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Deal of Death – Book Review

Cover Page – Deal of Death

Deal of Death – Book Review

Book: Deal of Death

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 65 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

Watching ‘Vyomkesh Bakshi’ on Doordarshan is one of the favorite memories of my childhood. It was a prominent and popular Indian detective series in the early 90s. Since then I am huge fan of this genre. Nothing noteworthy popped up on the Indian TV scene after that.

Breathing books reintroduced me to genus once again. To review a detective thriller is simply bliss. If a writer can come up with exhilarating suspense stuff, nothing can be better than that as it always gives the writer an opportunity to convert the protagonist or the lead detective into a character associated with a series. I feel that if you can write and can cook up surprising roller coaster events then one must definitely try their hand on a detective novel. Most of the books that I have reviewed so far belong to the same category.

Continuing with the books from the Blogchatter Ebook carnival my third pick is a suspense thriller. It is actually one of the most downloaded novellas, ‘Deal of Death’ from Sonia Chatterjee.

Deal of Death is the story of Raya Ray, the leading lady, who dons many hats. The beginning of the book showcases how Raya Ray and her supporting husband tries to cope up with their stillborn child. The greatest loss for any woman…any mother. It’s a journey of how she overpowers her emotions and tries to get her life back by opting for a new place and profession.

Raya ray’s character is multi-layered but it is the thread of her unquenched motherhood that plays the underlined theme. The case she entrusts herself is also of a stillborn baby, where the mother of the child, Sharmila, is indubitably confirmed that the baby was alive at the time of birth and had suckled on her in her half conscious state. Hence the story is about whether Raya is successfully able to unveil the mystery around the missing child.

The major portion of the plot is based in and around ‘Munshiganj’, a forgotten city, which had a lot of prominence in the pre-independence era. It was once the capital of old Bengal during the early 1900s. The city helps in blending the cocktail of Bengali backdrop with Nawab connection. Sonia puts in few photographs in the book to bring that old bucolic lure and pragmatism to the content. The selection of such a city was important as the plot discusses supernatural and blind-faith.

The story has few characters along with Raya Ray but each and every one of them gets their space in the narrative. No character has been introduced unnecessarily. It is a fast read with only 65 pages and modest vocabulary.

No story is perfect and Deal of Death also has its share of negatives. The story doesn’t answer the question as to what happened to Sharmila’s Child. There are some sub-plots, which are unnecessary since they don’t add to the main plot and sometimes work as extra information. I also felt that more detailed work would have made the story more compelling but given the time constraint in which Sonia has come up with this is still appreciable. The book calls for basic editing, including grammar and formatting. I good re-editing of the work would definitely benefit the book.

Deal of Death, portraying an empowered woman with a gritty character, is a good debut effort by Sonia Chatterjee. Raya Ray certainly has a lot of scope for future novellas. I am going with three out of five for Deal of Death.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can Grab a FREE copy of the book HERE

The Joker has published his own ebook and you can give it a try for free here

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7

Insta Gita – Book Review

Cover page – Insta Gita

Insta Gita – Book review

Book: Insta Gita

Author: Nupur Maskara

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 74 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

For centuries the world has been intrigued by the Indian ancient text of ‘Bhagavad Gita’. It is one of the most translated scripts of Hindu mythology. ‘Bhagavad Gita’ literal translation means ‘the Song of God’ and it serves for both – literature and philosophy.

Every reader has since tried to translate the conversation and the context of Bhagavad Gita to the best of their abilities and understanding. It is a complex text aiming to give the simplest of meaningful messages and in the process has transformed into one of the greatest self-help books.

I have been always fascinated by the iconic image of ‘Krishna’ and ‘Arjuna’ in the middle of the war, where Krishna masterfully and patiently untangles the turmoil that had taken birth within Arjuna. I haven’t read Bhagavad Gita, and hence ‘Insta Gita’ was my first taste of what it is all about.

Nupur Maskara’s ‘Insta Gita’ is a modern rework of Bhagavad Gita in English poetry. She has intentionally kept it short and crisp and focused majorly on the part, which holds the utmost importance ignoring the paraphernalia that unnecessarily surrounds it.

The book begins where Arjuna decides to quit the battlefield confronting his beloved ones, friends, brothers and teachers; who form the majority of other side. He was caught in a tussle with his conscience about raising artillery against his own blood. The conversations between Krishna and Arjuna have been given a fresh outlook by Nupur in her poetry. Wherever she feels the milieu becomes arduous, she complements it with due rationalisation. Each page has some highlighted text, which signifies the theme of that chapter.

The three paths to salvation as emphasised by Krishna have been vividly discussed. The book gives Arjuna’s inner dilemma a new voice through poetry. An inner conflict that antagonises everyone during the journey called life. It also showcases how Krishna eloquently teaches the lesson of detachment and how not to expect anything when performing any action.

A page from Insta Gita

Use of ostentatious coloured background on alternating pages, with sketches and pictures depicting the theme of the chapter is very refreshing at the same time subtle and contemporary. Nupur has made the best use of the ‘ebook’ format because I am not sure the representation would have come like this if presented in a paperback format. I liked the title, which signifies ‘insta’ and equates to a readymade sachet of instant coffee.

The use of font could have been better. The current one doesn’t help in lending the seriousness attached to the subject and it doesn’t help the readability either. There was an error in numbering of the pages and an acknowledgement, which should have been in the beginning.

In today’s times when everybody is delivering content based on the number of characters at disposal and reading news consisting of 60 characters, Insta Gita is surely a must read for them. In its petite form also it delivers the main messages of Bhagavad Gita. With only 74 pages and tiny poems it is definitely a fast read. Its small and concise yet powerful and impactful.

I am going with three out of five for Nupur Maskara’s Insta Gita. It definitely packs a punch in its small ‘avatar’.

I want to express my gratitude towards all those who have been sending me the books to review from authors to publishers to marketing teams. I have just hopped on from a mystical thriller to a book on mental health and now one on Bhagavad Gita. It is a luxury in disguise, which only lucky ones can afford.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can download Insta Gita for free HERE

My Ebook is also listed for a Free download. Download the same here

1

A Carnival of Life

I take on the Baton of Blogchatter EBook Carnival from Nausheen whose ebook ‘Blogging Basics 1.0’ is also part of the mix. 
About Nausheen’s ebook: Blogging Basics 1.0 gives basic insights about blogging. It includes topics that bloggers struggle with. It is based on Dr Bushra’s 2 years blogging experience and tries to keep it simple and give clear ideas. It is the first part of a Blogging Basics series.

 

A CARNIVAL of LIFE

Our lives are sometimes marked by events that literally alter the course of its journey. For some people such moments are blessings like your first job, first love, marriage, birth of your child and many more. I am of a little unfortunate kind. August of 2017 made the biggest impact in my life. It took my first coach, my lifelong friend, my mentor, my biggest critic…my father away from me.

My father always wanted me to pursue my passion, something, which brings happiness to me. Till his last I knew, he was unhappy with the fact that I hadn’t figured out my path. Six months down the line and I was still busy with the things left scattered after his sudden demise. Innumerous visits to government offices, banks, court, etc. had started taking its toll on me and more so on my creative abilities. The fear had started surfacing that I would never be able to write again.

Then something happened which gave a new leash of life to my writing. I got an email from Blogchatter for an Ebook carnival, where one was supposed to come up with a book for self-publishing on their platform. I had previously given self publishing a lot of thought, but sometimes because of lack of conviction, sometimes content, sometimes simply the ‘will’ it never saw the light of the day.

This time, with a more resolute will, I had to do it for my father and more importantly for me. I knew I had to take the plunge come what may. But the bigger question that loomed was where is the content and on top of that I had only twenty days for submission. I knew I wouldn’t be able to come up with something afresh. Finally, I decided to edit and compile the existing top blog posts from my blog ‘The contemplation of a Joker’ and give this activity a real chance.

Today I can proudly say I am an author of a ‘self-published’ book. I get goosebumps every time I remember the emotions and the sensations that ran through me when the cover page was unveiled. It got an unimagined overwhelming reaction. I know there are, many loved ones out there who have urged me on to take this step from a really long…long time.

There are a few people without whom this compilation wouldn’t have come through. They have been duly acknowledged in the book and for that you have to download a copy 😀 .

Blogchatter Feature – Click to download my ebook

I would definitely want to take this moment to thank Blogchatter for giving me this delightful opportunity with all the blogging community and marketing magic to go along with it.

I want to highlight a definite change that this carnival has brought in me. For the first time in my life I am reading as much as I am writing, and to my surprise and benefit, I am relishing this change. This activity gave my writing a good exposure and helped me in forging new friendships along the way. The journey from a blogger to a published author has been a real rewarding one. I got some great reviews along with constructive feedback for me to work on and improve my writing. The value of which is immeasurable.

No amount of words can express my gratitude towards my Sister who has been involved with my writing long before this blog was even conceived. From every critical review to hearing my point of view patiently, from grammatical corrections to helping me with vocabulary she has been there in every inch of the stride that I took and it would have been impossible without her.

For all those who have read my blog,

For all those who have downloaded my book,

For all those who have read my words,

For all those who have reviewed my work,

For all those who urged me to publish,

For all those who gave me a platform,

And

For all those who are yet to download and read,

Its not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han… Keep downloading, Keep reading, Keep reviewing and Keep sharing the Love.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can download my book HERE

Some of the reviews:

From Sona Grover: read here

Sitharaam Jayakumar: read here

Souravi Paul: read here

I pass on the Baton of Blogchatter EBook Carnival to Mahak whose ebook ‘Diary of a Baby’ is also part of the mix. 
About Mahak’s ebook: Have you ever wondered what goes on inside your baby’s mind? “Diary of a Baby” is a candid, witty take on life from a baby’s perspective written as diary entries, followed by an interpretation phase of baby’s life from the author’s own parenting experience
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A to Z of Mental Health – Book Review

Front Page – A to Z of Mental Health

Book: A to Z of Mental health

Author: Arjun Gupta

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 60 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 2.5/5

According to WHO, India is one of the most depressed countries. The modern frantic lifestyle, stressful workplace environment, toxic social atmosphere, nuclear families, alienating individuals and to some extent genetics; all are playing their part in making our lives more taxing and hence the exponential surge in cases of mental illness and depression.

Gone are those days when visit to a psychiatrist was always tagged as ‘one’ has gone mad. People these days are more open to discuss their mental illness and have slowly started getting acceptance that whosoever, is suffering with mental issue is not a lunatic. With proper medication and supervision along with affectionate care and love these mental illnesses can be better dealt with if not cured.

‘A to Z of Mental Health’ by Arjun Gupta tries to put this issue into spotlight. He gives his best to bust the myths, state facts, highlight causes and suggest remedies pertaining to several mental issues including depression. For me to do this review honestly I do have to mention this. ‘A to Z of Mental Health’ seemed less of a book and more of a detailed case study on depression. Now that it is out of the way lets move ahead with the review of the content.

The book doesn’t have a cover page plus there is a knight of steel logo that embeds a Dark knight and a superman logo, which doesn’t have a correlation with the book and about which Arjun might have some copyright issues. Furthermore, there are few images missing and a lot of formatting issues, which I am sure Arjun will take care before taking it forward.

There are a lot of positives going for the book. The content is diverse and adequately researched where the author touches base with many topics that lend a lot of credibility and depth. I still felt he could have gone all out and incorporated more areas. Some of the stats are really astonishing and can really work as an eye-opener for people working in this sector. This one really caught my attention – ‘In 2008, the number of people at risk of suicide in India was 2.1 out of 10. This number rose to an astonishing 8.21 out of 10 by July 2016.’

The vocabulary of the book is decent and only 60 pages surely helps it being a fast read. The author carefully tackles the gloomy and difficult theme of mental illness and depression and brings life to such context with few jokes and quotes stitching it close to his personal encounter with depression. ‘It is easy to smile, it is much harder to be happy’ – a quote from the book.

In this fight against mental illness and depression this is just a start and we have a really long way to go. But I would like to congratulate Arjun that it is a promising start and would encourage him to pursue his path. I am going with two and half out of five for this good debut effort from Arjun Gupta for ‘A to Z of Mental health’

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Click the image to Download

One giveaway, he is soon launching his youtube channel to discuss on the same issue. Do look out for that. You can download a FREE copy of the same Ebook here.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Blogchatter for giving me an opportunity to publish my work in an ebook format and showcase my work to the world. You can download my Ebook from the same carnival here.

 

0

Reminiscences of a Seeker – Book Review

Reminiscences of a Seeker

Reminiscences of a Seeker – cover page

Book Review:

Book: Reminiscences of a Seeker

Author: Kapil Kumar Bhaskar

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Angel Books Publications; First Edition edition (2017)

Price: 365 INR

Pages: 300 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 8193359909

ISBN-13: 978-8193359907

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

India is a country full of diverse beliefs and traditions arising from various cultures that have settled in this varied land. Many of such beliefs and traditions give birth to a lot of rituals and sometimes even superstitions. It’s our faith and experiences that usually guides which spiritual path one pursues.

Most of us are usually content with our simple monotonous way of connecting with the higher being. But some of us go the extra mile in search of their true master…what’s their purpose here…and following their process ultimately to bond with the supreme almighty.

Kapil Kumar Bhaskar’s Reminiscences of a Seeker is the journey of such a seeker of spiritual enlightenment. As per the author this debut novel is a true account of what all he encounters during his pursuit. The rational and practical ones might find it illogical and at times really hard to believe what all he experienced. But many of you, who have experienced the supernatural in their lives, will definitely correlate to a lot.

The story revolves around Kapil’s initial two Gurus; one being a tantric and other an aghori. The story is a roller-coaster ride of his journey with the mystic…some of them explainable…but some of them really bizarre. In fact for many of the readers, because of scarce material in these types of topics, this might be a turnoff. The book starts with a photo of Kapil’s Guru under whose blessing he continued on his spiritual path, which made me curious and I was compelled to turn the pages just to see whether there are more of such pics and I succeeded in finding one of Sai Baba’. Honestly, the blurb at the back cover or on other sites that you will find while purchasing doesn’t give you a complete picture about what this book is all about.

Back cover with blurb

The vocabulary is very simple and it surely assists in it being a fast read. Kapil tries to justify everything he wrote about experiences with smaller stories and unnecessary introduction of characters, which drags and derails the plot at times.

The book digs deep into the world of spiritual masters, tantrics and aghoris. It gives a detailed description of their practices and rituals. It also showcases the darker side to this so-called ‘white world’. How these spiritual gurus can go to any extent to keep their followers and how they feed on the fears and weaknesses of seekers. How they lure the innocent and then themselves create havoc in their lives so that they are forever entangled with them.

The basic premise of any form of spirituality is that it teaches detachment in its most fundamental element. What this book clearly highlights is, how these gurus once they become powerful, knowledgeable and enlightened (at least they believe so) cannot let go of the ‘detachment’ that comes along and remain intoxicated with power, money and above all followers.

This is a good debut effort with an effortless fluency to the book. You definitely get hooked onto to the narrative after the few initial pages and would reach the end in no time. Kapil masterfully crafts and brings the story to an end in a way that it leaves the reader gasping for the sequel.

The ones who love the mystical arts or are curious about occultism will definitely like it. I am going with 3 out of 5 for ‘Reminiscences of a Seeker: Dark face of a White World’. The uniqueness of the subject makes for a good page-turner that you should not miss. Do watch out for that sequel.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Grab a copy of the book here: Goodreads and Amazon

5

The Tree Bears Witness – Book Review

The Tree Bears Witness

Cover – The Tree Bears Witness

The Tree Bears Witness

Book Review:

Book: The Tree Bears Witness

Author: Sharath Komarraju

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Westland (17 November 2017)

Price: 350 INR

Pages: 250 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 9386850443

ISBN-13: 978-9386850447

Language: English

My rating: 3.5/5

Keeping in sync with the author – reviewer relationship I again get an opportunity to review Sharath Komarraju’s work, his latest, The Tree Bears Witness’. This time it’s the publication Westland’s marketing team, which is taking the initiative – all kudos to them.

Every childhood in India has encountered an ‘Akbar Birbal’ story at some stage or the other – who can forget the epic ‘Birbal ki Khichadi’. After successfully biting into the Mahabharata with his Hastinapur series, Sharath Komarraju now tries to reincarnate the duo with his spin of storytelling to the tales. ‘The Tree Bears Witness’ is his second novel in the Birbal series.

The story revolves around real characters from Emperor Akbar and his Rajput wife Jodha’s life, which gives it a very real feel and makes you think on several occasions whether this story is actually true or not. Frankly speaking I am not sure myself. The main plot is shrouded around the mysterious death of the newly wed Jodha’s brother Sujjamal. Sujjamal, along with other royal guests, was still staying back in the palace after Akbar and Jodha’s marriage when the unfortunate event takes place.

Emperor Akbar, as is in the case of every mystery escapade, entrusts his most intelligent ‘Navratna’…Mahesh Das aka Birbal to come up with the answers. The mystery is heightened by the fact that the eyewitnesses to the murder are a couple of guards, who at the time of murder were in an inebriated state. They both have blurry conflicting versions of the murder, which makes the plot even murkier. Birbal has to finally rely on a Tree to serve as a witness…yeah you read it correct…The Tree is the Witness here.

Sketch of Palace Garden

Sketch of Palace Garden

Like his previous work Sharath doesn’t waste much time and straightaway gets into top gear. By the 10th page we encounter the murder and the story never runs out of breathe from there. It has a commendable pace, which keeps the reader hooked-on all throughout the book. I completed the book in flat eight hours, which is the fastest for me. The pace is also helped by the vocabulary which is neither too naïve nor too complex. I was really impressed how Sharath has given a sketch of the palace garden in the beginning of the book, where the actual murder takes place. It really helps the reader’s curiosity in trying to figure out the killer.

You can tell that a murder mystery is good from the simple fact that you have multiple suspects, each with a strong motive of their own. Here Sharath very masterfully incorporates this where we have many suspects including Sujjamal’s own blood relatives. It goes to an extent where it doesn’t even spare Emperor Akbar, who is in a way responsible to get the mystery solved.

The character sketching is also great. The writer has smartly given a peek into everyone’s mind where you encounter political intrigue, personal enmities and hidden rivalries.

The only negative I found was, if you read attentively you will be able to guess the murderer by the time you reach two-third of the book. In fact the fun in ‘The Tree bears Witness doesn’t lie in that. The ride is exhilarating from the fact how Birbal uncovers ‘how’ the murder was committed. Because when the murder happens Sujjamal was in full view of the two guards and he was standing alone.

I would take this opportunity to congratulate Sharath where he has successfully teleported his career from a 9-5 corporate job to full time writer. He is skill-fully mastering his craft and continuously coming up with good work.

The narrative is fluent, crisp and without too many subplots. From the first page till the last the writer never loses focus and keeps the reader engrossed and engaged. I am going with three and a half out of five for ‘The Tree Bears Witness’. Do grab a copy of this wonderfully crafted royal tale of murder and deception.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

My side of the bargain for an honest review. Find the Book here on Goodreads and Amazon

1

God is a Gamer – Book Review

Cover - God is a Gamer

Cover – God is a Gamer

God is a Gamer – Book Review

Author: Ravi Subramanian

Reviewed by: Manas Mukul

Price: 299 INR

Pages: 310

ISBN: 978-0-143-42139-9

My Rating: 3/5

 

My affair with reviewing thrillers and murder mysteries continues and I am really thankful to Blogadda to keep blessing me with one of these every other month without charging me anything. I have never read Ravi Subramanian before, though this is his sixth outing, I know for sure he has an undying love for keeping banking and financial services as a backdrop for his novels. And I could make all this just from the titles of his previous works where the word ‘Bank’ will feature in some way or the other.

My Review:

The cover of the book again has an international look and feel to it as there is a pic of White House with the shadow of a Julian Assange kind of figure overlooking White House. This is the first time any Indian writer has tried to play with ‘Bitcoins’ in any form, in fact God is a Gamer is publicized as the first Bitcoin thriller. I believe it has lot to do with Ravi Subramanian’s two decade old background in Banking Industry and he wants to bring out every shade in a thrilling format what this industry can offer to us.

The back cover page highlights, ‘What Happens When You Cross Gamer, Banker, Politician and Terrorists with Virtual Money’, so be prepared for a lot of action and a lot of characters. The book begins with the murder of a US Senator that too in an unholy manner where his car is blown into pieces. Like many characters, the story moves around a lot of locations as well. The chapters keep bouncing between these locations. I recently reviewed Private India where there was a central character and the story moves from his perspective and based on his actions and investigation. In God is a Gamer you won’t find that, at least I didn’t. The story kept juggling among the characters and it was left on the readers from whose perspective they wanted to move forward.

The story has a tremendous pace to it. If you are a regular reader you might end up finishing this one in one sitting. The vocabulary to my surprise was very mediocre but to me that’s a positive as it helps the story to move at a faster pace and you are never interrupted wondering about the meaning of any word.

The biggest positive which I felt was how Ravi used the underlying theme of banking and how he intermingled it with politics, drugs and even gaming companies. There is a good use of knowledge of IT technologies which also adds spice as it keeps your brain ticking while you are already engrossed in unearthing the killer as well as the conspirer. The very fact that how gaming companies these days are using social media to gain mileage over rivals in itself tells us that it has a very modern day feel to it, which everyone can relate to.

Though it’s racy and lot of locations, technologies and newer terms with proper information and explanation have been used I felt as if there were too many characters with too many sub plots. There were characters and names which were mentioned, you took a mental note of it only to find out later that it was non-existent for the outcome. The quality of a thriller should be that the buildup should increase the excitement and when the truth comes out one should be shocked as well as ‘goosebumped’.  God is a Gamer will disappoint you in that respect. You might even get a feel that you predicted the end. The buildup was good, which was helped by the impressive pace of the story but the climax for me was a bit rushed where the shock’n’surprise element was missing.

I am going with three out of five for Ravi Subramanian’s God is a Gamer for the simple reason that it could have been way…way better keeping in mind all the characters and locations that were added to the mix. Nonetheless, it’s a racy, informative and a good thriller.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!