BOOK REVIEW: ASHOK AND THE NINE UNKNOWN

Book: Ashok and the Nine Unknown

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Author: Anshul Dupare

Genre: Mythology, Fiction, Historical fiction

Published by: Rupa Publications

Number of pages: 224 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

MY REVIEW: I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Emperor Ashok of the Maurya dynasty of course is one of the greatest kings in Indian history.

The story begins just after the end of the war of Kalinga. Ashok is on the battlefield feeling very guilty about the death and destruction caused by him, when he comes across a mortally wounded Kalingan soldier who has lost both his arms and an eye. The soldier curses Ashok and falls into the river.

Ashok is a changed man after the war and makes sincere attempts to improve the welfare of his people. The wounded soldier Amartya is rescued and revived by his brother Vatsal.

After meeting Ashok, Amartya leaves for Mayong, a strange land of magic.

Ashok decides to form a secret society and entrusts his chief minister Radhagupta with the task of finding nine experts in different fields.

In Mayong, Amartya has completely recovered from his injuries and has now gained a lot of knowledge about the secrets of Mayong. The magical Mayong comes under attack by unscrupulous people who want to learn the secrets of Mayong. They attack the city with dragons but the people of Mayong try their best to overcome them.

In addition to the secret society formed by Ashok, there is yet another secret society that has a hidden agenda.

What is the connection between Ashok and the lost city of Atlantis? What secrets does the Sphinx of Egypt hold? What is the connection between Ashok and Amartya? These are just some of the questions raised by the end of the story.

I believe that the author is planning to take the story forward in a sequel. I for one, am awaiting the sequel in order to get the answers to the questions raised. “Ashok and the Nine Unknown”, is a story that will certainly appeal to readers.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: THE CASE OF BLACK MAGIC MURDERS IN MUMBAI

Book: The Case of Black Magic Murders in Mumbai

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Author: Shilpa Jain

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Fiction

Published by: Bulbosa Services

Number of pages: 206 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: The author Shilpa Jain provided me with a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

The story is about ‘tantrics’ and black magic as is evident from the title. An ‘aghori’ learns that one can become immortal by offering sacrifices to all the ‘mahavidyas’. His guru refuses to let him follow that immoral path but the disciple kills his guru and embarks on his quest to achieve immortality.

Inspector Tanvi Yadav and her team are assigned to the case when Pari, the young daughter of a wealthy family is supposedly kidnapped by a ‘tantric.’ Tanvi suspects that Pari’s abduction may be part of a bigger plot.

Subsequently, a series of abductions start to take place in the city of Mumbai in which all the victims are young girls. The bodies of the victims are subsequently found murdered in the most gruesome ways.

Tanvi is determined to nab the person responsible for these brutal murders before more girls are killed. She is assisted by her able team and her love interest, the forensic expert, Dr. Abram Sheriff.

There is also an interesting sub-plot in which there is a burqa-clad killer on the loose who targets men who have committed crimes.

Does Tanvi succeed in catching the tantric responsible for all this bloodshed? What secret is Tanvi hiding? Who is the burqa killer?

The reader needs to read the book to find out.

I recommend this book to readers as a fast paced crime thriller.

BOOK REVIEW: THE HEIST ARTIST

Book: The Heist Artist

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Author: Vish Dhamija

Genre: Thriller, Fiction

Published by: Harper Black

Number of pages: 262 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I received a copy of “The Heist Artist” by Vish Dhamija in exchange for an honest review.

The story begins with a description of Vagh Pratap Singh, aka “Captain”, a con artist wanted by the police.

The Captain has been assigned to pull off a major heist, one that if successful, will give him enough money for the rest of his life. He has been asked to steal an already stolen painting, ‘Poppy Flowers’, painted by none other than Van Gogh! This job is given to the Captain by an unscrupulous politician Udhham Kumar.

The Captain takes on the identity of an art professor in order to trace the painting. As Udhham Kumar does not trust the Captain completely, he assigns the beautiful Sylvia to keep tabs on him.

Once the painting is located, the Captain plans a daring heist to steal the painting and bring it to Udhham Kumar. Sylvia and Damodar, Udhham Kumar’s man, are sent to assist the Captain in bringing the painting in safely.

However, each individual in the story has their own agenda. So begins a thrilling journey of car chases, double crosses and betrayal. To complicate the situation further, an upright policeman Hari Mohan Gupta, who is determined to arrest the Captain and bring him to justice, is also hot on the Captain’s trail.

Will the Captain get away with the robbery or will he end up arrested or dead? The reader needs to read the story to find that out.

I recommend this book to readers as an engrossing and interesting thriller that will leave the reader hooked until the end.

BOOK REVIEW: DECEPTIONS OF TOMORROW

Book: Deceptions of Tomorrow

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Author: Kumar L.

Genre: Science Fiction, Short Stories

Published by: Red Knight Books

Number of pages: 70 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: The author graciously provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The book comprises of 11 short stories. These stories are all based on Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), black holes and time travel.

I was introduced to Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics by way of this book. Many of the stories in this book are based on the Three Laws.

So what are the stories in the book all about? They range from topics as diverse as the thief who steals a star, a robot couple who long for their own child, a time travel zealot who decides to travel back in time to kill his grandfathers in order to solve the time travel paradox and a fun excursion to a black hole that goes wrong.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading these science fiction stories and that too from an Indian author! You do not have to be a lover of science fiction to enjoy this book. I am sure that every reader will enjoy reading this book. I recommend this book as interesting and convenient to carry along on a journey.

BOOK REVIEW: VANARA THE LEGEND OF BAALI, SUGREEVA AND TARA

Book: Vanara-The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara

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Author: Anand Neelakantan

Genre: Mythological Fiction

Published by: Penguin Books

Number of pages: 309 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I was happy to read and review this book as I enjoy reading mythology, especially Hindu mythology. Also, it made a refreshing change from the recent novels that I have read.

Before I started reading the book, I realised that I did not know much about Baali or Sugreeva beyond what stories I had read based on the Ramayana. I knew practically nothing about Tara.

The book begins with a detailed introduction by the author who shares various stories about the births of Baali and Sugreeva. The author also explains how myths and stories have evolved over generations.

The story begins with Baali and Sugreeva, the two brothers being raised in the ashram of Sage Gautama. As the brothers belong to the tribe of the Vanaras or the Vana Naras, they are shunned as monkeys and made to do the menial work of the ashram.

Sugreeva witnesses Ahalya, the wife of Sage Gautama, committing adultery with Lord Indra, which sparks off a series of incidents that force the brothers to run away from the ashram and seek refuge in the forest.

The brothers wish to reunite with their tribe, the Vana Naras but are not easily accepted by the tribe. It is only the eunuch Riksarajas, who takes in the brothers and becomes an adoptive father to them. He takes them to Mahabali, the Asura emperor to study.

Meanwhile, an interesting love triangle starts between the brothers and Tara, the beautiful daughter of Sushena, the Vaidya of the Vana Naras. This tension between the three of them continues throughout the story.

Baali with the help of Sugreeva and Tara establishes the city of Kishkinda and attempts to restore the pride of the Vana Naras.

The circumstances that lead to the rift between the brothers which results in Sugreeva seeking out Rama and Lakshmana and Baali’s death, are extremely fascinating to read.

The characters in the story are portrayed wonderfully: Baali as the alpha male, Sugreeva as the younger brother with a sly streak, Tara who is an extremely capable woman and even Hanuman, Ravana, Rama and Lakshmana.

Do read the book if you enjoy reading mythology. I recommend ‘Vanara-The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara’ to readers as enjoyable, interesting and informative.

BOOK REVIEW: THE CONQUEST OF THE EAST

Book: The Conquest of the East

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Author: R. Durgadoss

Genre: Historical, Fiction

Published by: Rupa Publications

Number of pages: 226 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This story is about the Chola dynasty, and is set during the reigns of Raja Raja Chola and Emperor Rajendra Chola. Though the Cholas have defeated the Pandyas, they have failed to recover the royal crown and the other jewels.

The story begins with the birth of Surya, in none other than a jail, as his mother is incarcerated there. Surya is born with a unique birthmark on his chest. Though his mother rejects him and his father is unknown, he is taken in by a family who then decide to adopt him.

Surya is blessed with unique abilities concerning water, he is able to stay underwater for a long time without breathing along with other abilities! As his adopted father is a commander in the Chola navy, Surya’s talents are noticed at a very early age and nurtured.

After helping the Crown Prince on an important mission, Surya is sent to the Chola Royal Army School where his talents are honed to the utmost.

Surya goes on to play a vital role in helping Emperor Rajendra Chola to recover the royal crown and jewels. This quest for the jewels takes him to the kingdom of Srivijaya, where he falls in love with and marries a princess.

But fate still decrees that Surya serve his Emperor and he goes back to his home to protect the Emperor against his enemies. Does Surya ever meet his biological parents? Does he succeed in serving the Emperor and doing his duty? The reader will have to read the book to find out.

I highly recommend “The Conquest of the East”, as an extremely interesting story that will appeal to readers who love old historical/mythological stories.

BOOK REVIEW: THE STALKER

Book: The Stalker

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Author: Sandeep Sharma

Genre: Thriller, Fiction

Published by: Redgrab Books

Number of pages: 135 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

MY REVIEW: The author Sandeep Sharma kindly provided me with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.

Randhir Kamat is the CEO of USB (Un-social Bastards), one of the top companies in the field of entertainment. Randhir’s life appears to be settled, his company is at the top, he has a lovely girlfriend Rupali and a loyal friend and colleague Devendra.

However, Randhir has a stalker: Deepali. She stalks him incessantly on social media and professes her love for him. At first, Randhir enjoys the attention. But when the publicity affects his business and also his girlfriend Rupali, Randhir finally decides to go to the police to put an end to the stalking.

The matter is entrusted to Inspector Suraj Pant. When Inspector Suraj is assigned the case, it is in the middle of preparations for his daughter’s wedding. However, he investigates the matter with diligence.

Several questions arise in the course of his investigation. Who is Deepali in reality and why is she stalking Randhir? Is Randhir as innocent as he pretends to be? What is the actual connection between Rupali and Mayank, the head of Natak Company, one of the biggest competitors of USB?

The author has managed to spin an intricate tale of double cross, betrayal and suspense and has brought the story to an extremely unexpected conclusion. The story is only marred by bad grammar, especially involving the use of the past tense. The book would have benefitted greatly with better editing and proof reading.

However, ‘The Stalker’ is a quick and interesting read for lovers of that genre, i.e. suspense thrillers.