Vikram Rana Investigates

Title: Vikram Rana Investigates : Tales of Murder and Deception in Hyderabad
Author: Sharmishtha Shenoy Vikram Rana Investigates
ASIN: B01FA9M9FO
Number of Pages: 161
Price [INR]: 99 (Kindle)
Genre: Crime, Thriller & Mystery

Vikram Rana Murder Mysteries are set in Hyderabad…
The Mysterious Affair of the Lohia Mansion

When the glamourous socialite Richa Lohia is poisoned in her mansion in Jubilee Hills, her brother-in-law hires his mate, ex-cop Vikram Rana, to solve this murder. This is Vikram’s first case and he, along with Inspector Gopi Reddy, must solve the case even if they face opposition from the richest and powerful family in Hyderabad, who would stop at nothing to defend themselves.

The Sonia Sinha Case

When property developer Krishna Dhavala is stabbed to death in Necklace Road, everyone suspects Mrs. Dhavala to be the murderer of her alcoholic and abusive husband. But is that really the case? Vikram Rana and Inspector Reddy have a tough time uncovering the murderer and Vikram himself almost dies trying to solve this case. Experience the mystery along with the duo as they fight their way through the maze of lies, deceit and greed.

For me, it all started with Nancy Drew, Famous Five, Hardy Boys and then later with Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. Yes, I love the intrigue and the thrills, the puzzling problems and the edge of the seat experience that the thrillers and murder mysteries provide us with. When I got the opportunity to read a murder mystery set in our very own country, I grabbed it immediately.

Vikram Rana Investigates: Tales of Murder and Deception in Hyderabad is a collection of two murder mysteries. Vikram Rana is an ex-police officer turned investigator.  The murder of a business tycoon’s wife is his first case which he gets through his friend and brother-in-law of the deceased.  As Vikram moves ahead with his investigation, the plot gets complex with plenty of suspects from the family. The family dynamics in the Lohia clan are interesting and every person in the family has the needle of suspicion pointing towards them. And that made for some good twists and turns which kept the reader in me engaged.

In the second story, a rogue builder, Krishna Dhavala is brutally murdered in his car. As Vikram is close on the heels of the culprit, the killer goes on to kill two more people to cover his tracks. And it gets murkier with more secrets tumbling out. Vikram along with Inspector Reddy from the Police department finally nab the killer in style.

The story progresses smoothly with a steady pace. The climax is not a nail biting finish but nevertheless, the intrigue has been sufficiently built and that makes you turn the pages one after the other.  I liked the way Sharmishtha shared about the hangouts, places and food of Hyderabad in the story.

I like humor and sarcasm  in relationships but the one shared between Vikram and his wife became a bit tiresome to read for me. His wife truly annoyed me. I found a few instances a tad unbelievable in the story, like Vikram’s meteorical rise to fame, his insightful dreams, Richa’s (the murdered woman) brother-in-law and sister-in-law going to the pub and work respectively the very next day of the murder, or keeping the extra bottle of Nyquil (medicine) in the storeroom, errors in event timeline etc. The book has some minor editing glitches.

Overall, Vikram Rana Investigates : Tales of Murder and Deception in Hyderabad is a nice debut work.WithCircleWhite (1)

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Shamsuddin’s Grave

Title: Shamsuddin’s Grave Shamsuddin's Grave– The Story of a Homeless
Author: Paromita Goswami
Publisher: Patridge Indiahing Pvt Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-4828-4394-1
Number of Pages: 282
Price: 450 [INR]
Genre: Fiction

Latika’s wrecked personal front leaves her completely shattered. So when her ailing father reveals his desire to go back home, she doesn’t think twice and moves to her hometown. She joins an NGO and comes across a teenager rape victim. Much against her TL, Debjyoti’s wish she sets out to trace the girl with Shamsuddin’s help. Will she succeed or end up in big trouble?

Shamsuddin, a daily labourer, somehow manages to thrive in the city. Meanwhile, flood devastates his house in the village. His family takes refuge in a relative’s place where his wife has a tough time resisting to the advances of her brother-in-law. Can Shamsuddin arrange for an accommodation before it is too late?

Set in Guwahati amid the backdrop of flood and ethnic turmoil, “Shamsuddin’s Grave”, is the story of migration towards big cities for a better life

They say the best inspiration comes from real life. Shamsuddin’s Grave, a debut novel by Paromita Goswami is inspired from a real life story.

Shamsuddin, a farmer from a small village in Assam loses his land due to the yearly floods in Brahmaputra river. It was hard for him to make ends meet, so he moves to Guwahati with big dreams. But his big-city dreams are shattered by the realities of daily existence and in doing so he loses the trust of his family. As he struggles and wades through life, he comes across Snehlata who gives him shelter in her barn and Latika, who has recently moved from Delhi and is licking some old wounds. Latika works for an NGO and Shamsuddin helps her in bringing about the much needed change in the lives of underprivileged.  Despite being disowned by his own family and despite the never ending struggle, Shamsuddin  does not lose hope of having his own house and unite his family once again.

Shamsuddin’s Grave is a powerful and an eye-opener of a story. It brings to the fore the struggles and hardships of the illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Though they have been living in India for generations, but all their lives they just work to meet the needs of their families. They do not know of the current affairs of the country and do not exist in government records.

What touched me while reading this book is that it is based on a true life story. Someone has lived through all these trials and tribulations day in and day out and yet he never got any support, not from his family and not from the government or the media. Kudos to the author for raising social awareness about the people who migrated to India before and after Indo-Bangladesh partition and took shelter in the then undivided Bengal, however their present and future is murky and uncertain, still.

The book also delves into unconditional support and true relationships, empty nest syndrome, loneliness, human trafficking, plight of illegal immigrants, floods, social divide etc.

Flawed by the gamut of human failings, the characters are real and well etched out. The writing is simple and lucid, though the scourge of typos and limp editing afflicts this book.

I believe the title of a book sets the tone of the story and creates an expectation in the reader. While the book started off with Shamsuddin and his life but soon it became Latika’s story with Shamsuddin just being a secondary character. Also, there were many sub-plots that overshadowed the main story. Shamsuddin re-enters the story towards the end. So, I wondered about the aptness of the title and it somewhat dampened my reading experience.

The ending has a twist and is intense, heartrending and poignant too.  Despite some minor hiccups, Shamsuddin’s Grave is a worthy read.

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If ‘Gandhi’ was made in 2016…

Some movies should be viewed again and again. There’s something wonderful about revisiting a classic. With its proposition of ‘Woh Zamaana Kare Deewana’, Zee Classic is India’s only Hindi movie channel that endeavors to recreate the magic of iconic classics and new age cinema by showcasing not just the films that shaped Indian cinema but also acquaint viewers with the creative talent who were a part of that timeless era.

In order to mark the occasion of India’s 70th year of independence, Zee Classic premieres

Gandhi

One of the most iconic films of all times, Gandhi (1982) was produced and directed by Richard Attenborough and written by John Briley. Starring Ben Kingsley, Rohini Hattangadi, Edward Fox, Roshan Seth, amongst others. The story is that of an Indian lawyer who returned from racially segregated South Africa to drive the British out of his home country through successive acts of non-violent protest. The portrayal of how simplicity and the power collectivism can throw over a whole British empire bringing them to their knees.

As Zee Classic gears up to premiere ‘Gandhi’, this Saturday, on 13th August at 8 PM in ‘India’s Finest Films’ and on Monday, 15th August at 10 PM, we wonder who would be a part of this classic if it was to be re-made in 2016!

Director

1982 : Sir Richard Attenborough had the ability and talent to accommodate a person’s entire lifespan in a couple of hours. He did a phenomenal job right from the research to bringing alive the legacy of the father of our nation on big screen.

2016: Ashutosh Gowarikar known for his love for historical films and bringing lost eras to life with Lagaan, Jodha Akbar and Swadesh, is undoubtedly our choice to direct this film today.

Mahatma Gandhi

1982: Ben Kingsley played the role of Mahatma Gandhi in the movie.

2016: Mr. Perfectionist Aamir Khan is the man for the job. Known for his chameleon skills to adapt to various roles and characters combined with his attention to detail, Aamir Khan should play the role of our beloved Baapu.

Kasturba Gandhi

1982: Rohini Hoattangadi, beautifully portrayed Kasturba Gandhi, wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. 

2016: Kajol, one of India’s most acclaimed actresses can easily pull off the role of Baa.

General Dyer

1982: Edward Fox is etched in our minds as the dreadful and shrewd General Dyer who was hated by all for his infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

2016: Tom Alter with his international looks and versatile talent can be General Dyer in ‘Gandhi’.

Jawahar Lal Nehru

1982: Roshan Seth played the role of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to perfection.

2016: The Nawab of Bollywood, Saif Ali Khan wins hands down with his charming royal looks.

Sardar Patel

1982: Saeed Jaffery pulled off the role of The Iron Man of India, Sardar Patel flawlessly.            

2016: Paresh Rawal’s known for his diverse character roles makes him our choice to play the part.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah

1982: Alyque Padamsee brought to life an important historic figure, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, popularly known as the father of Pakistan in history

2016: Irrfan Khan, a global Indian will surely cut ice in this role.

Lord Mountbatten

1982: Peter Harlowe played the part with the sternness of a bureaucrat and an attitude on his face.

2016: The suave, Rajat Kapoor has our vote to play the last viceroy of the British Indian Empire.

Whether it was 1982 or 2016, the story of the man who brought India independence needs to be told and needs to be heard!

Tune-in to Zee Classic to watch Richard Attenborough directed ‘Gandhi’ on this Saturday, 13th August at 8 PM and Monday, 15th August at 9:30 AM

Gandhi on Zee Classic

Image Source : Zee Classic

The Not People

Title: The Not People The Not People
Author: Sonara
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd
ISBN: 978-93-52016-01-3
Number of Pages: 258
Price: 250 [INR]
Genre: Fiction

‘The Not People’ is an odyssey of faith, a plunge of deep belief into the heart of the ones who have ever dared to love unconditionally. When Parineeta decides to call it quits, her relationship with beau Atharv, with whom she had voyaged through unnumbered experiences in an ordinary life, she was sure as hell about never wanting to see him ever again, even if that meant smothering her core voice that screamed out to love and endure.

Winds of change begin gushing only after a protracted length of time; almost close to a decade since their separation. She is now not so youthful anymore and Atharv’s status is unknown to her. Will she give in to her heart’s calling and set out to seek her only love? Would her intentions be bestowed by blessings from above? Will it ever rain again, as it had when she had returned once, to meet her dying mother? Are Parineeta and Atharv really, just ordinary people or Not…?

I read a lot of books and once in a while I come across books that are just difficult to get through. The reasons could be many, including the slow or predictable story or flowery language or poor grammar or weird word choices or it’s plain boring …

The Not People was one such book that I struggled to read. The book failed to capture my attention from the word go. It could be just me, but the complex language of the book simply overwhelmed me. It was hard as hell, and sometimes I forgot the plot even while I was reading. 

I read for pleasure (among other things), but if it becomes arduous and takes a lot more effort and in this case looking up a dictionary after every other line,  then it’s not my cup of tea. On second thoughts, if I had read the Kindle edition of this book, it would had been better, but still that would have broken the continuity and joy of reading.

Because I do not prefer to leave a book unread half way no matter how difficult it might be, I finished reading the book.

The No People is Parineeta’s story who  visits her ailing mother with Atharv, her live-in partner. It’s an emotionally challenging time for Parineeta and Atharv supports and help her cope with the tragedy. Before moving to their new home in Ooty, they travel to a lot of places and reflect on their childhood memories. As they settle in their new home, tsunami hits Southern India and their Man Friday is affected by it. The duo set out to help the victims and their families. A small incident makes Parineeta leave Atharv. She moves into an ashram where she meets Rudra and Dhrishya. The story jumps a few years ahead and the Guruma at the ashram asks Parineeta to get back to her life with Atharv. 8 years later, she meets Atharv and “neither questioned each other about anything else. They just knew.”

What I liked about this book is their travel to places like Jaipur, Udaipur Surat… I enjoyed the sights, the places, the food which were so realistically presented. Even the shops at the midway, Behror on the Delhi-Jaipur highway has been described precisely the way they are.  Thumbs up for that.

What didn’t work for me, other than the Gordian language that is… The part of the story till tsunami is covered till chapter 8 (The book has 10 chapters in all!). And it is only in the last 2 chapters that the duo separate and meet. Interestingly, the blurb of the book talks about only these two last chapters.  The pace of the book is excruciatingly slow. There are many dialogues in Hindi and Tamil which are immediately translated in English.  Somehow that hampered the flow of reading especially while reading the Hindi dialogues. Also the conversations between the characters is pretty unrealistic.

The book leaves a lot of things unsaid and had a lot of things that made no sense at all.

To sum it up, I am afraid, The No People did not work for me! 

Kaleidoscope of Hopes

Title: Kaleidoscope of Hopes web KOH
Author: Devika Fernando
ASIN: B00P0BL7K6
Number of Pages: 289
Price [INR]: 231 (Kindle)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Nadia’s life story  reads like Cinderella the backward way, going not from rags to riches but from riches to rags. Her life is a mess. She has to go through a lot of hurt and pain and is struggling to make ends meet. To add to her woes, a new boss arrives at work who is sharp as a knife and handsome as hell. Lucas is strict at work and to lead the company to success, he is prepared to let heads roll. Nadia is worried about being handed the pink slip.

To complicate her situation further, Nadia finds that Lucas is her next door neighbour. Lucas has a 5-year old daughter, Melody. When he finds that Melody and Nadia are getting along well, he proposes a business arrangement. He suggests that Nadia should become Melody’s companion. Since Nadia is desperate for money, she agrees to his proposition.

In this whole bargain, they didn’t realize that close proximity at work and home would change the equation between them. Sweet hopes bloom again, but both are burdened by their sad past. Should they both give a second chance at love?

When I See Your Face  was the first book that I had read written by Devika and I quite liked it. When I got the opportunity to read Kaleidoscope of Hopes written by her, I grabbed it with both hands. Oh boy! Reading Kaleidoscope of Hopes was one hell of an exciting, exhilarating and emotional rollercoaster ride.

Devika brings her characters to life with vivid descriptions, and believable dialogues and situations. Both Nadia and Lucas came across as realistic for the most part. The story is filled with moments where they keep getting thrown together and are put into situations that force their feelings for each other to the surface. Despite their attraction for each other, both have good reasons for refusing to acknowledge it… their past and emotion charged issues among other things. I really enjoyed the chemistry and slow burn romance between them and was completely sucked in and rooting for them.

For most part of the story, I was wondering about their past which kept coming in their present. Devika was successful in keeping the reader in me engaged and interested as the mystery of their past was revealed gradually. The storyline has a bit of a twist at the end to heighten the action and suspense.

Kaleidoscope of Hopes is a beautiful feel-good romance that you’ll love curling up with. Go for it.

Tales of Sunshine

Title: Tales of Sunshine Tales of Sunshine
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Publisher: Flaming Sun
ASIN: B01GSHVTTY
Number of Pages: 83
Price [INR]: 100 (Kindle)
Genre: Fiction

Tales of Sunshine is Sundari’s seventh book. Must say that she is on a roll!

Tales of Sunshine  is an anthology of ten short stories that bring hope.

A Ray of Sunshine is about young Raj who’s terribly upset when he is asked to give the pink slip to twelve people from his team. These people were hardworking and he had personally selected and trained them. Will he be able to do anything about it?

A Promise Given is about friendship of Sachin, a rich, young man on his way to recovery from drug addiction and a pregnant child-woman Aparna.

Life Goes out of Control is the story where Preeti, an only child, whose parents want her to opt for subjects of their choice rather than her interest.

Rakesh Nath’s Recovery  is an intriguing story of Rakesh Nath who has worked all his life to become rich and then to suffer a massive heart attack at 57.

Exam Fever  is about Renu and her anxious mother, Maya. Maya is terribly worried about her daughter’s exams while Renu has no interest in the same. The story ends with a twist and leaves you smiling.

Until Death Us do Part is a story of Rekha, the 35-year-old COO of an MNC who has it all in life except for love. And when she finds it, it changes her life completely.

Is Grandpa Home?  Ansh became a bone of contention between his mother Anu and grand father. Anu makes sure that Ansh does not spends time with his grandfather. Is she successful in keeping the duo apart from each other?

Daydreaming Mercenary is a story of two sisters Reema and Rita. Reema blows up her sister’s hard-earned money. But are things what they actually seem?

Breaking Free from the Mould is Aarush’s story. He has it all planned as far his career is concerned. His grandmother wants him to follow the footsteps of her son. With so much pressure from his Grandma, will Aarush pursue his calling?

The Elephant in the Room is the about ‘friendship’ that spans decades between the rich Shruti and poor Nandita.

All these 10 stories are a slice of life. We have seen, heard or experienced all of them at one point or the other. The protagonist in each story faces some challenging times or is in some desperate situation. And like in real life, sooner or later, they find a glimmer of hope and a promise of a better tomorrow. The stories leave you with that heart-warming and feel-good feeling and thus making them truly tales of sunshine. Each story examines some important aspect of the human condition leaving the reader with plenty to contemplate and relate to.

Though these are short stories, Sundari is deft in her ability to bring her characters and their circumstances to life with ease.

Written in a simple and succinct style, Tales of Sunshine make for a quick breezy read.

Explore Magical Sea World with Colgate

 

The greatest thing ever in the history of the world and of all of human endeavour from time immemorial is stories. ― Rainn Wilson

Stories are an inseparable part of our lives. Stories are our window to the world around us. Stories are all around us. They are what move us, make us feel alive, and inspire us. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds.

We have grown up listening to stories from our elders. And we do the same with our kids too. We read stories to them at bed time and inspire them to fall in love with the magical world of stories and books.

Imagine a day when our kids starts telling us stories! Wouldn’t that be just great!!

Orson Scott Card once shared that anything can become a children’s book if you give it to a child. Children are actually the best  audience for literature because they have no patience with pretence.  How true is that!

Colgate is helping us do just that. Yes, Colgate has come out with limited edition Magical Sea World packs which the kids can cut, play with and learn about various sea creatures. Every character inside Colgate’s Magical Sea World pack has some interesting trivia which helps kids to learn about sea creatures too.

The four different Colgate packs named as Pirate Hunt, Treasure Hunt, Pirate Ship and Coral Reef, can let a child’s imagination run wild.

My nephew D loves DIY projects. So, I shared these 4 packs with him. He immediately got working and cut the box open. Inside of the box had different characters and shapes. Each shape has a dotted line around it. D gently cut each shape along the dotted line (with a little help from his Mommy and Masi). And soon he had all the characters in front of him. And the child in him gave a whoop of joy. He painstakingly arranged them on the table and admired his handwork.

IMG-20160730-WA0005

I then asked him to narrate a story based on these characters. He looked at them for a moment and impromptu shared his imaginative story #‎ColgateMagicalStories‬.

Blackbeard and his twin sister Sadie are pirates of the Caribbean. One day, Sadie sees a mermaid in the middle of the sea through her binocular. She tells Blackbeard that she wants to meet the beautiful mermaid. Blackbeard starts on a voyage on his ship to find the mermaid. As his ship sails through the sea waters, he meets some friendly creatures of the sea. He meets the Killer Whale, Sharks, Dolphins, Sea Turtle, Crabs, Sting Ray, Star Fish, Octopus, Puffer Fish etc. He chats with all these sea creatures and they share interesting things about themselves. For example, Sting Ray shared that it produces electric shock from its tail for defense or that Sea Turtles can grow up to 300 kg in weight or that Dolphins live in groups called pods.

via GIPHY

Blackbeard asks them about the mermaid. They all point in different directions and say that she is mysterious and elusive. All that does not deters Blackbeard for he is determined to find the mermaid. He even dives deep in the sea to look for her. While he is looking for her, he finds a lost treasure. He happily takes the treasure to his ship. His talking parrot that is perched up high on the ship’s mast shrieks and tells Blackbeard the place where he saw the mermaid. Blackbeard takes his ship in that direction and finds the mermaid sitting outside her palace on an island. The mermaid is happy to see a human and agrees to go with him to meet his sister Sadie. All the animals circle around the ship and cheer them. Blackbeard and Sadie become great friends with the mermaid and they all have some good times together.

We all clapped as little D finished his story on a happy note.

We smiled and noted with satisfaction that how this little DIY activity not only engaged the child and we got to spend some quality time with him, but also helped him to hone his story-telling skills, cognitive skills, imaginative skills and even creative skills.

Promise

55 Fiction

The growing pile of unread books is gathering dust.

The recorded TV programs of the week lie unwatched.

The love and support from buddies has not been acknowledged, still.

The project deadlines are looming large and closer.

The deferred items on the To-Do list threatens to have a snowballing effect.

Tomorrow. She whispers to herself!

Linking this to BAR-A-THON by Blog-A-Rhythm Day 7 Prompt – Promise (to yourself/someone else)

barathon

Wishful Thinking

55 Fiction

What we had was beautiful, what we had was true.

But what we had is now over, it’s all in the past.

A gripping pain pierces me to see that you have moved on.

I see you happy with him and I’m torn apart from inside.

Someday, I will be over you too.

I think.

Linking this to BAR-A-THON by Blog-A-Rhythm Day 6 Prompt – Wishful Thinking

barathon

Caught by the Sea

55 Fiction

The sea and the moving tides beckoned her, again.

They had lots in common, the shifting moods for one.

The waves rolled and murmured rhythmically, calming and welcoming her today.

She sat motionless, remembering when the sea had exploded with its stormy temper and had tossed everything around but for a pair of tiny shoes.

TINY SHOES

Image Courtesy : Pixabay

Linking this to BAR-A-THON by Blog-A-Rhythm Day 5 Prompt – Tiny Shoes

barathon

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