Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Book Review: A Fool's Errand by Vanita Bodke

 


(I thank the author for this review copy. The views expressed here are entirely mine and remain uninfluenced)

Summary:

Revati Kadam's typical middle-class life begins to spiral out of control when she receives a fancy invitation to a fancy party from her one-time boyfriend, Vijender, driving a rift between her and her husband Ritwik. At work, a promotion she never asked for pushes her to rethink her professional relationships and at Vijender's party, as more revelations spill out, Revati realises she is in a fight to save her career and her marriage.

Will Revathi be successful in her quest? Or is it all nothing more than A Fool's Errand?

Review:

With an interesting title and unique premise, ‘A Fool’s Errand’ looked like a book I should not miss. I spent lesser time than usual while thinking about the premise and jumped into the book directly. And from there, I never did put it down until I reached the last page.

That is enough to show how interesting the book was, as it kept me going – turning page after page without checking how much of the story remained. When trying to describe it in a line (or even a paragraph) I could see that the real depth of the story could not be brought out, for it lies in between the lines.

A woman caught between a tough career-altering choice and also a marriage that is not exactly going how she saw it/wanted it to – and how she reacts to the changes around her make up the story. Revati Kadam is the classic protagonist; a reflection of a modern day married career woman who is both driven and insecure – an eclectic mix.

The people who influence her decisions, be it her kindly, driven boss-mentor, the office’s groomed decision maker who fans the insecurity, the husband who differs from her mind’s perception of his nature, and the few other players including colleagues and so on who each have a part to play in her choices.

The best thing about the story is that it does not dawdle in any place. The pace is not quite even, but it clearly does not slacken anywhere. Even if you are a stranger to the industries mentioned there, the generalization and explanation are enough so that you could follow the story clearly. The only drawback I could notice was that you need to remember the company names – and which people belonged where.

The second best thing was the way it progressed, from the lead trying to adapt to a world she wants to surround her, and instead taking the very decisions that would mean a sea of change in her life.

The ending, according to me, left a few things to be desired, including wrapping things up pretty quickly and leaving a few questions hanging – but that was only a need for a closure. But if it were to stay true to its nature, the underlying story is what stands out at the end.

Overall – A Fool’s Errand is a book that must not be missed, for it could be that story that could change the perspective of a lot of woman who will feel this setting is all too familiar. It may just be one question, or this one book, that could make you question what you think you are used to.

Verdict: Interesting narrative, excellent pace; a quick and engaging read.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Book Review: Along Came A Spyder by Apeksha Rao


 (I thank ddsreviews.in and the author for this review copy. All views expressed here are mine, and remain uninfluenced)

If I am asked to define this book in one line, I would say it is a humorous spy thriller that keeps the reader engaged until the last page.

But that line does not do justice to the complete riot that this book actually is!

Samira Joshi was an instant hit for me as a reader, and the charm of the book with her first person account of her experiences. Her rebellious attitude, kind heart, and the crazy family make for interesting elements throughout the book, giving the reader a glimpse into the minds of determined teens with set dreams.

Apeksha Rao has captured the essence of the story outline and has kept the pace engaging throughout. Be it with the parents’ conflicted mind of being RAW agents themselves and wanting their daughter to study medicine (with good reason) or the daughter’s determination to follow their footsteps and become a secret agent herself – the dimensions to the characters are deeply etched and a treat to read.

My favourite moments in the story are when Samira saves her father’s life with quick thinking the second time – which shows her finally winning over her fear, and when the girls join hands to bring down a narcotics ring – which shows the power of having courageous teenage spies.

When reading the book, it is obvious that the author has not treated the subject lightly, and has researched all aspects of being secret agents, including the psychological effects of the associated trauma and the constant clash between bureaucracy and field agents. The story had enough in it to both excite and inform the reader.

The humour in the first person narrative is unmatched – and ranges from sardonic punches to dry witty jokes. The end product is a book that mixes multiple elements seamlessly, ensuring that it has a little of everything to entice every type of reader.

Verdict: Along Came a Spyder – a laughter-inducing, edge-of-the-seat page-turner that you must not miss!

I sure am picking up the other books of the author.

Rating: 4/5

Purchase Links: Amazon

Monday, November 18, 2019

Book Spotlight: The Treasure Syndicate by Jatin Kuberkar



The Treasure Syndicate by Jatin Kuberkar

~ Book Tour ~

18th to 20th November




About the Book:

When Kaliyug resolved to enter Aryavatra, and encountered the lats Pandav, king a curse gave the world it's first 'Nidhi-Palak' or The Guardian of treasure Troves in the form of Lord Kuber's mortal son, Suta. In time, the Guardian bloodline scattered all over the world. Acharya Agnihotri is an astrologer. He searches for hidden treasures, to fulfill his destiny as a 'Nidhi-Palak'. Dr. Mahesh secretly finances missions for Acharya. Kumar is favored by unfathomable luck.. Jabbar is a legendary digger, and Srikanth is just a common man. United, they form the Treasure Syndicate, always a team of five; a motley mix with an uncanny balance. Bound by the elaborate framework of coincidence, destiny, and fate, the mission of the syndicate is not a cakewalk. The danger is real, and the conditions are never favorable. A hunting past awaits Acharya's team, as the Kaliyug threatens to turn the mission upside down.



Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Book Trailer:


About the Author:

For the mortal world, I pretend to be a Software Engineer who works hard (or hardly?) in the hours of a day. I am the guy next door, a hard core Harry Potter fan and a movie buff. I literally ‘live’ every movie, I have strong opinions about its content and I hate it when a movie based on an interesting concept is messed up for the sake of commercial value. I enjoy watching cartoon shows (doremon, dora and Choota Bheem) with my son. I never get bored of listen to the endless chatter of my wife. When I’m not writing, I make toys for children.
But beyond the boundaries of this ‘cholesterol rich’ coil, I am a rider of rapturous thoughts. I am a thinker, a philosopher, a seeker, a story-teller, a writer, a wanderer and every other thing that a thought can be. At times some of these figments fire out of my thoughtful bowl and command me to write, muse, create, recreate, destroy…EXPRESS!
Who Am I? I have been asking this question to myself since 33 years, and I got a different answer always. Sometimes I get confused and think, am I asking the right question to seek the correct answer? or may be that am I missing the  whole fantastic universal drama around me while I am busy finding an answer to an irrelevant question?
Does the answer even matter?

Contact the Author:
Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Book Blitz: The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee


The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee

~ Release Day Blitz ~

12th November


The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee


About the Book:

Vikram Oberoi is found dead in his penthouse. A few hours ago, his involvement in a sex scandal in NexGen Technologies made headlines across the world.

Who is behind the sinister conspiracy that destroyed Vikram Oberoi, the philandering India Head of NexGen? Rivals within and outside the firm? One of his many jilted lovers or the miffed wife? A mysterious conspirator laying out honey traps to sabotage his plans? Or, is it the ghost of a sinful past that continues to haunt the Oberois?

The Sinners is a fast-paced thriller with a shocking twist that unravels against the backdrop of corporate warfare, illicit relationships and ruthless seduction games.




Book Links:

Read an Excerpt:
Agastya picked up the call from a private number after the third ring, taking his eyes off the monitor in front of him.

“Is this Agastya Bakshi?”

“Yes… who’s this?”

“Agastya, my apologies for calling you late. I assure you this won’t take too long. But, we need to talk in private. Where are you right now?” The male voice at the other end of the line sounded authoritative. Agastya could not recall having heard the voice earlier.

Agastya looked around the near-empty office and said, “I am at work, but we can talk. Not too many people around at this time of the night.” His curiosity, by this time, was at its peak.

It was past eleven. It was the third time that week that Agastya had to work through the night. Hired a couple of years back, his work as an engineer in the Network and Systems Division of NexGen kept him rooted in front of computer screens through his days and very often, his nights. Agastya did not have much of a social life. A clumsy desk littered with pizza crumbs, empty cartons and soda cans, and a paunch growing at an alarming rate – that was what his life had been reduced to. But, he did not complain. Agastya loved his job.

“Great! Then let’s talk business. I’m sorry I cannot disclose my name. I belong to a private investigation agency that’s currently looking into the dealings of the company you are working for. There are reports of certain financial irregularities in the business.”

Agastya sat up straight in his chair.

“Okay! But, what - what do you want from me?” Agastya asked tentatively. “I work in Network and Systems. I don’t think you have the right number!”

“Agastya, I know who I am talking to,” there was an almost imperceptible hint of annoyance in the voice of the man at the other end of the line. He went on, “We need access to the e-mail accounts of some of the top guys in your company to check their correspondences. And I’ve been told that you are the right man for the job.”

Agastya took a sip of the cola that had already gone flat.

“Why - why me? You can speak to my Manager in the morning. He -“

The voice at the other end of the line did not let him finish.

“Agastya, this is a covert operation and we are a private agency. We cannot turn up at your office with an order to gain access to these accounts. Also, right now, we’re not sure how many of the big guys are involved and in what ways. For all you know, your boss – the Systems Manager you are referring to - might as well be a party! Let’s not forget that, he has access to all records of transactions. We do not want anyone getting alert and tampering with the data we are looking for. We cannot risk exposure. It’ll take us some time to complete the basic investigation. And I’d really appreciate your cooperation while we are at it. Once we have enough evidence at our disposal, we will make this official.”

Agastya thought for a few minutes. The whole thing could be a hoax, for all it’s worth!

“Look… how do I trust you?”

“I knew you’re going to ask, Agastya. We’ll be completely transparent with you. One of my agents will get in touch with you. You’ll be working with her. I want you to hand over the details to her in person. This is for reasons of safety. And also, to make sure that you put faces to names. We want to win your trust and make sure that you are comfortable working with us because, as I said, this investigation isn’t going to get over in a day. We’ll need to work together for a while.”

“I - I’ll need to think this through. What’s in it for me?”

“We’ll most certainly compensate for your time and your cooperation. And I can assure you that, you will have no reason to complain about the money. Don’t worry about that,” the voice sounded reassuring. Agastya did a quick mental calculation of the remaining EMIs for his new car. Almost at the same time, the full front-page advertisement of the upcoming apartment complex in South Mumbai flashed before his eyes.

The voice continued, “So I gather we’re good to go here, right?”

Agastya mumbled an uncertain “Well…”

The voice did not seem to care.

“Thanks for your co-operation, Agastya. Ruchika will get in touch with you shortly. Have a good rest of the night at work.” The man hung up.

Agastya looked disbelievingly at his phone. Agastya wondered if he should call someone and discuss. The next moment, he decided against it. The man did sound like he meant business. And, in any case, Agastya was the one in charge. He was the one who had access to the data the agency was asking for. He was willing to give it a shot if the money was good. If, at any point in time, he had any reason to doubt the authenticity of the agency, he could always step back. Maybe even report the guy to appropriate authorities. He could always make an honest confession.

He put the phone down on his desk and went back to monitoring the data backup jobs. In a couple of minutes, his phone buzzed.

“Hey, this is Ruchika” – said the Whatsapp message.

About the Author:
Sourabh is the author of two psychological thriller novels The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight (Readomania) and  In the Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller (Srishti Publishers and Distributors); Romance Shorts, a collection of dark-romance short stories; a 2-part series Beyond 22 Yards (Srishti Publishers and Distributors) on stories of Love and Crime from the world of cricket and a 7-part series of short stories titled It’s All About Love (Srishti Publishers and Distributors). The titles in the series are The Gift, The Cookery Show and a Love Story, A Special Day, Masks, An Autumn Turmoil, The Hunt, The Death Wish.

A keen observer of human behaviour and cultural diversities, Sourabh loves travelling and has travelled widely across five continents. An avid reader of fiction, Sourabh is equally passionate about photography, movies and music.

Connect with the Author:


Giveaway:
A Paperback Copy of The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee.
Open till 25th November, 2019
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Interview with Kavya Janani, author of With Love, Forever


Hi Kavya, glad to have you here on Readers Muse. And let me begin with congratulations on the success of With Love, Forever. I have a few questions here to see the woman behind the words, and let us begin!

  1. Tell us a few words about your book.
I conceptualized the idea of this book in 2011. Due to time constraints, I could finish it only in 2015. I went through a tough phase after that. It took me another four years to finally publish it. With the entry of right people in my life, I could publish it without any hassles. I may write other books, but this one would always stay close to my heart.
  1. You have been published in the four major formats of writing: you have a novel, novella and short story collection to your credit. You also dabble with poetry. How did it all begin?
I wrote my first short story - The Ghost Sticker - when I was just eight. It was inspired by many ghost stories which I had read in magazines like Tinkle, Champak, and Children's Digest. After that, I started writing a story called The Suspense Behind The Trees, inspired from Enid Blyton's books. But I had to abandon it halfway, since I didn't know how to take the story forward. The same happened with another story of mine, named Jack and the Beach Scene.

In 2010, I started writing a novel named 13 Days Later, but I had to shelve it due to no proper plotting. Then, I began writing With Love, Forever in 2011 and there was no looking back. Meanwhile, I wrote many short stories and published them online. Later, I compiled them into a collection and published via KDP. I started dabbling in poetry only in 2016. Though I am not that good at it, I still use it as a therapy to overcome writer's block.
  1. Which of these format of books are your favourite, to read and to write?
I prefer to read all these formats, but when it comes to writing, short stories are my favourite. It is a challenging format, yet I feel at ease, whenever I pen a short story.
  1. How do you approach writing? Is there anything specific you do?
I don't follow the mantra of writing daily. Time is really scarce for me. So, I write whenever I find time. This means, I even write on my phone. I don't wait till I return home and have access to my laptop. I write on the go. I write while I wait in queues. I write even in the loo!
  1. Which works best: plotting or writing at a flow?
I wrote With Love, Forever at a flow, but I'd rather prefer plotting before beginning any project. When one has a clear chapterwise outline, they'd know what they want to write. It also helps when they have writer's block and they don't know how to take the story forward. I prepared a chapterwise outline for my late work-in-progress, which I lost to the realms of technology. But I can rewrite it from scratch, since I still have the outline with me. So, yeah, plotting wins a thumbs up.
  1. Who are your writing inspirations?
My earliest writing inspiration was Enid Blyton. I grew up reading her Secret Seven and Famous Five series. Also, I am a staunch Agatha Christie fan. Though I don't write crime fiction, I take inspiration from her writing style. My current inspiration is J.K.Rowling. I read the Harry Potter series only in 2016. Thanks to you, Dhivya. Now, I am reading the series for the third time from a writer's POV and learning many things from Rowling's writing style.
  1. What are some compliments that you got for your writing and now hold close to heart?
One of the compliments from my best friend, Madhan, is really close to my heart. He was one of the first readers of the first draft of With Love, Forever. After reading the story, he said he hadn't read such a beautiful story in a long while. He also added that he'd cherish this book forever. Also, I treasure your appreciation which you showered on my book, while we met. You had noticed my reactions. So, you know how precious is that appreciation to me. I have saved many screenshots of compliments from my writer buddies. I go back to them, whenever I feel uninspired.
  1. Inspiring or inspirational writing: which is your favourite?
I've never been a fan of inspirational writing. I'd prefer writing that inspires me. Even a romance or a mystery novel can be inspiring in many ways. Certain stories have inspired me to create something of my own.
  1. Your book exhibits your music tastes. Anything specific you would want to say for our readers about that?
Music has always played an important part in my writing life. You can find many A.R.Rahman’s songs referred in With Love, Forever. His music influenced me a lot, when I penned the story. His songs influence my daily life, too. I have one A.R.Rahman song associated with every mood of mine. I also write listicles in my blog for his songs. And, you can find at least one of the characters in all my books to be a music aficionado.
  1. Do you have any future projects in line?
I have a general outline for two full-fledged novels, both having time-travel as its central theme. But I am planning to take a break of two years, at least, and hone my writing skills. I am also having lots of books in my TBR pile. So, let me do some reading!

Flash Clap:

Tell me the top 3 that come to your mind when you think of:

Best Indian authors:
Ruskin Bond
Arundhati Roy
Vikram Seth
Favourite authors from UK:
Agatha Christie
J.K.Rowling
Enid Blyton
Books that always grace your bookshelf
Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries
Cecelia Ahern’s light-hearted reads
Books about books, bookshops, and booksellers
Books that you want to own
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
All works of Haruki Murakami
Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
Three authors you buy without question
Agatha Christie
Cecelia Ahern
Dan Brown
Languages you want to learn
French
German
Spanish
Places you want to go
Edinburgh, Scotland
Santorini, Greece
Orlando, Florida