Sunday, June 16, 2019

#646 : Mystical Tales For A Magical Life by Shuba Vilas : Guest Review by Vignesh RL



Mystical tales for a magical life – a book by Shuba Vilas is a collection of 11 short stories from the Puranas. The author has tried to relate some incidents from these stories to today’s life. The learning from these stories will definitely shape a man into a good human being. In the book cover – A guru teaches a king and his family and also being listened to by others sitting in front of a cave in forest attire. The guru in this book cover wears a tiger skin that depicts Lord Shiva sitting in the Himalayas and teaching his disciples. The book is aptly titled as ‘Mystical tales’ as some of these stories may not be accepted in today’s scientific world. For an atheist, the mystical stories in this book will remain a mystery. The transition from Dhvapara yuga to Kali-yuga and the characteristics of Kali-yuga has been explained in an effective manner.

The author claims that these are unheard stories of. However, with an orthodox and traditional upbringing like mine, I have been fortunate enough to have learned and enjoyed oral versions of these very stories narrated by my grandparents and parents. One minor difference of version I noticed was that Lord Indira has been portrayed as King of Gods; Lord Indira, according to the versions I know of, is the God of heaven. The book focuses on good moral thoughts and will serve as an apt primer for parents who strive to inculcate these values in their children from a very young age. After each story, the author explains the context and relates it to today’s life. There is a belief that if you chant the Rama Mantra ‘Srirama Rama Ramethi’ three times, it is equivalent to reading complete VishnuSahasranama. In a similar manner, the two to three pages of explanation after each of these 11 stories, serves as a perfect gist of the entire book. However, it is solely in the perception of the reader to accept and imbibe learning from the book. The stories in the book can certainly serve as a refresher in times of crisis.. On the whole, the book is a good read.

Thanks to Fingerprint! publishing for providing a review copy. Do buy this book on amazon here.


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Monday, May 27, 2019

#645 : The Seduction Expert by Saya Lopez Ortega : Review


The Seduction Expert is the story of a young woman who choose to call herself "The Baroness". Labeling herself to be a hard core proper feminist, the baroness deals in helping women finding about their partner's unfaithful activities. She also helps love stuck women (wealthy teenagers) "achieve" men of their liking by training neurologically to reach their target.  She is essentially a dominatrix who believes in destroying the men who cheat their partners. While her own "love life" has just got interesting, her to be mother-in-law quickly becomes her arch enemy. She treats her own "love" Louis as a case and trails him just like she would do for any other man who is her target. 

While the lead character, "The Baroness" does feel a lot like Miranda  from The Devil wears Prada initially, she is nothing like that as the story progresses. The premise of a feminist victory of sorts by outing a cheating man did seem exciting initially, but as the plot progressed and her "love life" came in to play, it felt cold and bitter. The book ends with such a smart and powerful cliffhanger that the readers would surely be prompted to pick the next. However, I personally felt that the writer might as well have finished the book. As such with satirical writing and sharp humor, the story was a pretty good read!

The writing is a bit odd in a way that it reads like as it if it were a work of translation. That's explicitly not mentioned anywhere though!

This book is strictly for people who enjoy satire and mild drama. 
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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

#644 : Beast by Krishna Udayasankar : Review


Indian fantasy thrillers are always a bit of a gamble to pick up. It's a rather a matter of preferences than the actual writing in question. With such prejudices and apprehension in mind, I decided to pick up the book and I didn't come to regret my decision. The pacing, the structure, the characters and the most important of all, the plot by itself made this book one good read. The story, which starts off being like a mystery at the slightest morphs into a fast-paced thriller as the plot moves along. 

Set in a typical Indian backdrop, Beast is an urban fantasy thriller. Incorporating interesting elements from Indian mythology, the story which starts off as a simple mystery quickly becomes an interesting adrenaline-pumping thriller. 

The female protagonist, ACP Aditi Kashyap is called in to solve a gruesome murder. The whole murder scene looks like as if it was handiwork of a ferocious animal. In parallel, an "enforcer", Pritivi, is called upon to solve the case and hunt the murderer. Together they embark on a dangerous journey involving werelions (or Saimhas) who have co-inhabited with humans since ancient times yet are hidden in plain sight. 

The writing was an absolute delight to read with rich detailing and crisp dialogues. Though the story initially did sound like a cliched werewolf kind, it was far from it as the plot thickened. The story is certainly very well laid out with no characters out of point or purpose. 

A good fantasy thriller after a long time! 

Do buy the book from Amazon
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#643 : Ate! - An Incomplete Short Story

Maya stood next to the picket fence gasping for air. After all, she managed to escape being caught by Nirmal. That was no ordinary feat. She looked around,expecting him to surprise her by pouncing from behind and getting her out of the game. She scanned the yard for places to hide. They always played in Nirmal’s backyard, but today they decided to move to Ami’s house. Nirmal’s mom wasn’t keeping well. This backyard was trim and clean unlike that of Nirmal’s. Mr. Ashok,Nirmal’s dad, loved bikes and cars, hence his yard was bare with various vehicle parts littered all over the place. Since she was the smallest of her friends, physically, she could hide behind one of those mammoth engines or door frames that were there on the yard. If Nirmal was chasing, he would always catch her by surprise in spite of her not making any sound. 

Today, she had no such thing to hide behind. Ami’s yard was filled with potted plants all arranged neatly. She had managed to reach the far end of the yard without tripping over the pots. She turned back and looked at all the plants. They were in varying stages of growth. There were flowers of all colors and sizes. A strong scent of wild Jasmine hung in the air. A slow smile crept to her eyes. There was rectangular patch towards her left. Four long wooden poles stood rooted in rectangular form, covered with vines and leaves. A small wooden horse lay rocking gently inside. She tiptoed towards it and sat on the horse. If felt a size smaller for her frame. That didn’t really prevent her from gripping the handle and rocking the horse gently. For a moment she forgot all about Nirmal and their game. It felt so nice to be in the garden and enjoying a rocking horse. She lived in one of those tall buildings with glass lifts. Her house was on the 7th floor. She hated that she couldn’t go out and stand on the balcony like her brother Rajesh did. He was taller than her and older too, though by just two years. This whole place felt dreamy to her. May be, she could persuade the gang to play in Ami’s house often. Ram came running out screaming and kicking down many pots in the process. Nirmal followed him laughing. At least he was careful enough not to step over the fallen plants. 

Maya sulked and stood up. It was time to end the game.She would walk straight to Nirmal and ask him to get her out. She wanted to stay in the garden taking in the scents and sights. She was bored of the hide and seek game. Her gang of 9 kids from her school almost always played this game for a year now. They had all joined the Sunny brook school in their kindergarten. Now they were all in the third grade. As she walked to towards Nirmal who was now in the floor tackling, a small figure appeared suddenly in front of her. It shot out of nowhere with a low swishing sound. It looked like it was some kind of a creature cut out from a tree. Two tiny black eyes blinked at her as she looked at it with curiosity. It reminded her of that woody thing from the movie her dad had watched on the TV few days back. She scratched her nose to try remember it’s name. It slowly stepped forward towards her. She looked at with curiosity. Were such things even real, she wondered? She stepped forward. It stood still and blinked at her.
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Writer's Note - I had begun writing this short story on 8th Feb 2018, it's May 2019 and I have lost both the story and the drive to complete writing it. Wondered what I'd do with an incomplete story. Thus the decision to throw it out in the open and "crowd-source" ideas to complete it or invite co-authors to complete it. Just so you know, the above piece is un-edited.

If you are interested in writing this along with me, please shoot me a mail - shreejanani@shreewrites.com or if you wish to give me an idea to complete it, please write to the same ID. 

What do you stand to gain? - I cannot afford anything monetary, however, visibility and good credits will certainly be given. 
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Friday, April 12, 2019

#642: Legacy (Andalucian Nights, #3) by Hannah Fielding - Review


The protagonist, Luna, a medical researcher/journalist goes undercover to investigate the head of a Spanish alternative medicine clinic, Rodrigo de Rueda Calderon (Ruy) who has tall claims about his "natural" methods to cure life threatening diseases such as cancer. Ruy is a complete charmer, the typical Spanish hot blooded passionate male and has a reputation of being a womanizer. With his dark irresistible looks and fascinating gypsy ways, he pursues Luna with unrelenting enthusiasm. Luna discover the murky bond between her Spanish side of parentage with that of Ruy's family which ends up throwing her already complicated life into a full blown spin. 

In spite of being the third book in a series, the book can be read as a standalone as it isn't a logical continuation of the other books. 

The book was an absolute delight to read. The rich narration and vivid descriptions is every prose lover's dream. The writer has brought to life the charm and sensuality, the region of Andalusia inherently possess. Reading the book made me want to visit Cadiz. Thanks to her previous books, I managed to visit Cordoba. It is evident that the setting deserves a special mention. Spain is truly a magical country (for that matter I'd say most of Europe is magical!)a nd the writer has very smartly used that to construct the series. Andalusia, Cordoba particularly can overwhelm people with it's old world charm. I'm sure the writer has not written the series based on a "internet research". The tone,the writing, all of it sounds as if it was born purely out of the creatively inspiring setting from a physical visit. 

The story, the setting, the narration all if it were simply perfect. It wouldn't be surprising if the entire series is given the same treatment, few years down the line, as that of Jane Austen's works today - Classic romance with a cult following!

Do buy this book @ Amazon



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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

#641 : Eco Friendly Products by Dopolgy - Review


With the recent plastic ban in the state, all of us have been pushed to look for Eco-friendly alternatives for bags. I successfully managed to switch to cloth or jute bags for everything including grocery shopping and vegetable shopping. It was that forced switch which made me realize that we were all literally drowning in mounds of plastic which cannot be recycled. I decided to slowly switch one product at a time and do my bit for a sustainable environment. 

In spite of the plastic ban in full swing, tender coconut vendors are still providing plastic straws. They tell me it's very much available in the market. To do my bit, I got myself stainless steel straws and have begun to carry them around in my bag. Just as I was looking to throw out a couple of other items - toothbrush and my plastic loofah, I chanced upon a tweet by a person running this Eco-friendly store - Dopolgy. They were offering Charcoal infused bamboo toothbrush, News paper color pencils, news paper seed pencils and news paper pencils. My employers - Schneider Electric - a company known for it's green initiatives - had earlier provided us all with paper seed pens which turned out to be quite good. These pencils by Dopolgy are the latest addition to my conscious stationery kit. 




Having used them for a little more than a week now, these pencils are no different from the regular wood pencils. I found no difference at all whatsoever. They are study and as perfect as the ones made out of wood. 



Having used a natural loofah made out of Vettiver roots ages ago, I had very less expectations of these loofahs. They aren't exactly durable. The fibers tend to come loose and irritate the skin in a very short span of time. This loofah are comparatively thin and do look sturdy. It's been more than a week, so far it is quite good and do not show any signs of tear or wear. 


The charcoal infused toothbrush was the perfect product of all. The brush felt weightless and the bristles are super soft.  It feels refreshing to use a product which is easy on the nature and our health as well.


All the above mentioned products are quite reasonably priced as well. 

More than the overall quality of the products, which of course is good enough, it feels good and satisfying to have made the switch! 

Please do make the switch, it's just the little bit that we can do. 

Do buy these fantastic brushes and loofahs from Dopolgy from their store here. 

Note: Dopolgy sent these products for a review, however, the opinions stated are my own.

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