Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book Review - Tea-20

‘Tea-20’ is simple, sweet, and teaches many lessons.

Genre: Anthology of fictional stories

Publishers: Frog books/ Leadstart Corp.

‘Tea-20’ is a collection of twenty simple, fictional yet very realistic stories. Penned by first time writer, Vinod Kumar S., almost each story in ‘Tea-20’ conveys a certain message, a lesson, worth learning. The hook of the book says, “This anthology will not only entertain you, but will also give you a generous dose of laughter; it will make you think and contribute to the society, teach simple things about life, and also take you by surprise.”

I must say, Vinod’s book, almost, delivers what it promises. The stories are simple, sweet, well narrated and conveys some important messages. As a reader, the stories will make you think and analyse yourself, and maybe, they will help you develop into a better person. The stories are short; most of them are only 4-5 pages long. So, you can sit back and enjoy a story, while sipping your tea. And, that’s what the tag line of the book is – Perfect companion for your teatime.  I really appreciate those writers, who fulfill the promises made by their story’s title and the hook. Vinod’s book succeeds in justifying the title, as well as the short synopsis (hook) behind the book.

I may not be able to write the gist of each story, but I can surely share a few of my favourites. I really liked how Vinod used coffee as a medium, in the story ‘A Cup of Coffee’, to explain that one should live a balanced life. One should not be too serious, and at the same time, one should not be too nonchalant. Similarly, the story ‘A Beauty that turned Dirty’ will highlight how and why basic etiquette are more important than the physical beauty. Stories, like ‘Bye’ and ‘My Dog – an Amazing Teacher’, highlights the importance of family and loved ones. Similarly, there are stories that will teach you to live your life with contentment and happiness, and a few stories will make you ponder – ‘How good a person you are?’ 

One of the very few negatives, which I felt, is the lack of humor quotient in the stories, which were supposed to be humorous. Secondly, too many stories revolve around the lives of IT professionals, maybe because Vinod is an IT professional himself. As a fiction writer, I personally feel, one should try to come out of his/her own domain.  There are a few editorial mistakes, but I won’t blame the writer for this.

In a nut shell, 'Tea-20' is a well-written compilation of short, yet meaningful stories that convey many lessons worth learning. As promised in its tag line, it is a perfect teatime companion. And, those who don’t drink tea, like me, can enjoy reading this book while doing, just about anything. I am going with 3.5 out of 5 stars for Vinod Kumar’s 'Tea-20'.

Verdict: Sweet, Simple, Well Narrated, Conveys some Important Messages and a Perfect ANYTIME Companion.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review : The Secret of the Nagas


Genre: Mythology/ Fiction  

“The Secret Of The Nagas” is the second book of the Shiva Trilogy, written by Amish. This book is the sequel to “The Immortals of the Meluha”, a national best seller. 

“The Secret of the Nagas” begins where the first book of the trilogy, “The Immortals of the Meluha”, ends – a Naga attack on Shiva and Sati. Nagas are the people having non-human deformities, due to their past lives’ sins. And hence, they are neglected by the common society and are forced to live in abandonment. In the first book, Shiva’s best friend, Brahaspati, got killed in a terrorist attack, which Shiva assumed, was the act of Nagas. Now, Shiva is on a revenge mission.  He takes on a journey, across India, to find the evil and the real secret behind the Nagas. Who are these Nagas? Are they really evil? As Shiva travels across the lengths and breaths of ancient India, he finds out the answers to all the unsolved mysteries – the mystery behind the Nagas, the mystery behind the Maika system in Meluha, and of course, the mystery behind the death of his best friend, Brahaspati. He finds out that the Nagas are actually not as bad, as they are considered to be. There are incidents when the Nagas save the lives of his wife, Sati, and son, Kartik. In a major revelation, he also finds out that the Naga Queen is none other than his wife’s real sister - Kali, and the Lord of the People, a Naga, is none other than his wife’s first son - Ganesh. But, being born with deformities, they were abandoned by Daksha, the emperor of Meluha and the father of Sati. However, the biggest secret is revealed when Shiva reaches Panchvati, the land of Nagas. This is the secret behind the death of his friend, Brahaspati.  

This is a brief summary of a 385 page mythological saga. As I said in the review of “The Immortals of Meluha” – The Shiva Trilogy is NOT a Shivpuran. So those who are expecting to learn about the Lord Shiva, will be disappointed. Amish has picked up the mythological characters, like Shiva, Sati, Daksha, Nandi, Kartik, Kali, Ganesh, Parshuram etc. and fascinatingly blended them into a fictional trilogy.  

Now the review…“The Immortals of Meluha” was splendid. Quite obviously, expectations are always very high when a sequel to a successful movie or book is released. But, like most sequels of successful movies, the sequel of “The Immortals of Meluha” is nowhere near the first one. Yes, Amish has done an outstanding job in imagining the whole concept of Shiva Trilogy by blending mythological characters in a fictional story. This effort, indeed, deserves applause. “The Secrets of the Nagas” also has some exciting moments, some unexpected revelations, some great battle scenes, but… it drags! At most places, the flow of the book is slow, and the reader tends to feel bored. The narration is simple, but the narration style does not fit the story, which is set in the 1900 BC. Dialogues like “Ditto, Oh Hell, Dammit etc.” spoil the magic of the book. If, for a moment, we forget that the characters’ names are taken up from Hindu mythology, the story itself becomes very ordinary.

Some of the concepts, described in the book, are/can be really baffling. Like for instance – The competitive examination to filter Chandravanshis and Suryavanshis, reminded me of IIT or AIEEE competitive exams. The temples, build at great heights, acting as transmitters, reminded me of Transmitter Towers. There is one character in the book, which is sketched quite similar to Bollywood’s music director Mr. Bappi Lehri, and quite interestingly, the name of the character is Bappiraj. But the biggest concept, which may or will baffle the readers, especially strong believers of Hindu religion, is calling Ganesh and Kali as the Nagas – characters with deformities (Ganesh, a Naga with a face of an elephant, and Kali, a Naga with four arms). It is very hard for the reader to remember, that this is just a fictional story, with fictional characters whose names are similar to Hindu Mythological characters. If the readers manage to keep the Hindu religion beliefs out of their mind, then this book will surely be liked by everyone. 

To sum up, Amish’s “The Secret Of The Nagas” is exciting, yet disappointing. It will keep you engaged for a few moments, and then it begins to drag.  The reader will feel mesmerized, but sometimes, the reader will feel frustrated as well. There are way too many characters in the book, which reduces the immense presence of Shiva. I am going with a generous 3 out of 5 stars for Amish’s “The Secret Of The Nagas”.

Verdict: “THE SECRETS OF THE NAGAS” is partly EXCITING, and partly DISAPPOINTING.  The sequel is nowhere near the first book.