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: DARK BLOSSOM

Book: Dark Blossom

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Author: Neel Mullick

Genre: Thriller, Fiction

Published by: Rupa Publications

Number of pages: 212 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: The author Neel Mullick kindly provided me with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review. I was specially touched by the lovely handwritten message for me inscribed in the book.

The story is told in the first person by Cynthia, a psychologist/therapist who has just resumed working after a divorce. Cynthia lives with her surly teenage daughter Lily.

Cynthia has a new patient, Sam, who seeks recovery after the sudden deaths of his wife and teenage son in an accident. Cynthia tries to help Sam recover although she cannot help but suspect that Sam is hiding something from her.

Slowly, it appears that Sam is healing from his bereavement. Cynthia is progressing in her relationship with Lily as well. Sam also makes the transition from patient to friend of the family as he too becomes acquainted with Lily.

Just as everything appears to be going smoothly, Cynthia learns something that leaves her shaken! She is unsure whether she should share this knowledge with Sam or Lily as it will have an impact on both of them.

The end of the story, is extremely unexpected and was surely nothing that I anticipated!

I highly recommend “Dark Blossom”, as a highly enthralling and intriguing suspense thriller that will keep the reader guessing till the very end!

BOOK REVIEW: THE GLASS HOUSE A YEAR OF OUR DAYS

Book: The Glass House A Year of Our Days

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Author: Chanchal Sanyal

Genre: Fiction

Published by: Rupa Publications

Number of pages: 184 pages

My Rating: 4/5

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

The story is told in the first person by the protagonist referred to only as M.B. and ‘Bungali Saab’. M.B., a history professor and his wife Roshni, a designer have always dreamed of owning their own home and accordingly invest in an upcoming scheme in Gurgaon.

However the development runs into a multitude of problems and construction is stalled. This leads to the unravelling of M.B. and Roshni’s marriage and creates many more problems.

There are many characters in the story that have been wonderfully portrayed by the author. The Punjabi and Bengali culture and their eccentricities too have been depicted well. The characters of M.B. and Roshni’s landlord Mr. Khanna, his gym freak son Rocky, M.B’s successful older brother Tubluda and M.B.’s colleague Malati have been so well etched out that they greatly add to the story.

One cannot help but empathise with M.B. as the struggles that he goes through to own a flat are those that every middle class Indian experiences. The story is well written and extremely interesting. Does the story have a happy ending? The reader needs to read the book to find that out.

I will certainly recommend this book to you. People of all ages can certainly understand and enjoy the book.

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.