Happily Murdered

Title: Happily MurderedHappily Murdered
Author: Rasleen Syal
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
ISBN: 9382665188
Number of Pages: 246
Price [INR] : 195
Genre: Crime, Thriller & Mystery

The radiant new daughter-in-law of the influential Mehta family dies mysteriously on the very next night of her wedding. The murder is an inside job, the police are certain. It could be anyone, the adulterous husband, conniving in-laws, jealous friend and the love struck ex-fiancé.

With an aim to save themselves and incriminate others, it is not long before these suspects turn into amateur detectives, hunting for clues and delving into hidden secrets only they can unearth. They coerce, pry and blackmail in an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Will one of these nine unlikely sleuths finally unravel the mystery behind Gulab’s death and avenge it? Or will the truth die as viciously as Gulab?

With Gulab Sarin dead on her wedding night, the needle of suspicion points towards not one or two people at the Mehta Palace but towards all nine of the family members. Each one of them has a motive, means and opportunity to kill Gulab. With family’s public image at stake, the nine turn into detectives with the sole aim of protecting the family, even at the cost of incriminating an innocent person. They have 15 days to do so as that’s the time frame the Police Inspector has to submit the report. Who could kill Gulab when she was dancing with such joy and contentment in her wedding finery? And thus over discussions, blame games, threats, pressure tactics and snooping around, the family members try to solve a whodunnit.

The characterization in the story is done really well. The characters’ personalities and complexities emerge nicely and this makes the characters alive and believable. Even Gulab’s character which is murdered in the very first chapter, is portrayed suitably such that you empathize with her and join the rest of the family in analysing the clues to bring her justice.

The pace of the story is just right and keeps you glued to the book. As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed Happily Murdered from start to finish. There are no loose threads as all is wrapped up in a neat little bow towards the end. It is definitely a page turner that kept me up late at night examining the clues, evaluating the witnesses and alibis and determining the probable culprit. And the climax simply blew me away.

Caught a few typos in the book, but that did not dampen the reading pleasure.

A very promising debut by Rasleen, Happily Murdered is a recommended read for all crime, thriller and mystery lovers.

Rating : 4 Stars

Beyond School

Title: Beyond SchoolBeyond School
Author: Chitra Anand
Publisher: Frog Books
ISBN: 978-93-83562-40-4
Number of Pages: 201
Price [INR] : 125
Genre: Reality Fiction

Beyond School centres upon the weeks leading up to 17-year-old Shail’s final board exams, as his world becomes a pressure-cooker and the weight of preparing for the exams sends him fleeing rebelliously in the other direction.

Along with Shail’s journey from boyhood to manhood, Beyond School vividly weaves between the narratives of four main characters, seamlessly uniting the past and present of Shail, his parents – Urmila and Sushil and his mentor – Gladys, in a story that is honest, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately, incredibly human.

Beyond School is a coming-of-age story of Shail, a grade twelve student who come to grips with the reality of life and undergoes a change in this thoughts and matures as a person.

Teens is a phase of life which can be quite turbulent and is indeed a testing time for not only the teenagers but even for their parents. Beyond School is a reality fiction that brings to light, a lot of issues faced by the teenagers and their parents.  It brings to the fore, the concerns viz parental pressure for academic excellence, emphasis on academics vis-a-vis sports, disrespectful or defiant behaviour, disregard for rules and responsibilities, involvement in high risk and reckless activities, poor study behaviour and skills, communication gap between parents and children, among other things. The story also encompasses the elements of teen love affairs, the thrill of speed and gadget dependence too. The author who is an educator has neatly packed all these issues in the story. It is a story which all parents can relate to.

The author being from the field of education and my son who would be a teen soon, compelled me to read this book and to know the world of modern teens through her voice of experience. And Beyond School is definitely an interesting and an enlightening read. My only gripe about this book is its poor sentence structure and incorrect grammar usage throughout the length of the story. This was a big dampener for me.

Beyond School is an honest representation of the challenges faced by the teens and their parents in a global society.

Rating : 2.75 Stars

This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com

Meghna

Title: MeghnaMEGHNA
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Publisher: Flaming Sun
ASIN: B00KUPUURS
Number of Pages: 173 (Estimated)
Price [INR] : 194
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Type : eBook

The young and dashing Rahul Sinha lives in England with his parents, Shyam and Rajni. He is an only son of the rich banker. Rahul is totally attached to his father but does not care for his mother.

Rahul is exulted with his efforts at work paying off and plans a holiday with his best friend Sanjay Srivastav who lives in Mumbai with his wife Reema, kids Sanya and Rehaan and most importantly, his sister, Meghna. Rahul recalls meeting Meghna just before they parted six years ago.

Meghna works for a website and also teaches modern dance as she loves it. She’s thrown for a toss when Rahul comes visiting. She had thought he had forgotten them.

But how could Rahul do that? Sanjay’s his best friend and Rahul had always treated their home as his own. Sanjay’s mother had been more of a mother to Rahul than his own. Rahul had stayed away after moving to England or so Meghna believes.

Thus begins the story between Rahul and Meghna, the teasing, the flirting, the anger, the tears… …will they find love?

The blurb of the book pretty much tells you what to expect. And as I read Meghna, it was exactly what was promised. It did truly what it was meant to do – brightened up my day and gave me a smile.

Meghna has nicely drawn characters that one can relate to and a story line that is interesting and entertaining. Some parts of the story were just a little unbelievable to me, though, especially the hijacking part. The overall story is good, the sizzle is nicely done and the climax is delightful. A vivid, rich, descriptive style with not a single dull moment in the story, the author manages to keeps you engrossed in either sweet romance or high emotional drama. Two families with contrasting family values and traditions has been brought out well. The fact that all the misgivings and the misunderstandings get sorted very easily without much drama, leaves you be a bit disappointed. Written in simple and lucid language, with playful banter and facetious dialogues between Rahul and Meghna, the book makes for a light, fun and frothy read.

The cover design could have been better. The pink trousers clad Rahul on the cover certainly does not match with the cool and suave Rahul depicted in the inside pages!

Meghna is yet another entertaining read from Sundari Venkatraman.

Rating : 3.5 Stars

Gift a Life

It is called the gift of life. No words can ever express gratitude for this selfless act of passing on the gift of life. It is the legacy that we can leave behind… a priceless treasure that would be cherished by receiver and his family and our loved ones too.

Yes, I am talking about Organ Donation.

Organ Donation is the process of giving an organ or a part of an organ for the purpose of transplantation into another person.

Becoming an Organ Donor is a win-win situation for all. Here are some reasons why, we must opt for organ donation:

  • This one act of ours can help save lives and make a difference. Make a DifferenceExperts say that the organs from one donor can save or help as many as 50 people!! Organs and tissues that we can can donate include kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas, intestines, lungs, skin, bone and bone marrow, cornea, heart valves and veins. Organs are used to save lives by replacing diseased organs with healthy ones. Corneas are transplanted to give sight and heart valves are used in valve replacement surgery. Skin grafts are used for burn victims. Bone, tendons and ligaments, veins can be used in reconstructive surgeries.

 

  • It can give a second chance at life to the organ recipients. For some, an organ transplant means no longer having to be dependent on costly routine treatments to survive.  It allows many recipients to return to a normal lifestyle and/or have a better quality of life.

 

  • Our own families may take comfort in the fact that their loss may help to save or improve the lives of others.

Organ Donation

Around this time, last year, I pledged to donate my organs. I have requested that after my death any part of my body be used for transplantation. I carry this card in my purse always. And my family knows about this wish of mine. I just hope that they do remember to carry out this wish at the right time.

My Organ Donor Card

They say in the midst of darkness, an enduring light shines strong and bright. It is the light of hope. So, give the gift of hope to someone. Gift a life to somebody. Be an Organ Donor.

Light

Organ Donation… What do you think about it?

Linking this to #WorldOrganDonationDay Blog Carnival. Join us and read some more posts for this carnival at Vidya’s Blog.

I am Blank Because…

Thought of breaking the monotony on the blog with a fun post… I enjoyed writing it, seriously! This post idea was shared on the Write Tribe blog which is I’m Am Blank Because… a fill in the blanks exercise from Little Miss Momma’s Blog. I’m Weird Because…

  • I can eat desserts as a main course meal.
  • I don’t like chocolates and ice creams.
  • I’d rather die than eat food served in trains or roadside vendors or any unhygienic looking eatery.
  • Just by looking at a new dish, I know whether I’d like it or not. This is especially for those exotic looking desserts on the buffet tables at hotels/restaurants. And when I do try them, I am always right. No, I am not biased.
  • I love to have my morning and evening tea in total quiet and peace. If both of these are missing, I’d delay having my cuppa. A blissful environ is mandatory for my daily elixir.
  • I love doing dishes, mopping and washing clothes. Can do them at any hour of the day.
  • Giving the home a spic and span look takes precedence over cooking food for the hungry souls, always most of the time.
  • I can’t function without making lists. A mental list is made for regular chores while rest of the things are thought out loud on paper.
  • I can shed more than a bucket load of tears while watching movies, even the ones that I have seen over a hundred times.
  • I cant dance to save my life.

I’m a Bad Friend Because…

  • I don’t really like talking on the phone. I rarely take the initiative to call.
  • I’d rather text than call.
  • I am far too honest and that hurts a lot, I know.

I’m a Good Friend Because…

  • I’m there for my friends with an empathetic ear. Anytime. Always.
  • I respond promptly to any need/call/text.
  • I am fiercely loyal.
  • I am always there, through thick & thin, for my friends.

I’m Sad Because…

  • Despite my best intentions, I am never able to stick to my exercise schedule for long (read 3-5 days! :(  ).
  • I am not able to keep myself from worrying about anything and everything.

I’m Happy Because… DSC_0140

  • The unconditional love and support that I receive from my boys.
  • I baked cupcakes for the first time yesterday and they turned out great.

I’m Excited For…

  • The things that our shaping up…
  • The future that looks so very promising! Touch wood!

What makes you Weird, Happy, Sad and Excited? Do share your thoughts :)

My Shopping Experience @ Jabong.com

I have been shopping online for quite some time now, but got an opportunity to shop at Jabong.com only last week.

Jabong 2

Jabong.com is a young and vibrant company that aims to provide good quality branded products. Jabong.com caters to the fashion needs of men, women and kids across footwear, apparel, jewellery and accessories. There’s home fashion, beauty – make-up and sports merchandise too.

Jabong1

I wanted to shop for a few things in the Beauty & Grooming section. It was heartening to see all reputed brands and wide range of options to select from.

Jabong 3

Jabong.com has  simple and straightforward navigation. One can filter the products by category, brands, price range and even discounts. Once I added the products to the cart, the check out was a breeze. Within minutes of completing the online shopping, I got emails and SMS alerts in quick succession giving the details of my order.20140810_152116

In less than 30 hours, I had the courier from Jabong.com, in my hands.

I had just closed the door after accepting the courier delivery and my phone showed yet another SMS alert informing that ‘your order with Docket no. XYZ has been delivered.’ Now, that’s some service.

Excitedly, I opened the pack and was amazed to see the packaging.

My parcel had 2 glass container items among other things. While each product was wrapped in a plastic bag, they were collectively packed in this bag which is called air column packaging. (See the fascinating process of how it is made in this YouTube Video here) Usually, bubble wraps are used to package glass items but I saw this air column packaging for the first time. It is a sturdy pack which is shock resistant and offers fall protection thereby keeping the products safe and intact. Innovative and contemporary, isn’t it?

20140811_101728In a nutshell…

  • Simple and easy to navigate site
  • Wide variety of products and brands
  • Range of payment options viz Cash of Delivery, Debit/Credit Card and Net Banking
  • Prompt email and SMS alerts about status of order
  • Free shipping
  • Super fast delivery
  • Sturdy packaging… made my shopping experience with Jabong.com, simply fabulous!

Have you shopped with Jabong.com? How was your experience?

Lucifer’s Lungi

Title: Lucifer’s LungiLucifer’s Lungi
Author: Nitin Sawant
Publisher: Fablery
ISBN: 978-81-928937-0-9
Number of Pages: 111
Price [INR] : 120
Genre: Fiction

An atheist city-slicker unleashed on a medieval holy village…

A simpleton village priest’s boy who blindly worships and guards a pantheon of Gods and Their traditions…

Strange things happen when their worlds collide!

This is a tale of that turmoil on a lonely night in a jungle, when the ghosts you never knew till a few hours ago are let loose on the ghosts that you always carried within, unknowingly.

Welcome to the unholy clash of beliefs, fears and frailties with unknown Gods and demons. A clash that will test your convictions. A clash that will rabidly claw and unmask your subconscious, leaving you naked and paralyzed in front of your demons – in a climax that is as ambiguous as it is certain…

Welcome to the madness of ‘Lucifer’s Lungi’… where What-You-See-Is-NOT-What-You-Get…

The title of the book piqued my curiosity and the blurb of the book sparked some more interest. Lucifer’s Lungi is a story of a software entrepreneur who led such a dull life that on a silent night he could hear his soul rust, and that was till his colleagues suggested him to travel the countryside. Thus, began his series of enchanted escapades till he reached a place where normally they don’t see people like him going down there.

The protagonist (no, we don’t get to know his name) meets friendly people in that picturesque little village who had faith in quaint mythological legends. The protagonist who is a proud product of modern scientific education, schooled under some of the finest technical brains and management masters finds this whole belief in the God and the Devil, and the rituals and traditions to ward off the evil contrary to his philosophy of life. What follows in his journey is a watershed moment that transforms him.

A small pocket size book with over 100 pages, Lucifer’s Lungi is a fast paced story with a novel plot, which I finished reading in a couple of hours. I liked the author’s expression that creates strong visual imagery such that the story comes alive in front of your eyes. And that it is laced with humour adds to the charm. However, it has a few grammatical mistakes. Also, a lot in the story is un-explained and has been left to the reader’s imagination. While at places leaving a few things unsaid stimulates the thought but adding mystery to a mystery can be pretty baffling. Better spacing between the paragraphs could have enhanced the reading experience.

Lucifer’s Lungi despite a few gaps, keeps you interested and glued to the book. It is definitely an impressive and thrilling page-turner.

Rating : 3.75 Stars

Spotlight on Love Lasts Forever…

Title: Love Lasts Forever…love-lasts-forever
Author: Vikrant Khanna
Publisher: Srishti Publishers Distributors
ISBN: 978-93-82665-17-5
Number of Pages: 248
Price [INR] : 150
Genre: Fiction

Blurb

So you think your love can last forever…? Get married!

Eighteen year old Ronit falls madly in love with Aisha the moment he meets her at his graduation day from a naval college. He believes he has found his perfect soul mate, and come what may, his love for her will last forever. Seven years later, he gets married to her. Big mistake!

A week later he completely hates her and believes she has turned into a devil.

But his perception about love and life change when he hears the poignant love story of Shekhar, his Captain, on a ship that later gets hijacked by the pirates of Somalia.

As they are left fighting for their lives they confront if love truly can last forever…? But does it get too late?

Meet the Author

Vikrant Khanna is a captain in the merchant navy. He was brought up in Delhi and studied in Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar. His first book “When life tricked me” is a national bestseller and has been widely appreciated. His interests apart from writing include playing guitar, composing songs, cooking and teaching underprivileged children.
You can contact him at viks.khanna@gmail.com or catch him gossiping on Facebook and Twitter.

Love Lasts Forever is available at Flipkart, Amazon.

Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle

Title: Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic CircleCatherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle
Author: Heera Datta
ASIN: B00JLGRX7W
Number of Pages: 195
Price [INR] : 390
Genre: Fiction (ebook)

Charles Dickens married Catherine Hogarth on 2nd April, 1836, when he was an upcoming writer and reporter. Soon after marriage, he tasted spectacular success with The Pickwick Papers and in ten years, was the foremost writer of his time.
Catherine was the mother of his ten children, his hostess, she accompanied him on his American tour.

Yet, twenty-one years after they wed, Charles Dickens very publicly separated from her, denouncing her as an unfit mother and wife. He removed her from his home, his life, and the lives of his children. He never saw her again, not even when their son, Walter, died at the age of twenty-three in faraway India.

His allegations about his wife and his unhappy marriage were works of fiction, as successful and enduring as the rest of his works. The real cause of the separation was an eighteen-year-old actress, Ellen Ternan, who later became his mistress.

On her deathbed, Catherine gave her daughter letters Charles had written to her and said, “Give these to the British Museum, that the world may know he loved me once.”

Outside the Magic Circle is a fictionalized account of Catherine’s life after she was plucked out of her familiar world and thrown to the wolves, as it were, by the exemplary Charles Dickens. It is told in her voice; sometimes reminiscing, at other times baffled, confused, hurt, angry. It has her tears, her love, and her quest for the meaning of her life, and marriage.

Charles Dickens! I remember reading so many of his books during school days. Through humour and satire he gave a glimpse of the society during the Victorian period. I had never read and/or known anything about his personal life till I read Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle.

Charles married Catherine in 1836 and they had 10 children. After twenty-one years of marriage, Charles forced Catherine to separate from him and their children and called it a separation by mutual consent.

In personal life, Charles came across as a very controlling, persuasive, tyrant, stubborn man who liked everything in the house exactly the way he wanted, he even liked to go over the menu of the next meal. He could be insensitive, brutal and disparaging towards Catherine and the children in front of friends. Of course, his admonishments, ill humour and mockery was all cleverly couched in pleasant words. All this gradually chipped away the confidence of not only Catherine but even the children. He was very loving and caring too and loved his family, would keep them in splits with his jocularity.

Catherine loved him with all her heart and was proud to be his wife despite being publicly dumped, maligned, removed from her home and separated from her children, the youngest being only six years old, for no fault of hers. She came across as a very strong woman.

I enjoyed reading this very different book which gave insights about this great writer’s real life. The author has done a comprehensive research in writing this book. As this book is ‘part fiction and part fact; less fiction and more fact’, the fiction part is very believable. I felt that the story could have been a little more crisp. Towards the end it really became stretchy and felt as if it was just getting repetitive. The dialogues sometimes felt too stiff and formal, but may be that was the language used in that period!

Needless to say, that after reading this book, I am keen to read Charles Dickens’ works once again, to read him in new light. And really glad that the author Heera Datta shared the other side of a legend through this book and gave a voice to Catherine too.

An interesting read.

Rating : 3.75 Stars

Metamorphing by Kunal Pancholi

Title: MetamorphingMetamorphing
Author: Kunal Pancholi
Publisher: Frog Books
ISBN: 978-93-83562-99-2
Number of Pages: 250
Price [INR] : 225
Genre: Fiction

28TH APRIL, 2000: Flight No. 9×4876 bound to Srinagar has crash landed into the Everest Base camp. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the flight mysteriously went off the radar for few minutes and missed its landing. All passengers are feared dead… except for three bodies that are yet to be recovered.

8TH DECEMBER, 2050: This, without doubt is the most gruesome murder in recent times. Early this morning, an unidentified woman was found mutilated at the western gates of the abandoned Victoria Terminus Station in Mumbai. Authorities report her head was … well … semi-decapitated and she was drained of all her blood. The shocking part – the crime scene was devoid of any signs of blood spatter…

ROHAN: “I was shorter than the shortest girl in school. I had to be ahead in the game…”
RUDRA: “Was I a private detective? What kind of sinister case am I getting into?”

A thrilling tale about two men bound by an untraceable yet undeniable fate – One running away from his past, another unaware of his own.

Metamorphing has two disjointed stories of Rohan and Rudra running parallelly in alternate chapters. Rohan’s story starts in the year 2000 while Rudra’s story is set in 2050.

Rudra is pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital but soon regains consciousness and appears to have a gap in his memory. A woman whose son is accused of murder asks him to help her son. Rudra has no clue that he was a private detective earlier but accepts the case and starts working on it.

Rohan’s Achilles’ heel is his height but this shortcoming contributes to strengthen his will to fight, survive and win. He finds love in his childhood friend, Gina. He is a lone survivor in a plane crash and is back from the dead after 5 years, to find his parents still waiting for him and his lady love married.

These two diverse stories progress at a nice pace and keep the reader in you totally engrossed. However at one point of time, I wondered about the relevance of totally unrelated stories from two different time periods in a book. And then it hits you like a bolt from the blue. How the two stories are amalgamated into the climax, that is truly an Aha! moment.

Metamorphing has a refreshingly different story line that is executed well. Each character is well etched out. Though the detailed characterization of those who didn’t had much role in the story could have been avoided. The voice of the author is simple, clear and lucid. The incidental details like the sneak peek into the college life of students of Criminology or the crime scene case studies and the interpretations by the students or the rules of being a motivational speaker or the travel in the future or usage of biometrics for information made for a fascinating and interesting read. There are a few gaping holes in the story line and some of the clues to solve the mystery came in too easily. But the climax floors you totally.

To summarize, Metamorphing is an engaging tale of two men with diverse profiles, in different time zones, one running away from his past, another unaware of his own but connected to each other in a bizarre manner!

Rating : 3.75 Stars

This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com

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