Burning Sapphires by Suresh K Goswami

ImageI received an autographed copy of ‘Burning Sapphires by Suresh K Goswami’, from none other than the author himself. Thank you Sir, for the beautiful book. This is a story based in Kashmir and is the story of Gulab Sahib, a Kashmiri girl, who lives with her mother, Udana; step-father, Badru and her younger sister, Sheena in village Machail in Jammu and Kashmir, India. The mountains near their village were ample deposits of sapphires and rubies.

The Characters:

Gulab is a bright, intelligent, loving and respectful child, who loves nature. She has blue eyes, has an insatiable quest for knowledge and loves going to school. She has always impressed the teachers, villagers and other children with her knowledge. Her step-father calls her as the ‘wretched one’ and she does not accept him as her step-father, is not afraid of him and calls him, ‘old man’.

Ali Murtaza, leader of the first large Kashmir militant group is a deserter of the Pakistan Army at the instant of Hizb-ul Mujahideen and is handpicked by them.

The story:

The story stars when seven year old Ghulab is roaming around with her favourite teddy bear and seven blue marbles in the snow, Ali Murtaza comes with his men and declares that, ten years later, when she is old enough, he would come back and get her. He keeps an eye on her and protects her twice, once from a boy in the school and once from her step-father, killing both of them. After the school incident, the school is shut down for the safety of the village children and Ghulab is unhappy. The militant group which had been invading all the villages in the Kashmir valley, except Machail, looting and massacring, loots one shop in Machail for provisions. The police can hardly help them. After the death of Badru, the entire village moves towards Kashmir valley in search of a new place to stay. Unknown to them Murtaza’s men are following them at a safe distance.

They reach Padum and settle down there, after knowing about the insurgency situation in the entire valley. Ghulab enrolls in the school there and the Headmaster and his wife become her mentors, groom her according to her capabilities and she grows wiser and stronger. She moves to Srinagar with them and gets enrolled in the college and becomes the Ambassador of the Institute. All the while she is aware of being watched and is not afraid of them.

She starts understanding the atrocities of Murtaza and his men and starts hating them and decides to reclaim her lad from them one day. She becomes a strong, powerful woman and decides to make Kashmiris a strong, knowledgable and resourceful community.

And then her family is brutally murdered at the hands of Murtaza and his men and she is kidnapped.

The review:

The story is realistic though it is a work of fiction. The plot and the characters are well developed. The language is simple and the flow is good. The book is actually unputdownable, I was curious about what happens next and kept the book only when I finished it, even though it was 2 AM in the morning and I had to go to work the next day.

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The story is entertaining, even though there is a lot of violence and terrorism. The story is touching and frightening sometimes.

The author has started with the description of the village, Ghulab’s family and then the main character herself. He has vividly described the places making it easy for the reader to visualize them and the scenes in details and I actually looked up the map to locate the places to satisfy my curiosity. He has described the local terms also.

A must read. Highly recommended.

Book source: Review Copy provided by the author

Publisher: Partridge

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Supertraits of Superstars: Success Secrets of Bollywood’s Brightest by Priyanka Sinha Jha

I received the book Supertraits of Superstars: Success Secrets of Bollywood’s Brightest by Priyanka Sinha Jha  as a part of the Flipkart Affiliate Programme. Thank you for the book, Vivek.

The book:

The author starts with an introduction which gives an insight into the book. She says thImageat her line of work involved writing on celebrities and it has been wonderful meeting so many exceptional people. These interactions led her to wonder about the motivation that drives some of these icons of Bollywood. So she thought of writing this inspirational book citing examples of the distinctive supertraits of filmstars. She also mentions that the quotes from the superstars are culled from interviews and articles that have appeared over a period of time in different media. She says whenever she has applied a supertrait, it has worked in her favour.

She says Amitabh Bachchan, a hero in real life, faces every adversity that crosses his path with indomitable will. She talks about his discipline, his legendary humility, his ability to multitask, his punctuality and how he prefers to be early than late and also that he even goes to great lengths factoring in every possible setback ensuring that he is well in time. He is committed, professional, pays attention to propriety, remains true to his words and is always polite and cooperative.

Shahrukh Khan came to Mumbai with a dream and made the unbelievable happen. His ‘Yes, I can’ attitude, and confidence are both winning and inspiring. At a very young age, he had learnt to be responsible for his actions. He is attentive, kind, has a drive to do the best and has a healthy respect for money. His ‘never say die’ spirit, matchless enthusiasm and ability to focus on positivity are his other supertraits.

Vidya Balan’s never give up attitude, taking up a challenge and retaining her individuality has made her the superstar that she is. She is very particular about her script and her role and likes to prepare. Her seriousness and effort to correctly analyse and process feedback gives her clarity.

Aamir Khan does not rush into things, works in one film at a time, picks up unusual subjects and does a true analysis of the project. He has an exceptional bent of mind and does pathbreaking work. He ensures that project is impeccably executed and he is involved at all the levels of the film. His conviction is that talent is 99% perspiration and involvement and lives by the idiom ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’.

Katrina Kaif is hardworking and her dedication to the work at hand is exemplary. She is able to hold her opinions and is easy to work with. She sets her short term goals, and moves to the next set of goals when they are accomplished. She has learnt on the job by observing veterans at work. She takes out time to return favours.

John Abraham has qualities like remembering people, sportsman like attitude, and he does not lose heart over failures. He lives his life by simple values, is honest, humble, courteous and respectful. He has enterprising ways and makes informed decisions. He puts his best foot forward and plays to win.  One of his success mantras is his never-say-die spirit.

Ranbir Raj Kapoor likes to read autobiographies and biographies of great personalities from all walks of life. He works hard and remains focused. He does not take his lineage for granted, is committed, eager to give complete attention to the work at hand and has an accurate assessment of his own performance.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has the ability to focus on the good and move on to the next challenge. Her actions reflect a positive and forward looking attitude. She has never strayed from convention but has lived by her own rules. Her motto is ‘Give your best to what you do and don’t give in to pressure’.

Hrithik Roshan’s way of overcoming a hindrance is to work really hard at it. He has maintained that overcoming one’s weakness gives great strength. He has the ability to let ridicule slide off his back. He approach to challenges in life is philosophical and he treats each fall as a foothold to climb higher.  He is an adventurer by nature and an explorer in his heart.

Karan Johar is a people’s person, a canny, people-oriented motivator. He makes it a point to attend all personal events and has a great understanding of the different expectations and requirements that people may have. He really knows how to treat his stars. He can be friends with different groups of people even if they are not amicably disposed towards each other. He is diplomatic and takes a stand whenever the need arises. He has the ability to forgive and is very forthright.

Salman Khan has always displayed sensitivity to the underprivileged, lending a helping had to those I need. He chose films to help people and friends. He is equally generous and supportive of newcomers as old timers. He has a businesslike approach to charity has made it feasible. He has a generous heart and everybody wants him for a friend.

 My take:

Reading the book, I felt that if I could imbibe some of these traits, life would be better and simpler.  Though I have enlisted most of the supertraits mentioned in the book, I have not elaborated the examples that the author has beautifully used to illustrate these traits. She has used quotations at the beginning of the trait being described and the box at the end of each article summarizes some of the important traits.

The book has references at the back making it all the more genuine. The cover is very happy with shades of yellow.

Overall, a very inspirational read. Read it one superstar at a time and try to imbibe atleast one quality of each of them. I have started doing it. A book that can be read part by part and again and again.

Highly Recommended.

Book Source: Review copy as a part of the Flipkart Affilaite Programme

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Pages: 181

Format: Paperback

Double Jeopardy by Sundari Venkatraman

double-jeopardyDouble Jeopardy is a novella by Sundari Venkatraman. It is the story of Sanya, Arth and Ansh.

The blurb:

Sanya last saw the twins, Arth and Ansh Sharma, when she was ten years old. Now, all grown up, she has come looking for gentle Arth, the twin she has loved ever since she can remember. But instead, she is confronted with fiery Ansh, who is hell-bent on seducing her. And what’s worse, she can’t seem to stop herself from responding to him.

As she chases Arth and is chased by Ansh, Sanya finds herself on a crazy roller coaster ride with no way of getting off. How will she deal with these two very different men in her life? Will she be able to convince one twin that she loves the other?

The story:

Sanya Chaturvedi, the only child of Diwakar and Bindiya, moves to London when she was thirteen.Arth and Ansh Sharma are twin sons of Shantanu and Ratna Sharma. They look alike but have opposite personalities; Arth, her savior and Ansh, the bane of her life. She has been love with Ansh since she was eleven and he, sixteen. Arth would protect her from Ansh in their childhood days.

Now, ten years later, the Sharmas invite her and Sanya comes back to Mumbai to stay with them and hopes that Arth would pick her up at the airport but it is Ansh, who is there to receive her. As she hates him since childhood, she makes her disappointment, on seeing him at the airport, obvious. She sees more and more of Ansh and Arth is always missing. She finds her true vocation and plans to make cooking her career but is confused between her heart and head.

The review:

I love books which are romantic and have happy endings. And to say that this book was a nice, short and sweet read, would not be the right description of the book. It was toooooooo good. I can read it once again. The story is simple and the characters, especially Sanya, are relatable. The language is simple and the flow, good. The author has beautifully portrayed human relationships.  The plot was interesting; very different from what I expected. The author has described the feelings of the characters.

I loved it when Ansh calls his mother, “Jewel of my life’, I wish all mother-child relationships are like this.

But the downside, the book ended to soon.

Waiting for her next book patiently, would love to read it.

Book Source: Bought

Publisher: Indireads

Format: ebook

Impulse by Reekrit Serai

I received an email from Radhika Panickar of Rumourbooks Imageasking me to review the book ‘Impulse by Reekrit Serai’. She had sent me a link to the book and when opened, it read something like, Impulse is a collection of contemporary and powerful short stories. The book comprises of stories set in the modern-day India. And I replied in affirmative that I would like to read the book.

The book is a collection of eighteen short stories and each of these stories reflects a human emotion and by the time I finished the book, I took three sittings to finish it because many stories together were a little too heavy for me.

The author has reflected on paternal love, childhood love that keeps growing, infatuations, cost that a young man pays for happiness, little deeds that make people happy, true friendship that saves a life, everlasting love and how a mother tells a daughter to free herself of the shackles of her mind. There is a story on professional rivalry, a story about hasty actions, a story about the inner vices, stories on communal violence and on sacrificing for love.

The stories are well written and convey a deeper meaning. Some of them ended abruptly leaving me wanting more and some of them shocked me. The book made me cry and it made me laugh.

The writing style is simple but editing needs to be a little better.

Overall, a nice book.

Book Source: Review copy from the publisher

Publisher: Rumour Books India

Advantage Love by Madhuri Banerjee

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I received Advantage Love by Madhuri Banerjee as a part of the Flipkart Affiliate Programme. Thank you, Vivek for the book. The blurb mentions that it is love triangle.

 The blurb:

Will Today’s woman give up her career for love?

Will she learn to trust a man again after having her heart broken?

Is she willing to take chances to find the love of her life?

When Trisha Mathur leaves Lucknow for Delhi with stars in her eyes, little does she realize how drastically her life is about to transform.

In the din and drama of college student politics, she meets debonair politician-in-the-making Vedant Kirloskar, who sweeps her off her feet with his poetry and rakish charm. When irreconcilable differences drive them apart, a broken-hearted Trisha becomes wary of love and men. That is until the dashing tennis star, Abhimanyu, comes along and fills her life with love and laughter. All at once she finds herself in the midst of the glamorous tennis circuit which is in stark contrast to her small-town moorings.

Even as Trisha embarks on a path of love and self-discovery, fate brings Vedant back into her life, asking that they rekindle their old romance. Will Trisha dare take a second chance with Vedant or move on to play match point with Abhimanyu?

Advantage Love is a compelling and passionate contemporary Indian romance that explores the complexities of love, friendship and career in a woman’s life.

The characters:

Trisha Mathur, the only child of academician parents of Lucknow, joins the Sociology at JNU in 2011. She craves stability, family, love and togetherness. She wants to become independent, find her own destiny in Delhi and join the development sector someday.

Vedant Dheeraj Kirloskar, son of noted Maharashtra politician, Aamod Kirloskar, a politician in the making, joins Political Studies at JNU in the same year.

Abhimanyu Laxman, one of the country’s top tennis players, lives in Delhi with his family. Leander Paes is his close friend. He is honest, stable, secure, a dutiful son,

The story:

It is during the JNU debate that Trisha comes face to face with Vedant, the best orator in JNU, and she faints and lands up in the infirmary and Vedant waits on her. Gradually, they become friends, share a lot in common from poetry to literature and music to food and soon become an item. Over two years, she falls in love with him and he impresses her with quotes from various poets. He wants her to move to Mumbai after graduation and live in his shadow but does not mention anything about marriage and then he goes back home to his political career leaving Trisha.

After graduation, she joins UNICEF and moves in with Juhi, her friend from JNU and the only person who knows Trisha’s love story. Vedant gets engaged. Talking it over with Juhi, finally, Trisha releases him from her heart.

One day, she misses the last metro from Noida and runs into Abhimanyu, who drops her all the way to Gurgaon. They meet again, courtesy Juhi, she feels a cosmic connection with him, he gives her a sense of security, introduces her as his girlfriend, and she starts falling in love with him.

And, there is a headline in the newspaper that Vedant’s engagement is broken. And she and Abhimanyu breakup and Vedant asks her to come back to him. Trisha is confused.

Read the rest in the book.

The review:

The story is short and sweet. The characters are well developed. Vedant is the spoilt, rich brat who knows how and when to get the things done to suit his needs, by lying, by quoting authors. Trisha is a simple career minded girl from a small town, albeit a little confused. Abhimanyu is chivalrous, considerate. Perfect. Juhi is well grounded, she is Trisha’s confidante and keeps her in check.Trisha’s mother is understanding, I liked her a lot.

The cover is happy and attractive, making it a pick it off the bookshelf book. The author has described the feelings of the characters. The love triangle makes the book more spicy and interesting.

Overall, a nice book. Pick it up for a light read whenever you want to relax and want to read something light.

Book Source: Review copy as a part of the Flipkart Affiliate Programme

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Ebook is also available at Flipkart.

Prisoner, Jailor, Prime Minister by Tabrik C

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I would like to thank Hachette India for sending me a copy of ‘Prisoner, Jailor, Prime Minister by Tabrik C’ for review. In the time when the next Assembly elections are just round the corner, the book made an interesting read. A gripping book, it is difficult to put down while reading and I must say, this review is a little late for a book which I finished in two days flat.

The blurb:

India has a new Prime Minister but is Siddhartha Tagore the product of his genius or of his dangerous mind?

India is on edge, as a subversive internal revolt against the Constitution, and the threat of Jehadi terror of an unthinkable level, are looming on the horizon.

Ringing Shiva’s damaru in and out of Parliament, a sudden turn of karma catapults outsider Siddhartha Tagore – a conflicted genius, music maestro and prodigal son, with forceful views on China and Pakistan- into national prominence as the head of the Opposition Alliance and finally as the newly elected Prime Minister of a disturbed nation.

But buried secrets are being resurrected and threaten to expose the past. Twisted within the double helix of menacing politics and hidden lust, Prisoner, Jailor, Prime Minister is a scorching account of Siddhartha Tagore’s fascinating journey from Harvard to 7 Race Course Road.

The characters:

Sidhhartha Tagore, son of Ranjan Tagore, former MP, political luminary, Bengali aristocrat and land owner, goes to Harvard in 1985 to study classical music, especially Mozart with minor in political theory. Mozart and Tansen are his life and he is also a Tibet scholar (he is pro-Tibet and anti-China). As a child, he wanted to be an MP. Harvard calls him ‘The Mozart Man’.

Gregory Templar, the son of an Anglo Saxon American Catholic missionary and a Punjabi, Muslim Pakistani mother. He is there to study religion and physics. They are roommates in the Strauss Hall, rumoured to have an exciting pedigree- JFK lived there.

Rukmani Devi, Director of the Delhi School of Economics, D School, is the BJP Ruling Front’s one person, Nobel Prize winning think tank, and has an all pervasive say in the matters of the state, is unbound by Party discipline, and has marked her own path. She is an unorthodox creature and combines economics and cultural fervours and uses social media and internet to draw crowds.

Professor Gordon Thorbourn, Thor, Professor of Government at Yale and gets a visiting Professorship at D School. He supports Rukmani’s ideas but differs in the way of doing it, she wants a peaceful change but not him. He tries to find out about Sid’s past.

The story is set between the 1985 and 2017, it starts with Sid becoming the Prime Minister of India on 31st December 2016 and a lot of the story is in flashback starting from 1985.

1985: Sid meets Rubaya Jaykar, Ruby, of Radcliffe, who is studying Organic chemistry. Karisma is her identical twin. He suffers from bipolar disorder and is on lithium for life. Sid and Ruby get married in 1992 and she dies the very next day in a freak accident, leaving Sid devastated. He runs away from Mumbai and starts to perform in a village in New York and is hired to play music for a group of Indian Parliamentarians in New York. He comes back to Delhi in 1994 and reconnects with his father’s old friends and gets a ticket to the 1996 bye-election.

2016: Rukmani Devi has begun the Vedic Revolution of the 21st Century; a process of revolutionary change in the psyche of the nation till Sid comes along and becomes the Prime Minister. She wants a political reform and says that the political structure needs to change and he is there to protect the constitution.

I shall stop here because it would take the fun away if I went deeper into the story.

My take:

The title is catchy and the cover simple and fascinating. The characters are very lifelike and the story is interesting with lots of twists and turns. The language is simple and the flow is good. The book becomes fast paced after a little slow start till you get the hang of the book. It is one of those political thrillers with some emotions attached, emotions that tug at your heart and make you realize. There is suspense, the typical one which makes you keep on reading till the mystery is solved.

The author has written the book in the present and the book moves into flashback off and on. The book is written in two parts and the first part has the flashbacks and the second part moves forward from where he returns to India to his becoming the Prime Minister and so on.  The book has been writt

en in first person reflecting the thoughts of Siddhartha and when it comes to the other characters, the book moves into third person, very smoothly. The research for the book has been done thoroughly.

I loved the book and would highly recommend it.

Book Source: Review Copy from Hachette India

Publisher: Hachette India

In love with a sleeping beauty by Dr Deepali Nandwani

ImageIn love with a sleeping beauty by Dr Deepali Nandwani is the story of Ishiqa and Ved.

Left in the care of her brother and sister-in-law, after her parents death, Ishiqa Chawla enrolls in acting classes with her friend Smriti, after completing college. She lives close to their house and conducts tuition and teaches dance to children. Ved Kashyap, the owner of the Kashyap Group of Hotels is a workaholic but has the reputation of being a Casanova. He is looking for a companion for his grandmother.

Ishiqa is looking for a job and gets late for her interview at the Kashyap hotel where she goes with her friends.  Exploring the property, she accidentally reaches Ved’s room and Ved finds her sleeping peacefully on his bed. He blackmails her into being his fiancée for his grandmother’s sake.

The book is a quick read and has been written in a simple language. The flow is good and characters well developed. Definitely recommended as it brings a smile to your face just reading it.

Book Source: Bought

Publisher: Pageturn