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Book Review: The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi

Genre: Thriller
Book Name: The Rozabal Line
Authors: Ashwin Sanghi
Pages: 405
Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: Westland Ltd

I can’t believe what I just read! I am still trying to make sense of the book even after multiple attempts at reading by cross referencing pages back and then to the current one. In between, there is a plethora of characters with chronology totally being murdered! Not able to understand what I am talking about? Oh probably, then you are one of the prospective readers who just chanced upon this post and wondering whether to go ahead buying or reading. If you have already purchased, be a tsundoku (one who hoards the books but does not read). With each paragraph, the years change and not just by a few years, but long bygone eras – BC and ADs included.

I have read previous books of Ashwin Sanghi and I had liked those (barring Private India which was just an average read). However, with this book which is being popularized as Da Vinci Code of India, I am left to question myself whether when I had read the latter 8 years back, was I really able to understand a single word?

Probably people with more knowledge of religious history or history in general may be better able to relate to since this book was one of the bestsellers. But for me, it was totally a no read. And I am usually not so negative about any book.

Hoping that when I pick up this book after years, I give a positive feedback then. Keep watching my blog for review of another of Ashwin Sanghi’s book – The Sialkot Saga.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
A cardboard box is found on a shelf of a London library. When the mystified librarian opens it, she screams before she falls unconscious to the floor.

Within the labyrinthine recesses of the Vatican, a beautiful assassin swears she will eliminate all who do not believe in her twisted credo.

An elite army of thirteen calling itself the Lashkar-a-Talatashar has scattered around the globe. The fate of its members curiously resembles that of Christ and his Apostles. Their agenda is Armageddon.

A Hindu astrologer spots a conjunction of the stars and nods to himself in grim realization of the end of the world. In Tibet, a group of Buddhist monks’ searches for a reincarnation, much in the way their ancestors searched Judea for the Son of God. In strife torn Kashmir, a tomb called Rozabal holds the key to a riddle that arises in Jerusalem and gets answered at Vaishno Devi.

An American priest has disturbing visions of people familiar to him, except that they seem located in other ages. Induced into past-life regression, he goes to India to piece together the violent images. Shadowing his every move is the Crux Decussata Permuta, a clandestine society, which would rather wipe out creation than allow an ancient secret to be disclosed.

In The Rozabal Line, a thriller swirling between continents and centuries, Ashwin Sanghi traces a pattern that curls backward to the violent birth of religion itself.

About the author:
Ashwin Sanghi ranks among India’s highest selling English fiction authors and is writing since 2004. He has written several bestsellers (The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key) and a New York Times bestselling crime thriller with James Patterson. Included by Forbes India in their Celebrity 100 and winner of the Crossword Popular Choice, Ashwin has recently also penned a non-fiction title ’13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck’.
Twitter: @ashwinsanghi

Read on my blog – reviews of other Ashwin Sanghi’s books – Chanakya’s Chant and Private India.

Rating: 2/10

Book Review: Kalayug by Anurag Tripathi

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Kalayug by Anurag Tripathi

Genre: Crime Thriller
Book Name: Kalayug
Author: Anurag Tripathi
Pages: 268
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: Rupa Publications

Who is the hunter? And who exactly is the hunted? This book Kalayug by Anurag Tripathi seeks to track when exactly the hunter becomes the hunted.

The novel captures the essence of the genre very well by rhyming into the current psyche of Indian readers (most made famous by Ravi Subramanian). Here, by genre, I am referring to the fiction on the banking industry. The story is based on the art industry, where interestingly the investment banker (IB) is able to find the loophole of unregulated industry, just like the refinancing of mortgage industry, which in the end collapsed because of too much greed.

The cover pic of the book will entice you to pick it up – glitter glossy starry world, more unbecoming in the darkness of night where the real traits of the person comes to the fore. With the book detailing on history, nuances and close knit circle of the art industry, you just cannot say no to this one!

And it’s one thriller which ended on an unexpected note, unlike the typical Indian fiction novels. So buckle up your belts and get ready to embark on an interesting art + IB journey.

Book blurb:
When Jay Malhotra sets out on an adventure to manipulate the unregulated art market of the Navaratnas, he unknowingly sets into motion a chain of events that have the potential to destroy the very foundation of the art industry in India.

Set against the backdrop of the transformation of the art society in India into an industry, Kalayug follows the struggles and exploits of Jay Malhotra as he navigates through the mercurial world of art, dominated by its nexus of powerful dealers, experts and gallery owners. With a 360 -degree overview of this now-booming industry, Kalayug is a fast-paced thriller that will leave you asking for more.

About the author:
Anurag Tripathi is an alumnus of the Indian School of Business with a course in Advanced Creative Writing from The University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education. An erstwhile investment banker, his deal-making pursuits and entrepreneurial ventures have given him key insights into the working of corporate business houses. He lives in Paris along with his wife. Both are avid divers, who like travelling and exploring the world lesser known.

Twitter: @Authoranuragtri

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: Blood in the Paradise by Madhav Mahidhar

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Blood in the Paradise by Madhav Mahidhar

Genre: Crime Thriller
Book Name: Blood in the Paradise
Author: Madhav Mahidhar
Pages: 282
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd

Do we know the other side of the story? Or we just conclude the final by simply knowing the oh-so-obvious facts? Is  this book Blood in the Paradise a tale of an impossible murder, or just an accidental death? The book is divided into supporters for each segment.

Fast paced, the story-line is written in dialogues to make it easy to read for Indian readers. The trials and the media turning the events seem natural where it is no more in the hands of law but where the media decides the verdict and either culprits go unpunished or the accused turned out nothing but a victim. I personally like the plot, especially with females leading the narrative with good hold of suspense.

The story is fresh, however the treatment could have been a little better with more focus on other characters and better editing. Few pages seemed repetitive. Even in between, the pages of the diary also seemed like someone else correlating the scenes than the one who was writing it. Recommended for all looking for a light crime thriller.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
This is a tale of Madhumitha Nandan. Her courage, her determination, her mission and her pursuit.
This is a tale of DCP Vishwaroop. His honesty, his intelligence, his shrewdness and his focus.
This is a tale of Anupriya Gautam. Her theories, her influence, her credibility and her dependability.
This is a tale of an impossible murder. The puzzle begins.

Goal – Freedom from the fear of death
Weapon – Deceiving the minds
The Bait – Law-breakers
Evidence – Nullified because of the weapon
Crime designers – Unknown to the executor

About the author:
Madhav Mahidhar was born and brought up in Nellore town of Andhra Pradesh. He completed his MCA in Chennai. At present, he is working as an IT professional in Bangalore. He is a passionate thinker and an aspiring futurist. Blood in the Paradise is his second novel and first in English.

Twitter: @Madhav_Mahidhar

Rating: 8/10

I won a review copy from The Tales Pensieve as part of Reviewers Programme. Register on #TTP for lots of #book fun and activities.

Book Review: Shadows of the Northlands by Vishwesh Desai

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Shadows of the Northlands by Vishwesh Desai

Genre: Fantasy, Thriller
Book Name: Shadows of the Northlands
Author: Vishwesh Desai
Pages: 512
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: Estrade Publishers

What is age for a talent! This book is written by a 15-year old guy, but let’s not get into that. It is a superb intriguing fantasy novel written by Vishwesh Desai and the foreword by Ashok K Banker sets your expectations just right.

Have you read fantasy books and felt that the extracts of these books are taken from Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, or Song of Ice and Fire? This book never lets you have that feeling.

This book Shadows of the Northlands has the underlying story of the struggle to save civilization with the mighty powers of Air, Water, Fire and Earth performed by the mages and the powerful talented others. Both the protagonist characters are perfect (mind it, there is no room for romance) – both headstrong and having the quality of leaders. The long tiring journey taking a toll on the fighters with no horizon (so-called bandits) in sight is what all of us struggle with when we are in wrong job!

Only if the pages could have been cut a little, to avoid overflowing of words, it would have deserved 10-on-10.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
This is the Empire. The greatest nation in the known world. And it is at war.

When the Crown Prince hears about cities and villages attacked and razed to the ground, the land blackened and left infertile, the already shackled military commands the maverick bounty-hunter Merin and the slick courtier mage Rikkard to find the root of the destruction.

However, as they tackle this mystery, they discover an ancient hatred spanning centuries, with a dark secret linked to Merin and the painful past behind the satirizing cavalier. A swashbuckling tale of suspenseful fantasy and horrifying mystery that is loaded with humor, The Shadows of Northlands will leave you riveted from cover to cover.

About the author:
Vishwesh Desai from Ahmedabad, is a 15-year-old with a fierce passion for reading and writing. The publication of his short stories in the Estrade magazine and the 2015 edition of the ‘I CAN’ book preceded the completion of his first novel, which also just happens to be the fourth one he started.

Vishwesh has been awarded with the ‘Rana Kapoor Young Talent Award 2016’ by Kumaon Literary Festival, Yes Bank and Yes Institute. He has spoken at several literature festivals all over the country. His creative streak extends to painting and sketching, and he has a few art exhibitions under his belt.

Twitter: @vishweshwrites

Rating: 9/10

I won a review copy from The Tales Pensieve as part of Reviewers Programme. Register on #TTP for lots of #book fun and activities.

Book Review: The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna

Genre: Short Story, Fiction
Book Name: The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad
Author: Twinkle Khanna
Pages: 229
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: Juggernaut Books

So last time I had wished for a story from Mrs Funnybones (while reading a book by the same name – review), and here it is…

The book has an undercurrent of talking about the societal changes without being preachy, the way that Mrs Funnybones wittingly spins her satirical columns regularly. Easy to read with a simple relatable context, but not the typical Indian fiction flooding the market. It has short sentences, perfectly correlated with just the right touch of background and other side-characters, the factors needed for a good short story book.

All the four stories have a feminism message and breaking stereotypes, my personal favourite being Salam, Noni Appa. This book reminded me of books written by Sudha Murthi. Only if the last story could have been skipped (those already aware of Arunachalam Murugananthm would not feel it part of fiction), it would have deserved at least 9-on-10. No denying the fact that, I am biased towards her column writings.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
A gangly young girl transforms her village with a revolutionary idea. Sixty-eight-year-old Noni Appa finds herself drawn to a married man – ‘Why do people have to define relationships, underline each word till the paper gives way beneath?’ she wonders. Bablu Kewat becomes obsessed with sanitary napkins much to his family’s horror, and a young woman keeps checking the weather forecast as she meticulously plans each of her five weddings. Funny, observant and wise, this is storytelling at its most irresistible.

About the author:
Twinkle Khanna, aka Mrs Funnybones, crafts satirical stories and funny fables when she is not running a design business, selling candles or running in circles around her small but rather odd family. She is an acclaimed columnist and lives in Mumbai.
Twitter: @mrsfunnybones
Facebook: @TwinkleRKhanna

Rating: 7/10

Book Review: Private India by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Private India by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

Genre: Crime Mystery
Book Name: Private India
(Private Series, #8)
Authors: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Pages: 470
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Random House

I wonder how two writers can work together on a single book to turn it into a bestseller. Not that I hadn’t read any such book previously, but this Private India was a book perfectly weaved into a thriller story minus the sort of mythology/history that Ashwin Sanghi usually writes. Just 15 days back, I had taken a virtual tour of Mumbai through Anti Social Network by Piyush Jha. And again I got to read a book on Mumbai, that too on the eve of Mumbai blasts (26/11) few years back. This book too had a reference on Mumbai blasts where the terrorism was funded by Pakistan.

The story is written in a fast-paced and engaging manner with serial murders at the core. The characters were interesting, with both the authors trying to close all loose points towards an end. I personally loved this book. There was even a reference of ‘thugs’ or tribal class which makes people look down upon them, which reminded me of a recent incident of a section of society who do not consider Durga Maa as a deity but as a symbolism or a force used by upper caste on downtrodden ones. However, I wished towards the end of the book that the reasons of including thugs as a reference could have been better and also the transgender thinking could have better correlated!

Overall, a total action-packed book! Do read it for sure.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
In Mumbai, seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses.

For Santosh Wagh, head of Private India, the Mumbai branch of the world’s finest investigation agency, it’s a race against time to stop the killer striking again.

In a city of over thirteen million, he’d have his work cut out at the best of times, but this case has him battling Mumbai’s biggest gang lord and a godman who isn’t all he seems.

And then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing Private India. Hidden in the shadows is someone who could destroy the whole organisation – along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens…

About the author:
James Patterson: James Patterson has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today with his Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Private, NYPD Red, Daniel X, Maximum Ride, and Middle School series. As of January 2016, he has sold over 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, he also writes children’s, middle-grade, and young-adult fiction and is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times adult and children’s bestsellers lists.
Facebook: @JamesPatterson

Ashwin Sanghi: Ashwin Sanghi ranks among India’s highest selling English fiction authors and is writing since 2004. He has written several bestsellers (The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key) and a New York Times bestselling crime thriller with James Patterson. Included by Forbes India in their Celebrity 100 and winner of the Crossword Popular Choice, Ashwin has recently also penned a non-fiction title ’13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck’.
Twitter: @ashwinsanghi

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Colorful Notions by Mohit Goyal

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Colorful Notions by Mohit Goyal

Genre: Travel, Fiction
Book Name: Colorful Notions: The Roadtrippers 1.0
Author:  Mohit Goyal
Pages: 194
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Few weeks back I had seen the web-series by TVFTripling about a road trip with siblings and I was hooked, but the first season had only 5 episodes and I eagerly looked forward to watching the next season.

And then this book turned up about a road trip by 3 friends, encompassing 25 places, 10,650 kms and 72 days (falling just short of “Around the world in 80 days“). Being an easy to read book, a page turner, anyone can get hold of it and have real enjoyment in finding out the interesting adventures on the way. The few places I had already visited  few years back seemed like still the same and filled me with nostalgia.

Friendship, romance and local food was written all over this book and about finding oneself in the journey, but less about the places visited on the road trip. The places were like a mere mention in the book, a real short abridged version. The friends did visit the places properly, but the readers were left wanting for more information. In the end, a good attempt by the author at featuring so many cities/villages across the length and breadth of the country.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Would you give up your high-paying job and comfortable personal life to drive ten thousand kilometres across India? Just for fun!

Three twenty-somethings dare to do just that! While the two boys take turns to drive, the girl gives voice-over as they record their entire journey on a handy cam.

Ab, Sasha and Unnati are ordinary youngsters, rendered special by the feat they accomplish. As they recount their adventures, I crave to live their journey. They look at each other with a glint in their eyes, as if refurbishing those memories while narrating their spooky time at Bhangarh Fort, strange escapades at Wagah Border and Sundarbans, car breakdowns, wild animals, near-death experiences and highway robbers! It’s nothing less than crazy.

I doubted if I’d ever have the gumption to create such experiences. So I did the next best thing – I penned a book about them, and their road trip.

Colorful Notions is a journey of three young hearts on the Indian terrain and into the inner recesses of their souls, giving a new perspective to relationships, love and life.

About the author:
Mohit Goyal holds his Master’s degree from Cranfield University, England. A successful entrepreneur for past 11-years, he is currently heading an international logistics conglomerate with presence in several Asian countries. He resides in New Delhi. Been acknowledged and awarded for many of his short stories in past, he conceived this idea of ‘The RoadTrippers Series’ to combine his love for travel, food and philosophy.


Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Anti Social Network by Piyush Jha

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Anti Social Network by Piyush Jha

Genre: Crime Thriller
Book Name: Anti Social Network
(Mumbaistan Series, #2)
Author: Piyush Jha
Pages: 192
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Rupa Publications

Surprised to know that now movie directors have also started writing books (fiction novels). Not bad, I must say,considering that the cost would be low. If it’s a hit, this may turn out to be a precursor for the movie.

Anti Social Network by Piyush Jha is a typical fast paced Bollywood movie. On completing the book and on googling, I found that this one is indeed written by a movie director. It is an easy to read, light book which can be completed in 3 hours during travel. And yes, I did finish reading it on a flight!

One murder after the other, with the characters unrelated, and the setting up of anti social network with the current cyber loopholes (like Tor), Piyush Jha had included all of these neatly in the backdrop of Mumbai. One who has already been to Mumbai will feel like watching the scenes unfold in a realistic setting.

However the conclusion was predictable near the end of book and not so perfect. The dialogues written in English-Hindi-Marathi mix became a little too difficult to read at times, even for one having good command over Hindi language (a description in footer would have been better).

But the book played out the message for the consumers well to be doubly sure about the workings of your computer network and never have compromising pictures of yourself to fall prey to a miscreant.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
When college students across Mumbai are murdered one after another in gruesome ways, inspector Virkar from the crime branch is called in. As Virkar investigates, he stumbles upon a ruthless gang of young, tech-savvy miscreants who use social networking sites and the Internet for blackmail and sextortion. But how are the two cases linked? And who is the mastermind behind these killings?

As the case grows murkier, the computer-challenged Virkar finds himself greatly out of his depth, chasing a killer who always seems to be one step ahead and a group that soon trains its sights on him. He must race against time to unmask the gang and to find the murderer before his reputation is ruined forever.

Thick with suspense and layered with grit, Anti Social Network brings to you inspector Virkar’s toughest case yet.

About the author:
Piyush Jha is an acclaimed film director, ad filmmaker and the author of the bestselling novel, Mumbaistan and Compass Box Killer. A student political leader at university, he pursued a career in advertising management after acquiring an MBA degree. Later, he switched tracks, first to make commercials for some of the country’s largest brands, and then to write and direct feature films. His films include Chalo America, King of Bollywood and Sikandar. He lives in his beloved Mumbai, where he can often be found walking the streets that inspire his stories.

Facebook: @thepiyushjhapage
IMDB: @nm042251

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: The Tantric Curse by Anupama Garg

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Tantric Curse by Anupama Garg

Genre: Mystic, Fiction
Book Name: The Tantric Curse
Author: Anupama Garg
Pages: 271
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Rupa Publications

On reading the debut novel by Anupama Garg, at first it seemed like this was her own story fabricated into fiction, knowing her background as a disciple of a renowned Tantric. The book is not another religious lecture but a love story in the background of Tantra. Written in an elaborate way to describe the positive energies of Tantra, popularly considered as mystic dark magic, and its correlation with sciences, one gets to know the depth of spiritual knowledge through The Tantric Curse. That it’s not black and white ever, just grey, be it Tantra, friendship or love. Only if the story had been more strong enough in plugging the loopholes! For example why Krishnam simply walked away when Rhea asked him to, how every action of Rhea was somehow justified and how one can be in other love relationships even when being in so called pure love with another person.

At the end of the book, it felt like I had done a PhD on Tantra. And luckily, I had not discarded the book basis its name and chose to read the paperback copy.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
She is the new face of Tantra. She will reach heights of sadhana that no one has ever reached in our lineage; the Goddess herself blesses her. She is gifted and will have to understand how to use her powers with wisdom.

On an amavasya night, eight-year-old Rhea mysteriously lands at the doors of Shaktidham, a Tantric house of worship, in a trance. Realizing that she is blessed with unusual faculties, the guru of Shaktidham, Satya, chooses her as a disciple over his own son, Krishnam, to carry on his lineage, a privilege previously bestowed only to males. But the lineage has been cursed for generations, and it is up to Rhea to either break the curse or perish in the attempt.

Will she succeed in her endeavour? Will her love for Krishnam become an obstacle in her path? The Tantric Curse, an unusual story set in the world of Tantra – that aims to dispel most of the myths about the practice – will keep you spellbound till the very last page.

About the author:
Anupama Garg was born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. She has studied chemistry, business management and law. She has been training under her Guru, Baba Batuk Nath ji, a renowned Tantric and head of the Bhoot Nath Charitable Trust, for the last twenty-two years. Today she conducts experiential workshops for corporates, hospitals, college and schools under the name ‘Life by Choice’. She also devotes time at the ashram of her Guru, The Bhoot Nath Ashram. Anupama is married and lives with her husband and son.

Rating: 7/10

Book Review: Gulabi by Pankaj Suneja

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Gulabi by Pankaj Suneja

Genre: Psychology, Short Story
Book Name: Gulabi
Author: Pankaj Suneja
Pages: 74
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: CinnamonTeal Publishing

This book is an interesting attempt at explaining schizophrenia by an author who had himself created a fictional character while going through emotional trauma. However, the story and narrative were lacking at many points. There was never a clear understanding of the linkages between the main protagonists and the characters. Probably, that’s what happens when someone is going through trauma and everything including the senses blur. As I flipped pages, so did the two stories suddenly from one to another with never a warning. But considering its a debut novel, I can still give some brownie points. However, hoping the best for the author to bind a better thread through his next book for everyone to read.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Schizophrenia is challenging disorder often characterized by abnormal social behaviour and a significantly altered perception of reality. Its treatment largely depends on medications and psychosocial interventions but no single approach is widely considered effective for all patients. Through this book I offer my readers a glimpse into the multifaceted world of schizophrenia in the form of fictitious storyline revolving around two characters Monty (the psychotic part) and Virginia (the non psychotic part). The boundary between the two is permeable. Monty conjures up ‘Gulabi’, following his abrupt separation from his long time partner, while Virginia, having suffered from a personal loss sets out to follow her lifelong aspiration to travel the world.

About the author:
Pankaj Suneja is a psychologist by choice and a writer by passion. He wrote his first book, Gulabi, while suffering with psychotic symptoms. The Mobile Phone is his second novel. Pankaj writes from his personal experiences and his reflections about himself and his environment. He presented the paper titled ‘Closer to Schizophrenia: a personal journey from illness to health‘ in the form of poster at Icons of SCARF at 2014, Chennai. He holds a diploma in creative writing and is the winner of the David Feinsilver Award 2015, for original thinking and scholarship research, New York.

Rating: 6/10
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