The Queens of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju

Queens of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju (Hastinapur, #3)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Mythology
Imprint: Harper Collins, India
ISBN: 9789352773138

The Queens of Hastinapur is third in the Hastinapur series. First two were Winds of Hastinapur and Rise of Hastinapur. Hastinapur series is a retelling of Mahabharath. This retelling shows how humane and materialistic the characters of the epic saga are compared to their depictions in the original and other versions.

Gandhari is striving to secure her chance to be the queen and the future queen-mother of Hastinapur. Pritha is striving to secure her place in the heart of her husband, the king of Hastinapur, Pandu, who has taken Madri as his second wife. The gods on Mount Meru are striving to resist the flourishing of Hastinapur to prevent the great empire, under the aegis of Devavrata, invading their abode on the holy mountain. Devaki is striving to keep her new-born alive so that he can grow up to kill his uncle Kamsa. King Kamsa is striving to keep his kingdom Mathura safe by coming into an alliance with King Jarasandha. The gods on Mount Meru have to now strive to keep themselves safe from the strong alliance of Kamsa and Jarasandha because Kamsa will definitely try to avenge the theft of the black stone magic by the gods from his kingdom. Jahnavi, Ganga’s apprentice, sent by the gods to Mathura, along with Kubera and Nishantha, gets caught by Kamsa and they all strive to get out out of the prison. What happens to all these women who are striving in this game of power? What happens to the men whose lives are entangled with the lives of these women? Ganga continues to tell you the epic story of Mahabharath.

Since the Queens of Hastinapur is third in the Hastinapur series, you need to read the first two books too to understand what is happening. After watching B R Chopra’s Mahabharath on television, this fresh retelling that shows each character in a different angle is welcoming. But, compared to the first two books, the Queens of Hastinapur’s narration seems pale, especially the part of Jahnavi, Kubera and Nishantha. Rest of the book’s narration is tolerable.

Hoping that the birth and upbringing of Krishna will not make women suffer more, hoping that the fourth book in the Hastinapur series will have a better narration than the third one, do give the Queens of Hastinapur a read.

Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat

Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Imprint: Readomania
ISBN: 9789385854200

Birds of Prey is a debut novel of Archana Sarat, a chartered accountant turned writer. She is also a poetess. Her works have appeared in various magazines and anthologies.

Anton Pinto is a police officer turned tour guide in Goa. His colleague and friend, Rajesh, comes seeking his help in a case of disappearing men. Anton, who had quit his risky job for the sake of his wife and daughter, because he almost died in his last case, reluctantly agrees to help his friend and goes to Mumbai where the new case is filed. All three men, who have disappeared so far, have gone missing in the same way by following an old limping lady. Who the lady is? Nobody knows. When the dead bodies of these three men turn up in a forest area in a sack, case intensifies. At the same time another man goes missing in the same way. Anton goes looking for a common link between all these men. That’s when he comes across Swarna whose peculiar behaviour arouses his curiosity. But is Swarna the culprit or someone else? Why are men missing in the same way? What is the common link between all these men? Will Anton succeed in stopping more men from going missing? You have to read Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat to get your answers.

Apart from few editorial mistakes, Birds of Prey is an outstanding crime thriller by an Indian author. Archana Sarat couldn’t have gotten any better debut than this. The narration is superb. Superb is an understatement. Archana’s vivid narration incites such emotions that sometimes you feel nauseated and sometimes high on adrenaline. I had to go to work, so took about three days to finish this book. But my boyfriend couldn’t resist finishing the book, so took a day off and finished reading Birds of Prey in a day. This book is a definite recommendation. Don’t forget to read it as soon as possible.

The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund

The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy.
Imprint: Readomania
ISBN: 9789385854156

The Lively Library & Unlikely Romance is an appreciable debut novella by Niranjan Navalgund, an author and a chess player from India.

Nayan, an arbiter in the chess tournaments, is now looking after a library that his father has left behind. It was Nayan’s father’s last wish to reopen the library which was very special for him. Why was it special for his father? Nayan doesn’t know. In absence of humans in the immediate surroundings, the books of the library come to life. They have their own world in which they are equipped with all the counterparts of human world. These books fall in love and get married too. Like humans, they too face curses. And they have their own gods too. Pakshi and Helmine are the cursed divine entities of this lively library. While the books are going about their day-to-day lives, they get to know of an upcoming danger. What is that danger? How did they get to know about it? What will they do to protect themselves from this unknown danger? Read the Lively Library & Unlikely Romance to decode the codes of this book world.

For a novella, The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance does good with the brief descriptions and scenes. But as a reader, I felt that the concept of this book, though beautiful, got wasted without the elaboration into grandeur. This concept honestly had such potential. A grand fantasy world got shrunk to a tiny segment. The author could have built on each chapter with more details to cater to the imagination of the readers. I am disheartened by the shortness of this life of the lively library. The calculations in between the narration distracts the flow. And the curses could have been explained in detail too. It is such a loss to the readers! Nevertheless, whatever is narrated is enough to give you a peek into the lively library as the book also has illustrations to aid to your imagination.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Zombie romance, Classic retelling
Imprint: Quirk Classics
ISBN: 1594743347

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith is a classic retelling, in a lesser unknow subgenre zombie romance, of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The author has written several books in other lesser known genres. Another of his famous work is Abraham Lincoln: The Vampire Slayer. You can read our reviews of Pride and Prejudice’s graphic novel and illustrated book by clicking on the options.

Seth Grahame-Smith is a smart boy. He didn’t have to write much. All he had to do was include ninja lifestyle descriptions, zombies and a few fights here and there without changing the Goddess Jane Austen’s original. Sorry, Seth actually kills Charlotte Lucas in his version. How and when? It is for you to find out by reading this book.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been personally gratifying at so many levels to a Pride and Prejudice fan like me. I have three instances where I kind of appreciated Seth for his version. First, there is an instance when Mr. Bennet actually asks Mrs. Bennet to shut up, which I had been wondering why it didn’t happen since the time I first read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Anyway, if Mrs. Bennet shuts up, how will the show go on? So, she gets to be herself. Second, Elizabeth kicks Darcy’s ass for separating Jane and Bingley, and for insulting her family while he professes his love for her during her stay at Mr. Collins and Charlotte’s house. The usually slight rudeness in the original had not gone down well with me. Thirs, Darcy kicking some zombie-asses on the beautiful grounds of Pemberley to help Elizabeth when she single-handedly tries to fight a herd of zombies without any ninja weapon. What an entry to the scene! Absolutely heroic and saving-damsel-in distress kind. Well, it is satiating enough.

Apart from the minor inclusions and modifications to the storyline, rest is same as the original version. Nobody would read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies until they have read the original. So, if the original is good or bad, then the same applies to this version as well. You won’t lose anything by giving this a read.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Illustrated by Alice Pattullo)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Illustrated by Alice Pattullo)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Classic, Drama, Illustrated version
ISBN: 978163159076
Imprint: Rockport Publishers, USA.

To read about Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and its graphic novel version, click here. To get a review of the illustrated version by Alice Pattullo with Rockport Publishers, read on.

To misinterpret a classic is one thing and to ruin the enjoyment of a classic is another. And Rockport Publishers have succeeded in ruining the pleasure of reading this illustrated version of theirs by gaudy illustrations by Alice Pattullo and horrible editing and spelling mistakes. Did the publishers not have an in-house editor or could they not hire one? Here is a list, but non exhaustive, of mistakes that can easily be found in the book:

  • Keep keep instead of keep
  • Me instead of my
  • Combinationa
  • Coining instead of coming
  • Ouly instead of only

Don’t waste your money on this illustrated version of Pride and Prejudice. The illustrations will haunt you. Not worth feeling bad about a classic as great as this work by Jane Austen.

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Dystopian fiction

Anthem is another offering from Alice Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum a.k.a Ayn Rand, the same author who gave us The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Readers who like, or at least read 1984 by George Orwell, can instantly relate to Anthem.

Anthem is set in the world of far future, where men and women don’t have a name but are designated a pseudo-right with a number as their names, where people don’t have a separate house for themselves and live in huge dormitories, where in the name of equality and justice, humans have denied themselves the right to live the way they want to. Equality 7-2521 is a promising young man who deserves and is talented but is given the work of a street sweeper during the distribution of youth to different employment. He chances upon an undiscovered underground place from the Unmentionable Times i.e., our current time. During the great shift, people completely abandoned all the technology, including electricity, and are relearning and rediscovering everything from the scratch. Equality 7-2521 falls in love with Liberty 5-3000, a beautiful maiden assigned to work in the farms. In this world, it is forbidden to fall in love with anyone because it is against the rules to prefer one person more than others in the world of equality. Both Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000 know they love each other but are unable to express their feelings as it is forbidden to use words ‘I’ and ‘love’, and talk about feelings. Quality 7-2521 finds about electricity from the undiscovered underground place and goes out to share the knowledge with the designated scholars. After listening to him, the designated scholars demand his arrest and death because a designated street sweeper thinks he is superior to the designated scholars. What does he do now? If he is arrested and killed, what happens to Liberty 5-3000? Hang in there! You can find out by reading Anthem by Ayn Rand.

While reading Anthem, initially it is difficult to understand whether Equality 7-2521 is only one person or a group of people. That is the trick of Ayn Rand’s narration. That narration of hers helps to make the reader understand the plight of humans in this dystopian world. It is difficult to find any bad point about Anthem even just to mention here.

If 1984 by George Orwell was not depressing enough for you and if it did not scare you enough to worry about the world you will leave for your future generations, do read Anthem by Ayn Rand. It will make you cry yourself sleep.

Secrets of Zynpagua - Search of Soulmates by Ilika Ranjan

Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of Soulmates by Ilika Ranjan (Secrets of Zynpagua #2)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction.
Imprint: Partridge India
ISBN: 9781482886672

Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of Soulmates is the second book in the Secrets of Zynpagua series by Ilika Ranjan. The first book, Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess, garnered great reviews and the third book, Secrets of Zynpagua: Birth of Mystery Child, is out now and is up for grabs. Ilika Ranjan is not only a children’s book author. Her first book was a fiction about corporate life called “Puppet on the Fast Track.”

Search of Soulmates starts with Anika, the princess of Zynpagua, getting a premonition that Zynpagua is going to be under a threat again soon. Her premonition turns true when Drudan, the evil scientist, returns with the support of magic of a mermaid to rule of Zynpagua and also rule over the Earth. The demon planets help the evil to reduce the goodness blessed by the good planets and everything falls into place for Drudan and his mermaid. But Anika, with the equipped with the teachings of Venus, fights Drudan, mermaid and their army of evil people and disgusting sea worms, with the support of her mother Sussaina, brother Vivian, Lady Carol – the queen of kingdom of clouds, her grandson Leo, a snake Romeo and a tortoise Mootu along with a flock of magical rainbow birds and peregrine falcons. Femina, who was turned into stone, comes back to life thanks to Anika’s uncle Frederick. To know how an eleven year old princess Anika fights evil, how Femina comes to life and whether they win or lose, read Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of Soulmates.

Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of Soulmates is a good sequel to the first book, but needs heavy editing to be done. Apart from that, the story is good enough to cater to children’s imagination. It is a good progress in the Indian scenario for children’s books. It is also an attempt to have both religion and science in one place. Children will definitely enjoy this second book in the series.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Chick lit, Romance, Drama.
Imprint: St. Martin’s Griffin, New York.
ISBN: 978-0-312-32119-2

Though Emily Giffin has written many novels, her more famous work is Something Borrowed. It was not only a bestseller, but all was made into a major movie with minor changes to the storyline and characters.

Rachel has turned thirty and is still single contrary to her dreams and hopes of being settled by this age with someone who loves her and whom she loves in return. Her best friend Darcy is getting married in a few months. The fiancé is Rachel’s classmate and friend Dexter. In inebriated state and in absence of Darcy, Dexter and Rachel have sex and try to forget it later only to find out that they both like each other. Rachel is surprised to find out Dexter has always liked her but was discouraged by her own indifferent and casual behaviour towards him. Now that they both know the truth and love each other, the only obstacle in the path is Darcy who wants everything her way and likes to put up a show for everything everywhere. Dexter hinders from breaking the engagement but also doesn’t leave Rachel to be on her own. On consultation and persuasion of her good friends Hillary and Ethan, Rachel decides to leave Dexter to be his coward self and goes to meet Ethan in London as she is also fed up of being Darcy’s sidekick since childhood. What does Dexter do now? Does Rachel’s life change in London? Does Darcy turn out to be a better person or stay the shallow ever? Read the book to catch up on the lives of these friends.

Something Borrowed dwells on the ethics of friendship, moral dilemma and seeking happiness for self. It does feel dragged at places but it can be justified as it helps in showing the reader the mindset of Rachel. Since the story is both in book and movie forms, the comparison can be made. There are minor changes in the movie compared to the book. For example, in the book Darcy is dark haired and is wearing a red dress for Rachel’s birthday party, but in the movie she is blonde and is wearing a white dress. In the movie, the characters Hillary and Ethan are merged in one character that is Ethan. In the book Ethan is already in London as the story begins, but in the movie he moves to London later. Nevertheless, both book and movie are good. But for the first time, being a reader, I felt the movie was better than the book. Go for either of the forms of storytelling. You will like Something Borrowed.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Review by Chandrika

Agatha Christie is well known for her thrillers and detective works, and this one from her is the top selling mystery novel ever. A very interesting part of the story is that the plot is based on a children rhyme “10 little soldier boys”. The rhyme is contained in the novel before the story begins, and narrates how one by one everyone dies, for different reasons, and how less and less remained alive, and then finally, there were none (and thus the title).

The story is about how 13 people are lured for a holiday cum part time job for a short time to a remote island which is about a mile off coast, and how one by one they end up losing their lives in a very mysterious way. When the killings start, the remaining ones will break their head and do everything they can to figure out what’s going on. With no one to trust, since they were unknown to each other, all of them are scared and anxious of what happens next and who dies next. As the days go by, leaving them less and less in number, it makes the reader also to put some detective thoughts and think who is behind all these murders.

The story grips your attention throughout the book and it’s definitely worth a read if you are looking for a book to stick on to for a few days, because you would not want to keep it down. The only not-so-perfect thing I felt about this novel is that the mystery is revealed at the end in about just 3 pages. For all the 330+ pages of ‘what happens next’ and ‘who’s behind this’, you might not like the fact that the suspense is revealed in just few paragraphs and you will be left disappointed that it ended so soon. Anyway, I don’t even think there is any better way to do it, for that’s the way the story is woven.

Ruth Fielding at the War Front by Alice B Emerson

Ruth Fielding at the War Front by Alice B Emerson

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Historical fiction

Ruth Fielding series was published in the USA during World War I. There are thirty books in the series and Ruth Fielding at the War Front is the fourteenth in a row. Three authors wrote different books in the series with the pseudonym Alice B Emerson. As a matter of fact, Ruth Fielding at the War Front was written by W Bert Foster.

Ruth Fielding is posted to the same French war front as her boyfriend Tom Cameron. After reaching there, she enquires around about him but gets rumours that he went on the other side to help Germans, but doesn’t believe them. Her friend introduces her to Countess Marchand who takes an instant liking becomes mutual. But Ruth Fielding doesn’t like the countess second son Major Henri Marchand as she feels she doesn’t do enough for the alliance against Germany. She also hears the rumours that the Countess’s first son Count Allaire Marchand is Missing in Action. If this is the scenario of her social life outside the hospital, inside the hospital premises, she observes a mad man called Nicko coming in several times to distribute chocolates. His physical appearances resembles that of Major Henri Marchand and Ruth Fielding becomes further suspicious about him when Nicko is seen talking to the wounded German soldier being treated on the French side. Amidst all these happenings, there are rumours from the villagers saying they are seeing a ghost. What does Ruth Fielding do now? Where is Tom Cameron? Is the ghost real? Can she trust Major Henri Marchand just like she trusts the Countess? What happened to Count Allaire Marchand? Who is Nicko? Read Ruth Fielding at the War Front to know what happened next.

Though Ruth Fielding at the War Front is in the middle of the series, the readers can read it like a stand-alone book as the characters are newly introduced through the story. But considering the storyline and the complexities, there are not many hurdles in Ruth’s path. Except few misunderstandings, everything’s a smooth sail. At least, the struggle is not shown much in the story.

Nevertheless, Ruth Fielding at the War Front makes a great read for kids and a one-time good read for young adults.