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Book Review: The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk by Sudha Murty

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk by Sudha Murty

Genre: Short Story, Non Fiction
Book Name: The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk
Author: Sudha Murty
Pages: 212
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Penguin

Sudha Murty has a distinct flair of writing, which is not so easy to replicate. I am not going to write something new for another of her book which I have not already mentioned in my previous reviews of her books – Dollar Bahu and Something Happened on the Way to Heaven. Like other books, The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk is relatable to our everyday life but which we fail to notice, which by the way reminds me of that musical piece by Joshua Bell who played incognito on a metro station.

Sudha Murty’s books simply wants to convey to us to be attentive of our surroundings, not come to harsh conclusions till we know the other side of the story and continue learning from our fellow beings. By the way, this book again is a collection of short stories which you can read at your own pace or start from any chapter. Great penmanship and a must read for Sudha Murty’s fans!

Book blurb:
Extraordinary stories about ordinary peoples lives by the inimitable Sudha Murty.

Over the years, Sudha Murty has come across some fascinating people whose lives make for interesting stories and have astonishing lessons to reveal. Take Vishnu, who achieves every material success but never knows happiness; or Venkat, who talks so much that he has no time to listen. In other stories, a young girl goes on a train journey that changes her life forever; an impoverished village woman provides bathing water to hundreds of people in a drought-stricken area; a do-gooder ghost decides to teach a disconsolate young man Sanskrit; and in the title story, a woman in a flooded village in Odisha teaches the author a life lesson she will never forget.

About the author:
Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. She did her MTech in computer science, and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written nine novels, four technical books, three travelogues, one collection of short stories, three collections of non-fiction pieces and two books for children.

Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages and have sold over three lakh copies around the country. She was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan’s Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: Something Happened on the Way to Heaven by Sudha Murty

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk by Sudha Murty

Genre: Short Story, Non Fiction
Book Name: Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
Editor: Sudha Murty
Pages: 224
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Penguin India

Authors (20 Authors contributing 20 Short Stories): Bhaswar Mukherjee, Saurabh Kumar, Dhrishti Dasgupta, Supriya Unni Nair, Satyarth Nayak, Jimmy Mathew, Vibha Lohani, Rajesh Pooppotte, Swaha Bhattacharya, Rishi Vohra, Neelamani Sutar, Subhobrata, Pushkar Pande, Nalini Chandran, Praveen P. Gopinath, Neha Garg, Ila Gautam, Tulika Dubey, Shantanu Bhowmick, and Tapan Mukherjee.

Although the stories are merely edited by Sudha Murty, they will not make you feel that it is something other than part and parcel of her life. For those who have previously read her other books, there is nothing to be worried about, since all the stories encompass the humane nature across the walks of life very similar to what Sudha Murty has written till now.

Something Happened on the Way to Heaven: 20 Inspiring Real-Life Stories leaves you feeling good about people and yourself, in general. You may or may not remember any story, but it will feel like those short stories/poems that you had read in your school with an aim to do good in the world, come what may. A collection of stories of ordinary people (common man), can be considered as a short summary for this book, and I will liken it to the works by R. K. Narayan.

Book blurb:
The inspiring true stories of the interesting people who inhabit the pages of Sudha Murtys books leave an indelible impression on us. But the books are able to chronicle the stories of only the men and women Mrs. Murty has actually come across herself in the course of her social work. There must be so many more wonderful stories that many others have to share. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven is a collection of twenty such memorable true life stories. Handpicked by Sudha Murty from a contest run by Penguin, they capture the hope, faith, kindness and joy that life is full of, even as we make our way through the daily grind. Moving and uplifting, this is an anthology that will engross and delight every reader who believes in the goodness of the human heart.

About the author:
Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. She did her MTech in computer science, and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written nine novels, four technical books, three travelogues, one collection of short stories, three collections of non-fiction pieces and two books for children.

Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages and have sold over three lakh copies around the country. She was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan’s Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006.

Read reviews of Sudha Murty’s other books on my blog: Dollar Bahu and The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk.

Rating: 8/10

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: Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond by Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond by Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani

Genre: Non Fiction
Book Name: Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond
Author: Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani
Pages: 215
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: StoryMirror Infotech Pvt. Ltd.

Neatly divided into chapters, the book Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond by Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani can be used as a curriculum textbook for marketing courses in colleges or for offline reading, to prepare for MBA placement interviews. The book delves into various forms of how online media can help one in aligning oneself to one’s goals through case studies (told in the manner of short stories to make a better impact and to provide a better remembrance to the reader) with FAQs, infographics, etc making it an interesting read.

It reminded me of one book I had read in my college – which was my bedtime read every night (oh, not in the sense of boring) – the book prescribed as a course book in one of the electives I had opted for – Management of Technology. This book is also similar and can be referred at any time, and not necessarily to be referred chronologically from start to end.

The book covers 5 Ws and 1 H – What happened? Who is involved? Where did it take place? When did it take place? Why did that happen? How did that happen? All in all, it is a comprehensive read. However, only if the chapters could have been consolidated to not look like a textbook, it would have been an easier read for ever fiction lovers.

Recommended for marketing professionals and even other professionals since branding and bonding is required in every profession.

Book blurb:
A comprehensive guide to personal branding, designed to be particularly relevant to entrepreneurs and working professionals in India. They take a wealth of knowledge about branding and make it engaging and easy to apply. Whether one is new to personal branding, or exploring it deeper, there’s something that will be useful to everyone. From the art of optimizing social media to the details of how to dress professionally to fit with a brand, the authors provide an enormous range of tools and relevant tips. And the material on storytelling is a great resource.

Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond by Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani is a playbook for success using two of the most effective strategies in life and business. Each section provides a concise explanation of what you need to know and why. Tips are included so you can return to the text when you need help. But it’s more than a business guide.

About the author:
Dr. Amit Nagpal, Ph.D is a Business Storyteller, Keynote Speaker and Digital Storytelling Coach. He is one of the pioneers of digital storytelling in India. He is also Chief Inspirational Storyteller at AL Services. AL Services has co-created stories of some of the most inspiring people in India & abroad.

Website: dramitnagpal.com
Email: amit@alservices.in

Dr. Prakash Hindustani is a pioneer of Hindi web journalism. He was the founding editor of first Hindi language web portal http://www.webdunia.com. He is a renowned journalist, blogger and social media activist. He has more than 30 years of experience in Hindi journalism across prints, television and internet media platforms. For most part of his career, he has been associated with The Times of India group.

Website: prakashhindustani.com
Twitter: @P_hindustani

Rating: 7/10

Book Review: Open-eyed Meditations by Shubha Vilas

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Open-Eyed Meditations by Shubha Vilas

Genre: Self Help, Mythology
Book Name: Open eyed Meditations
Author: Shubha Vilas
Pages: 279
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: Fingerprint Belief

Perhaps, you might have heard of the saying that all words of wisdom are captured in the epic tales – Ramayana and Mahabharata. However, it’s not easy for an untrained mind to read those heavy books and find the necessary analogy. Shubha Vilas has made it easy for us by writing this book Open-eyed Meditations.

What is meditation? If not to unfold oneself, be at peace and get to know own self in a much better way by becoming aware of everything around you! Divided into small chapters of 2-3 pages, the book delves into wisdom bites, amply supported by the stories we were all told as kids by our grandfathers and grandmas. It’s a book which can be referred again and again and from any page.

Though self help genre is not the one I particularly prefer reading, I still picked this one since I had previously read other books by Shubha Vilas and I was interested to find out how he would have written this particular book. Even the title of the book is eye catching – open eyed meditation when we all do meditation at some level with eyes closed. But the name perfectly suits the book written on practicality meets mythology.

The opening sequence of the book by Shubha Vilas perfectly covers the gist of this book:
Read this book the way a cow eats grass while ruminating. Chew on every word carefully till you have milky lucidity that nourishes every aspect of your life. This book will help you learn the art of meditating with your eyes wide open as you keenly observe the world around you and allow it to enlighten you.

Do you know about the word – Serenflippity? It is a feeling when you open up to the exact page you were looking for in a book without the use of bookmarks. With this book, you after bound to experience serenflippity.

Recommended for all readers.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Open-eyed Meditations is a beautiful compilation of thoughts wherein each meditation takes you on a journey to the past, bringing a secret herb to heal a problem of the present.

A true distillation of ancient wisdom tips for modern lives, this unique self-help book uses the wisdom of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to solve your everyday problems.

Beyond the storyline, something deeper is waiting to be discovered from these ancient texts. This book is an attempt to uncover the hidden layer of wealth that is cleverly packaged within the commonly known storylines.

About the author:
Shubha Vilas, a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker, holds a degree in engineering and law with a specialization in patent law. In essence, he is an author, a motivational speaker, lifestyle coach and a storyteller par excellence. His leadership seminars are popular with top-level management in corporate houses.

He is the author of the best-selling book series known as ‘Ramayan – The Game of Life’ published by Jaico Books. The series distills thought-provoking life lessons through the gripping narrative of the story of the Ramayana.

Contact:
Email – ramayana.shubhavilas@gmail.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/shubhavilas
Tweet – @shubhavilas
Blog – www.thoughtsutras.blogspot.in

Rating: 9/10

Read reviews of other books by Shubha Vilas – Ramayana The Game of Life Shattered Dreams and Ramayana The Game of Life Stolen Hope.
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This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Book Review: Shikhandi and Other Tales by Devdutt Pattanaik

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Shikhandi and Other Tales by Devdutt Pattanaik

Genre: Mythology, Spirituality
Book Name: Shikhandi and Other Tales they don’t tell you
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Pages: 182
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Zubaan + Penguin Books

By retelling various stories from Hindu mythology across 1-2 pages each and anecdotes at the end, Devdutt Pattanaik tries to focus on what our political and religious leaders tell otherwise. That a female may behave differently and that a male may behave differently and about so many in-betweens (in terms of sexual or psyche). That anyone behaving differently should not to be legally penalized (Article 377 for LGBT).

The stories abound of such mythical characters, especially from Mahabharata, the great epic tale and from little known tales from other regions. Some of them we might have already heard, but never gave any attention to, probably because we never looked at them from an adult mindset. The book brings into light the “queerness” and makes us question on why there is a growing discomfort in Indian society for those who do not follow the norms, and when this shift in attitude in our culture happened.

However, if the stories could have been longer to understand the person’s psyche on whom each short story is based upon, rather than mere telling of facts, it would have been much better. Overall, a good book, with plenty of content to find argumentative dialogues.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Patriarchy asserts men are superior to women
Feminism clarifies women and men are equal
Queerness questions what constitutes male and female

Queerness isn’t only modern, Western or sexual, says mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. Take a close look at the vast written and oral traditions in Hinduism, some over two thousand years old and you will find many overlooked tales, such as those of Shikhandi, who became a man to satisfy her wife; Mahadeva, who became a woman to deliver his devotee’s child; Chudala, who became a man to enlighten her husband; Samavan, who became the wife of his male friend; and many more . . .

Playful and touching – and sometimes disturbing – these stories, when compared with their Mesopotamian, Greek, Chinese and Biblical counterparts, reveal the unique Indian way of making sense of queerness.

About the author:
Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist and author whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, mythology, and also management. He is the author of over 25 books and 500 articles on the relevance of mythology in modern times. Trained in medicine, he worked in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries for 15 years before devoting all his time to his passion for decoding beliefs of all cultures, modern and ancient, located beneath the veneer of rationality.

He is the Chief Belief Officer of Future Group, one of India’s largest retailers, bringing the wisdom of Indian mythology into Indian business, specifically in human resource management. He also writes a column for the newspaper MID DAY.

Website: devdutt.com/
Twitter: @devduttmyth

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: 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.

Website: theroadtrippers.in

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
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