Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Last Witch Trial by Siddharth Nirwan

Title: The Last Witch Trial
Author: Siddharth Nirwan
Publisher: Notion Press

Genre: Fiction

Date:  2016

Price: INR 245/ Kindle-125.62

Pages: 258

Post success of Dan Brown internationally a lot of books are written in India around forgotten myths, mostly centered around religion. These stories are now gaining popularity and their writers increasing fame has encouraged many more to try a shot with their pen. However India is not just a rich but super-rich land as far as stories are concerned; the mystical land where time seems to have spread a blanket of dust over many of the.  However, if you ever visit small villages these stories surface time and again, sometimes entertaining you to terrifying you, for time has still not been able to cover them completely. Sadly therefore India also is rich in some orthodox practice's and beliefs which are non-existent in urban but like a venomous tree with roots too deep to dig out, in the rural these still exist. One such phenomenon is "Witch-hunt".

Though nobody knows if it's existence is really true and modern science doesn't approve of it as their has been no experiment to confirm it, wrongly many women are conducted for these trials and killed. If the statistics quoted in the book are correct the number of such executions is still in thousands. Even in corners of developed nations these myths/practice's are not unheard of, which for a race that put man on the moon is a stark contrast. This book as the title suggests reveals a fictional story around the craze that erupts now and then called "Witch-hunt?".

The writer begins by explaining the grave status of this situations by starting with facts and a few exemplary story, setting a life-like canvas for the story that later unfolds. Years post the last witch trial Ajay Thakur, the lead character while cleaning his house finds his diary. A diary that has witnessed everything in his life and as he begins to read it these events of these proceedings unfold. It was when his ailing uncle Raj Singh had called him to visit urgently as he was ailing. Being the last surviving member of Thakur clan all responsibilities had befallen on his shoulders. A broken hearted Ajay shakes himself out of his devdas-mode and begins to understand this new life. As if the sudden turn of events aren't enough to displace his mind,  sudden deaths of labourers at an upcoming steel plant shake the town. The gory displacement of a body post murder makes it evident it wasn't a common murder case. People blinded by faith and their do called servants, pandit's are convinced it is a witch called "Maya".

Ajay incapable of unravelling the story alone takes the help of his professor whose research interest has been occult practices throughout India. Together they try to unravel a secret spanning centuries. Is this truly a witch or some hoax? If so how would they get rid of her? Why is Ajay in middle of all this? To know answers to all of these points, read the book.

The book cover is attractive, yet it could still be better, more central to the theme then case specific.  The writing though has some spelling and grammatical errors the story is very captivating, majorly because witch hunting hasn't been explored widely in Indian literature so firstly it's a fresh story. The setting of a village, an age old secrecy, unfinished stories emerging time and again keep you wanting for more. Though a keen reader will be able to catch some and not all of the major twists and there are a some logical errors in the plot, the style of writing, revealing the story as recordings from a diary or tapes as first person account renders it effective. The climax has been done justice to and logically so which brings us to the conclusion of an age old adage of "all is well that ends well".
Overall a recommend read.

Rating: 3.5/5

About the author: Siddharth Nirwan is a ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon, who lives and practices in Jaipur. Apart from the world of medicine, his passions are photography, film-making and creative writing. He can be reached at

Kangana Ranaut Lanches Chetan Bhagat's Latest Book "One Indian Girl" at Crossword Bookstores in Mumbai

Chetan Bhagat, the author of six blockbuster hits; Five Point Someone, One Night at The Call Centre, Three Mistakes of My Life, Revolution 2020, 2 States and Half Girlfriend, is all gung ho about his latest book, an attempt to write about the modern Indian girl is his book "One Indian Girl". Written completely from a woman’s perspective, this book is a fresh attempt on the complex concept of feminism. 

                    Kangana Ranaut Launches Chetan Bhagat's - One India Girl

The book was launched by none other than the icon of female equality, actress Kangana Ranaut,  on October 1 at Crossword Bookstores, Oberoi mall in Mumbai. She has been an appropriate choice since she is an icon for women of today being known to demand equal pay as her male co-stars, rejecting fairness advertisement worth crores and above all handling with elegance ex-boyfriends who have only spoken bad about her. Topping it all, she does it gracefully. She spoke in general about being old school and preferring physical books over an e-copy. 

            Selfie time! Chetan Bhagat and Kangana Ranaut

The book has a strong female lead that has certainly not gone well with a couple of male critics and understandably so. Talking about the way an Indian woman is perceived and treated has not changed much despite her proving herself as an equal and sometimes even more. On the lines of equality and commenting upon the independent female lead of the book Kangana spoke in detail "This is a very sensitive topic. Any working women will relate to it. When I was dating men more successful than me, I felt that I was devalued, I felt like I was not given my due as a woman as a partner, was not acknowledged, and men behaved borderline indifferent. So that gave me more motivation to do well. Just like how it works for men, you know like you know a certain woman and you want to be worthy of her, for whatever reason, for a better companion, stable future. Then you do well for yourself, not just for your partner to move ahead and successful in life. So we have the same reasons as men do. So usually it works for a man, but in a woman it works the other way. My success has always gone against me.

                       Kangana talks about being the successful Indian girl and more...

Here is an analogy, my analogies are usually little weird. But I think when I was not successful, men behaved more like a hard to please father figure but when I become successful, they become like an evil jealous sibling. Everything was about competing with me, you achieved this, let me blow my trumpet… so I would say when I was not successful but relationships were not so bad, like I said – in an indifferent father space there is still a lot of trust and occasional nurturing, but in an evil sibling – there is loss of desire – the man is more focused on competing with you, crushing your ego and maybe demolishing you and there is not little bit trust left. After my success my relationship has gone completely for a toss.

I need admiration for more love. A woman doesn’t have any other reason or anyone to feel that a woman has another ‘agenda’ behind being successful – to earn money, or she is ambitious or she has an ‘agenda’. There is no agenda, it is simply for love and admiration, for wanting to be seen as your abilities not as your 55kgs weight that you carry. I want to be seen for my abilities, skills, the artist I am, my qualities not as a girl who is 55 kgs.

 At the end, I am looking for love, like anybody else."

Talking about his latest novel ‘One Indian Girl’, Chetan Bhagat said "Just as women are conditioned to be a certain way, men are also culturally conditioned. Masculinity is not discussed much, it’s just a man is told, you are what you earn – you are as much money you make. And when you make money, you take care of your woman. 

 This book is all about understanding women. I have come across a lot of women and tried to understand the problems that they face in this male dominated society. This book is my humble attempt at shedding some light on the topic. I’m really kicked about this novel and I hope it’s well received by the readers.”

    Kangana & Chetan interact with the audience at the launch of One Indian Girl

Kinjal Shah, CEO, Crossword bookstores says, " Kangana's statement that she loves physical books comes as a pleasant surprise to us. We are very excited to launch One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat at Crossword , Oberoi. We wish him and his book a successful launch and hope it breaks all records of book sales to become number 1 in the country."

‘One Indian Girl’ has already broken all online pre-order records. Its for us to see how much Chetan sells grossly this time, despite being on the other side of a favorite for literary critics. 

So if you are a Chetan Bhagat fan or curious about his books, rush to your nearest crossword store and grab a copy now!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Poetry : No More

He said today he loved me more,
Two more words to what he had once whispered softly in my ears,
A little afraid, a little unsure of my reaction,
He held his beating heart out for me,
He held it till I calmed it with a kiss,
It was I who made the first move,
Sensing his agony and that of my heart which went berserk,
Three honeyed words, the softest and yet the exilir of my life,
Three words in which my cosmos wrapped itself,
Blending into the new galaxy called love,
I could see only him, always him,
For just him was enough,
I dissolved my existence into him,
We had blended into us,
His glories my crown, his wounds my kisses,
I thought I could love him for eons, for this emotion in my heart was purest of all,
Of every little thing I felt, he mattered the most and today after just a few years, his words again changed it all,
The words were lesser, so we're his feelings,
And he exists from my cosmos with just two more.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Review: Dark Things Between Shadow & Soul: Fractured Fairy Tales From Indian Mythology by Sudha Kuruganti

Title: Dark Things Between Shadow & Soul: Fractured Fairy Tales From Indian Mythology 
Author: Sudha Kuruganti
Publisher: Kindle (self)

Genre: Fiction (Short stories)

Date:  2016

Price: INR 149/ $2.25(Kindle) - Free on Kindle Unlimited

Pages: 204

Some books are to be read from cover to cover, this is one. Though you have to give a pass at the cover which for all aesthetic reasons you might value a lot and may even end up judging a book by that, its worth giving a benefit of doubt to the content beyond. The reason is once you get the vibe of why the author thought is a necessary book, you start appreciating it all the more. Since there was a lot of fiction in books and television series around Greek, Roman ad Christian myths, she felt Indian stories deserved as well to be rewritten with a hint of fiction and that is a great step as there are great plots and so they deserve to be told but it has many challenges in terms of multiple characters, complicated phenomena which is difficult to portray.

For the uninitiated, the writer has included a brief to the characters, original epics etc. covered in the book to a sufficient extent to be able to grasp clearly, everything, something I really appreciate when writing for a global audience and if you have ever read Hindu mythology being a non-Hindu you will surely too. Its just a larger version of game of thrones with ten times more characters. 

The book is further divided into sections based on the source of the story i.e. Vedas, a specific group of Gods, Ramayana and Mahabharata.  I wouldn't call them fractured tales but more of as reflections from the past or extrapolation of the same characters and situations with some tweaks on a new canvas. Like a more perfected version of Sherlock stories but in 21st Century with gadgets and all. To top that she gives the much needed benefit of doubt to each character and portrays them in a new light. For those familiar with Mahabharata would understand that no character therein was entirely dark or bright; every bright character flawed multiple times with consequences and every dark character had a brighter side. Since we know all that and have read a lot of re-telling tales, this book is a breath of fresh air or only the crux is derived from them and mixed with a different spice to deliver an entirely new dish- its should in all honesty be termed as fusion mythology if at all one needs to do so. From a readers perspective it gives uniqueness ad novelty instead of repetition and the writer has done full justice to the entertainment factor in the stories. 

There are stories with Gods using 3G, the mythological amalgamation of dream sequences - a very different yet effective version of the movie inception, personification of God's, exploring emotions of characters unspoken and comparing the struggles of women then and now. If I enlist my favorite stories half of the book will be covered but being strictest in the sense of judgement after going through them multiple times. So my favorite stories are: 'Not a Love Story'  exploring emotions of two people only meet as strangers though they are long lost warriors, 'If You Don't Succeed At First'  a story of multiple incarnations and lessons from each which truly gave me the feeling of final shot of the Matrix Trilogy, 'Miles To Go' on Kumbhakarana's sleep, Heart Of Stone , a brilliantly explored science fiction extrapolated from Ahalya's story. Topping this list again are 'What Doesn't Kill Me' a truthful 21st century extrapolation of my favorite character - Draupadi and best of all probably out of bias for strength of a woman 'Best Served Cold'  which you must just read.

So all in all a great start to what the writer wanted to achieve and if TV series producers from anywhere are looking for an inspiration for an Indian science-mythology fiction series some of these stories will look amazing on screen. Till then readers do not miss out on this book (its free on kindle unlimited) if you an ardent fan of the genre and the writer should begin writing the next one for which we anxiously wait.

Rating: 4/5 

About the author: Sudha Kuruganti has been writing since she was a kid of thirteen, first starting out in fanfiction. Her short stories have been published in "Reading Hour", in an anthology from Indireads, "The Long and Short of It", and have featured on All India Radio. She's been interviewed by "The Times of India" and has been a featured blogger on She's now working on a novel, paranormal thriller about an ordinary girl caught in a deadly situation. Find updates on her fiction here (

When she's not writing, Sudha works at a nine-to-five crafting corporate communications at a multinational organization in Gurgaon, India. In her spare time, she loves reading, working on various DIY projects, trying out new cake recipes and blogging at her website, "Clouds in my Coffee" (

Monday, October 3, 2016

Youngest Indian Writer Anusha Subramanian Releases her Second Book 'Never Gone'

The last name Subramaian is one always on the best seller list in India, however this was a more special occasion for the father and writer Ravi Subramanian to see his daughters second attempt at writing, at such a young age. Anusha Subramanian is one of the country's youngest young adult authors. She was only twelve when she wrote her first book, Heirs of Catriona. 

                                Daughter Anusha with father Ravi Subramanian

Sonali Bendre launched her latest book 'Never Gone' on last Friday at Crossword Bookstores, Mumbai. Bendre opened up to the audience confessing being the  only author in her family; and that she would love for her son Ranveer to read books, as books have been her best friend. 

                        Actress Soanli Bendre with author Anusha Subramanian

We decided to know more about this young writer who is an inspiration at such a young age about her journey into writing and much more. Here are snippets from the conversation:

Q: How does it feel to be India’s youngest writer?
A: It feels great! The sense of achievement and the validation that comes with writing a book is just phenomenal. I take immense pride in my two books and it’s incredibly comforting to know that no matter what happens in the future, I’ll always have these two books to my name. You can’t take that away from me.

Q: What motivated you to be a writer?
A: I’ve always loved writing and I guess when I started writing, my main aim wasn’t to be a published author. I just wrote because I liked it. I guess that that love eventually evolved into me wanting to get published. The process was also speeded up by the fact that my dad was writing a book at the same time and I could see first-hand how things are done in the writing industry.

Q: You are a two book old writer now. Describe your experience, the response to your first book etc?
A: I absolutely loved writing this book! I don’t think I’ve had this much fun ever! This new book made me realize that this is the kind of writing that I want to do! The emotional kind where you can connect with your readers so much better. A writer’s job doesn’t always top once the book is finished. Then there is the editing, the title discussions, cover page designs etc. I love that part! It’s so much fun to discuss the titles and throw around cover page ideas and when you finally see that finished product – wow. It looks nothing like the haphazard word document that you poured your heart into. Everyone was super proud of me when I released my first book and now my second book is also getting a much better response than I could have hoped for. People tell me things like “It reminded me of my school days” (if they are adult readers) or “I related to X character so much” and this genuinely makes my day.

Q: Are you a voracious reader? Does it influence your craft?
A: Definitely. I love reading. Reading how I wind-down after a long day. I don’t think it influences my craft but it definitely inspires me and shows me what level of excellence I should be aiming for. 

        Anusha Subramanian signs the first copy of her latest book -Never Gone

Q: How has the response to your first book been?
A: Everyone was very proud and few were very surprised that I had actually pulled it off. I was a little surprised as well to be honest. Some people gave me very constructive criticism. Apparently there was just too much food in my book hahah, which could be the indication of the Enid Blyton phase I was going though at that time. Also my characters were always too white or black when in reality people aren’t like that. People are grey and in this book I found that working with grey characters – characters that have flaws – was so much more fun than characters that are just too good or bad.

Q: Tell us about your current book, how did you come to the story, its characters, etc.?
A: Penguin approached me to do this book after seeing an article on my blog. The article was about the death of a classmate and all the things we miss out on because we think we have time to do it later in life. (Blink of an eye – They wanted me to do a similar YA novel and I thought COME ON it’s PENGUIN. The story just evolved from there on.

Q: How do you take the comparison/ expectations between your father and you? What are the good and not so good things about being a “best-selling writers” daughter?
A: Funnily enough that’s never been an issue at all. Maybe because we both write in different genres and there isn’t any competition as such between us. My dad has always been completely supportive of me and he often says I write better than him (that’s just paternal bias hahah). Hopefully one day he will be known as being a ‘best-selling author’s father” and not the other way around!

Q: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your writing and how did you solve them?
A: The biggest challenge in writing is trying to convey your exact emotions through your writing. And also character development because as a writer you really want to do justice to them. I’m so glad that my editors made sure that I planned everything out before I started writing. That gives you a rough plot to work with but also the flexibility to change it.

Q: What is the most important ingredient you try your best to incorporate in your stories?
A: I don’t have too much experience yet but I guess good characters are so important. You should always know your character a little bit better than everyone else and truth. If you are writing something that you don’t believe in – then why are you writing in the first place?

Q: Are you already writing your next book? Please tell us a little bit about it?
A:No, I’m not writing anything at the moment. And I don’t have even the vaguest idea about what I will be writing next!

Q: Describe yourself as a person
A: Total introvert but I’m so out-going and crazy once you get to know me. It’s all about comfort for me. If I feel comfortable around a bunch of people, then I’m a lot more confident. I use writing as a way to express myself and my friends and family are very important to me.

   Anusha Subramanian at Crossword Bookstores-Mumbai for her book's launch

Q: What are your career goals ahead?
A: Right now I’m focusing on what I want to study rather than what I want to become. I would love to get into Biochemistry or Genetics in future.

So what are you thinking about? Rush to your nearest Crossword bookstore and grab a copy of 'Never Again' today! Do let us know how it is in the comments section below.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Jon Snow....Inspired from GameOfThrones

A little boy knows nothing about his parentage.

He knows nothing about his mother.

He knows not the meaning of being a "bastard", he is forced to understand it.

He is never loved like his half brothers/sisters.

He knows nothing about love.

He sits in a corner as the royal family celebrates, alone.

He knows nothing about togetherness.

He knows nothing about the wall,yet he takes cloak of honour.

He knows enough only to not hurt a woman, and the woman he loves only re-iterates "you know nothing."

He knows nothing about the dangers beyond the wall, yet he fights them.

He knows nothing about deceit, he is killed.

Yet he comes back, stands by a sister who never treated him well and takes back the north!

Today the very child away from the table is by consensus  on the very table a man the north kneels before.

He is the white wolf , the King in the North- Jon Snow.

And that's inspiring....

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: Love Bi the Way by Bhaavna Arora

Title: Love Bi the Way
Author: Bhaavna Arora
Publisher: Penguin Random House India Private Limited

Genre: Fiction 

Date:  2016

Price: INR 139/ 122.55 (Kindle)

Pages: 248

India is going through a time where the old and the new, especially thoughts try to co-ordinate exist. In the times where modern thoughts of the younger generation want to change the old, baseless beliefs but the reigns of society still being in the hands of the old raised by a very orthodox set of beliefs try to dominate. This is a major reason why we though a developing nation, even the educated, divide people in terms of caste, creed, religion and worst of all sex of the chosen partner. The heights of it all being criminalization of the act of having  sex with person of the same sex. This leads to people being unable to come out in the open in the society, family and sometimes to their own self. With the west beginning to accept it, it's India's turn to truly adapt now.

Artists have opposed this discrimination in various forms. It has been documented in films with lead characters being homosexuals like Fire and On a lighter note Kapoor & Sons which unlike the former managed to reach the audience. However bisexuality is still spoken of in hushed tones. Despite scientific and social science research on the subject matter looking at even alternating sexualities of the same human being and reasoning it extensively. On this note Bhaavna Arora tries to explore this via a more emotional trajectory, - a story, one that delves into the psyche of characters and then connects the reader with their journey towards discovery of their own sexualities.

Love is what we all desire. That one person who would understand us, someone we want to share our smallest achievements to our greatest fear. Someone we simply want to hug first when we are happy or cuddle with for hours till we stop sulking in our sadness. Yet it is this one person that is most difficult to find for a simple reason Men and Women though may be on earth but are very different beings. Their needs, priorities etc. are different from another and most of all there are fidelity issues - the core of the poison that slowly infiltrates and chokes to death any relationship it gets into. The central characters Zara and Rihana have scars of their own. They are best friends but opposite in every sense. While Zara is an introvert who has locked her secrets in the big trunk, Rihana is a complete extrovert who can do anything from directly approaching to embarrassing a man. Zara meanwhile believes it's only love that's worth giving yourself to.

They share a great friendship and are sole support for each other's lack of a family. The two hide well, their scars and try to live another day with them but challenging life situations make them peel the exterior and know each other better. It's their journey into overcoming the hurt that began early in life but hurt forever into living each day fully after finally growing out of it and in the process understand who they really are.

The characters are chalked out perfectly for the plot and the writer slowly reveals their life events making sure the reader connects instantaneously with each one and really understand the set of emotions each one goes through in situations that present themselves. The story is written on a light note with a lot of humor to portray the everyday life making it a pleasant light read with a important underlying note.

PS:  I loved the letter Zara writes to the prince, it was the most subtly delivered effective letters ever and if you ever loved someone that is the one to read. 
Overall a good read.

Rating: 3/5.

About the Author:
Bhaavna Arora is the bestselling author of the Deliberate Sinner and Mistress of Honour. Before her foray into writing, she was heading a business school as a director; she also trains students and professionals on leadership. She holds two management degrees and a Ph.D. in Leadership from Pittsford University. 

A fourth-generation army kid, Bhaavna is a true patriot. She enjoys reading, travelling, swimming, horse riding and playing sports and has a fancy for big bikes and cars.