is she just imagining things?
The language is simple and lucid making the book not only a simple read but a fast one too. It addresses an issue that needs to be dealt with by society in all sincerity and throws up some vital questions like-
1) Don’t obese people have a right to the good things in life like parties, friends and above all impartial treatment at home?
2) Don’t they have a right to a space of their own?
3) Do looks really matter while picking up one’s friends?
4) Does anyone have a right to hurt other’s feeling/ body shame them?
Overall a wonderful read, I’ll give the book a 3 on a scale of 5.
THE CASANOVA’S WIFE
TITLE: The Conspiracy of Meru (Vikramaditya Veergatha Series Book#2)
AUTHOR: Shatrujeet Nath
PUBLISHER: Jaico Publishing House
GENRE: Fiction (Fantasy)
TITLE & COVER DESIGN
THE BATTLE IS ETERNAL
The only silver lining is that the deadly Halahala is safe. For now.
Bent on vengeance, Indra is already scheming to destroy Vikramaditya, while Shukracharya has a plan that can spell the doom for the Guardians of the Halahala. How long can the human army hold out against the ferocity and cunning of the devas and asuras? And will Vikramaditya’s love for his queen come in the way of his promise to Shiva?
The story is as I mentioned is intriguing and engaging and keeps the reader on tenterhooks with its twists and turns. While the fierce battle scenes especially that off the coast of Dvaraka are enough to give goose bumps, the havoc wreaked by Ahi is spine chilling.
Once again the author takes us through a maze of emotions. There is chivalry, love, deceit and much more that only a reading of the book can bring to the fore clearly. No review can explain the intricacies involved in the story with perfection. There are certain startling revelations that can have a bearing on the unity of the Guardians of Halahala and the turn the story takes in the next book in the series. While the mystery deepens, the conspiracy thickens and unholy nexus between the foes starts taking root to defeat the King and his Council of Nine. Will they succeed? Only time will tell.
CHARACTERIZATION: Characters are well- developed especially the secondary characters of the Series who take centre stage in this book (Here King Vikramaditya has been relegated to the background). But what stands out is that even the characters of the Devas are relatable. They are not entirely sugar coated. They have vices just like ordinary human beings. Lust, jealousy, deceit and a sense of helplessness at times makes them integrate easily into the story
LANGUAGE AND STYLE: Crisp and lucid. I loved the author’s style of narration and use of words.The flow takes one along with it and the imagery helps to transport the reader to the thick of action taking place. The battle scenes had me spell-bound.
PACE: The pace is perfect. Will keep one glued to the pages without giving a gap to let out even a yawn.