Book Review:Wrath Of the Hell Fires

Book: The Wrath Of the Hell Fires 
Author: Shatrujeet Nath
Genre: Mytho-Fiction
Publication: Jaico Books

Vikramaditya Veergatha series by author Shatrujeet Nath is the story of Avanti, the star-crossed kingdom of Vikramaditya which is the target of continuous assaults by Devas and Asuras searching for two swords, the Hellfires and a dagger that seals within its hilt, the potent ‘halahal’.

The kingdom is also under threat of attacks by its neighbor Magadha and Hun barbarians. However, the king and his nine councilmen with special powers defend their city day and night. Their combined powers have proven to be a formidable force time and again.

Many a readers might be aware of the ‘Vikram aur Betal’, the never ending mythological tale of the just king Vikramaditya and a spirit. The story has been re-imagined and retold by author Shatrujeet Nath in his four book long Vikramditya Veergatha Series.

While the first three in the series were available for the readers in quick succession, the fourth and the grand finale of the series took quite some time. The pandemic delayed its release further.

But, Wrath Of Hellfires, Book 4, from the series was released for its reader fans recently. Most who have read the first three books from Vikramaditya Veergatha were patiently waiting for the conclusion of the story in book 4.

While the wait has been long, the story in the last book does not disappoint at all. A fast paced narrative, it meanders through many a wars fought on different fronts by the king and his enemies. As one dives deeper into the story, it conjures up a vivid imagery for the readers and they are transported to described setting.

The first three books of the story have set up the stage for the final clash between the devious Asuras, devas and the enemies within the palace and around the borders. In the earlier three books, the conniving enemies had succeeded in dividing and reducing the effective force of the councilmen and king. The book 4 has all the answers for the intriguing story. What happens to the hell fire swords? What happens to the betal and his world of spirits? Does the ‘halahal’ dagger go to devas or asuras? What happens to the innocent wife of King Vikrama?

There is a gradual build up to the various forces coming together for retaliation and defense but no where does the story slack in its pace. There is no hurried or forced end to the story but yet the story doesn’t seem to linger on unnecessarily. The small twists added within the story will excite the reader as they root for the human king.

If one is fan of mytho-fiction and thrillers, this book and the whole Vikramaditya series pack a great punch.

I usually get bored of stories that are too long and give up reading. But this was one story where I wanted to know how the journey of King Vikramaditya shapes up in keeping his promise and protecting the potent halahal. This was a story which made me curious and turn page after page with bated breath as to what new challenges does the king face in his struggle to keep his kingdom safe.

I would suggest fans of thrillers to read all four books of the series in sequence.

Also read book reviews of:

Vikramaditya Veergatha I

Vikramaditya Veergatha II

Vikramaditya Veergatha III

Also at Amazon

Book Review: Gangster On The Run

Book: Gangster On The Run
Author: Puja Changoiwala
Publication: Harper Collins
Book cover Gangster On The Run

Films are a strong visual media that have a huge impact on young mind. And ‘Bhiku’ a name inspired from the character of gangster ‘Bhiku Mhatre’ of film ‘Satya’ was not the only thing that Rahul Jadhav adopted. ‘Gangster On the Run’ is Bhiku or Rahul Jadhav’s story.

Puja Changoiwala, an award winning journalist and author, who has worked as crime reporter for Hindustan Times and written extensively on gender, crime, human rights in national and international publications, brings her latest well researched story of  a reformed criminal in the book ‘Gangster On The Run’. Having interacted with criminals closely during her research, Puja aims to present the human story of second chances and redemption, through this story of a boy, who chose guns over books, power and money over values of family, whiskey, drugs and brothels over love.

Jadhav’s life story seems straight out of a fiction movie, only that it is true.

A non-fiction real life story of gangster Rahul Jadhav, the book documents the journey of a teenager from a humble family background who loved to paint and cycle in the neighborhood but found life as an extortionist and gangster more lucrative than what a college degree could give. A young boy disgruntled with monetary situation at home Rahul Jhadav, was drawn to the power and money that underworld commanded, found it fascinating and gravitated towards a life of crime. He chose continue his adventures in underbelly of Mumbai, ignoring his lover who implored him to change.

As he became more entrenched in the life of crime realized, Rahul discovered and realized the potential of internet. He trained himself to be tech savvy. He became more lethal and difficult to track down as he used internet to dig up information on industrialists and big wigs of cinema and to cover his tracks by using international phone numbers. His lust for power and money made him ruthless by the day and indispensable for the don.

But crime seldom pays in the long run. The story meanders through his personal life unraveling with his family disassociating themselves for his connection with the underworld and the love of his life leaving him for not amending his ways. He turned to alcohol and brothels in hope of filling the void  to get over his lost love.

His capture and subsequent abandonment by the Don brought a new twist in Jadhav’s life for worse. Schizophrenic, alcoholic, drug addict and disillusioned from the uncertainty and futility of the criminal life, Rahul Jadhav turned a new leaf.

Jadhav recalls Inspector Vijay salaskar, renowned encounter specialist, who was part of the team that had arrested him, telling him during interrogation “Men like you belong in coffin”.

His time in prison gradually made him remorseful and repentant. With a desire to resurrect himself and make things right , he turned to running. He felt the running liberate him of his demons. A counselor and champion of de-addiction he is also an ultra marathoner now. He has covered 10000 kilometres and ran the 2019 marathon from Gateway of India to India Gate and aims to break national marathon records.

The story gives a glimpse of underbelly of Mumbai and the constant cat and mouse chase between the crime branch of police and the criminals. A very engaging read, the story also puts forth the idea that many criminals chose to adapt the life but have the will to reform.

This book is a page turner indeed that the readers of thrillers will definitely enjoy.

GoodReads

Book Review: Heroes Amongst Us

Book: Heroes Amongst Us

Author: Dr Amit Nagpal

Heroes Amongst Us book cover

There is always something in each of us that excites us no end. If we pay heed to that inner fire we can achieve success in whatever we desire from the bottom of our hearts.

As singer Jon Bon Jovi aptly says:

“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you do with your life, be passionate”

And it is this passion that is brought out in some 30 stories of ordinary people from various walks of life across the world who followed their heart and achieved great heights in the direction they chose in this book “Heroes Amongst Us” by Dr Amit Nagpal.

The story of Bhikkhu Sanghasena, a revered Buddhist monk, from Ladakh shows how choosing a path of one’s calling gives joy and satisfaction. Sanghsena joined army as a soldier at the young age of 17. But his heart lay in following the austere life of Buddhism. Leaving the army life he chose to embrace a monk’s life and integrate both the disciplines, one that he imbibed from his training in army and other as a monk, to help his community and people of Ladakh.

Among some of his endeavors are educational institute, meditation center, shelters for underprivileged children, healthcare, Save The Himalayas Foundation and more. His selfless contribution to the society has received acknowledgement in the form of ‘National Award for Welfare of People With Disabilities’ by Indian government, World Peace Award by Gandhi Peace Foundation and ‘Man of the Year 2002’ by American Biographical Institute. The monk lives by the mantra of taking work as worship and finding joy in enabling others.

Then there is Dr Vartika Nanda, recipient of ‘Stree Shakti Puraskar’ the highest civilian honor for women in India who brought about reforms in Indian prisons. Introduced to fame through anchoring TV show at 11 years for Jalandhar Doordarshan, Vartika grew up to become a crime reporter and author. She worked through ZEE TV, NDTV and having seen the life of victims and criminals up-close, she set up ‘Tinka Tinka Foundation’ for reform of inmates of jails. The foundation helped many inmates with organic farming skills, improving literacy and reducing the sentence.

Vartika currently heads the department of journalism in Lady Shri ram College, Delhi University and her reports on condition of women and children in jails has been recognized by Supreme Court Of India. Her success mantra is ‘work with passion and purity’.

Osama Manzar‘s journey to success as Founder and Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation that works towards digitally empowering the masses is another inspiring story included in the book.

Having grown under strict father and failing to succeed in conventional academics and subsequently in finding job as journalist, Osama finally found his passion and calling in the world of internet. He started work as a writer with Computer World Magazine and invested much time in learning as much from the IT professionals he met during the job. Soon he moved to digital portalof Hindustan times and later co-authored the book ‘Internet Economy Of India’. In the process he realized that most of the rural Indian population was unconnected to the progressive world. He set up Digital Empowerment Foundation to connect the masses. His mantra; hard work and using common sense.

There are many such stories in the book reiterating the importance of passion, hard work and belief in self. Written as short stories that inspire the book is the kind of compilation that one can read even after a long gap since the stories vary and are about different people.

The common thread in all stories is of course passion and dedication to one’s dreams.

Pick up the book, now available world wide, if reading about ordinary people who made a life for themselves with determination motivates you to define your journey to success.

Book Review: The Jasmine Bloom

Book: The Jasmine Bloom

Author: Rajat Narula

Genre: Fiction

Publication: Srishti Publishers

I need to apologize for finishing the book in two days flat but not putting up the review sooner.

No! I did not skip pages or skimmed through. Yes! If the first few pages of the book hold my interest, I can finish reading in one sitting.

There, I said it! Yes I liked the story.

The cover of ‘The Jasmine Bloom’ by Rajat Narula itself gives a summery  vibe. Sameer Chaddha, a middle-aged corporate guy who is stagnating in his career and hence unhappy and withdrawn all the time seems to be like some people I know….married for almost two decades, with teenager kids and unsatisfied with career graph. But the similarity ends just there…and I am glad it does.

Sameer Chaddha and his wife Kavita seem to be communicating less and less over the years with both retreating into a shell. His interaction with his teenage daughter is counterproductive leaving him more frustrated. The physical intimacy between the husband and wife is almost nil.

At such time in his life, Sameer finds himself falling headlong in a whirlwind  affair with his colleague Ritu who also is dealing with an abusive husband and an autistic child. As the two give in to their lust ignoring and ruining the fabric of their respective families, certain events bring their dream world crashing to reality.

The story however is not with the regular obvious end where each character realizes the folly and starts afresh with their spouses and all ends well. There is a twist….the characters do recollect the threads and reconcile with the changed circumstances and try finding semblance and happiness. They try building bridges and mend broken ties but with new perspective.

Am not an advocate of finding love outside marriage just because one of the partner is bored or needs some change in life. Am more of a loyal and ‘yours forever’ kind of person. So when I said I liked the story, it wasn’t to glamorize infidelity. The good thing about the story is its pace and structure. There is no unnecessary drag in the story.

The circumstances in the story that lead to torrid affair are though very clichéd and convenient yet the story reads well. The angst of a teenager is captured well. That the wife always knows when the husband is cheating is also woven in the story.

However I would like to read someday a story without these excuses of midlife crisis or boredom or abusive husband. A story bold enough to scream “I wanted this, so I cheated and I have no regrets”. Lets see how people react…

Till that kind of story gets written, we can read ones which try to reason an affair. The book is good read.

Also read on Amazon and  Goodreads

Book Review: Bhrigu Mahesh, The Return Of Damayanti

Book: Bhrigu Mahesh, Return Of Damayanti

Author: Nisha Singh

Genre: Thriller

Publication: Partridge Publications

Whenever I go to book stores, I invariably reach out to the mysteries and thriller section unless there is some super attractive history book that I was waiting for. Needless to say, crime fiction and thriller stories are my favorite genres for a leisure evening.

But the books that I have been reading in past few months were luke-warm as far as nail-biting thrill is concerned. I wasn’t really very sure whether I did the right thing by applying to review this book.

It turns out that I was wrong. Bhrigu Mahesh, the detective in “The Return Of Damayanti” by Nisha Singh reminded me of our very  own Vyomkesh Bakshi or the Brit pair of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.

A keen observer who analyzes every situation in detail, Bhrigu Mahesh is approached by a retired petrified clerk  with a strange request. The poor clerk is at his wit’s end as he is scared of the ghost of his dead wife and he wants Bhrigu Mahesh to get rid of the ghost. Intrigued at this odd request, Bhrigu Mahesh drags his friend and confidant Sutte to the village of Krishnadwar. As is his habit he observes all the people closely related to the household of the clerk to zero in on the culprit who has been troubling Natraj Bhakti, the clerk.

As he contemplates, Natraj Bhakti’s sister is murdered and the story takes a sinister twist. Investigations lead Bhrigu Mahesh to the mastermind who for satisfying his weird experiment on human behavior has been manipulating unsuspecting people into doing out-of-ordinary acts that lead to eventually killing.

Though this is not a fast paced action story yet strangely the narration doesn’t bore you and you don’t feel like skipping anything. Story meanders through the lanes of the village and grows on you with little details hidden in the narration. Characteristics and habits of the people involved become evident subtly in the story. The friend of detective, Sutte, provides interesting breaks in the narrative by showing his annoyance about the village facilities and Bhrigu Mahesh’s habit of slipping into thoughts.

What I liked about the narration was that all the suspects of the ghost mystery and later of the murder are treated equally which keeps the reader guessing who the murderer was or who was troubling Natraj Bhakti with ghost activities. The culprits that emerge after complete investigations and deliberations of Bhrigu Mahesh are a surprise for the readers.

Even the title presents a mystery. Reader becomes curious to find who Damayanti is. While the reader is getting used to the idea of story revolving around a paranormal phenomenon, the sudden twist gives a new dimension to the story.

There could have been though more details of the house and village to complete the picture in the mystery. The house, the murder scene and the temple where the god-man instigated ordinary folk seem little less connected. Even the room which Nataraj Bhakti built for himself is described to be little away from the haunted room so I wondered how the clerk knew about ghost visits.

But in all the book is an engaging read. Readers who find thrillers interesting will enjoy this. Have a read.

Also on:

Goodreads 

 

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Book Review: Finding Juliet


Book:
Finding Juliet

Author: Toffee

Publication: Srishti Publishers

Genre: Fiction

finding-julietSo a new book came at my doorstep… Finding Juliet, sent by Writer’s Melon.

 This is a story of a Arjun who seems to get attracted to lot many girls. He gets close and emotionally attached to three girls in succession but eventually loses his ground with each of them.

Dejected, heartbroken and confused he leaves his job and changes cities where his childhood friend Anjali becomes his shoulder to cry on. An office colleague seems to enlighten Arjun of ‘what women want’ and gradually Arjun turns himself into an irresistible flirty hunk.

Eventually, Arjun realizes the futility of one-night-stands and ‘no strings attached’ sexual escapades. It dawns on him that his true love was his ever supporting childhood friend that he had been searching for a long time. All ends well with Arjun finally Finding his Juliet.

When I started reading through, I kind of guessed who the Juliet would be and there was no surprise. The story though well written seems to be a concoction of some of the new age Hindi movies. At one time the main protagonist seems to be floundering with every thing and every girl and then every thing seems to fall in place with him romping around with every female in his vicinity…from young just in college girl to married woman are just blown away by his charm and he lands a lasting gig in the film industry writing lyrics!

Also the author keeps mentioning about the character being an engineer…it looked forced…as if he needs the world to believe of his geeky intellect! His romp  with every girl he meets becomes little boring because every time there is a mention of a new girl…you know what is coming!

Thankfully author decides to wake up and do away with his character’s Casanova lifestyle or else I would have stopped reading more of his amorous activities….too much of something becomes boring isn’t it? Or then may be I am old school.

The story is fast paced and holds attention. In fact if someone wants to make yet another new age movie where everyone is cool about casual sex and there is no guilt baggage…this story fits in.

The story is very today. I may have outgrown such love stories…I now kind of incline towards more mature real meaningful relationship stories but I am sure people would love to read this book and imagine themselves in ‘Arjun’s’ shoes.

Go ahead and read for yourself…

‘I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.’

Also on:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1914090892

https://www.amazon.in/review/R1LSIH5I9K4NF5/ref=pe_1640331_66412301_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

 

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2015: A Year of Books and Blogposts

The past year has been very fruitful for me. I loved every bit of the year with lot of travel, lot of blogging and not to forget two wins.

BlogAdda Activities:

Blogadda had announced the World Remade activity in February and I did not get time for many days to write anything for that. But then one fine day inspiration struck and I typed away in a mad frenzy to come up with a poem “World Remade” . For days I waited for the results and as the dates for the India Today conclave neared I lost hopes of making it to the conclave.

I went about my day as usual, went for a walk in evening and all this while did not bother to take a peek at my cell phone. Later in the evening to my surprise there was this mail sitting pretty in the mailbox by Blogadda guys….I was one of the winners and was being asked my willingness to attend the Conclave. Ha! there was no doubt that I would miss such an opportunity even though my daughter had her final exams in March.

Delegate card for Conclave

Delegate card for Conclave

Reservations to travel to Delhi were made in a hurry, friends informed of my stay with them and I reached the venue finally got my delegate card and made new friends!! Can’t thank BlogAdda enough…

The Conclave was a great experience and I attended sessions of some great personalities that included Sachin Tendulkar, Vishwanathan Anand, Moni Mohsin, Shobhaa De…

With new friends Arvind Passey and Tennyson Thomas

With new friends Arvind Passey and Tennyson Thomas

A To Z Challenge:

April saw me participating in a daily blogging challenge where each day except Sunday was to correspond with each alphabet. I was not confident of seeing the challenge through but I surprised myself with 26 posts from A to Z. Some posts came out good and some were disasters but I realised that if I really tried, I could write at least 500 words everyday. That means that when I decide to pen a book some day, it definitely is possible 🙂

Huffington Post:

I am one staunch supporter of freedom of women and often get into hot discussions if anybody says anything anti-women. I wrote a post for the Independence day and sent it to Huffington Post blog editor Ms Kavita. Now Huffington Post Blogs is one huge platform for any aspiring blogger and i had my fingers crossed…literally.

That evening on 15th August my article was active on Huffington Post and of course I was jubilant.

Three other articles of my travels also were published in 2015 on Happy Trips and WeNomad sites.

Book reviews:

I became addicted to books right from school days when in a day I used to finish three Noddy books by Enid Blyton much to my library teacher’s headache. After graduating to Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys, I however skipped Mills and Boon totally and instead got into reading all thrillers with the earliest being the Bourne series which was in my father’s collection. My husband introduced me to Richard Bach and later I simply fell in love with William Dalrymple. I read and read…. But never wrote a review. I never thought anybody would be interested in my opinion!!

This year however, I got into reviewing books with Writers Melon sending me the first book to write review about. Kirtida Gautam too sent me her book #IAm16ICanRape . I have been busy reading few mythological stories these days. The best among them was “Maneka’s Choice” by Kavita Kane.

I have started enjoying airing my views about a particular book now and it feels good when the blog visitors, author and the publication house appreciate the review.

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The year ended with another good news, again courtesy BlogAdda. They selected my post Six Steps To Responsible Tourism as one of the entries which won me an early invitation to Outlook Traveller Summit. Though I could not make it to Delhi from Thanjavur at half a day’s notice but it definitely boosted my morale to have been selected!

With such a wonderful year gone by, I have become greedy and hope 2016 brings more joys. Yes, one good news is already in my pocket…my article on Adalaj Vav, with some cuts and fine tuning is now active on Open Road Review… Yay!

Bring it on 2016…am ready for you!!

“I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.”