Monday, August 29, 2016

Dangle - Sutapa Basu

 Sutapa Basu comes out with an immensely readable novel that reveals a dangle at many a juncture, created so skilfully that the reader is pulled into the intricacies of the beauteous Ipshita's mind. Dangle tugs at the heartstrings at times, and stirs up the emotions at others. The language is so harmonious and stylish that one pauses to reread parts of it. The twist at the end shocks, and yet, once the tale is done, one can think of no ending more apt.  This is a book that needs to be read at leisure so that its  myriad nuances can be savoured.   





Stunning, svelte, smart Ipshita is a globetrotter. She treks across the world to gather bytes for the travel chats she designs and hosts for TV channels. Despite being a self assured and sophisticated entrepreneur, Ipshita is haunted by a nameless fear. Social interaction with men unleashes psychotic turmoil inside her, making her wary of male attention. Yet, the cold and aloof Ips is inexorably drawn to the three men she meets at different points in her journey. 

Her arousal to the overtures of these men catches her unawares. Well-built defenses break as her dormant sexuality goes into overdrive until she discovers the horrifying truth about them…and herself. 

Life puzzles. Secrets tumble out. Will she be able to reclaim her life or let it dangle?

Read an excerpt from Dangle
  The lilt of a flute fills half shadows. Emerald green silk unfurls to lavender hills. Mist gives way to a golden spectacle. Thickly embroidered into flowing waters are hundreds of lotuses. Sunlight dazzles on ruby, sapphire, turquoise, and amethyst that reluctantly open their layers to reveal honeyed hearts. The humming of multitudes of bees reverberates in the room. Intoxicated by the sun-drenched perfume of blossoms, they weave in and out of the pattern. Sheer colours daze the senses. Drumbeats intrude softly, only to rise to a crescendo.
Another shape enters the frame. Hazy at first, the outlines darken gradually. It is an empty square etched in bold strokes holding within it diagonally a metallic piece curved to the bent of an index finger. The lens zoom out.  The shape takes definition. It is  the trigger of a snub-nosed AK-47. The drums fall silent.
Everybody holds their breath. There is a thud and the face of Beauty is blotted with a gun stamped on it. There is a collective gasp. The screen stills. Strobes pick out a small crowd, including cameras on cantilever arms. Each person in the room is mesmerized…nobody can look away.

Giving a couple of seconds for the impact to sink in, the focus beams on Ipshita, the host. She begins the chat. Microphones pick up frequencies of her voice, enhancing its soft huskiness. Statistics and logistics start appearing on two screens flanking the bigger screen on which images are projected. She proceeds as visions of  paddy fields, streets of Imphal, slim girls in phaneks with long raven-black hair flying, fishermen casting bait, rowing boats, sitting still as rocks for fish to bite fill the screen behind her. She goes on to the fascinating scenes of Loktak, the floating islands, the fisherman’s hut and through her words she builds up a metaphor. It is of Manipur, a dainty nymph struggling to escape rape by Mars, the god of war. She is crushed, yet nothing erodes her indomitable spirit. 

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About the Author

An author, poet and publishing consultant, Sutapa Basu also dabbles in art and trains trainers and is a compulsive bookworm. During a thirty-year old professional career as teacher, editor, and publisher, she travelled the Indian subcontinent, Nepal and Bhutan. She has visited UK, USA, Dubai and Singapore while working with Oxford University Press, India and Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, South Asia until 2013 when she decided to start writing seriously. 

Sutapa is an Honours scholar from Tagore’s Visva-Bharti University, Santiniketan and holds a teaching as well as a masters degree in English Literature. 

As a publisher, Sutapa has developed and published around 400 books. Recently, her short story was awarded the First Prize in the Times of India’s nation-wide WriteIndia Contest, under author, Amish Tripathi. 

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

The cover of Readomania’s ‘Cabbing all the way’ by Jatin Kuberkar gives the reader a hint of what the journey ahead is going to be like – whimsical and eye-catching, with regular nuggets of humour along the way.
When twelve people with varying mindsets decide to share a cab from Dilsukhnagar area to their “out-of-civilization” workplace, it starts off as a joyride. It is a relief not to have to think of ways to commute every day, as Chandrahas aka Chandu kick-starts the process, introducing the others to the popular and disorganized “share auto transport system” in Hyderabad. They have to travel 40 kilometres one way. “It was like doing a car-pool without owning a car.”
Jatin Kuberkar forte lies in his penchant for describing people and he often juggles reality with humour. If the child-like Raghav is “a treasure trove of funny Hyderabadi taglines”, Vijaya is a traditional married woman. “The dark circles around her weak black eyes were silent witnesses of all the hard work she put to make ends meet.”
The bespectacled Binodh, forever on his phone with his fianc√©e, resembles Droopy, the cartoon character, while Saina reveals perfect “speech, body and face” co-ordination in the way she speaks and is individualistic and choosy about her needs.
However, it is Mohan’s description, along with his half-baked English, which makes one smile. “If a spoon full of Abhishek Bachchan, a little Hrithik Roshan and a whole lot of Keshto Mukherjee were to be blended together, the result would be Mohan. Confused, heroic and Keshto.”
Despite the initial hiccups, the ride falls into a harmonious pattern as the passengers work out ‘The Cab Constitution’, listing out the rules to be followed by all. They are aware that they have come together to sort out a common problem – that of commuting to work and back on a daily basis. Gradually, “what used to be a drab journey transformed into a fun ride”. 
The cab group look forward to their regular discussions and debates on current affairs, films, cricket, finances, women’s issues, TV soaps and investments. They enjoy chaat stops even as they rail against their unsympathetic managers. They rejoice in the positive energy that has made them all more productive at work. “The cab had become a place where we could give a cathartic outlet to our emotions.”
What, then, is it that throws a spanner in the works, and derails this cab journey that had started so enthusiastically? Is it a clash of personalities or their “live and let live” policy that starts playing havoc with their see-sawing emotions? Are they “a group of ‘friends’ with a common goal” or “just ‘co-travellers’ united with a common interest without any emotional attachment?” Is it need that drives the world or friendship?
A well-crafted narrative that adheres to the spirit of the cab!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Girl Who Loved a Pirate by Kulpreet Yadav


                     “If you trust your shadow, the future can’t be a beautiful story.”

The dashing Andy Karan is back, in Kulpreet Yadav’s new thriller ‘The Girl Who Loved a Pirate’, a book that lives up to the promise of its unusual title. Against the backdrop of the love story of Ba-Qat, ‘The Pirate of the World’, and the beauteous Dao- Ming, the thrilling story unfolds, with Andy playing a pivotal role in the action that follows.
Ba-Qat is all set to perform his last mission, after which he wants to retire and chart a new chapter in his life with his Dao-Ming, so that they can enjoy “the kind of silence she loved, the kind of silence that was a beautiful story.”
A parallel story is played out as Andy Karan is assigned a task by his boss, Angela Singha, to investigate the murder of his colleague, Peter Fernandes, in Goa, which is a hub that makes liberal use of ‘Magic’, a new drug that is “sucking people into the rave party culture by the thousands.”
Goa proves hectic as Andy follows the drug lords, Romeo Braganza and Subedar Sukhdev Pratap, with the help of the attractive Kirti. It is then that he comes across Rupa, who works for the National Technical Research Organization in New Delhi, and gets embroiled, all over again, in the machinations of the Indian Intelligence. She persuades him to be a standby in a pirate-style hijack that needs Ba-Qat’s expert touch.
Andy’s susceptible heart takes a knock when he meets the ravishing Dao-Ming in Malacca, “the most stunning woman he had seen in his entire life.” However, she loved Ba-Qat with all her heart, and vice versa. “True to her name, which meant Shining Path, she had always shown him (Ba-qat) the right direction.”
Back in Goa, Andy proceeds to provoke and beguile his dangerous opponents, till he finally unearths the truth behind the drug cartel. Betrayal, intrigue and unforeseen perils make this book an exciting read, as Andy proves once again that he is “the best operative in the field”.
Even as Kulpreet Yadav keeps up the tempo of the action, he cleverly provides regular slices of the history of Malacca, and that of the Chinese integration into Malaysia. He also expounds on how the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British had all left indelible marks on the city’s landscape. The scenes at the Pirate Temple near the city’s waterfront are evocative and leave an impression on the mind.
The twists continue even after the action is done. What is the mystery behind Ba-Qat’s lineage? Why does he not look Malay? Does Andy fulfil his promise of reuniting Ba-Qat and Dao-Ming? Kulpreet Yadav ties up all the loose threads at the end of the book, even as he leaves one last dramatic twist in his epilogue.
Verdict: A book that whets the curiosity of the reader!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

His Drunken Wife by Sundari Venkatraman

The prolific romance writer, Sundari Venkatraman, does it once again with her second book in her series 'Marriages are Made in Heaven'  with Book 2 titled 'His Drunken Wife'.

Marriages Made in India
Book #2

Sundari Venkatraman


The badass Shikha is startled when the nerdy Abhimanyu proposes marriage. She loves... herself, and Abhimanyu doesn't figure on her list anywhere. For Abhimanyu, however, it was love at first sight when Shikha walked into RS Software, where the two of them work.

When Abhimanyu shows her that he just might be rich enough for her, a pleasantly surprised Shikha accepts his marriage proposal and moves into his swanky apartment.

But it looks like the love is all from only Abhi’s side as Shikha continues to drink herself crazy. Yeah, even at their wedding party.

And then Abhi sets out on a honeymoon to Thailand with His Drunken Wife...

*MARRIAGES MADE IN INDIA is a five-novella series that revolves around the characters you have met in The Runaway Bridegroom.
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About the author

Sundari Venkatraman
His Drunken Wife
is the ninth book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This is a hot romance and is Book #2 of the 5-novella series titled Marriages Made in India; Book #1 being The Smitten Husband. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjali—all romances. She also has a collection of romantic short stories called Matches Made in Heaven; and a collection of human interest stories called Tales of Sunshine. All of Sundari Venkatraman’s books are on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK, Canada & Australia under both #romance & #drama categories.

Other books by the author

Vikram Rana Investigates by Sharmishtha Shenoy

Sharmishtha Shenoy is a true aficionado of Agatha Christie, as she proves, not only through the title of her novel ‘Vikram Rana Investigates’, but also in the writing style she adopts. There are two thrilling episodes set in Hyderabad, both of which draw the reader into “a web of deceit, lies and murder”.
Vikram Rana, the ex-cop turned private investigator, is macho and handsome with a soft corner for gorgeous women. He and Inspector Gopi Reddy (reminiscent of Christie’s Inspector Japp) work on parallel investigations, working together harmoniously to solve murder mysteries.
The first story titled ‘The Mysterious Affair of the Lohia Mansion’ revolves around the murder of socialite Richa Lohia, the wife of the hard-nosed businessman, Gaurav Lohia, who dominates his younger brother, Rohan, more drawn to the arts and theatre. Rohan calls in his childhood friend, Vikram Rana, to solve the mystery of his sister-in-law’s murder.
Numerous characters waltz in and out; the manipulative, failed Bollywood actor, Kalyan, his “young, ambitious and stunningly beautiful” niece, Juhi, the governess, the loyal servant, Laksmi, who knew more than she revealed, Richa’s children, Kinshuk, Gautam and Tia, and of course, Rohan, who was “ a better actor in private life than he was on stage”, as he played the roles of grieving brother-in-law, magnanimous employer, savvy businessman and protective brother, with the ease of a chameleon.
Sharmishtha etches out her characters in a convincing fashion. One can almost picture the narcissistic Gaurav ... “like his soul was gone... with cold eyes of glass” with his “haughty, slightly disdainful expression, as though he had a bad smell under his nose.”  
As Vikram Rana introspects, putting together the various facts of the case in his mind, the penny suddenly drops and he arrives at the identity of the murderer in true Poirot style.
‘The Sonia Sinha Case’ begins with the murder of Krishna Mohan Dhavala, a kilometre from Necklace Road, and gets linked with the murder of his architect partner, Karuna Raju, six months ago. Mrs. Devika Raju, the latter’s widow, hires Vikram Rana to investigate Dhaval’s murder, not because she has any love lost for the man, but because her sensitive and peace-loving son, Pavel, has been implicated in the murder. Having lost her husband, she does not want to lose her precious son as well.
Many lives are intertwined in this riveting saga – the “ravishingly attractive” Kamini Dhavala who, to Rana’s susceptible heart, appears “like a beautiful fragile flower”, her close friend, Janaki, who helped her in her time of need, Janaki’s pretty daughter, Khushi who is Pavel’s childhood sweetheart, and Bilas, Kamini’s driver who lives a suspiciously extravagant lifestyle.
The story stems from the murder of Krishna, an unscrupulous land grabber, wife-beater, murderer and blackmailer, an unsavoury character if there ever was one! Once again, Sharmishtha Shenoy proves that she is a brilliant storyteller as Vikram Rana picks up all the clues, discards the red herrings, and finally pounces on the actual murderer.
This book has all the elements of a modern whodunit. The chapters are short and pithy, and the titles hinge around the characters who play prominent roles. The language is clean, shorn of unnecessary descriptions that slow down the tempo, and both episodes hurtle towards their climaxes at breakneck speed.
The only minor glitches were in the few printers’ devils in the punctuation, which could have been caught by the editor.

Verdict: A highly fast-paced book which whets the curiosity of the reader till the end!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Shamsuddin’s Grave by Paromita Goswami

                                          Shamsuddin’s Grave by Paromita Goswami

Paromita Goswami in conversation with Deepti Menon

Paromita, welcome to my blog. What was your main motive in writing this book?

Thank you so much, Deepti, for this awesome opportunity to connect with your readers.
My main motive in writing this book is to let people know about a community that is still awaiting justice since the Indo-Bangladesh partition.
Many Hindus still live across the border and face discrimination at the hands of the majorities. However, people who chose to remain in this country or took refuge in Assam (erstwhile Bengal) after partition are still bearing the bruises, sometimes at the hand of ethnic violence, political instability or natural disasters. They are bound to migrate, leaving behind their homes and loved ones in search of their livelihood, to the bigger cities with dreams that are bound to shatter again. No wonder, Assam is the source point of human trafficking.
With my book, I have made a small attempt to highlight the plight of these migrants.

2. ‘Shamsuddin’s Grave’ is a title that gives readers goosebumps and has shock value. What was your logic behind using such a title?

Lolz!  It indeed has a shock value.
In fact, many have discarded the book because of the sentiments attached with the word “Grave” in it. I completely understand that, but then there is always a saying, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” I would like to change the word “cover” to “title” instead.
 There is a big logic behind the title and for that one has to read the book. Once you read till the end, you will agree with me that there couldn’t be anything apter than this title.

3. The modern world has turned into a very unsafe one for women and children. What, in your opinion, has to change to make it a better place to live in?

That is a very relevant question you have asked, Deepti.
It is really very sad but then the facts remain unchanged. I would like to put in my viewpoints and no offense should be taken in that matter.
I feel the modern world is to be blamed for that. We have become so dependent on gadgets and amenities that we have forgotten our basics. If you look back, the past twenty years have seen tremendous growth in technology, as also in the crime rate, especially against women and children. We have alienated ourselves so much from the real world and live more or less in a virtual world which has started affecting our lifestyles. Our demands seek opportunities to fulfil them, either legally or illegally. Human trafficking is one of the consequences of this.
With technology, our options have increased, but our humaneness has decreased considerably. Stress, depression and frustration are the new age factors that instigate crime. Women and children are more victimized because they are vulnerable, and the crimes go unreported too because of the stigma associated with this gender in our society. 
However, things are changing with the efforts of several people who work day and night to curb this crime. With proper education and awareness, this can be highly minimized.

 4. Your novel is set in Guwahati. Can the place be considered as a character in your book?

Guwahati is a big city in the North East of India. It is one of the preferred destinations of the youth, from both urban and rural backgrounds, in this part of the country. In my book, the city plays a key role in terms of places, culture and dialect. Therefore, you can say it can be considered as a character.

 5. What would you like to tell your readers about 'Shamsuddin's Grave'?

‘Shamsuddin’s Grave’ is inspired by real life incidents. The readers have appreciated it and related to it in their own different ways. All I would like to say is, don’t go by my words. Read it yourself and let me know your thoughts about it. I will be waiting to hear from you.
Thank you once again, Deepti.

Thank you so much for your interesting and concise answers to my questions, Paromita. I wish your book much success, and look forward to reading everything that you write. Good luck and good cheer!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Her Resurrection by Soumyadeep Koley

There is a sense of hope in the title itself. ‘Her Resurrection’ by Soumyadeep Koley narrates the story of Maya, the girl-child who  senses that she is a burden to her parents from the day she was born, but strives to break away from tradition when she decides to study and destroy her fetters.
At boarding school, Maya meets Audra, the Lithuanian girl, who becomes the first friend to “rearrange the broken pieces of her life”. Audra ignites Maya’s thirst for knowledge further, along with a desire to wield a camera some time in life.
Once back home, “no one understood this girl who had small wings, but dreamed and dared to soar high, high up in the limitless skies, beyond the blueness and into the world of stars”.
The patriarchal mindset is rocklike in its inflexibility, and even a sympathetic Kshitij Master, a teacher in the village Primary School, finally washes his hands off her, breaking off her engagement with his son, Shittuppam, as he does not approve of girls being over-educated.
Pune University opens its portals to her as she pursues her Graduation. However, life turns into a living hell for the young girl, as a horrific incident back home, and the indifference of the local police, make her determined to speak out not only for herself, but as “... an ambassador of every woman spanning the globe!”
Her mother stands up, against her alcoholic husband, for her brave daughter, choosing to spend years of her life in a dark cell. Maya is left bereft, and goes to Mumbai with sixty rupees in her pocket, where life gets no better for her as she ends up in a place where “hell and heaven were separated just by five iron rods at the window.”
At various junctures in Maya’s wretched life, a few good Samaritans come in to provide a sense of relief to her – Arjun Singh, the good-hearted police officer, Siddharth who teaches her the rudiments of photography, Damien, her first saviour, and finally the eccentric Dr. Ramasubban, who wins her confidence and seals a pact with her, his only condition being that she has to pen down the story of her chequered life.
Maya’s story is like a rollercoaster, as it hurtles up and down, leaving her in various moods... sometimes determined to break through all the obstacles before her, and at other times leaving her highly suicidal and violent. She always dreams big, but often her past catches up with her, leaving her as helpless as a piece of driftwood caught in a storm. At such times, she is caught up in a deep well of depression and turns away from a world that is cruel and unrelenting.
The essence of the book is contained in the words of Dr. Ramasubban. “Yours is the story of a life, where, in spite of all the trials and tribulations, you didn’t give away your dignity in the end... a life where you have fought for emancipation from the worldly shackles... and redemption of yourself into the society.”
There is deep restraint and beauty in Soumyadeep’s language. Nowhere does his style turn mundane, even at the lowest points of Maya’s life. He turns into a poet at intervals with lines that resonate. “She wanted to hold still the evanescence of the magic of the world, and lose herself... in the golden aura of the floating Diyas, in the wild flower bathed in afternoon shower... and in the changing colours of nature.”
This is a book that could have taken the tortuous path of low worldly passions, but Soumyadeep’s skilful handling of the subject and his sensitive portrayal of his heroine, Maya, make this a beacon of hope in a merciless world.


Monday, August 1, 2016

The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund - A review

I am the willing and happy victim of a case of masterly deception. Readomania’s The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance, a deceptively slim volume, with a wonderfully childlike cover and engaging illustrations within, is no ordinary book about a simple library. As one browses through its pages, one fathoms the boundless talent that nestles in the mind of the young philosopher-writer, Niranjan Navalgund, as he lets his imagination run riot in the Lively Library where books come alive in a magical world that parallels the world of humans.
A reluctant Nayan inherits his father’s library, but vows to honour his memory through a re-launch with great fanfare. He conducts a guided tour of the library and the visitors are “intrigued by an aura of mystery and delight” within, an aura that lingers on throughout the narration of the book. For a person who starts off as a disinterested librarian, Nayan puts forth some unique ideas – the white board, the Librarian’s Desk and the Read Until You Drop concept.
Even as each bookish character “struts and frets his hour across the stage” every name strikes a chord – Kapshi/Pakshi, the ‘Book Man’, the wise MookBonk, the principled Hiriya Halepu, Pu. Nayaka, Bookokie-star and Akshara.  The Lively Library is under a powerful boon that restores “the invincible soul hidden in each and every book.”April 23rd is a significant day in the world of books as “at the dark nocturnal hours, they came to life, breathed and reveled in their discreet existence.”
Equally enthralling is the description of the book dating season, “a season when the books reveled in their mutual love and the joys of discovering the love.” The two books that, thus, fall in love are amazed at what they have in common. “Their origins were different, but the stories they shared struck a deep, everlasting chord in each other.” When they are separated, an impressive ‘bogya’ (a portmanteau word combining ‘book’ and ‘yagya’) is held to invoke Helmine, the resolute protector, who smells “of the rich flavour of old books” and appears in “her whodunit avatar”. Even as Ryan and his sister, Nithya, play a part in re-uniting the book couple, Helmine, in true Hercule Poirot style, proceeds to solve the mystery of “the threat of their unseen, faceless enemy” who is threatening to destroy the library.
Towards the end of the book, as the book couple is united, a singular truth is revealed. Books are capable of having good hearts, of dreaming big, and of fulfilling those dreams. The book ends with a message to the human world of book lovers, again deceptively simple, but one of great significance.
Niranjan weighs his words with care, and puts them together, filling them with his philosophic ideas that take this book beyond the realm of a book for young readers. Since this is the first book in a series, it will be interesting to see where his fertile imagination takes him next!


  ‘Tales that Entail’ by Jaseena Backer is an anthology of stories that are hard-hitting and realistic. Right from the first story, the auth...