01 January, 2017

Book Review - The Peshwa (The Lion and the Stallion)

The Peshwa impresses you right from the cover. Bold colours of powerful red and gold dominate the scene with a rider astride his war horse, radiating raw strength and ferocity through his eyes and body language.

The book retains its magnetic hold on you throughout and you will find it extremely difficult to put it down for even a moment. It’s a real page turner and keeps you hungering for more, especially when it ends. Without further ado, let’s look at what the book is all about.

What’s the Story about?
The Peshwa follows the life of Bajirao, son of Balaji Bhat - the senior Peshwa. The story covers the growing strength of the Maratha Confederacy across India during the dominant Mughal rule. The two powers co-exist through mutual understanding but this peace is threatened when Balaji stops the heinous plan of Nizam-ul-Mulk of the Mughal Empire causing the Nizam to unleash his revenge on the Marathas at an opportune time.

The untimely death of Balaji due to cancer puts the weight of being a Peshwa on the young Bajirao who has to deal with not just external enemies like the Mughals but also internal politically motivated individuals. Much bigger than all this though is the looming hellish activities carried out through the vengeful Nizam on the Marathas.

The story captures the young Peshwa in the midst of a new life with his wife and young son, while facing brutal war fare amongst his own people as well as the Nizam. Will Bajirao’s scant experience in the battle field cause him to fail? Will his love for his wife and son prove a distraction? And more than that, will he live up to everyone’s expectations and be their Peshwa they can believe and trust in?

How’s the Book?
The book is extremely interesting even if you’re not a history buff. I’ve never been one for history unless it’s a documentary on History TV channel, but this book with it’s effortless style and engaging language kept me hooked. Though this is based on a historical character, the author has fictionalized it to some extent so please don’t take it as a realistic capture of history though the author Ram Sivasankaran has followed the timeline and facts to an extent.

It is faced paced, though there were some places where I felt that the story could have been shortened to keep the story going. The characters are well etched out lending a wholesome reading experience. The battles are narrated with great detail and evoke visual imagery in the mind - kudos to the author for evoking such an effect!

It’s a book worthy reading when you need something between light and heavy. Seems like there will be a continuation of the book as per the last chapter’s ending where we’re introduced to Mastani. Looking forward to it!

Had just one doubt though - Couldn't figure out who the Lion and the Stallion referred to - the senior Peshwa and Bajirao or someone else?

About the Author
Ram Sivasankaran is an avid reader of epics, Hindu legends and stories of chivalry. This is his debut book covering the charismatic historical figure of Bajirao Bhat, Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy. His lucid writing, captivating grasp on narration, and intense vividity of expression marks him as superlative writer of today. He reads your mind and writes the next sentence according to what you want to read or know - and this is truly remarkable of him as an author!

Title: The Peshwa - The Lion and the Stallion
Author: Ram Sivasankaran
Published by: Westland Ltd.
ISBN: 9789385724213
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 338
Personal Rating: 4/5
Available on: Amazon and Flipkart

Note: I received a copy of this book from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

12 November, 2016

Book Review - Graffiti by Joanie Pariera

'Art' of life, anyone?
Graffiti stands by its name. This modern novel is mainly narrated through Vipin. It is through him that we get to meet the other characters like Rene, Agni, Kunal, Upasana and Mark with each of their lives alike to graffiti.

You may identify yourself with the characters and the happenings in their lives. From coping with grief over a dead loved on, heartbreak, marital disharmony, and chasing love, you are sure to find bits of yourself within these pages.

What's the Story about?

The story’s center is held by the omnipresent Pournami, Vipin’s wife who dies in a car accident. Vipin mourns her death and fumbles his way through moving past this phase. He’s lost, disoriented and no longer sure about himself. Then he meets Rene with whom he shares a strangely common experience.

Rene serves at this juncture of Vipin’s life as someone who fills his void easily. However, Rene is just out of a relationship that knocked the wind of her. She herself has lost love, albeit in a different way. Drop dead gorgeous, smart, and funny, Rene has no dearth of suitors but with her heart on the mend, Rene doesn’t seem to want any new relationship.

Upasana and Rene are almost joined at the hip. They share everything – it’s the typical girl bond. Upi is married to Hari but their marriage seems to be going rapidly downhill. Upi seems more focused on her career than on her marriage.

Enter Mark who experiences love at first sight and employs all his resources to be with the woman he loves. Mark is your smart, handsome, kind, gentle, successful man – but this time none of that seems to be working in his favour with the woman in question.

The story follows Vipin, Rene, Upi and Mark’s trysts with life’s challenges and quirks. Does Vipin finally accept his wife’s death and find himself again? Does Rene push aside her fears of falling in love again? Does Upi choose her career or save her marriage? And does Mark end up with the woman he loves?

How's the book?

The novel is interesting enough though I felt it stretched a bit. Crisper editing would have made it an easier and better read. Some of the dialogues came across as pretentious and lacked a smooth flow. It took time for me to adjust to the alternating character’s stories every now and then which slowed down my reading. The book has a few humorous moments but not any laugh out loud ones, just a mild chuckle or two. 

Overall, a fairly good book to read when you feel lazy and don’t want to do anything.

Title: Graffiti
Author: Joanie Pariera
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Edition/Year: First Edition 2013
Format: Kindle e-book
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 346
Source: Writersmelon.com
Personal Rating: 2.5 / 5
Available on: Amazon.

About the Author: 
Joanie Pariera (Pen Name) has apparently been thinking about writing fiction since the time she learned to say the word ‘pencil’. It came to be, that that was the first word her parents taught her to say. According to them, she then made up her own word for it just to see them squirm.

She likes to think she is a master of many things, including making up words. To start with she has two master’s degrees. She cooks, keeps house, codes and programs, and until recently used to write specifications for Information Systems for a living. 

Having traveled extensively, she has self-assimilated the cultural nuances of various unsuspecting anthropological groups and stealthily continues to put down her impressions in her writing.

To learn more about her, visit her webpage – http://joaniepariera.com/.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

17 October, 2016

7 Bollywood Actresses who Dare Defy Aunties

Shaadi can WAIT! The next time your parents, relatives or neighbours come prodding you about getting married since you’re at ‘that age’, put forward the stories of these 7 Bollywood actresses who are kicking ass in their career!

1. Priyanka Chopra (34)
This young woman is a trailblazer! From winning the Miss World Crown, proving her mettle in Bollywood, singing with international artistes, and packing few punches in an American show plus, plus, plus starring in Baywatch! This girl has got guts, passion and glory – all this on her own!

2. Tabu (44)

She’s one of those women who combine unique beauty with pure raw talent – that’s a lethal combination right there! With 2 National Awards, 6 Filmfare Awards, and a Padma Shri, Tabu is one woman because of who your parents and relatives won’t have anything to counter-attack your point.

3. Nimrat Kaur (32)

What can you say about this talented woman that hasn’t already been said? From The Lunchbox to Airlift, to Homeland – this lady carries herself gracefully and with a dignified air in all her roles! Hats off to her paving her own success path!

5. Sushmita Sen (40)

Sushmita is more than ‘just’ a Bollywood actress. She encompasses a variety of roles that she follows with intense fervor. Winning the Miss Universe title (the first Indian to do so) was only the start. Adopting Renee at the young age of 25, adopting Alisah few years later, immersing herself in child welfare and education of the girl child, Sushmita is an example of courage and strong will amidst the countless aunties harping on marriage – give them a dose of Sushmita’s story and watch them back off.

6. Kangana Ranaut (30)

She is a refreshing person in the tumultuous Bollywood industry. Her bold, frank, honest views and daredevil approach marks her as one of a kind. From Gangster, Fashion, Queen to Tanu Weds Manu, Kangana holds her own easily. With 3 National Awards and 4 Filmfare Awards, Kangana is a great epitome of a woman who believes in herself and who slays any naysayer in her way. Take that annoying neighbours!

7. Deepika Padukone (30)

Yeah fine, so what if she’s dating, the lissome lady pursues her career with fierce devotion.  While many think that ‘Om Shaanti Om’ was her debut, in reality, it was the Kanadda film ‘Aishwarya’ that marked Deepika’s entry into movie-dom. This darling of the masses is soon to be seen in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage! How amazing is that!

So there you go. Dare anyone now pester you about marriage, if they do, well, you’re well armoured to strike down their arguments.

If you feel you need more ammunition, head over to follo.in for some in-depth updates about your Bollywood celebrities. You can also catch up with them on:

Go forth and defy those pesky aunties!