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Book Review – Invisible Ties by Nadya A.R.

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Around a month back, I received a mail from a company named ‘Keemiya Creatives’, asking me to review this book. I read the blurb, which seemed intriguing, and I accepted their offer.

I am constantly on the lookout for good literary fiction coming out from India, as I have discovered a few literary gems that sadly couldn’t achieve the level of popularity they deserved, unlike the cheesy commercial fiction books ruling the market. I had hoped that this particular book would fulfill that criterion, but sadly, it failed to do so.

From the first couple of chapters itself, I was left confused. Many things were happening, and I couldn’t decode them. It was all going over my head. However, once the story moved to the past that was set in Pakistan, things settled a bit, and I could make sense of what was happening. I think the part set in Pakistan is the strongest part of the story. It is well-written, and the characters are given a decent introduction. However, once the protagonist moves to Singapore, things start worsening due to the inexplicable and annoying actions of the characters.

A big problem with this book is the excessive description. I should be the last person to complain, though, due to two solid reasons. Firstly, two of my favorite authors, Renita D’Silva and Chitra Divakaruni, both are descriptive authors. I like to get a sense of the surroundings, the smell, the taste of the food, the complete package, which both authors are exceptional at doing without making them feel needless. Secondly, as mentioned by most of the reviewers of my book ‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’, I am guilty of deviating towards excessive descriptions myself sometimes. Yet, the descriptions in this book were overdone, even for me. It actually distracted me almost throughout the book, making me feel less for the characters. Also, the author tries to include history in almost every description, even giving her understanding of why, how, and when the structure/place was built. That is totally unnecessary and it marred what could have been a very good book.

Also, the characters are very vague and irritating. Most of their actions don’t make sense, and the results are quite jarring and unsatisfying. And I didn’t like how the author describes them. There are virtually no scenes in which the characters actually reflect on their actions, making us feel their point of view. They are just thrust into scenes, where the author crushes them under verbose description and sudden revelations and meetings with characters and the artificial, forcibly philosophical dialogues. I mean, people don’t speak like that in reality. The author needs to observe people speaking or just use her common sense for once. People normally talk in casual language and don’t use literary language (using nouns and verbs, which is good for writing prose and should be avoided from dialogue as much as possible). The worst part is that history even seeps into the dialogues, characters talking about Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, the history of Singapore, etc. in detail, totally turning the reader off. I’m sorry for being so blunt, but this is just my honest opinion.

The story was actually quite good—a woman bound by a suffocating marriage—but the lack of emotions and the other factors mentioned above spoiled it. Also, there was no use of the mirror in the book, which is supposed to be a major part of the book, particularly since it is used in the cover. There are attempts at comedy, but I didn’t find them funny at all.

But if we ignore the excessive descriptions, the language is good overall. I liked the use of metaphors and the use of nouns and verbs instead of adverbs and adjectives (which is a good practice). I couldn’t find any grammatical mistakes, and the punctuation was also proper throughout. This grammatical correctness is also important for me in a book, apart from the story of course.

The author comes across to be quite talented and her command over the language is good. If she just learns how to lessen the descriptions, flesh out the characters a bit more, and simplify her dialogues, I’m sure she can write a wonderful novel next time. Sadly, I didn’t quite like this book, so I cannot give more than 2.75 stars.

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Book Review

Book Review – Naive & Beautiful by Biswas Timshina

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The author of this book, Biswas Timshina, was felicitated in the inaugural Sikkim Literary Festival organized by Sikkim Manipal University for his contribution to the literature of Sikkim, and in the second edition, I was felicitated for the same. I have never met him, but I know his parents, who are quite close to my maternal uncle. However, that has no influence whatsoever in the following honest review of his novel ‘Naive & Beautiful’.

I have not had a great experience reading debut authors’ books. Most of them are riddled with grammatical errors and have a cheesy romantic (or friendship related) plot, and even if the story is different, the narration leaves a lot to be desired. Although I had heard that Biswas was talented, I didn’t have great expectations, to be honest. However, as I went through the book, I was pleasantly surprised. The author has excellent storytelling skills, a rare quality that I have seen only in seasoned authors. The way he moves back and forth in time, creates suspense, and in most of the stories gives a solid, unexpected twist in the tale, is laudable.

All the stories entertained me thoroughly. I loved the variety as well as the darker theme explored in many of the stories. I had certainly not expected that from a debut author. I had expected at least a few cheesy college romances, but I was glad to not find even a single instance of the same. Themes like politics, friendship, love, sensuality, guilt, jealousy, revenge, death, among many others have been weaved very expertly in the stories. Exotic cultures and traditions of Sikkim have also been presented in a few stories, adding to the appeal. The characterization was also pretty good throughout, and in some places, I did feel emotional.

The best part was the grammar and punctuation. It was far better than what I had expected from a debut author, especially the punctuation. I was amazed to find almost no punctuation errors throughout the book. Hats off to the author for the excellent editing, despite this book being self-published. He does have a way with words as well—his sentences are tight and sometimes quite stylish too. There were a few minor errors here and there—like using capitals for emphasis rather than italics, or the occasional grammatical error—but overall I was quite impressed with the writing.

However, there were two things I personally didn’t like. In one of the stories, there was too much description of sex and nudity, thus making this book unreadable by children and even early teenagers. I think the author could have been a bit more subtle and avoided at least some of the graphic scenes. Also, there was far too much usage of cuss words throughout the book. A few slang words here and there are fine, but I do think that it was overdone.

Overall, I think this is a very good collection of short stories by a debut author. He is talented, and I would love to read a full-length novel from him. With his brilliant storytelling skills, very good writing, and his uncanny knack of delivering unexpected endings, I think he could create a wonderful novel.

4 stars from my side, and I would urge all my readers to try out this book and support debut authors.

Book Review

Book Review – Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Early last year, destiny showered me with a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had some work in Bangalore, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, one of the favorite writers (I had loved her novel ‘Sister of My Heart’) was also coming to Bangalore to attend the Bangalore Times Lit Fest. I got a chance to attend her session, interact with her and Murthy, her husband, and even get a signed copy of her latest novel ‘Before We Visit The Goddess’. I will cherish it forever. Not everyday do you get to meet an internationally acclaimed, award-winning author.

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Since I had to finish my novel ‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’, get it published, and promote it, last year passed in the blink of an eye. A month ago, I finally got a chance to begin the book. After a few pages, as expected, I was hooked. I hadn’t thought that Chitra ma’am could improve upon her language, which was already delectably brilliant in ‘Sister of My Heart’, but I was amazed. Her language is even more refined in this book, her experience having poured layers of class over her already exquisite talent. I don’t remember how many times I re-read more than half of the sentences in the book to appreciate their poetic beauty and try to learn and imbibe some of her marvelous qualities in my writing.

Just like Sachin Tendulkar, who used to delight cricket fans with his range of shots in all formats of the game, Chitra ma’am shows her repertoire by dabbling in almost every POV. Third person limited, first person, second person, she has implemented all with exquisite perfection. There is absolutely no head-hopping, an error which debut writers are almost always guilty of. The dialogues are impeccable and hard-hitting too, and I loved the strong, emotional encounters between the characters at several places. And obviously the editing is flawless—but that is expected from a Chitra Divakaruni book.

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The characters are beautifully developed, every scene adding layers over them, painting them with gray shades, garnishing them using snippets from the past. I felt for each of them and could relate to them. I did feel emotional many times too, but somehow—the same thing happened with ma’am’s previous book—the story didn’t push me enough to make me cry.

However, that is just a minor flaw in a brilliantly written book. I loved it from beginning to end, and I’m sure the characters will stay with me for a long time. The ending is wonderfully done too except for one question that remains unanswered and which is nagging me, urging me to shoot a mail to ma’am and ask her. However, that is totally the author’s choice and I respect it.

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Finally, I would like to say that this book is a must-read for all, especially for new writers as there is so much to learn from Chitra ma’am.

Despite it not being able to push me down the lake of tears, I am not qualified enough to give this masterpiece anything less than 5 stars.

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The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri

A lovely, heartwarming review of #TheFragileThreadOfHope by Yesha @ Books Teacup and Reviews. Available in the Amazon IN Kindle store at just Rs. 9 for a limited time. Download your copy now.

LINK: mybook.to/tftoh

Books Teacup and Reviews

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Publication Date: October 29th 2017

Read Date: April 23rd 2018

Genre: Romance / Contemporary

Pages: 408

Stars: 4/5

4 star_cropGoodreads blurb_edited

A gripping emotional inspirational fiction about love, loss, and finding hope in the darkest of times. 

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok…

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