The Mahabharata Quest - The Alexander Secret : Book Review

Too many co-incidents happening. First when I started reading a lot about mythology, I came across Devdutt's Shikhandi. Then Blogadda came up with 7 Secrets of Goddess. That one, had a chapter about Gods from various parts of the world. Majorly, Greek one. That made me curious to dig more into the subject. And just when I started doing that, Blogadda came up with this (although fiction) one, The Mahabharata Quest : The Alexander Secret. Written by Christopher C Doyle, this thriller is based on the events ranging from 334 BC to present day. Interestingly weaving in the secret of Mahabharata into Greek legends of Zeus and Alexander. I immediately jumped in for this book. (As till now, reading a hefty amount of myths made me want to escape to fiction once again).

And Doyle didn't disappoint me as I expected it to be an engaging affair. After a mysterious prologue, the story starts with an excavation site at Greece. Continuing the team from previous adventure, Vijay, Radha, Alice, Colin and Imran gets tangled in yet another secret. A secret they couldn't think can be connected in this way. A secret that has twists and revelations. (Though I have the previous book lying on my shelf, I don't think reading this book directly will harm. Nothing connected between the two except some sentences referencing to previous book).

The research of Doyle shows at many parts of the book. Despite of being a fiction, it holds a lot of authentic and honest amount of writing that makes you awestruck. The route of Alexander during his march towards Indus, the ongoings in Greek politics and even the detailed description of viruses, bacterias, organisms and even DNA and RNA. So authentic it is and not written just for the sake of it. Though the fact is, the medical description made me lose the attention, distracting from the flow of the story, of course it was needed to be there.

As mythological-fiction is becoming one of my favorite genre by the time, this one is definitely has that intriguing plot. Making you think what lies ahead for the team. For reserved Vijay, for courageous Radha and supportive Alice and Colin. Making you curious about how the riddles get solved one by one. The writing style of Doyle is compelling. It holds your attention most of the time without deviating to silly details, dialogues or monologues. And again, I would like to mention, the research and timing how each chapter from past is placed. Right incident at right time. No 'flashback' kinda chapter for events of past, and not even overdone now-and-then pieces of past. Just perfect balance. And by the time you reach towards climax, you yourself get into search mode. I actually started Google-ing things which one of the character did in the story. The unusual backdrop for the climax adds more effectiveness.

All in all, this is a really commendable effort by author Christopher C Doyle. The Mahabharata Quest needs to be read for the stunning amount of research went into it. Smooth connecting links between Greek and Indian myths. And the thrills ! Go for it.


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PK : Music Review

Ajay-Atul's Tharki Chokro is as functional as a Rajasthani track can be. With all the deja vu, it still works well with catchy title loop. While childish Nanga Punga Dost makes an interesting listen with its violins. Lovely short violin tune repeats thru the track making it stuck in head sound. What is more interesting about these two songs is its lyrics. Getting our curiosity higher for the storyline.

Next set of songs are nice change from regular set of singers these days. Shaan's Chaar Kadam with Shreya is that typical-Moitra-Love-ballad-template. And I am not complaining there. Next is Sonu with Shreya. Making a fun duet in Love is a waste of time. Reminding of Pal Pal (Lage Raho...) though. Amitabh Varma's mushy words with a twist makes it more fun. But Sonu's next disappoints. Bhagwan hai kahan re tu is rather an ordinary, strictly situational track. Similarly, PK Dance theme. Lastly Dil Darbadar by Ankit Tiwari - feels totally out of place. No where it contains the theme of rest of the album.

Barring two tracks and despite template-ized sounds, PK works well in the borders of the movie. PK will work more effectively after watching the movie perhaps.

My Picks : Love is a waste of time, Chaar Kadam 

PK Music review, shantanu moitra, ajay, atul, aamir khan, ankit tiwari, rajkumar hirani, alien aamir.

7 Secrets of the Goddess : Book Review


Earlier, when I was busy reading the most popular mythological fiction trilogy, I sidelined Devdutt Pattnaik thinking 'he is just another writer who wants to cash in the increasing popularity of mythology'. Extremely wrong I was. I felt so when I read his latest 'Shikhandi' and awed by the fact how satisfying the experience can be while reading his works. Co-incidently Blogadda came up with this giveaway I couldn't resist. 7 Secrets of Goddess - by Devdutt Pattnaik is extremely rich and informative, almost falling in 'Refernce' genre. 

In times when we are still keep talking about women empowerment, the writer takes us back to the times of Vedas and Puranas when Female domination was seen in altogether different way. When she is Lakshmi, she empowers Indra - the king of Gods. When she is Kali - she empowers Shiva, God of the Gods. And when she is Sita, she is rather tamed and support avatar of Vishnu, Rama. The scenarios changed, so is the role of female - the Goddess. Devdutt takes help of various scriptures, poster and calendar arts, temple idols and even the folklores. Weaving together, he smoothly presents his own point of view. His own dissection about how the perception changed from BCE to CE. From Bible to Tantra. Talking about Bible, in the extremely details opening chapter, writer wins you over with awe inspiring details and connections from various corners of the world. Including the story of creation of the land of Japan, Greek mythology and Egyptian mysteries. 

Personally, it felt like I am a child again, while reading this. I remember visiting my ancestors' home back in village, where all the copies of Puranas lie there in cupboard. I used to dust off them and enjoy the illustrations and the tales (whatever little I could understand). Skanda Purana, Brahmavaivarta, Shiva and Bhagvat Purana, is all I can remember. Pattnaik lured me to revisit those Puranas again, as now after reading his works I realized how rich our literature is. 

The real highlight of this book is how each left page has illustrated information with inputs from the writer. Some unique and unseen pictures to the most common ones which we regularly see but ignore. For example, numerous times I had seen Bahuchar Mata's picture but never thought who the horse-rider behind her, is. Now I know he was her husband ! Also, how Durga has various forms, most of them are created from simple piece of rock ! The excellent print quality and bigger-than-normal size of font, and the book adds more premium value to the contents. The pictures make the book really a worthy of lifetime keep. 

Have had complaints from people who overlooked this book and passed it on saying 'it is using sex to sensationalize'. I disagree. It is 'us', the so-called sophisticated people who has made it a big deal. When you are talking about feminism, women, creation and pro-creation; you have to talk about sex. After all that is a part of life cycle you can't deny. Our ancestors never shied of such things, but it is us who took censorship in our hand and made everyone read what looked 'good' and made us 'happy' that we have 'clean sanskruti'. 

Keeping that cribbing aside. After reading just two of his works, (and Jaya, lying on my shelf) Devdutt Pattnaik, is really a writer worth following. Surprising how he served a total different industry till now. But have taken turn on this way. Re-telling the things we keep hearing since our birth. And 7 Secrets of Goddess can be an excellent start of this journey. It is worth every page. A must read.


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www.MarryAghost.com : Book Review

Have rarely read stories that involved Love and affection. Never had I thought that would be so interesting. Having always loved fairy tale'ish fiction stories, I never thought I would actually like reading something that deals with the topic I always have ignored. Thanks to Blogadda, now I am leaping genre to genre. And oh, thank you for autographed copy ! This time, its all about love. But not just a regular mushy stuff. But an interesting plot one would have never heard of.

'www.MarryAghost.com' by Abhimanyu Jha is an interesting account of life of Veeru. A techie who runs failed startup and does freelancing along with his buddy. One day, they challenge each other and things end up as a matchmaking website for ghosts ! Yes, ghosts. To his surprise, the site has its first registration as well and that too by a ghost who is looking for her love that will help her find oblivion ! Add to this, a mysterious lady in her fifties, professor at a college, who can see and talk to ghosts.

Proceedings go quite interesting way as the quest begins as Veeru and Maahi goes in search of the guy. From funny to mushy. Even, mysterious at places. The story proceeds pretty fast and that is actually a good thing for a story of this genre. Lead character Veeru is someone you may love to fall in love with. The way Jha describes him, the carefree young lad falling in love with Maahi-the ghost. And Maahi, the lovely lady - whose search for her lover forms crux of the story - is equally an interesting character.

The angle of mystery attached with the storyline keeps you glued to it. How the dream of Maahi is decoded, how Maahi meets a mysterious character which leads to more questions. And above all these, the lady in question. Professor lady. All of this creates interesting mix for this search. Equally, the lovelorn character of Maahi makes you want to believe her pain. Though Maahi and Veeru's conversations are occasionally fun and occasionally endearing. Still, I felt there is something missing there. Something, that could have been better. Sometimes the attachment of the two, seems fragile, because of the peppy things maybe? Or, the writer has done so for a purpose?

Another thing I wasn't much comfortable with, is the style of monologue'ish story telling. Turn by turn we get to hear encounters with the eyes of Veeru and Maahi. To certain level, its well done. But sometimes, the scenes get recreated when another character tells it from their angle. It seems duplicated and overtly long. Similarly, the tale of Marquis' flashback, gets into too much detail, almost irritating. Again, is that done for a purpose? Who knows.

Given all those grudges,I would say this one is really an interesting tale. Dashed with one of my favorite genre (ghosts !!) Abhimanyu creates a really interesting storyline that keeps you glued and wanting to know what will happen next. Why the things happen this way with Maahi and who is the professor. Occasionally fun moments add relief to serious on-goings. And without being too literary mushy, you can feel the love. Love of Maahi and Veeru. 

I would recommend this to lover of both genres. Romantic and Horror. Not actually a 'horror' story is this, but it charmingly merges both worlds together.

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Private India : Book Review

So, what makes a good thriller? When it comes to a book, things are different than the movies. Movies, its easy to keep viewer glued to the screen. Help being in form of background score, the camera movements and a lot more. But books, has only one power in them. The word power. So its a tough job to fuel a book thru words that will keep reader immersed in the ongoings. Stuck in the scenarios. Unputdownable-as often said. (very common word I know). Naturally, a tough job. And Ashwin Sanghi, have mastered it. As far whatever works I have read written by him, he definitely scores higher. To be frank, I don't know about James Patterson and this 'Private' series of him. But after reading this, definitely it enticed me to read the series. 

Very well known investigation firm - Private has its own operations in India. Obviously in the commercial hub, maximum city Mumbai houses its headquarter. After solving some key cases including IM induced serial blasts, they are now in big picture. And not just a simple detective agency. So, when they come to know about this murder investigation at an international hotel, Santosh Wagh-the head of organization, knows they are going on a relentless roller coster ride starting from now. And how this ride goes further in a series of killings and surprise revelations. Connections, motives and the secrets, forms the story.

What makes this a really good ride is its pace. I thought I would read some 50-60 pages a day and will complete this by the week. (being 470 pages). But I surprised myself with the reading speed. Despite of my busy schedule, I managed to read 200 pages a day and the book got completed in just three days ! Because, its written so well, in simple language, avoiding fancy phrases. Avoiding unnecessary detailing. And that's how a thriller should be. So fast that there is no point in putting the book down against distractions.

Though, this took toll of the characterization. The book falls flat on that front. Despite of each character having a back story, you can not feel for them and they don't make a lasting impression. They just make a good part of ongoing events. Maybe this was intentional so that it won't mar the thrill. On the other hand, Ashwin Sanghi in his own style, sprinkles mythological elements in the story. Though in a lesser quantity. but effectively he uses this theme. (Don't know how James is attached in project. Did he also co-write the chapter, or he is credited for use of 'Private'?!). Also another thing left me confused about is - unanswered questions. A certain character, who is blamed for the things going on, is left sidelined by the book progresses. And the questions about him, hang right there. otherwise, the description of the city, Mumbai, impresses. The typical elements - smugglers, dance bars, beggars, high profile people, politicians, actors and the police. Everything is weaved in perfectly.

I would rate it as 'should' read for readers who love thrillers. A few hours, well spent reading this. But if you are looking for another Krishna Key, this is not it. This travels a very contemporary genre, but doesn't disappoint. With this, Ashwin Sanghi definitely concretes his position on the must read list.


 
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Ramayana-The Game of Life: Rise of the Sun Prince : Book Review

Since childhood, I have heard, read and seen stories of epic - Ramayan. One of the two biggest epics of India. Seen - in numerous adaptation by tv, cinema and plays. Heard - through grandparents. And read, the versions best suited for kids. Never have I read extensive, sincere and detailed works on the epic. So whatever I knew about Ramayan, was limited to such sources. Thankfully, this series is going to change it completely. Ramayana : The Game Of Life series by Shubha Vilas, is an extensive effort. Part 1 of the series 'Rise of The Sun Prince' kick starts the experience very well.

Rise.. tells the story of earlier phase of Ramayan. The prelude. Where all the forces in heaven, conspires to let the avatar of Lord Vishnu - Rama, walk over the earth. How the kingdom of Ayodhya gears up to welcome him, how he spends his childhood, boyhood and how he leads to marry Sita. Everything in so much detail, yet as concise as possible. And what is so different about this book? How the writer choose to impart wisdom through footnotes. The nectar from the fruit. Almost all pages are sprinkled by such thoughtful notes. Giving lessons on leadership, life changing aspects, divinity, loyalty and much more. Very swiftly the notes give you the best lessons. Also there, in footnotes, some well researched bits about the ongoing is put. Making each page worthy information to read.

It seems really in depth research is done by the author. Taking clues from Valmiki Ramayan as well as Kamba Ramayan (tales from South India). Amalgmation of the two is done in a way one can't detect it. Moreover, it goes into backstories every now and then. Making one's knowledge about things enriched, things we rarely knew.
Sample -

- How vast the city of Ayodhya was, be it area or the infrastructure. How rich its people are, spiritually or physically.
- Detailed life history of Vishwamitra. How he has this life long fight with Vasistha Rishi.
- How a simple wish of Lakshmiji made Lord Vishnu do incarnation of Rama, and her as Sita.
- How Dasratha has to marry as much as 353 times.
- Rama's age during various important stages of Ramayana. (Did you know he married at the age of  12 !!?)
- How did the island of Lanka originated?
- Origin of many holy rivers.

The writing style is fluid. Never you feel it heavy or giving too much of life lessons. At places Shubha describes ongoings so well, it overwhelms you. For example few scenes that are my favorite - when Luv-Kush tells the story of Ramayan in front of Rama himself. Or the times when Dasratha hears stories about braveness of Rama and the proposal of him marrying Sita. Despite of the fact, everything is writen in past tense, you feel you are watching this in front of your eyes and move with it. My only complaint is how the names are written. With extra 'a' in the end. Rama, Dasaratha, Janaka, Lakshmana. I mean, it doesn't at all look authentic. Otherwise, the book is surely a keeper, so must the series. To tell your kids the tales of one of the greatest person walked on this earth.

This is the first time I am seeing this publishing house - Jaico Books. And am surprised to see such perfect work. Starting from the beautiful covers to the printing quality and the paper quality. Everything is just too good. The footnotes fonts are not too small that it makes a comfortable read. Overall, a worthy job.

I would recommend this work - for you to know how detailed our history is. How not everything is known to us and that needs to be told.


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