Revelations of an Imperfect Life by Sankhya Samhita | Book Review

One of my favourite quotes I learnt growing up, is that Home isn’t a place; it’s a feeling. It is the people who you live with, amidst those four walls of your house, who provide a sense of belonging.

What, then, is one supposed to do, when the feeling of home is no longer there, and the people whom you regarded close, seem far, far away?

One utterly ordinary day, thirty-three-year-old Tanaya realizes that she is stuck in a perfunctory marriage, nursing a resentment at having to live life like a rolling stone and in an impulsive moment, decides to leave her indifferent husband and uninspiring apartment to go back to where it all began: the sleepy town of Tezpur, Assam.

Back home, in the company of family, friends and unavoidable wagging tongues, Tanaya is forced to face her indecision and confusion, even as she tries to find answers to the unsettling questions running in her mind. Dealing with the aftermath of a decade-long heartbreak, coming to terms with new revelations, when she reaches the fork on the road, will Tanaya be able to make the right choice?

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Revelations of an Imperfect life is a book that evokes memories of idyllic life, of growing up in simpler times, of roots, and of being home. The story is one you would want to read over and over again, for it imparts the feeling of being snuggled inside a warm blanket on a cold, rainy day.

The author starts off with a delectable description of maasor tenga (the signature Assamese dish), and just as your mouth starts to water from the flavour of the tangy gravy, she decides to jolt you from your reverie with the hard-hitting monotony of a life that is far from what one would desire.

Her protagonist travels to a time and place in her past, as a way to move forward, and along her journey she is reminded of the things that she misses today – Little gestures that would go a long way in bringing joy to her life.

Samhita’s characters are delightful, whether it is Dueta, Ma, Aita (one of my favourites), or Nobou Mami from across the fence, Nila (the sister who, for all you know, could be your kindred spirit) and even Nibir (whom one only hears on the phone for most of the book).

She writes them all with such perfection, despite each of their flaws, that after a point you can feel them being a part of your life. They hold on to you and gently pull you in, tugging you along into every memory and conversation.

The plot builds around recollections of growing up as a young girl within and around the walls of her family home, which then connect with the present-day events like a natural flow of the river current.

Her prose reads like a song – every note mellifluous with picturesque descriptions. Her expressions captivate you with the gorgeous play of words she weaves.

She brings Assam to life through the food, the clothes, the festivals, the seasons, and the wonderful people, right before your eyes.

The buildup to the climax and the end leave you amazed at Samhita’s talent and finesse which is akin to that of a seasoned writer. It seems impossible to believe that this is indeed her debut novel.

Tanaya’s account, as described here, may all be about the revelations of an imperfect life. However, as the author remarked at the end of her book launch: No life is imperfect. Your life is your own perfect, as long as you find what makes you happy.

That is really the essence of the book –  to know where and how to find what makes you happy. And for that simple reason, amongst the many others I described above, this book will be endeared by all those who read it.

Title: Revelations of an Imperfect Life
Author: Sankhya Samhita
Publisher: Readomania
ISBN: 978-93-858544-2-2
Edition/Year: First Edition 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction/General
Pages: 270
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Born in a small sleepy town in Tezpur, Assam, rebelling against the name her Dad had given her in the hope of turning her into a mathematician, Sankhya Samhita fell in love with words from the moment she realised that syllables make up a word, words make sentences and sentences are basically magic. Despite a short-term affair with Physics and Computer Applications, she refused to give up on words and started her blog seven years ago. She was a part of the editorial team of the online magazine Fried Eye for five years and responsible for the feature articles and music reviews, a role she relished. She even dabbled in teaching the English language to adults in far-flung Vietnam and Malaysia after her marriage, until she settled down for the more challenging role of a stay-at-home-Mom to her daughter.
She currently lives in Singapore with her husband, her daughter and more books than she can ever hope to finish reading.
To connect with her, find her on Twitter and Facebook, or follow her blog https://ssamhita.wordpress.com/ for more of her delightful writings.

UPDATE 8th Aug 2017: This review is now also published on womensweb.in

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Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat | Book Review

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We, as humans, take form from what happens to us. Every incident we experience – be it of joy, sadness, or simply contemplation on the events around us – shapes us into the person we allow ourselves to become.

There are some who choose to walk with the flow of these events and let nature take its course. There are others who find the strength to fight the natural flow and use their experiences to change the norm.

Ex-ACP Anton Pinto reluctantly joins an investigation into the mysterious disappearances of men from affluent families in Mumbai. Despite the lack of any connection between victims, all clues indicate a similar pattern of abduction. However, with few witnesses and no ransom demands, the trail has long gone cold.

As Anton starts following the clues, he discovers a common link between the victims. Further investigation misdirects him to a few dead-ends, until another man is reported to have gone missing.

Driven by rage at not having his head in the game, he races between schools, old-age homes, illegal dingy hospitals, and dilapidated bungalows, in his quest to find the perpetrator. New leads take him through a labyrinth of incest, abuse, torture, and suffering, spanning decades, that makes his hair stand on end.

Will Anton uncover the motive behind the crime? How is the seemingly harmless, yet mysterious old woman connected to this case? Can justice be served before it is too late?

Birds of Prey is a thriller that leaves a deep impact on the reader. The unfolding events are narrated from two different points of view standing at opposite ends of the spectrum.

With each clue, the author peels back the dark, untold horrors of child abuse plaguing our society. Her treatment of the subject urges you to pause every now and then – to introspect on the harsh realities it reveals. As the story progresses, the reader can’t help but get emotionally tangled in the riveting plot that gets your heart racing.

Archana’s writing style is simple, with a clear line of thought maintained throughout the book. She switches effortlessly between the two points of view to create drama and build suspense. The protagonist and antagonist have been written with strong personality traits to fall in line with their role in the plot. Supporting characters are also etched and added with the precision of a near perfect recipe.

I did feel the Criminal Profiler seemed more whimsical, rather than an analyst of behavioural psychology as I expected him to be. Nonetheless, with his small role in the play of events, it was not something that would bother one very much. Besides, it was probably all the episodes of Criminal Minds I have binge-watched, that made me even notice it in the first place.

I also noticed a few sentences seemed grammatically incorrect. In the first couple of instances I thought it may have been deliberate on the author’s part, but later I realised it was more likely an editing oversight.

Birds of Prey throws light on the lost innocence of victims who are haunted throughout their lives by the psychological trauma of the crimes they are subjected to. However, when trauma sets out to seek justice, the fight sometimes gives rise to a form of misdirected vigilantism that could well turn into crime.

David Rains Wallace, a writer of Conservation and Natural History, wrote in this book ‘The Untamed Garden and Other Personal Essays’ – “Every time we exterminate a predator, we are in a sense creating a new predator.”

Rarely have I come across a novel which is as horrific in the crime it reveals, as it is subliminal about the state of our society.

Archana has handled the subject with the tenderness and sensitivity it craves. I expect her work will receive many accolades in the coming year.

Title: Birds of Prey
Author: Archana Sarat
Publisher: Readomania
ISBN: 978-93-858542-0-0
Edition/Year: First Edition 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction – Crime Thriller
Pages: 192
Source: From the Author
Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Archana Sarat is an Author and Poet for the last ten years. She shuttles between Chennai and Mumbai and loves both cities passionately. Her works have been published in various popular newspapers, magazines and anthologies like The Times of India, The Economic Times, the SEBI and Corporate Laws Journal, the CA Newsletter, Me Magazine, the Science Reporter, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, the WRIMO India Anthology, the Glo Mag Literary Journal and many more. She is popular in the online world for her flash fiction that appear every Saturday, called ‘Saturday Shots’. Though she is a Chartered Accountant by qualification, she took up her childhood love for writing as her vocation. She has a Diploma in Creative Writing from the Writers Bureau, UK. She lives with her husband and two sons in Mumbai.
Birds of Prey is her first novel.
To connect with her, visit her webpage – http://www.archanasarat.com or follow her on Twitter @archanasarat and facebook.com/archanasaratauthor.

Note – I received this review copy from the Author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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A Forgotten Affair by Kanchana Banerjee | Book Review

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There is an old saying – You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. This may sound philosophical and yet, if you delve behind the deeper meaning of these words, you may be unable to deny their truth.

However, for one moment, try putting the philosophy aside from this statement and read it in its literal implication – What if you didn’t know where you’ve been? Or had no clue about your past? Where would that take you?

Debut author Kanchana Banerjee tells just such a story in The Forgotten Affair.

Six months after a near-fatal accident, Sagarika Mehta wakes up from a coma with no memory whatsoever. Her care and recovery is being monitored by a man who claims to be her husband.

A year later, with no improvement in her condition, he whisks her away to a new home in a new city, to convalesce. Despite the plush new apartment, and enough people to wait on her hand and foot, Sagarika can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong.

In her struggle to remember, she stumbles upon tiny pieces of a puzzle that she can’t manage to fit anywhere. The sound of an innocuous word, the smell of a particular cologne – they all haunt her. She also notices Rishab, the husband, is evasive when it comes to answering any questions about her past.

With a blank memory and no one to trust, can Sagarika uncover the truth all by herself?

A Forgotten Affair is a love story, yes, and a lot more. It is also a thriller where the writer creates enough suspense to keep you hooked, page after page. Every character is finely crafted to the point that you can almost hear the wheels churning in their head as they make their move, carrying the story forward.

Amnesia may seem far too Bollywood-ish, but it is frightening to even imagine being put in a situation as grave as this in the real world. Nonetheless, the author has successfully woven a tragic condition into a heart-warming tale of love, faith and self-discovery. By staying away from the conventional rules of romance and love, she has injected a unique freshness in this story.

She also raises important questions regarding emotional abuse, control, a woman’s right to choose, and her place in society, among others.

The plot moves effortlessly between the present and the past, revealing circumstances and incidents crucial to the timeline. The language is smooth flowing, which makes you race through the book even though you struggle to slow down and savour every word.

Like the novel, even the cover of this book expresses beauty in its simplicity.

I am already looking forward to read Kanchana Banerjee’s next!

Title: A Forgotten Affair
Author: Kanchana Banerjee
Publisher: Harlequin (An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers India)
ISBN: 978-93-5264-007-2
Edition/Year: First Edition 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 200
Source: Writersmelon.com
Rating: 4 Stars

Available on Amazon and Flipkart.

About the Author: After writing feature articles for various publications, PR firms, and companies for nearly two decades, Kanchana Banerjee decided to pursue her long -cherished dream – to write a novel.
She holds a master’s degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband, son, and two dogs – Archie and Casper.
A Forgotten Affair is her first novel.

Note – I received this review copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Image courtesy: https://harpercollins.co.in/

 

Book Review Contest – Weekly Prizes To Be Won

Further to my previous blogpost on the book review for Destiny of Shattered Dreams, here is an exciting contest for all book lovers.

The author of this novel – Nilesh Rathod, in association with Rupa Publications, is conducting a mega review contest for his novel which will extend from  17th July 2016 to 9th October 2016.

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The novel is already on the bestseller lists of Amazon, W H Wills & Sapna bookstores. It is critically acclaimed and now in its first re-print. Shobhaa De tweeted “Nilesh may just be the desi Jeffrey Archer India has been long waiting for”. Hindustan times in its review said “Putting it down may be hard to do”. The book has breached the Amazon bestseller in the contemporary fiction category and with over 15 mainstream media appearances, the novel is all set to be the biggest debut this year yet.

In order to take part in this contest all you have to do is buy a copy of this critically acclaimed bestseller “Destiny of Shattered Dreams” by Nilesh Rathod and review it on select book review sites. Post your review link on the contest page and get a chance to win a Kindle every week. The winning reviews will be posted on the Author’s page at the end of the week.

There is also a grand prize at the end of the contest, the winner of which will be selected among all the 12 weekly winners. This prize includes an all expenses trip for two to the Jaipur Literature Festival 2017 with 3 or 4 Star accommodation on twin sharing basis along with 2 VIP tickets for the entire event. 

With the weekend almost here, this would be the perfect time to shop ‘Destiny of Shattered Dreams’at your favourite local or online bookstore. Read the book and post your reviews on the contest page. Remember, you have from 17th July 2016 to 9th October 2016.

As a participating blogger, I will be voting for the best review each week. You can find me by my logo on the Contest Page along with Contest Rules, Terms & Conditions. Don’t forget to follow this blog to stay updated.

Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Image Source: Courtesy of www.nileshrathod.in

 

Book Review – Destiny of Shattered Dreams by Nilesh Rathod

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Before I share my review of this book, I must confess that I am always eager to read books by debut authors. I find they have a distinct voice in their writing that is raw, and unblemished by repeated editing, as the writers themselves (and publishers) are still trying to find a home for the book on the store shelf.

Therefore, when I received an email from this author asking if I would review his debut novel, I jumped at the opportunity.

As the title suggests, Destiny of Shattered Dreams is about one man’s journey through his rise and fall, across the pinnacles of corporate stardom. Atul Malhotra is a young, ambitious entrepreneur in the telecom industry and, with the support of his trusted co-founders, has successfully steered the company to become a billion dollar enterprise in a span of ten years. However, when they plan to expand their operations across the country, they find themselves caught in a brutal nexus of industry and politics.

In his arrogant quest for power, Atul decides to gamble on the very principles that the company was built on and soon realises that he must learn to navigate through the seedy streets of dirty politics, crime and infidelity if he wants to safeguard his interests as well as those of his company. The book chronicles the passion and hunger that fuel Atul’s choices and their impact on his personal and professional life.

The author being a CFA and co-founder of an enterprise himself, gives a thrilling insider’s account of the world of business. He creates a lead character that hooks the reader with all his strengths and flaws. His relationships force the reader to think about ethics, values, and long-term repercussions of every decision.

The dialogue and movement of the story on the professional side is crisp and well paced. It reveals Atul as a man with a sharp business acumen who is willing to take calculated risks in the interest of business.

However in his interactions on the personal side, Atul seems to alternate between inconsiderate and desperately needy which is in contrast to the other side of his character. Also, sometimes dialogue seems unnecessarily repetitive, as if the author is trying to drive a point. It ends up sounding like a monologue fighting for space between two people.

Nonetheless, the flaws in character is what makes the story entertaining. It entices the reader enough that one can’t help but turn the page to find out what happens next. This is one of the better debuts by an Indian Author.

Title: Destiny of Shattered Dreams
Author: Nilesh Rathod
Publisher: Rupa Publications
ISBN: 978-81-291-3975-7
Edition/Year: First Edition 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 254
Source: From the Author
Rating: 4 Stars

Available on Amazon and Flipkart.

About the Author: Nilesh Rathod is a businessperson, writer and poet. Co-founder of Ensemble Infrastructure India Limited, Nilesh’s company currently employs over 2000 people.
Destiny of Shattered Dreams is his debut novel. Nilesh is currently working on his second novel. He lives in Mumbai. You may email him at nilesh@nileshrathod.in or visit his webpage http://www.nileshrathod.in. You may also follow him on twitter @authornilesh or at http://facebook.com/authornilesh

Image courtesy of www.nileshrathod.in