Prem Purana by Usha Narayanan

f5267-prempuranaI started getting exposed to mythological stories when I was a kid and my grandmother used to tell us stories of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha and many other stories from her religious books. Then as we were growing up, we would read Amar Chitra Kathas which we would get in lieu of movies our parents went to watch- this was in the early 1980s. and then came the supplementary books in the school syllabus. So when I got the chance to read and review Prem Purana by Usha Narayanan, I said yes. Thank you for the book, Usha, The Book Club and the publisher.

This book contains three stories with several chapters each. The stories of Ganesha, Mandodari and Damayanti.

The blurb:

No one is untouched by love, not even devas (gods) and asuras (demons), kings and nymphs. And when they face life’s unexpected tribulations, their love also undergoes trials. Read how Ganesha took myriad forms to please Riddhi, Siddhi and Buddhi, how Ravana shared an unbreakable bond with his true love, Mandodari and how Nal and Damayanti’s relationship was tested till nothing remained.

Tormented by passion, wracked by betrayal, torn by the agony of separation, love in its many splendored forms is the origin of these incredibly endearing stories of Prem Purana.

The stories:

The first story is about Ganesha courting the three sisters Riddhi, Buddhi and Siddhi and how he convinces them to marry him.

The second story is about Mandodari and Ravana and the curse. The story starts from her birth till Ravana’s death. It also talks about Ravaha, his birth, his education, his vices and finally his death. There is a lot of Ramayana in the story, may things that even we didn’t know, like Ravana’s sister instigating the abduction of Sita because of her jealousy.

The last story in this book is about love between Nala and Damayanti, right from how they a swan informs Damayanti about Nala’s love for her and how she marries him at a Swayamwara where five Nala’s are there in the fray. And then their life after marriage, the problems they face and overcome.

My take:

The cover is beautiful. It has a mythological feel to it. The stories are similar to the real ones and having not read mythology so much, I found the stories believable, maybe because she has not distorted the facts around the myths. The stories are fast paced.

The characters have been given humanly touch, even the conversations between them were so real. The emotions and feelings of the characters have been well described.

The extensive research done by the author is clearly visible in the stories.

The scenes have been described so well that they can be easily visualized.

The author has incorporated many stories of Ganesha and also his many names and their significance in the story. She has also added different myths in the story.

The author has mentioned that Sita is Mandodari’s daughter, something that I was not aware of. The relationship between Mandodari and Ravana is something that I don’t think that anyone has ever come across, because all we know about her is that she was Ravana’s wife.

A very well written book.

DISCLAIMER: I received the book as a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.


The Wallflowers by Varsha Dixit



The Wallflowers by Varsha Dixit is the prequel to her Wallflower series which is based on friendship. I picked this book from Kindle Unlimited and loved every bit of it.

The blurb:

New beginnings…

Gina Bansal is happy on the outside but lonely within.

Doyal Barua is ambitious to the core and driven by the need to never let her family starve again.

Meher Chaudhary is a dreamer, running from her own father and a life of captivity.

Kyra Saigal is a fighter and a survivor of a horrible crime and train wreck.

What binds these four girls, who are so different from each other, together? Maybe romance novels and maybe bonds only best friends can understand!

“The Wallflowers” by the bestselling author of romance, Varsha Dixit, is a short prequel to her upcoming contemporary romance book “A Hasty Hookup.” This short story reveals who the Wallflowers are and how they met.

The story:

Four girls around the age of eighteen from different backgrounds, different cities come to Bangalore to start their college life. They have different personalities. They do not even look alike. Each has a story of her own. Each has an ambition of her own. But they are the Wallflowers club.

Gina Bansal from Amritsar, her daddy’s favourite girl, much to the dislike of her two older siblings, is in the College to give it a try for six months.

Doyal Barua, from Assam, has seen poverty and wants to give a good life to her family. She is focused on her studies.

Meher Chaudhary has a benevolent Heer Bua, who brings her away from her father sponsors her education.

Kyra Saigal is the tomboy of the lot. She is a martial arts expert.

My take:

This book reminded me of my hostel days when all of us from different backgrounds were thrown together.

The cover is beautiful. The author has prepared the reader for a roller coaster of a series. The characters have been introduced beautifully. Her previous series was also about friends and friendship.

Psst… I have already borrowed the first book of the series ‘A Hasty Hookup’, the story of Gina from the Kindle unlimited library, the review follows.

Interview with the Author: RUPA BHULLAR

new.jpgRupa Bhullar was born in India and spent her early childhood years in Jaipur before moving to Chandigarh, the place she still calls home. She relocated to the United States in 2000, and currently lives with her family in New Jersey.

She serves as the Director of Finance and Business Development at a leading software global corporation that provides digital and financial software solutions.

She holds a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Charter and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration.

Thank you, Rupa, for sparing time and agreeing to this interview. It is indeed a pleasure to interview you.

Please tell us something about yourself.

For me, I have a very basic life. I am married, have two sons and I live in the US. And workwise, my background is essentially all finance. I work with a software company in the capacity of director of finance. Writing however, is where my true passion lies.

From a finance person to a writer, how did this transformation happen?

What happens is that when you are younger, you really don’t know who are, you don’t sit and analyse or chart a path the compliments you as an individual. You go through a natural progression say after class twelfth, you take up commerce and then MBA and onto CFA, one thing leads to the other as a logical sequence to the preceding step. Then you refer to your friends, oh that’s what they are doing, OK might as well do it. You don’t think about choosing a career that early on in life. And then by the time you start to realize who you are, it’s mostly too late because you already have the experience under your belt, you have the qualification that you’ve been building on top of. Sometimes not having done much actually can leave a lot of things open to you. But I think, my struggle started to show up when I would be at work. I know I am good with what I do but I don’t think I am really the numbers person.

For me it was that conflict. I felt I was more creative and I was always the dreamer and I would often think. What am I doing? I felt trapped as though I was cheating on myself. But now the problem was how do you tell someone that after all the years of doing what I have done, I want to write a book. It was a constant debate which started to haunt me louder as I got to that point in life when people will tell you that you must be really happy, you have a good career, kids and all that. That’s where the disconnect makes you realize it is not like that, somewhere you feel inadequate because you want to express yourself, you feel like you are compromising on your truth. I think that to me that was kind of very hard. I am so glad this book happened as a reconciliation for me (laughs).

Can you tell us about your debut work of fiction, The Indigo Sun, what came first, the title or the story?

They came together. The book was somewhat underway when I discovered the title with my Jodhpur travel. By the time, two chapters were down. From the moment I arrived in Jodhpur, there was a connection. In the middle of this desert in the scorching month of June, we were greeted by a rain shower which to me indicated something good. I could sense parts of my story thriving around me, there was a sense of belonging. Jodhpur is known as the Indigo City and the Sun City, I decided to call my story The Indigo Sun. Now I had the title and I did not know how it would fit into the story. I was thinking, as the book is based in Rajasthan and Indigo Sun is very appropriate, but how would it link into the book was the question, but it all came together and it merged beautifully.

What is the premise behind this book?

The premise behind the book was the same fundamental question that I was struggling with. That a big part your happiness in life is being able to live who you authentically are. And I think it’s not what you have in life, it’s not even a certain amount of money or the lifestyle.

Like Maya, at heart, she didn’t really care about a lot of things. She even had a good relationship. All she wanted was an expression of who she’s forgotten within her. So, that to me is the premise of the book.

Finding yourself and discovering yourself is important in life and then expressing yourself is even more important. And third is giving back to the society. Because it is one thing to say that I can go out and do something for myself but the big message in the book is also that happiness becomes very shallow when it is limited to you.

The cover of the book is very nice, did you have a say in designing it?

A little bit, yes. But they did a fabulous job. The credit goes entirely goes to the team- I will not take any credit personally. The only thing I had was with the girl to be representative of Maya, we were debating but they just came up with it and I saw it and I loved the cover. I had a vision of Maya in my mind, but this is entirely subjective, each one of us will have a different Maya in mind so the cover leaves much to imagination and a little to thought. It is fantastic.

Even your Maya had blonde hair?

Actually, I did not think of her hair while I was writing about her and when I did see the image, I thought, isn’t this too blonde for my Maya (laughs). But as I said every person would have a different Maya in their mind. So I think, this worked well for most and it is a beautiful cover.

The experiences that Maya undergoes, does that have any relation to the events in your life?

A lot, actually, for me. I do feel that for me to write about something, there has to be a touch of reality. Does not have to be an entire description of what I went through, but something even very small like that Jaipur part of it. We lived in Jaipur for two years, so for me, it gave me a logical authority to say that this is how it was for me.

I think questions and dilemmas that she faces in her own life are similar to the ones I agonized over. So I think a lot of things are inspired from my own life and even from lives of people around me. So it is very close to reality.

So actually, you grew up in India?

Yes, I grew up in India and moved to the US in 2000, so it is eighteen years I have been there.

Now about the characters in the book, were they figments of your imagination or influenced by real people?

Characters were just a figment of my imagination. And it was also that the characters were slowly coming together as the story evolved. I didn’t really sketch it out that this would happen in the first chapter and this in the second chapter, I just wrote. And I think chapter by chapter, even when I would start to write, I would not know who’s going to come into the story today. So, I think, they came on their own and then I tried to determine a little bit of the character but as you progress, the character develops itself, you almost feel like that they are living there, that it is happening and this is what they are saying and sometimes, it would be like, now I do not want to write about this. But then the character insists that you make them do certain things in certain ways. So it becomes a very dynamic equation. Just living with those characters and seeing, you almost are a spectator at times and at times, you are the director. So, it’s a happy marriage (laughs).              `

What were the challenges faced while writing the book?

Biggest challenge was time, the only challenge was time (laughs). Everything else was pretty smooth. I think I was really lucky to have gotten such a great publishing house, this was the first publishing house I approached, they took me on, the book came out and now it is on the bestseller list, Oh my God. I guess it was really meant to be.

But the only challenge was finding the time, how do I do it? It was extremely frustrating because I would only write on weekends because there is home, work and everything else. You have to drive your kids and you have to be at work. So I would write Friday afternoon to Sunday. But by the time you would start the next weekend, you forget what you had written. So then you have to go back, start reading and dissecting and then when you are in the flow of the moment, when the story is going somewhere interesting, it is just getting there, and suddenly you have to drop it and leave it all to come back to it. It was very frustrating.

I would often feel, why doesn’t everyone just leave me alone and not talk to me for two months (laughs). But it is all about balancing, for every woman it is a challenge to do the things you want to do. But you just have to make the best of it.

That was my next question, how do you strike a balance between your work and your home?

There is no balance. I feel I am always running behind (laughs). So you just manage. You don’t ever really feel like this has been done perfectly. You just do what you can do, when you can do and how you can do it.

But maybe the advantage of taking it up the next week would be that you would be editing the previous part and then you would proceed further.

Yes, so actually I would review my work. Better to look at the silver lining, what happens, happens for the best (laughs).

What was the hardest part of writing your book, other than time? 

Other than time, I think editing. Writing was very easy but going back, changing things and reading it over and over and the review, I think that was the bigger part of the process that was challenging. Just revisiting, constantly questioning, deleting, editing, all of those minute repetitive things, those were tiresome. Writing on the other hand was very enjoyable.

Do you see writing as a career? 

Absolutely, it is my career, it’s my retirement plan (laughs).

What are you writing now?

I am going to start my next book very soon and that is going to be not as philosophical as this one. It should be a lighter read, but it will also be about questions related to life, love and relationships. What I want to project in there is a little bit of flashback. I think, it is going to be the present moment characters sometimes going back into their past, maybe set somewhere in the 50s or 60s, in early India.

I do think it will be a romantic novel but not in the stereotypical sense. It will be a delicate interplay of human emotions, past and present and the unanswered questions that life poses.

The protagonist is looking at current day relationships in light of her past. As with all I love, there will be plenty of travel.

And when do you think, you would be done with this book?

I am hoping to start soon, but for now I owe a little more time to The Indigo Sun that is already out and being received well, so I think another two months, I should be ready to start. But I want to do two things before I write my next one– one is some research, specially related to the cities and times, to make it as real as I can for the reader and the other thing is, I want to travel to a couple of places even if for a day or two to get my fix of reality.

So, you’ll be coming back to India?

Yes, I’ll be coming back to India. If I can do it even for a few days, I would be happy.

What is your favourite genre, when you pick up books to read?

I really gravitate towards philosophy (laughs). I don’t read fiction a lot actually. I enjoy some of the works but typically I like poetry, I like philosophy, something that makes me think and of course I am a dreamer at heart (laughs).

Which book are you reading now?

Right now I have started reading some of the Indian authors because that’s one thing that I hadn’t done much of. So now when I spend time with my books, I can conveniently claim that I am investing in my industry (laughs). I read Preeti Shenoy’s A Hundred Little Flames just recently.

On the US side, I am going back to classics. I recently read Hemmingway’s The Old Man and The Sea which had been on my reading list for long. I am also halfway through Wuthering Heights. For me these are essential timeless reads so I want to get through these first.

Who is your favourite author?

Present day authors, definitely Paulo Coelho, I like him a lot. And in general, Kahlil Gibran was another one that I liked a lot. Rabindranath Tagore, Rumi. Among the fiction authors, I like Elizabeth Gilbert, I really enjoy her writing.

Any author who has influenced your writing?

All of the names I mentioned above. Especially, Tagore is a huge influence, Kahlil Gibran is another one. Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist was one of the first books I’d read. All these authors are very instrumental in shaping my thinking.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

New authors, well not exactly new but I would say Elizabeth Gilbert- I look forward to her books, I like her writing style, she’s funny, she is very understated. So I like her writing, I look forward to her books. I am also exploring the scene with the Indian writers. I’ve started to read a lot of them but the challenge is that my reading style is rather limited (laughs).

I feel I read only certain types of books, plus time is another thing I constantly strive to create. So I do a lot of audible actually, audio books, because I drive a lot. It is the most productive use of my driving hours. I look forward to my drives. I always supplement it with a physical book, so when I am home, I pick up from where I left off and then when I get in the car, I listen to it and the story continues.

Any advice for new authors?

My greatest advice for all aspiring authors is to just believe- in yourself and in the power of stories that want to be told. Do not overthink it, do not question and do not hesitate. Just be determined and don’t stop walking even when you can’t see the path. It may not happen in your time but if you want it enough, it will happen for sure.  Excuses will always be plenty, and excuses will always be there but dreams …. They are special and worth holding onto … never give up on those.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

I have not experienced it so far, like I often joke that I did not have the luxury of thinking that I could afford the writer’s block. I was in such a rush to finish it that this time I escaped maybe next time it’ll come get me. I’ve heard of it so I’m sure it exists. But with me, I don’t know if it was time constraint or I was plain lucky that it didn’t happen.

You have the support of your family in your writing?

My family has been very supportive, but there are time bound demands I have to meet. Overall, they have been as supportive as they can be even with the travel, after-promotions. They are all helping out. But, initially, just to convince them that you are serious about it especially when you are going into something that’s so unrelated and random, people are skeptical. There is also a level of self-doubt and guilt on if you are taking time away from this and you are taking time away from that, is it worth it? So that skepticism is always there. I think it is really challenging. Initially nobody is going to say that leave everything, write your book, it is your dream. This does not happen in real life.

In real life, you have to make do with everything. You have to prove it to the point where people start believing in it.

Thank you so much for the interview, Rupa. All the best for the next book, looking forward to it.

Social Media links of Rupa Bhullar for people to find/follow/like
Twitter: rupa_bhullar

Goodreads: Rupa Bhullar

Instagram: rupa_bhullar


facebook:  Rupa Bhullar @BhullarRupa (author page)

I am thankful to the publisher, Rupa publications for givingme an opportunity to interview the author.

Potpourri by Anusha VR

51TzbbFYq6LI received Potpourri by Anusha VR as a review copy from the publisher and am thankful to Courtney for the same. This book is a collection of 25 short stories and six poems.

The blurb:

Potpourri is an eccentric mix of stories and poems.

Somewhere between working twelve hour shifts at a tax firm and cramming for exams, these stories and poems tumbled onto torn sheets and paper napkins. Potpourri is an attempt at preventing the literary world slipping away and regaining a sliver of that bookish world.

My take:

The book moves around varied topics and are as short as half a page. The meaning behind the stories goes very deep.

The stories are crisp in a language that can be understood easily. The twists in the stories are unexpected and they just change the whole outlook of the story. But some happy endings would have been welcome.

The book has been well written and it does not feel that this is a work of fiction.


DISCLAIMER: I received the book as a review copy from the publisher, Chapeltown Publishing UK, in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.

Book Blitz: Finding her way by Ruchi Vasudeva

Book Blitz: Finding Her Way - An Indian Girl's dilemma by Ruchi Vasudeva


Book Blitz: Finding Her Way - An Indian Girl's dilemma by Ruchi Vasudeva
Print Length: 16 pages
Publication Date: February 12, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
Available on Kindle Unlimited 
Genre: Short Story 



What does marriage mean for an Indian girl? Whether she marries for love or by arrangement, she’s forced to obey unreasonable demands. But she also wants to live her life on her own terms.

Avni is such a girl. When the man she loves and cares for wholeheartedly, throws her a curve ball, she chooses to walk away. What comes next for Avni?

It would be great if you can add this book to your TBR

About Ruchi Vasudeva in her own words:
I’m a doctor by profession, a teacher by vocation and an author by destiny. The writing bug has long resided in me and a contest held by Harlequin for Indian authors gave me a golden opportunity to have my dream realized. I debuted in August ’13 with my book ‘Bollywood Fiancé For A Day’. I write romantic fiction with conflicted characters who come into their own in their quest of reaching out for love. I love to write about spirited heroines getting hurtled out of their daily life as soon as they cross paths with their rather challenging heroes. 
I keep busy juggling writing with my medical job and family life with my doctor husband and two wiser-than-thou teens. When not bent double over the laptop, I might be found with my nose in books or munching nachos at the movies or glued to the telecast of Team India or Chennai Super Kings in action. Sometimes I drag myself for walks and surprisingly discover they are rather good for brewing story ideas! 
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Blog Tour by The Book Club of PREM PURANA by Usha Narayanan


Usha Narayanan
Blog Tour by The Book Club of PREM PURANA by Usha Narayanan
Stories of love and extraordinary devotion 
No one is untouched by love, not even devas and asuras, kings and nymphs. And when they face life’s unexpected tribulations, their love also undergoes trials. Read how Ganesha took myriad forms to please Riddhi, Siddhi and Buddhi, how Ravana shared an unbreakable bond with his true love, Mandodari and how Nala and Damayanti’s relationship was tested till almost nothing remained. 
Tormented by passion, wracked by betrayal, torn by the agony of separation, love in its many splendored forms is the origin of these incredibly endearing stories of Prem Purana. 
Ganesha stood with Brahma’s daughter Siddhi on the sacred soil of Kailasa, offering worship to the linga that Parvati had installed. He glanced at his companion’s proud face, knowing that he had embarked on a rough path in attempting to win her over. For now, however, he had to focus on his confrontation with Parasurama whom Shiva had blessed with his great axe.

Siddhi watched from a safe distance as Ganesha bowed to the warrior and requested him to wait until Shiva granted him permission to enter. But Parasurama angrily pushed him aside and strode towards the cave. Ganesha intercepted him, causing the angry warrior to raise his axe to threaten him.

Finding that his antagonist would not listen to mere words, Shiva’s son extended his trunk by many lengths and wound it around Parasurama 100 times. He then raised the warrior into the skies so that he could see the seven mountains, the seven oceans and the seven islands of the earth below him. Then he whirled him around and showed him all the lokas including Vaikunta, where Lord Vishnu presided on his lotus throne with Devi Lakshmi. With his yogic power, Shiva’s son granted Parasurama a vision of Goloka, the purest of realms, where blue-hued Krishna resided with Radha and his gopis.

After showing Parasurama how insignificant he was when compared to the primordial universe spanning endless time and space, Gajamukha dropped him gently on the ground outside Shiva’s cave. He smiled at Siddhi who stood dazed, clinging to a tree for support, as she too had been granted the supernal vision by Ganesha’s grace. She realized now that her cheerful friend was called Vakratunda not because of his crooked trunk, but because he was the one who straightened out the crooked.

Parasurama recovered from his stupor and saw that he was lying on the ground at Ganesha’s feet. Incensed by this humiliation, he sprang to his feet and took up his mighty axe. The parasu hurtled towards Ganesha with a deafening roar. Siddhi trembled, certain that her friend would not survive the dire power of his father’s weapon.

Strangely enough, Gajamukha made no attempt to counter Parasurama’s axe. Instead, he joined his hands in worship to the parasu and stood calmly as if reconciled to his death.

Siddhi heard a horrific crack as the parasu struck one of Ganesha’s tusks and severed it completely. It fell to the ground with a crash, smeared in blood, looking like a crystal mountain covered in red chalk. Shiva rushed out of the cave, followed by Parvati, who turned into fiery Durga when she saw that her son had been wounded. She discerned what had happened and raged at the warrior who stood before her with the axe that had returned to his hand.

‘O Parasurama!’ she said. ‘You may be learned and wise and the son of a great sage, yet you have allowed wrath to overcome you. You received your parasu from your guru, Shiva, but abused your gift by using it to wound his son. Ganesha, on the other hand, allowed the axe to sever his tusk due to his respect for his father’s weapon. What next will you do, Parasurama? Will you assail mighty Shiva himself? Presumptuous warrior! I curse you this day that though you are an avatara of my beloved Vishnu, no one on earth or heaven will ever worship you!’

Parasurama cowered before the angry goddess whose fury grew by the moment. ‘It is only due to Ganesha’s forbearance that you are still alive, for he can kill a hundred thousand Parasuramas in the blink of an eye,’ she said. ‘But I am unwilling to be so tolerant and will end your life today!’

Durga rushed towards him, with her trident aimed at his head. Parasurama stood unarmed and unresisting. He closed his eyes, joined his hands together and surrendered to Krishna.

‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya!’ Parasurama chanted, invoking his god with his last breath.

At once, Krishna appeared before him, lustrous and omnipotent, granting him protection with one raised hand. Durga stopped mid-stride and gazed at Krishna. Her wrath vanished, dissolving like mist in the light of the sun. A beatific smile adorned her face. She offered him a reverential welcome along with Shiva.

Krishna addressed them gently, a calm smile on his face. ‘I have come here to rescue my devotee,’ he said. ‘Though Parasurama has committed a grievous sin, I request you to forgive him, Parvati. He is your son too, for you are the divine mother, the refuge of all creation. As for you, Parasurama, you have to undertake a severe tapasya to attain forgiveness. Worship the Devi who animates the three realms in the form of the gentle Gauri and the fierce Durga. Seek the blessings of Ganesha who is now Ekadanta, the lord with one tusk.’

Having offered his counsel, the lord returned to Goloka. Parasurama prostrated himself before the gods and laid his axe at Ganesha’s feet in tribute. He then retreated to a distant mountain to begin his worship. Parvati took her son into her mansion, to coddle him after his fierce encounter.


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About the Author




Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time author. Her bestselling novels span multiple genres: ‘The Madras Mangler’, a suspense thriller; ‘Love, Lies and Layoffs’ (Harlequin) and ’Doctor Stalker Spy’ (Juggernaut), lighthearted romances; ‘Pradyumna: Son of Krishna’, ‘The Secret of God’s Son’ and her latest ‘Prem Purana’ (all from Penguin) that have been praised as ‘Indian mythology at its fiercest and finest.’ Two new books are in the offing. When she is not travelling, writing or editing, Usha reads everything from thrillers and romances to the puranas.



Click here to check out all the titles by the author…

Praise for Usha’s books:




‘Like the best of our mythological tales, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna too is a multilayered one…There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception.’




The Secret of God’s Son is a compelling read on mythological tales.’ – The Sentinel




Prem Purana is so good! I am impressed at how Usha can write about Ganesha with so much personality while at the same time showing him as a cosmic divine being. ’ Dr Laura Gibbs, Professor, Indian Epics, University of Oklahoma 







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Stories from Saratchandra by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay

ArtworkI received the book Stories from Saratchandra by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay as a review copy from the publisher and am thankful for the same. This book is a collection of translations of twelve stories written by the author.

The blurb:

This book is a collection of twelve widely acclaimed short stories of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, one of the doyens of Bengali literature. The stories bring to life themes covering perceptions of childhood, a refusal to be rule-bound, transition from the innocence of a child’s world view into hard reality, and the world as it appears to a child.

Divided into two sections, the first group of stories portray childhood in all its unburdened innocence while the latter section leads on to deeper sensibilities—the everyday experience of casteism, the lived reality of social hierarchy, and the bonds of almost filial affection forged between man and animal that sustain both.

The translations reveal Saratchandra’s keen eye as a social commentator, presenting a vivid picture of life in rural Bengal during the early twentieth century. From stories such as ‘Laalu’ to ‘Mohesh’ to reminiscences of Saratchandra’s own boyhood, Stories from Saratchandra offers a glimpse into the oeuvre of Sarat Chandra’s work. 

My take:

The book starts with a 32 page introduction and has further been divided into two parts with six short stories in each part. The translator has tried to maintain the authenticity of the stories while writing them.

The first set of stories is around the author’s perceptions of childhood.  Childhood memories talks about the author’s initial childhood in the village with his grandparents and then later in Calcutta with his uncle. The second set of stories is turns around the underprivileged communities and social groups. One story talks about the author visiting Deoghar to recuperate while the other talks about a ten to twelve year old boy who is forced to work as a servant. Another story deals with the critical assessment of the village community and one talks about the beloved old bull of a poor peasant. There is a story about a woman who lives upto the meaning of her name.

The author has maintained certain words in Bengali and also the way the people address each other. The translations of the Bengali words used is mentioned as a footnote.

The language is simple and easy to follow. The book can be easily read and understood by both Bengalis and Non-Bengalis alike.


Saratchandra Chattopadhyay (1876–1938) was one of the most prolific novelists and short story writers from Bengal in the early twentieth century. Among his novels, his most notable works include Baikunther WillDevdas and Srikanta; stories such as ‘Mejdidi’ and ‘Mohesh’ rank among the most loved. Saratchandra’s powerful portrayals of human, economic and social distress, colonialism, middle-class lives and the rural world are still widely read, translated and have been adapted into films.


Anindita Mukhopadhyay has a doctorate from School of Oriental and African Studies, London and currently teaches history at the University of Hyderabad and was formerly fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. She has earlier translated Rabindranath Tagore’s Shesher KobitaThe Last Poem (Rupa, 2007) and authored Behind the Mask: The Cultural Definition of the Legal Subject (Oxford University Press, 2013).

DISCLAIMER: I received the book as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa Publications, in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.


It Started With a Cup of Coffee by Sudesna Ghosh

41OhZONgcvLIt Started With a Cup of Coffee by Sudesna Ghosh is a short story that I borrowed from Kindle Unlimited. And you know why I picked it up, I love coffee and thought, it’s about a cup of coffee, it has to be nice and I am not disappointed. This story is set in Kolkata.

The blurb:

They are regulars at the quaint Kolkata coffee shop. She has her favourite table, as does he. She’s trying to finish a book but this guy is suddenly on her mind. As she sips her coffee, she wonders about him. Does he wonder about her?

A short & sweet story to bring in Valentine’s Day.

The story:

Ira is a writer. She is a freelancer. She works from home. She enjoys her café writing sessions and table number 1 is her favorite spot in the café where she sits and types away on her computer. Desserts are an important part of the manuscript writing process.

On table number 2, at the same café, is a guy with a smile and that seems to be his favourite table. But he is a distraction.

She has kind of sworn off romance when it came to her personal life. Her friend Nupur tells her to go with the flow as she is writing a romantic novel and consider it as a research for her story

Six months go by and she has never exchanged greetings or names with him.

And then comes Valentine’s Day, a day she hates, to her it is more like Singles Awareness Day.

She goes to the café and her favorite table is occupied……….

My take:

A simple, sweet story that left me wanting for more. I have a feeling this book is just a preamble to a book that follows.


Carthick’s Unfairy Tales: A retelling of seven tales from the days of the yore by T F Carthick

37aae-carthickI received Carthick’s Unfairy Tales: A retelling of seven tales from the days of the yore by T F Carthick as a review copy from the author as a part of the blog tour by The Book Club.

The blurb:

An evil dragon. A damsel in distress. A concerned father seeking a savior. A hero galloping off to the rescue – a knight in shining armor. Now THAT is stuff of fairy tales.
But what if the father’s real concern is for the dragon’s hoard; What if the damsel’s reason of distress is the marriage proposal by her pompous savior; and what if the story is told by the horse who bears not only the overweight knight but also his heavy, shining armor all the way to the dragon’s lair and back, facing certain death in the process?
What if there was more – much more – to all your favourite fairy tales than meets the eye?
This book chronicles not one but seven such unfairy tales – tales told by undead horsemen and living cities. Tales of mistreated hobgoblins and misunderstood magicians. Tales of disagreeable frogs and distressed mice. And bears baring their souls. Once you read these stories, you will never be able to look at a fairy tale the same way ever again.

My take:

When I was a child, reading the fairy tales were what I looked for minus the sad part. These days, the children can even watch the fairy tales on the internet. These seven fairy tales have been retold with difference, namely, Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rumpelstiltskin and Hansel and Gretel. I actually reread the original stories along with the retold ones.

Most of the stories have been written in first person from the point of view of different characters in the story. Of mices and horses is Cinderella retold from the point of view of the mouse and is about one which turned into a horse and pulled her pumpkin carriage. The frog who would be king is The Frog Prince retold from the point of view of the Princess, who is not happy being one and the story has a lot of twists and turns. No country for wild beasts is Goldilocks retold from Baby bear’s perspective and how he hates humans. The Beans of Avarice is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk told from the magician’s point of view. A tale of one city is Pied Piper of Hamelin from the point of view of a city. Rumpelstiltskin has been retold as What the Hobgoblin did. And the last story, The hunger diaries is a twisted Hansel and Gretel from Hunger’s point of view.

The author has seen a different side of the fairy tales. Some stories are funny and some are serious. The language is simple and the stories keep the reader guessing as to what comes next. The writing is crisp and the book has been edited very well.

I enjoyed the book, it is a page turner. It can be enjoyed equally by both kids and grown ups. I would highly recommend this book to all. In fact would give it to my kids to read it.

Waiting for the next book in the ‘unfairly tales’ series.


The Historian and the Hunter by Zeenat Mahal

the_historian_and_the_hunter__new_.jpgThe Historian and the Hunter by Zeenat Mahal is the latest book by the author. I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy from her.  When I read the name of the story, I felt that the male lead would be the hunter and the female lead, the historian. But what I did not know that both  would be girls and twin sisters.

The Blurb:

Laila and Shirin are ordinary girls living in the old city of Lahore just like millions of others…except they live in the red-light district area, and they’re identical twins. Also they hunt monsters no-one knows exist…okay so, maybe not quite like millions of other girls…

The story:

They have telepathy, or the twin thing.

They are opposites. But, they are identical twins, born into a family that kills monsters.

Laila and Shirin lost their parents when they were young and all they have as family is Emir pehalwan, Madam Ara and the Begum. Their parents were the first Hunters to have been killed in centuries, 15 years ago and their great aunt, the Begum says that the monsters have been showing up since then. Emir is their foster father in everyway except a formal declaration. They had been practically raised by Madam Ara, who was their solace and escape from Council duties. Begum, the Supreme Seat of the Secret Council of Lahore, which had thirteen members, men and women of different ages and backgrounds to maintain a balance.

Shirin Mirza never took Laila’s work seriously nor did she respect the work of the historian. Laila knows Shirin loves her and fears losing her. Shirin had her Saiban and Laila had her books.

Shirin is outdoorsy and physical and Laila, a scholar and a recluse. One is a historian, a bookworm, reads diaries and spends most of her time in a library. Shirin is Saiyyad, the Hunter of the Secret Council- an organization sworn to protect the vulnerable, hunts for Nau-Guzzahs, churails, jinns, demons and monsters. She is the hunter. She calls Emir, her Saiban.

Laila isn’t brave, she prefers books and solitude. She is afraid of people and that is the reason she stayed with books in underground rooms. She reads about werewolves, shamanism and alchemy. She loves stories, books are her world and that is how she learned about the Words of Power. Her curiosity and devotion had led to much discovery. By the time she was 10, Laila knew all the secret passageways of the city. She has been dreaming of the wolf for the past three years.

Nothing trumps the Historian, her twin sister is the Hunter. Her foster father is her Saiban and her foster mother is the madam who manages the eyes and ears of the Council.

A new Council member, an archeologist, Shahmeer Sikander is surprised that he has been selected though he lacks the ancestry and pedigree the Council usually look for.

Sardar Rustam Ali Khan, nephew of an old friend of Emir, is the leader of his clan. He is introduced by the Begum as one of the secret weapons of The Council.

My take:

I have usually associated Zeenat Mahal with romantic stories but this one is different. The story is interesting, and begins with Saiyyad hunting for a Nau-Guzzah. And then there are council meetings and secret passage ways. There are doors and keys. There are some diaries hidden by Lockwood from the Council. And then there is also the story of Ranjeet Singh.

There is a story within the story, which moves in parallel to the main story and both the stories are linked. But neither story overshadows the other.

The language is simple, it would have been more meaningful if the author had given the meanings of terms like saiban, Nau-guzzah and other terms which are not so commonly used.

Though the story moves slowly in the beginning, it gains momentum as it progresses and then the book becomes unputdownable.

The characters of Laila and Shirin have been developed very well. But I found myself wanting to know more about Shahmeer and Rustam.

Enjoyed reading the story.

DISCLAIMER: I received the book as a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.