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Book Review: The Sita Chronicles, Red Sapphire by Ashley Mayers

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Sita Chronicles, Red Sapphire by Ashley Mayers

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology Fiction
Book Name: Red Sapphire
The Sita Chronicles, #1
Author: Ashley Mayers
Pages: 434
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Grass Roof Publishing

Ok, so let’s do a book review of the first book of the series The Sita ChroniclesRed Sapphire. But first, let me start with how I got hold of this book in the first place. So, someone in my Facebook reading group shared the link of this series available free of cost at Amazon Kindle version. And since I had just got my new Kindle few days back and was loading whatever book I got, I saved this too. Funny, right?

However, what mainly attracted me to start reading this particular series was that it’s based on Sita from Ramayana. Having previously read The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakarni based on Draupadi’s character, I was ready to explore another story with a mythological female at the cusp. To be duly noted is the fact that Red Sapphire is a fictionalized version set in modern times but interlinked with Ramayana at the core. All main characters that you have heard of, are all present here in one form or another.

Now, to talk about the book. It is brilliantly written if you can simply ignore the excruciatingly slow start and a rushed end. A crisper editing was definitely required to cut a few pages in between. But somehow I liked the book – the characterisation of everyone and the parallels it drew from the characters we had grown up reading, rather watching every Sunday morning on DD1 – Sita, Ram, Hanuman, Ravan, Shurpanakha and the traitor Vibhishana. Hoping that the flaws are mitigated in the next book – Violet Sapphire.

Totally recommended! Keep watching my blog for reviews of other books in this series. Enjoy and happy reading!

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
The young, timid dreamer, Supriya Rutherford Ramachandran, always wondered what happened to her father and her grandmother when they disappeared without a trace just weeks before she was born. But, when she discovers a hidden box of letters in the attic of her family’s San Francisco Victorian, she quickly realizes that perhaps, she rather would not know. As Supriya uncovers a dark family secret, a surprising supernatural identity, and a frightening cache of uncontrollable power destined for her, a diverse otherworldly ensemble must help her overcome incredible odds to master the burden of her new self-awareness while the fate of all humankind rests precariously in her hands.

A captivating saga featuring interwoven stories across generations, cultures and continents, Red Sapphire pays homage to its roots in the beloved Indian epic, The Ramayana, with an enchantingly vivid and unabashedly global tale. As key figures from the ancient Hindu pantheon join modern counterparts in present-day San Francisco and WWII India, Red Sapphire brings together a delightfully complex counterpoint of thrilling arcs into an emotional narrative punctuated by mesmerizing imagery, philosophical dilemmas, and tender human stories.

Red Sapphire is the first book of the seven book series The Sita Chronicles.

About the author:
Ashley Mayers graduated with Honors and Distinction from Stanford University. Since then, she has used every opportunity to travel the world, from working on an archaeology dig in Sicily to working for Google as a regional trainer in Asia, based in India and Singapore. Throughout her travels she was inspired by the beautiful diversity of Southeast Asia, and she is happy to be able to combine many years of vivid cultural experiences with her humanities education and her love of fantasy literature to create The Sita Chronicles. She now lives in San Francisco.

Email: SitaChronicles@grassroofpublishing.com

Rating: 8/10

 

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Book Review: Ramayana Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Ramayana The Game of Life Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas

Genre: Mythology
Book Name: Ramayana The Game of Life
Stolen Hope, Book#3
Author: Shubha Vilas
Pages: 307
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House

Ask anyone about Ramayana, and who will not remember the main storyline. However, since Ramayana is an epic, there are many branches and stories within a story. Although they all collude to the main storyline, we morsels cannot think of reading it in its true form. I am reminded of those school days when we hated Shakespeare’s books (ICSE school students). Thankfully, we were never forced to read Ramayana during school days since we would not have fathomed the depth of each story.

Shubha Vilas constructs the story – the many tidbits in a simple and fluent manner. However, it could have been more engaging had the stories been more inter-linked rather than jumping from one chapter to another. Don’t know if the actual Ramayana too was a one-sided affair, where the other (so called negative) characters (e.g. Ravana) did not get a fair chance to present themselves.

Overall a good read compared to the Ramayana series showing on TV these days which are made more dramatic.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
In the evil labyrinths of Dandakaranya forest, human values are put to test. Rama’s righteousness, Lakshmana’s loyalty and Sita’s endurance reflect our own sense of values and judgment in difficult times. The story unfolds the facets of human life – the conflict and the trickery, the praise and the slander and, above all, the hope and the despair in the eventful forest life of the Exiled Royals.

Stolen Hope is about extreme deception and extreme love. It is about arrogant power and deep devotion. With every twist and turn, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana find themselves robbed of whatever and whoever they value most.

Exploring the dynamics of human relations – between father and son, husband and wife, teacher and disciple – and the complex game of power and greed, Stolen Hope mirrors our own dilemmas in the modern world and teaches us how we must overcome them.

Seek courage when everything, including hope, is stolen.

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.

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

Rating: 8/10

Book Journey: Ramayana The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Ramayana The Game of Life Shattered Dreams by Shubha Vilas

Genre: Mytholology
Book Name: Ramayana: The Game of Life
Shattered Dreams #2
Author: Shubha Vilas
Pages: 387
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House

The book – “Ramayana: The Game of Life Shattered Dreams” mentions Ramayana in a more purist form. It presumes the original story in a raw sense by following up on the story of Valmiki’s Ramayana. It keeps changes in the scenes to a minimum and does not resort to imagination or twisting facts to cater to popular cravings. To state the unspoken fact, Ramayana and Mahabharata are two epics which do not need any amendment in the content for they have tales from all angles of emotions – sacrifice, anger, love, drama, etc.

If one has not read the first book, one may feel apprehensive in directly starting with the 2nd part. However, we have all grown up with tales of Ramayana and it never feels like you have missed out sections of the fable. The Indian myth has so much to offer that every new book you will come across, there will be a new perspectives, and at times, even new fragments you will come to know.

The author Shubha Vilas describes each passage in an eloquent way with quips and insights of wisdom to draw parallel in real life. Examples:
Convenience is about changing the law to suit your life but maturity is about changing your life to salute the law.
The ghost of mad desires becomes a vampire that sucks the blood of others.
Trying to make destiny respond to our urgency or shape it to our needs is like breaking an egg to hasten the hatching process.

Trying to make destiny respond to our urgency or shape it to our needs is like breaking an egg to hasten the hatching process. And almost every page has bounty of wisdom to offer. However, this made it seem more like a moral science lesson we learnt as kids and loses the touch for a light read. Either one misses out on the content or the analogies drawn to explain some real life construct.

To conclude, the author has done extensive research on the subject (the storyline and the characters) and deserves applause for putting it in a well versed manner to the readers.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Shattered Dreams is the sequel to the national bestseller, Rise of the Sun Prince, in the new spiritual and motivational series Ramayana – The Game of Life. Twelve joyful years have passed in Ayodhya since the wedding of Rama and Sita at the end of Book 1.

Now, in Shattered Dreams, Shubha Vilas narrates the riveting drama of Rama’s exile. Through tales of Rama’s unwavering and enigmatic persona, the book teaches us how to handle reversals positively; through Bharata’s actions, it teaches us to handle temptation; and through Sita’s courage, to explore beyond our comfort zone. This complicated family drama provides deep insights on how human relationships work and how they fail.

With Valmiki’s Ramayana as its guiding light, Shattered Dreams deftly entwines poetic beauty from the Kamba Ramayana and Ramacharitramanas, as well as folk philosophy from the Loka Pramana tales, to demonstrate how the ancient epic holds immediate relevance to modern life. Experience the ancient saga of the Ramayana like never before!

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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 Journey: Asura Tale of the Vanquished

Asura

Genre: Mythology, Historical Fiction
Book Name: Asura Tale of the Vanquished
Author: Anand Neelakantan
Pages: 500
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd

Every coin has two sides and the side I choose is the one I am going to consider being truthful. Similarly, every story or say, even every war, however wrong it may be from the other side’s perspective, the one who has started or ended considers itself righteous enough to go ahead. So, in the end this all boils down to who is able to tell his or her part of the story to the masses and how many are going to buy that part of story in the first place or even second place.

Asura Tale of the Vanquished is a retelling of the famous Indian epic, Ramayana, from Ravana’s point of view and that’s what makes it interesting. Neelakantan fabricates his book so perfectly around Ramayana that you wish to believe, “yes, that’s how Ravana must have felt, this is the extent of pain various Asuras would have gone through and Ravana, he was not all that bad and neither was Rama so righteous”. Mythology is currently considered an in-thing for the Indian authors, but this one just strikes the right chord. Fluent and simple, an enthralling journey which you may want to read again just to confirm if that was how the Ramayana was supposed to be.

So, have I piqued your interest enough? Ok, a teaser for this book – “Who was Sita? Daughter of Ravana?

Score: 10/10

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