Juni Dagger: Murders in Meraupatnam by Arjun Chandra Kathpalia

51aRsKAIadL._SX354_BO1_204_203_200_.jpgI received the book Juni Dagger: Murders in Meraupatnam by Arjun Chandra Kathpalia as a review copy. I would like to thank the publisher for the book. The book is a mystery and has been written by a sixteen year old boy.

The blurb:

When the residents of Meraupatnam’s posh Dormeth Lane start getting picked off by mysterious snipers, the mayor has no choice but to call in the celebrated detective Juni Dagger. With the aid of his assistant, Monroe and a stranger-turned-ally, Cameron, Dagger must trace the links between the murders and find the mastermind, a mysterious man who goes by the name Veron.

Interspersed with his sleuthing, are Dagger’s culinary adventures, which often throw up clues to his case. Soon, Dagger discovers that Veron is now targeting him and his desire to be rid of the detective can only be matched by Dagger’s desire to enjoy a good meal (or two or three!).

Perfect for readers who like their mystery with a generous side of comedy, Juni Dagger is sure to leave you wanting more, both from the detective, and your meals.

The story:

27 year old Juni Dagger is an investigator, and one of world’s best detectives. When the small, sleepy town of Meraupatnam in the Indian sub-continent witnesses serial sniper killings and the police are not able to even start digging the case, Juni is pressed into the case by the Mayor of the town. Juni does not have an assistant, he prefers to take and drop assistants with cases, is more of a lone wolf and does not prefer attachment of any sort. He likes to take things easy, he is in no hurry to plunge into the case. He loves food and does not believe in coincidences.

When Juni reaches Meraupatnam he meets eccentric Mr Crow, a widely acclaimed cards player and defeats him. Then he meets the Mayor who briefs him on the case and assigns a local person, Monroe, as his assistant. At the first instance, Juni asks Monroe to get him food. Monroe thinks he is an extremely eccentric and whimsical person.

They try to decipher the clues, the deaths continue and sometimes they foil the plans. During one of these episodes, he meets Cameron, a Ninja and a trained assassin to kill and make it look like an accident, who uses Ninja equipment like a shruiken. As they have the same plan they decide to work together.

Time progresses, clues come, clues go, and suddenly one day, Juni has a Eureka moment and suddenly everything starts falling into place like a jigsaw puzzle

My take:

The story is a murder mystery plot set in a small town setting. The author has created the characters with a lot of details and the characters were realistic and also relatable. The author has described the town of Meraupatnam in detail and I was actually looking for a town of the same name on the internet. It was only then I realized that the town is a figment of the author’s imagination.

The language is simple and the humour is palpable. The author has used the plot of a murder mystery with all the possible elements like suspense, secret codes, clues, snipers, letters, riddles and twists and turns.

Once I was 20 pages into the book, it was very difficult for me to keep the book down. The book is fast paced.

All through the book, I never felt that the book was the debut work of a teenager.

A must read for everyone.

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

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The Laundry Girl by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao

the_laundry_girl_300_rgb_1501123577_380x570.jpgI received The Laundry Girl by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao as a review copy from the author. The debut novel of the author is an ebook exclusive to Juggernautapp and website. I have read her previous book, Operation Superstar, which was a collection of short stories on the Juggernaut App.

This book is the story of Indira, a girl who heads a detective agency. Her team comprises of Spence, a hacker; Nadia, a chartered accountant; Laxmi, an ex-assistant of a private detective and Bhavesh, the go-to person for anything and everything. Bhavesh was her first partner and we had met him in Operation Superstar, the first book.

The Blurb:

Indira can make your worst and most embarrassing problems go away. She is a fixer, private investigator, thief and lethal street fighter rolled into one deadly package. She is pressured by a very powerful client to take up a case she doesn’t want to. The very case has lead to her involvement in the death of three people.

And now that she is the next target of a dangerous assassin, it turns out that only she can help herself. Can The Laundry Girl overcome the demons of her own past as a convict, and come out alive at the end of this case? Or will this case lead to her end?

The story:

The book begins with Yamini on a case of the CEO of a company, Trista Pharmaceuticals, who is being blackmailed by his PA. She solves the case with the help of her team in a fast-track mode. But little does she know that the case would almost cost her her life.

My take:

It is an interesting book which showcases the journey of the detective. Her past, her family and why she is what she is. The book has been written in simple english and the characters have been created with a lot of effort. The book is fast paced and has been beautifully written.

I was so caught up with the book that I was reading the book till 4am even though I had to get up at 530am the next day to go to work and actually had to have a cup of strong black coffee to take me through the day.

Initially, I thought, the case is over, now she would move on to the next one, so this is also a collection of short stories like the previous one, but little did I know that what I was about to read next would keep me glued till the end.

I enjoyed the book immensely.

And am eagerly awaiting the next one in the series…..

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.

The Royal Roommate by P.G.Van

5c815-img_2700I received The Royal Roommate by P.G.Van as a review copy from the author. I thought that this book would be a romance but what I did not expect was the fast paced action that came with the love story.

The blurb (from Goodreads):

My purpose in life is to protect you…

Sid is Army strong and sinfully sexy. He is tasked to investigate a woman suspected of having connections with a rebel group. The style of investigation was not his choice, and he is asked to move in as the roommate of the person of interest, Amy.

Amy was thrilled to start her internship in San Francisco and wasn’t expecting a man with rock-solid abs as her roommate. The moment she laid eyes on him, she knew he was bad news.

The attraction was undeniable and they both wondered how long they could hold on to their resolve. Sid didn’t want to sleep with a suspect even if she was wildly beautiful and sexy. Amy wasn’t interested in a fling.

Just when Sid is about close his investigation and declare Amy’s innocence, he finds out something about her that changes everything. She becomes the most important person in his life.

The story:

Amy is excited to move to San Francisco for her law internship in a prestigious law firm. This is the first time that she is going to stay away from home. She loves her little brother, Aaron and her parents. Her mother is the cautious parent and her dad gives her and her brother the extra freedom that they needed to balance the mama bear love. Her mother calls both Amy and her father ‘top-of-the-line-snobs’, but the father and daughter say that they just have high standards for everything.

She has a year of college left and wants to start her law practice in her home town. She wants to do more than make money, she wants people she cares about to get justice and to be the one to fight for the farmers in her home town.

Once she reaches San Francisco, she checks into her accommodation and finds that her roommate is yet to arrive. Having requested for a girl, she is surprised to find a handsome young man at the door saying that he is her roommate.

Her roommate is Sid, an undercover cop on an emergency order to investigate the lady who has dropped an injured person to a hospital. And Amy is the suspect as she had picked an injured person on the highway and taken him to the hospital. His gut feeling says that she is innocent but he can leave no margin for error, because it is his duty to protect the swan and that he will do at all costs.

He is attracted to her and she, to him, but he cannot afford to be involved with the person of interest in his investigation, so he concentrates on being a good roommate.

He knows next to nothing about her and she has no expectations of him and allows him to be his real self.

But as his investigation is coming to an end, something about her pops up and he knows that he cannot leave her alone.

My take:

The book was unputdownable for me, what with the pace of the book. I also felt that Amy was innocent but as the sequences come up, I was doubtful. The book has a little bit of everything spies, jammers, secret tunnels, romance and bugs.

The characters have been developed in a way that I could easily picturise them.

The language is simple and the story has been beautifully plotted.

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.

 

The Perfect Murder by Ruskin Bond

51KG1LCYAtL.jpgI received The Perfect murder and other stories by Ruskin Bond as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa publications and I would like to them for the same. The book is a collection of eight stories by famous authors like Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, WW Jacobs and Edgar Allan Poe. There is one by Ruskin Bond.

The blurb:

In that dim corner of the cafe was planned the perfect murder. Paul had long since realized that the affair was not so easy of accomplishment as he had so airily suggested. For the thing must be done without violence, without clues, without trace.

Is the perfect murder ever possible? Find out, in this collection of stories where plenty of mysterious and strange crimes occur. Featuring some of the best writers of this genre, from Arthur Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins to Edgar Allen Poe and Ruskin Bond, these stories will keep the reader hooked as they try to guess the motives, alibis and identity of the murderer. Baffling and exciting, this book is for those who enjoy pitting brains against some of the most accomplished writers of mystery stories.

My take:

The book is ideal one to be read on a cold winter afternoon with a big mug of coffee.

Thank you Rupa for making us revisit the stories.

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.

Author Interview: Nikita Deshpande

Nikita DeshpaKS3_Fotor2.jpgnde is a creative nomad. She loves making things and has been involved with things like writing copy for the digital medium since she was 17. She studied English Lit at St. Xavier’s College, and filmmaking on scholarship at FX School in Bombay and went on to assist directors like Mrighdeep Singh Lamba (Fukrey) and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Mirzya). Last year, with a small team and a shoestring budget, she wrote and directed this little 30-seconder film called “Served” that won Pepsi’s Crash the IPL contest. She writes screenplay and last wrote for an animated kids series to appear on Disney channel. Last year, she took a month off work to go assist some amazing teachers with taking Shakespeare lessons at Ashoka University. She loves Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire and good art. It Must’ve been something he wrote is her first novel.

Thank you Nikita for agreeing to this interview.

From a writer of copy, screenplay and poetry, to a novelist, how did this transformation happen, please tell us about it?

I’ve loved writing since I was a kid. In college, I’d cope with boring lectures by writing poetry when I should’ve been taking notes. I’m very shameless about chasing something I think I’ll enjoy doing. So it’s a very natural progression for me. When I read great poetry, I’m inspired to write some on my own. Same for when I see a film or read a book. I was writing something in 2013 when my friend Sukanya told me that Hachette had an open call for manuscripts and that I just had to submit. It was a contest. And we both participated in good faith, knowing that the process would help shape our books even if we didn’t win. There was supposed to be one winner. But miraculously, Hachette ended up picking 3 manuscripts out of some 300 that they received. And Sukanya and I were two out of those 3!

So in a way this has been a very fortunate accident, but also I’ve sort of been inviting it into my life since I was very young,

How do you manage to find time out of your busy schedule to write? How long did you take to write this book?

I’ve actually written quite a bit of this book on the sly. When we were editing a film called Fukrey and shooting some of the songs, I’d actually write whole scenes on the back of our film’s shooting breakdowns. I think the best things often happen on stolen time. And I’d steal small bits of time from the films (or whatever I was working on at that point) to make my notes and email little dialogues to myself while traveling. It was like having a hot secret affair in my notebook.

When I really got into stitching the whole novel together, I’d write after work hours. 12am-2am was my magic hour.

I’ve taken nearly three years to write this book. I had super-patient editors and writer friends who gave me great feedback during multiple rewrites and made this a better book.

Is the book based on someone you know or heard of?

Some of the characters are based on people I met at college who absolutely hate trashy novels and are… well, literature snobs. I steal a lot of stories and anecdotes from my friends – 80% of the people named in the acknowledgements have had a story or line stolen from them for this book.

I also researched some of India’s biggest writers and was inspired by their work and marketing strategies.

Your first book has been published by a big publishing house. How does it feel?

It feels wonderful! Hachette has been a big support through the writing process. They’ve shown huge faith in this manuscript and the idea. People from marketing and sales and editorial even helped me with research, plied me with stories and ideas from the world of publishing. And now they’re going all out to put the word out about a book by this first time writer whom nobody has even heard of – it’s a huge show of confidence in the writing.

 What were the challenges faced while writing the book?

This book was actually my respite from the challenges I was facing in life, to be honest! But to answer your question, it was challenging to make sure I did basic justice to how I represented the world of publishing. Especially since I had little personal experience with it back when I first started writing.

Will there be a sequel to the book?

I’ve thought about it quite a bit. But I feel like I need to try some new voices before I can write Jish and Ruta again.

The cover of the book is an instant ‘pick me up’, did you have a say in designing it?

The cover was designed by Haitenlo Semy and illustrated by Pia Hazarika, who are super talented and experienced at this. I was sold at the first sketches itself and really didn’t need to give too many inputs.

You have majored in English lit and so has Amruta, the main protagonist of It Must’ve been something he wrote. How much of Amruta is you and how much of you is Amruta?

There are loads of tiny bits of me in Amruta. But she’s more rigid, more stubborn, more closed in her ways. I’m much more open and flexible. Or so I think 😛

Also unlike Amruta, I have great respect for writers of popular mass market fiction. I think it takes a lot to write novels in this country, and knowing what the audience wants and delivering on that is a huge skill!

 Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

I don’t know if I can call it that but there were many days while writing this book when the words and ideas just didn’t come. But I’d go for a walk, or make silly drawings or watch a movie and try again the next day. That usually works.

What kinds of books do you read? Who is your favourite author and what is your favourite genre? Has any author influenced your writing?

I read all kinds of books. But the honest answer is that I love love stories and I love fantasy. It’s obviously hard to pick one favorite author so I’ll just list all my favorites: JK Rowling, John Green, Anuja Chauhan, Nicole Krauss, Laini Taylor, Brian Vaughan, Matt Fraction, Neil Gaiman, Arundhati Roy, George RR Martin, Caitlin Moran, Liz Gilbert, Rainbow Rowell.

Which book are you currently reading?

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. I love it, it’s a collection of speeches he’s made or essays he’s written on different subjects and it reads like he’s talking right into your head.

What is the next project that you are working on? When is the next book scheduled for release?

I’m putting together notes for the next novel, but it’s still early days.

 Any word of wisdom for aspiring authors?

Write every day, even if it’s a sketch-like description of a tree outside your window or an entry in a journal. Don’t worry about how good it is and don’t fret about structure; just focus on putting one word after another. When you’re done with one “project”, put it aside for a few days/weeks and work on something else before you come back to it – all writing needs time to ferment.

Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts with your readers.

Social Media links o9789350099247f Nikita Deshpande for people to find/follow/like:

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nikitadeshpandeofficial/

twitterhttps://twitter.com/deepblueruin

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deepblueruin/

blog: www.nikitadeshpande.tumblr.com

Tumblr: http://nikitadeshpande.tumblr.com/
Book Buying links for “It Must’ve Something he wrote”:

Amazon: http://bit.do/imbshw

Flipkart: http://bit.ly/2cWyDDu

 

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The Secret of God’s Son by Usha Narayanan

51jkwuHCQtL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI received The Secret of God’s Son by Usha Narayanan as a review copy from the publisher. Thank you, Rubina Ramesh of the Book Club for the same. This book is a sequel to Pradyumna son of Krishna.

The blurb:

The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka. People will forget your name and your Gita!

May the world perish!

May the world perish!’

With this cruel curse on Krishna, Queen Gandhari plunges mankind into the unspeakable evil of the Kali Yuga.

It is up to Pradyumna to try and reverse the dire prediction. He must journey into terrifying realms, confront Yama and Shiva, and to vanquish the Kali demon. And to do so, he must shed all that holds a mortal back–his arrogance, his fears, his baser instincts– and lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery.
Unbeknownst to him, and there is one powerful weapon still, one that could bring victory within his grasp — the secret surrounding his origin. Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm?

In the answer to this question lies the destiny of all humanity!

The Story:

The story starts with the end of the Battle of Kurukshetra, when Bheema and Vikarna are standing in front of each other and Bheema telling Vikarna to side with the Pandavas and Vikarna refusing and the slaying of Vikarna at the hands of Bheema. The mankind has plunged into darkness by the curse of queen Gandhari. Pradyumna goes to Gandhari and tells her to take back her curse.

Pradyumna asks Krishna to bring back Vikarna so that he can take him to his mother so that she can take back his curse. Krishna, as Vishnu tells him to take Shiva’s blessings. In Kailasa, the blue lotus and Shiva find him to be arrogant but he tells them that he is there out of his love for humanity. He brings back Vikarna and wants to ask Gandhari to take back her curse, but does not know when to do it.

Krishna tells him to go on a pilgrimage, he meets various Gods, fights various demons and tries to save his clan and the Gita. All through he has the support of his wife Maya and his sons, friends and family.

Will he succeed? Will he overcome Kali?

Read on as Pradymna, the son of the God, fights against a curse….

My take:

The cover of the book is beautiful and once I started reading the book, I got transported back to the days of the Mahabharata. The writing and descriptions are such that it was very easy for me to picturise the entire scene and the set up. Most of the scenes are set in the battlefield, with vivid descriptions. One example, “Their maces descended like lightening and clanged like thunder in a contest of will and skill”.

I read the interaction between Shiva and Pradyumna five times, it was so well written. While reading the interaction between Pradyumna and Yama, I was waiting with baited breath, as to who would win. The peace time conversations between various members of Krishna’s family show the love that they have for each other. The way the family tries to protect Vajra, Pradyumna’s nephew has been described well. Maya’s support to her husband and his family has been beautifully documented.

The language is simple and the book is well paced. The extensive research done is reflected in the way the story flows and it was very difficult for me to separate the fact from the fiction. Hats off to the author for thinking on a different plane because for most of us, the Kurukshetra war ended at the battlefield.

The characters have been created in such a way that when I was reading about them, the seemed lifelike to me and the pictures of Amar Chitra Kathas that we read as kids came to life. The scene when Pradyumna and members of the Pandava and the Kaurava families see their dead ones has been written with so much of feeling, that it brought tears to my eyes.

What was surprising that even though the author has written the story in such a way that even though the story moves from one setting to another and even from one time zone to another, the writing is such that I did not lose track of the book.

Highly recommended.

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 Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag by Jim Corbett

51k1HC1cQpL._OU31_AC_UL320_SR204,320_I received the book The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag by Jim Corbett as a review copy from the publisher and would like to thank Rizwan Khan of Rupa Publications for the same.

The Blurb:

An exciting narrative of a leopard that spread terror through five hundred square miles of the hills of the United Provinces, The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag also takes a detailed look at life in the Garhwal region of India. Apart from Corbett’s hair-raising pursuit of the leopard for almost a year, the book talks about the superstitions prevalent in the area, the beauty of the landscape, what turns a leopard into a man-eater and many other, often surprising facts and anecdotes, all told in Corbett’s inimitable style.

A worthwhile read for all ages, The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag is also an ode to the people who inhabit the hills, and the resilience with which they face the hardships that assail them.

My take:

What is with Jim Corbett’s books, they take the reader to the jungles with the author and the reader is gets involved in the story and the environs. This book is no different. This book has only one story, the detailed story of the Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag. The story spans eight long years (9th June 1918 to 14th April 1926) and 125 recorded deaths.

The author mentions that this leopard first appeared as a man-eater in 1918 when the flu pandemic hit and corpses were rolled into a stream or a valley. It must be then that the leopard developed a taste for human flesh from the bodies. He talks about the terror endured by the people of the area and how the area would become deserted at sundown. Funnily, no body had seen the leopard possibly, because the leopards hunt at night. And the only evidence they had was the pug-marks left behind. Superstition that said that the leopard was a devil incarnate that had been sent to punish them.

Like every other book he has written, the author has described the nature and his surroundings. The language is simple and the book is a quick read with short chapters. What kept me going was that the author would definitely kill/capture the leopard.

Unputdownable book, which can be read by people of all ages (with a strong heart).

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.