Book Review: The Aryavarta Chronicles book 2: Kaurava


Author: Krishna Udayasankar
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN13: 9789350096345
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 472
Source: Flipkart

Kaurava is the second book in the mytho-historical trilogy, The Aryavarta Chronicles. It begins with Emperor Yudhisthir and Empress Draupadi, ruling over the unified kingdom of Aryavarta. The kingdom was put together for them by Govinda, with blessings from the Firewrights.

The Firewrights rise up from ashes of history, divided in their allegiance and purpose, and ready to wreak havoc on the kingdom. As sinister plots and treacherous allegiances form, the once noble land transforms into a nightmare. The Emperor gambles away the empire, while the empress is sent into exile as various factions within the realm congregate to conquer and destroy each other. Govinda knows that the only way to protect the Empress and the land is by playing a life-threatening game.

The author keeps the core of the classic saga in close contact all through the story, not altering the essence at any time. It’s the descriptions of characters and the relationships between them, which she so beautifully portrays, that keeps you hooked.
The ruthlessness of Yudhishtir, the stubbornness and strength of Panchali, the few good traces of Duryudhan, along with the twists added by Asvattama, Shikandi and Dhrstyadymn make it a brilliant read. The Draupadi-Krishna relationship over the years has been analysed as platonic, brother-sister love. In the book Panchali and Govinda have an unrequited love which ends up being the first innocent victim in the race power. That is my favorite twist.

Krishna Udayasankar is an Indian best selling author from Bangalore, India. She has also authored Objects Of Affection and The Aryavarta Chronicles (Book – 1): Govinda.

I happened to read both the books in quick succession, and now I can barely wait for the third one. In all the reconstructions and de constructions of the Mahabharata, Krishna Udayasankar’s The Aryavarta Chronicles are my favourites.

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Review: The Aryavarta Chronicles book 1: Govinda


Author: Krishna Udayasankar
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN13: 9789350094464
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 472
Source: Flipkart

Govinda is the first book of the Aryavarta Chronicles. It is an ancient Indian mythology series. It is de constructed re-telling of The Mahabharata.
Aryavarta – the ancient realm of the noble. For generations, the Firstborn dynasty of scholar-sages, descendants of Vasishta Varuni and protectors of the Divine Order on earth, have dominated. For just as long, the Angirasa family of Firewrights, weapon-makers to the kings and master inventors, have defied them. In the aftermath of the centuries-long conflict Aryavarta gets divided into several kingdoms.
When the last Secret Keeper of the Firewrights is dead, killed by a violent hand, and the battle for supreme power in the empire is inevitable. As mighty powers march towards a bloody conflict, Govinda Shauri, cowherd prince and  Commander of the armies of Dwaraka, must use all his abilities including that of deception and treachery to protect his people.

This book is woven around the Mahabharata saga but manages to take it surpass the divinity of saga and makes a simpler socio-political story. The main characters stay the same, only here Krishna is more predominant in Govinda. The author makes the charachter of Govinda more real and thus more believable. Taking magic out and portraying him as a man, not god yet keep the enigma intact makes you understand Krishna a little more.
Even though the core story cannot be played around with much, the author adds flavour by her explanations and reasoning behind plots and situations.

The author Krishna Udayasankar is a graduate of the NLSIU, Bangalore and holds a PhD in Strategic Management from the Nanyang Business School, Singapore, where she is presently working as a lecturer. Her other works include Objects of Affection, a full-length collection of poetry and has been the editor of Body Boundaries: The Etiquette Anthology of Women’s Writing.

Humanising a saga as epic as the Mahabharata could have worked in many ways. Looking at Gods devoid of magic, walking the earth as mere mortals isn’t how some people would like their stories to be. But it works perfectly for me. Its makes its easier to explore character relationships in a different light. The research is thorough and extensive, the twist add the much needed flavour, making it a fantastic read.

Rating: 4/5


Book Review: Lovers Like You and I


Author: Minakshi Thakur
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789351160298
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Personal Copy

When the master of words Gulzar pens down a line for the cover, slaves like me pick it up without another thought. He calls it a novel with a rare ambiance of art and love. That put the book at a certain standard in my head. When I began reading, I was hoping it lived up to what I was expecting.

Lovers Like You And I is set in Delhi during the nineties. The book is a journey of young Nayan, born to an aloof doctor and an Assamese musician. It elaborates her experience of love as she transforms from a young girl to a woman. She meets men and women from varied backgrounds, generations and places, a film maker, a doctor, a student, a painter, who have at some point or the other in their lives, not only been in love but felt it and expressed it differently. It is through these encounters that she is exposed to the various faces of love. However, it is her own story with Salil, a drifter who alternates between poetry and backpacking that forms the core of the plot.
This is an unusual novel that evokes a lost era a time when people wrote letters and cherished the ones they received. With its effortless bilingualism and its seamless use of prose and verse, it challenges our notions of conventional storytelling to take us into a world where emotion rules and where time and leisure take on new meanings.

“Love is the magic word. Minakshi Thakur has revealed the hearts and souls of lovers like you and I. When love is real, the lovers are so unreal. Salil and Nayan never think of the thinkable and tangible. Its a novel with a rare ambience of art and love.” says Gulzar and I whole heartedly agree.

My favorite lines from the book are:
The sweet delusion of my soul rises in ecstasy like a bubble in a champagne flute, only to kiss the brim and burst into a union with the fluid twilight within… I can see two gold bands swim towards each other, intertwine, then disengage and chase each other, play and frolic in that sea of intoxication. I can almost touch the momentary exuberance of the mad convergence of my world with yours. That joy, fleeting, yet so eternal in its brief permanence, is like the world’s last sea wave lapping at my feet and ebbing away.

The book moves slowly into your bloodstream and makes you high on emotions. It is a must read if you are a romantic at heart.

Rating: 5/5

Book Review: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth


Author: Chris Hadfield
Publisher: Pan Books Ltd.
ISBN13: 9781447257516
Genre: Non- Fiction
Pages: 284
Source: Flipkart

Chris Hadfield is one of the most seasoned and accomplished astronauts in the world. He most recently served as Commander of the International Space Station where, while conducting a record-setting number of scientific experiments and overseeing an emergency spacewalk, he gained worldwide acclaim for his breathtaking photographs and educational videos about life in space. His music video, a zero gravity version of David Bowies Space Oddity, received over 10 million views in its first three days online.
If you are one of those ( like me) who relentlessly followed his tweets this, book is a treat.

An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth is the journey of the writer from dreaming of being an astronaut as a kid, to being a very successful one. Its a story of falling, getting up, dusting yourself and walking again. He gives us a zero gravity way of looking at life. A new perception. The book is a memoir of a life spent working towards the ultimate goal.  Begins with the inspirational viewing of the first moon landing on TV, moves on into  boisterous childhood within a large, loving, southern Ontario farm family. He very sweetly describes his years as a test pilot, his marriage to his high-school sweetheart and  fathering of three kids. It gets down right to business with his gradual movement up the ranks, but the best part comes in where he describes the missions in all their glory.

Reading a detailed description of life in space from the master himself is a definite delight. Portraying issues like going the the bathroom in space using humour has worked very well, and so has the creative naming of the chapters. Once you are through a few you don’t want to stop reading it. He also wraps in life lessons like setting goals, of training extra-hard, of sweating the smallest details, of staying humble and ready to learn more, and of the importance of never being a drag on your team, crew, or organization, learnt from experiences in them.

The book doesn’t go on to my most favourite list but lingers just short of it. Its is a must read for av-geeks and space junkies. It gives hope to everyone who has a dream and wants to live it.

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Review: I Am Life


Author: Shraddha Soni
Publisher: Random House
ISBN13: 9788184003581
Genre:  Spiritual Fiction
Pages: 192
Source: Personal Copy

“An edgy modern-day fable that takes you on a mystical journey with life.” is the best way to describe the book written by the pretty Shraddha.
The story revolves around Siddharth Khanna and follows him around through his journey of spiritual awakening.
It beings with the protagonist having an interesting conversation with his friend Andrea. His anguish of not being able to pursue his dream career as a pilot because of his father, is revealed. He travels to the US in search of a new beginning, instead finds Rhea. Spending time with her lands Siddharth in another trying situation. He is forced into marrying a pregnant Rhea. He joins her father in his business for sustenance. A forced  loveless marriage gets the worst out of him, making him indifferent to things around him.
The plot changes lanes when Rhea decides to divorce Siddharth. She also kicks him out of her father’s business, leaving him homeless and penniless yet again. He crashes at his friend Andrea’s for a while. Andrea instigates him to take a journey in search of inner peace. He begins his spiritual quest in Rishikesh. Surrounded with nature at its best, he meet Myrahh. She leads him through the journey that he has travelled a thousand miles for. Enlightening him with what life really means.

Spiritual fiction is an acquired taste. It does not mean the same to everyone, exactly what I felt while reading the book. It can be interpreted in many ways depending on what your mind throws at you. Shraddha tries to answer nagging questions like”who am I?” and “what do I want to be in life?” and is fairly successful in it. If you want to begin a journey of self discovery, here is where you start.

I loved the story, If you sat across Shraddha at your favorite joint sipping on sangrias while she narrated it, you would love it too!

Rating: 3.5/5

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Book Review: The Diary of a Reluctant Feminist


Author: Bhavna Bhavna
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN: 978-93-5009-671-0
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 197
Source: Flipkart

The Diary of a reluctant feminist is a candid account of the authors struggle between being brought up with middle class values and having modern thoughts. Like the cover suggests it is a humorous take on discussing uncomfortable issues with parents, in this case: Divorce.

Bhavna succeeds in painting a graphic image of a full blooded punjabi joint family. With the grandmother “at the top of the food chain” and hierarchy followed like the martial law. The lack of privacy is just one of the problems that arises when the families of seven brothers stay together in the same house. Quirky characters like an eager to help uncle, who scouts the sunday newspapers for grooms make appearances as the story progresses.
The disharmony between generations and the effects it has on all involved comes across nicely. She has made an attempt to sprinkle humor on issues such as weight loss, arranged marriage and inter racial marriage which work very well at most instances.

It like reading a personal diary, so it got its share of rants. Some longer than the others. You sympathize with her at times, and then get to empathizing too. After all being stuck in a loveless marriage isn’t a nice thing to happen to anyone. The parents not being supportive adds to the misery. You can feel the author struggle with stringent so called middle class values and moral rules. The redundancy of the whole exercise leaves a bitter after taste in the mouth.
In short it’s a complicated story of a simple divorce.

Over all the book is a good one time read, just to know what the author has gone through. The beginning of each chapter is with a well written poem and ending is with a check list, a nice twist added there.

Rating: 2.5/5

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