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Book Review: The Myth of Hastinapur by Rahul Rai

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Myth of Hastinapur by Rahul Rai

Great epics like Mahabharata doesn’t belong to one writer. It belongs to all those writers who present the story from the view point of different characters. I’ve read Draupadi’s version in “The Palace of Illusions”, and Duryodhana’s version in “Role of dice”. But this book is different in a way that it evolves emotions of unknown characters, like Hidimba & family, like Satyavati & Bheesma, like Vikarna & Yuyutsu and such other characters who were unheard through-out the story telling from different writers. This book adds worthwhile part to the great story of the war. It was fun to read behind the wall gossips of dasis and the emotions of two friends, punched with war scenes who were forced to be opponents in war due to “Dharma”. Also, the Karna Monologue, kept me hooked through-out. My whole reading experience was in similar lines when in my childhood I was engrossed to watch MAHABHARATA on Doordarshan channel every Sunday morning. All in all, this was a good combination of fiction-myth-real predicting many unknown parts of Mahabharata. I would certainly recommend all to read this book atleast once and then challenge your grandfathers for a mythological conversation for Mahabharata, I bet, you will know better.

(This book review is a guest post written by Shweta Maheshwari)

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews!

Book blurb:
Mahabharata, one of the greatest epics in the history of civilization, from multiple vantages:
The inevitability of Kurukshetra war
Kunti’s death and Lakshagraha
The sacrifice of Bheema’s wife Hidimba
The perspective of foot soldiers and dasis
Krishna’s life experiences and their relation to his utterance of Geeta
Shalya, the uncle of Nakul and Sahadeva, siding with the Kauravas
The rage of Rudravatar Ashwatthama
and many others…

…This book is a tribute to Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, the original one. This is just an interpretation of what he had created. This is just a footnote in the rich history of our civilization which is full of stories that continue to cast magic upon us.
This is Mahabharata.

About the author:
An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) graduate, Rahul Rai is working in Gurugram in an analytics consulting firm as a Data Scientist. This is his first collection of short stories. Like many children, he got introduced to the alleys of Indian mythology from his grandmother and has been enchanted since. Storyboarding is an essential part of his daily job which he enjoys considering his knack to look at things laterally.

Rating: 10/10
Genre: Mythology Fiction
Book Name: The Myth of Hastinapur
Author: Rahul Rai
Pages: 229
Publication Year: 2018
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Book Review: Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

There is one book which remains at the top of my favorite list and that is Palace of Illusions. There is no other book which has come to breach the zenith for me that this book cast upon on Indian fictional version of mythology reading. So, after a series of bad Indian books, I planned to give another book of the same writer a try to make me change my mind on Indian writing and hey, that was the correct choice.

Sister of My Heart pulled me into a chasm of its own, making me smile and cry basis what the cousins had to undergo. In case you did not have any sister, have you not felt similar kinship with one or two of your friends. Written in typical Divakaruni style, the book was too beautiful to be left behind even for a single day and yes, I completed in one day itself. Secrets, drama, building emotional quotient, the book truly strikes the perfect balance between realism and fantasy of love – not the fleeting kind, but the everlasting sisterly love with no hidden agenda. Truly, love crosses boundaries, it does not need to be connected by blood or distance. I believe in such love, do you? Let me know your views on this book in comments and anything else as well.

Read review of other books by the same author on my blog – Queen of Dreams .

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews!

Book blurb:
Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family; her cousin Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of the family. Sudha is as beautiful, tenderhearted, and serious as Anju is plain, whip-smart, and defiant. yet since the day they were born, Sudha and Anju have been bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend.

The cousins’ bond is shattered, however, when Sudha learns a dark family secret. Urged into arranged marriages, their lives take sudden, opposite turns: Sudha becomes the dutiful daughter-in-law of a rigid small-town household, while Anju goes to America with her new husband and learns to live her own life of secrets. Then tragedy strikes them both, and the women discover that, despite the distance that has grown between them, they have only each other to turn to. Set in the two worlds of India and America, this is an exceptionally moving novel of love, friendship, and compelling courage.

About the author:
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. Her work is widely known, as she has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies. Her works have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese. Divakaruni also writes for children and young adults. Few of her novels have been made into movies and others are currently in that process. She has judged several prestigious awards, such as the National Book Award and the PEN Faulkner Award.

Website: chitradivakaruni.com
Twitter: @cdivakaruni
Facebook: facebook.com/chitradivakaruni

Rating: 9/10
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Book Name: Sister of My Heart
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Pages: 322
Publication Year: 2000

Book Review: I Too Had An MBA by Sambhav Khetarpal

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | I Too Had An MBA by Sambhav Khetarpal

Reading Indian Books, fiction only (I am an outright fiction reading person who just runs away if another even suggests a non-fiction), and that too back-to-back, makes me start wondering why do I even start reading those in the first place. This is how I felt when I started reading this book. Of course, the readers of Chetan Bhagat, Durjoy Dutta and the likes will like this book – since it has everything that would cater to this segment of newbie readers since they were converted to readers because of them in the first place.

Written as a diary entry of an MBA student, it gives an almost perfect glimpse of MBA school life (I am not kidding, shhh, I am an MBA myself). The committee interviews, placement drama, exam struggles, parties and so on, yes, that is how most schools are where most times, degrees received are not worth the time, money and energy spent. This is a tongue in cheek book which light satire and happy happy ending with a little bit of romance thrown in. However, if you want my opinion – I did not like it, there was nothing to make me turn the pages except the fact that I did not have any other book with me that painful long night to distract me. So for those, who like the books I read (how will you guess, simply by checking my book reviews), I would not recommend it.

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews!

Book blurb:
Ever wondered what it would be like to be a regular MBA student, from a regular MBA college, with regular aspirations, with a mother who wants him home every two months? This book will take you for a ride through the life of a rather naïve twenty-three-year-old Luv Khurana, who leaves his hometown Chandigarh for the very first time, to study management at HBS, the finest business school in the multiverse of Kurla East. 

What transpires next is a series of madcap events where Luv falls in kinky, passionate, and utterly one-sided love with his classmate; runs after the position of the Placement Committee president; starts a campus-venture called Ul-tee; and almost buys metal bed sheets to avoid getting murdered in sleep by his brawny roommate. 

Luv is that genius, who will teach you how to take Mess-made Chapatis quicker, by applying Advanced Marketing Strategy techniques. Kotler Zindabad! 

Luv is also the MBA hero who can change the face of management education in this country, if only, his Mummy made fewer phone calls to him every day.

About the author:
Sambhav Khetarpal is an MBA-turned- writer who left his high-paying FMCG job to pursue his love for writing humour. He dabbled in sports media for a while before moving back to his hometown where he heads content for an MBA prep portal. He prefers dogs to humans and reads Calvin & Hobbes when his boss isn’t looking. His biggest achievements are memorizing the entire movie Lagaan, dialogue by dialogue, and forgetting his two-pound car outside a dentist.

Website: sambhavkhetarpal.wordpress.com
Instagram: @sambhavkhetarpal

Rating: 6/10
Genre: Humor
Book Name: I Too Had An MBA – The Secret Diary of Luv Khurana
Author: Sambhav Khetarpal
Pages: 368
Publication Year: 2017

Book Review: Three Marketeers by Ajeet Sharma

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Three Marketeers by Ajeet Sharma

Have you watched – TVF Pitchers? For me, that is the way entrepreneurship should be approached. Though for readers looking for a light easy-to-grasp struggles and understanding start-up nuances, this book Three Marketeers is the perfect book. I found it lacking especially with respect to the book blurb since except two female characters (out of which one is not even mentioned), the other females did not have much role to play but still find mention. This goes to show that one should not entirely rely one’s preference on book blurb either. So how should one pick up a book – simply head over to reviews available online (yes, Google-baba or the likes) where you will find a reviewer whose taste matches exactly like yours, tell me how easier you would want it!

Coming back to the book, it treads nicely the way Ajeet Sharma has picturized it for us readers except that one of the partners seemed just useless. The part story stretch of NGO and tackling the big giants (MNCs) by a simpleton with the seniors just overlooking the same took it a little too far. So now let me not spoil the book any more, you may pick this and give it a try, if you want a Bollywood style masala with politics – office and otherwise, cheating, suspense, murder, hey the list goes on. Now, that’s all from my end!

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews!

Book blurb:
Karan Jaani, the brand manager of a beverage company, is sacked. Rishi Verma, an entrepreneur, shuts down his ailing tech business. Vidu Nandi, an unhappy sales executive, quits his job. 

What do they have in common? A beverage brand, just as deserving of a second shot at success as they are, which unites them in their quest for business glory in the face of seemingly impossible odds. 

With the help of three bright and charming women a resourceful hotel manager, an America-returned salsa instructor, and an aspiring Bollywood actress the three marketeers will have to make the most of the available resources and navigate their way around those looking to remove them from their turf. It won t be easy, but it s their only chance at making it big in the world of business.

About the author:
Ajeet Sharma is a marketing expert, a business school professor, and a keen follower of trends and action in the business world. He holds a PhD in Marketing and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management. In his career, spanning more than twenty years, he has also worked as a copywriter on several international advertising projects and mentored many young professionals along the way. Ajeet developed interest in literature and music in school and believes that in many ways marketing too is an art form, and the world of business its stage. 

Website: authorajeetsharma.com
Twitter: @ajeet_sharma
Email: ajeet9sharma@gmail.com

Rating: 7/10
Genre: Entrepreneurship
Book Name: Three Marketeers
Author: Ajeet Sharma
Pages: 300
Publication Year: 2017

Book Review: Yes Sir by Girish Aivalli

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Yes Sir by Girish Aivalli

Yes Sir, have not we all said such to our bosses time and again, not because we agree, but because it is the right thing to do at that point in time to advance in one’s career? That is corporate life. And in this book, we get lots of gyaan (powerpoint style to-do/action-items in bullet points) without inclining towards being a self-help book (I hate those books).

The book is a humorous take on corporate life and office politics without being preachy, hey it is fiction after all. Though the character sketches are pretty generalized and Girish, the namesake and protagonist being the best of the lot, it is an all-enjoyable read and takes just 2 hours to complete. Perfect, right? Short and crisp – to the point. However, I will give it a few minus points for grammatical errors, but overall worth picking up for fun and gyaan, especially for MBA aspirants and MBA-goers.

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews!

Book blurb:
Charlie a management trainee has to pass through a corporate maze of presentations, conference calls, business trips, off site meetings as well as deal with HR, Accounts – and his bosses before he gets confirmed as a manager. Surprisingly, it’s his future boss who helps him maneuver through this maze. This book is a laugh-a-minute record of their journey.

About the author:
Girish Aivalli was born and brought up in J&K. He received his education at Tyndale Biscoe School, Kashmir; Mayo College, Ajmer; St Joseph’s College of Commerce, Bangalore and Management Development Institute, Gurgaon – institutions and cities which have given him much in life. Girish has worked as a management professional in multiple companies (Dabur, Cargill, Olam, Yes Bank, ADM, Rural Agri Ventures and Intello Labs) across roles and functions.

LinkedIn: @girishaivalli

Rating: 8/10
Genre: Office Politics
Book Name: Yes Sir
Author: Girish Aivalli
Pages: 156
Publication Year: 2015

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’.
Website: www.ashwinsanghi.com
Twitter: @ashwinsanghi
Email: mail@ashwinsanghi.com

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
Website: www.anuragtripathi.in

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.

Website: www.madhavmahidhar.com
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.

Website: www.vishweshdesai.com
Twitter: @vishweshwrites
Email: vishwesh.desai@gmail.com

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
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