Saturday, August 13, 2016

Review-Vikram Rana by Sharmishtha Shenoy



Vikram Rana Murder Mysteries set in Hyderabad…… 

The Mysterious Affair of the Lohia Mansion 

When the glamourous socialite Richa Lohia is poisoned in her mansion in Jubilee Hills, her brother-in-law hires his mate, ex-cop Vikram Rana, to solve this murder. This is Vikram’s first case and he, along with Inspector Gopi Reddy, must solve the case even if they face opposition from the richest and powerful family in Hyderabad, who would stop at nothing to defend themselves. 

The Sonia Sinha Case 

When property developer Krishna Dhavala is stabbed to death in Necklace Road, everyone suspects Mrs. Dhavala to be the murderer of her alcoholic and abusive husband. But is that really the case? Vikram Rana and Inspector Reddy have a tough time uncovering the murderer and Vikram himself almost dies trying to solve this case. Experience the mystery along with the duo as they fight their way through the maze of lies, deceit and greed. 

Read an excerpt...

From "The Mysterious Affair of the Lohia Mansion"
"Kinshuk sprang out of bed and followed his uncle, Rohan along the passage to his mother Richa’s bedroom.
Rohan’s wife, Kiara joined them along with Richa’s personal maid Lakshmi and two more servants. Everyone seemed to be in a state of awestricken fear.
Kinshuk turned to his uncle, ‘What should we do? Father is not here.’
Never had Kinshuk’s weak nature been more apparent, Rohan thought in distaste. Rohan rattled the handle of his sister-in-law Richa’s door violently, but with no effect. The whole household was aroused by now. The most alarming sounds were audible from the interior of the locked bedroom. Clearly something must be done."
What could have been going on the room? What triggered it?
Mrs Lohia was lying in her bed having seizures. In her agony she must have overturned the bedside table. As they entered, her limbs relaxed and she fell back on her pillow.
"I cannot see properly" she complained. Rohan and Kinshuk looked at each other helplessly. A strangled cry from the bed startled them. A fresh bout of pain had seized Richa. The seizures were terrible to behold. At that moment dr Agnihotri pushed his way into the room authoritatively. At the same instant, Richa cried "Rohan.... Rohan" then she fell back on the pillows motionless. 
Why was Richa killed? Why did she take Rohan's name?
From the Sonia Sinha case:
"He reached the meeting place at 8 pm sharp. The headlights of his car revealed a woman in a burqa waiting by the roadside. She waved her hand. Krishna stopped the car and she got in. As she removed her veil, Krishna started in surprise. At the same time another man got into the back of his car. Confused, Krishna looked at the man. Then his eyes widened in fear."
Whom did Krishna see? Who was the woman in burqa?

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About the author

Sharmishtha Shenoy

Sharmishtha Shenoy loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she herself likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series. She was born in Calcutta and has done her post-graduation from University of Reading, Great Britain. She lives in Hyderabad.

My honest review

            Vikram Rana Investigates is a novella of two stories in which the main lead is played by Vikram Rana who is an ex-cop and has started a detective agency and these are two of his cases. .

            If you like to read crime, suspense and mystery, this is one book you must read, as it has all the above three with a touch of humor.

            The first story The Mysterious Affair Of Lohia Mansion starts with a bang; not a gunshot bang but like the way a suspense movie starts with its first scene. The opening chapter itself holds the reader’s attention in captive. The story begins with the murder of Richa Lohia, who is found poisoned in her spacious bungalow in Jubilee hills.  

            The manner in which the author has created the web of suspense is commendable. Too many characters are introduced, each having a motive of their own in murdering Richa, but none of characters look out of place or have no role to play.

            Vikram and his wife Veena’s banter add a humorous flavor to the suspense story, there by lightening the mood. Vikram’s manner of investigating and reaching for conclusions is commendable.

             The pace of this story is fast and holds on reader’s attention, but found the climax too abrupt. Wished the ending was as suspenseful as the whole story was, but otherwise loved this story.

            The Sonia Sinha Case is the second story in the book. This story is about the murder mystery of Krishna Dhavala, who is found murdered inside his car. He is a land developer and is hated by many for many reasons. In this story too there are too many characters, too many suspects who have their own intentions for conducting the deed.

This story too starts with a bang but after couple of chapters loses it steam. Though an interesting story and after reading first story one wish for more suspense, more drama, and more mystery in this one.

            My take on this book is, fast paced, readable if you ignore some of the editing mistakes, and also if you want your brain cells to work while you read the story trying to guess who the main culprit is.

            Since Sharmishtha is from Hyderabad loved the way author has used the local hangouts and places in the story. Also depicting Vikram and Inspector Reddy as foodies brings a smile on a foodie reader’s face like me.

            In all, giving minor errors a miss, this book is definitely worth a read, which can be finished in one sitting. 

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Disclaimer : I received a free copy of this book from the author in return of my honest review

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review-Shamsuddin's Grave by Paromita Goswami



Latika's wrecked personal front leaves her completely shattered. So when her ailing father reveals his desire to go back home, she doesn't think twice and moves to her hometown. She joins an NGO and comes across a teenager rape victim. Much against her TL, Debjyoti's wish she sets out to trace the girl with Shamsuddin's help. Will she succeed or end up in big trouble?

Shamsuddin, a daily labourer, somehow manages to thrive in the city. Meanwhile, flood devastates his house in the village. His family takes refuge in a relative's place where his wife has a tough time resisting to the advances of her brother-in-law. Can Shamsuddin arrange for an accommodation before it is too late? 

Set in Guwahati amid the backdrop of flood and ethnic turmoil, "Shamsuddin's Grave", is the story of migration towards big cities for a better life.

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Read an excerpt

It was 2.00 a.m. in the morning and Kalapahar woke up to the cries of people. People didn’t know what was going on. There was no electricity and all they heard were the cries of women, children and men for help. Stampede of people running across the roads towards the uphill area shouting for help. 
 Latika too woke up hearing the cries. She switched on her night lamp but there was no electricity. She stepped down from her bed and landed into knee deep water soaking her pyjamas. Terrified, she reached for the torch on the night table and switched it on. She was traumatized to find her room flooded. The water level almost reached her bed wetting the mattress. She didn’t waste time and waded through the water to check on her father’s room. It was similar situation there too, with the only difference that the old man was sound asleep due to medication. She woke him up and went to check the other rooms. 
It was similar sight all around. Dining chairs, gas cylinder, utensils, tables everything floating across the rooms. She turned off all the switches and whatever valuables she could lay her hand upon, she collected in a bag. Then she pulled a chair on top of her father’s bed and made the old man sit on it with the bag. She checked the water level outside through the glass window with the hope of evacuating the house. But it was worse and riskier to wander out with an old man in flood water at night. She knew she could not make it. 
Help was unreachable as of now, as everyone was fending for themselves. She heard the neighbors crying for help but no one listened. Even the cell phone network was jammed. She knew she could not do anything but wait. At last she pulled a chair on the bed and sat down beside her father clenching his hands in hers. Both prayed eagerly for all this to be over. 

My Review :

               Shamsuddin’s Grave – the story of homeless; the title itself speaks of volumes.

               As the title suggests the story is of Shamsuddin’s struggle for existence, from birth till death and even after death. But the story is not only of Shamsuddin but also of Latika and partly of Snehlata, both of whom play a major role in Shamsuddin’s life.

               Shamsuddin is a poor farmer born in a village near Guwahati. Frequent floods, lack of facilities, illiteracy and proper documents all makes it difficult for Shamsuddin to meet two ends. After having facing poverty, he decides to come to city to earn money. Does he succeed in settling in life?

            “ Farishte (Angels) come to take the good souls to “Jannat” (Heaven) while “Shaitaan” (demons) comes to take the bad souls to “Jahannum”(Hell)”.

               Latika, having gone through personal trauma of broken marriage, tries to finds solace by working for an NGO. Snehlata, in whose barn Shamsuddin takes refuge for 10 years, defies all norms of society and allows a Muslim man inside a Hindu household. Shamsuddin considers these two women as his God send angels, who take care of him, even when his family refused to acknowledge his existence, even when he is on his death bed.

          “A sweet dream that evoked the feeling of need in her, need of companionship, feeling of being in love,  feeling of longingness. She only had a vague memory of opening the door for someone.”

               The story mainly depicts the hardships a Muslim faces in India, where they are branded as illegal immigrants or Bangladeshi, inspite of the fact that they have been staying in India since generations.  Lack of education, proper documents, frequent floods, political apathy all make matters worse for such people, who come and get vanquished but no one notices or cares about them except during elections.

               Language used is simple and easy to understand, loved the cover picture which is apt for the novel. Paromita having stayed in North east, have nicely etched the lives, their difficulties, the places etc, taking into considerations all the details.

               Along with other quotes these two quotes say a lot…

 “A place of his own in this big city. No matter if it was his own grave.”

Why is it so hard to find peace even after death in these big cities?

Shamsuddin’s Grave is Paromita’s debut novel. But still she has done a good work. Paromita has done a good job by bringing forth all the problems a labourer faces. The turmoil Shamsuddin faces, throughout his life journey and even after his death is heart touching. Not only Shamsuddin but Latika and Snehalata’s life, their struggles and all are well depicted.

If you want to do some serious, soul searching reading Shamsuddin’s Grave is one. 

About the author

Paromita Goswami

A nomad at heart and a rebel by choice is the best way to describe her. Paromita Goswami had always believed in making her own path. She says life is full of stories that are waiting to be told. 

Author of Shamsuddin’s Grave, published in 2015, an offbeat social drama based on critical social issue, Paromita Goswami loves to write about life and relationships. She has written many short stories for online magazines. Her upcoming works are, Grow Up Messy, is a humorous collection of short stories of a mischievous five year old girl. The book is a ride down the childhood days.  It was part of blogging challenge, #atozchallenge2016 and second is The Jungle Series, a collection of short stories #paranormal, based on the jungles of Chhattisgarh.

Besides writing she is also the founder of Raipur Little Minds Book Reading Club that has a major objective of developing the book reading habit in children. She is also the founder of Book Studios that makes book trailer, book covers and banners. Making travel documentary is her other passion.

Paromita is married and lives in Raipur with her family including her pet cat and dogs.  She loves to connect with her readers and can be easily traced on all social media sites.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Friends, friendship day and pictures

Pictures are not just images…but they are reminders of the good time we had.

They are the windows which when opened bring in the memories… memories bring in happiness…happiness brings in smile and smile is that crooked line which sets everything straight.

Memories not only brings in happy moments but also some incidents which with passage of time collects dust and remains forgotten in some corner of our mind.

School friends are those friends whom we make when we don’t realize what’s right and what’s wrong. They are our first friends. But as we grow, these bonds too grow along with us. These relationships mature as we age. I am lucky to have my school friends who bring out the best of me… my smile, my courage, my laughter…they are my strength.

For me, each day is a friendship day with them. Even if we are spread all across the globe, we are in touch through social media and we keep finding excuses to meet and hang out inspite of everyone’s hectic schedule and life.

To our friendship….some memorable pics and a video. 

Review-My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari





Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before You, My Last Love Story is a heartbreaking and poignant tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong. 

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me. 

Love is meant to heal wounds. 
Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin. 
Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul. 

I love my husband, and he loves me. 
But Nirvaan is dying. 
I love my husband. I want to make him happy. 
But he is asking for the impossible. 

I don’t want a baby. 
I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan. 

I don’t want another chance at another love story. 

Weepers, keep tissues handy.

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My Review

           My Last Love Story is story of Simeen aka Simi. The story is about relationship, love, friendship, trust and a whole lot of human emotions.

            After the fabulous mythological treat Kali, The Soul Warrior, Falguni Kothari tries her hand in romance.

            The story revolves around “The Awesome Threesome” as they are popularly known; Simeen aka Simi, her husband Nirvaan and their childhood buddy Zayaan aka Zai.

             The story covers their journey of life from teenage till present.

            Simi has a difficult teenage, as she lost her parents at a very young age. She has two elder brothers Surin and Sarvar, who are her rock solid support since their parent’s untimely demise till present situation. Her husband Nirvaan, suffers from tumor in brain and wants his wife not to be left lonely after he is gone so is persistent on Simi trying to get pregnant through IVF. Zai is their childhood buddy and with who Simi was in love with, is there through thick and thin to lend his support and help to his childhood love and friend.

I, Simeen Desai—a plain-Jane rebel, the mad Parsi chick—was living in a ménage with two gorgeous men, the twin knights of my life.

            The whole story is described through Simi’s point of view. Initially the pace is slow, and you don’t instantly connect with the story. But as you progress, its catches pace, as flash backs reveal some of incidents which happened with Simi, and how it is effecting her in present, etc. As slowly the past is revealed, bit by bit, the curiosity increases because all is not revealed in one go. 

            What surprised me was Nirvaan handing over decision making authority to Zai and not to Simi. Though Zai is his childhood buddy but still once upon a time Zai and Simi were in love. Does that mean in all these years he knew that Simi is not yet over Zai or she still loves him? Doesn’t the thought that Zai is a competitor or rival crosses Nirvaan’s mind?

            Nirvaan is shown as bit of a dominating though loving and caring husband, especially when it comes to IVF treatment. He is not ready to take a ‘No’ from Simi, who is mentally not prepared for motherhood, which is completely understandable, given her present mental stress.

            I wish Zai’s character would have been shown with more power, more verbal, who voices his opinion and/or displeasure. He is bit silent, mute spectator be it either in front of his mother or in front of Nirvaan.

            In short My Last Love Story is an emotional journey with many twists and turns of Simi’s life. Loved the way Falguni has revealed her past and created and maintained the curiosity for the readers. 

About the author

Falguni Kothari is a New York-based hybrid author, and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful and cultural threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media and loves to connect with readers.

My Last Love Story is her fourth novel.

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