The short history of Indian Railways by Rajendra B Aklekar

51CfeOCuELL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI received The short history of Indian Railways by Rajendra B Aklekar as a review copy from the publisher and am thankful to them for the same.

The blurb:

His stories instruct and entertain, bringing the past of Indian Railways alive in the present. Did you know that India’s first steam engine never ran on tracks and was actually used to run driving mills in a factory? That the maximum speed of the first commercial train in India was 4.5 miles/hour? That the country’s first-ever steam locomotive could never be introduced commercially since it was destroyed in a factory blast? That the locomotive engine for the maiden rail run between Bombay and Thane was pulled by 200 coolies on streets? That there actually was a plan to build a rail network from the English Channel all the way to the river Indus? This is a people’s history of Indian Railways. Anecdotes and stories are curated from the time the first wagon rolled in India, up to the advent of bullet trains.

My take:

As kids, we would travel by trains from the extreme east of India to the extreme west. From Dibrugarh in Assam to Jodhpur in Rajasthan. And I still find travelling by trains more exciting than travelling by air.

When we travel by trains, how many of us stop to think as to how all this came about? We take trains and the railway system for granted as we have seen it ever since we were old enough to understand things. Even our parents for that matter.

I had taken offence once, when someone who had come to visit my husband mentioned, “so your trains still run on the tracks we laid” (he was a British). I was very upset, but when I was reading this book, I realised he was right but not totally, because the idea might be theirs but the workforce behind the physical labour, the people who made their ideas take shape were Indians.

This book, which has been written after a detailed research, talks about the history of the Indian railways dating back to 1823 till date. The author has used many books and references and also accounts from newspapers and even letters to illustrate many details. The pictures in the book are informative and interesting.

What impressed me was the detailed research that he has done and also how each and every information has been properly referenced. As we move from when the experiments started to when railways were considered a part of life.

The author also mentions that the Indian railway System has been mentioned in Jules Verne’s Around the world in Eighty days. He also mentions the incidents during the 1857 mutiny, how the Indian railways played a pert in the World War II, and India’s freedom struggle and also during the partition. He has mentioned about the different time zones of the Indian railways, the Matheran line.

He has talked about how platform tickets came into being, the various gauges and how they came into being, the regrouping of the various railways in India from April 1951 to April 1952 and the advent of the Rajdhani and Metro.

The narration is such that once the trains became a part of India, I could not keep the book down and wanted to read more of it.

Railways witnessed the partition, what came before it, what came after it and whatever India holds in its future will also be a part of the Railway history. Over the changing story of India with time, the Railways have also changed a lot. From the number of users, to the way it works in its core. The book helps you rewind and see the formation of what we can witness in almost every city of the nation.

I’ll recommend this book to everyone who has travelled by train, I feel it is important for us to know the history of Indian Railways. But one question arises, If the British had trains back in Britain, why did they have to start with experiments in India?

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.













The Reluctant Debutante by Vibha Batra

51cLWn2qFwL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI received the book, The Reluctant Debutante by Vibha Batra as a review copy from the author and am thankful to her for the same.

The blurb:

Sanya Grewal’s all set to attend Debutante International – the most glamorous social event of the year – when she ends up fracturing her foot.

She can either forget all about her childhood dream or convince her twin sister Tanya to take her place and bask in reflected glory. Alas! Tanya’s so not interested. Besides, she’s got a secret, one that could tarnish her family’s name and nix their debutante dreams.

Very reluctantly, Tanya agrees to help her sister out and zips off to France. Everything seems to be going well when Tanya’s cover gets blown. Will Tanya make her sister’s dream come true, make her father proud, make friends and maybe even find true love? Or will it all blow up in her face?

The story:

Sanya and Tanya the identical twins, but they are like two sides of the same coin. Sanya is tolerant, speaks things that are politically correct, favourite of  and is an ideal girl. And Tanya is just her opposite. Their father loves Sanya but for some reason, he does not like Tanya. Debutante International (DI) is Sanya Grewal’s childhood dream and whenever she speaks about it, Tanya cannot help but make faces.

And Sanya’s dream comes true as she is selected for the Debutante International. Sanya is all set and they are celebrating when Sanya meets with a freak accident and fractures her leg. And then she cajoles and blackmails Tanya to take her place. Tanya, who is nothing like Sanya, except in looks, cannot replace her. But seeing her pleading, she does not have the heart to refuse her.

And Tanya replaces Sanya at the contest. Will she be caught or will she play her sister’s role to perfection?

My take:

The story is simple and sweet and is a perfect read for the beautiful rainy days. The characters are believable and so is the relationship between them. I loved how Tanya talks about her family, especially her aunt. She has nicknames for everyone and not to miss her inner voice, BBC. Some of the conversations are hilarious. Even the secondary characters have a role to play in the story.

An interesting story which I would recommend to everyone.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

Restless Hearts: A San Francisco Gold Rush Romance (Gold Rush Romances Book 1) by Mona Ingram

51tFJR-rkmL.jpgRestless Hearts: A San Francisco Gold Rush Romance (Gold Rush Romances Book 1) by Mona Ingram was a book that I picked up from Amazon Kindle courtesy BookBub.

The blurb:

Whoever said the streets were paved with gold must have been dreaming. San Francisco in the gold rush era was an intoxicating mixture of the wealthy and the desperate. How would Sarah fit in?

Determined to prove that she can make it on her own, Sarah poses as a married woman and boards a schooner bound for San Francisco.

Restless and eager to travel, Jamie agrees to set up a branch of his family’s merchant bank in San Francisco.

Each has something to prove but will their desire to succeed derail a blossoming romance?

The story:

The year is 1849.

Sarah Howard, 22, lives in Boston with her parents and younger brother Devon. Her father is a doctor and she wants to become one too, having assisted him in his practice. But her father disapproves. He wants her to get married to the boy he has selected for her. She cannot imagine living the rest of her life in Boston where nothing in the foreseeable future was likely to change. So, when her father is away, she leaves Boston, with her mother’s blessings and boards a ship to sail for San Francisco. She poses as a married woman, as she feels it would be safer that way.

On board the ship, she meets Anna and her daughter Melissa, Lucy, her cabinmate and Jamie Thompson. Jamie has worked in his family’s merchant bank. He is bored of his job as a banker and wants to have a look at the farm his grandfather left him on the Sacromento river. She is attracted to Jamie and slowly she starts loving him.

Once in California, she starts her food business and slowly she becomes successful. Sarah is a helpful person by nature and helps people she meets. Like those on the ship and even those she meets in San Francisco. But what about her, will she stay in San Francisco or would she move to Sacramento to be with Jamie?

My take:

The story is simple and the author seems to have done some research about the time, what with cars, candles and tents. Not to mention the long journey by a ship.

The characters are believable and both the primary and secondary characters are important to keep the story moving.

I really liked this book and will definitely read the next one in the series.


The Monsters Still Lurk by Aruna Nambiar

41Kk47D7yNL._SX317_BO1_204_203_200_.jpgI received the book The Monsters Still Lurk by Aruna Nambiar as a review copy from the publisher and am thankful to them for the same. This book is the story of a middle class family from Kerala who lived in Bombay and Kerala and the story is set in the seventies till the recent times.

The blurb

It is 1991. As Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated and a new government comes to power, setting in motion a process of economic reforms that will transform India, an ordinary family is about to experience detours from the traditional middle-class script of their lives. Over the next quarter century, as the world around them changes in ways unexpected, their lives too wind along uncharted trails, sometimes sunlit, sometimes shadowy and forbidding.

My take:

Set in India, in the cities of Bombay, Kerala, Bangalore and Madras, this story takes the reader through the seventies, eighties, nineties till the present decade. The story has been written in first person from the point of view of Vivek, the narrator, the youngest child of the family.

Their father works in a bank and their mother is a homemaker. The oldest child, Vinod, grows up to be an engineer who moves to the US and marries a ‘foreigner’, the middle one Sudha, marries a doctor and is settled in Chennai and the youngest one, Vivek, the narrator, a civil engineer marries an architect and they settle down in Bangalore.

The story starts from when from the time these three children are kids and live in a flat in Colaba in the seventies till they grow older, have careers, get married and become parents themselves and their parents are old and retired. She has mentioned the events that rocked the decade like Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, recession, to mention a few.

The characters are realistic and relatable and I could actually imagine many scenes, being a seventies kid myself. She has described the  parent-child relationship well and also. The story reflects Indian middle class families through the last five decades.

The language is simple and the story is serious and funny at times. There is humour as well as despair. She has moved back and forth between the past and the present and the first chapter gave me an idea as to where the story would go. But, the monster??

She made me nostalgic, I am also a seventies kid and I could actually remember the Binaca tooth paste charms (mistakenly written as Forhans). The days when we passed out from school and all we could think of becoming was doctor or engineer.

This book is a must read for all the seventies kids and also for the kids of today who seem to take everything for granted.

DISCLAIMER: I received this book as a review copy from the publisher and have not received any monetary compensation for the same. The views expressed are entirely mine.


Skill Builder Maths-4 by Sonia Mehta

51pngS+w7uL._SX419_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI received the book Skill Builder maths 4 as a review copy from the publisher and am thankful to them for the same. This book is the fourth in the series of four books and is meant for 9 year olds.

About the series:

With over 50 activities in each book, The Maths Skill Builders series aims to foster in children the subject skills and twenty-first century skills that are essential for success. These books enable the acquisition of numerical, logical and thinking skills, with kids learning and practicing key skills through play.

The books are broadly aligned to children’s learning levels at school and available at four different levels of complexity, so you can choose the level that best suits your child’s learning stage. The most striking about this series is – Children learn while playing, with skills being practiced through fun activities.

About the book:

This book contains mathematics activities, puzzles and problems to help young learners practise basic arithmetic and hone their logic, reasoning, creative and critical thinking skills. Through fun and challenging scenarios, your child will learn and master mathematics skills that are also applicable in a widerange of everyday contexts. Level 4 is suitable for children aged 9+.

My take:

This book is the fourth in the series and is meant for children who are 9 years and older. The main focus of the book is on number names, factors and multiples, roman numbers, multiple mathematical operations, rounding off, time, factorisation, fractions to decimals, problems of time, profit and loss, shapes, geometry, statistics, areas, Venn Diagram, Sudoku, and many puzzles, games and other activities. This book is an interesting way for the child to revise his/ her concepts.

A must read book for all. Try doing the problems, it will really destress you.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.


Red Rose dating Agency by Sundari Venkatraman

419yChR3yZL.jpgRed Rose Dating Agency (Romantic Shorts Book 8) is Sundari Venkatraman’s latest book which is available on Kindle Unlimited.

The blurb:

Ahana is not exactly sure of her feelings when the nerdy Sadashiv Prasad lands up at her dating agency, seeking membership. While on the one hand she’s amused at his audacity, his fanatical obsession with finding the ‘ideal’ mate has Ahana climbing up the wall.

When all efforts to find him a date fail miserably Ahana offers to go on a date with him. As expected, the event is a disaster. Luckily for her the winds of love are blowing in her direction as she unexpectedly falls in love with Sahil Pradhan.

Ideally, Ahana’s life should run smoothly from now on. Alas, no! Sadashiv Prasad re-surfaces in her life and what’s even worse, Sahil and Sadashiv seem to know each other. What a tangle!

Will Ahana find happiness with Sahil or is her love doomed forever?

*A shorter version of this story has been published in the anthology called Matches Made in Heaven.

The story:

Ahana runs a dating agency, called the Red Rose Dating Agency, and her business is doing well. One day, she has an unusual client, Sadashiv Prasad, a middle class salesman with a crumpled white shirt and he just manages to converse in English. And Sadashiv has an unusual request, he wants to date through her agency and he also wants that she finds him a date who fits the bill of an ‘Adarsh Bharatiya Nari’.

And Ahana is in a fix. Who can she ask to date him? And then her father suggests that she goes on a date with him.

What will she do?

My take:

I liked the book and the story.

The characters have been developed in detail. The relationship between Ahana and her father has been beautifully depicted.

Overall, a simple story, written in simple English that can be finished in one sitting.

A Twist of Fate by Summerita Rhayne

51c+0lSoAsL.jpgI received the book A Twist of Fate by Summerita Rhayne as a review copy from the author and am thankful to her for the same. This is the second book in the King and the Courtesan series.

The blurb:

“I want to find him. And when I find him, I will destroy him.” 

Charulata wants revenge. She seeks to spill the blood of the man who ruined her. He married her and left her after one night. The diktats of her society declare only one place suitable for the woman rejected and deserted by her husband – the abode of the concubines. Charulata faces ruin and lives and breathes for one purpose…the only purpose keeping her alive. How to track Deva – and kill him.

Deva knows he had earned the wrath of this woman. Embittered and devastated, he’s a wounded lion hunting his enemies. Regrets and softer feelings are long gone from his life. He encounters Charulata with all the arrogance of his forebears. Yet the fire of hate is mixed with the fire of attraction between them. Rage and passion have become inseparable…
A Twist of Fate follows the entwining fortunes of Charu and Deva in the post Vedic ancient India. Greed, treachery, and deception feature highly in this story of royal suspense. Can love have a hope of surviving amid such intrigues?

To be a courtesan in ancient India was a fate far worse than slavery. This is the second book written on the theme by the author. Also read Against The Tide, the story of the royal concubine.

The story:

Tikandas and Leelavati are like any other parents. They want their only daughter, Charulata, to be happy. Charu is the younger of the two siblings, she has an older brother Shayamdas, who is married. Charu is multi-talented, cultured in arts, proficient in written language, fine player of veena, unmatched in dance and keeps accounts better than her brother. At the behest of the local purohit, Tikandas, fixes her marriage to a merchant’s son from a neighbouring town. He is happy for his daughter, his favourite child, but he tells his wife that in case he finds the groom unworthy of his daughter, he would send the groom back.

In the meantime, at the groom’s camp, on the day of the wedding, the groom’s father is in a fix. His son, the groom, has hurt his eye and he needs a replacement for the wedding. And he finds Deva, who is running away from the guards who suspect that he has stolen the royal ring, as the replacement.

And thus, Deva and Charu get married. The very next day, the groom’s father wants to take the bride home, and Deva has to leave the scene and he does so after writing to Charu.

And Charu is outcast, loses her parents and is thrown out of home by her brother. She ends up in a brothel. She is determined to seek revenge.

Will she be able to take her revenge?

My take:

The story is set in ancient India, the setting and the descriptions ensure that. So do the language and the characters. The cover is beautiful and so apt.

Charulata’s character has been developed in detail, she can speak her mind at a time when women are not very liberated. She is well educated and she is intelligent. the secondary characters are important and play major roles in the story. There are characters from the previous book in the series.

The descriptions of scenes are detailed and the scenes can be easily picturised. Language used in simple but there are words which are in a dialect which would be more appreciated if a vocabulary can be added to the book.

This book has all the components, love, romance, independence, treachery, impersonation and revenge.

I loved the book and finished it in one day. I feel there is another one in the pipeline….

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of the book from the author in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.