Archive for November, 2018

Agnisakshi

November 28, 2018

Book : Agnisakshi

Author: Lalithambika Antharjanam

Rating: 5 / 5

Synopsis

The only novel of one of Kerala’s leading women writers, Lalithambika Antharjanam’s Agnisakshi is a telling account of a woman’s life glowing as though purified in the ‘fire of sacrifice’. Set against the history of Kerala, and life, customs, habits, and culture of the Namboodiri community, along with the fervent cries of the Indian National Freedom struggle, the characters act out their unforgettable roles: Tethi, the dazzling but disappointed bride who renounces worldly life; Unni Namboodiri, whose adherence to the Vedic way of life destroys his personal happiness; and Thankam, Unni’s Nair cousin and the mighty Aphan Namboodiri’s daughter, seeking her own liberation from the past.

True to the lyrical and emotional tone of the original, Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan’s translation offers a moving portrait of upper-class, upper-caste Kerala society just before and after Independence.

Review

I had done a #malayalireadathon in Aug, that is when I discovered this book, but it was out of stock and I got it only in September. I had forgotten about it, but in the last week of October I realised that I hadn’t a malayalam book this month, so picked this up. There is a malayalam movie based on the book, which I think I’ve seen parts of.
Usually I have a starting trouble with malayalam books, but this book just pulled me in from the first page. It starts off in Ganga, where Mrs Nair has come with her son and granddaughter. She is searching for “thethiedathy” her sister in law who has become a sanyasini. They do meet but Thethiedathy doesn’t acknowledge her and leaves her abruptly.
Then we go in flashback mode, to understand what made Thethiedathy turn into a sanyasini. Mrs Nair, who was known as Thankam at that time, was born to Appan thamaburan and a Neythiyare Amma (a lower caste woman). As her mother was a Shudra, Thankam was never allowed to touch her father often. I can’t fathom how it would have felt for that kid who could never expect her father to hug her, and if he did he had to cleanse himself. The untouchability custom of that time was too horrible. Aphan thamburan has two sons Unni and.. Unniyettan was always thankam ‘s best friend and playmate and when he brings the news that he is married she excited to have an “edathyamma”. The day the new bride is brought to the house, thankam is not allowed entry as she is of a lower caste. Later Thethiedathy or Devaki, meets Thankam and become the best of friends
What causes Devaki to become a sanyasini?
How did Thankam become Mrs Nair?
What happened to Unni?
It was a heartbreaking tale, there were times when I was so irritated at the people and times when I couldn’t stop my tears. Though initially I couldn’t understand Unniyettan, in the end my heart hurt for him too. At the end of the book when Devaki does regret the decisions she took, I couldn’t fault her for taking them. Devaki and Unni deserved so much more. The story talks about untouchability, the absence of freedom of the women in that time.

There is an English translation of the book which is called ” Fire : My Witness”. This book was a Sahitya academy winner and was the first book to win the Vayalar award.

Favourite quotes

“ഞാനില്ലാതെ, തേതിക്കുട്ടിക്കു ജീവിതമുണ്ടായിരിക്കാം. പക്ഷേ, അവരില്ലാതെ എനിക്കു ജീവിതമില്ല…മാനമ്പള്ളി ഉണ്ണി നമ്പൂതിരി പഴമക്കാരനും വിഡ്ഡിയും മന്തനുമായിരിക്കാം. പക്ഷേ, അയാൾ അഗ്നിസാക്ഷിയായി വേളികഴിച്ച പത്നിയെ ഉപേക്ഷിക്കുവാൻ മാത്രം ക്രൂരനല്ല, എന്നവരെ അറിയിച്ചേക്കൂ. സ്നേഹിക്കുന്നവർക്ക് വേണ്ടി എന്നുമെന്നും കാത്തിരിക്കാൻ അയാൾക്കറിയാമെന്നും…”

Endurer

November 20, 2018

Book : Endurer

Author: Kapil Raj

Rating: 4 / 5

Synopsis 

“The beam of sunlight crossed the room along with the dust dancing in. It could do nothing but allow the particles to contaminate the ray and make it impure, just like me.” 

Life was a fun fed roller coaster: New found love, drugs, cat-fights, patch ups, crushes, night hangouts, and unplanned trips. Like any girl, not in the wildest dream, Palak could imagine that after attending a Rave Party, she will wake up to the horror of finding herself raped. 

In traumatic conditions and struggle between sanity and hallucinations, she is compelled by the circumstances to leave her world. Already fighting a war within, her stances takes a toll witnessing horrifying tales of women and girls. Little did she knew that this catastrophe was not enough for one lifetime, and a storm – was just cooling its heels. 

Will she be able to carve her path while facing the rapists, her tyrant father, appearances of her passed away mother? Should Palak let her life to be decided by people, society, and taboos? Would justice return her life or revenge lend her peace? 

A heart-rending story of a girl, whose beliefs and honor has been battered, stands up to make choices, rediscovering the meaning of life. 

Review

Thanks to the author for the review copy 

The main character of the story is Palak, a college student. The story starts off with her bday,her gang of friends include Tanya, Ankita, Uday, Arav, and Jahan decide to bunk class to celebrate. An unfortunate encounter leads them to meet Rohin. Rohin introduces them to the world of drugs and Palak tries it for the first time.When Uday informs the gang that there is a rave party (a party where there is alcohol and drugs) happening, they decide to go and enjoy. Even though Palak isn’t quite sold out on the idea, she decides to go have fun for a night.The night changes her whole life, she gets raped and no memory of what happened to her.

Who raped Palak?
Why can’t she remember anything?
Will the rapist get their due?
Read to find out


I loved the cover art, it is beautiful. The language is simple and narration was medium paced. It talks about the impact rape causes in the life of a girl, how it just destroys her world. The rapist’s reasons irritated me, somehow everything is the girl’s fault. She decided to go out late at night, she wore less clothes, it was obvious that the girl was begging for it . They simply couldn’t resist 😐😐😐

Initially it was little slow, and I kind of suspected each and every guy she came across. I think it would have made more of an impact if I didn’t know what was going to happen. I also guessed who was responsible for the rape, though i  didn’t connect all the dots. I didn’t like the tagline of the book, I just feel that A rape story was uncalled for in the title,i felt it was insensitive

I loved the characters of Sethani and Meethi. Their backstories were horrifying and felt too real. The story does have its share of friendship, love,betrayal,loss and grief.Palak’s life before did make me nostalgic of my college days, though there were no parties and alcohol and drugs involved. 


   

Ashwatthama’s Redemption

November 14, 2018

Book : Ashwatthama’s Redemption

Author: Gunjan Porwal

Rating: 3.75 / 4

Synopsis

Over a hundred years after the Mahabharata War, an ancient power threatens to destroy the new Age of Men, by establishing the Age of Terror of the asuras, long believed to be extinct. The only hurdle in its path is Guru Dronacharya’s son, the mighty but accursed warrior Ashwatthama, who lost all his powers following Lord Krishna’s curse, and who unwittingly finds himself drawn into the quest of the lost bow of Lord Rama—the Kodanda.
As ghosts of the distant past return to haunt him, and the line between friends and enemies blurs, Ashwatthama must fight his inner demons to emerge victorious. He undertakes a perilous journey—across the vast plains of the Ganges, to the snow-capped peaks of the Himavant—where the price of failure is a fate worse than death, and death is a privilege not granted to Ashwatthama.
Is this all part of Lord Krishna’s great plan? Will Ashwatthama be able to regain his lost glory?

Review

Thanks to WritersMelon and the publisher for the review copy

When the Kingdom of Avanti and Surparaka becomes aware of strange happenings in Dandaka forest (Dandakaranya), they begin to suspect the resurrection of the Asura King Dandaka. Dandaka has received a boom from Shiva so he can only be killed by Shiva and a Vaishnavastra. Ashwatthama, the son of Dronacharya, the invincible warrior who was cursed by Lord Krishna, is part Shiva incarnate. Ashwatthama is still reeling in guilt from his deeds at the Kurukshetra war, the curse has made sure that he has forgotten all his Warrior skills. The only Vaishnavastra on earth is the Kodanda, the bow of Lord Rama, which was hidden by Kush, the son of Ram. Rana Pratap, the Prince of Avanti, Vikram, the King of Surparaka and Urmila, the Princess of Indraprastha go with Ashwatthama to retrieve Kodanda.

Will Ashwatthama be redeemed for his actions?
Will Ashwatthama and his team be able to retrieve the Vaishnavastra?
Can Ashwatthama win against Dandaka?
Read to find out

It is a fast paced action packed mythological thriller. Mythology is one of my favorite genres and I can’t get enough of it. Since Indian mythology is something which I have read a lot of, it was easy for me to get into the story. I did know of Ashwatthama’s story but not of Dandaka, that was new to me. I did feel that some of the stories were repeated twice, maybe to help the people who are not aware of Indian Mythology. I also didn’t know that Parasuram had helped Ashwatthama and that the Pandavas did forgive him at the end. I didn’t understand the point of Urmila, it felt like she was added just so that romance could be incorporated into the story. The book certainly redeemed Ashwatthama in my eyes. I’m looking forward to read the next book in the series

A Flight of Broken Wings

November 9, 2018

Book : A Flight of Broken Wings

Author: Nupur Chowdhary

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Synopsis

Six hundred years ago, humanity rose up in revolt against the Aeriels, who were driven from earth and back into their homeland of Vaan after a bloody and glorious war.

Eight years ago, Ruban’s home was destroyed and his family murdered by an Aeriel.

When a new Aeriel threat looms over Ragah, the capital city of Vandram, Ruban Kinoh must do everything in his power to avenge his family’s past and protect the future of his country.

Which is hard enough without being saddled with a pretty and pompous aristocrat, who seems as useless as he is vain. Faced with a conspiracy that might cost humanity its hard-won freedom, and accompanied by the bejeweled and glitter-clad Ashwin Kwan, Ruban begins his journey into a land where the past and the future intertwine.

Review

The book starts off with Ruban Kinoh, a Hunter being called to the IAW(Intelligence and Anaysis Wing) office. It has been years since humans overthrew the Aerial monarchy , which is celebrated as the Emancipation Day. Aeriels are otherworldly being which have come from Vaan, the sun provides Aeriels energy. Ruban and his partner, Simani are called by the Senior Secretary of Defense, who is also Ruban’s uncle. They are informed of  a threat of Aeriels planning to steal a top secret weapon. Ruban and Simani are put on the case with Aswin, a foreign nobleman.

Will Ruban manage to uncover the Aeriel plot ?

Who is Aswin ?

Read to find out.

I have always been a fan of fantasy, but have found very Indian authors who wrote fantasy. It was strange to have characters named Aswin and Ruban, guess I’m too used to the western names. It was a fast paced action packed story. Though I felt that the starting was little slow, it was worth reading. I felt that the plot was predictable coz I’ve read too many fantasies, I did expect a betrayal and could actually the predict the person who would be responsible. Hence the 3.5 stars, coz I like to be surprised. The world building was good and the characters were interesting. My favorite character is Hiya, I loved her. I loved the banter between Aswin , Simani and Ruban. I’m looking forward to read the next book in the series

Recommended for readers who love fantasy