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A Love Life so Painful
Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai
Those enchanted four and half years
One and a Half Wife
The Bankster
Love You Forever : Only In That Way
Nine Lives
The Mistress of Spices
The Fortune Hunters
I Too Had A Love Story..
Ladies Coupé
The Krishna Key
Mumbaistan: 3 Explosive Crime Thrillers
Of Tattoos and Taboos!
Left from Dhakeshwari
I loved a Street woman
Chanakya's Chant
Dreams in Prussian Blue

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Review: Hello Stranger by Ketaki Patwardhan Nirkhi

Title: Hello Stranger
Author: Ketaki Patwardhan Nirkhi
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited (Kindle edition Only)
Price: INR 130/Free Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 221

Snapshot:  Roohi is still trying to come to terms with the end of her marriage with Jay. While her best friend Tanya helps her emotionally and practically with it, Roohi feels the need to socialize more. She starts making friends with new people but can strangers be trusted? Mysterious happenings around her make her question her choice new friends but who amongst them is the culprit? Or is it something else? Hello stranger is this short suspense read that entertains you and also makes you question the next stranger you might meet.

Detailed Review:  Jay leaves Roohi for his new sweetheart. The end of a marriage that began in love leaves her questioning herself. Her self esteem is low and she really needs a big change in life. Sensing this her best friend Tanya volunteers to hep by making her join a gym and encouraging her to socialize. As she slowly begins to feel the positive vibes of these actions, she becomes comfortable in making new friends. The first being her extremely good looking gym instructor, Ranveer. She  also decides to keep a tenant to ward off her loneliness, Reesha and socializing with Sid, her helpful new next door neighbor. When life finally seems to be getting on a positive note strange occurrences begin. People start disappearing. Tanya and Roohi decide to put the pieces of puzzle together to reach to a big mystery surrounding them.

Having read Ketaki's first book before, it was no surprise that the writing was lucid and captivating from the beginning. She convincingly constructs the characters and situations, making the reader get into the story with ease. The suspense is built up decently, however the plot becomes apparent too soon. It is not difficult to decode the happenings that follow. The author could have easily built a more difficult plot with more characters for it to be convoluted enough for a greater suspense. Thus though the premise is promising, the essence of a suspense isn't felt in the enormity a reader would expect.

Good for a travel read.

RC Rating: 3/5

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Aryabhata Clan by Sudipto Das

Title: The Aryabhata Clan
Author: Sudipto Das
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Price: 444
Pages: 476

Snapshot Review: 
The Aryabhata Clan is a unique book; truly unique. Reading it filled me with genuine surprise and pleasure at the growth of Indian Writing, albeit in an alien tongue English. The scope, breadth and depth of the book is quite frankly stunning – and it deserves a read for this reason alone, its weaknesses notwithstanding. The author deserves credit and a standing ovation for imagination, bringing diverse thought-streams, ideas and domains into one connected story with immaculate detailing.

What can I say about the story? I am at a loss for words, and don’t know where to start. But, in a nutshell, the story is an involved story around a planned terror attack in India, and how some people, alongwith the authorities, go about thwarting it, and the price they have to pay for it. The fun part is the base story has been embellished with an eclectic mix of History, Art, Lingustics, Handicrafts, Ancient Mathematics and Geography to create a stunning saga. You might wonder what does Art and Linguistics have to do with foiling a terror plot, to say nothing of Handicrafts? Well, I shan't tell you, and neither will the book blurb at the back of the book. Read the book to find out more!

First, my impression of the book. Now, I have studied linguistics, as well as in-depth History; even I, despite my proclivity for these subjects, found the content pedantic and mildly boring in the early-middle section before the story caught on. On the first reading, I just plain skipped the linguistic and Handicraft part, and wasn’t any the worse in my understanding for it. I accept the importance of detailing in a novel, but this was way too extensive, and frankly a bit tedious. Also, in the early middle part, about 60-70 pages, are needless, and frankly can be cut down by half. For this reason alone, my overall rating for the book suffers, and I rate it around 3 to 3.5 stars.

What this does is it spoils the story in two ways – firstly it disturbs the narrative, and you tend to lose track; it complicates matters, bringing extraneous things into it. Second, it hampers character and plot-line development. A far better approach would have been to find a way to slowly introduce it, interleaving it with greater emphasis on other aspects of the plot – which has several parallel lines of development. Do I, the reviewer, suffer from knowledge bias – having studied History and Linguistics? Perhaps, that is also possible, fair is fair. That said, this section should have been dealt with much better.

Moving on, the consummate skill with which the author has deftly handled the diverse sub-plots, narratives, and methodically laid down the base of the story, as well as it myriad aspects, right from Linguistics to History to Mathematics to Paleography to Handicrafts to Epigraphy is frankly remarkable. Despite a short slip above, he has managed to retain attention –I did continue reading, didn’t I? And, bringing them all together in one kaleidoscope of a wide-spectrum story is awesome. I wish I could rate this 5 stars; pity that I cant.

I wont say much about the characters: this story, truth be told, isn’t about characters. They just failed to register with me. This is not a discredit – the plot is more about the involved intricacies, not about people. Thus, focusing more on people would be a decided spoiler. The narrative is reasonably fast, though complex and involved. This is decidedly not your one time fast read-and-forget novel; this is a collectors edition, to be read at your own pace, and with a free mind.

The story gathers pace and improves dramatically from the middle section, around page 200 or so, and takes on a life of its own. The part prior to this was more complex, establishing the background, and going into detailing of the various aspects. Thus, in conclusion, this is a great book to read, though a bit involved, and complex. 

RC Rating: I rate it 3.5 stars overall. With a bit of reorganization and editing, this is easily 5-star material – but what is there is good enough. No doubts on that score!

About the Author: An alumnus of IIT KGP, Sudipto is a successful entrepreneur, having co-founded two start-ups. He is also an author, musician, columnist and a speaker at TED events. A violinist, trained in Western classical music, Sudipto debuted as a music composer in 2014. He is a member of an amateur music band, Kohal. History, culture, language, writing, music and travel feature prominently in his range of interests. 
The Aryabhata Clan is his second book, the Ekkos Clan being the first.

Book Reviewed by Vishal Kale.
Vishal Kale has an MBA in Marketing with 16 years of experience in Sales, Marketing & Operations across various industries, with end-to-end specialisation in telecom sales and marketing. 

He is an Indian Top Blogger {on ITB Website} for the past 2 years and counting; Nominated in top 5 Political Bloggers by Blogadda in Win-15 & Among the top 200 bloggers worldwide on Invesp. He specialises in deep politico-economic analysis; Books off the beaten track, and a value & fundamentals-based approach towards the Indian Economy, Corporate India - And Especially Indian Colonial History"

Monday, May 7, 2018

Love Trumps All by Sudarshan Mahabal

Title: Love Trumps All
Author: Sudarshan Mahabal
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Inkstate
Price: 399/279(Kindle Edition)
Pages: 374

This is a story of lives narrated by its multiple protagonists about their life journeys around one another. It is set up from the era when "America" was "a dream" for many Indians and the Y2K boom did present a opportunity for many to make it come true, till the current times when it is no longer a fantasy and questions like values, ethics and life satisfaction have taken an equal importance.

The protagonists are Anant Joshi, the typical Indian small town guy, works hard and achieves milestones and fulfills his American dream. Madhura Sharma, a girl with great love for India and a strong urge to work in social sector and give back to the society. Chris, O 'Brian an American entrepreneur who loves nature and travel, Anants best friend too. Amy Cohen, Chris's girlfriend and very mush a free spirited American girl, training to be a doctor.  Sameera Qureshi - Amy's best friend and fellow medical student, Indian Muslim girl with a troubled past.

Anant Joshi takes the central stage mostly as it is around his life story and decisions that most other events unfold. He is an above average India student, not extremely brilliant but hard working. With a little guidance and imagination carves out himself from the cocoon of his small town Khamgoan in Maharashtra first to the city of Mumbai and then to the USA in the Y2K phase. The writer has done maximal justice in portraying his character, for if one is an Indian ambitious youth who despite coming from humble beginnings in a resource constrained, information poor zones as most of the youth today is, one can immediately relate to him. He is in love with the idealistic Madhura, who is all Indian by soul person. She feels cheated when he decides to make his future in the USA and refuses to go along. 

Life in USA changes for Anant, as he slowly adjusts to their ways while maintaining his individuality. He finds a good friend in Chris O'Brian, who is a regular, intelligent and chilled out American citizen. His girlfriend Amy is a free spirit and is a close friend of Sameera Qureshi. Anant and Sameera fall in love on a trip but the religion barrier exist. However they don't feel the full blow of it as they are in a far away alien nation. Few years down the line however things change as they decide to move back to India, to be closer to their roots and for a better work life balance. However, India has changed a lot since when Anant first moved to the states. The difference in religion would hit them harder now. Also life will come in full circle as Madhura would make a re-entry into the couples lives. To know what happens next, read the book.

The writer has done an amazing job in describing the Y2K boom period and how Indians were hired in masses, the problems they faced and the adjustments they made, to eventually make the great American dream come true. The book is more of a philosophical take on life, situations, politics religion and most of all relationships. The book alternates with the characters narrating their stories which is distracting as one has to go to and fro from a single point and it is many a times very repetitive. The author has given his reasons for choosing to do so which to the reader in me isn't very convincing. 

The book also goes in extreme details at certain points which drag the flow and gets one dis-interested. These could be easily avoided with good editing. The story also had a great potential in ending in a full circle, a beautiful metaphorical ending, but the writer chooses to drag it further. The story should have been a third person narrative which would have done a lot of justice to the plot and the essence it tries to convey in my opinion.

RC Rating: 3/5.

       About The Author:

Sudarshan is a Data Scientist in one of the large Silicon Valley companies by day, and a writer by night. He is a Production Engineer from VJTI Mumbai, MBA from California State University, Stanford Certified in Strategy and a research scholar working on his PhD in predictive analytics from SIU. He is also a visiting professor of statistics and data mining at different MBA institutions. He splits his life between Silicon Valley, USA and Pune, India with his wife, their two sons and a golden retriever dog named Steffy who is the furry love of his life. 'Love Trumps All!' is his first novel.

Grab a copy here:,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Book Review : Before You Start Up by Pankaj Goyal

Title: Before You Start Up
 Author: Pankaj Goyal
Category: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Pankaj Goyal
Price: Fingerprint Publishers 
Pages: 155
Price: 175 (Free on Kindle Unlimited)

Snapshot: If you fall in the range of being an individual who is to start up a business but are confused or somebody who has started a business recently. The book gets you face to face with the most critical questions you should ask yourself, the aspects you must consider in this phase. The writer explains every point he makes with exemplary cases which makes it an authentic and an interesting read.

Detailed Review: 
As the name suggests this is a book you read before you have actually started up. The author also has some sections for people who are an year or so (nascent) into their start ups, VC's to judge a start up pitch or get into a business themselves, and best of all for people dating the start up people (yeah I know you would love him already for this). The writer begins the book with a lot of honesty which makes one hooked to it.

The first chapter is a hard look at the reasons people want to start up as it sounds really cool, the generation craves independence at work and control, don't want a boss, it seems to the pop culture thanks to the Business leaders getting a star status and the valleys like Silicon coming up which glamorizes the business world more than it has been ever before this time. It gives you a real picture of the success ratios of startups which is one in ten and the reasons why many could fail.The author has given multiple examples, a good mix of both the billion dollar and locally successful companies, so as to be real and not just glamorous which I found to be one of the most critical aspects of this book. 

If your determination lasts thus far ad you are very sure to take the plunge to be an entrepreneur, he takes you deeper into the aspects critical to the business such as: Why do you wish to build a specific business? How to turn into an idea generating machine? How to create a business plan and seriously evaluate your idea. choose a co founder and aspects to really dwell microscopically into before taking the plunge? He then
dwells into brushing up on every key basic aspect that one needs to be mentally prepared for and pay attention to before taking the plunge.The writer finally goes into helping you set parameters to evaluate the success of your business in the first year. 

Many books inspire you to create business and many teach you how to, the important questions that remain to be addressed are "Why, What and When" of the business and this book fills that lacunae. If you want a spreadsheet that helps you evaluate your decision of starting up, grab this book right away.

RC Rating : 4/5

About the Author:

Pankaj Goyal grew up in a typical Indian middle class family in Rajasthan. In a family of government employees, he was taught the standard script to build your career: “Work hard on academics and get the highest scores”. And that’s the path he took. While he got his Bachelors in Computer Science from IIT Kanpur and an MBA from IIM Bangalore, there was always an itch . . . an itch to start a business. He started his company in 2008 and ran it for three years. His experience was bitter sweet. The business generated good cash, but failed to grow. He then took a break, moved to the USA and joined McKinsey and Company. Ever since, he has worked across the world in the technology industry. His work is now focused on applying Artificial Intelligence for the benefit of companies. He continues to be involved in the world of entrepreneurship as an angel investor and as an advisor to startups in the Silicon Valley and India.